Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2009

Pedernales Falls State Park is Awesome - Part 3!

We are on day 3 of our 4 day camping trip at Pedernales Falls State Park, it’s about 55 degrees, cloudy, windy and feels like it is fixing to rain. I don’t care, I’m going hiking and I’m going solo, as my brother, TJ Bustem has an aching back.

The trail itself is 7.5 miles, but about 1.3 miles from our campsite and I aim to walk to the trail and back which will give me a good 10-mile hike. I’ll be honest and say I am a fair weather/sunshine lover, but I can also be a determined person and nothing short of a heavy downpour of rain will dampen my hiking spirit.

Now, it’s still winter and the vegetation is fairly bleak and the absence of other hikers on this trail makes it appear less than hospitable. There are parts of it that look like Mirkwood from ‘The Hobbit’ in fact. Goblins probably hang out here while on R&R.

The first part of the trail resembles a gravel road, as the primitive camping area is about 2 miles up the trail and is serviced by vehicles, but after you pass that, i…

Pedernales Falls State Park is Awesome - Part 2!

It’s day two of our camping trip to Pedernales Falls State Park (PFSP) and we’ve decided to tackle the 4-Mile Loop Trail and since my brother, TJ Bustem has a temperamental back, I will hike the Wolf Mountain Trail solo on Saturday, which from our campsite is a little over 10 miles.

The first obstacle we encountered was a shallow river crossing called the Trammel Crossing. TJ removed his low-quarter hiking boots and socks and waded across, but I was able to ford the river without getting my socks wet. He remarked that it was not even close to being as cold as a river he forded in Montana.

We began catching close-up views of deer and Thursday night we spied a 9-point buck was within 50 feet of our camp. After a mild ascent of this trail, we began seeing extensive evidence of feral hogs, but no hogs. The weather was beautiful, sunny and pleasingly cool, but without wind. It was picture perfect and we were taking pictures aplenty.

It was also fairly easy and we wandered over the trai…

Pedernales Falls State Park is Awesome - Part 1!

Well, I finally got my Camp-out on and it was everything I had hoped for and more. This past weekend, my brother TJ Bustem and I spent four days in Central Texas, specifically Pedernales Falls State Park. Texans know it as “Perdenales” thanks to LBJ and both pronunciations are acceptable according to the Parks and Wildlife web site.

Back in January while making plans to camp, I made a number of purchases to replace old camping gear, including a new tent, mummy bag and camp stove, etc. On this trip I planned to prove this equipment and since it had been years since I had camped, I also planned to tote along anything else I might need, erring on the side of too much equipment.

I was pleased with the quality of my “3 season” Eureka Apex-2XT Dome tent. It was about a hundred bucks and is easy to set-up. I did get a surprise Thursday night when I went to zip up the tent at bedtime when a honeybee stung me on my right pinky finger. I had left the fly open on the tent and when the sun we…

Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center Visit

I must admit, this was my first visit. I know. It’s shameful to say the least, but to my credit, I did visit and it won’t be the last time either, as I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with what I found there.

The Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Center is located close to Robert E. Lee high school at 1724 Market Street and is owned and operated by the City of Baytown. I’ve walked past it twenty times at least, looked at it while driving, but never visited. I imagine I am one of many and this past week, I decided the time was right for a visit.

Upon arrival, I was met by Biology Intern Sarah Graham. She is very informed and quite pleasant, plus she offered to give me the tour. Sarah skillfully answered my many questions and it is obvious she knows a whole lot about nature and well – biology and our local resources.

She explained how Hurricane Ike had flooded the amazingly large facility, which originally was a bowling alley. As we talked, workers were replacing a lot of exhibits and doin…

JJ Mayes Wildlife Trace Revisited

This past Thursday, I looked out my front door and all I could think about was going hiking. The weather report from the day before called for mostly cloudy skies and possibly a bit of rain, but what greeted me was just the opposite. Evidently a Norther had blown in and we were once again being blessed with clear blue skies and temperatures in the 50’s. My kind of day.

Looking my bride square in the eye, I appealed to her about my need to hike and nodding her approval, she watched as I packed my High Sierra fanny pack. It’s a real gem of a pack and heavy duty as all get out, allowing me to comfortably carry quite a bit of heavy stuff. Over the years I’ve tried a good number of packs and carriers and this is the best thing short of a full day pack for my needs.

In case you are interested in getting one, I bought it online at and it’s called the High Sierra Ridgeline Lumbar / Waist Pack and it costs about $50. I recommend Joe’s also, as I’ve bought a lot of stuff …

Tamales Rivals in Baytown? Not a Chance!!

I set out this week to find the best tamales in Baytown. It’s a daunting task to put it mildly and girded with the knowledge that food tastes are relative to each individual person, I forged on (anyway) with reckless abandon. It ain’t over until it’s over, so if you know of a tamale maker that needs investigating, I’m all ears, er, uh. I’ll investigate.

My intention is uncovering and exposing the best corn husk-covered and masa-filled tamale shop in Baytown, both to fulfill my craving and to enlighten my fellow citizens. If this sets off a tamale war in Baytown, where tamale makers compete for customers, then we Mexican food lovers will benefit in every way.

Besides, who says we have to drive to Matamoras, Houston or San Antonio to get quality tamales anyway? Hogwash! I contend the best tamales are made right here in our Baytown.

I, as in so many other areas of knowledge, am not an expert in Mexican cuisine, but in my defense, I have over fifty years of experience…eating - and in A…

Each Minute of Each Hour of Each Day

In our busy day to day speed-living, the real fulfilling moments of life are as of yet undiscovered, contrary to everything we think or are led to believe. We WANT to believe we are getting fulfillment, but are we? I think not.

By all appearances our individual lives, while arguably peculiar, are still very predictable. Days go by with no apparent change and we are lulled into a semi-stupor state of existence by the mundaneness of it all. We think we are progressing.

Driving to work and listening to the radio drags into a daily routine of zzzzzz and one day leads into a stream of days which becomes a gray area of passed months - and before we know it a whole year has passed…or years have passed.

It’s now February 2009 and yesterday folks were concerned with George Orwell’s 1984 or Y2K. Remember Y2K? We blinked twice and it passed.

How do we get off this Merry-go-round, or how do we bust out of this non-stop cornucopia of blitzkrieg activity and experience a defined sense of enlight…