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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Southeastern Texas

From Lake Tawakoni we traveled south following the sun and arrived at Thousand Trails Lake Conroe in Willis, Texas.  TT Lake Conroe is one of the jewels in the Thousand Trails system.  It’s roads still need a little work, but it is obvious that the park has had work recently and that ELS considers it one of the parks worth putting a few dollars into.  The park has both a cottage program and an annual site program, but they are both in their own areas and the regular areas are just as nice.  We had a nice level site with 50 amp (an extra $3 per night fee) and were very happy with the park.  This park still has a café on the weekends, activities for adults and children, and an entry gate that is functional.  It did rain while we were there, but the water ran off of the sites and dried within a few days.  The only negative we can report was the lack of water pressure.  We would give this campground a 9 out of 10 on the Moore scale and would not hesitate to return.  Here are a few pictures.

Our site at Lake Conroe

Getaway Cabins

Lake Conroe from Park

Tennis Courts

Swimming Pool

Lawn Area at TT Lake Conroe

Shower & Bathhouse

Of course we ate our way across Southeastern Texas.  Our first culinary stop was the Willis café, but don’t recommend it.  The Pizza Shack was quite good, although because of our g.p.s. we ended up eating at the one in Montgomery rather than Willis.  The “parrot” Mexican restaurant came highly recommended but was a bit mild for our taste.   The Cracker Barrel is just one exit south of the TT Lake Conroe exit and we ate there several times.  We like the Cracker Barrel for breakfast, but are not wild about it for lunch or dinner.  In Lake Conroe we ate at the Texas Roadhouse – ok but not outstanding.  We also hit the Outback steak house – they were good as usual … we recommend the big rib eye.  We also met our RVing friends Susan and Phil Daniels at Panera Bread in the Woodlands Mall.  Panera has some great soups, salads, and sandwiches … always very reliable!  It was great to meet up with Susan and Phil again and catch up on their adventures on the road.  We last saw them over a year ago in Forest City, Iowa. 

While in Southeastern Texas we ran over to Camper World west of Houston.  I needed an “O” ring for my water filter and thought I could find one there.  No luck.  When I asked at the counter, they acted as if I had grown a new head …  If their parts department is that bad I would never take my rig there for service.  It seems that these days Camper World is more interested in selling Travel Trailers then they are in providing one stop shopping for RVers.  Too bad, but I will no longer drive out of my way to find a Camping World.  Nevertheless we still purchased a new barbeque and some jack pads.  On a positive note we had Cody (our dog) groomed at “Bed, Bath, and Biscuit” outside of Willis.  The service was great and the people very friendly.  We would recommend them for grooming, and they also offer boarding with veterinary services located next door.

On the brighter side there is some great sight seeing in the area.  While in Huntsville we visited the Texas Prison Museum that was interesting, but grim.  I think I will stay on the straight and narrow!  We also visited the statue of Sam Houston.  The statue is very visible from interstate 45, but it is worth getting off the interstate and visiting the museum.  The docent was extremely knowledgeable and we got a great deal of history on Houston and the early Republic and state of Texas.  Here are some pictures.

Lynda with a lifesized Houston Head

Sam Houston Statue ... Note Lynda by feet

Sam Houston - First President - Republic of Texas

Since we were in the area we slipped over to Livingston, Texas to visit the headquarters of the Escapees RV Club.  The headquarters building is new and modern and all of the staff are as friendly as can be.  The park itself, however, was not what we expected.  The park is huge and is spread out across many acres.  There are no gates or security so access is unimpeded.  We can imagine that it began as an RV park in the traditional sense, grew to a park with deeded property where RVers built big “car ports” for their rigs and transformed into a neighborhood, with houses.  Today it is a mix of all three.  If we were the new managers of the Escapees, we would consider moving the national headquarters to a new modern location with the amenities that baby boomers are looking for, as the current park was definitely built for the “greatest generation” and is today a bit dated.  Here are some photos from the trip.

