My Birthday Weekend 2021

🥳 My birthday was on Friday this year and I had plans to go dancing with friends on Saturday, so I threw in a quick trip to the lake. I ended up at the State Park because the COE parks and Big Creek have a 2-night minimum on weekends. This was a solo birthday campout and the maiden voyage of my new kayak. It was a quick overnight for the purpose of trying it out and how it would carry in my truck with the camper attached. 

Birch Creek Unit, Lake Somerville State Park

14222 PR 57, Somerville, Texas 77879
Burleson County
979-535-7763

Type of Park: State 
August 27-28, 2021 - 1 Night

Check In: 2p    Check Out: 12p

⛺ Site #42, Post Oak Loop - Back-In

💲20 per night + $4/person/day entry fee (Can use State Parks Pass to waive entry fee)
• Water
• 20/30 amp (had 50 amp outlet, but only 20 & 30 breakers)
• Grill
• Fire Ring with adjustable height grate
• Picnic Table
• Site Pad: asphalt. Site was just long enough for my camper and my truck and not much room between. 

👍🏻 Pros:

• Near the water with a trail to get there
• Green space between the site and neighbors

👎🏻 Cons:

• The spot is tight getting in. My 10' high camper had low hanging branches on it (but they were soft, not stiff)

📝 Park Notes: 

• Park does not have a gate 
• Dump Station for each camping loop
• Restrooms / Bath House
• Boat ramp
• Fishing jetty/pier is closed
• This campground is better for winter camping. Great buffer from wind and neighbors. Only a handful of sites have direct access to the water.
• Lots of trails
• There are Munzees and Geocaches here
• Group pavilion/kitchen available
• 2 group shelters available

🐦 Wildlife:

• Birds: Shore birds, egrets, herons, cardinals, mockingbirds
• Deer
• Raccoons (I saw their tracks, but not the critters)

🚘 51.6 miles round trip - 9.4 mph

Friday

Part One!

Happy birthday to me! Worked half a day and then loaded up. Got out to the site not long after check-in time. Of course, I went the wrong way on the loop and had to go out a bit and turn around. The site entrance was tight with brush so I couldn't back in from the opposite direction. I backed in pretty well with the help of a neighbor checking how far I could go back and still put the stabilizers down. Low hanging branches, but soft. Unloaded the kayak and got the camper set up. 
With a lot of kids back in school, the campground was VERY quiet. There were less than 10 RVs on this side of the park and quite a few tents (but none in the primitive area).

🛶 Put on my swimsuit and dragged the kayak down to the water for the maiden voyage. I loved it!!! She did well even with the patched hole. More adventures to come for sure! When I was done, I dragged Pinky back up to the campsite and made a sandwich for supper. Just for fun, I took the Christmas green/red laser lights and faced them out on the brush instead of on the side of the camper. It looked like a forest full of fireflies. It was mesmerizing. Checked some social media and watched a couple YouTube videos and hit the hay. 

Saturday

☕ Made my coffee on the stove this time and just had blueberry muffins that I made before leaving home. It was a short trip so I didn't want to have a big breakfast and lots of dishes. 

🛶 My brother came out and brought their kayak and his drone. We paddled around a while. In one of the videos, you can see a big gar come to the surface. Neither one of us saw it at the time. Packed everything up and went to the house to drop off the kayak, take a shower and get some lunch. Got back in the truck and headed to Navasota which is a polar opposite from the State Park.




Part Two!


Behind The Western Steakhouse & Dancehall
9524 Highway 6 Loop S
Navasota, TX 77868
936-306-3821
westernrv@yahoo.com

Type of Park: Private-owned

Aug 28-29, 2021 - 1 Night

⛺ Site #30 - Back-In

💲45 per night + 3% for using a credit card

• Water
• 20/30/50 amp
• Sewer
• Site Pad: Concrete

👍🏻 Pros:

• No mud
• On the end of the row, so I had extra room on one side
• Sites are wide enough to put tow vehicle next to the camper

👎🏻 Cons:

• No grass
• It's a bright parking lot. The lights are the reason I got room-darkening curtains after the last stay here.
• No picnic tables
• No grill
• No fire ring

📝 Park Notes: 

• There are Munzees and here
• Sewer hookups were closer to the front of the site. I had to pull up some and use both hoses. 


