Monday, November 30, 2009

Camping at Lost Maples State Park & Chillin' at Piney Shores Resort Conroe

This is going to possibly be one of my longest posts ever. I've been gone for a couple of weeks and there is so much to catch up on. If you don't feel like reading, feel free to just browse through the pictures. You'll get an idea of what I've been up to lately. :)

Before we began our vacation I had to run around town and get things that we were going to need. You know, groceries, some clothing, pet food, etc. On the way home on Tuesday, November 17th, I had a blow out. Not just a flat but a full fledged blow out going about 60 mph on the highway. I've never experienced anything like that but fortunately I remained calm and pulled to the side of the road. The van was not exactly easy to control but we did ok.

Chuck was at work but fortunately we had our incident in front of our neighborhood so I could pull in and walk the half mile to my house. Not too bad. But not too fun carrying a bunch of groceries either. Chuck came home and we got new tires. Disaster solved.

Wednesday, November 18th, we left for one of our favorite camping destinations: Lost Maples State Park. It's a looooonnnng drive from my house and we didn't get an early start. By the time we arrived it was after 10pm. But that was only after a very near miss of hitting a deer that decided to run in front of the truck. FYI: trucks pulling 37' trailers do not stop very easily. Chuck was pretty sure we would find some hair from that deer on our bumper. But the deer made it away.

We got set up and enjoyed 5 days of bliss in the Texas hill country.

One of the spectacular views:
The water was crystal clear and smelled sweet. I love this area. The kids put their feet in the water and soon found out that it was freezing cold.
The forest was quiet with just slight breezes rustling the golden leaves. I could have spent hours here. Wait, I did spend hours here! So peaceful.
Charlie, my little comedian, decided to wear some glasses that I keep in the backpack for geocaching. He did get some strange looks on the trail.
This tree was so gorgeous; it looked like it was on fire.
On the hike on the East Trail, we came across this are with primitive camping available. There was a big cliff and a clear pond at the base. I would love to backpack in here and spend the weekend. Doesn't that look peaceful?
Right before we hit the steep climb of the trail, we came across this tree whose golden leaves seemed to glow in the sunlight. I wish I could have taken it home with me.
Did I mention that we were on a 5 mile hike and that 1.5 miles were steep? Very steep. We had to take breaks during some of it.
But the view at the top made it totally worth it. Once we reached the ridge of the hill, there was a strong breeze blowing and we could watch birds fly and see all of the colors of the trees from above. It was a breathtaking view.
On the way down there were areas that had stairs made out of rock. I feel sorry for the person (people) that had to make the trail and the neat steps. But it does make for some great photography.
The kids were almost delirious with exhaustion once we reached this bench. Fortunately I had packed some snacks and water bottles or I am not sure we would have made it. It was so much fun though. I wish we could do it again soon.
The hike wore us out. We got cleaned up and headed in to Utopia, Texas to eat at the Lost Maples Cafe where they have some of the best chicken fried steak fingers. It's been years since we visited there so we were overdue for a stop. They were out of chocolate meringue pie (of which Chuck was prepared to buy the entire pie) so we decided we would just have to come back again. Real soon.
So Friday we headed over to the Lost Maples Cafe again. After all, it was a rainy day and I wasn't going to be doing any cooking outside in that weather anyway. Right? And they had the pie. Mmmmmmm. Not Weight Watcher friendly but mmmmmmmm. Rachel got the coconut cream pie and it was even more mmmmmmm. Nom nom.
Afterwards, we spent time in the trailer hanging out and doing puzzles and just enjoying being lazy.
Saturday, November 21st, Chuck made breakfast and we were out the door to explore and hunt fossils. We found a few shells as usual.
It was great to have Chuck home from work. Here are the lovebirds. Still happy after 19 years.
Boys will be boys.
The views......I just love this place. And the water has its own smell in this area. It's sweet.
While exploring by the Sabinal River, Chuck found a turtle. Rachel loves turtles so she wanted to hold it. Being cold blooded, I'm surprised this little turtle was in the water.
It was time for lunch and then off for a game of catch with the football. This was a lot of fun. Sadly, my arm was sore the next day.
It was the last night there and Chuck made a perfect campfire. As the day grew cooler, we pulled the chairs up to the fire, had a beer (not the kids) and talked about our favorite adventures of the camping trip.
The stars are so bright out here. You can see the Milky Way across the sky and even watch satellites move if you watch carefully.
I had brought some glow sticks to play with. The kids played a version of Easter egg hunt where they hid the glow sticks for each other to find. They also made for some cool photos. (that's me)
Sunday, it was good to get home and sleep in own beds again.
Monday Chuck had to go back to work! I know he had to be exhausted.
Tuesday, November 24th, we had some folks come out to install the AT&T U-verse and some other folks do a termite inspection. Then it was off to Conroe to stay at Silverleaf's Piney Shores Resort.
Piney Shores is a time share that Chuck's parents own but added us to their membership so we can use it too. I have read reviews that some folks did not like Silverleaf and that they use high pressure sales and call a million times but I didn't have to deal with any of that since Chuck's parents bought it. For me it was just a really great time. The place was pretty nice (though it did have a couple of stains in the unit) and the employees were very friendly.
(our unit was the one on the bottom corner)
The view from the back porch was beautiful. Lake Conroe. We would often just leave our door open to hear the waves and enjoy the view.
There was so much for us to do! They have an indoor pool that stays really hot. Charlie was being goofy as usual.
Wednesday I cooked a good meal and every one was pretty tired. The kids went to bed at a decent hour so I decided to do something a little romantic. I made a bubble bath for two in the jacuzzi tub.
Problem 1: I got the water too hot and Chuck was scalded. He turned as red a lobster. Felt fine to me.
Problem 2: I was not aware that bubble bath and jacuzzi tubs do not belong together. I turned on the jets and the bubbles rose up like a wall. I turned the jets off and we both just sat there looking at each other. Through the bubbles. We were afraid to move because if one of us slipped under those bubbles we might not make it back out.
The romantic evening was over just as soon as it had started but we did have some good laughs. And it took two days to clean out all of the bubbles.
Thursday we went to the in laws for Thanksgiving. It was over an hour drive but worth it to spend time with family and not have to cook. :) Find the clue that this photo was taken after the meal. (and do we really need to discuss Weight Watchers and points and calories? I think not.)
Thursday night we got back to the condo and relaxed with some Guitar Hero. I so love this game. I did notice that my playing abilities declined as my alcohol intake increased. Is there a link?
The kids being goofy in their room. I'm just glad that they had such a good time. Their room was awesome! They had their own table, tv, bathroom, and kitchenette.
Friday, November 27th, we went for a walk along the shore of Lake Conroe and got to see a beautiful great blue heron.
Then it was off to play mini golf. This was our second time since we arrived. And the best part is that all of the activities were free for us! Well, the horseback riding would have cost us but we didn't do that.
After mini golf we headed to the archery range. None of us were too great at it. I shot one arrow into the trees and had to go on a search for it. But it was still fun to try.
Then it was off to the activity center for lunch and Bingo! Charlie had never played and he enjoyed it. The staff came up with different games to keep it interesting. One of the games we were hoping NOT to win called Texas T. You had to clear a "T" shape on your Bingo card and then yell "Yeeeee-haaaaaaaa" and then gallop up to the front on your pretend horse. No thanks. Fortunately none of us won that one.
Lunch and Bingo were finished so we grabbed some tennis equipment and headed to the courts. I'm not sure that I could suck at a sport quite as badly as I do at tennis but we had a lot of laughs. Rachel hit the ball out once and it almost broked a window of the indoor pool and then the ball rolled far away under a car. :)
While Chuck, Rachel, and I played tennis, the staff kept Charlie busy with a water balloon fight.
Chuck then had a friend come over for a visit that he hasn't seen in years. It was good to catch up.
It was our last night there and we took advantage by just relaxing.
Saturday we came home and took a loooong nap.
Sunday we got the 2 dogs and bearded dragon from my mom. It was so nice that she could pet sit for us all of that time.
And now it's Monday. I'm back to counting points. There really is no telling how much I put back on over the holiday. But I'm not worried. Today I'm starting on the Bowflex we have tucked away upstairs.
I won't have any new recipes or pictures for ya today because we have so many leftovers. I'm not cooking anything until that fridge has space in it.
I hope your Thanksigiving was a lot of fun and filled with good memories. :)


