Watching Nature-Palmetto State Park-Texas

Watching nature;) I do it for pleasure and photography, not quite sure what Rocket and Groot were thinking when they decided to go deer stalking, tried to tell them about the “small” and “far away” differences but they cared not a whit;)

This young doe was quite tame, I walked by talking to her but she decided Groot did look quite fearsome and slowly moved off into the bush, Groot wanted to give chase but we told him was a state park and everything was protected…ahhhh…just one deer please! Nope…Rocket watched for awhile on his walk and then decided perhaps walking along the fence looked like more fun, they were after all, awfully large;)

This is a lovely park. I had a daft moment as we pulled in Sunday, went to the trailer camping area only to find our reserved site occupied..sigh…brain fart…it was Monday our reservation. We drove back out to the park headquarters and were told that no, there were no other spaces available but just down the road the Elks ran a small RV park as well, so off we went. It was within walking distance. We found a site, one of two trailers there so not a problem, and not a soul to be seen. Honour system up at the front, not too tough. There was no water due to a line break ( that may explain the empty park) but 50 amp service and lovely trees and dozens of monarchs flitting about! Paradise as far as I’m concerned;) and a bit of weak sunshine trying to make its way through the clouds.

At 11:30 the next morning we went back to check in at the park and ran into a delightful ranger who obviously loves her job and parks-such a pleasure after the grumpy camp host at the CCC campground near Corsicana. She was filled with information not only about Palmetto park but other parks along our way. Wonderful to interact with this kind of human:)

The park is named for the dwarf palmetto, which grows abundantly in the park. The San Marcos River runs through the park. The Oxbow Lake, initially created by flood waters, is now independent of the river and is spring fed. There are many bogs throughout the park that are surrounded by dense vegetation, giving the park a jungle-like atmosphere. Many of the bogs are dry this time of year it seems in this very small, 270 acre park, but it is a marvel to behold this semi-jungle like setting in a relatively dry and rolling hill landscape that surrounds it. It is an unsettling landscape with a primeval feeling to it.

Located between between Luling and Gonzales are the Ottine wetlands (pronounced “Ah-teen”. Named for Adolf Otto and his wife, Christine, who in the late 1800s founded the tiny village just north of where the park is now…there seem to be a huge number of very German names in the area! Deutschtexaners…ha! ). These wetlands, which make up part of the park, are believed to be at least 12,000 years old and are an example of a relict ecosystem, in which a type of habitat is able to thrive in geographic isolation from its original, larger community. In the case of the Ottine wetlands, the combination of a periodically flooding San Marcos River, a high water table (at one time, at least), and artesian springs resulted in the sort of boggy refuge you’d more likely come upon in the southeastern United States. Right now it is mostly dry except where water is being pumped up from an artisanal spring.

The park was constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps. The Refectory-had to look that one up-a room used for communal meals in an educational or religious institution was built between 1934-1937. It is beautiful work of local stone, primitive yet not. Not far away a path leads down to a low water crossing area across the San Marcos River that connects the tent sites with the RV/Trailer ones. This is a small park, only 18 RV sites with electric and water, a quarter are currently closed as water lines are being replaced. The sites are well spaced and shaded, really lovely. We nearly drove into the tent area and the ranger stopped us, said we wouldn’t be getting out once we got in!

Now for some sunshine…which never materialized:( cold, windy and temperatures hovering just about freezing were what we had, but hey, at least no snow! and it was quiet, few bird chirps, a lone Cooper’s Hawk could be heard crying and a few lbb’s (little brown birds) high in the trees. Wrong time of year for bird watching I think but the lovely White Tailed Deer made up for it! The paths are lovely, the plant life quite interesting with hanging moss and ferns, epiphytes I believe, it has an ancient air to it:)

Is it a place we would come back to? Certainly. Perhaps when it is warmer in the Spring headed back! And the first park since Canada that has recycling! Yeah! Greta would be pleased! Next stop, Del Rio and more of Texas! What a difference a bit of sun makes! Stay tuned! We are going through”God’s Country” according to the billboards;)

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