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!
With all these cooler temps, the Ross bunch was itching to get out of doors. So, we loaded up and headed off to one of our favorite state parks, Dinosaur Valley State Park. Located in Glenrose, Texas, Dinosaur Valley is about two and a half hours away.
About Alvarado, we are always ready for lunch and eat at the McDonald’s there. These days we usually avoid that kind of fast food, but this is a tradition of ours. We made our first camping trip there when Cheyenne was 5 and Savannah was 3 and the others had not arrived. Now, they are 18 and 16, my how time does fly. We usually hit the river 3 or 4 times a year and stop at that McDonalds every time. Depending on the season, we take sandwich fixings and a watermelon or something like that and enjoy a picnic at one of the many beautiful spots in the park.
Due to its westward location, the air is always to dry and crisp. The sky is always so blue. The park is crossed by the Paluxy River which runs deep in some areas and shallow in others. I guess this is one thing that has made this park a favorite for so many years. When the kids were little, they could spend hours sitting in the shallows with the water running over them while they busily moved rocks around to create pools and waterfalls. The Paluxy is loaded with rocks! Rocks of all sizes and shapes. What great memories.
However, as they got older they needed a little more excitement. So, we looked at the park map and noticed a “swimming hole” noted in a bend we had not explored yet. This “hole” is really deep. We have never felt the bottom, even yesterday after the worst one year drought in Texas history. The water was so cold that we could hardly stand it with the cool breeze blowing. We had heard that the river was spring fed in places, but had never known where- now we do. This swimming hole is also surrounded by huge boulders, some of which are flat and jut out over the water. The big kids love to jump off, while the little ones can still find plenty of rocks to rearrange in the shallows with the river running over them.
The terrain is very different from East Texas. There is a lot of greenery, it is just different- lots of cedars, post oaks, mesquite and other items that I have no idea what the names are. We might call them mountains, but folks from other parts of the country would call them hills. At any rate, the hiking and climbing are great. When you get to the top of the “mountains” you are rewarded with some wonderful vistas. The trails are challenging enough to enjoy the vigor it takes to follow them, but easy enough that kids can keep up without any trouble. Mountain biking is allowed as wells as horses. We have yet to take our horses, but that is high on our to-do list.
One of the things we enjoy the most is watching the deer. Once we are done swimming and have packed our gear, we drive around the park and look for deer. Never have we been disappointed. The best memory we have of the dear was watching twin fawns playing tag in a meadow. They raced about so fast, zigging and zagging all about. After a few minutes though, Mama Deer appeared at the edge of the woods and bleated, a bleat so low you could hardly hear it. The twins acted as if they had been caught being naughty and darted back into the woods with their mother. The kids talk about this every time we go. The deer come out at dusk, so if you go plan to stay at least until dark. You will also see some awesome bats swooping around at this time.
The town of Glenrose is very quaint and family friendly. There is a really good Dairy Queen and a Chicken Express. There are several other restaurants in town, we have eaten at a few times and they were good. Usually, we are cooking at our campsite. Food cooked while camping out just tastes better! If you forget something, there is a Dollar General that has always had whatever we needed.
We have traveled for the better part of 20 years with children. This state park is one of the best, actually it is probably my favorite. Whether it is a day trip or an overnight camping trip, this park fits the bill. If you are looking for an inexpensive family outing, this is fabulous. Even if money is no option, this is a must see destination for a young family. Check out the photos below and you will see why!