James S.
Euless, TX
Joined August 2016
I'm an accountant by day to fund camping and travel. Nothing makes me happier than hitting the road with my daughters to experience the outdoors.
Ranger Review: Ledlenser MH10 at Purtis Creek State Park

Campground Review

Purtis Creek is a short hour and a half drive east of the DFW metroplex. It’s easy to get to and popular with the locals. One of the main attractions is the lake where you can rent kayaks and paddleboards. It is also a popular fishing hole. Most sites are electric and water at $20, water only at $14 and primitive at $10.

I arrived and got camp set then head out to the hiking trails. There are a couple of loops at one and two miles. I walked the entire stretch of around 6 miles. They are pretty unremarkable with very few animals and no real interesting features.

I was in site 62 which was set apart from the others with a path through the tall grass and a couple of trees to hang a hammock from. If you have a few people in your group, you may consider 60-62 as they are relatively close together. Once the sun set, the sky lights up with stars where you're just able to see the haze of the Milky Way. While I was going to sleep and early in the morning, the coyotes started up. The morning was a bit louder and they seemed to be near the lake only a couple kilometers off. Outside of some very noisy neighbors, the site was well worth the trip.

The only real drawback is how close it is to the main roads. Car noise can be heard at almost all hours.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I sometimes get items to review. I received the MH10 and took it out to the Purtis Creek State Park. Once the sun went down, I fired it up and had a full view of the entire campsite. I could spot the twinkle of spider eyes and other small critters in the bright light. I switched to the red lense to read and spotted a possum as it wandered into my camp site. If I hadn't made some noise, I don't think she would have noticed me.

The battery sits to the side and back. It's about the size and weight of three AA. It comes with a red and green lense that fit into a rubber grommit you slip on the light. It has three settings getting progressively darker. The strap is comfortable directly against the skin.

Pros

  • Very bright
  • Green and red lense filters
  • Long battery life
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Gets a little warm
First to Review
Ranger Review: Lakefront camping in town

Campground Review

I spent a night at Holiday Park which is one of three on Benbrook lake. It used to be father outside of town, but as the suburbs creep in, it is slowly becoming surrounded. In fact, it appears part of the property had been sold off for development as one camp road ended and houses began. It must be a wonderful perk for those residents to be able to just walk in for swimming or fishing. I neglected to do a satellite view before choosing my spot, so I was in one of the handful that had no trees. It was fine though as there are covered tables and the polls were strong enough to hold me in a hammock as well as put up shade. I was also right on the water, so there was a nice breeze.

If you’re into fishing, this spot is for you. Every couple of minutes there was a “plop” from another fish popping out of the water. If you have a small boat, you could drop in right from your site and head out across the lake. Take care though, there are a few boats and some moving pretty quick.

Love wildlife? There were dozens of deer out of all sizes. I came across 5 different groups of them as I was driving around taking in the entire campground. Of course, where there are deer there are ticks. Make sure to use insect repellent and give yourself a check.

The toilets and showers are showing their age, so they are not for the squeamish. There are no hiking trails to speak of, but they do have an equestrian trail and sites if you have horses. Bicyclists seem to love it here as I saw dozens riding the streets. I got to barely hear a Friday night football game being called across the lake with bright stadium lights and all. Site prices were $14 for just the covered table or $28 with water and electric

Pros

  • Close to town
  • Easy online check in
  • Friendly park staff
  • Access to various water sports

Cons

  • City is encroaching
  • Relatively expensive
  • Not many hiking trails
  • Aging facilities

Product Review

As a ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time. I was given the opportunity to test the Hellagood blanket by Belmont Blanket. As a cover, it is very warm. The soft layer is a faux fur with medium plush. The other side is a rubbery, waterproof material. The soft side tended to hold onto debris and pet hair, but cleaned up with a few shakes. It's a bit heavy, weighing about 3 lbs, so it's not bad for day hikes, but I would not recommend it for long excursions. I laid it out on the wet ground and it is completely waterproof. If you camp in a rainy area, the blanket would act as a decent rain shield. It got a bit chill once the sun went down and the breeze came off the lake. Soft and warm by the fire. When I went to sleep, I realized I’d forgotten my pillow so I folded it up with the soft side out and slept like a baby. All in all, I love the blanket and look forward to using it on other trips.

