Lake Tawakoni State Park
Wills Point, Texas
September 1-5, 2005

 

Lake Tawakoni State Park - Thursday, September 1, 2005

Terry and I decided to head out for long Labor Day weekend. We decided to try a new to us park that was fairly close to home. This was a good thing since gas prices have spiked, over $3.00 a gallon, due to the Hurricane Katrina disaster on the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. The devastation along the coast is equivalent to biblical proportions. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have lost so much. We’re headed to Lake Tawakoni State Park which is right outside Wills Point, about 75 miles from home.

On the Wednesday night before Terry and I worked up our menu for the weekend and headed to the grocery store. After shopping, we dropped the groceries off at the trailer. We would load the rest of our groceries tomorrow night before we left. Terry and I were planning on a a nice long and relaxing weekend that would include four nights of camping. We even had "company" scheduled to come out and see us.

This coming Saturday, we'll be hosting two different sets of guests at our campsite. A good friend, Dave Morgan and his family will be coming by Saturday morning and staying for lunch. Dave and his wife Trish have two young sons and have been thinking about starting to camp as the boys get older. Then in the evening, my niece, Debbie Schwanbeck and her husband Bruce will be stopping by for a visit and stay for dinner. Debbie and Bruce live fairly close by in Eustace, Texas. It’s always nice to have company when we’re camping. Plus, I love cooking for everyone.

After work on Thursday, Terry and I ran by the storage lot and picked up our trailer. We then headed home to load up the rest of our food and clothes and the dog. Yes, Bandy, our dog, was going with us on this camping trip. He really likes to go camping and we also needed to keep an eye on him. About a month or so ago, he ended up with a digestive problem. After working with out vet, he seems like he is much better. We try to take him with us if we don't have any day trips planned away from our campsite. Terry and I will not leave him at the campsite by himself. It's not fair to him and too much stuff could end up happening.

We loaded up all of our stuff and Bandy and finally left home around 7:30 Thursday evening. Since this was Labor Day weekend, we knew the park would be packed, so we wanted arrive at the park early in order to get an optimal campsite. Since we had never visited the park, we really didn’t know what to expect. We had heard from some of our RV buddies that it was a real nice park.

We arrived at the park around 9:00 and it was dark! We had never been on the road this late in the evening with the trailer or tried to back into a campsite in totally darkness. Fortunately for us, Lake Tawakoni State Park has numerous pull-through sites. Since we couldn’t really see what the campsite looked like we chose one of the pull through sites that looked easy to get into. Terry and I were both tired and hungry and we were anxious to get the minimal hookups completed and get the air conditioning running. We could then we could relax for the rest of the evening.

Site #49 looked good. We pulled in and decided it would be ours for the weekend. The sites in the park are really nice. All of the site are very level and are paved with concrete pads. We got unhooked from my F150 fairly quickly. There wasn’t much leveling to do. We really couldn't see the site. We hoped that we had chosen a nice one. We wouldn't know until tomorrow morning. Around 10:00 Terry and I finally sat down to share a late dinner. We knew we’d be arriving late, so I had made some chicken salad. We also brought along fresh fruit to accompany it. Terry and I were still pretty hot, so the chicken and fruit salads were very refreshing. We watched TV until around 11:00 before turning in for the evening.

Lake Tawakoni State Park - Friday, September 2, 2005

I woke around 6:30 after a fairly restful night's sleep. I had brought Bandy inside to sleep last night, but he would have no part of that. There was just too much going on outside for a puppy to be inside. Bandy was just as content to be outside. He was very quiet all night long. Terry and I have to watch him because he is so protective of us and his turf, especially when another camper came by walking their dog. I went outside and sat with Bandy for a while until Terry woke up around 7:00. Since we had arrived so late we needed to run up to the front gate around 8:00 to get checked in.

