Lake Tawakoni State Park, TX

EDIT 12/27: Was not hit by the tornados last night, thanks for thinking of me!

Thursday, December 24
Last post, Brian guessed correctly where I was heading: Lake Tawakoni State Park, east of Dallas. Why east when I want to go to Arizona? Because I still have that appointment at Little House Customs on the 28th to take care of first.

The day dawns bright and clear as I prepare Cas and Bertha for the drive ahead. For me, getting ready to go on a long trip involves not just securing belongings, dumping tanks, and hitching up, but also cleaning. I’d rather take care of it now so when I’m traveling I can spend more time enjoying where I am.

Lake Tawakoni, rather high with recent flooding

Lake Tawakoni, rather high with recent flooding

I scrub the toilet and sink and fill the black tank a second time just with water before dumping again to ensure it’s truly empty. I put a little bit of bleach in my fresh water tank when I fill it up to sanitize it since I haven’t used it in several months, I’ll empty the fresh tank completely into my gray tank before leaving Tawakoni and dump and re-fill the fresh tank with pure water.

All of the dishes get cleaned, the blinds get dusted, counters are washed, the floor is swept, and the welcome mat beat thoroughly to get all of the dust out of it. I use the brush of a small dustpan to get the dirt off my wheel chocks and tire covers before putting them away and use a paper towel to get the lose dirt from the water hose and power cord off.

I use to think I must be extraordinarily slow to require two hours to leave one camp for the next, but that’s before I realized I’m only slow because I insist on doing all of this cleaning stuff before I go. The actual hitching up process I can complete in 30 minutes if I needed to move in a hurry.

The picnic area

The picnic area

It being Christmas Eve, I risk the most direct route from Boyd to Lake Tawakoni, through the north part of Dallas thinking the traffic won’t be as bad as usual.

It’s pretty bad. But who knows, maybe it’s even worse at 1pm on a regular Thursday, I don’t have much experience to draw on. After several slow downs due to congestion and one stop due to an accident, I’m thrilled to see the big buildings become smaller buildings become rolling forested hills with the occasional house. Cas has successfully made it through another metropolis.

I made the reservation for Lake Tawakoni about two weeks ago, at that time the lady I spoke to over the phone said someone would be at the window today to collect my money for the second night here (you have to pay the first night up front when you reserve), but I’m not surprised to find the window closed for the holidays when I arrive. With no map and no assigned site, I turn Bertha down White Deer Reach camping loop and hope for the best.

White Deer Reach camping loop

White Deer Reach camping loop

This is the water and 30 amp loop, the cheapest option at $20 a night which is what I paid for. Only six or seven of the 46 sites are taken, and it’s a delight to discover a waterfront site open! Waterfront camping on Christmas Eve, 75 degrees out with a light breeze, this’ll be a perfect place to unwind from Amazon. Even better, the site is long and level enough that I don’t even have to unhitch.

My spot, #17

My spot, #17

But without a map, I don’t know that this is my best option. I start walking up the road to scope out the rest of the loop when the park hosts drive by in a green truck and volunteer uniforms that look very familiar. They tell me I can wait to pay the rest of my fee until Saturday morning when I leave and have a map of the park on hand, how serendipitous. I can see now that site 17 is right on the tip of a point jutting out into the lake and will indeed have the best water view.


We talk a little about South Dakota (they saw my plates and lived there for a year) and about park hosting and Texas. We also talk about the storm coming this weekend.

I’ve been keeping an eagle eye on the forecast which keeps changing, sometimes looking better and sometimes looking worse. I think the meteorologists aren’t quite sure what’s going to happen yet and with luck it won’t end up being as bad as all this.


This part of Texas is under a flood watch with the potential for strong thunderstorms, and northwestern Texas and New Mexico are under a winter storm watch, which could make traveling to AZ all but impossible with significant snow accumulations and lows dropping into the teens after the front passes.

But for today and tomorrow, it’s sun and 70’s. I walk up to the beach and boat ramp and take in the view.

The swimming area

The swimming area


Then I meander over to the “premium” camping loop. The Christmas lights strung up around RVs and matching music coming from radios makes me smile, but it’s definitely noisier and more crowded in this loop and I’m happy to be where I’m at.

