One week on this beautiful lake was not nearly long enough for this water loving family. It has been one hot and dry summer for most of Texas. Lake Buchanan at the moment that I write this is only seventy-five percent full. The Colorado River feeds this man-made lake that covers the abandoned town of Old Bluffton, Texas, one of the first towns in the Hill Country. The lake covers almost thirty-five square miles and is the fifteenth largest lake in Texas. Read more about the ghost town of Bluffton and the making of Lake Buchanan after the Great depression here.
The drive to the resort if going the speed limit would take about four hours without stops. In the camper we are not zipping down the roads as fast as other vehicles. The coach does not have very good insulation and heats up quickly in the 105 degree Texas sun. We started our trek after dinner since it was cooler and stopped over halfway in the town of Elgin. We got there late and I did not expect much from a small town RV stop. I noticed the well lit signs and paved roads when we pulled in. Our site had a concrete pad and picnic table. The Hope Hill RV resort was gorgeous with open fields for walking, playing and picking wild flowers. The onsite laundry facility opened up to a large deck with tables and a grill for community use. We noticed many of the fifty RV residents were full-timers. There was also space for six tiny homes. Ryan and the girls played tether ball while I cleaned and put up beds. I took a walk a bit later and saw a beautiful pig rooting around its camper beside a a very well made pet home. I can’t say I was surprised, I have always thought a pig would make a cool pet. I guess it’s a Charlotte’s Web obsession. The pig was not completely free roaming, he had a long leash that allowed him freedom to access his house and pool.
We left the park around 11 am on Wednesday morning and drove about 2 and a half hours to the resort. Once you go through the town of Burnet, you drive fifteen miles of winding roads around the lake catching glimpses of water and dried up riverbeds. On a better day the water flows swiftly over the rocks making the drive even more scenic and beautiful. The road dead-ends at the entrance of Canyon of the Eagles, our home for a full week! Nine hundred and forty acres of unspoiled hill country terrain and three miles of lake front to explore is any naturalist’s dream vacation. The dogs and I might have been the only ones to enjoy the sixteen miles of nature trails but I was thankful for the alone time. You can purchase a day pass or stay at the furnished cabins, tent sites or of course RV spot. They have a pool onsite, event center and fine dining at the resort. The park also offers guided nature hikes and when the water levels are favorable, kayak rentals and boat tours. The most exciting event at the RV resort was the astronomy presentation at the Eagles Nest Observatory. Guests are treated to a late night, one-hour presentation of the summer sky constellations and galaxies. The entire ceiling opens up for an unobstructed view through the many telescopes managed by a dedicated astronomer on staff. The remote location of the resort allowed for optimal viewing of the night sky.
What we love about the coach as opposed to our trailer is the ease of setting up and taking down. With the Class A, you park and push a button to activate the jacks and leveling system. All we have to do is be still while the camper does the work. Ryan and I both love this because less time at set up means more time for the kids and playing.
After getting lunch, setting up our camp and organizing clothes and food, we were ready to explore and see the lake. One of our best friends and his son were coming with their boat and to spend the week with us. We all dressed in our swim suits, packed towels and water and headed to the water. We were able to use a trail that was right by our campsite. Our friend would be arriving soon to the public boat ramp across the lake from the resort. It was less than a mile from us across the water. We dropped our things at a picnic table and took in the scenery as the girls ran off to explore the shore and the water. The sun was setting and the air was cooler. We heard a train horn in the distance which meant, our pontoon boat captain had arrived. Excited at the sight of seeing the boat, Ryan ran to jump in the lake with the girls. Nicholas and I stayed behind playing in the dirt. A little later I decided it was time to rinse off the baby since he was now eating the dirt. As Nicholas and I walked into the water toward Ryan and the girls, we had a strange feeling something was wrong with the boat. Sure enough our friend was floating along in his boat loaded with groceries and suitcases. His propeller had fallen off and he was not going to make it by water tonight. On the phone he assured us that he had friends in the area that would be able to help him. We decided to head back to the camper. We were going to clean up and drive the 45 minute trip around the lake to get them. As we were cleaning up, Ryan got a call from our friend, he had made it back to shore and was getting in his truck to come stay the night with us. Thank heavens we didn’t have to break camp.
The dads left after breakfast the next day in search of a propeller to fix the boat. The closest town was 30 minutes away and then they needed to drive around the lake to the boat ramp. I took the kids swimming and explored more of the area around the resort. We headed back to the camper for lunch and naps. I noticed the wind pick up the awning a bit and decided I would retract it to be safe. Ryan had called and said they just arrived to the boat and should be over soon to take us out on the lake. I told them since the three youngest were still asleep they should take their time. About fifteen minutes later I felt the wind shake the camper and I looked outside to see a huge gust of wind sweep through the trees. I called to the girls to grab clothes, shoes and anything that might fly away. I secured the trash bags and threw the folding chairs under the coach just as rain started to fall. The wind grew stronger and bent the trees lower. I ordered the girls back inside as I wrestled the porch mat alone. By the grace of God I was able to fold it up and stow it under the camper. It rained for another hour. The sky cleared up and the kids escaped outside to see the changes from the rain. It was cooler and the ground below was barely damp as the dirt drank up the storm. It was too late for a boat ride, we would try again tomorrow.
