Why I Love State Parks
INTERSTATE 45 was still Highway 75 when my parents and I would pack our ’63 Ford Fairlane and little gray utility trailer with our camping equipment and head from Klein to Huntsville State Park. Just north of Conroe, the pine trees grew taller and closer together — and grew even thicker between the stretch of divided highway up to Willis. It always felt to me like going into a tunnel and coming out wrapped in a fragrant blanket of green — a different world. It felt cozy, peaceful, sitting snugly between Mom and Dad in the front seat, thinking about the fun we were about to have.
My memories of the park itself are like snapshots — driving down the long, narrow, iron-ore road through the towering pines; seeing trails leading out of the woods, intersecting the road from the hills above; arriving at the campground clearing and seeing the lake with its short, wooden pier and two-seater paddle boats docked; seeing families together by their tents; children running and playing, riding the park’s Grammy Award-winning musician rental Schwinn Stingrays into the dark woods.
My dad’s cousin Opal and her husband Phillip Beverly met us. Their son, Earl, my second cousin, was so eager to swim in the pond that Phillip took out his pocketknife and cut off Earl’s jeans. That’s how you do it, I thought.
Dad set up our canvas tent and our little aluminum folding table that held our Coleman stove, and then he and I made a beeline for the paddle boats. Earl jumped over and over off the end of the pier as dad and I peddled and paddled around.
That was one trip. I went many times — to camp and on day trips with my grade school, getting old enough to rent one of those Schwinn Stingrays and ride out into the dark woods myself, flying down those hills on the trails that intersected the iron-ore road.
As I drive up Interstate 45 these days past the park’s entrance, those days come back to me. And I wonder what my children would think if I took out my knife and cut off a pair of their jeans.
Celebrating 100 Years of our State Parks can be delivered straight to your mailbox with a new annual subscription to Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine. Enjoy 10 issues PLUS this bonus as our gift to you. Subscribe today!