National Headquarters Building

Activities Building

RV Sites

Deeded Property with RV "Garage"

Deeded Property with RV "Garage"

House on Deeded Property within Park

House on Deeded Property within Park

One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the George H. W. Bush library and museum in College Station on the campus of Texas A & M University.  A visiting exhibit on DNA was on display at the museum along with the very extensive collection from the life of the first President Bush.  The library has a lot to offer and is definitely worth the trip.  Here are some pics.

Entrance to Library & Museum

Kim at Entrance to Museum & Library

Oversized DNA

Bush for Congress Poster

Bush Car

Replica of Capital

George seems interested in what Kim has to say ... a very patient listener!

Mock White House

Bush's Oval Office

Bush's Limo

Lynda handling crisis in the Situation Room

 Until next time keep doing what you love!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Lake Tawakoni

From Branson we headed south looking for a warmer climate.  We overnighted at Meadow Brook in Muskogee, OK right off of highway 69.  This is a really nice park for an overnight stay.  The site we were given was a nice pull through with 50 amp service .. very nice for $20 a night.  While the temperatures were still below freezing at night, our electric water hose provided continuous service for showers and dishes.

We left early the next day and continued our journey south to Texas.  Our destination was TT Lake Tawakoni.  We had heard very little about this park but assumed the weather would be nice, so we scheduled a three week stay.  On the way down, we stopped at a small picnic area in southern Oklahoma.  Across the street was this unusual tree.  Apparently the wind  blows something fierce here!

We arrived at Lake Tawakoni and checked in at the gate.  We were told that while the park was open, nothing else was really functional.  We could access the adult lodge if accompanied by a ranger … but why bother … the pool was closed, there were no activities scheduled and they even had the temerity to claim they were too far in the wilderness to provide a newspaper as per our contract (they offered $1.00 a day if I wanted to go into town and buy my own).  This made little sense as Dallas is within an hour drive and there are smaller towns and villages between the park and the city.  In addition, the park only has 30 amp service, although we understand that permanent (annual) sites do have 50 amp.  I must say, I am really tired of hearing the tired old story that when these parks were built 30 amp was sufficient.  That was then … this is now … update the park and bring it into this century!  It is obvious that no annual maintenance has been done on this park in quite a while and that lazy attitude is also apparent with the staff.  One day the water went out (apparently there was a break somewhere in the system) so we called the ranger station to inquire as to the status.  The ranger was not in the shack, so we left a message.  The water was restored later that day … but four days later we got a call from the ranger asking about the problem with our water … four days to pick up messages and return our call!  There are some nice sites along the river but don’t plan on camping in them … they are all occupied by annual campers … really they are more permanent than annual … they are building decks next to their units!  In addition, a good 25% of the sites available have the electrical boxes covered … the sites are unusable and not available.  In fact the first site that we tried triggered our surge protector and shut down our electric.  We had to move sites and wait for the surge to reset before setting up.  The sites that are available used to be lovely with asphalt-paved pads … but the pads are overgrown and broken down … as are the park’s roads.  In fact, the roads are so bad that the maintenance men used a blade to push around the broken asphalt creating more of a problem for later years.  In addition, the area around the sites is so uneven that water collects in small ponds after a rain storm making it hard to get in and out.  On the Moore scale of 1-10 we would give this park a 2.  Here are a few pictures.

Our Site on a dry day...  This is a Campground that used to be a jewel!!

Many Sites have bagged electrical posts.

Ponds after the rain

Had a snow storm while we were here.  This is the view from our window  ...We need to go further south!

Roads are in ill repair

Here is an annual site on the river .... nice!

While here we took several nice drives in the country and enjoyed both the towns of Emory and Quinlan and the Dallas suburb of Rockwall.  In Emory we ate at Sidekicks twice … loved lunch (go for the chicken fried steak special) but breakfast was barely average.  In Quinlan we recommend Jalepeno’s Tex Mex for Mexican fare and Soulmans for Barbeque.  In Rockwall we ate at Carino’s (half off on the family platters on Monday night will give you lots of leftovers), but there are loads of other dining options in Rockwall.  On one of our drives we came across these grazers.

A strange mustang?

New kind of longhorn?

From here it is on to TT Lake Conroe, which we understand is very nice … sure hope so as we are becoming more and more disappointed in the TT parks.