While it was still cool, Terry and I decided to get our “outside” stuff setup. I also got the DirecTV satellite dish pointed and locked in. I was real lucky. On the first try I ended up getting an almost perfect signal. Way to go Chuck! We finished getting our awning out before heading up to the front gate for check-in. I had also learned a new tip that would help to better stabilize the tripod the dish was mounted on. On one of the episodes of "RV Today" a user had shared a tip of using a "mushroom" boat anchor to stabilize the tripod. The pictures below will better describe what I am talking about.

Satellite tripod setup Close-up of "mushroom" anchor used for stabilization

On the way to the office, Terry and I did a drive through to look at the other camping areas. This is a really nice park; we will definitely be coming back here again. Extremely clean and we love the pull-throughs and the level concrete pads. While I walked Bandy, Terry got us checked in. When she came out, she said there was a “burn ban” so there would be no campfire. That’s OK since it was really too warm for a campfire. A note that is always of interest, Terry said the bathhouses were beautiful inside and very clean. In fact, they had a sign up stating that they were closed from 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm each evening for cleaning.

Footbridge from campsites to bathhouse
Swimming area with sandy beach Lake Tawakoni's bathhouse

 When we got back to our campsite, Terry mixed up some blueberry muffins for breakfast. Since it was so hot, we decided not to make coffee, but we did have some delicious fresh squeezed orange juice.  After breakfast, it was time for napping, reading and relaxing for Terry, Bandy and I. Well, Bandy didn’t do much reading but he did do a lot of napping, especially for a dog. Terry and I also shot some pictures of our campsite.

Around 1:30 in the afternoon, Terry and I decided to make a run to Wal-Mart. We were getting some very bad smells from our black water tank and I need to get some stronger chemicals to eradicate the odors. We decided, while we were out, to make a run through Tyler State Park to see the full-hookup area. In the past Terry and I had camped there when we had our popup. Tyler is a really popular and beautiful park. The best part is that it is only around 90 miles from home. We found out that Tyler State Park had been going through a complete renovation. The sites that are "lakeside" that normally only had water and electricity hookups, now have had sewer added. Also in the full-hookup area, it looks like 50 amp service has been added. Terry and I both agreed that Tyler was nice, but Daingerfield State Park was still our favorite. Since there was no cell service at our campsite, we called Debbie, my niece, and Dave, my friend; to let them know what site we were staying in. I let them know there was no cell service at the park, so they wouldn’t be able to call us for directions. We told both of them that we were looking forward to see everyone tomorrow evening.

Terry and I arrived back to our campsite around 6:30 hungry and ready for dinner. Bandy was also petty tired from riding in the truck all day long. I treated our black water tank with a heavy dose of chemicals that we had purchased at Wal-Mart. I had decided to wait and do a thorough back-flushing of our tanks when we dropped off our trailer at our RV storage facility. It's nice having a dump station at our storage facility. We can take our time and keep flushing and backing flushing until we're satisfied the tanks are clean. In the meantime, Terry started preparing dinner for us. On the menu tonight, lasagna, salad, tea, wine and cherry pie and ice cream for dessert. For the rest of the evening, we relaxed, read and watched TV before turning in around 11:00 for the evening.

Lake Tawakoni State Park - Saturday, September 3, 2005

Bandy almost made it all the way through the night last night. Around 5:30, he decided it was time to go out and see what was happening outside and he wasn’t about to take NO for an answer. I got up to let him out and then tried to go back to sleep. After tossing and turning for about 15 minutes or so, I decided to go on and get up and shower. Our trailer is so nice since it has a regular door to the bedroom that can be shut. You're able to close off the bedroom and not disturb someone sleeping in the bedroom.

After I finished showering, Bandy started raising a ruckus when someone came by walking their dog. He is so protective, maybe too protective at times. Of course his barking woke Terry. I finally got him quieted and calmed down, but Terry was now awake and came out into the living room to see what all the noise was about. We sat around and watched the morning news. I also put on a pot of coffee for us to enjoy. It’s fairly cool outside this morning but it’s scheduled to be in the mid-90’s again today. It shouldn't be too long before it cools down. Fall isn’t far off. 

