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Places Visited:

Boerne, Canyon Lake, Lake Tawakoni, Rockwall, Dallas, Lake Holbrook, Mineola, Lake Hawkins, Emory

2004 Travelogue #3 North Central Texas
Thousand Trails Lake Medina`
Lakeside, TX

2/27 It was good to be back in the rocky hills of the Hill Country, smelling the Mountain Cedars, and watching the deer. We needed our jackets this pristine, chilly morning on our long walk looping down by the lake. The lake was calm, and we drank in the solitude and fresh air. While wintering in the Valley we were about a ½ mile north of the Expressway and when the wind blew from the south, we could hear the traffic but here in this place, it's so very quiet.

We drove to Boerne, TX today to look at RV's and have lunch. After a brief time RV shopping we drove into the old part of downtown Boerne, took a side street and happened upon the Hungry Horse Café, where we ordered the "Pony Chicken Fried Steak". The Pony is the smallest portion, in the selection of 3 serving sizes and it was more than ample. Peg finished hers' off with a cut of bourbon pecan pie. We visited with the owner and chef after lunch and told him we would be back when we were in the area.

Finishing lunch we decided to explore Potters Creek Park off FM 306 not far from Boerne and also near New Braunfels where my mother and sister live. We had heard about the Campground from Sue and John Montgomery, friends we met in Alamo, who stay there while going to and from their home in Missouri. They thought we would like it as a place to stay while visiting family. This Park was built and is maintained by the Corps of Engineers (COE) at Canyon Lake and we were very impressed with the facilities. Driving through the campground, we found and surprised the Montgomery's.

We returned to Medina with the west sun in our eyes, up and over the hills, past the Double Diamond Ranch on State Hwy 46; arriving in time for a short walk by the lake with a glass of wine and catching another beautiful sunset.

2/29 We were planning to leave for Canyon Lake this morning but another front came through with a mighty force, so we just hunkered down and waited for it to pass. The wind blew, the rain poured, but in about 30 minutes it moved through and by 11 am we were hooked up and heading for Canyon Lake and Potters Creek COE Campground.

Arriving around 2 pm we found a site that backed up to the lake. The sites are excellent with asphalt pads, paved parking for the toad, covered picnic table with fire pits, and BBQ grills. After setting up and a little time relaxing, we walked down to visit Sue and John. When in Alamo Peggy and Sue walked each morning, so they needed to plan tomorrow's walking agenda.

3/1 We were up early to see the sunrise through our front door. Sue stopped by around 8 and she and Peggy went walking while I worked on stock charts. We then spent the rest of the day in New Braunfels visiting Mom and Sis.

3/5 It was back to Boerne today to narrow our search for an RV. We did like the 2004 Allegro Bus 40 ft DP and we had a price in mind. They made us an offer; we told them we would consider it and departed. It was time to head to the Hungry Horse for substance, review our facts, financial capabilities, and emotions. After further discussion, we returned to the dealer and made a counter offer, which they in turn countered and we accepted.

Driving back to Canyon Lake we were so excited and wondered if we would be able to sleep. If we slept well, then we knew we had finally reached a point of peace in our decision... We both slept like babies that night and awoke feeling good. So, it looks like we will be continuing this lifestyle for a while longer. Our coach will go on the factory production line in Alabama the latter part of April, then driven to Texas and we'll pick it up in Boerne the end of the month.

3/6 Today was a special time with my mother and sister who spent the day with us. We drove into New Braunfels, picked them up and arrived back at Canyon Lake around 11:30. Being lunchtime I deposited them at our site, and headed to Ed's Windmill Restaurant, just down the road from the Park for some burgers to go. When I returned we sat around the picnic table enjoying the warm sunshine, one another and good burgers.

3/7 Turned 63 today…we were off to pick up Sue and John for a little celebration breakfast at Ed's Windmill Restaurant.

3/8 Today was a perfect day for changing campsites and traveling. Leaving Canyon Lake we drove through Johnson City, Marble Falls, and Hamilton on US 281 making our way to the Thousand Trail Park (TTN) at Lake Whitney. This was just an overnight stop on our way to Lake Tawakoni.

3/9 We were up early this morning packed, hooked up and on the road by 9 am. We knew by the time we got to Hillsboro and I-35 that it was going to be a windy day, not wet, but windy. We prefer not to travel on windy days because it is difficult to drive.

We arrived at TTN Tawakoni at 12:30 after 131 hard driving miles. While setting up we were greeted by our friends, Wendell and Linda Rehm. They had just arrived from Tyler and were looking for a campsite. We immediately planned for early evening "toddies" followed by dinner at Temeraria's and their great beef fajitas. It was good fellowship and an excellent ending to a good day.

3/10 Today was our first full day in the Park and we enjoyed a leisurely morning, taking time for a short walk in the cool air and sunshine. It was good to wake up to the sounds of woodpeckers and our little Carolina Wrens.