🚘 58.4 miles round trip - 10.2 mph

Saturday

⛺ Had to get gas on the way, so I went through College Station on 2818. Students are back! Got checked in and picked out site 30 on the end. Waylon Thibodeaux was staying there. He and his wife were escaping Hurricane Ida since the eye was headed right for their home. I was the first in our group to get there, but some of the Roadrunners were there already, Not long after that, it started to rain. No worries on all the concrete. After the rain, we hung around my site for a while and then got ready for the dance. 

👢 We ate at the table since the restaurant side had a long wait. Jody Nix was great! I loved the twin fiddles and steel guitar. He had a good mix of honky tonk music. Good music, good food, Good Friends and good dancing. Everybody was dancing with me and buying shots and beer for my birthday. It was great to have the RVs in the back of the parking lot.


Sunday

🥓 I was the first one up from our group. David was the only one up from the Roadrunners. I made coffee in the drip pot. After the others got up and had coffee, we started the big brunch. Good eats! We broke camp and went home. I went the back way through William Penn this time. I unhitched and crashed for a bit, then went to friends' in Snook. 

Part Three!



🎻 They brought Waylon home with them and he was playing fiddle in the backyard. They had made a big pot of gumbo. I got a taste of it. It was so good, but I had steaks on the agenda a little later. I got to play the rubboard with Waylon for a few songs. 

Part Four!

🥩 Went to Mama & Daddy's. He and my brother got the charcoal pit going. John was there and my son came just as we sat down to eat. I don't get to see him often, so that was treat in and of itself. The steaks were great off the charcoal. Visited for a while and then everyone went home. 

🎁 All in all, it was a GREAT birthday weekend! 🎂

💨 This was the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ida came ashore on the same day. High winds over 90 mph at my aunt's in Jefferson. Her living room ceiling collapsed. No power for up to a month! Relatives north of Lake Ponchartrain had wind, rain and power knocked out. Lots of trees and limbs down in the roads. 



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Thank You

 

Just a note of #thanks to all of you in the fast food industry that showed up to work today. You make it possible for me to eat when I forget my lunch (which happens quite a lot). 

I appreciate you and the fact that you're out there making an honest living. 👏🏻

Flippin' burgers, slingin' pizzas, fryin' chicken, barbequin', bussin' tables, deliverin' orders. You're important!




Google Keep - More Than Just Sticky Notes

 In my last video, we took plain white notes and made them more visually appealing. I wanted to expand on that and show that the notes can be more than just stand alone text on a screen. 

Learn how to create a note from an email and use that note to make a reminder on your calendar or have a notification pop up on your mobile device when you reach a specific location. 


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Making Google Keep Visually Appealing

I haven't done a technical video in a while as I usually do in-person or online sessions for specific groups, but I wanted to share some tips on one of my favorite productivity tools in the Google suite called Google Keep. It's like digital sticky notes, but with more capabilities.


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🎬 In this video, I'm covering the visual aspect and how to "pretty it up", so to speak.
  • Use emojis
  • Change the color of a note
  • Pin notes to the top of the page
  • Add one of several background images (mobile devices only)
  • Add images to use as "headers"
  • Check off items on a list and have them move to the bottom of the list
    • Uncheck all and they go back in the order they were in
  • Add "categories" to checklists (indent individual items)
  • Add Labels and Archive to clean up the Home screen view

Leave comments and questions below the video or on this post and I will try to answer them the best I can. Thanks for watching!

📷 Most of the images shown in the demo were purchased from DPC Digitals. Find her on Etsy and Facebook as well. 

Camping at Yegua Creek Park

This is another COE park on the south side of Lake Somerville. The sites are closer together than Rocky Creek Park. The west loop was less populated than the main area and there were a couple sites that were not filled. The sites here are staggered so that each site has a view of the lake. This park is dominated by Post Oaks where Rocky Creek had the Cedar Elms with the beautiful Spanish Moss. My neighbors were friendly and had good taste in music. The deer came out in early afternoon and in the morning. There was a nice breeze blowing all weekend. I had a couple visitors, but most of my time was too myself. It was a great time to decompress. 

