The past couple of weeks have brought a little flurry of activity around here but, thankfully, nothing really bad. We are especially thankful that my niece and her soon-to-be-born baby are doing just fine, after being involved in a very serious car wreck a few days before Easter. That was certainly a scare for everyone here when it happened.
Hubby and I made a last-minute decision to go away for Easter this year. My mother still needs to just stay in for the most part, as she continues to recover from the fall, and our son had to work on Easter Sunday. I was sad to hear that, but his whole work situation is an answer to prayer indeed since he just started a second job that will hopefully solve some of his money issues. So, my sadness was also mixed with a hefty dose of thankfulness, too.
Hubby and I have both had a very stressful year so far, in our own ways, and we have certainly missed going in our RV like we normally do each month. The weather forecast for Easter weekend looked to be pretty much perfect, which was a little unusual for this time of year. So, on the Wednesday night before Easter just after dinner, we decided to see where we could go in the RV, and we found an open RV spot at Lake Brownwood State Park. I booked online one of two remaining sites in the Council Bluff campground, then we proceeded to load the RV with the few things that we would need for a three-night outing.
We opted to leave on Thursday after work and drive to a KOA near Abilene on I-20. We had actually never stayed in a KOA, so we decided that is was time to give this one a try. I made an online reservation on Thursday afternoon, and we had an easy, level in-and-out pull-through site waiting on us when we arrived around 9 pm. We have driven past this campground many times over the years, but we noticed online that over the past year, many improvements have been made. It sits in a former pecan orchard, so there are lots of nice trees. Our site was toward the back of the campground in the middle of the loop, which helped to buffer the traffic noise a little more. While we could hear the traffic a bit, running a fan overnight proved just the trick to cover it up enough for us to sleep well that night. Happily, we were satisfied with this campground, and we will not hesitate to return again for a quick night’s rest, if needed.
The remaining drive to Lake Brownwood State Park was just over an hour from the KOA, and we enjoyed a beautiful, yet overcast, drive the next morning. We began to first see bluebonnets as we passed east of Abilene, and while we never saw any large expanses of them, we saw many beautiful patches of them over the entire weekend, including inside the state park. It was an unexpected treat to see so many bluebonnets on this trip, too.
Let me just explain that for many of “us” Texans, making a little pilgrimage in the spring to see a few bluebonnets is almost a necessity. It is harder for those of us that live further away, so we don’t get to do it quite as often as fellow Texans that live closer to the central Texas area.
We had been to Lake Brownwood State Park once in the month of February shortly after we first started traveling in our RV a couple of years ago. The difference in the park in the winter and spring is pretty remarkable, too. It felt like a totally different place to us. We actually enjoyed our time there in February, even after an unusual overnight snow storm hit one night and quickly melted off the next day. We had the place all to ourselves, except for the nice camp host. On Easter weekend, the park was full with families celebrating the holiday together, and it was just as nice. We had the opportunity to visit with many nice couples while enjoying the spring beauty of the park. Winter rains in the area helped the park to be absolutely beautiful, and we thoroughly enjoyed hiking, geocaching and riding our bicycles all around the park.
We rode about fifteen miles on the bikes in the park during our trip, which was another good workout for us, for sure. We also rode the motorcycle into Brownwood one afternoon, and it was also a nice ride. The park just opened a new three-mile bike trail, the Nogales Trail, which we did not discover until late in our trip. We hope to go back again sometime and ride the entire trail, as the section that we rode was beautiful.
A wonderful rain storm moved in overnight on Saturday night, and the rain continued through the early hours of Easter morning, which cancelled the sunrise service on the lake, unfortunately. But the rain was so beautiful and refreshing, and no one complains about rain in this part of the state at all these days. It was a wonderful metaphor for me and my parched soul, too. As the sun finally came out later in the morning, all of the campers around us ventured out, and the atmosphere was so peaceful and happy. We enjoyed a great camp breakfast of eggs and bacon, and we also visited with some others as well. A lot of “Happy Easter” greetings were given, too. I loved that so much.
