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    CreateSomething  49, Female, Texas, USA - 86 entries
27
Mar 2008
6:05 AM CST
   

Texas State Parks- Review #4

Another review by me. Remember this is my opinion based on my experience with the specific State Park. Each person's experience will be different.

State park #4 is on the chopping block. It is time to tell you about a park that we give a very low rating when it comes to the people who work there. Palmetto State Park. This park is convenient because it is close by. It is an absolutely gorgeous drive in to the park off the highway. You should stop at the small pull over area and look out into the fields below. This park is between Luling and Gonzales. (these two cities have some history, especially Gonzales so check it out if you can.)

The park itself is divided up into, basically 3 points. The first is the office area where you check in. Try not to spend too much time in there or you won't want to stay and see the amazing trails. After you check in, you will drive a small way up and on the left will be the first part of the park. Here you can enjoy the Oxbow lake. It is great for fishing and you can rent pedal boats at the office (these are at a very good price.) I can't recall the exact amount. Renting it for the day is the best deal though. You can also get canoes, I think. You can tube here as well but I would watch for snakes. You can view wildlife, including snakes, on the trails that go through the woods. It is beautiful at this park. The palmettos are dwarf like palms and they grow thick in the marshy waters. On the trails you will pass over wooden bridges and lots of marshy areas. The birds are every where. Please watch for snakes. I am not kidding at this park. I have never gone to Palmetto State Park without seeing at least 3 snakes each day. They don't usually bother you but just be careful not to step on them or anything. You see them more around the ponds, spring, and Oxbow than on the trails. If you want to do any activity other than fishing this side of the park is where you should do it. Now, to get to the otherside you will need to go back the way you came and then take a left and go across the bridge. Your next park entrance will be on your left. This side is where the best trails are. I have already told you about them. There is an area that you can walk down to the water and cross over from this side of the park to the other. This is usually where they take tubes out at and small boats. Sometimes the crossing will be covered with water. At this time they close the trail gate. If you have a boat in or something don't bring it this way to get it out of the water if the gate is closed. The people at this park will jump all over you. They would prefer you fight the rapids, get the boat to the side of the huge cliff you are camping on top of and drag your boat up the side. If you fall in just remember you are swimming at your own risk. While we are on that subject, PLEASE watch your children if you are camping at one of the sites on the bluff. These are very steep, straight down falls in most cases. Your child could be over the side in the blink of an eye. I would camp closer to the bathrooms or on the other side in the more primative sites if I had very small children. Both sides do have playgrounds.

We never stay overnight at this park except our first visit ever. It was a huge ordeal. This parks office closes early so be sure to be there no later than 3:30pm. I would not risk any later check in. Remember, unless you bring your own wood, you will need to purchase some from the park store. Most parks prohibit the gathering of firewood. You may want to get enough ice to last until they open back up too because in the summer it can be hot and ice will melt quickly. This park office is closed more than it is open. It is closed for about 15 hours plus a day. You may arrive to find them already closed even though it is 15-20 minutes before office closing time. Once you get all that taken care of and you�pick out a site, don't get too relaxed because although you were not allowed to reserve a specific site, the guy coming in at 10:30 pm reserved your specific site. You argue but he insists.�You are cooking on that pit and the tents are all setup, have been for hours. It doesn't matter because he wants your site, he reserved it specifically. My husband talks to the park host. He says no, the guy can't reserve a specific site. We are already there. We can stay where we are at. Husband comes back, the guy gets angry and drives over to the park hosts home. They talk for a while. Then we can hear laughter. Then more talking and finally the guy drives back. A few minutes later the park host comes and asks us to move, the guy reserved this site. (sites can not be reserved at any state park. you can only reserve a site�in a specified camping area. Example: Campsites 1-20 are water only. You pay for water only so you get one of those sites but you can not say which one. That part is on a first come first serve basis.)�My husband argues and then we end up packing up and about 11:30pm we finally have everything done and the park host wants to know if we would like another site that also has water, since that is what we paid for. We ask why he didn't just put the guy over there since we were already setup. The answer was, He reserved that site! So, we left the park and now we only go there for the day since we have a state park pass and we do not spend a dime there but we spend plenty at all the other parks.

