We stayed an extra day at Ratcliff State Natural Area hoping to avoid some serious weather predicted north of us. Morning broke after our extra day and it was time to hit the road once again continuing our trek to Red Bay Alabama. We hit the road just after 10:00 am and drove the quiet, scenic back roads of Texas.
Along the drive there were a lot of wildflowers still out in east Texas but the early spring red and blue flowers have been replaced by yellow and white flowers. Occasionally the medians were covered in a sea of yellow mostly made up of Black Eyed Susan's, Coreopsis and Helianthus with an occasional white flowering Queen Anne’s Lace thrown in.
We pulled into Martin Creek Lake State Park in Texas just after noon. We set up and had lunch finishing by 1:00 pm. Our site was a 50 amp and water site just across from the lake. Our front window view was very nice as we could see the lake through the tall pines and hardwoods surrounding the lake. The only complaints we read about this park were about the noisy power plant (which we didn’t find a bother) and an invasive species of ants called Argentine Ants (more on them later).
Our first day in the park we hiked on the park’s trails and as was typical in Ratcliff Lake we are still in the Southeastern Forest so the vegetation was similar to what is found in Ratcliff. The trails were nicely laid out (except for those on the island) and there were several small bridges to help in crossing wetter areas. We circumnavigated the lake on the trail system and found the hike to very pleasant
The next day the weather was supposed to be bad in the afternoon so we took off on a scenic loop drive to visit the towns of Marshall and Longview Texas. First up was Marshall where we stopped in the town square to admire the beautiful courthouse. We just love the architecture of the Texas courthouses as most were built in the 1800’s. Marshall had a quaint little downtown area and a nice country vibe to it.
From Marshall we drove west to Longview. This town was much larger and and less quaint. The downtown area was under a great deal of construction but lacked the charm of its smaller counterpart out east. We didn’t even bother to get out for a stroll but did drive over to see the small Christian university called LeTourneau. The university was named for its founder, R.G. LeTourneau, who was known as one of the world’s greatest inventors of earthmoving equipment. It was not the most scenic university we have visited but it sure seemed as if it would be a peaceful place for the 1000 students there to pursue their studies.
Back at home although we enjoyed our lake view and the serenity of the park, I really need to warn everyone about the ants at Martin Creek Lake Park. As we mentioned, we read some complaints about the Argentine ants I learned they are colonial with multiple queens. These small ants are non-aggressive and don’t bite but they are known to move their homes frequently and are hard to get rid of due to multiple number of queens each colony supports. Well during our first night we were invaded. They had attacked the the trash can.
I furiously killed all the ants I could see in the RV and despite our attempt to keep them out by elevating our water hose and electrical cord they still managed to make their way up our two front levelers. I sprayed ant poison around the levelers to kill any remaining ants and thwart any others from entering our home. Once we got rid of them we didn’t store any trash on board thus had no problem with them the next day.
It did rain and we had severe weather all around us our last evening at the park even though we tried to avoid it. However, the wet grounds have probably kept the ants busy repairing their homes and not looking for food so hopefully we can escape before they form another assault.
NOTE: We are now at Clear Springs Corp of Engineers Park near Texarkana Texas and will leave for Little Rock, Arkansas after two nights …