April 1, Saturday, Houston Texas
We titled this trip Tour of Texas and after a month of travel we finally made it to Texas. You may have wondered if we knew what we were writing about. We do, it just took us a while to arrive here. No problem, though, we have a month of travel left for Texas.
Friday, March 31st, was a slower day than planned. Our goal was to spend most of the day hiking at Big Thicket National Preserve. However, the Southern cuisine did a number on my stomach and walking far was the least of the activities I wanted to undertake. Luckily, the Book Nook Inn B & B was a welcoming place and we spent time on the veranda sitting, contemplating, or talking with the owners.
We did go to Big Thicket and walked a short hike. Big Thicket Preserve represents about 5% of the original pine and cypress forest, hardwood forest, meadow, and black water swamp that was here. The other 95% of the forests, swamps, meadows, etc. disappeared due to wood cutting, rice-growing, oil drilling and the homes and businesses of 500,000 people.
Forests and trees are probably not your conception of Texas but the uniqueness of this area and the diversity of flora and fauna made even partial preservation a natural concept. In gaining approval, though, the enabling legislation mandated the continuance of hunting, trapping, oil and gas exploration, and cutting of non-native tree species.
We are spending the weekend in Houston to visit some relatives. On the drive here, we stopped at two lesser known museums. First was the Babe Didrikson Zaharias museum in Beaumont. The name may be unfamiliar to most of you. Babe was probably the most well-known female athlete of the first half of the 20th century and considered the greatest all-around sportswoman in history.
The museum was small and probably does not get many visitors. It showcased her early life in Beaumont, her three gold medals in the 1932 Olympics (all three categories she was in), and her unmatched golf prowess. Golfing gave her the best recognition, she won 82 amateur and professional golfing tournaments. Babe died in 1956 at age 45 of colon cancer.
Our second stop was in Houston at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum. Our trip to Yellowstone in 2013 first made us aware of the “Buffalo Soldiers”. The term was first used to refer to black soldiers who fought against Native Americans in the West. The Indians respected their fighting ability and saw a similarity between the mane of a bison and the curly hair of some African-Americans. The term has broadened over time to become a generic name for all African-American soldiers from 1866 through WWII.
This museum was founded in 2001 through the dedication of one man who visioned it as an American history museum, not a black history museum. Plentiful memories and tidbits of history are showcased in the video and display cases of the military tribulations and successes of black soldiers. Despite the segregation and lack of acceptance, black soldiers represented this country proudly. Their segregated use in WWII led many of them to come home and not accept Jim Crow but to begin the march to full repeal of segregation laws.
We received an extra bonus at the museum. A historical reenactor made a moving presentation as Harriet Tubman, tieing it into Harriet’s role in the Civil War. Harriet was the first woman to lead an armed expedition, hers freed 700 slaves. We had visited the Harriet Tubman post Civil War home in Auburn NY last fall.
Tonight we are just at a Springhill Suites. We got an excellent rate at a hotel in a business park, they must be slow on weekends.
Ed and Chris. April 1