February 10

98%

Not what I’m used to having lived in the West. 98% humidity was a bit too much for me last Tuesday morning, and it wasn’t even raining. Sleeping with damp bedding is the worst, even with the A/C on the humidity was in the 60s.

Mission Tejas SP visual humidity

I’m out of the “Pineywoods” now and at Fairfield Lake State Park. This park is doing some renovation and only one of three loops is open and this one has had a makeover. The large pads are as level as you can get. By the level on the Nash, it’s only a fraction of an inch off. When I drove in, the ranger saw my canoe and told me that he’d give me site #67 which has a small area where I can launch the canoe. It is a great spot with a little walk to the water’s edge and I plan on setting up a chair and reading there in the sun.

I have reasonable cell connection of two bars of 4G and 3G at my site. I’m glad I don’t have to sit in my truck uploading the blog.

I arrived on Wednesday and it was a warm 76º so I took Geordie down to the water and let him swim. He’s always happiest when he’s swimming or playing with the other dogs in the family.

I have a decent view of the lake so I got out the Windex and grabbed some paper towels and cleaned the back window. I don’t think I’ve cleaned it in the last three weeks. I think I may have said this before, I clean more windows on the road than I did in a sticks and bricks.

Before I left Mission Tejas SP, I saw on the TV the tornados in Louisiana and beyond. I’ve been concerned about bad weather. It’s one of the reasons I’m heading north beginning next month. I’d rather be cold and above the line of active weather, than the worries of tornados.

I’ve been looking ahead and I was looking at maps the other night. I’ll be in the Washington DC area visiting my niece and I was trying to figure out the best way to drive out of the area with the least amount of traffic. I notice that on my way north will be Gettysburg, Pa. I put a mental note in my brain to head over there. I’ve only been there once, way back on an eighth grade school trip. I don’t remember much of the battlefield. The reason may have been that there was a girl on the trip that I liked.

I haven’t taken any photos of this state park yet. I drove in on Wednesday and yesterday I drove into town for groceries. This morning I woke to a grey sky which isn’t generally good for photos. I’m actually getting tired of grey skies and I’m missing the Arizona and California winter sun.

The grey skies may also block the partial lunar eclipse tonight and the comet 45P. Take a peek for me.

Until next week, thanks for following and using my Amazon link.

Rob

February 3

What does Spain, Mayo, and Football have in common?

Nothing!

Alingment of Moon, Venus, and Mars. Mars very faint at top.

I’m in new grounds. I’m in Mission Tejas State Park for a week. Boy, is this one in the sticks…woods. If all you’ve ever done is drive on Interstate 40 or 20, you’d think Texas is a flat, dry, and sandy land. Get further south and east and you find lots of oak and pines. Fort Parker was filled with oak and cedar. In Mission Tejas is covered by tall pines and small oak. Sunshine is filtered at best.

The CCC boys rebuilt the mission.

The history of this park is one of Spain attempting to grab land before the French by building the first east Texas mission. The Spanish met a native tribe in this area and they heard a word that sounded like ‘tejas’ which meant friends or allies in the tribes language. The Spanish thought is was a name for the area which changed to the english spelling of Texas. The Spanish also created an El Camino Real and Davy Crockett traveled right here on the Real. Just to the Southwest is a town of Crockett and Davy Crockett National Forest surrounds the park.

Let’s all sing…”Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier…”

Also in the park is the home of the Rice family. The home was move to the park from property closer to Crockett. Looking at the notch corners it reminded me of an old book I had. If you’re as old as I am, you may remember the Foxfire books in the early 70’s. They were the results a  North Carolina high school project to record the country lore and oral Appalachian living history by students. I remember the log house building section had the same notched corners on squared off logs. I think you may be able to find the Foxfire books in libraries and on Amazon. There were about 8-10 books put out.

Corner joinery. For some reason I didn’t take a full shot of the house. ??

I’ve got a TV signal down in this ravine, which amazed me. I’ve seen an advert that I haven’t seen since childhood. Living in the West we had “Best Foods Mayonnaise.” Growing up in the Midwest we had “Helmans Mayonnaise” but I think they are the same company. When I moved west the same commercial song was used for the Best Foods mayonnaise.

“When you bring out the Helmans, you bring out the best.” Substitute Best Foods for the West.

Old Fire Tower Footing, 1 of 4.

I found there is cell coverage here but if you remember dial-up internet, it’s just as slow. I think it’s 1x or 2x at best. There is Wi-fi at the entry gate if you want a faster load.

It’s warming up down here, I even saw an 78º day coming. With being in the woods in warm weather, expect ticks! I’ve found two on me and one on Geordie. I don’t worry about Geordie with the flea and tick meds he gets. For me, every little tingle or tickle, I search for the little buggers. I hate ticks. Thankfully, I’ve never found one attached to me. Knock on wood, spit to the ground, and turn around three times.

Geordie in the tall pines

I took a drive yesterday down to Crockett for mail and dog food for Geordie. I really liked the feel of the town. The houses looked like areas where I grew up. For a change from the West, the streets were narrow, with just two lanes. In the West the streets in the new neighborhoods must be about five lanes wide.