📢 I'm going to emphasize: It is YOUR responsibility to pick up YOUR trash and that of your minor children!!! DO NOT leave trash and cigarette butts on the ground or in the fire ring. The fire ring is not a trash receptacle. I think I picked up more than 2 packs of cigarette butts from this site. 😡 

Leave the site how you would like to find it when you come into a site! 

Yegua Creek Park - Lake Somerville

https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232752
979-596-1622
Yegua Creek Park Rd, Somerville, TX 77879

Aug 6-8, 2021 - 2 Nights

Type of Park: COE
Check In: 3p    Check Out: 2p

⛺ Site #12 - Back-In

💲28 per night (would be half that with the Senior or Access Pass)

• Water
• 20/30/50 amp
• Grill on a swivel so you can turn it in high winds
• Fire Ring with flip-over grate
• Metal mesh Picnic Table. 
• Site Pad: Crushed Granite and level. Very long site with extra room after the pad site

👍🏻 Pros:

• Nice view of the water toward Welch Park and the dam
• You can get a good view of the sunset and sunrise
• Close to the restrooms/shower 
• Wide view of the lake as it curves around the campground
• Shade, but open areas so breeze can come through
• Grill is in good shape and is on a swivel so you can turn it away from winds (but I did all my cooking on the fire ring)

👎🏻 Cons:

• No sewer hookups
• Table is in full sun in early-mid afternoon, but not for long. A canopy would help or move the table to the shade.

📝 Park Notes: 

• Gates closed and locked from 10p to 6a (can get out, but not back in)
• Dump Station
• Restrooms / Bath House (but had LOTS of tiny dead bugs piled up)
• Most of this campground has a barrier wall, so only limited spots where you can access the water. One place in this loop and a bigger area (but busy) section on the other side of the main loop. 
• Beware of sticker burrs in grassy area behind restrooms
• There are Munzees and Geocaches here and in the area
• You can use your America the Beautiful Access Passes here. They sell them at the main entrance booth, but they were out of the Annual Passes. 

Good sites

12 and 13 have good shade and are big sites, 6 (has a cover over the table but may not be completely shaded). 
1 has a great view of the lake because it is from the other side and the front door faces the lake, but for longer RVs, it may be unlevel. 2 is a maybe - some shade, some sun. The rest on this loop have too much sun. 

24 is still a good site on the other loop where I stayed before. 20 might be ok, but headlights might hit it directly. 23 is ok. Most of the ones in the middle would have shade all day. 


🐦 Wildlife:

• Birds: Cardinals (not afraid to hang out on my site), Mockingbirds, Herons, Cranes, Shore birds, LBJ's (little brown jobbers), Chickadees
• Deer



Got to the site and backed it in all in one step. I wiggled a little, but didn't have to pull up to correct. The sites here are closer together than Rocky Creek and the trees are mostly Post Oak instead of the Cedar Elm and they don’t have the pretty Spanish Moss. There is some Ball Moss though, which is not good for the trees. Site #12 is a good spot. It's an Aggie thing! The site is long. I pulled up just a bit from the camper and there's still room for another vehicle in front of mine. My neighbors were nice and had good taste in music-thankfully. They invited me to have tacos with them and chat. The deer came up close. We walked around the loop and down to the water and watched the sunset, then parted ways so we could have our alone time. 

Neighbors came in late on the other side and set up a tent. With the light inside the tent and various sites with blue or colored lights, it looked festive on this loop. A couple sites had fires going, but I didn't make one  this night. The frogs and the crickets put on quite a concert. Mosquitoes were not bad at all, but I did put out a fly trap for the weekend. I saw a hummingbird, so I should have brought a feeder.



I woke early as usual and walked outside. 
There was a light layer of fog this morning and it was cool to see a few deer out in it. There was a heavy dew overnight and the wood by the fire ring was damp. Took forever to get it gong, but I made my coffee and then made breakfast. Toast, bacon, eggs and hot water for grits - all over the fire. M-M-M! I'll be good for a while! Quite a few boats were out. Sat outside for a while and talked to my brother on the phone and enjoying the view. I put out a physical Munzee. Went to go find a nearby geocache, but it appears to be missing. Talked to the owner and she confirmed the container and location and it is indeed missing. She will replace ASAP.  Went to Wild Bill's and got a crispy chicken sandwich and the hand-cut fries. They are so good! 