I know it’s been a good trip when we get to the end of our time and have never once turned on the television. Such was the case on this trip, as we made the most of every moment, thanks to the beautiful weather and lots of nice neighbors. We enjoy watching an occasional movie while on our RV trips, mostly after dark in the winter months or when it is very hot outside in the summer months, but it is always great to have perfect weather that allows us to make the most of our time away outside.
A big rain storm hit at home while we were gone, and it apparently brought some significant hail with it. My cannas in the backyard were completely shredded, unfortunately, but they are fast-growing and should recover quickly. Fortunately, that is the only real damage we found.
I’ve been doing a lot of work in the yard this week while the weather has been so nice, as well as going to a few appointments that have been scheduled for a while. We are also on the hunt to move our gym membership elsewhere, and hopefully we have found a good one nearby now. It is newer than our present gym, much closer, and half the price, which will save us almost $600 per year, which is a very good thing.
I hope you had a blessed Easter and are enjoying this beautiful spring weather as much as I am!
A few weeks ago, Hubby and I bought new hybrid bicycles. Normally we would never spend the money for a couple of nice bikes like these, but when we found them for about half price at Costco, we thought about it for a few days, then went back to buy them before they were gone for good.
We took the new bikes with us on our first trip camping with Little Red just over a week ago, and we loved riding them so much that we ended up riding about twenty miles in two days, and I actually rode a little more than Hubby did, probably about twenty-five miles. It felt so good to be able to ride comfortably once again, instead of working more to try to ride the trail bike all the time.
I found myself giving thanks over and over again on our long ride…
… thankful for being in good health in my mid-fifties to even be able to ride
… thankful for my new bike at a good price
… thankful for a sweet man to accompany me that is willing to “ride” with me on our journey
… thankful for a pretty much weather-perfect day in a beautiful place with a flat road (ha)
… thankful for the tiny little yellow flowers that were just beginning to pop out
… thankful for our RV that enables us to get away with our dogs and just relax and be in God’s creation more than ever in our lives
… thankful for the history of the area and for Charles and Mary Ann Goodnight
… thankful for the bison and the bison babies
… thankful for the prairie dogs and their little babies
… thankful for the deer
… thankful for the song birds
… thankful for spring
… thankful for the magnificent beauty of this unique place
… thankful that no one in our family was sick or injured at that moment
… thankful that God listens to me and my randomness
… thankful for the Allsup’s in Quitaque that had a diet soda when we arrived in town
… and …
… thankful to be able to be thankful.
That last one came after a few weeks of struggling a bit in that area.
As we made our long trek on the bikes on Saturday morning, we had a little breeze in our face for the first five miles. I was glad to have the breeze against us on the first part of the journey, too. I thought that I would be pretty tired on the journey back to camp, since we were not used to riding quite this far in one stretch. Sure enough, I was starting to feel a little pain in my legs as we started on the way back, but having the wind at my back made the journey so much easier once we got rolling again. By the time we arrived back at camp, I found that I was in very little pain and having the time of my life. I wanted to continue to ride, but Hubby was tired and ready for a break.
I then took Girly Girl on a little hike on a nearby trail, and I was overwhelmed with a realization that this is how I want to end my life one day… with the wind at my back.
Life is a training experience, isn’t it? We take on a lot of “headwinds” throughout the course of our lives, and hopefully we are in good shape by the end of our journey. People who have trained properly through proper disciplines to ride bikes can do so very well, regardless of whether or not the wind is in their face. They are in excellent shape and have the proper equipment to ride well and ride for long distances. We have just such a friend, and he has ridden across the United States on his bike… twice. I cannot imagine being in such good shape, but he is proof that it can be done. He still rides more than I can only dream of doing, and he is in his early sixties.
For me, in a spiritual sense, I don’t want to be stuck in “training mode” when I am nearing the end. I want to be sailing along with the wind at my back, mature and dependent on God in ways I am not today. I want to symbolically be “riding cross-country,” doing good works, living a life of happy discipline and enjoying the scenery when I’m ninety. How nice it would be to go into those closing days with the wind at my back, instead of straight in my face, like it often is right now in many respects for me today. I have seen others do it well. I know it can be done.
