Monthly Archives: May 2015

Campground Review: Lake Whitney, TX Thousand Trails

100_3861.JPG On Mother’s Day, 2015, Lake Whitney Thousand Trails was hit by a tornado that damaged some buildings and did considerable tree damage throughout the park. Because of that storm the park had to be closed for several days, and, as a result we had to adjust our travel plans. When we arrived a tree trimming crew was hard at work clearing campsites so the park could be open over Memorial Day weekend.

100_3857.JPG Since we arrived a day before the primary influx of campers for the holiday we were able to find a 50 amp site that suited us just fine. That wasn’t before we tried another site that was simply too unlevel side to side for us to use. After 20 minutes or so of trying to get level we gave up and moved across the way to the other available 50 amp site. It wasn’t perfect but it we much better and we settled in with no further problems.

100_3864.JPG The campground boasts two nice pools and two activity centers. The main pool and activity center is near the check-in booth. The adult pool is at the far western end of the campground, quite a ways from check in. There is also a nice workout room, library, and spa at the adult activity center.

100_3875.JPG It’s more common than not for Thousand Trails to have roads in poor repair and that’s true at Lake Whitney too. In fact, getting to Loops A & B which are closest to the adult sections of the park entails a drive of a few minutes over some of the worst roads in the place. Something I found interesting is that in spite of the place being called “Lake Whitney” there’s no real access to the lake from the campground aside from parking in a parking lot at the western end of the road and then hiking a trail onto Corps of Engineers land to a finger of the lake. If a person came here expecting pleasant lake-side views or a place to launch a boat they would be disappointed.

We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. Usually, they told us, there is very good WiFi in Loop D where we stayed. However, the tornado had taken all that out and it will have to be repaired. Our Verizon, though, worked pretty good and worked excellently when I used the Wilson Sleek booster. Also, there was what looked to be a nice mini-golf course. Sorry to say it was close to tornado ground zero and was buried underneath downed trees and limbs.

PHOTO_20150526_105408.jpg More on the trees: the campground is in a forest of cedar. If you have a problems with cedar you might want to think twice before coming during the time of the year when the trees are pollinating. This shouldn’t have been a problem for us this late into the spring but I think the storms stirred things up and both of us began having sinus problems after a few days.

The nice town of Whitney is just down the road and there are plenty of fast food places, a grocery store, and an old downtown that is showing some life.

In addition to the tornado of Mother’s Day this area has been pounded by big storms for several weeks now. We happily missed the tornado, but had two severe thunderstorm warnings during our one week stay. We understand that is not the fault of the campground but the potential of more severe weather pretty much deflated the camping experience here for us.

I was told by management that the tornado has spurred several big projects for the campground. In addition to insurance money, more money is coming in to upgrade much of the campground. I hope that some of that goes into leveling the campsites, fixing the roads, and upgrading the electric so there are more 50 amp sites. I’ll look forward to making a return visit and seeing all that has been done – and, I certainly hope, enjoying the campground without having to keep such a close eye on the weather.

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Lake Whitney TX Public Library

PHOTO_20150521_145747Lake Whitney, TX Public Library
602 E. Jefferson Ave, Whitney, TX 76692

This beautiful library is just a few years old with something for all ages. I was greeted by a warm and friendly staff who are available to answer questions and give directions. I appreciated the ongoing book sale a was able to pick a paperback to carry and read this summer. For more information go to whitneylibrary.org.

Sightseeing Review: Around Waco, TX

100_3815.JPG During our short stop in Waco, TX, we enjoyed visiting the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. (That is the “real” Texas Rangers and not the baseball team!) As we arrived we were just in time to see the free video history of the Texas Rangers. It was fascinating to see how they developed and became a major part of civilizing Texas. In 1823 Stephen F. Austin was given authority by the ruling Mexican government to assemble a company of men to act as Rangers for the common defense against the marauding Indians. These first two companies are considered the original Texas Rangers. After watching the documentary we looked at all the displays that honor the Hall of Fame members, including some of their personal memorabilia. Throughout the facility there are various halls that allow you see how Ranger’s weapons advanced with the times and how investigative team tools have changed. Not only are many of the weapons used by Rangers on display but there are also some of those used by criminals they apprehended. There are many personal items on loan from family members as well as one room dedicated to the pop culture of the Texas Rangers. This room has posters from popular movies, some memorabilia of the original “Lone Ranger” and from the TV series “Walker Texas Ranger.” I was impressed with the number of personal saddles, weapons, and clothing on display. I also enjoyed the artwork: paintings and cowboy sculptures that are on display there. We thought the museum was interesting and well worth our time. If you have any interest in law enforcement, Texas history, or firearms you will enjoy the museum.