Pros

  • Soft
  • Waterproof
  • Washable
  • Durable
  • Handmade in the USA

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • Tricky to roll up
  • Kind of pricey
Ranger Review: Mishmi Takin Kameng Mid eVent waterproof hiking boot at Sea Rim State Park, TX

Campground Review

I have taken The Princesses to the coast three of the last four years for camping. We hit Galveston Island State Park and North Beach - Padre Island and had a mixed bag of struggles from sun burns to cloud bursts. I hadn’t visited Sea Rim, so that’s where we headed.

We arrived with little trouble taking a few of the back road highways to avoid going through Houston. We didn’t have to wait long to get checked it. We got to our site which had water and electricity, uncovered table, fire ring, garbage pole and plenty of flat area to place a tent. The first thing I noticed though was we were the only tent campers there. Everyone else was in RVs. The beach was a 300-meter hike over a boardwalk and was almost entirely vacant for our stay. There was a lot of wild life to see at night and the coastal waters were cool and inviting. There is lots of primitive camping if you choose to head down the beach.

The grounds are apparently being upgraded, which is a must. The only showers available were the outdoor, cold water for rinsing after being in the water. The toilets were unlit outhouses. The only concessions available for purchase are wood, ice and bug spray. Also, the temperature and humidity here didn’t seem to drop at all. It felt like a warm wet blanket all night. I’ve camped in some hot weather, but this was pretty miserable. We called it after the one night and headed to a hotel in Port Arthur.

……………………….

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products from time to time and had brought along a pair of Mishmi Takin Kameng Mid eVent waterproof hiking boot. They are light weight, cooling and basically water proof. I didn’t wear them much here, but I have been wearing them for hikes in my neighborhood trails.

https://youtu.be/uRwihvuiveg

I left my foot submerged for a while and my foot was dry. The sole has a solid grip for getting over terrain and the insole give you plenty of support. The boots are a little ridged out of the box, so take a little time to break them in.

Beautiful vistas and skies

I took my daughters out since we had a four day weekend. It took a little over 4 hours to reach. Check-in was easy since they assign you to a spot before you get there. We were placed in Lake Theo. The first complaint is you don't park anywhere near your site. You have to cart your gear about 1000 feet. I didn't see anything on the website about this. Next, we were placed in spot 9. This is possibly the worst spot they have. It is a very narrow space right on the trail to the toilet. Given these two things, we had people walking right by our heads while we tried to get to sleep. Finally, there are no dumpsters anywhere near the sight.

On the plus side, the views are amazing as is the history. We had a lot of fun exploring the canyon and dry creeks. We did see a bison roaming around and the night sky was spectacular. We wanted to see the bats, but it's a five mile hike surrounded by private land. The closest town with anything resembling civilization is Childress, so make sure you stock up there before heading in.

Fairfield is a great place to camp

Fairfield is relatively easy to get to being only about 2 hours outside of DFW. Well shaded with large trees for hammocks, plenty of hiking and wildlife. It also has some amazing stargazing. While it isn't the darkest sky, you can see the Milky Way on a clear night.

A lot of fun and learning

This is one of the better parks Texas has to offer just in terms of the hiking and unique features. Along the water there are places where you can see dinosaur footprints in the rock. There is also a river to play in and miles of amazing hiking. If you want to camp, you need to book plenty in advance since the park is so popular.

Not the best

We arrived here because all the campgrounds in a 50 mile radius were booked up. The campground is spare without much to do. On this day, the wind off the lake was howling, so I had to park the van and put up a tarp to block it enough to set up the tent. The bathrooms were a mess and we just didn't have that much to do. The one bright spot was a camp volunteer named Joe who helped us out and even sang us some tunes.

