Today they were shearing the sheep at Fanthorp Inn. Unfortunately they were rained out this afternoon, but before that happened we learned that sheep look awkward without their fleece.
On a chilly day, we dream of scorching sun and cool water. Here are a few reviews of swimming conditions at Texas State Parks we've visited the last two summers:
Dinosaur Valley - the Paluxy river is clear and fast-moving, and you can see the bottom even in deep areas. There are few places deep enough for actual swimming, but plenty for wading.
Inks Lake - the lake is relatively clear, and has both rocky and grassy shores. The water is cool even in summer. There's plenty of space for swimming.
Balmorrhea - swimming at Balmorrhea is in a large spring-fed pool. That's pool, as in diving boards, life guards, and floaties. While the number of children can be daunting, the deep part of the pool isn't prohibitively crowded. The water is cold and clear, and fish swim with you.
McKinney Falls - when water levels are low, the stagnant water collects trash and scum. During higher water levels, swimming is likely very nice, with cliffs for jumping off of and a small waterfall.
Galveston Island - despite the brown water, this beach is clean and the surf is usually calm..
Mustang Island - this beach has nicer water than Galveston Island SP, and is equally clean. The surf is heavier, though not dangerously so
Blanco - the Blanco River is reasonably clean, but not clear, making you wonder what's swimming with you. Access is via pool ladders along the riverbank. There is a waterfall/dam area that's often crowded with kids
Lake Sommerville - the muddy water and muddy shore make this a swim of last resort.
Huntsville - the lake is small and the swimming beach even smaller, making for crowded conditions on weekends. Alligators can be seen elsewhere in the lake. Swimming here is purely for relief from the heat.
Government Canyon State Natural Area has a very nice lake for boating, hiking trails, and a brand new campground. We also saw a lot of late-fall wildflowers, and this potato bug.
The Port Isabel lighthouse was constructed in 1852 at a cost of $15,000. Today it's owned by Texas Parks and Wildlife and operated as a museum. Is that a ghost we see in the window?
Visitors often complain that camping directly on the beach isn't allowed in most Texas State Parks. If you're one of those people, then Mustang Island State Park is perfect for you. Campers can drive directly out onto the beach, pick a spot above the high tide line, and pitch a tent in the sand. There are trash barrels and portable toilets, and a bathhouse on the other side of the dunes near the developed campground. This is our 'campsite':
Over Thanksgiving, we went on a road trip down the gulf coast. One of our first stops was Goose Island State Park near Rockport, TX. While Goose Island doesn't have a beach, it does have a very nice shady campground and the The Big Tree, which may be as much as 2000 years old. It's considered one of the largest live oak trees in the world.
Are you guys tired of bluebonnets yet? If so, cover your eyes because we've got more of them coming. The wildflowers are spectacular this time of year, and we're finding them everywhere we go. The fields behind the campground at Dinosaur Valley State Park were no exception.
The campground at Dinosaur Valley State Park is everything we like: shady, with lots of trees to hang our hammock from and level space for our tent. The river runs right down the bluff from a few of the sites, but all have river access via a short trail (for photos of the river, see yesterday's post).
This campground was relatively quiet, but that may have been because we were there on a Monday night, and our immediate neighbors were three elderly couples, one of whom came over to our site with chocolate cake! You can't ask for better neighbors than that.