Monday, April 28, 2014

Enjoying Lockhart State Park…

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Austin Texas 068We really  enjoyed our stay at Lockhart State Park and hoped to acquire more days but had no luck. Even with only a three day stay  we were still able to sample BBQ at three of the four highest rated BBQ joints in the entire state of Texas. We skipped Kreuz BBQ this time around since we only had time to eat at three places and Kreuz came in last place during our Lockhart stay a year ago. You snooze – you lose! Once again our favorite place was Smitty’s as their brisket is just plain better than the rest. The only problem with their BBQ is that they aren’t open for dinner… just lunch! The lean shoulder we ordered was smoked perfectly tender and delicious so we both joyfully savored every bite.

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While at Lockhart State Park we also were able to have our son and his family up for an overnight camping trip.It is always fun to see the grandkids live after having watched them grow through the eyes of Skype. We had fun playing with them and taking them on short nature hikes throughout the park. It seems that they are still fascinated to listen and learn about things in their environment.

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We also treated the family to our second favorite BBQ joint – Chisholm Trail for dinner that night. Later that evening we lit a big campfire much to the delight of the grandchildren… especially Cameron, the six year old. Of course no campfire is complete without the making s’mores! The grandkids love, love, love the s’mores (almost as much as their parents do)!

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The next morning we had to break camp and finally understood why we weren’t able to extend our stay as there were about 8-10 Casita RV’s either in the park or waiting alongside the road for the rest of us to leave. A Casita rally seemed to be the reason we couldn’t add days…

Lockhart State Park 023We broke camp as the grandkids and their parents wanted to see what all we go through during camp breakdown.  Our son, Jason, and the grandkids also wanted to ride in the motorhome over to the RV park we planned to stay at for two weeks to also experience the ride and setting up camp. They thoroughly enjoyed the drive over through the scenic Texas hill country. The drive through the town of San Marcos was slow but  then the drive through the Texas hill country gave us all some great vistas… I asked Jason, as he was seated in the passenger seat, how he like our in-house version of the I-Max! He loved the views through the large windshield and said he too thought it was much like an I-Max show. It was fun to share the ride with them as Kelly, our daughter-in-law volunteered to drive behind us in their car so that the kids and Jason could have this experience.

We are now at Lake Pointe Resort near Canyon Lake in Texas and we will stay here to continue our visit with our grand kids. Later in the week our daughter Katie is flying in so we will actually  be able to have the whole family together which hasn’t happened in years!  We anticipate having a great couple of weeks here with the family…

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Visit to the Capitol of Texas–Austin!!!

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The drive from College Station on highway 21 over to Lockhart State Park was an enjoyable drive since the wildflowers are still displaying their spring beauty even this late into the season. When we pulled into Lockhart State Park we were told to pick out our site and let them know which one. There are really only ten sites to choose from if you want sewer and lucky us as we were able to secure the very same site we had last year. It is a beautiful site under a nice live oak tree overlooking the green fairways of the state park’s golf course. I sure wish we would have been able to get more than three days…

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Our son called and said that they would not be able to come out on Friday so we had the day to ourselves.  Since we were so close to another former home town we made the 35 drive north to the city of Austin, Texas. It had been a long time since we had visited the state capitol we decided we should tour it once again. The only challenge to visiting state capitols is passing through the necessary security and of course I set off the alarm and had to be wanded. After wanding me,  the officer found nothing and we were waved into the building.

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There were quite a few folks visiting the capitol this day and we wandered around the entire structure taking in the history, the architecture and the beautiful artwork that adorns the halls of this magnificent state capitol. Originally it was built in 1853 but  that structure burned to the ground in 1881. The current one was completed in 1888 and stands to this day topped with a zinc Goddess of Liberty statue.

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Touring the capitol grounds is also enjoyable for us as there is an abundance of various species of trees as well as scattered statues depicting historically significant events in Texas. We also walked around downtown a bit noticing how much it had changed since the time we lived here in the early 1980’s. Oh and I should mention that the traffic is pretty horrible… can’t imagine driving in this all the time but for us it was merely a nuisance since we were not in any hurry to do anything or get anywhere.

