Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.
Octagonal Bank of New Zealand banker's desk carved from Australian red cedar, Dunedin, circa 1883.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Visiting Escapees on Halloween - Fri., Oct. 31, 2014

I love COE (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) parks. Usually the sites are large, they are near water, and have water and electric hook-ups. AND, check-out time is usually 2 or 3 p.m. That gives us time to go exploring in the morning.

This morning that was especially important since it was time to visit Caddo Lake, about one-half hour from Brushy Creek Campground at Lake o' the Pines. About six miles from the campground we had to sit and wait while road construction crews used a big machine to chew up asphalt and load semi trucks. It was probably about ten minutes, but it was interesting to watch what they were doing.

We followed the roads to Caddo Lake State Park, but when we got to the crucial intersection, there were no signs pointing the way coming in from Jefferson. We turned on the main highway and went about three miles before I happened to see a sign for a side road (which was sideways to us) pointing to Caddo Lake back the way we had just come. Got turned around, and on the main highway there was a sign showing the way to Caddo Lake.

When we arrived, we signed in at the Park Office using our Texas State Parks card and got our window sticker day pass. On the way back to the car Bob pointed out a very interesting historical marker on the lawn. There used to be a town here in the 1800s called Port Caddo. Because the history is so interesting, I'm going to share it with you...

Old Town of Port Caddo
(Site located in and around Caddo State Park)
Ancestral home of Texas Caddo Indians, this region gained a distinctive character in the 19th century. From 1806 to 1845 it lay in an area disputed by various countries and designated from 1819 as the "neutral ground." Settlers living here were far from neutral, however. They became independent and resisted paying taxes levied by any "outside" authority.

Port Caddo, founded in 1838 on Caddo Lake soon grew to importance and its rowdy reputation grew too, as ship's crews, gamblers, and Indians filled its streets. Meanwhile, new towns and roads sprang up nearby.

Continuing upheaval led to the assassination of the tax collector in 1840 and townsmen joined in the factional "regulator-moderator war" from 1840 to 1844. When Texas proposed to join the Union in 1845, Port Caddoans saw a chance to end their problems and voted strongly in favor of statehood.

From 1845 to the 1850s Port Caddo thrived, growing to 500, but then declined as the Port of Jefferson and the county seat of Marshall drew away business.

With the end of the great plantations after the Civil War, falling of the water level in Caddo Lake, and coming of the railroad to nearby Karnack (1900), Port Caddo gradually faded out of existence.
What a way to start the day exploring Caddo Lake State Park. As we drove into the park, I was happy we didn't stay here. The road down into the lake and campgrounds is narrow and steep.

I took the next set of photos while walking through the picnic area at the Big Cypress Bayou boat ramp.
Cypress trees and knees
Moss-draped trees
Sunlight through Spanish moss
Boat dock
Trees in silhouette
Bob wanted to take a photo
Sunlight in Spanish moss
Our first stop was the boat ramp where we looked at the lake and moss-draped trees. From the boat ramp there was supposed to be a 1/4 mile ADA-accessible trail. 

Well, we looked for that trail but could not find it. Instead we started hiking on the "Nature Trail." We did not have our map with us (stupid, I know).

Beginning of "Nature Trail"
The trail quickly became very steep, rutted and full of rocks. It looked like there had been a hard rain that had made a waterfall out of the trail at some time in the recent past. Good thing we had on hiking boots! (Looking at the map back at the car, we discovered we had been on "Pine Ridge Trail (steep)."

Up and up and up we went. No ADA trail here. Finally we came to a split in the trail and decided to go left. That apparently was the "Old Road" trail. At another junction in the trail we could see the trail was closed; again we went left. That was the "Caddo Forest Trail." We then came upon the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Pavilion, built by CCC Company 857 in approximately 1935.

CCC Pavilion

The trail was downhill from there. I mean that in a good way.

Before we knew it we were back at the boat dock parking lot. Then we were off to the Saw Mill Pond where we finally were able to enjoy the scenery we were looking for. Awesome.

