>Best of Three States Plus One Saturday!

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Howdy, y’all! It’s a cloudy and a bit cool (58 degrees) in Augusta, Maine this morning and it’s a good time to grab a cup of coffee and take a look at some of the Best of Three States Plus One! I have hand-picked some of the most interesting posts of the past year form you to read again or, in some cases, see for the first time. Either way you’ll like what I have chosen for you today as the material presents a look at our great country that will have you wanting to take a trip to new and exciting locales across the Fruited Plain. I hope you enjoy your virtual vacation and make plans to see something new in America this summer.

That should keep you busy for a while. If you’d like to learn more about some great places, use the search box at the top right of the side bar to access the archives. There’s a ton of cool stuff stored there.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

>Texas Tidbits: A Rose By Any Other Name….

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If I were a ramblin’ gamblin’ man, and I’ve been known to do a little of both, I’d lay down good money that the most popular flower in the United States is the rose. As the title of this post suggest, the rose could have been named the “sweaty gym socks flower” and it would still smell like something that The Almighty adorns Paradise with. Ahhhhhh…the rose, a symbol of love and devotion, a symbol of rememberance and just a great addition to any flower garden. Which brings us to the Rose Capital of the World, Tyler, TexasA brief history : Tyler is situated in an ideal location for growing all kinds of smellin’-good, tasty and/or ornamental plants as the climate is pretty moderate with rainfall occurring throughout the year. For these reasons, succulent peaches were once to Tyler and Smith County what the elegant rose is today, but in the early 20th Century the blight decimated the peach crop in the area. Enter La Rosa. At this time, roses were already popular in East Texas, so it was a natural fit for it to fill a major void in agricultural production and revenue for Tyler.  A little north of South Loop 323 at the Glenwood (I think) intersection, lies one of the most magnificent floral displays on Earth – The Tyler Minicipal Rose Garden . The Rose Garden is fourteen acres of horticultural heaven featuring about five hundred varieties of the rose, with some of the antique rose varieties dating back to 1867! Since opening in 1952, the Rose Garden has been ooooo’ed and ahhhhh’ed over by millions of people from around the world. A predecessor to the Rose Garden is the Texas Rose Festival, held in mid- October, is now entering its ninth decade as a showcase for the flower that has made Tyler, Texas The Rose Capital of the World. A rose by any other name……   

>Texas Tidbits; Three Lakes in One!

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If I were to tell you the following facts about a body of water, what would you think it was? Facts: 181,600 surface acres of water; over 1200 miles of shoreline; 65 miles long; holds over 1 trillion gallons of water. One of the Great Lakes. Nope? The Great Salt Lake? Negatory. How about Toledo Bend Reservoir in East Texas? That’s the place.

 Toledo Bend is so large that is unofficially categorized as three lakes – Upper Lake, Mid Lake and the Lower Lake. Now that’s BIG. My Dad was from Troup, Texas (near Tyler), so we always got the latest news in East Texas  from family. That’s how we learned of Toledo Bend being built in ’60s. From the family grapevine in East Texas. I remember it very well. TB is one of the best fishin’lakes in the country, regularly yielding huge Largemouth bass, stripers and catfish, as well as crappie and panfish.

Toledo Bend is a landlocked ocean, it seems. It’s a beautiful place to spend time with friends and family. While you’re there, be sure to round up about 20 lbs of mudbags, some small red taters and corn on the cob and have a Cajun Style Crawdad Boil. Oh…..and don’t forget the cold beer.

>Texas Tidbits: Another Look at the Concho City of San Angelo

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San Angelo

I posted this on August 11, 2010. It lead to the start of a great friendship with my good buddy, Bob Zeller. I think it’s worth a second look.

If you read more than one post on this blog, then you know that I am a trees and water kind of guy, like in East Texas. For some unknown reason, however, the rugged beauty of the desert has a bit of a mysterious hold on me. I can’t explain it, other than to say it’s a sort of sagebrush voodoo or something. Segue to San Angelo. San Angelo is one of those places where it’s not quite desert and  it’s not in the Piney Woods or Big Thicket, I could live there and be happy. It doesn’t exactly hurt my feelings that there is a state park and O C Fischer Lake lies within the park and snuggles up right next to the San Angelo city limits. The city got its humble beginnings when after the Civil War, Fort Concho was established as an outpost to protect the flood of settlers heading west to find their fortunes. At one time Fort Concho was home to the Black Cavalry, which the local Native Americans called the “Buffalo Soldiers”, earning great respect from the white soldiers they served with and, of course, the Indians. In those days, San Angelo was a trading center for settlers in the area, but as sanangelo.org states “The discovery of oil and gas, the influx of light manufacturing, the initial development of a communications center, the establishment and growth of Angelo State University, and the growth of the medical community provided diversification to a growing community. Today, this city of 90,000 is the trade and services hub of a 13 county area, supported by agriculture, manufacturing, education, business and health services, military, tourism, and retirement.” Geographically, San Angelo is almost the bull’s eye on the dartboard that is Texas and it ain’t far from being a bull’s eye on the dart board of places to live.