The next morning was Friday, a perfect day for riding on the water. We got an early start to check out the coves around the lake. We rode past a waterfall that was still flowing but not as strong as normal. We jumped in to cool off and waved at anyone else on the water. Saturday was a much longer day on the water. The lake was as smooth as glass as we drove across to the island. We saw a few jet skis playing nearby and a handful of boats parked along the shore of our destination. The lake like our resort was not near as busy as I expected. Perhaps it was the drought, since ramps seemed t be closed and docks were suspended in the air above the water. I felt pretty lucky to be one of the few getting to enjoy the lake. The green water against the bright blue sky are what summer dreams are made of. The only negative about the lake was the zebra mussels. After a few days we noticed everything the water had touched was covered in these small finger nail sized mussels. Anything that stands still underwater most likely was covered in these invasive filter feeders originally from Eurasia. These filter feeders have depleted the natural food source of native species as well as caused millions of dollars in damage for companies on the water. Water shoes or leathery, calloused feet are highly encouraged, we all got cuts from the zebra mussels. Ryan and Madelyn had waded out into the water and both caught fish. Ryan grilled burgers, hotdogs and vegetables. We made taco burgers with grilled bell peppers and hummus for dinner It was a full day on the lake and we were spent.
We all got back after sunset, took showers and put the little ones into bed. The older girls and I rallied to make the astronomy presentation at ten that evening. It was totally worth it except for an early wake up call to pack up our rig and drive into the neighboring town for church. Like anything, when you are in a hurry something is bound to go wrong. I think every RVer goes through a very expensive lesson at least once in their first year of travel. Ryan checked all around the camper but did not look up. It was really my fault since I was the one who pushed out the awning in the first place. We were all dressed and loaded up, I was doing my makeup from the front seat and we only had driven about fifteen feet when we felt and heard something hit. Yup, the awning caught a tree and an arm was torn loose. Some part was knocked off but thankfully we were still able to close the awning. The broken part only cost fifteen dollars we would later find out. Note to self, we need to carry a lightweight ladder. I tied up my long dress and helped Ryan move a picnic table from a nearby site. We set the table under the canopy so Ryan could reach the awning. A few zip ties and thirty minutes later we were back on the road headed to another church with a later mass time. We had lunch and met friends for bowling and skating in town. The air conditioned fun was a nice respite from the lake. Our neighbor at the campsite sent us footage of the awning incident as if we wanted to relive the embarrassment.
The next day was another perfect lake day before getting ready to leave. The tooth fairy had left a map for the loser of the tooth. The kids found buried treasure in the form of gold and silver coins in the middle of the island. Our last stop on the lake was the perfect spot for cliff jumping and watching the sunset. The water was forty to sixty feet deep, cool and relaxing. It was the perfect end to our trip.
The drive home was peacefully uneventful, praise God. Between the incidents with the camper, boat and potty accidents from three out of five children, the experience was great preparation for full-time RV living. I absolutely hate goodbyes, not sure if it was my friend waving from the boat as we left, the ending to an incredible week or the realization that we are going to be saying goodbye (or see ya later) to friends and family very soon, but I was bawling. I also felt immensely happy at the same time. We are really doing it, all that we have planned and worked for is actually happening. There is still a lot of work to be done and you may not get an invitation to my home for a visit since every hallway and corner in our house is occupied with a box for storage or donation.
People have asked what things have we done to get ready for leaving our home on this adventure. For the past five years we have kept this dream at the front of our thoughts, we have drawn pictures of our ideal camper, cut a few out of magazines and made lists of places we would visit. We prayed about what our life would look like and if God found it favorable to allow us the financial ability to make it happen. The Thursday after we got back from the lake, Ryan passed his test to obtain his insurance adjusters license, a job that can be done remotely. I knew he would, we are another step closer. Ryan has closed three contracts in the past month for his real estate clients and he is set to close three more in the upcoming weeks. We have so much support from everyone around us.
I was asked how I talked my husband into such a wild idea. There really wasn’t much of a discussion. I came to him excited about the idea and he asked, as he does with everything that costs money, time and prayer: “So how do we make it happen?” We made a financial goal that he was comfortable with and prayer for ways to make money on the road. I had just started homeschooling the kids and I am so relieved that I learned more about our home school style before we started traveling.
We leave mid-September for Yellowstone, we have reservations for three days in the park and are heading north to Lake Flathead and Glacier National Park. We plan to make it to the east coast for the fall and head down to Florida for the winter. Most of these plans are just that, plans, subject to change at a moments notice. We are excited for whatever comes our way, good or bad, but mostly for the memories. Thanks for following along on our adventures!