Spring Point camping loop, where the premium 50 amp and pullthroughs are

Spring Point camping loop, where the premium 50 amp and pullthroughs are

I set up my camp chair and watch the sun set. Without any clouds it’s not very showy, but still nice. The horizon turns golden as the sun slips from view and fades to a rusty orange. Across the water, a full moon rises as birdsong is replaced by an evening chorus of insects chirping. Small waves from boats farther out in open water lap at the shore and the occasional splash or call announces the presence of life out on the lake.

The smell of campfire smoke drifts by, dogs bark, the radio from the next loop over is still audible if I listen hard enough, and there are the small sounds of car doors closing, murmurs of voices, and the occasional firework in the distance. It’s a good evening to be alive.


Back in the RV after sunset, it finally occurs to me that I’ve been getting an occasional whiff of an acrid smell since I arrived, and it’s getting stronger. I know I’ve smelled this odor before but I can’t quite place it. I’m quite worried one of my electronics is shorting out or something, so I go around the RV sniffing at my computer, surge protector, converter, microwave, it’s hard to trace. When I lean out the RV the wind is picking up over the lake and I don’t smell it, but then on a whim I sniff the vent for my fridge and the odor is very strong.

The fridge. It’s the fridge, that can’t be good. Should I turn it off? Switch it over to propane… or would that make it worse? Is it going to explode or catch on fire? I hop online to the good ol’ Casita Forums to the Appliances section and on the first page is a post titled “Ammonia smell coming from fridge?” A lightbulb goes on in my head, that’s what the smell is!

In short, the ammonia coolant is leaking from my fridge. It’s not something that’s repairable and I’m going to need either a new cooling unit for the back of the fridge or I could replace the whole fridge. The good news is the leak is not dangerous aside from the nasty fumes and I can continue using it, the fridge will just get less effective as more ammonia leaks out. I send an e-mail off to Larry at Little House Customs to inform him of the problem (how lucky I was heading there anyway!) and flip the switch on my Fantastic Fan so that it’s blowing air into the Casita instead of out of it, that should build positive pressure inside that will keep the ammonia fumes from coming in from the vent.

Friday, December 25
I have Christmas cookies and cherry Pepsi for breakfast. It’s fantastic. The morning is spent catching up on two TV shows that I’ve fallen behind on since Amazon, sitting in my camp chair watching the lake, and generally being a slug and trying out this “relaxing” thing.

After lunch, I head out on Spring Point Trail, which as the name might suggest follows the shore of the lake on a point.


The flooding is fascinating. It reminds a little of Hunting Island back in South Carolina, where shifting currents are causing the ocean to swallow the forest. Here it’s not as dramatic, but more impressive in a way because this wasn’t caused by tides and currents but sheer rainfall.


One can see where the high water mark was, and where it’s receded since then, sometimes eroding the ground away into a beach that looks like a tidal beach.


I wonder how the ground could have eroded so much and then a boat zips by and the waves lap against the shore and it makes sense.

There are more people out here today than yesterday, day visitors for the most part enjoying the above average temperatures and time off from school and work.


The trail is sort of a figure eight with two loops, but it relatively short at 1.1 miles. Parts of it are still quite soggy and in a couple places it has eroded into the lake.

On the way back to camp, I walk past the amphitheater and see there is a Christmas tree set up!


Other spots in the park have decorations up too. It’s quite amusing to see snowmen when I’m in capris and flip flops.

Clouds start rolling in later in the afternoon, the heralds of tomorrow’s rain. The Marie Calendar chicken pot pie I saved for Christmas dinner is delicious and so far the fridge and freezer are working normally. I’m making a point of eating as much of my frozen food as I can, since I can save the fridge food with a cooler if it becomes necessary but I can’t do the same for the freezer food.


I spend a good chunk of the evening reading my Kindle, speak with family and friends over the phone, and sleep with all the blinds open so I’ll wake up to a view tomorrow.

