Ever wonder what a soaking wet raccoon looks like? Neither did I.
But when one literally presents himself on your doorstop you just have to take pictures.
I have visited quite a few campgrounds in the last 10 days, starting with Bastrop and Buescher State Parks about 40 miles east of Austin.
Poor Bastrop. 96% of the park was burned in a fire back in 2011.
The campground and historic CCC structures were saved but a large number of pine trees were terribly inconvenienced.
There are 77 campsites in several different loops. Some with full hookups, some partial, and a few tent only sites. I was partial to #63.
There is also a golf course and a swimming pool.
The weather had been below freezing even during the daytime lately. The water hookups had to be left trickling in order to prevent burst pipes.
The cold combined with some strong winds led to some unfortunate damage. See, they were rebuilding the bathhouses here. Two brand new ones were almost complete.
One is going to need a little extra work. Poor Bastrop.
It's sister campground Buescher, about ten miles away, escaped the fire.
It's 57 sites are in three areas around a little lake.
Man, it makes me cold all over again just looking at these pictures.
Site #48 had the best access to the water.
Here is a look from the shoreline.
There are also several cabins available for rent.
Plug in a heater and you are good to go.
I continued east and stayed for a bit in Conroe, just north of Houston. I checked out three campgrounds in the area.
This Forest Service campground has 63 sites and some features I have never seen at one of their campgrounds before.
Full hookup sites. (#60)
And some interesting double sites.
Doubly good at Double Lake. I liked #20.
There are two big state parks less than an hours drive north of Houston.
I stopped at Lake Livingston first.
I like the reflection...
There are 147 sites here with several right on the water.
A boat ramp and screen shelters add to the amenities.
I imagine in the summer when the bugs abound those shelters are pretty popular.
I took a break Monday morning and went birding with a fellow camper. We were in search of a Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, an endangered species.
We found several promising holes.
But there were no peckers present. We did find a deer.
It turned out to be a replica. Our clues were the lack of ear twitching and that it didn't blink. Also the fact that it was only a head and shoulders. Probably made to frustrate poachers. Nice rack, though.
My favorite campground of the three in this area was Huntsville State Park which I visited on Monday afternoon.
Maybe because it was warm and sunny.
152 sites with plenty on the lake, like numbers 69 and 146.
There are a couple of fishing piers and a few dozen screen shelters.
And boat rentals to boot.
It's no wonder that this place is sold out most of the camping season.
Wednesday morning I made my last stop in Texas.
There are 25 hookup sites and 16 walk-in sites just 20 miles or so north of Beaumont near the Big Thicket National Preserve.
Canoeing is the name of the game here and I met several folks heading out on the water.
Here is the canoe launch area and some views of Village Creek.
I need to get another canoe.
The hookup sites looked mostly like #1.
The walk-in sites were closer to the creek. (#11)
A very nice place.
At this time Texas State Park reservations are not site specific. You make a deposit to reserve a site and then pay the balance and get assigned a site when you arrive. If you have some favorites you can ask if they are available.
Here is a tip. Call the park that you will be arriving at just after 9am. See if any of your favorite sites are available and pay in full over the phone. Even if you arrive late your spot will be waiting for you. I verified this with Rangers at several different campgrounds. But keep this tip hush-hush.
I almost forgot the raccoon story.
Last week it was pouring rain one day. I was happily ensconced in my trailer working on the computer. It was the first big rain I had experienced on this trip. A good time to see if there were any leaks.
There was only one.
Unfortunately it was right above my computer screen.
I panicked. If you can read the text on the screen, I was frantically looking for solutions to the problem.
There is a happy ending. If you get a drop of water that hits your screen and causes it to look like mine, don't panic. It will evaporate and disappear in a week. Trust me. Other substances like coffee, beer, etc. will not have a happy ending.
Oh, the raccoon. While all this was happening I kept hearing a scratching sound. I thought it was the last of my hair falling out but it turned out I had a visitor. I opened the door.
He looked inside.
A tentative step.
And then another.
I felt sorry for him but uninvited guests need to come bearing gifts. I told Rocky that if he returned with a pizza I would let him inside.
He chittered something at me and ran off. Never came back with a pizza.
I guess his card was declined.
Regards, Park Ranger