Buescher State Park: Lost Pines

On Saturday, we drove up to Buescher State Park to hang out with our friends.

Okay, so we got a “smilie” for it, too, since it was a geocaching event.  An event, for those of you who don’t geocache, is a gathering of other geocachers.  Usually our events in the Houston area are hosted in restaurants, but some are at parks.  Some of them revolve around a common interest or activity.  We passed up a dog park event and a canoeing event this weekend to come to this.  This one was a camping event, and it is the eighth camping event our group (usually Diane, gsguru, specifically), has hosted in the past couple of years.

Anyways, after much back and forth, we decided not to camp, but to hang out for the day, go for a nice hike with some of the group, and participate in the potluck dinner.

We stopped on the way to grab the cache at the location I talked about in the previous entry.  Then, we stopped again for lunch at Hruska’s.  If you are ever on 71, you have to stop there!  Delicious treats abound.  Apparently, they have been using the same polish recipe for their kolaches since 1962.  They have 16 different varieties.  The hamburgers are also outstanding, and so are their specialty fruits and nuts.

The wildflowers along the drive were putting on quite a show.  Not many bluebonnets, but at least a dozen other varieties.  Finally, we got to the park and checked in with our friends.  For a while, dogs outnumbered people at our campsite (eight furry folk in attendance!)  After some time, we left the older boy with Diane and set off on a four mile hike with our dogs and two other ladies:  “Gigi and JoJo”, from Austin, and Arlene, of “davarle”, from the northwest side of Houston.

The hike we were doing was primarily motivated by the desire to find a series of Harry Potter themed caches in the back of the park, but in the end, it was really the therapy of the woods and letting the dogs have a fun romp that was our reward.  Here are pictures from along the way:

The Finding of the Pond


One Giant Leap for Dog-Kind

Follow the Leader

Gigi and JoJo


Arlene laughs


The trail continues


Along the way
Happy Breeze


Me and my shadow, Raine

This hike really carved this park into our hearts.  The terrain was awesome and the woods calming and beautiful.  We want to come back when the ravines we saw have water flowing through them.  We want to come back and rent one of the nice little mini-cabins (#3 specifically) and stay the weekend.  It was less than two hours from our house, and even better than Lake Texoma SP.  Come see for yourself!

Bluebonnets and Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park

My best friend and I were looking for a place to take the kids last Sunday where we could all enjoy the outdoors and also find some wildflowers off the beaten path to take the obligatory kids-in-bluebonnets pictures that it seems like everyone who calls themselves a Texan has to take at some point.

I decided to pack us a picnic lunch, and borrowed my parents van for the day so that all six of us could ride in one car.  Jen and I and all four kids were like a mobile party on wheels heading northwest from Tomball.

First stop:  this field off 362 just north of Route 2 (north of Field Store, south of Whitehall). Last week when J and I stopped here, we had the place to ourselves at first, but this time, already there were three families there.  We headed further down the country road (turn right at the “fresh farm eggs” sign and continue on down past the third or fourth house.

Here are my favorite photos from there:

Aj and I, in his "angry youth" stage


My boys


My sweetest boy


After this diversion, we continued on our path to visit Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park, “birthplace of Texas independence”.  This location was the original capitol of Texas, and during Texas’s Battle for Independence from Mexico, the fledging government’s leaders were gathered here in a small log cabin, hashing out the details of the Declaration of  Independence that they all eventually signed after 17 days, and which remains on display in the museum here.

This park offers a sample of Texas’s past through its Barrington Living History Farm.  We made our way through this farm with the kids, after having a (hot) picnic lunch at the picnic area in the park.  Families with kids be aware: although the playground at the picnic area is a nice feature, there is little shade in this area (well, especially following a drought year), and all the playground equipment is metal, including the slide.  Hot sun plus metal slide can equal burned butts.  But….luckily our kids were smart enough to think about this and we didn’t have any incidents ourselves.

The Barrington Living History Farm is also bereft of shade, although if you stand in the dogtrot of the main family house, a cool southeastern wind is much relief.  Even on this lovely spring day, the temperature was almost into the nineties.

The first thing we checked out was the barns, corn cribs, slave quarters, and animal shelter areas of the farm.  We learned a lot of facts about oxen, hogs, life in the mid 1800s.  Costumed volunteers helped history come alive by involving themselves in pastimes of the age.  One man was carving wooden spoons, while another was cooking ham and beans over a cooking fire and drying venison jerky.  After this, we went to the main house, where Jen watched a sewing display, and I watched the kids who were watching a couple of musicians play songs of the day, and teach them the difference between modern instruments and their old fashioned ones.

After this, we went to the Star of the Republic Museum.  The favorite part of the museum in the kids opinion was the Discovery Center.  We spent quite a bit of time in here, assembling a faux log cabin  out of giant foam “lincoln logs”, learning about ancient medicine, playing with puppets, and playing with antiquidated toys and musical instruments.

Here are some of the favorite photos of the day:

All in all, it was a very enjoyable time with the kids.  I would recommend this park as a great place to enjoy the spring and fall months (although it might be a bit hot in the summertime).  Right now is a great time to enjoy this park, because as you can see in the picture right here, the bluebonnets are blooming in the park (and allegedly, some rare white bluebonnets or even indian paintbrush may be found in the park as well).