Galveston Island State Park & Huntsville State Park, Great Places to Enjoy His Creation

Oh how I love the sea!

It was not our plan, but camping at Huntsville State Park was just what the Ross Family needed.  When we set out on Saturday, August 4th we had every intention of camping on the beach at Galveston Island State Park.  Savannah had spent the week at Sea Camp, Texas A&M Galveston.  It made sense then to take the opportunity to spend some time by the sea.

Well, I don’t know if you have been to Galveston since they have recovered from hurricane Ike, but they have not only bounced back but have done so with some gusto.  There was not an open spot to be had at the state park, or any hotel room from League City to Kemah to the coast.  So, it looked like our few days of sunshine and sea were not going to be.  We were disappointed, but so happy for the people of the Island who dug in and rebuilt their homes and businesses.  So, we decided to have one heck of a day and see what came next.

Me & Sierra- hard to believe she is 13!
Tony and Jonathan- he has been eating at Casey’s since he was a baby
The Ross Bunch- lovers of nature and good food.

We certainly had a great day.  After picking up Savannah, we headed to Casey’s for some lunch.  As always, the food was great and we cleaned our plates.  I highly recommend this as a place to hit when in Galveston.  It is a family owned place that has been around for a long time.  This family was instrumental in feeding the workers, crews, and residents that were involved in the clean up after Ike.  We ate there for the first time when Jonathan was 3 weeks old (he is eleven now) and ate there every summer that Sunny lived in Conroe.  I had my first shrimp poorboy there and have been smitten ever since.  This summer I had a poorboy and shrimp gumbo- oh so good.  Fried zucchini is on the menu as an appetizer and it is perfect every time!  Sierra had calamari and a shrimp platter was shared by the big girls.  Jonathan and Tony shared the poorboy and then said that although it was very good, mine was better.  Now, that is a compliment.

My sea creature- Bana

After the yummy lunch it was time for the beach.  We had a blast playing in the water, digging up hermit crabs & clams, and eating watermelon on the sands.  For the first time ever, Sierra and Jonathan got sunburned.  It seems that while Tony and I were sorting out plan B since our stay on the beach wasn’t going to happen, the kids ran off to the beach without putting on sunscreen.  Now, if I had done this I would have been burned to the point of being ill, but given their Turkish genes, they only had a light burn.  Of course, to them who had never been burned, they whined pitifully.  I told them to suck it up, they did not even know what a real burn felt like.  I, on the other hand being a white girl, have had plenty of experience.  I put on sunscreen and still got a bit of a burn, but nothing too bad.  God bless the Aloe Vera plant, it made it all better.

Sierra loves watermelon
You can’t see it, but we caught a tiny little fiddler crab
Cheyenne has the sun in her eyes!

Once we had our fill of the sun and the sea- which was many hours later- we decided to clean up and head to Kemah.  The last time we were at this state park was 2 weeks before Ike blew through.  At that time, there were no outside showers, only a water faucet.  Now there is a great deck with several showers and really large bathrooms to change into your dry clothes.  I cannot say enough how happy I am with the way the state park and the city have come back.  The state park is a great place to visit, you will be glad that you did.

What a lucky man!

After dinner at a great steakhouse called T-Bone Tom’s (see the next post) we had fun on the Kemah Boardwalk.  Savannah, Sierra, Jonathan and I road the roller coaster.  I have determined that these are just not as fun as they once were.  I think that ride will be my last of the intense variety.  The boardwalk is really neat with all the lights and music.  I would not want to make a whole trip of the boardwalk, but it definitely worth seeing.  I then searched again in vain for a local hotel room and when none were found, we headed north.  There were several state parks on the way home and we thought we might give them a try.

It’s not a trip with out a pool!

It was about 1:30 in the morning when we made Huntsville.  They, not being the tourist magnet that Galveston is, had plenty of rooms.  Sierra, Jonathan, and I had a great morning swim in a great pool (the room was not so great but we were so tired we did not care).  Huntsville State Park was just up the highway a bit, so we went there thinking we would spend the day.  Well, we spent two nights and three days.  What a pleasant surprise this state park turned out to be.

Jonathan is mixing meat for burgers

You see, I am not a big fan of lake swimming unless I have a boat and get out to the deep where I never have to touch any vegetation or the mucky bottom of the lake.  However, the lake in this state park is really clear, the swim area was clean, no muck and no weeds.  Couple this with the beautiful views from very pretty campsites and you have one the best state parks we have stayed at- and we have been to many.  Being only two and a half hours away, this would make a good place for a day trip as well.

Never too old to roast marshmallows…

After morning walks with Tony, hours spent hanging out with my kids, playing cards, reading books and eating simply good food, I was completely unwound.  We all relaxed and enjoyed our time away.  We came home refreshed and tanned.  As it is so often with God, we knew what we wanted, but He knew what we needed.  We wanted to stay at the beach, but what we needed was quiet time with Him in His creation.  While the ocean is His creation, Galveston is not a quiet place.  We could not have planned a better trip.  Memories were made and a family was bonded stronger than before.

So, check out the great state parks of our state, God is alive and well there and He will meet with you.  When you study and observe the work of an artist, you will learn something of the artist, it is the same with God and his Creation-his work of art.  We never come away with less when we unplug and take time to spend time with Him.  My children will look back on their childhood and these will be the things they remember.  When I look back on their childhoods, these are the things I remember.

