Fort Richardson State Park, TX

fort-richardson-state-park-tx-1Thursday, November 5

What? A tornado warning? Gee, thank you Weather Channel for not giving me an alert.

I suppose I should go to the shelter. It doesn’t look horrible outside… oh, I guess it is dark to the north.

Wait a sec, where is the closest shelter? It’s certainly not the shower house/laundry area, that’s sheet metal it’d come apart in two seconds flat…

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What happens when I take a photo of lightning on my phone

The tornado touched down a good 30 miles north and was short lived, doing damage to one building and some cars parked in front of it. Decatur, the town just north of Boyd got golfball sized hail. We got a pretty light and cloud show followed by a downpour with a little bit of small hail.

As I later discovered, there is not a single official tornado shelter in the whole town of Boyd, one needs to drive up to the Love’s travel center near the highway. Guess I better hope traffic is light if I ever need to use it. The rest of the evening is spent at a neighbor’s RV watching American Sniper, by the time it ends the rain is past and I can get back to Cas without getting drenched.

Friday, November 6

fort-richardson-state-park-tx-3Finally, a day out! Bertha surfs the rolling hills west of Boyd to the town of Jacksboro, TX. At the south end of town lies Fort Richardson State Park, a quaint little place with a small campground. I meet up with a coworker and fellow Boyd RV resident who spent the night there, missing the tornado warning fun as a result and even getting to enjoy a campfire – I was a bit jealous.

I didn’t look over the campground loops closely but I did snag these two pictures. The sites look comparable to other Texas park system campgrounds, paved pads of varying level-ness. 30 amp with water costs $20 a night and 50 amp costs $22, the full-hookup sites are $25. The entrance/day use fee is $3.

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Site # 15

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Pull-throughs and back-ins

The biggest attraction is the fort. Established in 1867 after the civil war, expeditions from Fort Richardson arrested Indians responsible for the Warren Wagon Train Massacre in 1871 and fought Comanches in Palo Duro Canyon. We happened to arrive just when a park employee was walking the grounds and he gave us a bit of an impromptu tour. This fellow (didn’t catch his name I’m afraid) clearly loves his job and I suspect he knows enough about the history of this area that he could fill hours with talks and discussions.

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The largest building at the fort (pictured above) was the hospital, which had 24 sickbeds in two different wings (one for white soldiers, and one for colored soldiers). The ceilings are high because doctors of the time determined that a certain amount of airspace was needed for optimal patient health, and if the wings would have been build wider more beds would have been crammed in and defeated the purpose.

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The netting was to ward against malaria, the fort was built along Lost Creek and during the wetter times of the year the mosquitoes are quite bad. The doctors didn’t have it all figured out though. Patients were washed one at a time in a communal tub without changing the water in between, and after everyone was clean(ish), the waste water was dumped on the vegetable garden out back. Eww.

After the tour, we combine Rumbling Spring Trail and Lost Creek Nature Trail for a mile-long meander along Lost Creek.

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It’s clear that at least recently, the creek has been dry. Brush pokes up above the water even in the middle and bent over grass near the shore is evidence that the water has been even higher recently.

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This part of Texas doesn’t get fall color the way more northern locations do, but the trees are making an attempt. Wispy clouds decorate the cornflower blue sky and the temperature warms to the upper 60’s, comfortable weather for a quick hike.

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Another campground loop, site #25 in the foreground

Quicker than expected. By 1:30 we’re seen pretty much all there is to see and still have half a day. Lake Mineral Wells State Park is less than 40 minutes from here and when I visited last month before Amazon started it was so hot that I didn’t have the ambition for hiking.

We take the Red Waterfront Trail, along the southern shore of the lake. Insects buzz in the still air as the clouds spread. Aside from two kayakers paddling on the far shore, the lake is still and peaceful.