I have much training left to do. 😉
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV, emphasis mine)
Blessings to you this week, as we prepare our minds and hearts for Easter once again. May we approach the day with truly grateful hearts and consider Him who persevered the cross and set the ultimate example for us all.
We had a great time on our quick little getaway this weekend in the RV to Caprock Canyons State Park. After delaying our weekend away three times, it was extra special for us to finally get away for a couple of days. Despite the horrible dust storm on Thursday evening that delayed us leaving until Friday morning, thankfully, the weather was beautiful the entire weekend.
Before going any further, I would like to encourage you to watch this wonderful six-minute video. I truly hope you will watch it, as it is so special to me for many reasons, and it will save me time in sharing some of the information that is so beautifully presented in the video. You will see some gorgeous photos and videos that accurately depict a typical visit to the Caprock Canyons State Park, as well as a bit of interesting history, too. The photographer is Wyman Meinzer, the Texas State Photographer.
One of the main reasons for this trip, along with needing to get away for a little sanity and exercise break, was to see how Little Red would do on his first camping trip in the RV. He did just great, and he basically did what Girly Girl did the whole trip. If she slept, he slept. If she ate, he ate. If she looked out the window above the sofa, he looked out the window. And best of all, when she crashed for the night, so did he. We didn’t hear a peep out of him overnight, which was a nice surprise, for sure. He is slowly learning to walk a bit better on the leash, but he is still very much a happy, energetic puppy and very curious about every new thing he encounters.
Caprock Canyons was the perfect place for us to take Little Red on his first trip. We are very familiar with the park and good sites to park the RV for a little more privacy for us, since we really did not know how he would react. He was a good boy and seldom barked at anything, except Girly Girl and us when we played with him.
Happily, the “official park greeter” was out to welcome us on this trip, and he was a big ol’ boy indeed! The Southern Plains Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park is designated as the official bison herd of the state of Texas, and they have a historic and unique bloodline that was saved by the wife of Charles Goodnight, Mary Ann, who actually saved this herd from a likely extinction from hunters.
Since visitors are to always maintain a distance of at least fifty feet from one of these magnificent animals, I should probably explain that he was actually behind a big steel fence when I took this photo. Otherwise, there is no way this ol’ gal would even consider getting so close to this guy who could run me down in a heartbeat if he wanted to do so. In many areas of the park, however, including the main entrance area and the Lake Theo area, you can easily have a close encounter with a bison, including many in the herd when the feed truck comes around. In fact, some of the tent sites around the lake are easily accessed by the herd. However, they cannot gain access to the RV campground at this time.
I think we saw more of the herd on this trip than on any other previous trip to the park, and it is always exciting for me to see them, especially when we can see a couple of little calves like we saw on this trip. No, I did not have a camera with me at the time, and I am so sad that I missed that great photo op. Trust me, those little bison were cute, cute, cute, and if you watched the video above, you saw some calves that we saw a couple of years ago on a visit to the park. On Friday evening, just before sunset, I think most of the herd (probably about thirty or forty animals) actually blocked traffic on the road for a while near Lake Theo. No one was upset either, as we all got to watch them coming in to grab a drink of water before settling down for the night. It was magnificent to see.
We spent quite a bit of time riding our new Diamondback hybrid bicycles and ended up riding about 20 miles in all during the weekend. On Saturday morning, we actually rode out of the park to the nearby tiny town of Quitaque and back, making that round trip a total of ten miles from our campsite. I felt great the entire time and could have done it all over again, especially since the road is level most of the way.
We also checked out a couple of the “rail to trail” areas for the first time, as we are hoping to actually ride part of the trail next month for the first time with some friends, depending on the weather. This section at the Quitaque Depot, which is actually in town, seems to be pretty inviting at first glance. However, as I took my bike for a quick ride on the trail ahead, we discovered that it is pretty rough going for our hybrid bikes. I think this section would require a trail bike for that reason. Fortunately, the section about five miles ahead at the Clarity Tunnel Depot (no picture) looks to be much smoother and should work well with our hybrids. That section will be a ten-mile round trip to the bat tunnel and back, and it should be a lot of fun to ride.
