Friday, July 27, 2012

Park (P)review: Steven F Austin - San Felipe, TX

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


*Adjacent to a Golf Course (cannot be seen from park, but has the same entrance)

*Sites: Electric and Water - Site 36 is well shaded
                                           Sites 22 & 20 would be good for group camping
*Sites: Screened Shelter, Electric and Water - picnic table inside a covered, screened shelter.  Truck and Pup must  fit inside the paved area, off the road.
                                           Site 17 backs up to the golf course
                                           Sites 7, 8, 9 all have great shade and would be big enough for truck & pup
 *$5 for a bundle of firewood, purchased onsite

We stayed Here July '14: Numerous Naps
We stayed here again December '14: The Greatest Gifts

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Say it Ain't So!!

Here I was, about to type up a Park (P)review on Lake Texana State Park - the first one on the list for our fall camping season - and I find this:

Lake Texana State Park is closed, pending lease termination and park transfer to the Lavaca Navidad River Authority (LNRA). It is currently anticipated that the park will re-open on Labor Day Weekend (August 31, 2012) and will be operated by the LNRA. For more details, please contact LNRA at 361-782-5456.

Reading further into the news release, it appears that TPWD is letting go of the park due to funding shortfalls.  It just breaks my heart, as an avid camper, to see such an amazing resource, such a sweet little every-spot-on-the-water campground removed from our state parks system.

Here's to hoping we won't see many more of these notices in the future.

Support your Parks!! Go Camping!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

That Ain't Stock #1: Misc Mods

2010 Rockwood Freedom 1960 LTD

We bought our 'Pup in February and almost immediately started camping and stocking it with all those amenities that every camper needs (15 marshmallow roasting sticks? Check!)  As we went along we realized that it's not just the stuff you put in the camper that matters, but also how you make it your own over time.  So, I thought I'd take an opportunity here to list out some of the 'mods' we've done to make our little home-away-from-home a little, well, homier.

A whole new meaning to "bed roll"
One of the first things we did after our first few trips was to 'upgrade' the standard mattress.  Sure, it's fine if you're only out for a night and you don't mind sore shoulders in the morning, but RDB and I have a Tempurpedic at home, and nothing even comes close to that!  We bought a 4" memory foam queen mattress at Wally World on one of our trips and RDB took very careful measurements, then cut it to fit.  We kept the original camper mattress and lay it out on top when we set up camp - when we strike, it gets rolled up (like wrestling an alligator!) and stored on the floor for travel.  Overall, it's probably the second best thing we've done for ourselves comfort-wise.

Silver reflectors on bunkends = one cool camper!
The first best thing we did for our camping comfort was install our Gizmos. (Get them here)   These are radiant barrier/reflective coverings that fits perfectly over the bunkends.  You can see in the photo (right) how they lay over the top and have straps to secure them under the bunks (ours are the Super High Wind kind - thus the straps).  In the photo above, you can see from inside the bunk how they provide an immense amount of shade.  It probably knocks the temperature inside down a good 10-15*, which means the A/C doesn't have to work as hard to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Baby, it's cold outside... yeah right.

So, you ask, just how do I know it's 10-15* cooler with the Gizmos? Because this little Coleman thermometer key chain somehow jumped into my basket on my first trip to Outdoor World.  It stays affixed to the shepherd pole on the spare bunk and gives us a quick reference to what the inside temp is.  And no, I don't have one for outside - cause I just don't wanna know!

And, talking about keeping things cool - what's up with the stock "ice box" in the place where a fridge really should be?! Our very first mod was to remove the wanna-be fridge and replace it with an old dorm fridge that we weren't using at the time.  RDB had to cut out the opening just a bit wider to make room for it, but for the most part it was a perfect fit.  We don't have it permanently mounted (not sure why not) so when we strike camp, it gets pushed back in to the cubby that surrounds it and held closed with bungee cords.  Held partially closed, I should say - as we noticed after the first go-around, if you shut it completely and moisture is trapped inside with no place to evaporate to, and then store your 'pup in the nice and warm garage, you create a wonderful environment for growing the cure for cancer.  So, when we close up shop we rig the door partially open using a fly swatter.  I also store our only glass camping items in the fridge when we travel - the coffee pot and two coffee mugs.

No, Diesel Dog Doberman is not a 'mod' to our camper... but he sure is a great tag-a-long!  What he's modeling for us is the indoor-outdoor carpet that now replaces the mattress in the second bunk.  Less than $20 at Home D-P-Oh for a piece larger than I needed and cut to fit.  A few staples at the corners and around the edges keep it in place.  Right now, with just the 3 of us camping, we only use the extra bunk for storage, and the carpet just gives it a nicely finished look.  (Also, the 'tent crate' you see Diesel in is collapsible and stays on the bunk when we strike camp.  I'm afraid he'll probably have outgrown it by the next time we camp, though.)

