Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Lake Somerville State Park, Coronas Restaurant in Rockdale, Wilson H Fox COE at Granger lake, Union Grove COE at Stillhouse Hollow Lake, Black Rock Campground LCRA on Buchanan Lake, all in Texas

From Coldspring, Texas, we headed east to Route 59 since we hadn't been on that section this year. It is an easy ride south to Cleveland and then east on Route 105 to Conroe.  A little shopping and some repair on our computer at Best Buy and back on Route 105 to Brenham and north on Route 36 to Lake Somerville State Park.
We arrived close to sunset and were greeted by a herd of about 30 deer.  We tried to tell them that a hunt was coming up in a few days. Not sure they heard us.  A number of state parks in Texas schedule as many as three deer hunts during the winter to manage the deer population.  Usually the park is shut down for campers and visitors during those times.
We have been to Lake Somerville before and stayed at the Corps parks at the south end.  This state park was equally enjoyable with large sites set away from each other by trees and bushes.  A few have views of the water.

We were surprised by armadillos in our site and around the day use area.  We had seen a number in Englewood, Florida in the 1990's, but not so much since.  They are fascinating creatures with a look of an animal that maybe should be extinct.

They pretty much ignore people.  Also seem to have poor eyesight which causes them peril near roads.
They blend in and spend time here in the low bushes, but also blend in to the field.  This website gives other facts.
From Lake Somerville we head north on Route 36 to Milano and then west on Route 79 to Rockdale. The picture above is of the main intersection in this small town. We had stopped here a few years ago for a post office. While there we checked Yelp and saw great reviews of Coronas, a Mexican restaurant just to the right.
Without the sign or Yelp , visitors passing through would not know the restaurant was here---except for locals.
Inside was very pleasant. Good , friendly service and great food. We had tacos and a chicken Fajita.  Fresh made and also home made salsa and home made chips.
From Rockdale, we head west , still on Route 79 to Route 95 north in Taylor. That brings us to Granger Lake and Wilson H Fox COE park.  Very quiet, but great Corps park with good cell phone and satellite reception.  In the day use section, currently closed for the winter, there are over 30 shelters for day visitors.

Lots of room at the day use , right by the lake, and with a large group shelter.  It took us a while , as northerners, to realize that the shelters might be used more as shade on hot days then necessarily for protection from rain.
From Granger Lake , we head north again on Route 95 and west at Holland on a Farm to Market road to Salado.This route we have been following takes us through a lot of farm country with some wonderful large homes and small homes and small towns. But in Salado things get busier. It is not too far south of Waco and much closer to Austin.  After some shopping in Salado, we head west to Union Grove COE campground on Stillhouse Hollow Lake. We have our own little hill perched above the lake.
The first day is warm enough for shorts and the night is one of the most windy ever in Lady Blue. The next day is winter weather in the 30's and 40's .  This is a great new find. Most of the sites are on lakeside sites. You can see Lady Blue in the distance.
We head west towards Route 190 and Killeen and then south at Lampasas on Route 281 to Lake Buchanan.  We had considered Inks Lake State Park which we enjoyed very much before. But they were totally full for the weekend, so we decided to reserve(something we do not do very often) at Black Rock Campground. This is run by LCRA(Lower Colorado River Authority.
A small park , but very well kept with a small number of full hookup campsites, a number of these rental cabins($47 per night) on the water, and  more.

A group facility is available for rent , fireplace and all.

It even has a good sized smoker, barbecue outside.

A good view of the lake from most sites.  
From here, we had planned to go west, but the forecast here was for temperatures in the teens.  So we headed south on Route 281 right through San Antonio to Route 37, well outside and a little south of the city.  A very comfortable , large private campground with a laundromat that has been great for this cold snap. 25 degrees this morning, but much better than 17 back at Black Rock.  Yesterday was below freezing all day as well and the rain froze in a layer over our door.  Not nice, but warmer than New England and warmer tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Double Lake National Forest, Rock'n E RV Park, Rayburn COE Park, Martin Dies State Park,Texas; and a few snowy pics from New England.

This is a continuation of pictures from Double Lake National Forest. As we mentioned , the sites are large and separated by bushes and trees. There is a great path all the way around the lake.

Close by the Day Use Area is the dam and the swimming area.  While we were here for New Years, there was a group of older teens up from Houston.  One of their scavenger lists included swimming to the yellow float and back.  Now, it was in the 30's this day.  And , yes, we noted that a number of them took the challenge and swam out to the floats and back.

