Camping on the way back to Florida, Childress, Texas, and Tyler, Texas, and Tom Merrill Recreation Area, Louisiana

I left Albuquerque on October 17th and I have stopped at several campgrounds along the way. These are places I have not been to before and I am enjoying my new experiences and meeting new people a few who I will probably stay in touch with. I had very limited WiFi using my phone as a hot spot to update my travel map and write short posts to let my friends who read my posts to see how I am doing and where I am at any given time.

I still have my tumor but it is not stopping me from traveling and enjoying life. I am so blessed and grateful. This year my health was better, I know it was in part due to working out at the gym for several months before leaving home and also by staying active and walking a lot while I was on my trip. I still have my tumors and health issues but I really do my best to ignore them and I don’t give them permission to be in my body. I am truly grateful that I was able to take another long trip and do things I enjoy. I am able to walk much further this year than in previous years. The past year or so, I have limited my driving to between 150 and 350 miles a day whereas in the first few years of my travels I would sometimes drive 400 or 500 miles in a day. I realize not only is that too many miles to drive in a day, but then I don’t stop along the way to experience new places and campgrounds.

On my way back east from Albuquerque, the first night I stopped near Amarilllo, Texas. I looked at maps to decide which route I wanted to take. Most years, I stop in Waco, Texas, and stay will friends for about a month and then go straight back home. This year, I decided to do something different. The Texas Visitor Center has a wonderful booklet called Texas Public Campgrounds. It lists state, city, Corps of Engineer and other government or local agency campgrounds. Several are free for a few days such as in Littlefield and Muleshoe. I stayed in these parks in previous years when I took the route through their towns in the Texas Panhandle. I took a different route through Texas on this return trip. I wanted to see different scenery and explore new places. It was cold out west so I decided to head east into warmer territory. But I found out that even though it was cold I stayed in places a few days because I had a good time there visiting with other campers.

Childress has a city park on a small pond and it was $10 a night with full hookups and it was a really nice campground. I stayed there for five nights and one day instead of unhooking and driving into town I walked one and a half miles each way to a pizza place. I thought I worked off the pizza I ate. There was a nice paved walkway around the lake and there were ducks, swans, and some other water birds I don’t recognize. The man in the camper next to me had a dog that would come over and say hi and want me to play catch with him. Here is a photo album I took at Childress City Park.

I drove down Highway 287 and took some other secondary roads. I drove through some really interesting small towns which looked like a nice place to live. One of the towns was a small German town and there was an old brewery that looked vacated, but the vats outside the building were painted with scenes of an old German village. Another small town near there had an old historic church. I liked driving through these towns rather than take highways.

My next overnight stop was Tyler State Park in east Texas. Walking outside around the campground I could smell the wonderful scent of pine from the pine trees. This was a really nice campground. I was able to take a nice, long, warm, shower, it was the first one I had in quite a while. Normally, while in Albuquerque, I wash my hair at a faucet with a hose and wash the rest of me with washcloths. I wash my laundry in a bucket and put it on a chair to dry. I only spent one night here and then continued east. Here is an album of photos I took at Tyler State Park.

While at Tyler State Park, I looked at my Passport America campground book and didn’t see any campgrounds I wanted to stay at on the route I was planning on driving. I looked at Camping with the Corps book which shows all of the Corps of Engineer Parks in the US. My version is from 2010, I have not bought a new one recently. I didn’t think there would be much difference in campgrounds or that there would be new campgrounds.

I decided to stop at a Corps of Engineer Park about half an hour east of Shreveport, Louisiana, and about 10 miles north of Interstate 20. The version of the book I have says that there are 20 campsites with a maximum length of 20′, and that is is not on a lake. I thought this would be a nice quiet campground and probably not very crowded since it was a Tuesday and I thought I would stay a few days. Big Surprise!!! I arrived at the campground and found that there were level, paved, campsites and that almost any length camper would fit on these concrete pads. There are large trees throughout this wooded campground, mostly pine trees. Here is an album of pictures I took at Tom Merrill Recreation Area.