I learned another interesting fact about state parks last week. If there is a lake and it’s encompassed by state park lands you don’t need a state fishing license to fish, it’s free. Fort Parker even had a fishing tackle loan program. Good to know if you’re a bass or catfish angler.

While I’ve given up following football, this will be the closest I’ll ever be to the Super Bowl. I didn’t even know it was in Houston until this week, and I’m about 90 miles north.

With football over that means more hockey on TV. Yeah!

Thanks for stopping by.

Rob

January 27

A Shortie

Not a lot of words or photos this week.

There was some angry weather on Monday and lots of wind which made for angry skies.


I’ve noticed a different driving pattern here in Texas. A lot of Texans drive on the shoulders to let you pass. It’s disconcerting because you don’t understand why they’re over there the first few times. Also, they’ll drive on the shoulder if they’ve just turned on the road and use it as an acceleration lane and allow a faster driver to pass.

One more correction on the cost of camps. Only certain parks offer a discounted weekly rate. Each park supervisor decides on a break in camp costs. I must learn to read the details better.

Thanks for reading.

Rob

January 20

Trains and Rains

Before I left Brownwood, I discovered a railroad museum just down the block from the library.

I think I’ve said before, I’m the son and grandson of railroad men. My grandfather worked for  Pullman Corp. which made sleeper cars, and my father worked for the Santa Fe RR. Railroads are in our blood.

It turns out that right down the block was an old passenger station that also had a Harvey House. Harvey Houses were restaurants attached to station for passengers to take a meal. These restaurants pre-dated dining cars. They were the first chain restaurant. Harvey Houses employed all women servers called Harvey Girls and there is a movie called “The Harvey Girls” staring Judy Garland made in 1946. My sister owns a recipe book of the fare served at the Harvey Houses.

Plaque on the station

This station no longer is in service and was altered into an events hall and the Harvey House now holds the Chamber Visitor Center. Upstairs is a small exhibit of the dorm room Harvey Girls lived in.

The museum across from the station is made up from a collection of a former Santa Fe welder. The Lehnis’ collection was then given to the city for a museum. They had a farm and the collection filled a barn and also included a Santa Fe Pullman Car along with a caboose sitting on the property.

Pullman Car

I discovered the museum without my camera in tow, so my cell phone came out. I didn’t take many photos, unfortunately.

That Santa Fe logo is imbedded in my soul

The collection was extensive. Uniforms and badges, a collection of dishes from many different railroads. Playing cards, a station clock, plus the local model railroading group set up layouts.

I was impressed that this man collected such a huge amount of railroading history. It was nice to see many of the things I remembered from my train trips with my family.

This same type of station clock was given to my father. I now own that clock.

I’ve moved on to just east of Waco, Tx. Once again I have internet and am near an old fort site. Fort Parker SP has a really nice lake that I hope to canoe, if the weather holds for a few days.

You may have seen the rain from the national weather reports. I learned there were even tornados, one in the town to the north of the state park. The area east of Waco received an inch or more of rain.

Today we should have a warm and sunny day, but I think that may be the only day for the next few days. I’m discovering that Texas winters have grey overcast skies much of the time, much like the Midwest. I’m beginning to miss the sunny skies of Arizona and their warmer days. I’ll be back next winter.

Thanks for joining my tracks,

Rob

January 12

Weather for the Birds

Sunrise

First a correction on last week’s post. I found out that Lake Brownwood is actually a reservoir. Had I looked at the map carefully, I would have seen the small dam on the East side of the ‘lake.’

Second, there is Wi-fi in the park, you just have to drive up to the entry station. The other spot is the Council Bluffs camping loop not far from the entry. While I could get onto websites, I couldn’t receive any emails, so in most regards it’s useless. So, a few trips of 20 miles to town and the library was needed for sending off my post here and learning when my mail is due in town.

A bit of work by the CCC boys of the 1930’s

Today is an early post on account of rain. Rain is due this weekend and it looks to be multiple days starting tomorrow. Geordie is going to hate being cooped up.

See me?

Last week I mentioned the 22º low on Thursday night, well it was a precursor to Friday nights low of 11º. Saturday morning I found my water pump frozen. It sits under the drawer under the refrigerator. I had the heat on all night but in a closed cabinet it froze. Next time I’ll know to open that drawer so that the heat can warm that area. It finally thawed about two in the afternoon.

To switch things up, on Wednesday it reached a high of 72º. Winter to summer in just 5 days!

I wanted to jump in the canoe but the winds kept me on shore. I was really looking forward to getting into the back bays. Hopefully I’ll have better luck at the next state park.

With the waves rolling in with the wind and the temperatures warm, Geordie got his share of swims and retrieving his float. A happy and tired pup!

Cabin #6

While I was in town one day I explored the town park, Riverside Park. I found there was an RV park there. It was a little odd though. Imagine a driveway with another eight feet away and so on. Your back window looks on to the street just five feet away. The upside was the park and all the hiking trails, and I did see on the sign free Wi-fi. I wonder if I could get my email there? I think I’d rather be here at the state park. It’s less crowded, a lake with waves to lull you to sleep, if it’s warm enough to allow you windows to be open. Also, no road noise from the road and no city lights.