100_3853.JPG Our visit to Waco Mammoth Site was interesting and educational. Our guide, a gentleman named Jeremy, met us at the welcome center and led us on the tour. At the amphitheater he gave us a history of the area and as we continued he told us how the first bones were found by a couple of boys looking for arrowheads. He talked about the various animals whose bones were found in this area along with the mammoths. These included the saber tooth cat, giant sloth, and camel. From there it was a short walk to the climate controlled building where we able to view the artifacts still in the ground as they were found. Jeremy was an excellent and patient guide as he described and explained what we were seeing, making the scene come to life for us. After the guided tour we could stay in the building and continue to view or walk on back to the welcome center and parking area. If you are in the Waco area I recommend this as a family outing.

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Campground Review: Airport Park COE, Waco, TX

100_3810.JPG This Corps of Engineers campground wasn’t on our original itinerary but we couldn’t have found a better spot to land for a few days while we waited for our next stop to be reopened following storm damage last week.

100_3814.JPG Airport Park is on the northwest side of Waco, right on Lake Waco. We always like CoE parks and this one earns high marks all the way around. The roads are good and the sites are level, paved, and spacious. The views of the lake are just great. Many of the sites have large shelters and all of them have plenty of shade trees. We’ve enjoyed our 50 amp, full hookup site. The park has a huge boat launch and also group camping/event facilities. Our Verizon 4G was good and we had a good Dish network satellite signal. We saw deer, turkey, and especially got a kick out of seeing a fox run across the road as we drove in.

The campground is right by the airport and there is some noise from it. However, we didn’t find it objectionable and it was quiet overnight. There are interesting things to see and do around Waco. Jackie will do a post about that shortly. I’ll also mention that Waco has been in the news lately because of some seriously bad stuff going on. We saw none of that and the campground itself is gated with the gates being locked overnight. We had no sense of unease at all in the campground or when out in the community.

Honestly, I can’t think of anything I’d change about Airport Park. The next time we come it won’t be just because we had to change our plans: we’ll include it in our plans!

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Campground review: Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, TX

PHOTO_20150504_154213.jpg You might say that Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, near Willis, TX is our “home” Thousand Trails. So far each of our travel “adventures” has started and ended here. We’ve been here often enough that we head straight for the section we like the best when looking for a camp site. We find it kind of funny that we’ve found the exact same site open for three different stays now and are calling it “our site.”

Other reviews of this campground and area are here.

PHOTO_20150509_100422.jpg Since I have written about this particular place a couple of times prior to this I’ll just focus on a few things. First, Thousand Trails has poured a great deal of money into Lake Conroe, making it one of their primer properties. The pool is the primary focus of the place. It has been completely redone with lots of places to sit, including several cabanas that each has its own refrigerator and even a TV. I’m kind of wondering about how well the electronics will survive in the open air environment, but for now it’s pretty impressive. The other really big effort has been the enlarging of the cove that includes a new swimming beach. There’s more to come at the cove, including a community of residences and the development of the “island” in the middle of the cove as a recreation focal point. Also, several of the campsites have been freshly graveled and leveled and the electric service in most sites is now both 30 and 50 amp. The restrooms/showers are all being updated as well.

PHOTO_20150509_093046.jpg I’ll mention that there is a new electric policy in place. Since so many sites are now both 30 and 50 amp, and since there’s a $3 surcharge for using 50 amps, the campground charges the extra charge based on how the RV is wired. If the RV has a 50 amp plug on it, the extra $3 is charged up front, no matter where you park. If the RV has a 30 amp plug, there is no surcharge unless you park in a 50 amp only site. Most people with 50 amp rigs prefer 50 amp sites, so the policy works fine for them. A few, though, want to use an adapter and save the $3 – so there’s been some controversy. The staff says it’s a pilot program from the company, but I’m guessing this is how it’s going to be and, as other Thousand Trails add 30/50 amp service to each site the policy will be standard everywhere.

Aside from all the construction and upgrades the other major story for us has been the weather. One storm in particular was quite threatening with high winds and a torrential downpour. Surprisingly, there was no real damage in the campground. I think we were seriously close to seeing a lot of damage. The weather here, though, wasn’t as bad as it has been in the middle and north of Texas. A tornado hit Lake Whitney Thousand Trails, which was to be our next stop. With that campground temporarily closed, we extended our stay here for a few days and then added a short stop at a Waco campground. We’ll see what happens next and the Lake Whitney campground is still in play if they can get it open again before we move on north and east.

PHOTO_20150505_103046.jpg Let me share what I think is an important Lake Conroe tip: just know that the pull through sites are the worst in the campground. Not only are they generally rough and unlevel, they are “back to back” sites in which your neighbor’s slide will practically touch your camper. Listen, the back in sites here are big and there aren’t any tree problems – you’ll like this place a lot more if you find one of them and stay away from the pull throughs. (BTW, I’ve seen 40+ foot 5vers being pulled by HDT’s on those sites – you’ll fit!)

While we think of Lake Conroe Thousand Trails as our “home” preserve, we’re more than ready to get on with our 2015 Adventure!

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