Yep, I am back in the Lone Star State for another visit on my way west.
I enjoyed one final sunrise at White Oak Lake in Arkansas before hitting the road.
I visited 8 state parks in the last 10 days starting with Ray Roberts Lake.
It turned out that there are two different areas here, Johnson Branch and Isle Du Bois about 50 miles apart on opposite sides of the lake.
At Johnson Branch there are 166 sites in several different flavors. Sites 1-104 are hookup sites. 9, 11, 12, and 50 had some lake views.
86 offered lots of shade and privacy.
108 and 110 are gorgeous walk-in tent sites.
If you want shade with your tent site check out 140 and 158.
The lake was a bit low due to the drought but that would change soon. I mean, I was there.
Sure enough, as I headed back to my car the clouds rolled in.
I had planned on visiting the other part of the park but I had left my trailer windows open. So I raced back through the rain to batten down the hatches.
Yep. You're welcome, Texas.
Next up was Tyler State Park near the town of Tyler, Texas. Which made sense.
This is one of my favorite parks in the state. The spring-fed 64 acre lake remains full year round.
This is one of the few parks built by the C.C.C.in Texas.
There is a store, a bathhouse, and a nifty beach.
There are 147 sites here, a mixture of full hookups and tent sites.
30, 31, 32, 33, and 34 were pretty sites on the lake.
Sites 78-104 are an RV group site, the first one of these I have seen
111, 112, and 124 were cool tent spots.
There are also 29 shelters.
I snuck a peek inside one.
And 6 cabins.
There is something for everyone here, making this one of the most popular parks in Texas.
Back at camp I tried to mess up my new camera's auto white balance.
See, artificial lights come in different colors. LED's are bright white, almost blue, Incandescent bulbs throw off a warm yellow while fluorescent lights give off a sickly green.
The camera came through with flying colors, so to speak.
Making tacos again.
I checked out Lake Tawakoni next.
It's one of the newest parks and the pavement was still shiny on the 78 campsites, such as 16, 61, 69, and 74.
Or maybe that was from the rain.
I walked down to look at the lake.
The unusual rain created some fun mud and shrank my left foot.
But at least it wasn't freezing cold. That wouldn't happen for a few days...
Purtis Creek is a nice little spot with 63 sites.
20, 21, and 23 have lake views.
27 and 37 have lots of room.
The 355 acre lake was designed as a catch and release bass fishery, limited to 50 boats at one time.
Very nice spot.
Cleburne is another spring-fed lake.
Crystal clear water!
Of the 58 sites I liked 10, 14, 35, 36, 46, and 49 the best.
Guarding the campground entrance were the meanest bunch of wild tacos I have ever seen.
Except for the little one on the right.
One in particular kept giving me the evil eye.
I gave him one right back and waved a bottle of hot sauce. Little I did I know he contacted some of his buddies and almost got me. I will save that for the end of the post.
Next stop was Lake Whitney.
There are 137 spots close by the 23,000 acre reservoir.
Sites 1-51 (except 39-46) comprise the RV loop.
14 and 24 are prime examples.
The other loops have ramadas. Some with electricity like 104.
And some without, like 58.
At the far end of the park are some pull through sites with hookups and lake views, such as 126 and 130.
There are also several species of wild beer that roam the park. They have put up signs so you don't hit one and get foam everywhere.
On Monday I stopped at Lake Mineral Wells.
There are 108 sites here, including 20 equestrian ones.
Of the former I liked 14, 59, 64, and 86.
The horse sites are about a mile away and most resemble number 90.
It was 81 degrees on Monday, one of the nicest days I have enjoyed this whole trip.
Monday night dropped to 37 degrees and for the last few days that was not even the high temperature.
Add in north winds at a constant 20mph and it has been been very cold.
Monday night I had to cook inside for the first time in a while. I whipped up a batch of carnitas tacos.
I took a day off on Tuesday to process pics and yesterday I braved the frigid weather to visit Fort Richardson State Park.
There are only 41 sites here and of those I leaned towards 6, 8, 10, 21, and 28. Or maybe that was just the wind pushing against me.