We ended up at Coleto Creek Reservoir. That is not a state park so I will tell you about it another time.

Final words, go to Palmetto State Park, enjoy its beauty, hike the trails, fish the San Marcos River, and picnic under the live oaks with their dangling spanish moss. Have a great time but avoid the people who run this park. They are not so friendly and don't play well with others.

Another thing, if it rains, even if it is not flooded the park closes its gates and you can't get in. It has happened twice to us.

This is my opinion. Go see the park and create your own.

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Current Tags: Fishing, Hiking, Palmetto, Parks, San Marcos River, Snakes, State Parks, Texas, Tubing, Wildlife

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    CreateSomething  49, Female, Texas, USA - 86 entries
11
Mar 2008
4:53 AM CST
   

Texas State Parks- Review #3

I am back to give my opinion, or rating, on another state park in Texas. Which one will it be...? Okay, I've got it, Inks Lake State Park. This one I know better than most, well all except one (you will find out about it later). I lived in Burnet/Bertram area for almost 6 years while I was growing up. We spent many summers at Buchanan Dam or Inks Lake State Park. It was amazing, of course when you are a child anytime you get to go swimming at the lake it is amazing so, I had to go back to my younger years to see if it was still amazing! It was. I had my husband take me, just me, for my birthday. We got a small (limited use) cabin. We normally just throw up a tent but it was my birthday and I wanted to relax, not work. (these are very affordable, $45 for the night). We loved our cabin. We got one back near the water and it was actually somewhat secluded. It was so quiet and peaceful. The hiking trails are really nice and if you get to hike across the road in the primative area, it is really beautiful. Be sure to go up on the rocks and see the world. Watch for snakes, this is the Texas Hill Country! Be sure to checkout Longhorn Caverns. It is just up the road and the drive up the hill is nice. Stop at the picnic area and get a view from above. Be sure to get a look at the Castle as you go up but there is a better view of it as you come down. The hill country is beautiful from that high up.

Anyway, back to the state park. They rent pedal boats and , I think canoes too, at the park store. They also have learning activities for the children at times. They actually bring in hawks, eagles, and owls that your child can get their picture with. They teach about wildlife and stuff. I am not sure of all the details but it is something you should check out. There is also good fishing and piers at the park. We are a fishing family so most of the parks I rate will have fishing there. Inks Lake has beautiful sunsets from the fishing pier or on top of the big rocks and sunrise is just as amazing. Again, we had very few problems with any type of bug or mosquito.

The reason I love to camp is because it gives you family time. My children are all teenagers so it sometimes is a lot of bickering but in the end we usually have a good time. It is a very inexpensive way to get a good family vacation without going bankrupt. Try it sometime!

Remember this is my opinion. Your experiences may be different!

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Current Tags: Camping, Hiking, Hill Country, Inks Lake, State Parks, Swimming, Texas, Wildlife

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    CreateSomething  49, Female, Texas, USA - 86 entries
18
Feb 2008
7:46 AM CST
   

Texas State Parks- Review #2

� I really love reviewing the Texas State Parks so here I go again. As I said previously, this is just my opinion. (Go check out the state parks and get an opinion to share.)

