My favorite season of the year
Autumn is flying by for me, and it’s been a most enjoyable season at home and for traveling in the RV. The leaves are just beginning to turn, nighttime temperatures are flirting with the freezing mark but not yet giving in, regular fall activities returned, and my favorite farmer’s market vendor has closed for the season after another good run this year. This is by far my favorite season of the year, and we now consider it to be our “summer,” since it is our preferred season for travel and outdoor fun now.
Since returning from our week-long vacation to the Enchanted Circle area in early September, we’ve made three more shorter trips in the RV, all to state parks closer to home. We’ve also enjoyed some nice times right here at home, including our annual visit to the fair and enjoying the great food there on opening night, none of which was on my diet, but hey, it’s a tradition… right?
At the fair, we once again dined at the same place I used to take my mom for lunch each year, a charitable organization’s restaurant that I’ve always enjoyed supporting and one that also serves reliably good food. I guess I will always have my mom on my mind every time I go to the fair now, remembering how much she enjoying it, and that’s ok. Those are good memories, but it still gets to me each time I go now.
In late September, Hubby and I returned to Lake Brownwood State Park with another couple who also joined us in their RV for four days and three nights, the same couple we met at Caprock Canyons State Park in August on a weekend that was cooler than normal. It was our first time to visit Lake Brownwood in September, and we managed to get adjacent sites with awesome lake views in the Council Bluff campground.
We enjoyed acquainting our friends with the park, and we also had fun hiking and geocaching together, dining outside in the evenings, watching college football on Saturday evening outside on their RV television and driving into Brownwood to dine at one of our all time favorite places to eat, Underwood’s BBQ.
We also celebrated Hubby’s birthday with our traditional family birthday cake, a Texas chocolate sheet cake that I made, and we even made him blow out candles. Once again, I ate that yummy cake, even though it wasn’t on my diet, a most familiar tale this fall.
In late October, we made a quick weekend trip to Lake Colorado City State Park to just get away and relax. Hubby’s nephew surprised us and met us there in his big, new pop-up camper on Saturday afternoon. The guys had fun checking everything out on it a little more, and we all enjoyed a great visit around the campfire together on Saturday night and even made Nutella s’mores. (Yes, we used Nutella instead of chocolate bars!) We had the campground mostly to ourselves, which was so nice for a peaceful weekend away.
Last week, Lake Colorado City finally received some significant rains, and the lake is now up at least eight feet since we were there. We have never seen this lake with that much water in it because we started traveling by RV during the big drought in 2011. This lake was hit hard and has been very slow in recovering. Hopefully, it’s made some nice progress now, and I’m anxious to return soon to see it.
Our most recent long-weekend trip took us to Palo Duro Canyon State Park in early November for three days and nights. We’ve visited this well-known state park off and on for most of our lives, but this particular trip was by far our best one to date.
I plan to write a separate post soon to share more about that trip and some of the pictures I took. Palo Duro Canyon State Park just keeps getting better and better, especially since it was named the top state park in the nation a couple of years ago, and I’ll try to share more soon about the most recent improvements and expansions in the park, which are newsworthy, especially to campers!
The state park system has definitely spent some money on this great park in recent years to improve the roads and add campsites, both of which were sorely needed. Now, if they could just figure out a way to make that 10% grade road going down into the canyon not so steep and narrow! 😉
Since our last trip, we have been cleaning and sprucing up the RV as we begin to transition it for colder weather camping. Hubby wanted to do some exterior caulking, and I opted to rent a Rug Doctor and clean the carpet while the weather was nice.
Even though we began winterizing in late October at our campsites before heading home, we also started switching out some supplies to prepare for winter camping… loading our heated water hose, electric blankets for us and a guest, extra blankets for us and the dogs’ beds and our good space heater with a thermostat. Right now, though, the weather is still very nice and looks to stay that way, at least for the near future. We’re hoping it stays that way next week for Thanksgiving, too.
We made a long weekend trip in the RV after lunch on Thanksgiving Day, and it was our first time to be in lovely Abilene State Park in the month of November. What a treat we found there as the leaves were changing color. Even though we were just a bit past the prime fall colors, it was still a treat for us to see the vibrant red oaks, as well as the many beautiful live oak trees, too. While we have visited the park in other seasons, all pictures in this post are from our most recent November trip.
The photos above primarily show the trailer camping areas in the park, except for Wagon Wheel Campground that is also nearby. Wagon Wheel is a large grassy common area with nice trees and restrooms that is surrounded by large trailer water and electric hookups that is more suitable to group and open camping needs. For those wanting to spend time at the pool area in summer months, Wagon Wheel is a perfect choice because it is the closest trailer campground to the pool and concession area. There is also a nice tent campground with large trees in a different part of the park, too.
The beautiful day use area in the park has many large trees, picnic tables and restrooms, and the CCC era buildings, including the newly renovated swimming pools that are so popular in the summer months, are an outstanding and popular feature. The old buildings are beautiful and add so much character to the park that is now celebrating its 80th year.
We first discovered this park in February 2012, and we return fairly often for long weekends away in the RV. We also overnighted here on two occasions in route to state parks further away. This is an extremely popular park for RVers, and most weekends tend to be booked up in advance for the large trailer sites. However, sites are usually available in Wagon Wheel at the last-minute, if needed.
