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!