A little out of the way, but glorious views

I stopped here on my way back from camping at Enchanted Rock. Getting to this park takes a while, going through lots of back roads. Once you get to the park, you have to drive miles in to get to the headquarters. The camp roads are tight, so be careful getting to your site. Once there, you'll have miles of trails to hike. If you take the trails near the creek though, be sure you're able to navigate without trail markers as there are few and not very noticeable. One final note, the speed limit is 20 for the miles it takes to get in the park. DOn't go faster. The state patrol knows people get antsy and they will write you a ticket. They know most of them are from out of town, so they make it really easy to pay your fee. :^)

Our hometown haunt

With this park being so close to home, it tends to be one we frequent most often. With plenty of campsites as well as day use areas, it's good for the kids almost year round. It is also good for the newbie campers as it is only 15 minutes down the road from stores in case you find yourself missing some supplies.

A bit far for so little

While there are trails here, this is more of a public lake access. I spent a couple of hours doing some geocaching and hiking, but overall the park is not very remarkable.

Great camping close to home

This is another one that is great to take the kids to. Water to play in, trails that are easy to navigate and the option to tent camp or use a shelter. The rock gorge near the lake is a wonderful place to explore. There are miles of trails and plenty to see.

Busy but fun

I took my daughters here so we could camp on the beach and enjoy the stars. We camped on the first come, first served side with so many others. Since tents and RVs can share the same space, it tends to be a bit noisier with all the generators. The wildlife hunting was great. Ghost crabs will be rubbing up against your tent all night. We did happen to be there for the release of some sea turtles which was the highlight. Get there early for a good spot and makes sure to have a portable shade and sunscreen.

One of my favorite

This is one of my favorite state parks. I camped here over the weekend and got miles of hiking in. Making it to the summit of the rock is challenging, but worth it. Camping is great, although you are required to book two days for some reason even if you can only stay for one. If you're coming for just a day hike, get there early as it can fill up fast.

One of the very best

This is one of my favorite state parks. There is an abundance of trees to help keep you cool in the summer. The lake is very clean and there are boats to rent and plentiful fishing. There are MILES of trails to explore from easy to quite challenging. Take the time to get the kids out into nature.

Easy to get to, lots to see

I took my daughters camping here since it is one of the few parks within an hour of DFW. Getting there was a breeze since it is mostly freeway and highway. I made a reservation since the nice weather seem to be filling up most parks. While this one was almost at capacity, we did not feel crowded. We took a self guided tour of the grounds and visited the hospital, morgue, bakery, bridge, officer quarters and the nature center. Most of the building had interesting things to see. The hospital has some preserved critters like giant centipedes while the nature center has taxidermied animals you can touch (carefully of course). Also, make sure you make the hike to the rumbling spring. It's beautiful. If you need food, there is a grocery store just down the road. If you enjoy alcohol though, you'll need to bring your own. My only complaint about the park was the ground is very rocky, but there were no pads to put your tent on which made staking very difficult.

Fun stop for the kids

Just an hour west of Odessa, we stopped here for a couple of hours to play in the sand. We rented the plastic disks and played in the dunes. It tires the kids out quick since it difficult to march up and down sand hills. The rangers were helpful in pointing out the best places to slide. The disks are rated up to 150, so it's not very effective for larger adults. Also, you will get lots of sand in your car no matter how much you try and dust off before.

Beautiful natural spring pool

Added another of the 95 state parks to visit. This one is known for it beautiful spring fed pool. 4 ft on one end, it goes to 25 ft at the deepest. It also has many fish living in the water. If you go, have swim gear including water shoes as the bottom is pretty rough. If you scuba, that is permitted here as well. Lots of fun just to stop off with the kids if you are headed some place else.

Almost private beach

I took my daughters here for spring break expecting it to be quite busy. While the park was full, the beach was almost vacant. By contrast, if you walked down to the public access areas, those spots were almost entirely full. It's the Gulf, so the water is murky, but there is SO much wildlife to see. You must take a walk in the evening as there are hundreds of crabs.

Amazing remote park

Even as remote as this place is, it is still very popular. We stayed two nights hoping to see the stars, but the weather did not cooperate. I hope to go another time. Also, despite having metal fire rings, we were unable to have a campfire, so the cold mornings and nights were not as comfortable as they could have been. We did make it up to the summit and got to take in the miles of views from up there. Definitely one of my favorite parks.