>Texas Tidbits: Lake Texoma

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Lake Texoma. 89,000 acres of some of the best fishin’ anywhere. If you’re on the lookout for largemouth, white, striped or smallmouth bass, there are some real wall-hangers awaiting you at Texoma. Let’s not forget crappie, catfish and the 70 other species of fish that inhabit these waters. Allow me to put you some knowledge with the water body records for the Big T. Fish fry, anyone? At laketexoma.com, we find this: “The lake area includes two wildlife refuges, two state parks, fifty four U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed parks, twenty-six resorts, hundreds of campgrounds and a variety of excellent golf courses”. What the hell am I doing in Maine? (just kiddin’, honey…..kinda) If you’ve got a boat, a secluded fishin’/camping trip is as close as one of the many islands located throughout the lake. The fishing license regulations at Lake Texoma are a little goofy, but as Wikipedia tells us ” Historically, Texas and Oklahoma have not had a reciprocal fishing license agreement, which has posed a problem for anglers. Recent boundary resolutions have given Oklahoma jurisdiction over most of the fishing in Lake Texoma. An Oklahoma fishing license allows fishing most of the lake, up to within 400 yards (370 m) of Denison Dam. To fish the entire lake, a Lake Texoma fishing license is also available.” Be sure to check with Texas or Oklahoma wildlife officers to get the right info for you. As at any major lake in Texas, the weekends at Texoma are, shall we say, busy? Although with 89,000 acres of fishin’ available, you could probably find some place to hang out without too much of a crowd.

>Texas Tidbits; How to Raise Missile Launchers in Your Vegetable Garden

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I am a gardener. I grow stuff – tomatoes, peppers, squash, you name it, I’ve probably grown it or tried to grow it. Gardening is something I learned from Grandma Shoemaker as a young child. I was fascinated that one day she would put a tiny seed in the ground and a few weeks later BAM!, there was a tomato! Even now, in my mid-50’s, that little boy of the early 1960’s shows up every time I spot a new blossom on a tomato plant or some such. Wow! That’s gonna be a (fill-in-the-vegetable-name-here)! And I think of Grandma. The secret to a productive garden is good dirt, so preparation is key to a bountiful harvest. And let me tell you, while tilling up the ground for a garden, you are liable to find almost anything – nails, rocks, silverware, coins, old bottles, missile launchers….missile launchers??? Yep, there’s nothing like digging up discarded military explosive devices to get a bang out of gardening. That’s exactly what happened to 34 year old Jarrette Schule of Comal County near San Antonio. From the article, “Schule spent Tuesday afternoon calling the FBI, Homeland Security, the Sheriff’s Department — every agency he could think of. He was stuck in a bureaucratic limbo.
“Everyone was handing it off to everybody else,” Schule said. And some people want more government? This guy found this missile launcher on a Tuesday, made all the right phone calls to all the right people and nobody seemed to care! WTF? This tale does have a happy (and safe) ending, however. The next day, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio was kind enough to send an ordinance disposal team to pick up the military hardware and do whatever they do with rogue missile launchers found by civilians while preparing some land for a garden. I don’t know about you, but a few questions come to mind regarding this peculiar situation. Questions like…where were the local cops? Dunkin Donuts? What about Homeland Security? Were they too busy at the airport frisking nuns and 90 year old women who pose a threat to our national security? And the FBI? I hear they were deep undercover at the Glenn Beck 8/28 Rally looking for right-wing extremists carrying homemade signs that “Obama is a Kenyan”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not raggin’ on law enforcement here, their job is tough enough as it is. I love the guys and gals in blue and the Feds, but c’mon folks. One of the higher ups in one of these agencies should have had a passing thought like, “This old boy in Comal County found a missile launcher while digging up his garden and maybe, just maybe, there’s an element of danger to him and the general public. Finkelstein! Get somebody out there pronto!” But, all’s well that ends well, I suppose. Excuse me while I go get my dirt ready for next year’s garden. I might dig up Osama Bin Laden.

>Texas Tidbits: A Fishing Place for Everyone

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>The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an $18 million facility located in Athens dedicated to the conservation and education about fish and fisheries in the State of Texas. Although TFFC is operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, it was built without State Funds ( that alone is reason enough to love the place). From the TFFC website : “TFFC houses a hatchery, laboratory, aquarium, and education center focusing on underwater wildlife in the state’s freshwater streams, ponds and lakes. It serves as home base for the ShareLunker program, which invites anglers to donate trophy-sized largemouth bass for research and breeding purposes. Annual visitation is more than 60,000. A third of our visitors attend with school and youth groups”.

See that photo up there  ^^^? That’s a 26,000 gallon aquarium in the theatre at TFFC. As you can see, that’s a full-grown man in scuba gear in there feeding the fish. He’s wired for sound and is able to take questions from visitors about the aquarium in particular or TFFC in general. I have seen this on several occasions and it’s a very informative program. This huge fish tank is home to several species of piscatorial species, including (at the time I was there) a large mouth bass estimated to weigh 24+ pounds and a blue catfish at an estimated 44 pounds ! To top that off, this catfish was blind as a bat due to cataracts (true, but pun intended). Also on the property are a snack bar, gift shop and a pond that is stocked with rainbow trout during the winter and year-round with catfish. Rod and reels and bait are provided free of charge. The on-site museum is an awesome part of the facility with interactive displays and fishin’ gear from days gone by. For more info, you can contact TFFC here.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is a must see not only for fishermen, but for the education they provide about fish habitat, etc, and how to conserve and protect these beautiful assets for all Texans.

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