I finally made plans to camp at Brazos Bend State Park. I reserved a screened shelter for two nights and tried to look up some information about what to expect. The information that I found seemed insufficient. I will start with my review of the screened shelters then bore you with pictures of my camping experience.
Here is the information you will find on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.
I was charged a $25 deposit on my credit card when I booked. The remaining amount was due at the time of check in. You also have to pay the daily entrance fee of $7/day or free with the state park pass. The shelter includes access for two vehicles. Additional vehicles are charged another $4. Shelters are assigned on a first come, first serve basis. Shelter #1 is located next the the playground; great if you have kids, annoying if you don’t. It also seems to be where the deer liked to hang out in the morning. Shelters #5 and #13 are the closest ones to the restroom facilities although still a hike when you have to pee in the middle of the night. We were assigned site #6.
The driveway was large enough to accommodate four vehicles. Each shelter has a broom and dustpan, shelves, a ceiling fan, and two outlets (one outside, on inside). As I noted above, there is no tent pad. Each shelter area will easily accommodate 5+ four person tents. A small tent could also be set up inside as long as it doesn’t require staking. We opted to sleep inside the shelter on air mattresses. Since it was cold at night, we also had a propane heater set up. There is a light located inside the shelter but not outside so make sure to bring lights (and possibly nails to hang them).
The restrooms were identical. Each having four bathroom stalls, two sinks, and two showers (one with curtains, one with a door).
Enough about the facilities, onto the experience…
I worked a half of a day on Friday then came home and haphazardly starting throwing things into the back of my truck. My friend, Pete, arrived about an hour ahead of me and was chatting it up with the neighbor’s kid. Actually, the neighbor’s kid was chatting it up with him. I briefly checked out our accommodations then we headed out for a hike while waiting for Pete’s wife, Isis, to show up. It was a balmy 81 degrees and the alligators were enjoying the warm weather.
After Isis arrived, we started a fire and had hot dogs with beer. For the record, public display and consumption of alcohol is forbidden at the park. But we were going under the assumption that as long as it was not obvious (i.e. in a glass), not in excess, and we were not loud and obnoxious, the park rangers would either not know or not care. Pete and Isis also surprised me with a pecan praline bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cakes for my birthday (which is Valentine’s day). It was to die for and well worth breaking my low carb diet. We ended the evening doing a little stargazing with Pete’s telescope and talking around the campfire.
I woke up at 4:30a on Saturday and managed to make myself crawl out from underneath the warm blankets an hour later. I packed up my camera and tripod and headed to Creekfield Lake to catch the sunrise. Walking in the dark with a flashlight was a bit creepy. All I saw was glowing green eyes in the dark (deer). Around the lake, the frogs would squeak then splash into the water. The overcast sky and mosquitoes dampened my vision of a beautiful orange sunrise.
Pete and Isis were stirring by the time I arrived back at camp. We made breakfast then prepared to head out for another hike.
Our first walk was Red Buckeye Trail that runs alongside the Brazos River.
Next was a hike around Hale Lake. I noticed that since the floods last year, they replaced the pier, put up a new sign, and took out the fish cleaning station.
At this point I was exhausted and in desperate need of a nap. I skipped lunch and opted to lay down in the shelter and attempted to sleep despite the constant whining bark of the neighbor’s dog. Two hours later I awakened refreshed and ready to go again. Next stop, Elm Lake and 40 Acre Lake.
We got back to camp about the time that the sun was beginning to set. We cranked up the fire, ate dinner, and relaxed. Isis and I called it an early night. Pete stayed up playing with his telescope and hiking Creekfield Lake in the dark.
I really needed this relaxing weekend. I tried looking for another time when a shelter was available for Friday and Saturday night. That would be May. If you want to stay in a shelter, you need to book months in advance. Plus they will be closed down for maintenance for the last half of this year. It looks like my next trip will have me in a primitive site or a camper site.