15 was neat for another reason. Look closely. Can you see them?
No? Here is a close-up.
The main attraction here is the fort.
During the post's eleven years of active military existence, it was home to more than 5,000 US Army soldiers and headquarters for Mackenzie's 4th Cavalry Regiment. It was originally established as an "occupational fort" to enforce martial law and the reconstruction policies of the federal government.
This lasted until 1870 when Texas was readmitted into the Union. After 1870, the Army's focus turned to Indian War Campaigns.
Three major campaigns and hundreds of scouts and patrols were launched from Richardson.
For gallantry in these engagements, Congress awarded 30 Medals of Honor to the men from Richardson.
When the weather was warm last weekend, the ranger told me that the campground was full.
Yesterday with the windchill it was in the 20's, and I explored it all by myself.
So come along with me on a walking tour.
The Post Hospital
The Post Hospital was the largest building on the fort grounds, completed in 1869 at a cost of about $150,000. The main portion of the building consisted of the Dispensary, Post Surgeon's Office, Dining Room, Steward's Room, and a Kitchen/Surgery attached to the back. That sounds kinda icky. The north and south wards contained a total of 24 beds.
The Morgue was the last building constructed at this post in 1875. A pair of earth closets was built on the back of the building to prepare soldiers for burial.
The Bakery operated 24 hours a day supplying the post with 600 to 800 loaves of bread per day. It became so hot in the summer that one baker actually died from heatstroke.
The Guardhouse ruins originally consisted of four stone cells, 4 feet by 8 feet., just slightly smaller than my trailer. It was nearly always full and the post reported 246 soldiers lost through desertion.
The Magazine was used to store explosives and black powder. The walls are four feet thick with a vaulted ceiling, which was designed to implode in the event of an accidental explosion. If the fort was attacked, the Magazine was supposed to be used as a last place of refuge for women and children. Sure, hide them amongst the explosives.
The Enlisted Men's Barracks contained doublewide bunk beds for the soldiers to sleep side by side. The mattresses were filled with hay that was replaced once per month and then fed to the cows. The walls were chinked with horse manure and clay. With upwards of 150 men crammed into this little building, the living conditions were deplorable. No officer set foot on enlisted row as the stench was so foul.
The Commanding Officers Quarter's was the largest house built on the post grounds. It is the only cottonwood framed officer's quarters still standing in the United States from the Indian Wars era. They had it a little bit better then the enlisted men.
Hope you enjoyed the tour. I almost froze.
Back at my campsite the sun was setting as the temperatures continued to drop.
I made some mac and cheese inside.
Never got to cook outside at my last stop in Texas.
When I put the pot out last night to soak it looked like this in the morning.
That would be frozen solid.
So I am heading west again tomorrow. 1300 miles to Arizona. Over several days, no more 600 mile drives for me. I hear it is warmer there.
There are around 20 campgrounds I plan to visit and should wrap up this trip by Christmas. 13 months in a 13 foot trailer.
I like to jot down notes to myself to share when I write my blog. Used to use a pen and paper but now I use a stylus on my phone.Technology is amazing.
Lets see what I jotted down.
Armadillos sound much larger than they are crashing through the shrubs.
When a laundry day coincides with a shower day it makes for a wonderful night of sleep.
Camping with the Stars - A new reality show.
Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.
OK, back to the (almost) revenge of the cows.
Shortly after meeting this Texas Longhorn I was watching a truck hauling a trailer in front of me containing several cows.
What was odd about this trailer is that it did not have solid half-sides. It was like a giant cage.So I am looking at several future tacos staring at me in the slow lane, which is where I always drive, when suddenly two of them turned around. I watched as they each raised their tail. I realized what was about to happen so I quickly moved over into the fast lane. The white pickup truck that was behind me turned brown in an instant as the wet cow turds exploded on the asphalt. I watched in my rearview mirror as he flipped on his wipers, which only made it worse, and then he pulled off the road.
I don't make these stories up. It's just life on the road.
Regards, Park Ranger