Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Camping Trips

2012 Camping Trips

March 2-4th: Double Lake Rec Area
March 23-25th: Magnolia Rudge Damn
March 29- April 1st (Easter): Goose Island SP
May 3-6th: Sam Houston Jones SP, Lake Charles, LA
May 18-21st: Gladewater
October 12-14th: Lake Livingston SP
November 9-11th: McKinney Falls SP
November 21-25th (Thanksgiving): Cedar Hill SP

Friday, December 28, 2012

Park (P)review: Guadalupe River State Park - Spring Branch, TX

Park (P)review
We haven't camped here yet, but I've driven around and checked it out!


*I was greeted by a 6 pt buck on my way into the park.  That makes this place A+ in my book!
*Most trees here are short, but well spaced - I saw a lot of campers who had hung up hammocks
*The Guadalupe River runs through the park, and has very easy access by foot.
*Water & Electrics Sites: I liked sites 43, 46, 56, 63, and 64.  shade was at a premium (remember, short trees) but all of the sites were nicely private - thus, no real group sites so far as I could see.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Park (P)review: LeFleur's Bluff State Park - Jackson, MS

Park (P)review
We haven't camped here yet, but I've driven around and checked it out!

LeFleur's Bluff State Park

*Right in the heart of Jackson, but it feels like you've stepped into a deeply wooded tall, hardwood tree forest.
*It's a smaller park for camping, but didn't look terribly busy (I was there the second week of September)
*They've got disc golf on the camper's side, and a nice playground (but not directly in the loop - it's across the lake) They also have the State Park Golf Course and a Children's Museum, and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science - all within the park grounds.  There's a lot to do here without even traveling 'into' town!
*Water and Electric sites: Anything on the outer loop is going to have an amazing lake view. A few of my favorites: 1, 2, 4 (best site out there) and 6 (is a double site - hookups directly next to each other). 12 and 14 are both large, but look out for 16 - it was flooded when I cam thru.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Park (P)review: Cloudland Canyon State Park - Rising Fawn, GA

Park (P)review
We haven't camped here yet, but I've driven around and checked it out!

Cloudland Canyon State Park

*We. LOVED. This. Park!!! We were heading back from NC and saw the sign for it and took a last minute detour to go visit the park. We're already trying to figure out how we're gonna incorporate it into our trips from TX to NC.
*The road to the park is just what you'd think of for a mountainous area - switchback turns, hills, big hardwood trees, blind curves.  (I think I'll let RDB do the trailer pulling on this one.)
*The park butts up to a deep canyon - with some amazing views, hiking opportunities, and even cave tours!
*They have quiet a number of accommodations at the park - we liked the idea of using the cottages for our trips across, and I was thrilled to find they had 2 which are pet friendly (with an additional fee, of course).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Park (P)review: Falls Lake Recreation Area - Rolling View,

Park (P)review
We haven't camped here yet, but I've driven around and checked it out!


*Big tall pine trees
*HUGE horse flies- they were following the car at 20 mph!!
*Very large, clean lake. Sandy beach areas, and a payphone (what!?)
*Electric and Water sites: Most of the sites were big and well shaded, RDB said you probably couldn't go wrong with any site you picked.  We especially liked sites B29, B30, B31 as they had great shade and somewhat of a tree-filled lake view. B8 is a double site (group). B12 had steps down to the table and fire ring. B17-19 is an awesome group set with lots of room for parking.

We stopped off to talk to the Rangers on our way out and had the pleasure of meeting Ranger Grimes. He's been with the park for over 19 years and you could tell he really loved the place and felt like it was his home.  Lots of pride in the layout of the park and the way it looked- even apologized that the grass and weeds were a little long.  He gave us a few tips: Run the water for a bit before you hook up- they've got a high iron content in the water (his words: ya won't need an iron pill while you're drinking our water). Watch out for wasps when you open up the electrical box- he tries to get out everyday and check, and spray, but he might not have gotten to your site before you check in.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Camp Cooking #4: Um, not sure what to call these...