Saturday, December 26
The humidity skyrockets overnight and the temperature hardly drops at all, making for a muggy morning. Low, fast moving clouds bring wind, but it’s only sprinkles so far for precipitation. I walk up to the front office and register for my spot, I’ll be staying here until as close to checkout time at 2 pm as I can and taking advantage of the electricity to write and put this post up. Tonight and tomorrow night will be dry camping nights at truck stops or Walmarts, assuming the weather doesn’t force me to something else, the next real stop will be Little House Customs.

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!


* * *

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  1. Page on January 4, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Our “Home is Where you Park it” Airstream is from Hunting Island! It lives under our small shiny tree with a Hallmark Airstream in our Airstream home.
    We will know later this week if we will be working for Yellowstone Park Service Stations this coming summer. Getting excited!
    Happy New Year and safe travels!

    • Becky on January 6, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Oooo, good luck Page I hope you get the job!

      Hunting Island was my “home” state park when I was living in Beaufort, was a great place to go on weekends. 🙂

      Thanks and happy new year to you too!

  2. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on December 28, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I’m joining the others in saying that we’re glad you had moved out of harms way. Watching the news and video of the damage around Dallas as I write this. Just amazing! I think I’ll stick with the risk of earthquakes. At least there’s no forewarning. 🙂
    Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Merry Christmas to AllMy Profile

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:26 am

      I think I’d prefer the forewarning Ed, just me, hehe. Tornadoes are kinda tricky because you know the general area that has a treat for severe weather but you don’t know where in that area you could get a hit.

  3. Craig on December 27, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Becky About every 3 months, while getting my trailer ready for travel, I dump a 10lb bag of crushed ice in the toilet into the black holding tank , with a couple gallons of water. While driving to the new destination the ice will slosh around and scour the black holding tank. Just drain after you have arrived. Easy and non-toxic way to semi clean your tank.

    Craig from Bend, Oregon

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Yeah I’ve heard of that method before Craig and glad it works for you. I’ve never had it build up to the point I needed ice, the double flush was a courtesy since I needed my black tank valve replaced at LHC to reduce the ick factor of them working on it.

  4. J. Dawg on December 27, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Thanks for letting us know you didn’t get impacted by the tornadoes.
    J. Dawg recently posted..J. Dawg Journeys Has Moved!My Profile

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Would hate to worry people J. Dawg.

  5. Ed Brownfield on December 27, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Merry Christmas Becky, I have thought about you the last several days as I watch the weather reports on TV. You are in or headed into some rough weather I think, just take it easy and stay put if you aren’t comfortable driving. Put as level headed as you seem to be I’m sure that you don’t need to hear that advice. You are going to love AZ after the rain, wind and clouds in TX. AZ desert offers sun, no humidity, beautiful sun sets and sun rises not to mention the beautiful scenery. Getting there might be a problem but it is worth the effort.

    I hope that your refrigerator is an easy fix and inexpensive. Love your attitude about it though, no winning you saw the bright side immediately pointing out that it broke when you already had an appointment to get work done on your trailer. Kudos for your positive attitude! Enjoy your trip and free time!

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:21 am

      Thanks Ed! I’m so grateful I missed the worst of the weather. Looking forward to some sun.

  6. JimS on December 27, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Nice description of your evening. I love that kind of quiet. Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas.

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:18 am

      And a happy new year Jim, you’re welcome and thanks for reading.

  7. Terry Brawley on December 27, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    Glad those tornadoes missed you!

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Me too Terry!

  8. Luna on December 27, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    Thank you so much for posting the update! I bought my RV in Garland and then camped at Tawakoni, so I knew you were in the area and was hoping you were okay!

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Yeah Luna a lot of people were worried so I snuck online to edit the post. Was an interesting night but no tornado fortunately.

  9. Rob on December 27, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Nice job with the continued maint of your utilities. It is surprising how much debris you collect from these hoses and cables outside into the storage areas… The fridge will need professional attention. As you know these rigs take a huge beating when they are on the road. Have people check your running gear on the Cas to make sure all is up to standards. Good luck

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:16 am

      Thanks Rob.

  10. Jim@HiTek on December 27, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Sorry about your refer problem. They usually last many more years than yours has. Not an inexpensive repair either.

    Funny it’s still working…what I’ve read indicates they start warming up quickly when you smell ammonia.

