Monday, June 10, 2013

Tyler excursion, day 1: State park.

Not long after the last bell rang to start our summer break, we were all itching to get out of town. Combine that with my need to see my parents' gravesite, and we had ourselves a quick trip to my hometown.

Before going into town, though, we spent the day at Tyler State Park, a pretty little recreation area. My parents were not all that outdoorsy, but the few times we pretended to be the camping type, we stayed in the state park's screened shelters. More frequently, my parents brought me here to swim or picnic, often with out-of-town relatives. I can remember laughing with my aunts, uncles and a cousin or two while gathered around one of the wooden tables here. Our church youth group had camp-outs and cook-outs here, and one year, my Girl Scout troop did an overnight stay.

In spite of all my history with this place, it'd been nearly 30 years since my last visit here. It's crazy that in all of our Tyler trips, Brett, Ryan and Katie had never experienced our state park. Better late than never, right?

First stop: a picnic area near this fishing pier.

View of the park store, bath house and swimming area

Love those pine trees!

It was nice to find a table so close to the water. We're no strangers to these on-the-road picnics. In fact, on our typical (much longer) road trips, our tradition is to load down a cooler with sandwich fixin's and have a bunch of snack foods on hand. Apparently I'm out of "road shape" because I forgot the tablecloth. Oops. At least I remembered the Pringles! Pringles have become our go-to staple for picnics since those cans hold up much better than bags of chips.

Dining companion

We decided this would be the perfect setting for a horror film.
Creepy screens, lots of bugs and no doors on the stalls?
After chowing down, we began our 2.1-mile hike around the lake. I remember walking this same trail years ago when our Girl Scout troop camped here.

This trail is labeled "easy," and it would be for anyone not as clumsy as I am! Just a few weeks after falling in the school parking lot, I took a nice little spill here. This time, at least, I fell over a wicked tree root and not a tiny pebble. Embarrassing!

This log was loaded with turtles—
until they heard us approach, anyway.
We figure this big guy was too deaf
to hear us or too big to move!

The trees provide a nice canopy for most of the trail. It was a warm day, but in the shade, the heat was bearable. Still, we had this trail mostly to ourselves on this, the warmest day of the season so far. (Near the end of our walk, we were in full-on overheated, sweat-dripping-in-the-eyes, I'm-gonna-die-if-I-can't-find-some-shade mode. but at least we didn't start that way.)

My nature buff LOVES hiking, and he was quick to spot cool natural wonders, like this branch/large vine that ran most of this tall tree's length.

Tarzan yell not included.

Beaver pond

Ryan spotted this teeny-tiny frog.

We're talking TEE-NINY. 

My loves

And another, this time wider shot of my loves
(Brett's smile in this one cracks me up!)

Nice view of the bath house and swimming area

Not sure if he's Zacchaeus or a monkey.

By this point in the hike, I was MELTING.
Brett and Katie were cool enough to enjoy
this little peninsula, but I stuck to the shade.

After our hike we cooled off with some A/C and ice cream from the park store. Then it was swimming time! We had a blast just floating around and skipping Katie's new "wave-runner" ball across the water.

With our picnic, hike and swim complete, we were ready to pack it in. One of the nice things about Tyler State Park is its abundance of tent sites and all those screened shelters, but for our overnight stay, we opted for Comfort Suites! I am my mother's daughter, after all.

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