Fort Parker State Park
Mexia, Texas
December 30, 2005 - January 1, 2006


Fort Parker State Park - Friday, December 30, 2005

Terry and I have decided that this is definitely going to be a fun camping trip. We'll be spending New Year's Eve weekend with our camping club, North Texas Camping Association at Fort Parker State Park is not a large park and has only 25 sites. Our club has the whole park booked. The New Year's trip has become an annual event for our club for the past few years. Since we rent out the whole park, the park's ranger provides complimentary use of the group lodge for the group's use. We were supposed to attend the group's campout in 2004, but I wasn't feeling good, so we had to cancel.

Not this year; we were on our way to Mexia around 7:00 in the morning. We almost had a set-back again this year. Terry and I have both been sick with bronchitis since the middle of December. We were both finally almost over it, but we're still doing a lot of coughing. We both figured that the camping trip would be restful and relaxing for us.

On the way to the park, we stopped at the IHOP in Corsicana for breakfast. Shortly after, we arrived at the park (around 10:30) and received our site assignment, #24. The site was still occupied by campers from the previous night. Terry and I ended up having to kill a couple of hours while we waited for the family to get packed up and vacate the site.

As we waited we both discussed the weather. This was going to be a very strange end of 2005, even for Texas. The weather is abnormally warm for this time of the year. Here we are in the middle of winter and Terry and I are in shorts and T-shirts. Everyone was hoping for a fire in the fireplace at the lodge, but it was going to be too warm. Trees and plants are starting to bud; they're confused as well.

The area around Fort Parker holds a very historical place in Texas history. Below is a bit of history from the Texas Parks and Wildlife website:

Fort Parker State Park includes 1,458.8 acres (758.8 land acres and a 700-acre lake); between Mexia and Groesbeck, in Limestone County. It was opened to the public in 1941.

Fort Parker State Park was created in 1935 on land donated by the City of Mexia and three local landowners. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed all the recreational facilities in the late 1930s, and built a dam across the Navasota River in 1939, creating Fort Parker Lake.

The park was named for Fort Parker, a nearby historic settlement established in 1833, and the site of the well-known Comanche Indian raid in May 1836, during which Cynthia Ann Parker was captured. During captivity, Cynthia Ann became the mother of the last great Comanche chief, Quanah Parker. The old Fort Parker was reconstructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps as a 1936 centennial project.

The parklands encompass the historic town of Springfield. Springfield was established in 1838, and when Limestone County was created in 1847, the community became the first county seat. Springfield began to die in the early 1870s, after the railroad by-passed the town and the courthouse burned. The county seat was moved to Groesbeck in 1873, the post office closed in 1878, and Springfield soon became a ghost town. Only the cemetery remains, the last resting place of many East Texas pioneers, including an American Revolutionary War veteran and two veterans of the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.

We finally got backed in to our site , #24, and all setup around 12:30. Site #24 is a great campsite. Towards the back of the site is the lake. We have an incredible view from our trailer. Since we'd had a fairly large breakfast, we just snacked for lunch and then had homemade stew and cornbread for dinner. The group was having a "game night" at the lodge later on but both of us were whipped from the work week and still recuperating, so we decided to stay at our trailer and relax. We watched TV, played a couple of hands of Skip Bo and then turned in for the evening around 10:00.

Our rig all set up! Our view from site #24

Fort Parker State Park - Saturday, December 31, 2005

The end of 2005, it just doesn't seem possible. What a whirlwind of a year! It passed way too quickly. Around 5:00 in the morning, I woke up with a coughing fit. I decided to go on and get up and go out front so I wouldn't disturb Terry. As I mentioned we both were just getting over the "creeping crud" that we had throughout the holidays. Terry woke around 7:00 and starting preparing our contribution for the group breakfast that was scheduled for 9:00. We were bringing Sopapilla Cheesecake. Jennifer, my niece, had served it at her home for our family Christmas Brunch. It's so delicious. Terry and I highly recommend it. It is also so easy to prepare and will be a hit with all who try it.

Sopapilla Cheesecake

Spread one can of crescent rolls in bottom of 9x13 inch pan, pinching the pieces together so there are no seams. This will be the bottom crust. Mix together cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla. Spread this mixture on the crescent roll layer. Now spread 2nd can of crescent rolls on top - as top crust. Pour 1 stick of melted butter evenly over the top. Mix the remaining cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and sprinkle it evenly over the top. Bake 350 for 45 minutes. Let sit for about 15 minutes and cut into 2 inch squares.

Our New Year's Eve breakfast buffet was awesome. There was a huge variety of dishes, breakfast meats, pancakes, waffles, breakfast pastries, and fresh fruits. During breakfast Terry and I had a wonderful conversation with Bob and Jason about astronomy. Several of the group members are really into astronomy. We found out there were 4 or 5 telescopes at the campout. Terry and I were excited since we had just purchased a new Meade scope that we had brought along with us. Bob and Jason volunteered to stop by our campsite later on to give us a tutorial on how to use our new telescope. It would be great getting instruction from the experts.