    Good luck though…
    Jim@HiTek recently posted..On to El Centro, California…My Profile

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:15 am

      It’s dead now Jim I just haven’t gotten there in blog posts yet. Thanks.

  11. Terri on December 27, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I am very sorry to hear of your fridge problems, but since my water hose froze up yesterday (will be thawing it out today i hope) i feel better knowing I am not alone. I just hope it is not an expensive fix for you. That is my fear, even with an emergency fund, that something big and costly will go wrong.

    The pictures are beautiful and all your mentions of 70 plus degrees makes me think even more that I will be in Texas with Amazon next year. Warm weather for winter, here I come! Be careful traveling to AZ. I must say, I love your writing style, Becky. You can tell you put a lot of effort into each and every one of your posts.
    Terri recently posted..(re)discovering myselfMy Profile

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:14 am

      70 is above average for this part of Texas this time of year Terri, it’s unusual. Yesterday it didn’t get above 45 all day. 😉

      Thanks for the wellwishes and I hope your hose unfreezes soon. Not having water is really inconvenient, I remember from my Kansas stints.

  12. Furry Gnome on December 27, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Hope you’re ok! Looks like you were pretty close to those tornados!

    • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:12 am

      I’m good Gnome, thanks!

  13. Pamelab on December 27, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Hi, Becky – Cookies for breakfast on Christmas morning sounds great. I enjoyed hearing about your cleaning tasks – good for future reference. I hope your fridge is a quick and inexpensive fix. How fortuitous you are heading to LHC.
    I live in Missouri City, TX, SW of Houston, and just drove up to Lubbock to visit family. I drove through a dust storm, had a tumbleweed blow into my path and get stuck on the front of my vehicle – which was kind of fun – and got in just before the winter storm. The sleet, hail, and lightning started. Then the snow.
    I hope you don’t have to drive very far if the roads are bad.
    Thanks for your very nice blog. Happy trails!

    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 10:13 pm

      Heya Pamela,

      Yeah, those cookies were pretty great. 🙂 Thanks for the fridge well wishes and I’m glad you made it to Lubbock before the storm hit and hope you have power (I have a friend in Lubbock who says a lot of areas lost power).

      I didn’t have far to drive to get to LHC and missed the tornadoes luckily. Take care!

  14. Dawn from Camano Island on December 27, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Gosh, Becky! You clean everything! Your list is very helpful to me. Fortunately, I resisted that urge earlier this week–we had a big dust storm here in Quartzsite that easily lasted 24 hours! It got so quiet during the night it woke me up!! There’s dust everywhere now.

    I think you’ll enjoy your boondocking venture–we love being free to move about the country’. It’s a treat for us when we get to a NM state park with power & water!

    What a beautiful place to relax for awhile after all your hard work–your Christmas day sounds perfect. Hope the weather doesn’t create difficulties for you. Take good care.

    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      I just like the feeling of arriving in a new place with everything set and ready to go, all chores complete.

      Wow, that’s a long time for a dust storm isn’t it? We’ll see if that drives me nuts or if I’m able to cope with a dusty interior. 😉 Sadly my trip west has been delayed a bit due to the fridge.

      The weather was… interesting, but I made it through unscathed fortunately.

  15. chuck on December 27, 2015 at 5:20 am

    I luv Towakani…..have fished there many times since its probably the
    catfish capital of the world………
    always enjoy reading about your travels…….please keep it up for us
    shut ins….

    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      I saw an article posted in the ranger office how a record breaking goldfish of all things was caught in Lake Tawakoni, pretty funny story Chuck. Good to know there are other fish in there too, I did see quite a few fishermen during my stay.

      You’re welcome as always, take care.

  16. David Greybeard on December 27, 2015 at 2:31 am

    I hope you stayed ahead of the storms and are dry and warm for the next few days. Safe travels and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 9:47 pm

      Didn’t stay ahead of them David but came out unscathed except for a couple leaks, it could have been a lot worse. Thanks and happy new year!

  17. John L. on December 26, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Have been off line for some time, could even say totally unplugged!! But back now and catching up. Glad to see you are doing OK and you survived Amazon! Sorry to hear of the fridge problem but hope it works out at minimal cost.