Came back to the site to eat. Got a little rain shower - just enough to send me inside, but it didn't last long. Mama came out in the afternoon and we went over to Wild Bill's to get pints of Blue Bell ice cream. We walked to the water and just enjoyed a nice visit. 

She left after a while and I made a fire so I could make my steak for supper. It turned out perfect! I even ate on real plates and had wine with the meal. Sat out looking at the fire and the stars and enjoying the breeze for a while. Is this really Texas in August? 



Got up and made a fire to make coffee. I had separated the logs and doused the fire before going to bed, but there was enough heat left to have a few coals, so I didn't need any starter. Made bacon and then used the pan to make pancakes. The batter was thin so the pancakes were flat, but they tasted ok. My brother came out after I had done the dishes from the weekend. He brought his dog and we took a nice walk around the park. There appears to be new floating docks and walkways on the boat ramp on the west side of the park, so maybe it'll be open and functioning soon. I talked to a couple of the neighbors as they were packing up. He left and I started packing my camper and checking the site for trash. I watched for a time when no one was at the dump station and I headed out. BTW...my fly trap was FULL of flies so it did work! It helped draw the flies away from the table.




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In the Comfort Zone

I made a quick trip to the Hill Country this past weekend to visit a friend, well several friends, and hang out. I left a little earlier than planned and ended up with a little extra time on my hands. The first stop was two and a half hours down the road at the Devil's Backbone Tavern outside of Wimberly on Hwy 32. To me, this is better than a Buc-ee's stop. This is one of those casual little places where some of the locals come on a Friday afternoon to just relax. There is a small dancehall attached that does have live music, but it was too early for that. There's an area out back with tables under the shade and it seemed to be a favorite. The beer is cold and that's what counts. Speaking of counting, I could have spent quite a bit of time counting all the dollar bills that are stapled to the ceiling. I should have added one of my own, but it'll have to wait until another trip. I didn't get any pictures of the bar area on this trip, but there's one on my post about Memorial Day Weekend

I spoke with a man at the Tavern that told me I really needed to try another place on my way to Comfort. No problem! I love new adventures.

By the way, if you're leaving from the Tavern and heading west, there's a Rest Area on the right before you even get up to full speed. Take the time to stop there. There are flowers, memorials and locks on the chain link fence there and a beautiful view of the Devil's Backbone area. It's worth another stop. I could feel my spirits lift when the first hills came into view on this drive. The Hills speak to me.

Adventure indeed! I stopped at Hillbillyz of Texas between Kendalia and Sisterdale. It's a cool bar and grill with roll up doors so it's open-air. I got to meet Billy himself. Such an interesting guy and he's a good cook too. It smelled so good in there, but I wasn't ready for supper. Smothered pork chops were on special this week. 

There is a big porch/deck around two sides of the building overlooking a little pond and hills in the background. There was deer walking around under the shade trees. I could have stayed here a while if I didn't have plans already.

While I was admiring the sarcophagus on the wall, all of a sudden, two guys ran up behind me and started stomping on the porch. I turned around to see what they were focused on. It was one of the Redheaded Centipedes almost 8" long! Big and black with yellow legs. I don't think they are poisonous enough to kill a person, but they could leave a nasty, painful whelp. It was just a couple of feet from my foot and had come up between a couple of the floorboards. I'm glad they saw it before it got to me. It was kind of a shock and I didn't even have a chance to snap a phot of it. It's all good though. I won't soon forget it. 

I love talking to locals and if they tell you to stop and check out a place, you'll usually be glad you took their advice. Hole-in-the-wall places are my favorites. 👍

I left there for my final destination of the night - The Cocky Rooster Bar in Comfort, where my friends were waiting. It's the home of the $3 Fireball shot if you so choose. Jeni knows how to make a good Malibu Sunset, which is my favorite. If you stop in, tell her and Wendy I said Hi. I was sad that Wendy didn't have any of her pies tonight, but she still has good food in the food truck. There's also bar food and the wings are pretty darn good.