We had many chores to do in Rockwall this afternoon, so we were on our way by 12 o'clock, finishing with a stop at Best Buy for a laptop for Peg…Then, on to the Trail Dust Steak House in Mesquite for their excellent mesquite grilled steaks, and to meet our friends Kay and Walter Dildy. We had a trainee for a waiter, loud music… but good steaks. We were home by 9:15, plum tuckered out.

3/13 We heard about a two-day Chili Cookoff being held in the Park this weekend. As luck would have it, we just missed the judging, arriving at the campsites as folks were visiting and cleaning the pots and pans. Stopping in the judging tent, one of the Cookoff's officials from Irving, TX asked if we would like to judge tomorrow's competition and, if so, to show up around 11:45. Sounding like an interesting, new opportunity, we picked up some information regarding CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International) to read later. Upon leaving the judging area we met a couple standing under their travel trailer awning, stirring a pot of chili on a Coleman stove. They asked if we wanted any chili. "Well sure", was our reply. So they ladled about ½ gallon of the concoction into a Ziploc bag and we were set for tonight's dinner. Thanking them, we were on our way, making a mental note to show up for tomorrow's judging.

3/14 As I mentioned, being a judge for a chili cookoff was a new experience. Today's contest had 21 contestants and they needed 20 judges. There was also a FMCA (Family Motor Coach Assoc.) rally this weekend at TTN and some of the members were drafted as judges. We, the judges, sat at picnic tables covered with plastic tablecloths. On the tables were large bowls of plastic spoons, plates of diced carrots, celery, and saltines to clear our palates. Soft drinks, water, and a keg of beer were provided to cool us down. We were handed a paper napkin, pencil, and an Official Judging Sheet with the following CASI Rules:

"Fine chili should look good, smell good, and taste good! Accordingly, each cup of chili is to be judged on 5 criteria to arrive at one whole number score of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. The five criteria are: Aroma, Red Color, Consistency, Taste, and Aftertaste."

Each contestant placed chili in a large styrofoam cup with a lid numbered from 1 to 21 and on the outside, hidden by tape, was the contestants' entry registration number. We judged and scored using the number printed on the lid. A cup was placed in front of me, I took off the lid, smelled the chili, picked up a clean spoon, stirred, tasted, threw the spoon away, and let the aftertaste linger. Then scored it based on the 5 Criteria. Next came a swig of beer, a munch of celery or carrot, capped the cup passed it to the judge on my right while the judge on my left did the same thing, passing his cup to me. This happened 21 times and I must say it was a challenge, because they all were good.

At the end, the Judging Sheets were collected and all scores were computer tabulated showing sequential winners from 10th to 1st. The top four contestants won points toward the12 needed to qualify for the Big Chili Cookoff inTerlinglua, TX. The tape on the winning cup of chili was removed to reveal that the young lady who won today's' Cookoff also won yesterdays'; 4 points today plus 4 points yesterday gave her 8 points toward qualifying for the Big Cookoff. I was told winning two days in a row is highly unusual because humidity, temperature, cut of meat, and many other factors can change the taste (including too much beer while stirring).

3/18 This morning we took off in the Saturn with Jean and Joe Crouch, our friends from Washington, for a tour of two smaller lakes in the area. Driving through the countryside we could see the Red Bud trees in full bloom and wild flowers starting to blossom. Lake Holbrook, near Mineola, was the first stop. This lake was established many years ago, but still has charm. It's setting is among stately pines and hardwoods with a few homes sprinkled along it's shoreline.

After a quick lunch in Mineola, we followed US 80 to Lake Hawkins where Wood County operates a camping facility. We parked and walked the area along the lake. It was pristine, clear, and smooth as a mirror looking across at the reflection of the tall pines in the dark water…so peaceful.

3/22 This afternoon we drove into Greenville with our friends, Joe and Jean, to see Mel Gibson's film The Passion of Christ. After the movie, on the drive back, we discussed our feelings about the film. It was a Lenten experience for all.

3/24 Ralph McCune, a dear friend for many years, came to do some bank fishing this afternoon. Riding Peg's bike, I met him at the Ranger's Station and he followed me back to the motorhome. But, first things first since it was lunchtime, we unloaded his gear and took off for the Ya'll Come Back Café in Emory. Ralph remembered this eatery from years ago when he fished Lake Fork; at that time it was named Bell's. His favorite was their jalapeno hamburger, which they still served. We feasted on burgers, onion rings and iced tea; topped off with a cut of fresh, homemade, coconut cream pie. After our bloater we were ready for fishing.

3/27 Without a doubt there was a bass tournament this Saturday morning because the lake was busy with boats running and our cove had bass fishermen working each point and along the shoreline. They really take over a lake at tournament time.

3/29 It was a beautiful morning for taking our last walk here at Tawakoni, stopping at various campsites to tell our friends goodbye. We'll miss this favorite place but we need to move west.

Tomorrow we will be at the Bay Landing Thousand Trails Park. It is near Bridgeport, TX, which was a stopping point for the Butterfield Stage Line. This Park is close to Jacksboro, TX where Fort Richardson is located and where our good friends, John and Charlotte Hackley, live.

Bob & Peggy Woodall


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