Monday, September 2, 2013


Birthday weekend, best campground ever, wild beasts - we felt really blessed this weekend!  RDB got off work a little early Friday (happens whenever the shop's closed on Monday for a holiday) and I already had just about everything we needed packed into Honey for the upcoming trip - so, we took off mid-afternoon for the Texas State Rail Road Campground in Rusk, TX.  
We realized there was a campground here when we road the TSRR train back on our Mother's Day weekend trip earlier this year.  This place is a hidden gem - they have 32 full-hook-up sites, and only 8 were reserved when I called Friday morning (When our plans changed last-minute Thursday night, we thought for sure we'd be stuck somewhere crowded and not able to really enjoy the weekend.)  But this was such a treat - it far exceeded all of our expectations!
We pulled in Friday afternoon and met Ken, the park host.  He nearly scared us to death when he started off with: "I've got some bad news for ya..."  (RDB and I were only halfway thru setting up and thought for sure he was about to tell us we had to move) "...we're still under a fire ban..." Phew! Big sigh of relief there! Ken and his wife have been camping in this park since the early '80s - and we could surely see why: it was shady and wooded, quiet and spacious, and you had an antique steam-powered train come thru twice a day.  We were in Heaven.

We went out to dinner on Saturday night - a little hole-in-the-wall place in Palestine called Giovanni's.  Oh, my, goodness - this was the BEST Italian I think I've ever had. The tortellini alfredo was amazing - as was the bread and dipping oils, and the cannoli for dessert.  This place is a BYOB restaurant which was a nice change of pace, and the pricing on the entrees is incredibly fair - we had two entrees and dessert for under $30 (plus our brought-from-the-camper bottle of wine).  If you're in the area you should make it a point to drop by - you won't be disappointed!
It was still a bit hot out during the day; it was the first weekend in September, in Texas, after all.  But that simply meant that most of the day Saturday we spent enjoying the inside (and A/C) of our new camper.  One thing I love most about camping, especially this weekend, is the chance to un-plug from all things Facebook and Pinterest and Internet and just spend time snuggling and talking and reconnecting with each other.  By far, that was my favorite part of this weekend.
The mornings outside under the awning drinking coffee and having breakfast were quiet enjoyable, too.  Sunday was RDB's *ahem*-ity birthday, so we did a little adventuring around town - after he Face-Timed with his mom, of course (ok, so I *do* love technology!)
Rusk happens to be home to several different points of interest.  We'd already ridden the steam powered train, but as I explored the city's website, I found a few other fun things to do:
The city lays claim to having the longest footbridge in the nation, located just off the downtown area.  Originally built in 1861, it was a 546 feet from one side to the other.  Just a quick little trip, but a neat piece of added charm to this little town we're really starting to fall in love with.
Further up the road, you'll find... well, I'll let you guess:
Hump Daa-ey!
Yep, a camel. And ostrich, water buffalo, Cebu, wild boar, deer, and all other kinds of critters at the Cherokee Trace Drive-thru Safari (which happens to give you free admission on your birthday - score!).  That's Holly, the camel.  She was surprisingly gentle, taking food pellets straight from my finger tips.  We saw her twice on our 2 hour adventure - I think she figured out where you were coming in and going out, so as to stalk you for more food.  We actually had to fold in the mirrors on the truck to get past her the second time: she did *not* want us to go!  I'll be honest, though, the llamas were just as bad!
Give us the food, and no one gets hurt.
Polly wants a cracker.
I know I say it a lot at the end of these posts: that we'll be back to this one.  But really - we will.  RDB said he'd gladly spend his birthday next year right back here again - and though I hope everyone of you Campers who are reading this blog put the TSRR Campground on your calendar as a must-go-see place, I kinda hope you don't, as well.  Part of the charm of this place was how quiet and empty the campground was - and on a holiday weekend at that.  But on the same token - I hope you do go visit it.  And I hope you leave feeling as welcomed and wonder-full and blessed as we did.

The view from our camper, looking out back.

Ok, just one more, cause I can't resist:

Guess what day it is? Guess what. Day. It. Is?!

For more camping photos, go here.

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