Goose Island State Park. I think this is my favorite. I absolutley love it. If you are a bird watcher you better be ready. It is just above Rockport and a hop, skip and a jump from Port Aransas. The people here are very friendly. Camping is spread out all along the park. My favorite is in the front along the wall or whatever they call it. Each of these campsites has a covered picnic area with water and electricity. I believe they are $20 a night. I like the ones right on the waters edge. I put the tent up just far enough from the ocean to keep the tide from coming inside. It is so relaxing to hear the waves along the wall. Be sure to bring extra rope to tie from each leg of your tent. It is very windy here. Closeby this camping area is showers and bathrooms. A long lighted fishing pier goes out into the ocean. You can also wade fish off the little islands and shallow waters. Be sure to get up early in the morning between 5 and 6am and get out to the pier. Most mornings the dolphins will come in to play. They are amazing. If you don't catch them you can go to Rockport around 9am and catch a dolphin tour. I think it is around $20 per person. They also have sunset cruises to watch the sunset on the ocean. Cranes, pelicans and seagulls are numerous along the parks waters. You can also head a little north on I-35 and watch for the signs to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. This is a must see and is only about 30 minutes from Goose Island. There you will be able to drive thru the area and also stop along the way and hike the trails. This can be an all day trip if you would like. At just $5 for the day, you can't beat it. If your kids are curious, like George, they will love it here. Please watch for snakes. We saw a Cottonmouth our first time there. These are very poisonous water snakes. Besides snakes there are wild turkeys, armadillo, wild pigs, javalina (javalina and pigs are not the same thing.), numerous types of birds, alligators (big ones), rabbits, deer, and other wildlife. You can�hike up the trails or up the big tower to the observation deck. It is beautiful. They allow fishing in designated areas. You can also get� binoculars at the office, on loan of course. There are bathrooms at the observation deck and the front office but I don't recall seeing any�else where. Be sure to have some snacks and water. Also make sure you have gas in your car. The drive thru is about 15 miles long and go slow so you can see all that the refuge has to offer. You can also purchase gifts and a few refreshments at the front office.�

I know, I got off subject. We must get back to the state park. So, we were discussing camping areas. When you first enter the park, to the right are some roads for primative camping. Remember these areas have no electric or water and bathrooms and things are�scattered. There is a lot of nice shady spots and some nice hiking trails in this area. This park has a bait shop and rents Kayaks. There is also a boat ramp.�Once you pass all that and go across the bridge, you will find to the left an RV area. Almost directly in front of you, if you continue to drive straight, you will drive right into Stinky�Beach. I believe it is called this due to�the algae that grows there in the summer. Don't take my word on it though, check it out and read the sign they have posted. It does kind of smell sometimes. This is where a lot of people swim or�seine for bait. I can't see how�people can swim right there. Every time we seine we get a net full of jellyfish. Wear your shoes in the water at�Stinky Beach. The Exxon up the road�sells some medication for jellyfish stings. You may want to carry some with you anytime you go to any beach. Don't forget the sunblock while you are getting ready to go out in the sun for the weekend. This park is always clean and the people who run it are helpful. I think they even have stuff they do in the summer such as wildflower trails, fishing with a Ranger, and tours of Big Tree. Big Tree is a very, very old live oak. I think it is over 1000 years old. Can you imagine, surviving hurricanes and gulf coast storms. Wow!��It is a must see.

This park is one of the Texas State Parks that loans out fishing equipment. McKinney Falls and some others do as well but we will discuss that park and others later.

In conclusion, if you want a nice park, with nice people, and a great view- this is your park. I would love to be a park host at Goose Island State Park!

Just my opinion! :)

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Current Tags: Aransas, Birds, Dolphins, Goose Island, Gulf Coast, Texas, Wildlife

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    CreateSomething  49, Female, Texas, USA - 86 entries
11
Feb 2008
4:26 AM CST
   

Texas State Parks- Review #1

I love Texas Parks & Wildlife. I wish I could work for them, to be out in the open air and so close to the wildlife.It would be amazing. But, since I can't work for them I can most definitely rate them. This will be my first rating. Remember,�it is my opinion and does not mean that your experience will be the same.�

��Lets start with�Lake Texana State Park. It is on Lake Texana, of course, outside of Edna, Texas. It is close to the Gulf coast.�This state park is great. The people who work at this state park are probably the friendliest of all the places I have been. Super sweet! A campsite is $10-15 per night (as of 2008).�My favorite thing about the campsite was that there were no bugs. I mean absolutely no bugs. No ants, mesquitos, or anything. Mesquitos at Matagorda will carry you off. They got so bad at about 6pm that we had to leave. That's how we ended up at Lake Texana State Park. Plus, my husband had gone there when he was a child. Lake Texana has alligators so if you have children you should keep an eye on them. Swimming is allowed but it is at your own risk. A risk I did not take with my children because...