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fort-richardson-state-park-tx-14This trail ends at Pennitentary Hollow, a prime rock climbing spot with steep, sheer walls that tower overhead. Mature oak and elm grow in the canyons, reaching for the sun above. Climbing is closed today due to the wet conditions and the weekend warriors who’ll be coming out after work and school have yet to arrive, we have the place to ourselves. Andrew stands patiently while I take roughly fifty photos. This one ends up being my favorite.

Remember the spillway that campers need to cross to get to the campground? It’s living up to its name today after all the rain. I get a little worried seeing the little cars and those pulling campers start to cross, but everyone makes it safely. There are gates to close it off if the water gets too deep and forceful, it makes me wonder what happens if campers get stranded in the park due to high water?

I drive across in Bertha because it looks like fun and take a video for posterity. I’m hoping to do some catching up on videos here in Texas, I didn’t have the bandwidth for it in Yellowstone. After that little adventure, it’s time to get back to the RV park and prepare for work tomorrow. I’m thankful I had the chance to get out today and remind myself why I’m putting in all of these hours.

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Yep, it’s safe to cross

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Thank you for doing your usual Amazon shopping using my affiliate link.

Andrew gave permission for me to put this picture of his van up, a pretty sweet rolling home!

Andrew gave permission for me to put this picture of his van up, a pretty sweet rolling home!

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Becky

At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

23 Comments

  1. Gary Wood on November 20, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Interesting visit at the Fort. I enjoy visiting places with much history and it is funny what their practices were. I wonder how the future will look on ours?

    Tornadoes seem scary to me, although I have never experienced one myself. One campground I was staying in in Oklahoma, had an underground shelter. Thankfully we didn’t have to use it.

    What area of Arizona are you planning on boondocking?

    Take care and happy Amazon workamping.
    Gary Wood recently posted..Routine: Wintering in MesaMy Profile



    • Becky on November 20, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Yeah Gary I wonder too how future historians will view our era.

      I’ve never been in a tornado either. I’d like to view one from a distance sometime, when it’s out in the middle of nowhere and not threatening anything.

      I’m planning to bounce around between a few different areas. Q and Borrego Springs for sure.



  2. pamelab on November 10, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Hi, Becky –
    Speaking of wind farms – I just drove from Sugar Land, TX to Lubbock, TX and there is a stretch around Sweetwater, TX that has hundreds of wind turbines. They even have a town marker out by the highway that is one blade of a wind turbine with the city name painted on it.
    I enjoy your blog. Still looking for a tow vehicle for my future 17′ Casita SD. Since I am planning to be full-time, I want something with good storage area. I’m lookin’.
    Had to laugh at the “ewww” comment.
    The pictures of the interesting landscape are fun to see, too.
    Stay comfy. Thanks for the very nice blog.



    • Becky on November 12, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Wow, that would be a sight to see. I’ve been around the Lubbock area before but I must have missed that.

      Good luck in your tow vehicle search. Don’t be worried if it takes a while, the best things are worth waiting for. 😉

      You’re welcome, thanks for reading.



  3. Kelvin on November 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    The wind farm eyesore behind the hospital spoiled the photo.

    I was there a couple of years ago and don’t remember seeing them.



    • Becky on November 10, 2015 at 7:27 pm

      I took the photo to capture the wind farm intentionally, I thought it was neat. 🙂



  4. Jim Schmechel on November 10, 2015 at 10:57 am

    I’m glad you survived the storm. My favorite photo is the peaceful lake 🙂 Hopefully your time off was rejuvenating. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us!
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..Central Coast CaliforniaMy Profile



    • Becky on November 10, 2015 at 7:23 pm

      It was good Jim. Thanks for reading!



  5. Dawn from Camano Island on November 10, 2015 at 10:17 am

    It’s always fun–and rejuvenating–to get out & about. This looks like a very interesting state park. Seeing the hospital & hearing the bathing story (YUCk!) makes me wonder what people will think of our health care system & beliefs in 100 years. What a beautiful hiking trail & lake. Take good care!



    • Becky on November 10, 2015 at 7:21 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Dawn.