Today is our big day for guest at our campsite. As I mentioned earlier, during lunch today we’ll be hosting Dave Morgan and his family; then a little later, Debbie and Bruce Schwanbeck, my niece and her husband will be joining us for dinner. We’ll be having a traditional camp meal for lunch, hot dogs with all the fixin’s. For dinner, we’ll be doing steaks, baked potatoes, and corn on the cob, with peach crisp and ice cream for dessert. 

David Morgan and his family arrived around 10:00. They made it down without any problems at all. Their two boys are 3 and 1. We visited for around an hour or so before I started fixing lunch for all of us. They were planning on leaving around 1:00 before it got too hot and to get home in time to put the boys down for their naps. We had an awesome lunch of Johnsonville Brats and hot dogs with all the fixin’s. Terry and I also got to show off our trailer and give them the “grand tour.” When the boys get older, Dave mentioned they may start thinking about getting a trailer. Dave and Trish were both very impressed at the amenities and comforts our trailer provides. Around 1:00 the Morgan’s headed back west towards Fort Worth and Terry and I retreated to the cool inside of our trailer for an afternoon of napping and relaxing. This camping stuff is hard work!

My friend Dave and one of his sons

About 5:00, there was a knock on the door; we knew company had arrived. Yea, Debbie and Bruce were here for their visit and dinner. We sat around inside the camper and visited for a while before Terry and I started dinner. On the menu tonight; steaks, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, and peach cobbler and ice cream for dessert. Of course we gave had to conduct another tour of the trailer. Wow, two grand tours in one day, a new record. They too were really impressed with our trailer. Of course, dinner was awesome. It always is, when you’re camping. After visiting for a while after dinner, Debbie and Bruce headed for home around 9:00. What a delightful day Terry and I have had. We watched TV for a while and relaxed after Debbie and Bruce left and finally turned in around 11:00 for a restful night’s sleep.

Lake Tawakoni State Park - Sunday, September 4, 2005

Terry and I woke early this morning. First, the dog wanted out around 5:30, and second, I couldn’t get back to sleep, then Terry woke and couldn’t get back to sleep either. It’s pretty sad, when there is no reason to be up early, that Terry and I were both up and wide awake on a Sunday morning! Anyway, since we were both up and awake, it was time to put a pot of coffee on. It was nice and cool this morning. The temperatures today are supposed to be much cooler. Yea, that’ll be a welcome relief.

Terry and I had nothing planned for today. This was really our day to do as we wished. We’re also very impressed with this park. The sites are awesome and the park is very well patrolled. Even though the park is completely sold out, we haven’t heard any loud groups or late night noises. Terry and I will definitely return for another stay. The park is also only around 45 miles from Canton where “First Monday” the famous trade days are held once a month. We thought about taking in “First Monday” on this trip, but we decided to wait until cooler temperatures.

Around 9:00, it was time to start breakfast. On the menu this morning was French toast, bacon, sausage, orange juice, milk and coffee. It was so nice out this morning; we cooked outside on the picnic table then shared our delicious breakfast together in the cool morning temperatures. After breakfast, Terry and I sat in our recliners reading and relaxing outside.

Around 11:30, I decided to go check out Purtis Creek State Park, which was fairly close by. Terry wanted to stay at the campsite and read, so I headed off to find Purtis Creek. Purtis Creek is a very nice park, but if we have our choice, we’d opt to stay here at Lake Tawakoni. It is nicer and the sites are much larger. I arrived back at our campsite around 1:30. It had gotten pretty warm. I found Terry and the dog inside the trailer enjoying the cool temperatures. For the rest of the afternoon, all three of us napped. What else are you supposed to do while camping, especially when it's hot outside.

Around 6:00, we started dinner. On the menu tonight, we’re having grilled chicken breasts, rice, zucchini, salad, wine and tea and probably some cookies and ice cream for dessert. We also have a great tip to pass on. Uncle Ben’s has come out with some incredible rice dishes, which take 90 seconds in the microwave. They’re also listed as containing 3 servings, so they’re perfect for Terry and myself. I believe they had 5 or 6 different varieties. Terry and I didn't have anything special planned for this evening, just relaxing, reading, and watching a movie on DirecTV. We turned in around 11:00. Bandy was also pretty tired as well because he was already in his bed fast asleep.