�We decided to fish and the kids have not quite learned how to tell if they have a bite�so we put bobbers and corks on all the rods. It was dark and the fish would nibble a bit but nothing was really biting. We were about to real in when my youngest daughter said she had something after her bobber. My husband had one of those headlights that the�fisherman always wear at night, so he shines it out on her bobber. It was an alligator. It went under and then so did the cork on my rod. Then a huge tug and then the fight was on. I couldn't handle�it so I passed it on to my husband who fought this thing for almost an hour.�The alligator would roll and twist and drag line out forever. Then when he got tired my husband would reel him half way in and the thing would take off again. We figured it would break the line but it never did. He finally reeled it in about 2 feet from the bank and we all said that was close enough so he cut the line. It was a 6 ft. plus alligator and he gave my husband something to talk about for a while.�

� Another great thing about the park is that it has lighted fishing piers so you can fish all night.�It also has hiking trails that are great for seeing birds and even getting near the marshy water areas to see alligators. Watch out for snakes. We did not see any but in that kind of environment there�is sure to be one or two.�

�� So, if you ever get down that way and you want an adventure with some really nice people then you should stay a night or two at Lake Texana State Park. :)�

�Just my opinion...

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Current Tags: Alligators, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Parks, State Parks, Texas, Wildlife

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    CreateSomething  49, Female, Texas, USA - 86 entries
29
Jan 2008
10:34 AM CST
   

Zilker Park Area- Austin, Texas

This is my review of Zilker Park and�its affiliated surroundings.They did not ask me to write this and I am basing these opinions on my experience with the area. Your opinion may differ from mine.

There is a ton of stuff to do here, especially if you have children. Start at Zilker Park (entry to the park is free). Take your children inside Splash to learn about the Edwards Aquifer and�Barton Springs. This is a great way for children to have fun while being educated and its free. It has a hands on exhibits and child friendly computers for them to learn from. The short movie will keep your children engaged with its sound system and presentation. After that take your children to the playscape. It is awesome, with soft flooring to protect your child as she/he plays. They have tables where your child can figure out how sand and gravity work and other interesting things. This park has one of the nicer and more child friendly playgrounds in the Austin area. If your child gets bored, take them on the miniature train ride through the park. (There is a fee) Children love this. In the summer the park has live music (Zilker Hillside Theatre) at times and the kite festival. It also has Shakespeare in the park, which is great. Just sit on the lawn somewhere and enjoy. In late fall they have a haunted trail for trick or treaters. If you want to bring your children this is great and if you don't have children you can hand out candy. Winter brings on the trail of lights. This is huge in Austin. Try to go during the week because on weekends the cars make their own trail of lights. Christmas lights are twisted into�all kinds of Christmas designs. The first night they do the "Lighting of the Tree." Get there early or you want be able to find a place to park.

For the adults (children, if yours can swim) Barton Springs pool is great. It is always the same temperature year round. That's because it is fed by a spring so it never gets over 68 degrees. People swim here in the summer and the winter. In the summer it feels great when it is 101 in Texas but your body almost goes into shock when you hit the water. This water is deep. It is over my head in most places. I am�not short either. Pay attention to your children if they can't swim. There is a lifeguard on duty but a parent is their child's first and most important Life Guard. There is a per person fee to get in to the Pool area. Also,�sometimes you will come across someone sunbathing topless or I have even seen them nude near the bathroom area so, if you don't want your child to see this, it may not be an appropriate place to take your child.

