Sadly, in recent years, the park has been closed for repairs. Anyone who has ever lived in Texas knows that the weather is unpredictable. Several years ago, we had severe rains during the springtime, which resulted in heavy flooding along the Leon River. The river passes through the park grounds, which quickly covered most of the area with water. The park was completely closed to the public for over a year until the Texas park service, and countless volunteers, could get it cleaned up and clear the hiking trails. When it first reopened, it was only for day use. Only recently, has the camping area become available for overnight stays.
I've been curious to see what condition the park was in, and now that my feet are healed enough to start walking longer distances we headed out to see for ourselves. There is still a massive amount of twisted and shattered tree trunks along the hiking trails, and you can see where the volunteers cleared the way with chainsaws. The trees along the paths still have the gray, dead appearance that comes from being under water for so long; but, there are signs of nature restoring the forest. Tiny trees are sprouting up between the piles of twisted and mangled logs. It may not be completely recovered in our lifetime, but it was wonderful to see the new growth and know that the park will be beautiful again.
Boomer loved being in the woods! His little nose was going a mile a minute, trying to figure out what all those unusual smells were. He got to meet other dogs that were MUCH better behaved than he was, and he got to bark hello to lots of strangers. We were only there for about 2 hours, but we sure were pooped when we finished our hike. Ron and I both agreed that our bodies and minds will benefit from more trips to the park.
|Da Boom looking a little excited about our car trip.|
|Waiting for us to catch up...|
|Ron and Boomer at the cave...|
|At the top of the tower...|
|Walking another path with evidence of flood damage...|
|Looking down into the cave...|
On our way home, we drove through a little community called The Grove. Each time we drive to Gatesville, we pass by the road that goes to the community. It is one of those places you always want to visit, but always seem to be too busy. When we left Mother Neff, we made a quick trip to drive through the community. It is priceless! I don't know the history of the community, but have heard that someone who lives there takes care of these old buildings. It is like walking back in time. I would love to go inside and look around but they are kept locked. It's one of those places that represents the tough determination the early Texan's had when they fought this harsh land to create homes and build lives. It also has a sense of sadness about it; leaving you wondering about whether or not their families are still there and if their dreams were ever realized. Nevertheless, it is a priceless gem here in central Texas.
|This is one of the free standing structures in the community.|
|This is a row of buildings that looks like any other town square in Texas.|
|I love old post offices. They must have been the heartbeat of these little communities.|
|The other two free standing buildings...|
|and the little covered well in the center of the town.|