      And yes, I’m one of those people who ponders those kind of questions too, haha.



  6. Brian on November 10, 2015 at 9:52 am

    The staff at Fort Richardson are the best, always friendly and helpful. If you visit the park again check out the Lost Creek Reservoir State Trailway. It’s about 8 miles long and runs along the shoreline of the lake for several miles if you start from the North Park area.

    The water coming over the spillway at Lake Mineral Wells is a welcome sight after the long drought. The Cross Timbers Back Country trail was probably closed on the day you visited due to the recent rains . It’s a scenic 6 to 8 mile trail worth checking
    out. The park has a pre-recorded phone message updated daily that provides park and trail closures.

    Glad you enjoyed your day off and had good weather.



    • Becky on November 10, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Pretty sure I won’t have the time to walk the whole thing on this visit with all the overtime Brian but I’ve already thought it would be nice to walk part of it. 🙂

      I didn’t ask about closure information at Mineral Wells but with as wet as things are I could believe it, that’s the one with the water crossing right?

      I did enjoy my day off, thanks.



      • Brian on November 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm

        Yes. Drive across the spillway and follow the signs to the equestrian camping loop. The trailhead for the back country trail is next to the camping loop.



        • Becky on November 12, 2015 at 4:19 pm

          Ahh, thanks. 🙂



  7. Jodee Gravel on November 10, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Glad to see you out enjoying your neighborhood at last! We will likely be in Texas sometime this winter and I’m glad to see the more reasonably priced state parks – thanks for the pics and info. Love those impromptu individual tours – they’re usually so much better 🙂 Great pic of the standing stones.
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Our First Week BackMy Profile



    • Becky on November 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      Yeah Jodee the private tour was great. I love hearing about an area from locals who know all the little details. That really brought the story to life.

      Thanks and glad you enjoyed the pictures.



  8. Terri on November 10, 2015 at 6:16 am

    I think my favorite picture of the ones you posted is the one of the lake – so calm and serene. I’m always drawn to the water, though.

    That’s awesome you got that impromptu tour – and yes, eewwww is right about using the same bathwater for all of the patients. Fine if you’re the first guy but if you’re not…..eewwwww that is so gross. If I were the last guy I’d be like “oh hell no…”

    And I’m surprised that there aren’t tornado shelters closer to you. I guess they are not that common where you are? (hopefully?)

    Question – can you send some of that heat up to UT? We are supposed to get rain and snow off and on today, and I’m not looking forward to it, oh no.

    Btw, I have started writing – a few different ideas, we’ll see which shapes itself out to be a book that people might want to read!
    Terri recently posted..(Almost) off the ProzacMy Profile



    • Becky on November 10, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      And the tub was tiny Terri, wouldn’t take long for that water to get dirty. No no no no.

      I hope tornadoes aren’t common here but like usual when traveling I’m really not sure. Things should be cooling down to where severe weather like that goes away until the spring soon, I should think. If I could wave a magic wand I’d send some of the heat to you, I would. The low (low!) tonight is 66 and I’m honestly considering leaving the A/C on tonight. Blasphemy.

      Awesome! Best of luck to you. My best advice is to work on it a little every day that you can, even if you only have a halfhour to spare. It may not seem like much but the journey of a thousand miles is completed one step at a time.



  9. Mark Watson on November 10, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Not to worry if the Lake Mineral Wells spillway is flowing deep and rapidly. There is a back entrance to get to and from the campground loops.



    • Becky on November 10, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      Phew! Good to know the campers wouldn’t be stuck Mark, that design was really confusing me.



  10. Twiddledees on November 9, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    It must have been Ray giving you a tour, he does love history and he loves his job. We participate in a living history at Fort Richardson in late March each year.



    • Becky on November 10, 2015 at 7:02 pm

      I’ve heard that is something worth seeing Twiddle, too bad I won’t be in the area that time of year. Thanks for letting me know Ray’s name. 🙂



  11. Ron on November 9, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Like



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