“Ouch Kitty”

The bird life has been fun to watch. Growing up in the Midwest, Cardinals were in every backyard. Living in the West for 30 plus years I hadn’t seen a one. The color of a Cardinal is as bright as the pictures in books. I’ve also identified three new birds here in the park.

Native to Texas is the Black-crested Titmouse

I’m an amateur or casual “birder.” Watching birds at a feeder is calming.

The rain should clear just in time for me to move on.

Fingers crossed I can receive a cell and internet signal from there!

Sunrise colors

Until next week,

Rob

January 6

Brownwood Lake

Good morning,

I write to you from Lake Brownwood State Park, after staying a couple of extra days at San Angelo State Park. I added days so I could watch the Winter Classic Hockey Game on TV. Unfortunately, my Chicago Blackhawks lost.

Before I left San Angelo I attempted to wander the Santa Fe Station and museum. Unfortunately, it was closed on New Years Eve day. I wasn’t the only one that had the thought of visiting. Two families also came to visit while I was there.

The history of the station begins with a Texas owned line called the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient. Santa Fe Railroad bought out the line in 1928. The museum is open on Saturdays, but maybe not all Saturdays. Call ahead!

I arrived at Lake Brownwood on Wednesday and had my choice of sites in the Comanche Trails section. After I moved from the original site I was given, I attempted to search for a Verizon internet connection but found none including with a signal booster. I also found there isn’t a park Wi-Fi available. I took a drive around to see if I could get a signal in the other loops but nothing changed. I noticed that other than the camp hosts I was the only one in the park. I wonder if the lack of internet could be the reason other “Winter Texans” are missing.

Those buildings are picnic huts

This park, in my opinion, is beautiful. The lake is completely full which is a change from the many other “lakes” or reservoirs around the West. I haven’t researched yet if Lake Brownwood is a natural lake, but it sure looks like it to me. I see none of the signs it’s a reservoir. The lake has trees right at the waterline and I can’t see a dam from the state park. It looks like it could be a Minnesota or Wisconsin lake if you swapped the oak trees to pines. There are many homes on the lake with docks with boat lifts. I imagine in summer this is quite a hopping spot in the Texas heat. The park has nearly 90 sites in four loops and there are many cabins available. A beach and boat ramp, volleyball, baseball diamond, and eight trails for hiking and one large loop trail for hiking and biking.

CCC built benches. I think the round pillar was a fire pit, now concreted shut.
The park is mine

Cold weather has dropped down from the North which will bring high temps to the high 30’s for a few days. This morning the low was a toasty 22º! When the temps rise next week I’ll get the canoe in the water for a few paddles. The lake is just a 50 foot walk from my site to launch the canoe.

Visitor- I must clean my back window!

I had a few moments where I thought I might leave early from this park with the lack of internet, but I decided to stay for the quiet. I’ll just head down to the town of Brownwood and find the library or a coffee shop and connect down there.

I asked the librarian about Verizon and she mentioned they used to have Verizon. Now internet for me, just the library wi-fi.

Thank you for following my travels,

Rob

December 30

2016 End

Howdy!

It’s reflection time again, and I’ve found it’s been a fun year. I’ve found new boondocking camps in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. I’ve seen some new country as well this year. I’ve discovered some new spots in the New Mexico State Parks too.

Texas Fog

Texas State Parks has new interest to me. I found out, when I came to San Angelo SP, there is a weekly rate of $100, which knocks down the daily cost just over $14 a night. The regular nightly bill for electric and water is $20.

I’ve also learned that RVers that come to Texas over the winter are not “Snowbirds” but “Winter Texans.” It adds a bit of welcome to being a winter resident.

The highlight of the year was picking up my new trailer. As I’ve said in my review, I’m glad I sized up.

I have a lot to look forward to in 2017. I’ll start here in Texas and head north and east to visit cousins in Louisville, Ky. Then I’ll head east to meet my first great-niece in the Washington D.C. area. I’ll head up to Maine for my first time ever. I’m looking forward to seeing the coastline and eating lots of lobster!

More lobster and scallops will be consumed with my return to Nova Scotia, Canada in more than 20 years.

New territory will also include time in Quebec and Ontario.

Its up in the air where I’ll re-enter the US next fall. It’ll either be near Detroit, Michigan, Sault St Marie, Michigan, or possibly up in Grand Portage, Minnesota.

Minneapolis, Minnesota will be a destination, so I can visit with old friends.

From that point, I have no idea other than westward.

I hope you’ll continue to join me in my travels in the coming new year.

Have a safe and Happy New Year to you all, thats a mistake, Happy New Year y’all.

Rob

December 17

Bonus Post

It’s a day off on account of winds. I thought I’d add some bonus photos of the area.

Whatch’ looking at?

Looks like Little Monument Valley
For those of you that have been to Hawaii this looks like Diamond Head
I think I found the Necromancer from Lord of the Rings. It’s call ‘Mule Ears’ here.

Hope your day is more enjoyable than mine.

Rob