Ok, so the title was a ploy to get you to read on.  'Cause who's all that excited about a post titled: Foil Wrapped Potatoes?  Really - would you have honestly clicked through for that?  Yea, me neither.

So, all that trickery aside, let's talk taters. And onions.  And garlic. And butter.  Mmmmmmm, butter.

Alright, by now, you know the drill - gather your ingredients:

Baking Potatoes (1 per person)
White Onion
Salt and Pepper
Garlic Powder (optional)
heavy duty foil, sharp knife, tongs
Hey, just an FYI - do yourself a few favors when you're getting your ingredients: heavy-duty foil. Heavy-duty.  These are potentially going into the coals of your campfire, and I don't want you complaining about ash in your potato.  And splurge on real butter.  I used margarine for this go around, and I won't ever again.  Just didn't taste right.  Real butter is better.  Mmmm, butter..... 
(Do I even need to mention: wash your spuds? Can we just pretend that's a given?)
We're going to stuff the potato with onion slices, so we start out by cutting the potato.  Use a super sharp knife, and slice 1/4" slits into your spud almost all the way thru.  It took a bit of practice to get this one right, but if you've done well, you'll have an accordion for a tater when you're done.
Next up, slice your onion.  The thinner the slices, the better -
you're going to have to shove them in to the slits you just made in your potato. 
 (I used about a half an onion for 3 spuds, use more or less to your liking)
And now, assembly.  Go easy on pulling the spud slices apart to make room for the onion - in fact, it's almost best to keep the potato on the counter while you're doing this just in case it breaks apart, and falls on the floor, and rolls around a bit. 
You wouldn't want that.
Not that I know from experience or anything.
*Ahem*  Where were we?

Here's where you can take it whichever direction you like:
salt, pepper, garlic powder (cloves would be awesome), and butter. 
Mmmmm, butter
RDB said that my spud looked like someone had covered it with icing. 
I said, no, butter
He said, yep, icing.
Mmmm, buttercreme icing....
Whoops, sorry, where were we?

Wrap those little taters up in your Heavy-Duty foil and fire up your grill.  We had them on medium heat on our gas grill for about 45 minutes - turning every now and again.  You could certainly try these in the coals of a burned-down fire as well, but I'm not that brave yet.  I like hot potatoes, not burned potatoes.  Go figure.
They're done when you can smush them a little bit with your tongs.  And remember - they will be nuclear hot when you first pull them off the grill/out of the fire.  So, regardless of how amazingly they smell, don't unwrap them and immediately shove a forkful of the delicious fluffy garlic/onion/potato in your mouth.  'Cause it would probably burn.  Not that I know from experience or anything.
But, hey, you know what I hear's good for burns?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Park (P)review: Lake Somerville State Park, Birch Creek Unit - Somerville, TX

Park (P)review
We haven't camped here yet, but I've driven around and checked it out!


*Lake Somerville is a 2 unit park - Nails Creek is south-western, Birch Creek is north-western.  The two parks are connected by 14 miles of equestrian and hiking trails.  It's about a 20-30 minute drive between them on back country roads.
*Lots of great shade in this park - I'm pretty sure you'd be hard pressed to find a site that wasn't covered.
*Saw deer (fawns, a doe, and a 2-point buck) in various parts of the park in the mid-afternoon.
*Water and Electric Sties:
     Old Hickory loop was closed for maintenance when I was there (Aug, '12)
     Group Trailer Area: round robin style camping area, not much shade, but good for a big traveling group - mostly pull thrus
     Post Oak: Sites 43, 44, and 45 are amazing! private, shaded, cover picnic tables and a great lake view Sites 57 and 58 are also nice
     Yaupon: Most of the sites in this location have covered picnic tables Site 4 - shaded, and lake view, Site 13, 14, 16 have amazing views (14 is very big and private), site 24 is secluded and nice but is next to a trail head. 29 & 30 would be an excellent group site with lots of room and the best lake views in the park

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving (Part 2)

The week started off with a lot to be thankful for. We spent Thanksgiving day with Dad and then Friday with Mom.  Two full-blown, turkey and dressing, mashed potato and gravy, homemade bread and pumpkin pie days in a row? Oh, yeah - lots to be thankful for!