Saw Mill Pond and fishing pier
Great egret
Great egret

Egret flying off

From the Saw Mill Pond we drove through the campground loops to see if we would want to bring our 5th wheel in here. Nope. There are only a few pull-through sites, and the back in sites didn't appeal to us. Plus we don't want to bring the 5th wheel down the steep hill.

Looking at the state park map, I can see Big Cypress Bayou and the Saw Mill Pond, but where is Caddo Lake?? Guess we have to go back and take a boat tour to see that. Can't wait.

Our friends Faye and Dave (except we haven't met Dave yet) must have arrived in the park to canoe about the time we were leaving. You can read her blog for their take on canoeing in Caddo Lake State Park. Also of note, be sure to read her blog where she quotes Dave on how the Toad Suck Lock and Dam got it's name. We were in stitches reading it.

After our time at Caddo lake, we went back to Lake o' the Pines Brushy Creek Campground through the town of Jefferson. That is a town we will definitely be going back to. It used to be the second-largest town in Texas and apparently was quite wealthy. There are many historic buildings in town and it is just darned cute. This is not one of those old towns that is boarded up. No siree. The streets were bustling with business. Besides checking out the old homes and businesses, we saw a boardwalk through a swampy area that looked mighty intriguing. I'd like to hike there.

A stately home in Jefferson, Texas
Back at Brushy Creek we checked out by 12:30 p.m. Here are a couple more shots of our campsite...

Site E121

We took County Rd. 3001 southwest to hook up with U.S. 59 south. I'll repeat my warning I put in the blog yesterday: Bob asked the host at the campground gate if County Rd. 3001 hooked up with U.S. 59 south and if it did were there any problems with the route. She told us it was a great route and it was...until we got to U.S. 59 where there was a steep railroad grade. At that point we didn't want to turn around and go all the way back to the route we had used to go into the campground. Be forewarned, if you're a MH with a toad, that would not be the way to go.

Somewhere along the way, we saw this mural. We were at a red light so I had time to snag my camera and take a photo. Bob and I got a laugh out of it. If you had seen the town it was in, you would have laughed too.

"The Garden Spot of East Texas"
Our destination today is Escapees Rainbow's End RV Park in Livingston, Texas. We made it there by 4:30 p.m.

If you are not familiar with the Escapees RV Club, then you deserve to check it out (tell them Susan Alton sent you). Escapees RV Club is a total support network for all RVers. Here are services available through Escapees (either through the club or an association with other business):
  • Escapees Mail Service
  • Rainbow Parks
  • CARE Center in Livingston, Texas
  • RVers' Boot Camp (critical RV training)
  • Escapees magazine
  • Escapade (educational events)
  • Strong RV advocacy coalition (protecting RVers' rights)
  • Exclusive RV safety information (travel with peace of mind)
  • Discounts (15-50%) at nearly 1,000 commercial parks
  • Escapees SmartWeigh (weigh your RV)
  • Escapees Club News
  • SKP (Escapee) Co-ops
After check-in we were ready for dinner. The staff in the office recommended Joe's Italian restaurant for dinner in Livingston. That's where we ate and it was excellent.

After dinner we drove around the Escapees property. They have a huge RV park as well as their CARE Center. We were not able to take the Trolley tour of the park because it only runs certain days and times. Same for the headquarters tour, only certain days and times and it wasn't 4:30 on a Friday afternoon.

We nestled into the RV for a quiet evening.

Travel Bug out.


  1. Sorry we missed you but we'll definitely catch up later on this winter. While we also wouldn't bring our rv there we would go back for more paddling, such a cool primordial place. Headed to Lake Livingston SP on Sunday, may take a look at the Escapees facilities there, we maybe using them when we become Texans. You've had a very busy trip and I've thoroughly enjoyed it, going to have to get Dave out Volksmarching.

  2. Double Lake State Park is near Livingston, and we have camped there a couple of times with our 5er. There are a few pull-thru sites with FHUs, which is a bonus. Glad ya'll are enjoying the area!

  3. Quite a park, try Florida's kitchen for great food.


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