    Safe Travels……..

    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 9:46 pm

      Thanks John, I hope you enjoyed your time offline and welcome back!

  18. LenSatic on December 26, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    If you are heading to AZ on I-10, there is a very good BBQ place in Sweetwater, TX. Big Boy’s BBQ only a block or so south of the 10 on Lamar St. (Exit 244). Careful, though, they are closed Sun, Mon, and Tue.

    Also, we are in SE AZ near Tombstone, Sierra Vista, and Bisbee. If you have time and want to practice boondocking, you can stop in here. We do nothing but boondocking and can answer any questions you may have. We have 10 acres but better yet, just outside our gate is BLM land with a real nice boondocking spot (secret!!!) where some other newbie friends have stayed.

    You should have our email address. If not, you can contact me at the above screen name on


    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks for the advice and offer Pat. My trip out to AZ is going to be delayed due to the fridge problem but I’ll keep this all in mind once I have that straightened out.

      • LenSatic on December 29, 2015 at 12:04 am

        Heck, we’re retired. Delays are life. 😀

        You may get that enlarged rear window I mentioned a couple of years ago.

        If you have to go to Rice, there is another great BBQ place in Ennis, Bubba’s just off the 35 a few miles north of the factory.

        We may have to go to the factory in the Spring. Our boondocking has caused our dinette post to punch through the bottom of the trailer! We’re going up to Little House Customs in Camp Verde, AZ, to have shocks put on but Konrad wasn’t sure if he could repair the dinette problem.

        Good luck and stay safe!

        LenSatic recently posted..New Casita Travel TrailerMy Profile

        • Becky on December 29, 2015 at 9:11 am

          Yikes Pat that sounds like a problem! Hopefully you can get it resolved to quickly. I’ll keep this BBQ suggestion in mind too. 🙂

  19. Cletus on December 26, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Oh the problems with RV fridges I’ve had over the years!

    Small explosion outside when starting, fixed by cleaning mud dauber nest out of burner assembly and ordering new plastic panel to replace melted one. Blowing fuses, fixed by powering down for 30 minutes to reset computer.. suggested by a tech. Won’t run on propane, fixed a friend’s by blowing scale out of the orfice. Won’t run on propane in the mountains, fixed by finally driving down below 5000 feet. Won’t shut off, fixed by pulling fuse out of the master panel and reinserting it when wanting to turn it on.

    So far we’ve never smelled ammonia but with our current 16 year old it’ll probably happen.

    Hope everything turns out for the better and the cheapest way possible.

    Enjoy the rest of the “days of Christmas” and Have a Happy new Year!

    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Yikes Cletus, you really have run the gamut. I’ll be posting more about the fridge soon.

      Thanks, and happy new year to you too. 🙂

  20. Frank on December 26, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Hope you are safe from the storms!

    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      Two tornado warnings but no hits, the storms that night were pretty intense and I woke up several times.

  21. Ron on December 26, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Safe travels & I hope your refrig. repair is possible and not too costly.
    Interesting note, this is the first time your blog hasn’t froze up my computer since you 1st arrived at Amazon???? I wonder if it had something to do with your location. I didn’t miss your posts though, just had to read them on my smart phone. Hope you had a great Christmas and an even better New Year. Ron

    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Interesting Ron, well I’m happy it’s behaving on your computer now whatever the cause was.

      Happy new year and more on the fridge coming up.

  22. Rayn on December 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Merry Christmas! I have to say, I actually enjoy the posts where you talk about things that go wrong, because it makes me feel better to know that somebody out there goes through the same junk that we do! 🙂 We are at an Escapees park and trying to boondock, but had to move over to a paid spot with electric when we determine that our generator wasn’t working properly. Thankfully, we are leaving the rig in storage with electricity for the next month while we go to Ohio and as soon as we get back, we have an appointment to fix it! Always nice when problems arise at convenient times!

    • Becky on December 28, 2015 at 9:38 pm

      Yes Rayn it is! It’s nice that you were at a place that had hookups at least and didn’t have to entirely uproot and move. Happy new year and I hope you and JJ have a good time in Ohio. The fridge is going to end up delaying my travel plans but what can you do. Take care!