Scott loves looking at the stars so he is often found at Palo Pinto Mountain State Park’s Tucker Lake to enjoy the Dark Sky. Twice a year, spring and fall, Palo Pinto Mountains State Park opens its gates and allows those who want to enjoy the dark skies to come visit. Because the park is not officially open this is a treat to those who visit and the Fort Worth Astonomical Scoiety come with telescopes of all sizes and types. This was our second Star Party and we did a bit more than just stargaze this time.
This future state park is a couple of miles from the city of Strawn and will include the once city park and Lake Tucker. Strawn has had a very interesting history from before the coal mining days with a huge population of over 20,000 to today’s current work to get a Texas State Park gate a few miles from the town center. You will find some of the original buildings from before the turn of the 20th century; an amazing, tiny musuem holding everything from orginal documents, photos, and even embroidery. This of course is one of the things that just thrills me.
I love a town that does what they can to preserve their history. Unfortuantely, there are only a few businesses using the downtown area, but the town is working to build and prepare for the up coming State Park. They already have the popular road trip stop Mary’s Cafe, famous for their country fried steak so the town already has some traffic but this sweet little town needs more business.
Not only will you find Strawn has a future Texas State Park, but you will find it is on the Texas Forts Trail. This is a 650-mile driving tour that will take you to the areas where there were many forts during the pioneer days.
You can find Strawn, Texas, exactly 76 miles west from Fort Worth or 76 miles east of Abilene just six mile north of highway 20 on highway 16.
Highway 16, also known as the Bankhead Highway, was constructed in 1916 and went from Washington D.C. to San Diego, California. This highway went directly across the northern section of Texas and included the city of Strawn. For Strawn, this was a huge deal and it still is. Because this year is the centennial celebration of the Bankhead Highway, Strawn will be celebrating with the rest of the road enthusiasts at their Bash On The Bricks festival April 22-24, 2016. Why not help them celebrate by visiting and seeing how much fun the people of Stawn are!
Along Highway 16, just north of downtown you will find Zim’s Farmers Market and Cafe. It is the original site of Zim’s Dr. Pepper Bottling Company where there was a tourist stop complete with car hops! Fortunately this property has been kept up and is now owned by Diana and Gary. They have opened up a farmers market where you can get “fresh from Diana’s garden” produce, happy chicken eggs, and George’s delicious breads. They also serve
some wonderful “pork butt” sandwiches, huge fantastic salads, and fresh squeezed lemonade for a really great price. They are only open on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm, but it is worth the stop. Scott and I enjoyed the sandwiches and stayed to chat and enjoy getting to know them. We also met Jeff, a past chamber of commerce president, and George, the bread guy. We learned so much about the community and their work on getting the future Palo Pinto Mountains State Park going.
Not only do Diana and Gary have the farmers market, Gary is the owner-potter of Coldpiece Pottery. He made the dishes and candles for the cafe and they are amazing for sure. However, his signature piece is the flowerpot candle filled with lavender infused wax. You can find his candles there in Strawn at the local stores or online at Perriberri.
After we had lunch at Zim’s and walked around downtown looking in the shops and musuem, we headed to Palo Pinto Mountains State Park for the Star Party. Scott and I decided we were going to camp because the one hour drive is just a bit much at 3am for us. So, we were told where to pitch our tent, set up and then Scott set up our spot for stargazing (it’s the patchwork quilt area) and I hunted down Jeff Ferguson, Park Superintendent, to see how I could help. I was put on food duty with Danny Miller, Strawn City Secretary. We had a wonderful time serving hot dogs and sodas to help raise money for the Partners of Palo Pinto Mountain State Park. I was able to meet so many people from Strawn, the Sierra Club, and the Fort Worth Astonomical Scoiety.
Scott was able to really enjoy the night sky. He took plenty of photos but the one he was most proud of was of a nebula. Since he has learned how to use his camera, he is definately improving. I love how happy he gets when he learns something new.
The photo below is my favorite from the night. I love how the red lights everyone uses helped to show everyone. Of course the shadowed mountain in the distance and the sky doesn’t hurt any either.
Once the consessions was closed, I headed over to our stargazing spot for a hug and snuggle in Scott’s sleeping bag. It was so cold and we were not expecting it to be as cold as it was. As much as I enjoyed the stars and hearing people call out the M’s they were looking for, I fell asleep. About 2am Scott had enough and we headed to the tent to sleep.
As much as I enjoy spending time with Scott and supporting his hobbies, I did not enjoy camping that night. It is a shame because it was the very first night we camped at this park, before it is a campable park. It should have been a night to celebrate, unfortuantely it was so cold and I was not ready for that. The sun was just up and we had began moving around; my first words were, “I want to go home now.” I did not want to enjoy the park any more; I was cold to the bones. I do not do cold well; I become rather grouchy. Fortunately Scott suggested we get into the truck and eat some breakfast while the cab warmed up. After a few minutes of warmth, coffee, and banana, I felt better.
Jeff told us we were allowed to hike, explore and enjoy the park area while we were there so we did just that. We ate a full breakfast, well, as full as one can have cold camping, at the lake to get some photos in the morning light. Then we got adventurous and explored further back from the star party area. It has really helped to excite me about the construction of this park over the next couple of years.
I am so glad we did more than just attend the Star Party this time. I loved meeting the people of Strawn, shopping in their stores, and seeing the town. Why not take April 22-24 and visit Strawn for their Bash on the Bricks Festival? It’s not that far and there is so much fun to be had!