Enjoying a delicious breakfast buffet

After breakfast we all headed back to their campsites. Terry and I set up our telescope and waited for the Bob and Jason to stop by. We setup our recliners by out by the lake and did a little bird watching. This was also the first time Terry had tried out one of her Christmas presents, a set of Nikon binoculars. Camping and bird watching go together perfectly. Terry decided it is a hobby she wants to learn more about.

About an hour or so later, Jason and Anise, Jason's wife, showed up to check out our scope. Jason was pretty excited about the scope and was very "animated" in his tutorial. We both finally learned how to set our scope up and calibrate it. Our new scope is computerized and will automatically track stars and celestial objects in the sky. After spending about an hour showing us how to setup and use our scope, Jason and Anise left and headed back to their campsite. Terry and I were getting hungry so I fired up the grill and put some burgers on. It was another very warm day. Absolutely amazing, New Year's Eve and we're both in T-shirts and shorts! Go figure, but this IS Texas. While I cooked, Terry was hard at work trying to solve one of the Rush Hour logic puzzles. From the picture below, you can see she was really concentrating really hard. The game can be pretty frustrating at times, but is it good exercise for the mind.

Tonight's our big New Year's eve celebration that will be held at the lodge. We'll be having a big New Year's Eve pot-luck buffet, followed by a "white elephant" gift exchange. To ring in the New Year, we'll be playing games and sharing snacks and desserts brought by everyone. Of course at midnight, we'll all be having a champagne toast to ring in 2006. Terry and I put a ham on to heat around 5:30 that we'd be bringing to the pot-luck tonight.  We also brought queso and chips for snack time during our group's game night.

A side note, Fort Parker is also noted for its fabulous sunsets. Below are a couple of pictures that a couple of our our group members shot on a previous trip.

Around 7:15, we headed over to the lodge. Our potluck was scheduled to start around 7:30. Terry and I were both glad we had a late lunch today or we'd really be hungry by now. Camping pot-lucks are incredible. It's really amazing to me that everything turns out so well with the variety of dishes. Yum, dinner was delicious. All of us helped clean up after dinner so we could get ready for the "white elephant" gift exchange. What fun! There were some really neat gifts and there were definitely some "white elephants", stuff that we wouldn't even put in a garage sale. I kept wanting to trade for the Marylyn Monroe statue, but Terry wouldn't hear of it. It was all in fun and the group had a great time. Terry and I ended up with a neat greeting card organizer and a beautiful decorative Christmas light. After the gift exchange, it was time to get down to some serious gaming. We all broke up into groups to play Mexican Train, Phase 10, Skip Bo and other games. Everyone was having a great time celebrating a safe New Year's Eve with a wonderful group of friends.

Pictures from our New Year's Eve Celebration

"White Elephant" gifts ready to be chosen
Happy 2006!

A little before midnight we started breaking open the champagne for our New Year's Eve toast. Another new year and a time of new beginnings. Terry and I rang in 2006 with a hug and a kiss and toasted the new year. Around 12:30 we headed back to our trailer and decided to set the telescope up to check out the 2006 New Year's sky. There were so many stars we could see, it was unbelievable. Getting away from the city lights makes so much pf a difference. By the time we were ready to start star gazing, a huge blanket of clouds had rolled in and no more stars. Boo hiss, too bad. We'll just have to wait for another time. Terry and I packed up the telescope and headed back to our trailer to turn in for the night.

Fort Parker State Park - Sunday, January 1, 2006

Happy 2006! We woke around 7:00. Since we went to bed so late, I figured both of us would sleep in a bit longer, but no, our eyes were wide open so we might as well get up. I put a pot of coffee on to enjoy on the first day of 2006. Terry and I decided to sit out by the lake for a while reading and drink our coffee before starting breakfast. About an hour or so later it was time to get breakfast started. On the menu this morning:

Breakfast is my favorite meals when we're camping and today's breakfast was no exception. The waffles were delicious and hit the spot perfectly. After cleaning up the breakfast dishes, we started to head over to the lodge to help clean and straighten up after our New Year's Eve celebration, but the volunteers had already finished and were headed back to their individual campsites. Since Monday was a day off for both of us, we almost decided to stay an additional day. In the end, we decided to pack up and head for home. It's been a real nice camping trip and an excellent way to ring in the New Year. We were already looking forward to the trip next year. Terry and I were packed up and ready to head out around noon. Our next camping trip was right around the corner. In February, we'll be heading to Loyd Park in Grand Prairie.

Authored by Chuck and Terry Mencke

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"Fort Parker State Park - December 30, 2005 - January 1, 2006" was last modified: June 4, 2006


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