February 29, 2012

LBJ National Grasslands

On our way south through Texas, we chose to stay a couple of nights at the LBJ National Grasslands. By doing so we killed two birds with one stone: we mostly avoided trucking with the trailer through downtown Dallas, and got to spend some time in a secluded area.  Based on our research of the area, it seemed unique and offered 75 miles of multi-use trails called the TADRA. The $2 a night fee (without RV hookups of course) sure didn't seem bad either.

The only camping sites they offered near a lake were located at Black Creek Reservoir and after chatting on the phone with an LBJ ranger, we chose this as our destination.  Maria and I both imagined flowing fields of golden grass as far as the eye could see at the Grasslands.  The drive into Black Creek didn’t yield any views of the sort.  Basically, the soil in LBJ is so mineral-poor and sandy, that it really only supports stumpy trees and underbrush.

But when we arrived at Black Creek however, things perked up. While it’s a small lake (no more than a couple of acres), it was super placid, with ample amounts of picnic tables and peaceful shoreline.  We were the only RV, so we had the pick of the litter in terms of spots.

Black Creek Reservoir
Black Creek Reservoir
Our parking spot
As mentioned, a big reason for choosing the grasslands was the TADRA trails. Unfortunately the TADRA was not what I expected, as the trails were very heavily biased towards horse riding and were not well suited for mountain biking or trail running.

Not having gotten a chance to ride in Lawton, I was excited about the prospect of riding dozens of miles of easy rolling single track.  Once I rode out to the trailhead, I was surprised to see that apparently a bulldozer had come through recently and plowed most of the trails. This accomplished a couple of things very well: first, it opened the trails up nicely to a solid double track; second, it removed a good portion of the ample amount of thorn bushes; third, it made the trails terribly soft.  Texas had an awful drought in 2011, which amplified the sandy/dusty conditions created by the recent dozing.  These sandy sections would go for long miles on the trails; many times it would be 6”-10” of sand or dust.  I would have to ride along in my granniest gear just try to keep enough momentum to not fall over…  While it was a different type of mountain biking than I was used to, it certainly wasn’t very enjoyable for me.

Total ride distance was 11.45 miles in 2 hours 14 minutes.

While I was out having a blast! (sarcasm) mountain biking, Maria spent the morning researching the great state of Texas. 

Maps, brochures and a notebook: tools for Texan research
The pups enjoyed some bones grandma Pattie gave them for Christmas, and the ample swimming opportunities. Also, since we were pretty much by ourselves at the campground, we were able to let them off their leash plenty.

Chloe, enjoying a bone
Sammy, enjoying himself.
After the ride I was powdered in dust and chose to go for a swim, a VERY cold swim. I would guestimate that the water was in the low 50’s, so I was not out there long, even though I had donned on my wetsuit and swim cap. Chloe was excited about having me join her for a swim! Here is a video of Chloe and I swimming:

Living in an RV with limited resources (especially electricity) you've got to find other ways to occupy yourself at night. We took to making fire sculptures with our dinner campfire!

Campfire for two!
Playing with fire.

We're headed to Austin next!

More pictures of the Grasslands can be found here.


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