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ROSES AND CRITTERS:  Driving through Riverside Park we came upon the rose garden and further on, The Texas Zoo.

Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY

I don't know what it was about Victoria.  We didn't have a clue
as to what was there before we started out and too busy dealing
with other matters to care. After all, if you don't care where you go
it doesn't matter what's there.

Maybe it was just because Victoria was only 28 miles from The Coast. 
We found out later that there is actually The Port of Victoria in Victoria. 
So, as Ms. Intrepid lamented, "You mean I was on The Coast and didn't know it?"

E.jpg (2697 bytes)very now and again we'll do a little research before leaving, but we actually like being surprised.  After all, not every experience needs a preview of coming attractions.  And any planning cuts pretty deep into an actual adventure.  For some reason I've yet to get a handle on, Victoria stood out on the map.
       Most towns have a little billboard posted at the city limits with a motto of some kind.  For Victoria it's "Home of the Texas Zoo".  We didn't actually have time to discuss going to the zoo before Ms. Intrepid made a sudden right turn at the edge of town.
       "What the..."
       "There's a rose garden!"
       (Did I ever mention Ms. Intrepid is daft for roses?)
       Personally, I'm not big on plants that you can't eat and besides there are probably about a zillion pictures of roses already.  So I wasn't keen on the rose garden notion when Ms. Intrepid pointed Nigel the Land Rover down Magnolia Avenue.
       Once at the rose garden my attitude improved, after all what have roses ever done to me?  Yeah, I know roses have thorns and one even took the life of the poet Rilke.   I read about his misfortune early on and I've been cautious around beauty ever since.
       As it turned out, the garden was filled with all colors and types of  roses.  And at the base of each plant a little marker dedicated to the memory of some lost loved one.  Death and roses. ( Reckon I better go twist the top off a longneck and lighten up.)
       I haven't stopped to smell the roses in ages.  But standing there, surrounded as I was by all those roses, I... well... rose to the occasion.
     Victoria's Riverside Park occupies some 400 acres along the Guadalupe River.  They boast 200 picnic areas with tables and barbecue pits (my kind of place).   Plus a 27 hole golf course. ( Why 27 holes? Why not an even number?  I always figured the only good reason to poke a hole in the ground was to plant something.   But when I see grown men during working hours in the middle of the week swatting balls into ground holes it makes me ponder.  Maybe those little white balls are some kinda seed... )
       Meanwhile, back at the story... Driving through the park we came upon the Texas Zoo "devoted exclusively to native Texas species" and Ms. Intrepid knew me well enough to stop.  After all, how many ocelot pictures are there?
VicZoo.gif (169468 bytes)       At $3.50 per person we were prepared for more than the park offered.  Straight out of the chute we saw an American Bald Eagle in a cage about the size of a cheap motel room.  Dust had settled on his wings and frankly he didn't look any too pleased with the accommodations. 
       Walking on a little further we saw two red wolves. One paced back and forth along the far fenceline, constantly, while the other made this endless figure 8 in a well-worn path from the far corner then back toward the middle, around a tree, and back to the corner again and again. They were endlessly on the move.   The last time I paced like that I was holding out till some nut that had taken up residence in the men's room decided to vacate the premises.
mudhole.jpg (18069 bytes)        Then there was the mud puddle with a swell variety of water birds...  I was about ready to swear off zoos at this point. ( I can still see the sad eyes of the caged gorilla in the Dallas Zoo three decades ago.)
        ("Hey guys! I'm here to have fun.")  
       Instead I was pondering some reckless plan to liberate a half dozen endangered species only later to be hunted down and caged with a bunch of other fools with poor impulse control.   Okay, I know zoos are a good thing so our younguns can see how well we protect the critters we nearly wiped out.  After all, this may be their only chance to see an American Bald Eagle.
       I loved their otter.  Swirling underwater and slipping in and out aTurnA.jpg (4971 bytes) time or two. He hardly paused long enough for a picture.  He looked like he was having a great time, but then again he may have been otter-pacing.  Anyway, I don't think I ever saw an otter before...

       PAGE 1: NIXON  /   PAGE 2: CUERO

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Texas Hill Country Wine: Torrie de Pietra Vineyards and Winery near Fredericksburg Texas