Summer Fun!

ImageYou know I am just amazed at the amount of laundry that a camping trip can generate!  That is what I have been doing today, that and washing the dishes out of the camping bin.  For every good time, there is a certain amount of work that goes into it.  As every mother knows, this is why we need a day off when we get back from vacation!  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We have been having a good time around here.  A little traveling, lotta sun, and a whole lotta fun!  I love my bunch and I love traveling and camping with them. After picking Savannah up in Galveston after Sea Camp, we played on the beach and went to Kemah then spent a few days at Huntsville State Park. There was so much done in this one week, that it will take several blogs to do it justice.

Since being home, I have been catching up on house work (see above) and getting ready for school to start.  Homeschooling is a wonderful part of our lives.  I love that fact that I get to choose subjects based on the interests of my kids and then we get to take trips to study what we are studying in person.  So many subjects are brought into play in the study of one subject.  I am really excited about the Texas History Unit this fall.  By picking up books at the library, we are reading.  Reports will be written, using language and wrtiting skills, and documentaries will be ordered from Netflix.  Then we will travel to a state park near San Antonio so we can go see the Alamo.  In planning the trip, the kids will participate using maps (geography) and have to put together a budget for the trip- everyday use of math- all these subjects are pulled in while we study Texas History and this helps all that good information and knowledge stick.  Children were never meant to learn in tiny boxes, the mind was wired to mesh all the information together.

My Gang @ T-Bone Toms

Another year and a lot of good fun is on the way. We kick off “officially” on Monday.  Unofficially, we homeschool 24/7 all year long. It was quite odd, however, printing up the lessons plans and such.  I have for the past years multiplied everything by four, now I am multiplying by three as Cheyenne has graduated.  Wow, that is so strange.  And yet, it is a relief!  It seems so much easier to just have three, then next year I will only plan for two.  Life is changing big time.  These milestones come no matter what, might as will celebrate them!

Sunnin’ on the Paluxy

I once thought that the best place to take a nap was on the couch on an Autumn Sunday afternoon while the football game played on the TV.  I still think that is some fine sleeping time, but I decided yesterday that I have a new favorite spot.  On the edge of the river with my float on the bank just enough that I won’t be carried off by the current but yet my feet are still submerged and I am still floating in the cool water.  With the sun warming my back- that is the best place to take a nap and I quite enjoyed my nap yesterday on the Paluxy river.

As the days grow longer and the weather warms, my bunch spends almost all of our time outside and it doesn’t take long for the river to call our name.  Yesterday we answered the call, loaded up the Suburban with fruit, snacks, and the swim bin and away we went.  The swim bin is a Rubbermaid container that has all of our floats, water shoes, nets, goggles, and various other assortments necessary for enjoying time on the water.  This way when the impulse to take a day trip hits, all we have to grab is one bin and a bag of towels. 

Loving the sun, He was 3 month old on his first trip

It takes about two and a half hours for us to get to Glen Rose.  The trip is very enjoyable with the scenery really beginning to change after Mansfield.  Our Suburban has a cranky a/c so we were driving with the windows down.  Seriously, life is good with the warm sun shinning on your arm, the wind blowing your hair, and some vintage Bon Jovi and Areosmith on the radio.  The kids are quiet and content and we are just plain happy.  As a matter of fact, a brand new Denali passed us on I-20 and I felt sorry for him because he didn’t get to have his windows down.  The thought made me laugh and I guess it proves that it is all about perspective.

We know the place by heart, even where to expect the deer to be when we take our drive around the park at dusk.  However, each time we go it is different.  With nature nothing stays the same.  Last summer the drought revealed rocks, ledges, and dinosaur tracks that we had never seen before and this year with the purging of the drought and then all the wonderful rain, the river was more pristine and clear than I have seen it in the 15 years that we have been playing in it.  So many of the pictures look very similar to the ones we took the previous trip, but they do mark changes in the family.  Now when I look at these pictures taken yesterday I will think, “Look, these were taken right before Cheyenne left for college.”  I am grateful for the wonderful memories I have, and so many of them were made at Dinosaur Valley State Park, Glen Rose Texas.

The air is dry in that part of Texas and it didn’t take long for the temps to cool down once the sun dropped behind the ridge.  A good day on the river is awesome therapy, stress and frustration melt away and float on  down the way like the leaves that fall on the water.  As the sun sets, we pack up our stuff and take our browned bodies back up the trail and go look for deer.  We always find some.  The one yesterday was most definitely getting close to having her fawn(s).  There were several others in the fields as we rolled down the state park road heading for Canton.

Not only do we get to know each other better spending time in nature, we get to know our Creator better as well.  If you study an artist’s work, you will learn something about the artist himself.  The same is true for God.  His handiwork is all around us and it is good to take time to study it and take it in.  I asked the girls- Jonathan was off exploring with Tony looking for fish, turtles, and snakes, go figure- what they could tell about God from his creation there on the Paluxy.  The answers were that He likes “pretty things”, “harmony” and “peacefulness”.  Very true, indeed. It is so awesome to know that the Creator of all this beauty was right there enjoying His creation with us.

The first time I took their picture together in Glen Rose they were 5 & 3
Just after I snapped this picture, he dunked them both!
He did not dunk me…        

Sierra is a water bug
Good Times!
Nap time…
One of these things in not like the other…