�Across the street, a little caddy corner to Zilker Park is the Zilker Botanical Gardens. This is beautiful. It is FREE. You may go in and enjoy the coy ponds, fountains, and waterfalls. It is amazing to see. Take a stroll through the bamboo and take the little bridges across the ponds and streams. Don't forget to see the huge window that looks like a key whole. It was actually in someone's home at one time. There is a rose garden and you can't forget the Dinosaur part. It has larger waterfalls and is gorgeous. It has large dinosaur sculptures as well. Stop and rest at the top of the hill in a huge butterfly chair. You can also see the butterflies eat while you are in this area. Before you leave, check out the old school house and small buildings. These are historical and can add a little to your learning experience. On your way out you have to stop by the herb garden. Smell the aromas of different herbs such as rosemary and mint.

Next stop, Austin Nature and Science Center... Did you peak out into the street when you were headed back to the Dinosaur part of the Botanical Gardens? That big gate that looks out on the street and to Town Lake (Lady Bird Lake), is the first thing you will see when you head over to the nature trail. Just head up the hill and check out the sidewalk while you are headed up. As you can see, this is about the children. For some, this may be a hike getting up all those steps. They have a few benches along the way so take a rest if you need to. This is an amazing place. Let the children check it all out in the exhibit room. They are allowed to touch. They can also see the pond and waterfall from the huge glass window. Watch for turtles and things here. Then head out on the trails. Do not get off them because this place is all about preservation and you wouldn't want to destroy the foliage or flora. These trails will take you by the water and around to the wildlife area. It is great for the kids. Check out the wildlife exhibit. Most of these animals could not return to their natural habitat and survive so they keep them here so you can learn from them. These are not pets so do not allow your children to put their hands inside these cages. They look adorable but they still may bite. Here you will see a coyote, skunk, a cotymundo (not sure if I said that or spelled that right) I call it a coty. There is a racoon that is adorable. More animals are there as well and you should check with the center for feeding times if you would like your children to watch them eat. If you have children who are frightened easily you should check for sure because some of these animals eat baby chicks, whole. Grouse! Continue on and go inside the reptile/amphibian building. Here you will find snakes, turtles, frogs, and much more. Including salamanders. Keep going like you are going to leave the park but instead turn left when you get back through the big building. This is a great trail. If you are tired you must at least go to the start and see the birds. Here you will find hawks, buzzards, several types of owls, and lots more. There are turtles and such in this area as well. If you are ready you can leave this part of the area and head back down to the parking lot. Watch out for the pigions. They will do the deed on your head. They nest under all the bridges around this lake. Fishing here is great due to all the bird doo. This is the hike and bike trail area. At least go out and cross the bridge. Your kids will love it. Watch for wildlife in and on the water. You can rent canoes and canoe the lake if you feel up to it.

Back over to the Zilker Park area. Across Barton Creek from the park is another great picnic area where the Sunken Gardens used to be. I am not sure what is going on with this but if it is back up you should check it out. You can also walk the trail along the water and get below Barton Springs Pool here. There will be a ton of people in the water here if it is summer. (Free area). Across the street from this is Umlauf Sculpture Gardens and Museum. If you can say it then you are doing better than me. This is a fee based garden. It is really beautiful so if you have a little extra pocket change, check it out.

Finally, you can find great places to eat along Barton Springs road. There is also a fun put-put golf course and in the summer you can catch free concerts on the lawn next to Sevie Ray Vaughns statue. You were going there to see the statue anyway, right? Usually concerts are on Wednesday nights. Bring a blanket an icechest full of drinks for the kids and a frisbee in case they get bored. All set. �

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Current Tags: Austin, Education, Flowers, Gardens, Live Music, Museum, Science Center, Train, Wildlife, Zilker Park

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