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At the end of our touring I made sure to visit a friend's  pub near the University of Texas called The Crown and Anchor. The Crown and Anchor is still hopping with activity and attracts a crowd of mostly older college students and University staff during the early happy hours. Luckily we were able also to meet up with my friend as he was in town… Yep enjoying a nice frosty beverage at the end of a hot  89 degree touring day was a  perfect ending to our visit in Austin, Texas…

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Goodbye Aggieland! Moving on down the road…

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College Station TX part 2 057Our month long stay has come to an end here in our former hometown of College Station, Texas. From here we will head a bit further southwest over to Lockhart, Texas. We sure enjoyed our stay  and will look forward to our next return. We were able to get our fill of Tex Mex foods and we were also able to visit all of our other favorite restaurants and taverns. The town sure has grown even larger in our short absence and much to our disdain it is starting to more resemble a city that a nice rural town. With the continued growth of Texas A&M University the Bryan College Station Metroplex will only get much larger than it is now…

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One of the best things about returning to our former hometown is the opportunity to reconnect with many of our friends from our past… We don’t usually go out of our way to see anyone until the final days start waning down. We do so mainly because we will usually see about three quarters of our good friends just by living here a month or as we make our way out and about. Oddly enough we met two old friends who happened to be driving  alongside our walking route. On those two occasions we heard our names being called and turned around to chat for awhile on the side of the road! Yes there were some friends we had hoped to see but didn’t yet there were other friends we didn’t expect to see and did…

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We went to happy hours, out to eat, to social gatherings and even a few Easter parties while staying here.  We had a visit from our grandkids as well! We had some of our RV friends visit us while we were here and even had some friends from out of town stay overnight with us in our home. We always enjoy coming back for the opportunity to extend our many friendships marking yet another reason to return in the future.

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Much of our time was also spent on our list of full tilt Spring Cleaning chores (a much needed carpet shampooing) and ordering several needed items online.  Happily we were able to complete all 30 items on our list so we feel clean, stocked and ready to roll.

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Next up for us is Lockhart State Park for about three days for some camping with the grandkids. Then we have to move (since 3 days was all we could get) up near Canyon Lake for the next week and some more grandkid camping. Where we go form there is still unknown but we have picked our late summer destination target which is Glacier National Park. I guess I had better get around to doing some planning as to how we will get there since both Memorial Day and July Fourth will come before we know it and campsites will need to be reserved well ahead if possible.  Hope to see you on down the road…

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Scenic Drive over to Chappell Hill, Texas…


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It has been a bonus year for wildflowers in and around Bryan/College Station… Usually by this time of year the wildflowers are waning quite a bit due to heat and especially since this area is about 5 inches behind in rainfall. But with the cooler overnight and daytime temperatures there seems to be waves of wildflowers. Some of the earlier bluebonnets flowers we saw are indeed starting to go to seed yet there are bluebonnets in their full glory even today!

Since the wildflowers were still blooming we decided to was a good day to go visit a friend of ours in Chappell Hill Texas as the road from here to there is usually full of wildflowers… and this trip was definitely not a disappointment!

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As we headed south from our RV park we noticed that the paintbrushes and bluebonnets were still abundant even though some of the more typical late spring and early summer wildflowers were starting to bloom adding a splash of yellow to the typical blues and reds.

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As we got into Chappell Hill there were fields of wildflowers and it was all we could do to not stop every tenth of a mile to take more pictures. But we eventually made our way to a meeting point with our friends in Chappell Hill, the 221 Bar… We  went there to meet with our daughter’s former softball coach who coached her 18 and under Gold Club ball team. While Katie played ball with him for several years we became really good friends. Not many parents can actually befriend a person who could impact whether or not your daughter would play or get a scholarship or not… But we did become friends despite this!

When we arrived at the bar Carol and Pete exchanged greetings with us and Pete mentioned to Carol we were the only parents that were still willing to talk with him… It was just like old times when we began chatting and the evening went by too quickly.

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Chappell Hill is a very small Texas town with a nice vibe and one definitely worth a visit. Whether it be to attend their annual Bluebonnet Festival  or just as a place to drive to while looking for wildflowers. The 221 Bar is definitely worth a stop as it also has a small artsy shop next door. Yep, another place we will have to return to next time we roll through Texas in the Springtime…

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lick Creek Park, College Station, TX…

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We love to go for walks and besides walking around Texas A&M University our next favorite place to take walks in this area is the nature preserve at Lick Creek Park. Lick Creek Park is part of a 1265 acre tract acquired by College Station in 1981 in a trade for development land along Highway 6. About 500 of these acres were set aside as a “natural area for education and enjoyment of future generations”. It also provides protected habitat for Spiranthes parksii, a federally listed endangered orchid known as the Navasota Ladies’ Tresses. October and November are the only months to see them in flower.


