Monday, January 2, 2017

Fort Parker RV Trip Preview

During the Christmas Break, Ron and I had hoped to get a trip to Mother Neff scheduled. Unfortunately, the crazy Texas weather decided to take a turn for the worse and we backed out.  I told Ron that I really couldn't see going out to camp if it would be too cold to get out and hike. So, we decided to postpone, hoping for nicer weather.  In the meantime, the family had a discussion about where to camp next. We decided we need to expand our travel distance to get prepared for the next massive road trip in 2018. We figured maybe a trip about 2 hours from home would be good for January; and, then we will plan an even longer trip to either Palo Duro or Big Bend during Spring Break. I did some research and found a state park near Mexia, Texas, which is about 2 hours from home. It is called Fort Parker State Park. Ron and I decided to take a drive out there today and see what the facilities are like. I always feel better about going someplace if I can preview it.  It took us almost 2 hours to get there, driving between 60-70 mph. We figure that will be a little over 2 hours in the RV, which is what we wanted. We also found a route that doesn't hit I-35!! Thank goodness!! We will head east from Temple, then travel state highways up to the park. The highways are in good condition, have few hills, and wide shoulders to pull over. There are also a couple of historical markers along the way with adequate space to pull over if the dogs or kids need to get out for a bit.

When we got to the park, I took some pictures of the facilities to give everyone that's going an idea of what it's like. The state park is located near Fort Parker Historical site. Ron and I drove by there first. There is a minimal entry fee; $2 per adult, $1 per children over ten. We didn't get to go in because the gate to the visitor's center was closed. Of course, today is New Year's Monday so I wasn't surprised.
The fort has an interesting history connected to it so I hope to get inside when we go back later this month. Family, if you aren't familiar with the story of Cynthia Ann Parker or Quanah Parker, read up before we go:

entrance to Fort Parker

one corner of the fort

exterior wall of the fort

open common area with faux shop/store fronts

another view of the exterior of the fort

Fort Parker State Park is about 3 miles from the historical site. It is located next to Lake Parker between Grossbeck and Mexia. The camp is small but offers primitive camping, RV sites with water and electric, a dump station, a day use area that includes picnic tables and a pavilion, several hiking and biking trails, a canoe trail, and a boat dock with a fish cleaning station.  There are also restrooms that are very clean and shower facilities. I got pictures of most things but NOT THE RV SITES!!! Ron and I were so busy looking at them and discussing which ones were the most level, had the best lake access/view, had the tables and fire pits on the side best for our RV awning, etc. I COMPLETELY spaced out on taking pictures of the sites. They are a positioned little close to one another, but we are hoping the camp won't be that busy mid January.
pavilion in the day use area

lake view from the day use area

visitor's center

picnic area for day use

another section of day use

playground part 1

playground part 2

a nature center

the boat dock

picture of the hiking trails description found on the back of the map

section of the map showing the RV sites and the screened shelters

another picture of the trails map
My next post about Fort Parker State Park will be after we've actually stayed there. Our reservations are made!! Fingers crossed that we like it as much as Mother Neff!

Christmas 2016

Shortly before our Christmas break began, I told my granddaughter, Maggie, that this was going to be the BEST Christmas EVER! She asked me why and I told her, "Because next Christmas, I'll be retired!" She went on to ask what that meant and I explained it to her. Her response, "But Mimi; isn't that like quitting?"  Not hardly!
Other than being excited because it would be my last Christmas as a full-time teacher, it had it's ups and downs.  We would be missing Rebecca, Edward, and Seth because they are living in Greece right now; and, we were going to have to celebrate the day after Christmas because of everyone's work schedules. Jamie, one of the twins, and Mom were all feeling under the weather, so we needed to keep things simple and meet early enough in the day for everyone to get home and enjoy a good night's sleep. We solved the issue of Becca's family being gone by taking advantage of Face time. Technology is amazing! So, after working through the slight glitches, my Christmas break was filled with family time, time with my Sugarbear, LOTS of time to read, and some quilting. A very nice break in deed.
We decided to get the grand girls pogo stick for Christmas. We ended up getting some that are actually too small for Maggie; but, I didn't expect her to actually master using it. We were all very surprised when she turned out to be the first one to figure out how to use it! Luckily, a friend of mine had one for children up to 120 lbs. that she gave me. That way, Mags has one to use when she wears the smaller one out!

In the past, we have had a Chinese gift exchange. However, this year we actually drew names in July or August.  Jamie suggested setting up and Elfster account where we could each create a wish list. That was such an amazing suggestion! I think we were all thrilled with our gifts from one another. The grands still exchanged with each other. I think their favorite gifts were the bags of coins from Uncle Scott!

 Ron drew my mother's name. After spending about a month whining about not knowing what to get her, I found an odd assortment of quilting gadgets on Amazon and ordered them for him. We got a cool tote at Walmart and put all of the gadgets in it. I think she like what she got.

 Ron never managed to get his Elfter wish list posted. He would say, "It won't let me!" I finally said, "You're right, Ron, That web site is out to get you and will let anyone but you post thing on it." He didn't really care for my sarcasm. He just kept saying, "Get me anything Ohio State." I told the kids they needed to look for an Ohio State Speedo to wear on our next cruise. But, G or Leslie found a camp chair for him, and a jersey for Boomer.

 I'm not much of a cook; but, I do enjoy baking from time to time. And, I really like pretty things. So, my Elfster list was comprised of Pioneer Woman kitchen ware. I hit the jackpot! Jamie had my name and got me the cutest butter dish and pie pan. She also happened to be with me when I was visiting a local shop owned by a friend from church. She saw me pick up a galvanized basket that I drool over every time I'm in Leah's shop. Sweet Jamie went back and bought it as well.
 Ryan was just like Ron. Failed to put together a list on Elfster, but kept saying he wanted a new Ohio State hat. Leslie had his name and got not only the hat, but a perfect tee shirt for the most sarcastic son a mother could every have.

 Scott had an odd assortment of strange things on his list. Luckily, his grandma drew his name. She had Leslie shop for her and she pretty much cleared out his list. He got a map of hiking trails in the Grand Canyon, a book of 1000 places to visit in the U.S. before you die, and some odd electronic gadgets.

 After drawing names, Jamie and Ryan were on the way home when he informed her that he had drawn her name. I think she was disappointed to know who had drawn her name; but, he did a good job. He bought her a heart pendant from James Avery. Now she has 4 intertwined hearts that represent their sweet little family. Not bad, Ryan!

 Scott drew Gerson's name. His list was actually put together by Leslie so anything he got was a total surprise. Scott found a cool team bench for him to take when he is coaching Sophie in soccer. He also got him some strange little speakers... not quite sure what they were for.

 I had drawn Leslie's name. Her list was made up of an assortment of gadgets, household items, and jewelry. I got her a strange cow creamer (I don't know why she wanted that; no one drinks coffee!) a cell phone charger that is battery operated, and a new Scentsy warmer that looks like a canning jar with snowflakes on it. I actually was tempted to just keep that because it was so pretty.

All in all, I think everyone was pleased with their gifts. I hope we continue this new tradition! After eating our traditional Mexican meal, playing some silly games, and just hanging out to chat, we closed out the Christmas holiday filled with joy and gratitude for the crazy people in our family.