Geocaching is a great family friendly activity at this park, and in my opinion, it is the best state park for geocaching that we have visited to date. My goodness, what fun we had when we visited here with some family members in April 2013 and found so many great geocaches. We also embarked on the Elm Creek Trail at night with the teenagers and our flashlights to find the epic night cache. We found the cache, but we also got lost in the dark trying to find our way back to camp. All eventually turned out well, but we learned to set “markers” on our GPS unit when attempting a feat like this in the future.
The quaint and historic town of Buffalo Gap is only five miles from the park, and we always enjoy visiting the town on each visit. If time permits, pay a small fee to see the Buffalo Gap Historic Village, and check out several interesting gift shops in town. While there are a few small restaurants in Buffalo Gap (not on the main road), Perini Ranch Steakhouse sits between the park entrance and Buffalo Gap, and I would encourage any first-time visitors to plan to dine there for lunch or dinner while in the area. Reservations might be needed, as it is a legendary Texas steakhouse and will not disappoint. For a quick trip into Abilene, just drive fifteen minutes on Buffalo Gap Road to visit the mall and many restaurants and stores nearby, including two large grocery stores, Albertson’s and United.
On a different note, my holiday baking escapades will be happening once again this week, and I am ready to get started. A few new recipes will hopefully make it into the preparation schedule, along with our regular favorites. As things progress, I will share some photos and recipes here.
Also, my mother once again took a nasty fall in her apartment on Sunday, but thankfully, she did not break anything this time. Just to be on the safe side, the ambulance carried her to the ER so that she could be checked out thoroughly and make sure she did not break her pelvis once again that she fractured back in January. We were there about four hours before they finally sent her back home, and I still made it to a scheduled Christmas party on Sunday night. All is fine today, and she will take things very easy this week as she recovers from the trauma of the fall.
I am wearing my shorts and flip-flops on this fine Monday, as the weather is quite beautiful today. I actually put away my flip-flops a few weeks ago for the most part, but as I am staying home for most of the day, so I am celebrating this gorgeous day in my own little way. I’m sure that everyone is already aware that a big cold front is headed across the country this week, and it should hit our area overnight in a very noticeable way. We will no doubt receive our first freeze, which is actually overdue by about ten days this year. So, I’m enjoying this lovely day with temperatures in the high seventies, as it will come to an abrupt end in just a few hours.
I actually enjoy the season changes, and while I’ve truly enjoyed our fine fall weather this year and our much-needed rain storms, I am ready for cold weather once again. Please remember I said this in a couple of months when we are once again engulfed in a deep freeze, and I am begging for spring to come! 😉
Hubby and I also enjoyed a fun weekend away at our favorite state park nearby – Caprock Canyons State Park. If we have a “home” park to visit, this is it. Caprock Canyons is an easy drive that is just under two hours away, and it is such a great place to visit just about anytime of the year, depending on your personal weather preference. This weekend was a very special one for us in the park, and I will share that neat experience here soon. It was a “first” of sorts in our visits there, and it will no doubt be one of those special visits that I will always remember and treasure. Here’s a little hint.
Last week, I also upgraded my phone to a Samsung Galaxy S5. The photos in this post were both taken with the camera on my new phone, and I may have an adjustment period in getting used to the new aspect ratio of .5625 to 1. How exactly does one use the rule of thirds with such a panoramic ratio anyway? Anyway, I’m going to continue to experiment with this new ratio to see how I like it, as I can always come back later and hopefully crop images in a more familiar ratio if I would rather do that. The phone camera takes 16mb images, so I have plenty of photo to work with. So far, I am quite impressed with the camera on the phone, too. I thought ever so briefly about changing to an iPhone for the first time, as I could have saved $10 per month on my plan by doing so, but it would have felt like a downgrade to me in several respects. I also detest iTunes because of the many issues I’ve had with it for my music library over the years. So, I stayed with my trusty Galaxy phone option that I have truly enjoyed since my last upgrade two years ago to the Galaxy S3. It is yet again larger in size than my previous phone, and I hope that Samsung is ready to call it good with this size. I’m not sure that I can handle larger phones going forward time after time.
I am still having fun this month over at Animal Wonder, too! While I know many people may not be big on birding, it is a fun hobby that I want to learn more about. Blogging about birding each day this month is truly helping me to grow in my knowledge of birding and gain even more insights on blogging, too. Daily blogging is proving to be a good challenge in writing for me, and I hope you will stop by there at times for a visit to see what’s happening there. I’m now 1/3 of the way into the challenge and have met each day’s goal so far. I’ve also had a nice reception by others and a good number of follows in the first week, and that is always an encouragement for a new project. Most of all, I am just enjoying the opportunity to finally share some of my favorite bird photos and stories this month. I am already working on the final birding post for November, too. It is a gut-wrenching post for me, and I will try to do it justice to convey the feeling I had at the time. It is more than just a photo of a bird, for sure.
Finally, I added one more link to my previous post, Texas Travel Links. There is a fun app for your phone that shares information on Texas Historical Markers as you drive past them. I have used the app for my Android phone on several occasions, but I believe there is a similar app available for iPhones, too. If you don’t have time to stop and read all the historical markers on the highways, this is the next best thing and a great way to learn some interesting Texas history in the process.