Located at 13600 East Rock Prairie Road even the drive over to the park in the spring revealed many of the native wildflowers in this area. The park is always a fun hike in the spring because of the wildflowers and the new growth. The park is popular with hikers, mountain bikes, and those who love to walk their dogs unleashed. Soon there will be many birdwatchers at the park as it is a good place to spot migrating warblers and other migrants this time of year.

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Lick Creek is a major tributary to the Navasota River. It contains well-developed riverine and alluvial hardwood forest, open marshland, oxbow meadows, upland oak forest, and sandy prairies. There are several miles of trails and we usually walk a larger loop that is a bit over 3.5 miles. On this trail one can see all the diversity that exists in this county. Post Oak Savannahs, Water Oak wetlands and Sandy Meadows  which are populated with many wildflowers in the spring.

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There are several benches scattered along the way to simply enjoy the solitude of this park as it is far enough away from the noise of the highway and the trains. Lots of families bike with their kids here on the weekends so we found it to be a quieter time to hike here in the early mornings on weekdays.

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I remember the many years we lived here I always considered this area to be an ecological desert void of diversity and of little interest. Now when we return we always enjoy a walk through this unique vegetative habitat found only in the part of Texas. Funny how time sharpens ones focus and allows us to rid ourselves of negative thoughts. We now can see the beauty that each area has to offer and enjoy walks such as these in every place we stop…

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Calvert Texas, an Artsy Sort of Town…


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A former co-worker and good friend of Sharon’s, Cindy, called us one afternoon and told us that she was going to be part of an art show in the sleepy little town of Calvert, Texas. It  is about 40 miles west of where we are staying and the only things we remembered about this little town were that it was a good place to shop for antiques and it was one of the worst speed traps in Texas. But we knew we might not see Cindy and her husband Jim unless we went to show and we also wanted to see her most recent artwork.

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So off we went down Highway 6 through the town of Hearne and on to Calvert. The wildflowers were still in peak display which made the drive over rather enjoyable. We intentionally arrived in town about an hour or more before the art show since I also remembered that the old buildings in Calvert were interesting and I wanted to look them over more closely.

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As we strolled around town Calvert’s history was unveiled in its architecture and historical plaques. It was founded in 1868 by a large plantation owner that brought the railroad through town. The city of Calvert was initially known for cotton farms and their splendid southern plantations. The town grew as many businesses moved into town and by the late 1800’s it was bustling with activity. During the 1900’s, though, the town began to shrink and now Calvert has a population of less than 1200. Today the old businesses house mostly antiques and collectibles stores and art galleries as it has now become known more as an antique and artist center.

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Since it was after 5:00 p.m. most shops were closed but we enjoyed a stroll around the town reading about the history of Calvert on the historical plaques posted in front of numerous buildings. Each building reflected the ravages of time on their exteriors resulting in some very photogenic opportunities. We even stumbled upon a newly opened pub, The Rusty Duck, displaying its open sign so we wandered in to check out this little establishment. The owner served us a cold beverage along with some great conversation.  He told us a little more history of Calvert and his experiences living there. The owner confirmed that Calvert is still a speed trap and told us that some of the stores in town will, with the proof of what you paid for your ticket, extend that same discount to whatever you buy in the store.  We really enjoyed meeting the owner and his wife who arrived late. This particular evening was also pickers night as a fellow was warming up his guitar so we spoke with him a while too. We imagine this bar is definitely the place to be for relaxing after work and on weekends in Calvert.

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College Station TX part 5 022As it neared 6:30 we crossed the busy road, state highway 6, that bisects the downtown in half. The Gallery was hosting the art exhibit and the gathering of people outside the door told us the show was going strong. We entered and found our friend's artwork and while perusing art Cindy was spotted so we were able to rekindle our friendship with her and Jim with hugs. We had fun quickly catching up on each other's news since we last met. It is always great to see old friends especially when they exude happiness. With snacks and wine provided by the art show we chatted and mingled at the event. Cindy’s art was the best in the show in our opinion and right before we left she sold one of her more expensive pieces. We wished her continued success in her art but it was time to leave…

Calvert is still a sleepy little town but there are those residents that continue to give it a great little buzz…