Guys, we know, when you're camping, you're not supposed to care about how you look.  But, Guys, you gotta know, we need that mirror.  That quick glance just to make sure we don't have marshmallow goo on our noses.  My remedy was a sticky backed non-glass mirror (car parts store). Attaching it to the door panel was the best spot, as it doesn't interfere with putting the door up for storage, or the panel down for a breeze, and its just the right height for a quick glance.  One other quickie with my door mod - I got really tired, really quick of always grabbing the window panel to shut the door (ours is a 2 piece door, so the handle is about knee height when you're inside).  Velcro and a bathroom handle fixed that.  It's not the strongest fix, so it may get re-worked, but for now, it's a back saver from crouching over to close the door!

One project always leads to another: That Ain't Stock #2: Removing Jump Seats

Friday, July 20, 2012

Park (P)review: Palmetto SP - Gonzales, TX

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

Palmetto State Park

*Very wooded and tropical in appearance
*Two loops - one is tent/water only, the other is electric/water
*Park host was a Steelers fan (woot!)
*Large old stone pavilion onsite
*Paddle boats, canoes, kayaks for rent
*Farmer's market in town w/great produce opportunities
*Sites: Electric and Water:
     Sites 1-19 were all well shaded. 
     Sites 1 and 9 are at trail heads (would not be first choice).
     Site 11 backs to a lush open field.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Don't Mess With Texas

And we mean it.

RDB and I sat thru a Defensive Drivers course a while ago (we were only there for the insurance discount, I swear!) and the instructor mentioned that you could report litterbugs by going to the website.  The group that operates it will send a not-so-nice letter to the offending trash tosser with a "Don't Mess with Texas" trashbag for their car.  That's pretty cool.

What's even cooler is that, now: there's an app for that.

Don't Mess with Texas, celebrating it's 25th year, has gone mobile. You can download the app here and report literers on the go.

So, when we say, Don't mess with Texas, we mean, Don't Litter!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Too hot to camp, but not to plan!

spNC and Diesel

WeatherBug has us in the low 90*s for the rest of the week - the rain that's been dripping off and on has given us at least a little break from the exhausting mid summer heat.  The 4th of July week was great - RDB's nephew spNC came into town and we went with The 5 J's to a firework's show - then up to Mom's for the rest of the weekend (with Diesel in tow, of course!). 

It's work-work-work this summer - I've got a drive out to San Antonio twice this week.  Not really looking forward to that, but so be it! Perhaps I'll stop in and 'preview' Palmetto State Park along the way.

Thinking through the fall, and dreaming about camping.  I'm working our weekends out around the Steelers football schedule which is requiring a bit of creativity when the games start either way early (noon) or mid day.  We'll be out the weekends of late games or weekday games.

Here's what I'm thinking:

We'll kick the camping season off with a trip to Lake Livingston State Park one weekend in September.  It's one that's about an hour and a half drive - not too far to get back in the swing of things.

Next up will be mid-October and a trip to Lake Texana State Park. I've driven through this one before - it'll be great for group camping and nearly every site has a lake view.

We'll travel out towards the Hill Country early November for McKinney Falls State Park. I'm really excited about this one - fall foliage and the waterfalls - should be amazing!

Daydreaming about camping!
Later part of November/first of December, we'll have to make a quick trip (3pm game on Sunday), so we'll hit one of the closer parks: Brazos Bend State Park. Lots and lots to do here, so I've heard. Might have to have the crew of families come with for this one!

So long as the world doesn't end on 12.21.12 and January rolls around like it does every year, I think we'll head back to Goose Island State Park - the site of our infamous Battle of San Mosquito in April.  I loved the tree cover and RDB wanted to camp on-beach, so we may try again. In the Winter. And the cold.  With lots of bug spray.

Lots of links in this post. Lots of possibilities and fun to be had.  But until then, I'm staying inside in the A/C!

UPDATED: Since learning that Lake Texana State Park is transfering gaurdianship away from the Texas State Parks system, and having become a member of the South East Texas Pop Up Campers Club, I've made a few switcheroos to the adgenda:

September's trip will be to Huntsville State Park, and October we'll join the camping club for the first time at Lake Livingston State Park.

Reservations are made!! Fun Fun!!

SECOND UPDATE:  We're heading to Cedar Hill State Park for Thanksgiving!! I'm so excited to be camping over a holiday weekend!!

Friday, July 6, 2012

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

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

Lockhart State Park

*Swimming pool on site! ($2 with camping permit)
*Adjacent to a golf course (you can see the course from sites 1-10) and has golf carts that can be rented
*Sites 11-20 are in line with the river, however, most of them have a major drop off from the pad/road to set camp on and the tables/fire rings (more than 4' drop in some spots)
*Sites: Full hookups: Sites 3, 5, and 6 are all well shaded and have great views of the golf course.  These sites also have covered picnic tables pavilions
*Sites: Electric and Water: Sites 17 and 18 would be a good group site, site 18 as a shaded stand alone. Site 20 has great shade and is at the end of the group with some privacy.

We stayed here October '14: Really Good Barbeque, Really Bad Gas

Wednesday, July 4, 2012