Friday, December 26, 2014


"And suddenly there was with the angel 
a multitude of the heavenly host, 
praising God and saying: 

Glory to God in the highest!
And on earth - peace! 
Good will toward men!" 
- Luke 2:13-14, KJV


It's been a wonderful Christmas season - so relaxing, and peaceful, and calm.  RDB and I made the decision early on to stay home and not travel (as in, no mad-dash trip to NC or PA, and not even the 3+ hour drive to DFW).  We spent Christmas day at the house, had a splendid brunch with RandShe and then a quiet dinner at home, just us.  It was perfect.

We left out for Cleburne State Park the day after Christmas.  It  was a slow and restful morning at the house, with some cleaning up before we left so that we could enjoy coming home to a clean house at the end of our trip (thanks RDB!). With a bit of a drive to Cleburne and not getting on the road till after 1pm it meant (yet another!) late check-in.  I called the park in advance and they had a map with highlighted available sites taped to the headquarters doors when we pulled in around quarter to 9pm.  The drive into the park past headquarters is a long and windy, hilly road - you feel like you're traveling forever to get to the sites, but it was worth it.  We backed ourselves into (and took a few attempts to level out) site 54.  When I completed our check-in Saturday morning, the Ranger gave us a 'cookie' for Diesel - which he thoroughly enjoyed! In return, I gifted them a few of the blog pencils and told them I'd write a review (Hi ya'll!) and post it to their Facebook page.  I love the parks that have taken a hold of social media and are using it to their advantage!! (BTW - the park offers free (slow) wifi; and since you'll have no signal with Verizon, this is a great benefit!)

We woke to a cold and gray morning - the Christmas song "Baby, it's cold outside!" quickly became the theme for Saturday.  No biggie for us - we just hung out in the nice and warm camper and watched Blazing Saddles.  If you haven't watched it in a while, you may be as shocked as I was with what Mel Brooks was able to get away with back in the mid-70's  (Kid you not - every other line I was thinking: Well, you can't say that today. Check out the movie quotes and you'll see why.)

Spoiled Dobie hanging out on the couch-bed with us.

I put together a ham-and-beans stew for dinner via the crockpot (recipe coming shortly) using some of the leftover HoneyBaked ham we had for Christmas brunch.  Just to give you a heads up - it turned out AWESOME with the meat literally falling off the bone.  As I worked on a few thank-you cards for the Christmas gifts we had received, RDB downloaded the GroundStation app.  Too bad the app couldn't air-lift us to the nearest Post Office (that was a real wild-goose-chase later Saturday evening!)

Bottom right: that's an aerial view of Cleburne State Park via the GroundStation app.  We can't wait to start that adventure!

We went for a hike just before dusk.  The trails at Cleburne SP are very well groomed - in some areas hard-packed dirt and wide enough for RDB and I to easily walk side-by-side.  As nicely groomed as they were, though, they weren't very well marked in some spots.  We were on the Coyote Run trail and there are a few places where you can tell it veers off - but even with the trail map, it was heard to tell if that was the actual trail veering in another direction, or just that so many hikers had gone off in that specific spot that it created a side trail.  Waypoints or markers would have made this park's trail system stellar.  But don't get me wrong - we were still greatly impressed with how well they had been maintained.

Sunday morning we woke up to blue skies.  I mean, really blue skies.... Look:

...which completely thrilled me, because we were heading over to Glen Rose for the day - to enjoy a meal out and visit Dinosaur Valley State Park (you can read about that visit here.)

We had lunch at the Roadhouse Grill (bottom right photo above).  When I asked RDB what he'd say about our lunch on Sunday he said: "Delicious!  Outstanding service!  What more could you ask for?" and he's absolutely right.  I had a Jack Daniel's glazed pork chop that was juicy and flavorful, and way more than you could eat in one setting. RDB enjoyed the chicken-salad sandwich that had shredded and pulled chicken on thin toasted bread.  We really enjoyed the old-house-turned-restaurant  that seems to be common in the small towns we visit.

The downtown area was still decorated for the holidays which made it so much sweeter to stop and take a few pictures.  On the way into town to the Roadhouse Grill we passed Glen Lake Camp - where I went to church camp for several summers as a little girl.  It was amazing to see how much it's changed over the years.

Here drone-y, drone-y, drone-y.....

Back at Cleburne SP that evening, Rich took his Rolling Spider Mini-drone for a quick flight.  And by quick, I mean, abrupt. Accelerated. Gone in a flash.  Because that's what happened.  It took off, straight up into that beautiful blue sky we'd been enjoying all day, never to bee seen again.  We'd heard stories of these mini-drones soaring up uncontrollably, but really, that's the stuff where you say: "it'll never happen to us," right?  Well, it happened.  Blue Sky: 1, Us: 0

Monday morning we woke to golden orange sunlight streaming in thru the windows of our camper. It was odd: I didn't remember waking to sunlight so strong the past two mornings - then I recalled that the clouds had broken yesterday and what we were experiencing this morning was a true, clear sky sunrise at the park. Can I tell you - it was glorious? That my (one and only) picture doesn't do it justice?

Monday brought along more blue skies and more fun - Mom and  her friend N-ta came over for lunch and to hang out for a bit.  Less than 10 minutes from Cleburne SP is the outdoor Chisholm Trail Museum.  Free to walk around and explore, it was the perfect after lunch adventure.  We had the pleasure of the site to ourselves and spent time talking to the blacksmith and a docent who graciously opened up several of the buildings for us to explore inside.  Having two former schoolmarms with us, it was neat to see the old school house and "The Original Blue Back Speller."  I suppose it's no coincidence that "matrimony" and "mercenary" were in the same spelling list!?  I was spellbound by the Little Free Library they had on-site. (So much so, that I've already located one near our house to drop a few books I've finished reading over the holiday break.)  The rusted tin used as ceiling tiles in the Stagecoach Station was beautiful too. As Mom is doing some remodeling of her house, she commented that pressed tin would be an awesome addition to the ceiling of her screened in porch.

We were all feeling the effects of the good meal, great conversations, and fresh-air adventures as Mom and N-ta headed back towards home and RDB and I enjoyed quiet naps in the camper.  We had most of the windows open, drinking in the cool fresh air and watching the golden orange sunlight slowly fade away. By the previous evening, most of the campers who were there when we checked in had left, so we nearly had the entire camping loop to ourselves.  It was sweet to laze around and listen to nature buzz and hum the rest of the afternoon away.

With a blink, it all seems to go by so quickly - before we knew it, it was Tuesday morning and our little trip to paradise was over.  We were packing up and heading back home with dreams of where our trips will take us this next year.  We've got our sights on Davis Mountains SP in the fall, but I sure wouldn't mind coming right back here to Cleburne SP.

I know, I know.  I say that. All. The. Time.

We were in Site #54 in the Poplar Point loop at Cleburne State Park.  Due to the hilly terrain, be prepared to do some side-to-side leveling of your camper.  The sites are all pretty close to each other, but scraggly cypress trees provide a decent amount of privacy.  This spot didn't have a clear lake view, however, less than 50 yards away you had direct access to the shoreline.  The bath house was nice - warm! clean! - and very un-crowded in this full hook-ups loop.  There's no park store at this campground, so you'll have to go into the town of Cleburne (about 15 minutes) for ice, firewood, etc.  Bummer: no bumper sticker to support the park!  Another bummer, be it slight: since we had such poor cell reception, we couldn't do any geocaching even though there are some hidden in the park.

Check back soon for Camping Cooking #12: Ham & Beans Slow-Cooker Stew.

For more camping photos, go here.

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