Lake Tawakoni State Park - Monday, September 5, 2005

Bandy woke me up around 5:30 wanted to go outside and see what was going on. Terry was still fast asleep. After putting him outside, I laid down of the couch and turned on the annual Jerry Lewis MD Telethon, while waiting for Terry to wake up. We'd be heading for home today. Our camping trips are always enjoyable, but it's always good to get home as well. Around 7:00, Terry woke up and came out to the living room and snuggled up to me while she woke up. We were both impressed that Bandy was being so quiet outside. Terry and I decided since we had eaten so much the day before, we'd have a light breakfast of cereal, toast and juice, and stop for lunch on the way home. We also decided to start packing up while it was still fairly cool outside so we could head for home around mid-morning.

After breakfast, I headed outside to start packing up all our outside stuff while Terry worked on the inside stuff. About an hour and a half later, we were ready to hookup and head for home. After seeing the line at the dump station, we decided to wait until we arrived back in Fort Worth to dump and flush our tanks. Heading on down the road, we arrived in Terrell and decided to stop look for somewhere to stop for lunch. We were also hungry since we had only eaten a light breakfast. If we only knew now what was going to happen, we would have taken precautions and rolled up the back windows of the truck.

So here's what happened. As I mentioned above, we were traveling through Terrell looking for some where to stop for lunch. When you're pulling a trailer, you've got to plan your stops very carefully. Terry finally saw a Schlotzsky's with a street next to it. It would be a perfect place to pull in with the trailer. Terry went inside to pickup our food while I waited in the truck with Bandy. Across the street from Schlotzsky's was a Motel 6. With all of the evacuees from Hurricane Katrina, the motel was totally full. All of the sudden one of the room doors opens and a small little dog tears out across the parking lot towards Schlotzsky's. Our idiot dog jumped out the back window of the truck just as Terry was walking up with out lunch. In front of Schlotzsky's is a four lane highway. We both could envision Bandy getting whacked in the middle of the highway. Fortunately the little dog, scared half to death, ended up hiding from Bandy under one of the cars that was in Schlotzsky's drive through. Terry ended up chasing Bandy all the way over to the Sonic Drive-In next door to Schlotzsky's. The puppy's owner retrieved their dog as well. After the chase, Terry and I were finally able to enjoy our sandwiches, while huffing and puffing.

We arrived at our storage facility around 2:00. Terry worked on unloading all of our food and doing her thing on the inside while I started the dumping and flushing process. Since we had the foul smell coming up from the black water tank, I decided to do a thorough job of flushing and back-flushing our three tanks. I was going to make sure this time all of the tanks were totally clean. When we were in the process of buying our Pilgrim travel trailer, we relied on the knowledge of Terry's parents, who are full time RVers. Since we were upgrading from our Coleman Santa Fe popup, we had never had to deal with gray and black water tanks. We were not sure exactly how they worked, what chemicals to use and, especially, how to keep them clean and smelling fresh. Billy, Terry's dad, told me right away to get a Flush King in order to be able to back flush our holding tanks. I purchased a "knock-off", one that looked just like a Flush King, but wasn't. On our first trip out, it broke. To replace the broken unit, I purchased a Flush King and have been totally satisfied with it. On our Glen Rose trip, I must admit I got in a hurry and didn't do as good a job flushing as I would have liked. There were trailers in line behind me and I didn't want to hold anyone up. At our storage facility, no one was waiting so I was able to take my time and make sure our tanks, especially the black water one, was completely clean. I spent over an hour just working on the black water tank. Terry and I finished up at the storage facility, secure the trailer, and headed for home around 5:00. Our next trip isn't scheduled until the 3rd week of October. We're looking forward to it and cooler weather.


Authored by Chuck and Terry Mencke

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"Lake Tawakoni State Park - September 1 -5, 2005" was last modified: September 25, 2005

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Chuck and Terry's Pilgrim 281 RB-S Adventures