  1. Wow, Kelly. Those are some fantastic pics. Glad you had a terrific holiday.

  2. Ahhh... that sure was fun. Can't believe you posted that pic of me with my eyes closed. I'll gitcha.

    Sad to be back at work today.
    Speaking of which, it's time to get back at it.


  3. Wow! Those two near-death experiences at the beginning almost make the final destinations worth it. Great pics (esp. the stairs). And, in some dance circles, bubbles are/were the hip thing to add to the dance floor. My fear of them was confirmed by your post.

  4. your family reminds me alot of ours...we love the outdoors. love the photos, all the leaves are so pretty.

    It is so amazing to watch Rachek grow up in pictures...everytime I see her on a post she looks taller! She's becoming quite the lady. My olderst daughter is around her age...but it's fun to seeone from a different perspective. I'm off to checkout lost maples state park now...think that may be our next family excursion~

  5. Wow, when you do a recap, you DO A RECAP!!! The jacuzzi bubble bath had me cracking up, and the picture of you smooching with Chuck made me go awwww!

    Y'all just seem to have fun with whatever you plan - I love the memories you are giving your kids!

  6. Wow, impressive trip! My wife and I went camping over the Thanksgiving holiday as well and loved it. We have talked about going to Lost Maples several time, but this trip we opted instead to go by Pedernales Falls State Park for some hiking and outdoor photography. We'll definitely have to give Lost Maples a try sometime...maybe we'll run into you along the way


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