Even Diesel got to enjoy a good bit of it.  He travels so well, and that's something we are absolutely thankful for!  He's still trying to figure out how to jump down from his house (crate) on the bunkend in our camper, so that provides a great laugh every morning.  When the cold front came through Friday, we realized he needed a bit more warmth - so he got a new jacket and Reflectix put under his house to bounce back some of his warmth at night.  I swear, this pup really has no idea just how good he's got it!

We planned for a day at the campsite on Saturday, and I'm so glad that we did.  It was nice to have the morning and afternoon to ourselves.  It gave me the chance to work on a few more camping recipes (popcorn and potatoes - no, not together, ew!)  I'll post those up later.  Rich brought his LoneStar cast iron grill, so we had a personal-sized firepit right by our camper.  That was probably the only not-awesome thing about site #329 - the firepits were down the hill and not near your camping pad.
Yes, the grill is level.
I can't help but get a little mushy-gushy here for a few minutes when I think about what I'm thankful for this week.  I'm thankful for RDB.  For his love and support. For his kindness and generosity.  I'm thankful that he let's me keep him all to myself, and share him with my family, and that he shares his family with me.  I had no idea what I was missing until I met him. Until I was loved by him. He's the best part of my camping, well, him, and the steaks he grills out!

Mom came up Saturday evening and we grilled out some of those steaks I was just bragging about - and we enjoyed the campfire potato recipe I worked on.  Marshmallows, Starbucks salted-carmel-cocoa (Oh. Yeah.), and a beautiful sunset rounded out the rest of the trip. 
I feel like there was a few thousand other things I could post that I'm thankful for - including you, my readers. (Hiee!)  We get back from our camping trips and I can't help but wonder why so many people don't go out like we do.  The fresh air, the quiet surroundings, the delicious food, the great company.  So many things to be thankful for.

Until next time:

May the sun shine brightly on you
and it only rain during the week!
For more camping photos, go here.

Thanksgiving (Part 1)

Wow. What a week!  We left out Wednesday afternoon once RDB got off work, and made it into Cedar Hill State Park around 8pm (traffic from Houston to Dallas was a mess, to be sure).  Since I hadn't had a chance to preview this park, I had to rely on the knowledge of the local park staff to guide us to a good spot.  Ranger Bennett was the man!! He recommended site #329 in Coyote Crossing camping loop, and when we woke the next morning, we were right on the water. And the site was huge!  There was so much to be thankful for this trip...
I'm really, really thankful for Mom. RDB and I woke up Thanksgiving morning and realized that we didn't have a skillet to cook breakfast on.  Mom saved the day! I called her and asked if she wanted to come have breakfast at the campiste (we were heading to Dad's on Thursday and her place on Friday).  Of course, breakfast was contingent on her bringing the electric griddle!!  It was a wonderful and pleasant start to the festivities.
I am thankful for our State Parks.  And for the staff, and hosts, and Rangers who are willing to dedicate their lives to preservation and education.  I love my State Parks Pass and make the most of it - seriously, 5 nights in this amazing spot and it was only $80.  We couldn't have stayed in a dog friendly hotel for one night for that, much less the entire long weekend! 
I'm glad for having Dad and M.o.M. and all the family up North - and that soon we'll have my Grandparent's G up there right next door.  After breakfast at the campsite with Mom, we went up to Dad's for Thanksgiving day.  It's so much fun to have the big group over every year - and to have Papa and Grandee there as well. Of course, it becomes a yelling fest, not out of anger, but love - half the family is hard of hearing and between the Cowboys game, the kids, and the 10+ adults, it can be a little loud at times.  The food is always amazing - and the desserts this year were out of the park! Big Bro cracked me up as I was getting a slice of the coconut creme pudding pie: "That's the best one," he said. "Trust me, I tried all of them." 