It was karaoke night and wow! Some of them could really sing! (And some thought they could.) Crazy Kim did a wonderful rendition of How Great Thou Art. Not exactly the best setting for it, but why not? Girl's got lungs! It was beautiful.

Saturday morning started at Los Jarritos for breakfast. I went in with the intentions of getting a breakfast taco, but the biscuits and gravy with sausage just sounded good instead. Maybe not the best in the world, but it filled my belly. 

We went to check out the Farmer's Market, but it was pretty dead. I wanted to see the seashell graves in the German cemetery that I saw listed on Atlas Obscura and we checked them out and I even found a geocache there. As a reminder, the Hill Country is not exactly ocean-front property. If you want fun and unique things and places to visit on your trips, give the Atlas a go. 

We made a stop by The Cartoon Saloon in Toonstone (north of Comfort) and I found the puzzle geocache that eluded me the last trip. TFTC! 

We then made a quick trip to Luckenbach. It was mid-day and no music was playing yet, but there were several people milling around and checking out the Post Office/General Store/Bar. I dipped my toes in Grape Creek. 

Back in the day, to be classed as a General Store, they actually had to sell caskets. There's a small child's one in the rafters that is from the original store. There's another larger one that was used as a prop in the movie The Pony Express Rider that was filmed around the area. Hondo, who originally purchased Luckenbach and named himself the mayor, actually played a preacher in the movie that buried Ken Curtis. The director gave him the casket as a gift. Be sure to look up the next time you're in "town". We had a nice long chat with one of the long-time employees there and he had some fun stories to tell. According to him, he was there when the Dead Sea was still sick. 🤣🤣🤣

After picking up a couple of items in the store, we headed back to The Cartoon Saloon and had a lazy afternoon chatting with friends and tourists that stopped by (and listening to more tall tales, of course). Later we made an early supper run to Hillbillyz. The pork chops were still on the special board, but I wanted to try the cheeseburger. M-M-M! Everything smelled and tasted good. Not many small open-air bars in the Hill Country have fully functioning fish tanks to class up the joint, but this one does. No centipedes today! Finished off the night at The Rooster. It was pretty quiet, which was ok too. We ended up in a mini golf tournament on the big game machine.

Sunday morning, I got a chance to make it down to the Guadalupe River down by the Twin Bridges. The water wasn't as cold as I though it would be and felt great. I really wish I had put on my swimsuit and brought my "creek chair". I know it's really a beach chair, but it all depends on what your intentions are when you buy it. A couple of women were getting ready to head downstream in their kayaks. I bet it was a great paddle.

There was a man there rigging up a fishing pole with a young son. He had a small box with a pizza in it and about half of it was on his face. He looked up and just grinned from ear-to-ear. At the river, with his Daddy and good grub. Doesn't get much better than that. I LOVE the cool, clear waters of the Hill Country! 💕 I swear it's like therapy hearing it trickle and run over my feet. Places like this are where my soul is the most at peace.

I loaded up my things, left a Munzee, said my goodbyes and headed out on my journey home. I saw a video recently (but from a couple years ago) by Tom and Stacie of RV Texas Y'all about their trip to San Marcos. One of their stops was at the Hwy 80 Feed Barn in Martindale just south of San Marcos. It was only a few miles out of my way, so I planned to make it my lunch stop. This restaurant used to be an old cotton gin. My Daddy would love it! I'll have to bring him out this way sometime. The vault where they kept important paperwork is now a "party room" and the door stays open. In the back area there is an Event Center as well. There's a small seating area out back a stage that could host some live music. It is right off the highway, but it wasn't bad. No live music, but they were playing good music on the speakers. You can't go wrong with Johnny Bush. I got the catfish basket and I was not disappointed. It was a worthwhile stop.

After I left to finish my trek home, I had to go through Bastrop. I'm telling you, afternoon traffic at the end of a weekend is NO FUN in this somewhat small town. I'm kind of glad I wasn't towing Matilda Mae through all of that. Note to Self: Find a different route home for Labor Day Weekend! 

It was a short weekend, but we packed a lot into it. I think I'm still full!




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