Rock'n E RV Park was a new find close to Lake Livingston.  It is a Passport America park and is recently under new ownership. Passport America is one of our memberships that has worked out well for us around the country. For $40 per year your membership allows you to find parks to camp at half the regular price.  Some parks are restricted to off peak seasons or times. And some like this one are pretty much good to use all year.  The workers , owners, and other campers are quite nice and helpful.  Our Passport price was $20 per night.

If you check the website below you will notice that a normal monthly fee here is about $400. They mention a January special of $300 for the month.  The picture above was from our December stay--with all fall colors. Good spacing for a private campgound and and very long sites.

We have been through Livingston for 5 years now, and there are still campgrounds in the area that we have not discovered.
Speaking of New Campgrounds!
Jan and I did a survey of 2017 to see what campgrounds we visited.
The result is:
We stayed at 86 new campgrounds
The total different camping spots for one night or more in  2017 was
These included private campgrounds, Corps of Engineer ,Bureau of Land Management(BLM), State Parks, National Forest,Harvest Hosts(free stays at vineyards,farms,museums, and more), Cabela's in Maine, 5 friendly driveways, National Parks.
And--even though we stayed at some places--like North of Highland on Cape Cod-2 weeks--, and Walnut Grove in Alfred, Maine for the month of July--
we averaged moving every 2.4 days.
Also moved through 21 different states  and Ontario, Canada

In mid December, we visited Martin Dies State Park in Jasper, Texas.  We were surprised to see so few campers.  But, they indicated that this is a very quiet season for them.

We had a very private site close to the edge of B.A.Steinhagen Lake.
And we are back to Rayburn COE Park on Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Broaddus, Texas for Christmas.
Did you notice how many other campers are here?
The view out the back window is still great.
We enjoy coffee in the morning(quite cold outside) and watch for the fishing boats speeding by.
We did catch a view of one of the local eagles this time as well.

Jan enjoys her view of the lake.  
Her favorite time is watching for the sunsets.
Every one is different.
Speaking of Christmas.
While we were cold in Texas--30's and 40's--, it was even colder--to negative numbers--and snowy in New England.
This is a picture Alison had posted from their deck in Maine, looking out over the pond.

Scott and Rachel had taken a beautiful night picture of their front yard in snow and lights.
As Gary said, it's a very large fishing lure to drop into a Maine lake.
Or------it might be his new Christmas mailbox 

And Sean was between family visits on Christmas Day and just happened to drive an hour to Bretton Woods in New Hampshire to do some snowboarding on the single digit , snowy slopes.
Notice all the other skiers on the lift?
He said the skiing was great and there was a super special fee for the day.
Was it a white Christmas?
And do you have to wonder if grandchildren will 
enjoy playing in the snow?

Having a great time
Jan's checking out the sunset from inside Lady Blue.
And another view from outside.
Do we post too many sunsets?
And lastly, we could not resist.
This is a picture that Sean found. Where? We do not know.
But quite the picture. Do you notice the skinny little path to the door?
And , obviously, the snow is high enough and packed enough to allow the deer to climb up on the shoveled roof.
And how do you feel about 8 deer(count all the feet and heads)pounding around on your roof with all that snow?
Just a note to our friends at Quartzsite,  Arizona.
Jan and I will be staying close by in Texas this January, exploring the state a bit.  We plan and hope to see you in 2019!

Friday, December 8, 2017

From Rayburn COE to Double Lake National Forest, Coldspring, Texas

Where does the time go?  We last published over two weeks ago.
The picture above is from our last site on Rayburn Reservoir. 
Since then, we moved to Sandy Creek COE on Steinhagen Lake in Jasper, Texas.  
After a few days, we needed to head towards our home base , Rainbow's End Escapee Park in Livingston, to pick up our mail for the all important vehicle registration. Along the way we did our due diligence and had Lady Blue inspected.
 Inspection is very quick in Texas.  
About 5 minutes to see if everything works and then pay $7.50.
After catching up on shopping and other matters, we moved over to Lake Livingston State Park.  One day we were walking in 80 degree weather and then a few days later it is in the 40's.
Our next move was yesterday to Double Lake National Forest Campground in Coldspring, Texas.  This is part of the Sam Houston National Forest.  
Did we mention the temperature falling into the 40's?
 This morning we woke up to this ! 
What's that all about?
And, the temps stayed in the 30's most of the day.
 Because Lake Livingston State Park is so large and close by, this National Forest Campground---only 65 sites--is much quieter. Still quite popular on weekends though.  We were lucky to get a lakeshore walkin site.
Above is the view out our window.
 There is even a nice walking trail that goes all the way around the small lake.
Note Lady Blue through the trees.
 We had to add in this sunset from our site
at Sam Rayburn.
Wasn't it nice of the fishermen to move into the picture at just the right time? 
We have neglected picture taking while taking care of chores, so Jan and I will try to do a little better the next few weeks.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

