After driving for four hours from San Antonio up into Central Texas, we arrived at Brownwood State Park in the afternoon just ahead of the hottest part of the day. The forecast said 100 degrees and no chance of rain which is what we got while setting up camp. There was little breeze. It was so hot, the sweat on my head bled through my baseball cap, discoloring to the point where I’ll be replacing it the next time I’m at Buc-ees. It was so hot my hearing aids began to short out and make odd buzzing sounds right before the battery failed. It was so hot that no matter how much water I drank, I was still thirsting for more. It was so hot I left the dogs in the truck with the engine and AC on before getting connected to shore power and the initial AC cool-down inside the rig. It was so hot that I put out both camper awnings up first just to get shade. Still guzzling water with the shade still lacking, I put up both Walmart gazebos. Thinking ahead to the later afternoon sun, I placed the two gazebos so that together they went east/west giving the most shade when it was needed. Next the green carpet and chairs in the shade under the gazebos.
During my unpaid 15 minute break I guzzled more water as Linda setup the portable tables and put table clothes on them.
Next we surrounded our campsite with portable dog kennel fencing. With the fences up, we brought water out with the dogs.
After gulping more water down, I found the hammer and stakes and staked down the gazebos.
After many unpaid 15 minute breaks, I connected the water and sewer. Later in the afternoon when the sun began to lower and settle, I anchored a sun wall on the western end of the gazebos to block the unrelenting sun.
Looking out to the North after dinner, we saw huge thunderheads in the distance.
Now the rain chance jumped to 20%. The radar showed scattered thunderstorms, some large, some not, moving in an uncoordinated fashion to the south. As the evening wore on, we began to see flashes of lightning the hear the distant thunder.
We moved indoors shortly after dark. Then we heard the rain, pattering on our roof just as we were getting around for bed. Opening the camper’s door, I peered outside. Yes it really was raining. No lightning. No thunder. Just rain.
It rained off and on over night and into the morning. We ate breakfast outside, under the gazebos. The air smelled of new rain on grass.
Before lunch, we drove into Brownwood to eat lunch and get groceries. We ate lunch at The Runaway Train. At the United, I was surprised and pleased that they carry Freshpet dog food. We didn’t need any this trip but it nice to know the availability for your dogs’ favorite dinner food.
Back at the campsite, it was getting hot so we decided to spend a few hours inside the camper. Back outside after 4:00, we made dinner and watched the Friday arrivals setup their camps.
Before sundown we took a trail toward a scenic overlook. We turned around before the overlook, concerned that the light would leave us before we could get safely back to camp.
The weekend campers were relatively well behaved and we were easily able to get to sleep at 10:00
Saturday morning was beautiful. It seems we were the last ones to come out of our camper. By 7:30 I was making coffee on the outside stove while Linda chopped potatoes for breakfast.
A number of our immediate camp neighbors had a family reunion to go to. By 11:30 they had all gone off to celebrate family leaving us to enjoy the quiet. Then at noon it became too hot for the dogs to stay outside. We came inside to eat lunch, work on our PCs and watch a movie. The high was expected to be 106 degrees and it was already uncomfortably hot.
One good bit of news – Even though it was 100+ degrees, the camper AC would run for long periods and then stop for short periods. Conclusion? We can handle hotter weather!
For dinner, we made chicken fajitas in a covered frying pan on a Coleman stove from chicken tenders, canned corn and fresh red bell peppers. After placing the fajitas on low carb tortillas, we added fresh refrigerated salsa.
Late Saturday afternoon, our family reunion neighbors returned. The kids ran around after dark with cute multi-color flashlights. The adults played the beanbag version of horseshoes.
Sunday morning came in with a soft breeze and blue skies. We were looking forward to the weekenders going home Sunday afternoon. However, when checkout time came, they weren’t checked out. Monday checkouts?
After lunch Monday, we took a drive around the park. In 2002, we stayed in Lake Brownwood State Park. I had forgotten the large number of Civilian Conservation Corps built buildings available for use/rent.
I rapidly lost count of the cabins as we drove through the park. Cabin 13, pictured above, is typical of the cabin building style in this park.
The Group Recreation Hall shown above is similar to other CCC built structures in other parks (e.g. Garner State Park, Lake Corpus Christi State Park). Climbing the stairs to the observation platform provides a panoramic lake front view.
A large patio behind the Group Recreation Hall makes the facility usable for large indoor/outdoor events. The expansive interior space reminiscent of a lodge from the 1930’s can be seen through the windows. Only the heads of mounted game animals on the walls is missing.
Shelters, available in most lake based State Parks, are on lake front property. People often pull their boats up the beach in front of their shelter.
This is a lake park. It has the added bonus of providing some campsites on the lake.
Water skiing (or tubing) and fishing are a few of the many ways to enjoy the park.
At the end of our driving tour of the park, we stopped at the ranger station to get more ice and ask the ranger a question. We have been hiking with the dogs after 7:30 in the evenings. Our hiking goal had been to find the Texas Oak Trail Overlook, labelled #7 below. Try as we might, we couldn’t find the overlook. The trails on the left side of the map weren’t matching what we are experiencing on the ground. We did find #6, Wildlife Viewing Blind, but the trails around that landmark didn’t match the map.
We wanted to know if their was a more recent or detailed trail map that more accurately represented the actual trails. The ranger said that all the trails on the map exist. However, he continued, there are unofficial trails being made by park patrons walking off-trail. When he puts up barriers to block unofficial trails, patrons take down the barriers or just ignore them.
I misunderstood what he was saying. That evening, we tried what we thought was the last trail fork we hadn’t taken before. When we got to the dead end of a trail segment we had taken a few nights before, I climbed down a steep rocky incline that might have been a trail. To my surprise, it was a trail and it looped around back toward camp. And then it clicked. We had thought we were on the trail segment that ran along closest to the shore line. In actuality, we were on the trail segment that ran parallel and inland.
This mistake was caused by not paying attention to the trailhead information sign and not thinking through the trail map. Both the trail map and the trailhead display show the new trailhead where the trailhead display is located. Because I read the map wrong, our first turn on the trail was consistently to the left when we should have been turning right which for a short distance is away from the direction we wanted to go.
We planned to make the “right” turn the next evening.
We went into town for lunch Tuesday afternoon. Afterwards we went to the Lehnis Railroad Museum, the Santa Fe Railroad Depot and Harvey House. On the way back to camp we went to the United grocery store to pick up a few items. The afternoon heat, above 100 degrees, was too much for us. We hid inside our camper in the air conditioning and didn’t come out until 6:00 PM when we made dinner.
Just before 8:00, we went on our walk, this time making the right turn which put us on the correct path toward the outlook. We found the outlook. The map really was correct. Who would have thought!
Wednesday we stayed around camp. In the afternoon, seeking air conditioning to avoid the 100 plus degree heat, we did Internet and watched TV all afternoon. After dinner, we started to put away our campsite with plans to leave in the morning.
Tearing down the campsite was going well until I couldn’t free the last tent stake holding down one of our two pavilions. I tried everything to free the tent stake. After digging down to the tree root where the stake was lodged, I realized I would have to cut off the tent stake’s nail head. I didn’t have a hack saw in my tool bag. By that time, the sun was down. Panicked, I jumped into the Jeep and headed off the Brownwood’s WalMart. Thirty minutes later I was in the store. It was dark when I left the store to drive back to the campsite. It only took five minutes of hacksawing to free the pavilion. It wasn’t until after 10 when I had everything packed up and ready to go in the morning. Way too much drama for my taste.
Thursday morning, we left for home.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!