I know it's crazy, but I'm thankful for the internet and technology this year. Our Weatherbug App gave plenty of warning that a cold front was coming in, so we could bundle up before going to bed.  Pinterest provided me with a really awesome banana pancake reciepe: one banana, one egg - mix well, and cook like a regular pancake.  (Sounds crazy, but it's crazy good).  We watched a downloaded movie from the comfort of our bunk, and, we got to do our Black Friday shopping right from the camper.

I appreciate the atmosphere at Mom's.  It truely feels like Thanksgiving at her place (I think has something to do with the home-made bread and turkey gravy.  Oooooh, the graaaavy.) It was a smaller group over at Mom's: just us, Big Bro and his girlfriend and her kids.  Kinda nice to have everyone at the same table.  Mom asked each of us what we were thankful for this year - jobs, good bosses, life, camping, and family.  We really are a blessed group. 
Life is truely precious and amazing - and there's so very much, when you stop and look around, to be thankful for.  Just sitting here at the kitchen table this morning, having a day off from work (having work to have a day off from), having the technology to listen to Christmas songs on one device and update my blog on another - to even have a blog! - I've got so much that I'm greatful for this year.  And this post is only the half of it - look for another Thanksgiving post to finish out the weekend trip.

Friday, November 23, 2012

B.Y.O.C. at Cedar Hill SP

Hey y'all!  We're camping out at Cedar Hill State Park this weekend, and would love to have you come for a visit!  It's bring your own chair (and bring a picnic lunch if you want) - we've got firewood and marshmallows and our site is right on the edge of Joe Pool Lake.

Sunset was about 5:30 tonight, and we'll be grilling out and roasting marshmallows about that time tomorrow.

Or if you want to bring your fishing pole mid-afternoon that's cool.

Or if you just feel like escaping all the crazy shopping and get back to nature, then drop on by!

I've got plenty of coffee and hot chocolate to go around!

Entrance fee for the park (day use) is $7/person, 12 and younger are free.

We're camping in Coyote Crossing Loop, site #329.

Send me a text if you're coming over!

Otherwise, Happy Thanksgiving and have a great weekend!!

Park (P)review: Lake Somervile State Park, Nails Creek Unit - Ledbetter, TX

Park (P)review
We haven't camped here yet, but I've driven around and checked it out!


*Lake Somerville is a 2 unit park - Nails Creek is south-western, Birch Creek is north-western.  The two parks are connected by 14 miles of equestrian and hiking trails.  It's about a 20-30 minute drive between them on back country roads.
**Impressed with the size of most sites - they are set up nicely with holding pens for horses in some areas
*Dappled shade, beat up roads, scrubby looking brush around the area, cactus - this park has great character!
*They've recently renovated the facilities by the tent camping area
*You'll find recycling for plastic and aluminum cans near each dumpster.
*Water and Electric Sites:
     Cedar Creek: Sites 44, 48, and 50 are HUGE and well shaded with great views of the lake. Sites 44 &46 would make for a good group area

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Park (P)review: Goliad State Park - Goliad, TX

Park (P)review
We haven't camped here yet, but I've driven around and checked it out!


*Such a sweet, quiet and historic park (on a week day afternoon)
*Mature hardwoods, scrubby brush throughout
*Several different hings to see, historic sites, monuments, and artifacts
*Electric and Water Sites;
     Karankawa - Group sites 11 & 13, 7 & 9 - lots of shade and room to spread out, odd numbered sites from 3-13 would be great for solo camping
     Jacales: (think RV parking lot - only a little better) This area would be great for a large camping group or club. Sites 42-44 and 33-35 had good afternoon shade. All of this loop have covered picnic tables and access to a number of very large smokers (not just grills, but group sized smokers!)

We Stayed here Feb '14: Going for Gold at Goliad

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words....

We stayed at McKinney Falls State Park this weekend and took a sunset-trip over to Bastrop SP, too.  This was one of those trips where there was so much good I don't even have words for it. 
So, if a picture's worth a thousand words, here's my $21,000 post:




For more camping photos (yes, more!) go here.