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Deep in the Heart

We arrived on Easter Sunday, March 31 in San Felipe, Texas at Stephen F. Austin State Park on the banks of the Brazos River. We’re just 50 minutes west of the outskirts of Houston. San Felipe de Austin State His­toric Site is nearby where you can walk around the townsite, head­quarters for Stephen F. Austin’s original colony.

American Moses Austin was authorized as an empresario by Joaquín de Arredondo of Spain to create a colony of Americans in Texas, which was lightly populated, as a bulwark against the native Comanche people. Before this plan could be implemented, Moses Austin died in Missouri in 1821. That same year Mexico gained independence from Spain. 

Stephen F. Austin agreed to carry out his father's plan for a colony. At the end of the summer of 1821, he and a small group of Anglo-American settlers crossed into Texas. Before he reached San Antonio to meet with the governor, the group learned that Mexico had gained its independence from Spain. Texas was now a Mexican province rather than a Spanish one. Governor Martinez assured Austin that the new Mexican government would honor the colonization contract.

Between 1823 and 1825, Austin granted 297 titles under this contract. Each head of household received a minimum of 177 acres or 4,428 acres depending on whether they intended to farm or raise livestock. The grant could be increased for large families or those wishing to establish a new industry, but the lands would be forfeited if they were not cultivated within two years.

The settlers who received their titles under Stephen's first contract, known today as the Old Three Hundred, made up the first organized, approved group of Anglo-American immigrants from the United States to Texas. The new land titles were located in an area where no Spanish or Mexican settlements had existed. It covered land between the Brazos and the Colorado rivers, from the Gulf Coast to the San Antonio Road. This area had long been occupied by indigenous peoples, however, and they objected to Anglo-American encroachment, resisting with armed conflict. Both Comanche and Apache warriors raided the new colony.

Back to 2024; on Tuesday, April 2 we ventured to the Houston Astros ballpark called Minute Maid Park to attend another major league baseball game on my quest to attend all the MLB parks in my lifetime. This was number 12 out of 30. Minute Maid Park is a beautiful ballpark with a roof that can be opened or closed depending on the weather. Tonights game the roof was closed and the temperature inside was ideal. The Astros were playing the Toronto Bluejays and the home team ended up losing 2-1 in the ninth inning.

We got together with our friend and fellow scuba diver, Suzy Wheat on Wednesday for a short hike and picnic at Brazos Bend State Park. This a 4,897-acre state park along the Brazos River in unincorporated Fort Bend County, Texas run by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The park is a haven for a diverse mix of native wildlife and plants covering an equally diverse range of ecosystems. Brazos Bend contains areas of coastal prairie, bottomland forest, and a wide range of wetlands including open and semi-open lakes and transitional marshlands.

Highlights of the park's numerous inhabitants include over 300 species of resident and visiting migratory birds such as black-bellied whistling duck, snowy egret, great egret, American white ibis, yellow-crowned night heron, northern cardinal, American coot and great blue heron. Mammals such as the white-tailed deer, nine-banded armadillo, raccoon, and North American river otter are also found in the park. The most noteworthy and popular residents of the park are the relatively large population of American alligators.

On our last day, Thursday April 4 we drove to Smithville, Texas to visit the Roving Volunteers in Christ's Service (RVICS) village and headquarters. We had lunch with Frank and Melissa Varaso, who were our RVICS team leaders when we did our first project in September 2023. Melissa is now serving as the RVICS organization president this year. They gave us tour of the village and we got to see their home.

The village has pads available for those who purchase a RVICS village membership. For $2500 a couple can purchase a one-time village membership. The Village is "a place to call home" between projects, or when age or health issues make it difficult to serve on a regular basis. Any present or former RVICS member who has served at least three projects may purchase a Village membership, and select a lot with full utility hook-ups for parking their RV or placing a more permanent home.

In addition to home sites, the Village also boasts an all-purpose building, Schaeffer Hall. Life in RVICS Village affords all the fellowship, activity, and encouragement in the faith that members have experienced, and are reluctant to leave behind, during their working years. Many continue to serve in nearby churches and communities, and there's rarely a Village moment when some project is not being hatched.

At noon on Friday, April 5 we departed Stephen F. Austin State Park in San Felipe, Texas and drove to our home base at the Rainbow's End Escapees RV Park in Livingston, Texas thus completing our second RV Life charted journey in our Alliance Avenue 32RLS, named Trinity, for a total of 11,864 miles in 465 days.


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