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 > Guadalupe River SP, Texas Spring, 2004

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Turn Key

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Posted: 05/14/04 10:39am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Guadalupe River State Park, Texas
Spring, 2004

Well, as promised, here is a review of our last trip to Guadalupe River State Park. As the park itself has changed little since our spring trip in 2003, I will spend no time describing the park. If you’re interested in a thorough description of the park and its amenities, let me know and I’ll be glad to forward a copy of last year’s review. Suffice it to say that GRSP is on outstanding place to camp.

As always, we took Highway 281 down to the Hill Country from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. We had heard that the bluebonnets were heading into peak form and this sure proved to be the case. All down the road we saw countless fields and roadsides, covered in the most beautiful blue you have ever seen. This beauty was only outdone on our return to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. During our 8 days in the Hill Country the wildflowers had had an opportunity to come into their full glory. I can’t recall them ever looking as good as they did on this trip. I again thank Lady Bird Johnson for all the effort that she put into championing Texas wildflowers. Through the efforts of herself and others, the practice of cutting grass on many Texas roadsides has been ended during the early spring months. This has allowed for the propagation of some of the most glorious fields of color I have ever seen! If you’ve never driven Texas highways in April, you have really missed something awesome!

This trip called for three groups of campers to arrive during the day on Thursday; DW and myself, Bob Ewald (Trlrboy) with his wife Patty and Tom Collins with his wife Mary Lou. DW and I were the first to arrive and set-up late Thursday morning but Tom Collins had already been out to the park to claim the three sites we would need. We were all in the Turkey Sink Camping Area and Tom had done a great job of site selection. We were slated for sites 52, 54 & 55 respectively. These turned out to be outstanding and a great base of operations for the week ahead. Only problem we had was that DW and I arrived so early, the group that had been occupying our site (52) hadn’t finished packing to leave when we got there! We just pulled down to 54 and waited until they departed about 30 minutes later. Not a problem for us but I think they felt a bit put out by it. I did apologize and attempted to assure them that there was no rush. None the less, I don’t think our early arrival went over very well.

We got set-up with no real problems and as the day went by Tom and Mary Lou arrived and later Bob and Patty pulled in. Kind of felt the “odd man out” with both the Collins and the Ewalds pulling in with brand new “5ers” and us still in the PU. But that’s OK. It looks like we will be going the same route in the next month or so. Must say, they both have gotten beautiful new rigs and I sure am pleased for both couples! Thursday passed with nothing outstanding happening. Knowing we would be the first to arrive and be set-up before the others, we had planned a weenie roast for dinner at our site. Really was great to have all six of us together.

Friday passed with just the six of us having a good time together and apart. Tom and I spent a good deal of time walking his dog and catching up on what had happened over the last year. Bob and Patty were both engaged with setting up plans for the 2004 Texas Popup Roundup to be held at this park in the latter part of July. Below is a link that will give more info on this. I’m not sure but I don’t believe there are any more slots available for this Roundup but you can never tell what may happen.

http://www.popupexplorer.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=4536

Saturday started bright but with the threat of storms. Being Texas in spring, this surprised none of us as we have all been through many Texas storms. We kept our eyes on the skies and our radios tuned to the local news channel. Sure enough, by mid-afternoon “Mr. Ranger” was coming around warning everyone to get buttoned up and ready for a blow. Tom and I were well ahead of him and had already secured our two sites and taken care of Bob and Patty’s site as they were out. During that time, the “migration” had begun. The park had been full by Friday evening. By 4:00 pm a good 1/3 decided that they didn’t want to sit through the storm. Can’t really blame them. Wasn’t looking forward to what was coming myself. Just figured “What the heck”! Tom and Mary Lou were kind enough to offer their “5er” as a retreat and our PU & TV are both fully insured. Might as well sit it out and see what happened. Storm blew through but did no real damage. I understand that it was a bit worse further east but we came through it fine. Only result of the storm was the re-closing of the river front area of the park. Due to high water, this area had been “Closed” on our arrival and had just re-opened that morning. This latest storm had again raised the water level and had forced the closing of this area. The rest of Saturday and a good part of Sunday were rather dark and gloomy but we made the best of it and enjoyed our time together.