There are restrooms and showers which are pretty nice, a bit primitive but they have running hot water and the showers are private rooms in a little building and the door locks which is nice. I like where I can take a shower and not be in a room with several shower stalls. It felt great to take a warm shower and wash my hair.  The campground hosts were really nice and I taught the wife how to crochet and she trimmed my hair, she was a beautician. We enjoyed our time together while we crocheted and she trimmed my hair. They had just spent a few months in Alaska and traveling around the country.

Evidently, this campground was upgraded a few years ago. It is in a wildlife management area and it turns out that a few days after I arrived that hunting season opened. By Friday all of the campsites were filled… with hunters. I like to walk around whatever campground I am at and sometimes I visit with other campers. In one of the campsites not far from me there were four brothers, two from Louisiana and two from Mississippi. They come to this campground a few times a year to hunt. We started talking and they invited me to eat a meal with them and sit by their campfire. I had a lot of fun visiting with them, they liked to laugh and tell stories. I also learned a lot about deer hunting, and requirements for hunting. Two of their buddies were in a campsite near them and they came to visit too.

While the guys were hunting during the morning, I would walk around the campground and as I walked I picked up sticks, logs, and pine cones for our campfire. In the afternoons, about 4 p.m. we started the campfire. It was cold during the time I was at this campground. Probably in the 40’s or 50’s. I drank a bit of hot cocoa that week. The campfire felt really good and putting pine cones or pine needles on the fire increased the heat instantly and it was pretty watching the pine cones burn when it was dark.

One night for dinner we roasted hot dogs and sausage on sticks in the fire, and another day they cooked pork ribs and baked beans in a crockpot, which was  a really delicious dinner one night. I got the recipe and made it at my friend Cindy’s a few days later when I got to her house, this dinner was a big hit!!! The two men who were friends of the brothers were cooking chicken on their grill on afternoon, it smelled so good. I had some chicken in my fridge and they were really nice and cooked my chicken on their grill for me. I ate it for a few days on my trip towards Florida.

One of the brothers killed two boars, one was a baby. I felt bad for the little critter, but it turns out that the park rangers want the boars killed because they have a lot of babies in a litter, and multiply quickly and they eat the acorns and other things that the deer eat and then the deer don’t have enough food. Because this is a wildlife and recreation management area, the first two days of hunting season the hunters have to take the deer they kill to the ranger station so they can be weighed and some of the deer have a part of their brain or something near that cut out so that they can be examined to be sure there are no diseases in the deer community.

This campground has a cleaning area for the deer and other animals where they can be hung on hooks to be skinned and/or cleaned. I didn’t think I could watch deer being processed, but I was able to. It was pretty interesting to watch how different hunters cut up their deer. No, we did not eat any of the venison, but I did have a good meal or two with the brothers at their campsite.

I spent a week at this campground and every day I walked several miles exploring various parts of the park. There is no lake at this campground, but there is a river nearby within driving or walking distance. There is a levy and water flows through the bottom of it. There is also a nice playground with a shredded rubber tire base under the playground equipment. It felt very strange to walk on.

I walked up the steep hill to the road, that was not easy, and another day I walked around to the other side and that’s where I found the river. There were lots of pine, oak, and cypress trees. Along the bank of the river there were lots of cypress trees and cypress knees. I love seeing cypress knees. If you don’t know what these are, they are parts of the root of the tree that comes up from the ground in the shape of a V which looks like a bent knee.

Anyway, I had a nice time at this campground, even though it was cold. I met nice people and felt very relaxed when I left. I would love to come to this campground again.

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One Response to Camping on the way back to Florida, Childress, Texas, and Tyler, Texas, and Tom Merrill Recreation Area, Louisiana

  1. Larry Marcantel says:

    The guys from Tom Merrill Recreation Area (Boduca Dam) in southeastern Louisiana, hope you made it home okay. Be safe Mark, Newton, Victor, Chris, Joey, and Larry

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