I never, ever grow tired of the beautiful views and amazing sunsets at this park, and I feel blessed that it is within a reasonable drive for us to visit pretty often for a quick getaway. The view above is within an easy walk of the RV campground, just next to the amphitheater which sits on the canyon rim and overlooks the main part of the state park canyons ahead. RV’s are not permitted down in the canyon, unlike Palo Duro Canyon State Park, so we just take the motorcycle for a couple of rides each day into the canyon to view the scenery and do a little hiking. It is a fabulous ride on the motorcycle, but perhaps not for the faint of heart, as there are several very steep hills to be traversed each direction. We think nothing of them now after driving them for a couple of years, but I will admit that I held my breath the first few times, too.
Sadly for us, we discovered that the state park folks cleared an entire area of all the trees and brush near the RV campground over the winter months, which also happened to border the east side of one of our favorite walking and biking trails along the canyon rim. Now, instead of a nice, sheltered trail for most of the way, it is a wide open area. Because we live in an area where trees are few and far between, this was honestly a big disappointment for us, at least right now. They are attempting to restore native buffalo grass in that huge meadow, and I’m sure it will be nice if they are able to get it to grow and thrive again. I also know that quite a number of the mesquite trees had died due to the drought of the past few years and were likely a fire hazard. So while I understand why they did it, I will always miss that sheltered trail. The wind is pretty much a constant anywhere in this part of the state, and it is always nice to find an area where you get a little break from it.
I have many pictures and stories of this beautiful, remote, unique and often overlooked state park, and over time, I will share more about it and the historic South Plains Bison Herd that now call it home. It almost feels a bit like a “home away from home” for me now.
For the third time in as many weeks, we are once again delayed in going camping in the RV. Tonight’s delay was due to yet another wind and dust storm ahead of an advancing cold front. We knew there was a chance of it tonight, but we were still prepared to leave, just in case the weather forecasters missed it. Unfortunately, they were right once again. Have I mentioned how totally sick I am of dust right now? It. Is. Everywhere! Ugh. So far this year, we’ve had a whopping .17″ of rain. Yes, the drought continues. 😦
We attempted to go camping the previous two weekends, but different issues kept us from going. This consecutive three-month period is the longest period of time that we have not been camping in the RV, and I am having some serious camping withdrawals. Hopefully, the wind will subside by morning and we will be able to hit the road for a couple of nights once again, since the hubby already has tomorrow off from work.
One of the reasons for making a quick weekend trip right now is to take Little Red camping for the first time, along with Girly Girl, who is now a camping pro. It should prove to be pretty interesting to actually have two younger dogs along on our trips now, instead of a younger dog and an older dog, but we are looking forward to it, for sure. Something tells me that there will be few dull moments in the RV now, too. Little Red is full of himself these days, but gosh, is he ever cute! He now weighs almost 40 pounds, so he really doesn’t look much like a puppy, even thought he totally acts like one.
Since hubby and I had nothing to do this evening after dinner because we were planning to already be on the road, we ended up visiting a few stores instead. I bought a small bird feeder for our new tree in the backyard because I really liked it, and since there is usually a breeze here, the little swing will often be a swingin’ in the wind, hopefully with some pretty birds along for the ride.
Our backyard birds literally have it “made in the shade” now, since they now have two feeders and a nice bird bath out there.
I’ve taken so many fun pictures of the backyard birds over the years, and I’ve won two different awards at the fair for pictures I have taken of them at different times. One picture was taken in the winter after a snow storm (Post: My First Blue Ribbons), and another picture was taken in the springtime (Photo: Tiny Bird Winner). I posted about winning those awards a few years ago, as it was a lot of fun for me at the time.
Hopefully we will be away from phones and internet (and dust) in about twelve hours after a good night’s rest. I’m ready.