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A family trip to Brazos Bend State Park takes me back a few years

By Stephanie G. Johnson

The Bulletin

My toddler had a lot of energy to burn off, so we decided to go on an alligator adventure at Brazos Bend State Park, where I used to go as a child.

We would bring the RV and go camping, or as I like to call it, “glamping.” It’s more like glamorous camping in your RV because you are in nature but still have all the basic necessities.

We used to meet my grandpa and grandma at the park when they were camping. Grandpa would barbecue for all of us. I can still smell the Bush’s Baked Beans heating up on the grill. I remember walking the trails with my grandma and having to turn around because a huge gator was on the trail.

There was no way to get around it without getting closer, which I was not about to do.

Then I came to the park with my boyfriend, who is now my husband, and I hadn’t been back since. It had been around 10 years.

As we drove up the road in the park, memories came flooding back. It was like I was a child again. I hoped that my toddler would love this park as much as I did.

We got to the visitor center, and my toddler immediately ran in and wanted to pet the baby alligator and snake. They just re-did the center, and it looked great. He loved running around, touching everything, and looking at all the pictures.

Then, we took off and walked around Elm Lake. We brought the stroller with us because we knew this would be a bit of a hike.

We went with some friends and had a competition on who could spot the most alligators. I did spot the first one. My toddler then decided he wanted to get out of his stroller halfway through and walk.

This was a little scary since we saw some pretty big alligators. I warned him that if he didn’t stay on the pathway and close to me that he would end up as an alligator snack. Then we stumbled across one of the biggest alligators I have ever seen, almost right next to us.

I snatched up the toddler before the alligator could. “That’s a big gator,” he said.

Halfway through our walk, we climbed to the top of the observatory. The sunshine made the water look extra blue. As a kid, I remember it always looking so green and mossy. We found a playground and let the kids go wild. Mine decided he was scared of the slide and wouldn’t go down without me. So, I ended up on the playground with him; my inner child was already out.

We decided to continue our walk, but it was time for the stroller. My toddler was getting tired and hungry. I had given him snack after snack, but it wasn’t enough. After some crying and bartering, nothing was working.

I caved, put Cocomelon on my phone, and gave it to him. We were almost done with our walk, and it made the last half relaxing. He dozed off for a while and was done alligator searching.

It was the end of the loop, and we were almost to the car, with a total of five miles of walking and 35 alligators counted. Some were huge, and some were tiny babies.

We had a successful day of alligator searching. Toddler highly recommends Brazos Bend. We will be back. Our goal is to see 40 gators.

As we were driving out of the park, I reminisced on the good ol’ days as a kid out here with my family. I hope that my child can start to make his own memories here.

He was already asleep as we drove out of the park, probably dreaming of chasing alligators.

(Please send emails to Stephanie at, or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)


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