Prior to the weather closing in on Saturday, DW and I were able to squeeze in one activity we had wanted to do. GRSP borders and controls access to the Honey Creek State Natural Area (SNA). This tract of almost 3000 acres was acquired by deed from an individual in 1988. It had already been part of the Texas Nature Conservancy for three years and had been open for limited access during that time. The area is now open for a guided tour on Saturdays at 9 am. It is my understanding that guided group tours are also available at other times if scheduled in advance. This is a wonderful tour that is directed by park volunteers who are well versed in the flora and fauna of the area. It lasts about two hours and winds along a trail of approximately two miles. During this tour your guide stops and explains a great deal about the plants and geography around you. For me, the best part of the tour was Honey Creek itself. This little waterway runs clear and clean through the SNA. I could not help wishing that there were some way I could come down here alone with an ultra-light casting rod. I could just “smell” the bass around each rock and turn in the creek! The state allows hunters into state parks to thin deer herds at times. Knowing this, I couldn’t help but offer my services to our guide to do the same for the over-population of fish that I was just sure existed in that creek. Unfortunately, he declined my offer at that time but “hope springs eternal”! This is an exceptional tract of land that is worth the time to see. Below are a couple of sites that will give you more information and pictures. Be aware that the first site listed is almost all pictures and may take a while to load.

http://red.larry.dtdns.net/Camping/HoneyCreekStateNaturalArea/

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/honey/

Sunday, we bade farewell to Bob and Patty and on Monday, Tom and Mary Lou had to depart. Looking forward to another great trip with these folks next spring. Later on Monday, Chuck Bryant (Wayfarer) and his wife Mickey pulled into site 54 to spend the balance of the week with us. Even though Chuck and I have e-mailed back and forth for a good long time, this is the first time we‘ve had the opportunity to camp together. We found that the four of us get along famously and we are looking forward to some more time together at some later date. If your interested, Chuck has posted some pictures he took of all of us during this trip. They can be accessed through his web site. I found Chuck to be a very wise fellow. He chose to photograph me through a very heavy vale of smoke! Saves the strain on his lenses!

On Tuesday, DW and I decided to take off on one of our daylong junkets to see something new in the Hill Country. One town we had been meaning to explore was Gruene, Texas (pronounced, “green”). This is a beautiful little Hill Country town with as much or more to offer as so many of the rest. It is located just 25 miles north of San Antonio, immediately north of New Braunfels. The town can be accessed by going west off of I-35 on 306. There are a number of shops and stores to explore that carry all types of collectables, souvenirs and antiques. There are a number of fine places to eat and some very interesting Bed & Breakfasts for those who wish to stay in town. I found the architecture of the older buildings fascinating and am looking forward to a return trip next spring. The site below will give more information and access to other sites about Gruene and area attractions:

http://www.touringtexas.com/gruene/

While in the old part of Gruene, you will notice that the town is situated on the banks of the Guadalupe River. This location has caused the town to turn into a prime magnet for tubers, kayak & canoe paddlers and all sorts of other water-sports enthusiasts. That being the case, you can bet that there will be entrepreneurs ready and waiting to supply the needed equipment and services for such adventures. Sure enough, on the far side of the river from the old part of town you will find a place called “The Rockin’ R”. Even though the river was too high to tempt me at the time, I did take the opportunity to check the services offered by “Rockin’ R” with the thought of a trip for some time in the future. Found that this outfit had a lot to offer and at what seemed like reasonable prices. Will have to look a bit closer prior to our next trip. Hmmm? I wonder how daring Tom is? Here’s a site for those that may be interested:

http://www.rockinr.com/raft-guad.htm

Wednesday afternoon we headed for “The Cave Without a Name”. We had read about this place but this is the first time we had visited. The cave is located 25 miles from GRSP, west and a little north. You must drive to Boerne and catch 474 north. There are no “shortcuts” (Found out the hard way but had a nice drive anyway). The cave was not as spectacular as some we’ve seen but it does have an interesting history. The tour guide we had was straight out of the ’60s and I kept waiting for him to say something like “Far out, man!” or to flash a “Peace” sign! Not a thing wrong with him, just found him a bit unusual. If you enjoy cave tours, this is one you shouldn’t miss. Here’s a site that will give further information:

http://www.cavewithoutaname.com/

After leaving the cave, we decided to just tool around a bit and see what we tripped across. We ended up in Sisterdale, Texas, a little town (population 25) about 13 miles north of Boerne at the intersection of Farm Roads 1376 & 423. This is a nice looking little town with nothing really remarkable about it except that it’s one of the oldest settlements in the Texas Hill Country. It’s one “claim to fame”, at least as far as we were able to find during a short stay, was the “Sister Creek Winery”. They are housed in a century old cotton gin located in a valley between the East & West Sister Creeks. The structure itself rates a stop and inspection. To make your time there even more worthwhile, you can sample and/or purchase some of the fine wines produced there. DW and I are both far from being wine connoisseurs but we did find that their 2003 Texas Muscat Canelli fit our untrained palates just fine! If you enjoy good wine and interesting architecture, this is a “must do” stop for you. The site below should yield all the information that you need:

http://www.sistercreekvineyards.com/

On Thursday, our finale full day of this trip, DW and I decided that we didn’t want to bother with cooking. There is a place about a mile east of Park Road 31 on the south side of SH 46. We had passed this place many times and had always saw it as a bar/honky-tonk. Not really the type of place we favor. Had been talking to one the Park Hosts and he informed me that that really wasn’t the case. The place is called the Honey Creek Bar & Grill and according to him, it was a fine place to eat. Being as DW and I are always willing to try something new, we decided to give it a try. Figured we could walk away if we felt uncomfortable. Boy, was that Park Host right! Not only was there nothing wrong with The Honey Creek Bar & Grill, it was great! DW and I both chose “Chicken Fried Pork Tenderloin” and it was outstanding! The only “fault” I could find was with the serving size. I should have gotten a clue when I noted that almost all of their entrée selections came with an option for an extra plate, salad and potato for a bit over $3.00. There was enough meat on each of those plates to feed some small countries! DW and I both took home more then we ate! This was truly great food at a great price. Be sure to check it out if you’re in the area.

We as campers of all stripes love our time out of doors and assume that all around us do, as well. I found on this trip that this might not be all together true. Over the weekend there was a family from the northern reaches of our great country in the site next to ours. I had had the opportunity to talk to the parents and the father told me that they were down this way to see some of Texas and enjoy some “family time”. The three kiddos ranged from about 13 down to around 8 and all appeared happy, healthy and very well behaved. At one point, I was walking past their site. This is when I discovered that on any given trip, not all family members may be enjoying equal amounts of fun. The oldest kiddo, a girl of about 13, happen to get her hair tangled in the branch of a tree. Obviously, being a polite and well brought up young lady, she could not and would not unleash a string of expletives! Instead, very quietly and under her breath I heard her say, ”I hate nature!”. I found this extremely funny, as I don’t believe that I was intended to hear this and I’m not even sure she knew I was there! Guess we have to remember that camping isn’t for every one (Thank the Lord! The state parks are crowded enough!).

Well, like all good things this trip had to come to an end. On Friday we packed up and said goodbye to Chuck and Mickey. We are looking forward to an opportunity to camp with these nice folks again in the near future. We left Guadalupe River State Park and had a pleasant, if uneventful trip back up to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. On the drive north we did see a very large number of motorcycles heading south. We made a rest stop in Hico, Texas where I asked a biker where all of these were headed. He told me that there was to be a big rally down in Bandera County. Hmmm? DW and figured that we saw at least 300-400 motorcycles from the time we left the park, all headed south. Who knows how many more from other directions and at other times? Had to have been a heck of a lot of motorcycles in Bandera County that weekend! Think I’m glad I wasn’t!

As always, we had a great trip to the Hill Country. This always has and always will be one of my favorite places in the world. We had been planning a trip to Carlsbad Caverns for this fall. Since we are now seriously looking at 5th wheel trailers and hope to have a new one before September, we feel the first long “shakedown” would be better spent in the Hill Country. Little less stress as we know the roads and area so well. Plus, we just like being there! Carlsbad isn’t going anywhere.

Well, if you’ve read this far, I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings as much as I have enjoyed putting them down. Some of the best parts of our trips are being able to put them down in writing and share them with others. If you got a little out of it, in was time well spent! If I can answer any questions or help you plan a trip to the Texas Hill Country, please feel free to e-mail or post and I’ll do the best I can to be of assistance. Until then and always,

Happy Camping!

* This post was last edited 05/20/04 07:19am by Turn Key *   View edit history


Turn Key and DW
Bentley, One Very Pushy Chiweenie
Sunshine, One Crazy Pug (I Guess They All Are!)
'03 Chevy 2500HD, 4X4, X-Cab, Long-Bed
'14 Winnebago 26FWRKS ("Sunday Haus III")
Twin Kayaks, "The Ride" by Wilderness Systems

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