White Oak Lake State Park, Arkansas; Piney Point Campground, Wright Patman Corps of Engineer Park; Caddo Lake State Park; Buckhorn Creek Campground, Lake of the Pines Corps of Engineer, Rayburn Campground, Sam Rayburn Reservoir Corps of Engineer,Texas

From Merrisach Lake COE, we continue south on Route 165 to Dumas. Then north on Route 65 to Gould and west on Route 114 to Rison, south on Route 79 to Camden, and then north on Route 24 to White Oak lake State Park

This is a small , but quite beautiful little gem in Southwestern Arkansas.

 The sites are well separated . We spent a good bit of our time watching Blue Herons and White Herons on the shore.
Route 24 then brings us north to Route 30 , through Texarkana and into Texas.  Here we make a stop at a familiar Corps of Engineer campground on Wright Patman Lake.

We had spent quite a few miles on back roads in Arkansas.  Now, in Texas, we head down a different highway. Usually, we spend a lot of time on Route 59 out of Texarkana. This time we branch off of Route 59 to Route 43 south to Caddo Lake State Park in Karnack, Texas.
At the park office Jan and I pick up a new Texas State Parks Pass.  In Texas you pay an entrance fee for each state park per day. So, if you are staying for 3 days at a Texas campground, you must also pay the entrance fee for 3 days.  For $70  you have free entrance to all Texas State parks for a full year. You also receive 1/2 off of the second night of a camping stay for up to four stays.
They had some displays , including this stuffed beaver.

We've seen shelf mushrooms on dead trees, but this is a first for white mushrooms.
A number of campers rented canoes from here.  They can paddle out from this Saw Mill Pond and into the Big Cypress Bayou.

The Bald Cypress trees have lost their summer foliage , but there is still the look of a southern bayou.
Along the side of the fishing pier we found this spider.
There were good signs along the trails in the park. 
The canoeists look a bit small paddling through the Bald Cypress.
Caddo Lake is part of the Big Cypress Bayou Watershed that covers 6,000 square miles in Texas and Louisiana
Another campground with very good separation between sites.

Back on Route 43 , a ribbon of road.
Along the backroads in Arkansas and Texas. Huge rolls of cotton, ready for pickup and delivery to many parts of the world.

Not far from Caddo Lake is Buckhorn Creek COE campground on Lake O' The Pines in Jefferson, Texas .
Jan and I are lucky to find this great spot that freed up after a cancellation.  In this part of Texas, the schools have a full week vacation for Thanksgiving.

Besides the wonderful campground--a new favorite-- we also discovered the town of Jefferson.  
This was an old riverboat town that saw traffic from New Orleans , St. Louis, and more via the Mississippi River and the Red River.

There is a feel of New Orleans in the storefronts and wrought iron.

A proud addition along the street is Jay Gould's Railroad Car.
This car was built in 1888 for Jay Gould , who was a financier and owner of the Union Pacific, Texas Pacific, Missouri Pacific, and the International and Great Northern Railroads.
The long car has two observation rooms, four staterooms, two baths, butlers pantry, a kitchen, a dining room, and an office.
Tours are available.
A couple next door had recommended the Austin Cafe for lunch, but , unfortunately, that was closed the day we were in town.  But we did find Auntie Skinner's Riverboat Club.
Lots of neon lighting and a painted tin ceiling, we had a great lunch. Started with Shrimp Jammers-stuffed with cream cheese, cheddar, and jalapenos. After , we had Fried Catfish dinner and Fried Catfish Po-Boy.

The mural on the outside wall of Auntie Skinner's.

Lady Blue was quite happy!

Perfect spot for sunsets too.

And this is our spot for Thanksgiving at Rayburn COE, in Broaddus, Texas