Texas is very special to us. I am not sure if it is the various landscapes, amazing geography, diverse personalities or colorful history, but there is just something about this huge state that pulls us to hit the road and explore. Maybe this is why we have a hard time telling each other “no” when a destination is brought up. More often than not, the travel within our state’s borders seems to always be spur of the moment. It doesn’t matter how many times we tell ourselves we won’t do any travel this weekend, we just get the urge and cannot seem to fight it off. Maybe this is not a good thing, but it is how it seems to happen. This past weekend was no different for sure.
Looking at the huge map of Texas that is securely pinned on our living room wall, there is much yellow telling us what counties we have visited. It is a very satisfying feeling and one I view often with much pride. Unfortunately there is just as much white giving me the impression that Texas is laughing at me; boasting that we will never touch every county within her borders. The other morning was one of those mornings I found both Scott and myself glaring at the map, both thinking there had to be some way to mark off another county or three.
Since we will be traveling to the Austin area in a few weeks, I didn’t want to go to the southwest and I definitely didn’t want to go northwest because we are still having low-to-mid 90 temperature days. I do so hate the heat, but we live in Texas and there is not much you can do about that. The only other area we have not visited was the southeast. Scott, in his Texas history loving way, found a celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Stone Fort in Nacogdoches area. It was happening in the evening that day and we had plenty of time to get there before the activities began. A plan had been hatched and a hotel reservation made. We were off.
We left late enough that it would be about 3PM before we arrived at the hotel, but we would still have a few hours before the event at the Old Stone Fort took place so we knew there was plenty of time. However, we did’t feel a need to do much stopping except to stretch our legs. We traveled down State Highway 175 through Athens, Rusk to Alto where we turned on to State Highway 21 and then to Loop 59 around Nacogdoches. It was such a pretty drive through loblolly-shortleaf and longleaf-slash pine forest. We were in the Piney Woods region of Texas and it was beautiful. I have been told by many who have been through Tennessee that they are very similar, except for the mountains. This areas does not have mountains, but there are some amazing rolling hills that go on and on upon the landscape.
Nacogdoches, Texas, the county seat of Nacogdoches County, is actually the official OLDEST town in the state of Texas. In 1779 Colonel Antonio Gil Y’Barbo led a group of settlers to the Nacogdoches area and later that year they received designation from Spain to be a town. Y’Barbo was a spanish trader and the Lieutenant Governor of the area. He established the laws for the local government, laid out the plan for the town and made sure to connect the main street of town with the El Camino Real. This location was eventually to become the gateway from the United States to the Texas frontier.
Knowing this was the county seat, you know we had to find the county courthouse to take a photo so we headed to find the old downtown where the majestic building would be sitting squarely in the center. All we found there was a brick building that had once been the post office, but was now the city’s visitor center. We were stunned, but not too surprised; we had found one other county seat that had a post office in the middle of the square. However, we did come across an interesting sound and sight. At the corner of Fredonia and Pilar a small group of people were sitting on the sidewalk playing Old Timey music. Our interest was caught.
This was the awning covered sidewalk in front of the General Mercantile and Oldtime String Shop owned by Steve and Sheryl Hartz. They have owned this shop since 1977 where he does his luthier work and she builds other wooden specialities like amazing handcrafted brooms. The storefront has the original doors, windows and signs from way back when and when you enter the building you feel as if you have been transported to the past. Here you can find the banjos, mandolins, and other instruments Steve has made. You will also find CD’s from his recording business Mystery Ridge Recordings and Publishing. On Saturday evenings you will find them and many others sitting out playing the music that resounded throughout the hills of the Piney Woods area.
We would have stayed for hours just so Scott could enjoy the music, but we were on a mission to learn more about this Old Stone Fort. Prying ourselves away, we headed to the Stephen F. Austin University to find this building and 80th anniversary celebration. This is definitely a two personality place. On the one side it is a very historically focused place with historical markers on almost every building and street corner; while on the other side, there is a good sized university full of young students who come from many different backgrounds giving this place an interesting modern vibe.
We eventually located the Old Stone Fort on the university campus and the event had just started. The SFA Piney Woods Fiddlers from the School of Music opened the event while the Nacogdoches Boy Scouts prepared a dutch oven feast. There were speeches by the museum’s director, Nacogdoches Mayor, and the living history re-enactors. I was able to talk with re-enactor Two Hawks (David Pistole) and discuss his part in the Texas Revolution. There was cake, El Camino Real de los Tejas lecture, and a outdoor showing of the 1930 John Wayne film, “The Big Trail” movie. This was a very nice celebration but it was not quite what we either expected.
I was expecting this to be a city wide festival complete with hundreds of city folk, multitude of rides, and a sense altering parade, but it was not. This was literally the celebration of a building and its history. The Old Stone Fort was built near the center of what is now the downtown square along the El Camino Real de los Tejas between 1788 and 1791 by Colonel Antonio Gil Y’Barbo, the leader and founder of Nacogdoches. This building passed from him to a couple of different owners to be used as a store, cobbler shop, and eventual saloon. However, the most important bit in this building’s life was the part it played in the Republic of Texas history.
By Trinidad de Salcedo – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25611079
On December 16, 1826, the Edward brothers, who were the men responsible for obtaining a charter for populating the area from Spain, seized the building from the Spanish Magistrate starting the Fredonia Rebellion. This rebellion only lasted until January 23, 1827, but it is said to be the one of the causes for the Texas Revolution for freedom from Mexico. This building saw plenty of history happen between the Fredonia Rebellion through the Texas Revolution, to the Civil War. In 1902 it was dismantled but in 1936 the Cum Concillio, a civic organization in Nacogdoches, and efforts of the FDR New Deal program used original stones and built a replica of the structure on the campus of the Stephen F. Austin University. It is now the Old Stone Fort Museum that houses many artifacts from the time period and the El Camino Real de los Tejas.
Sunday morning we woke up early and proceed to check out and explore the downtown area better than the day before. We were able to view all of the historical markers and I counted at least thirty and there were still plenty more to stop and read. The square where the Old Stone Fort lived is now home to what was the town’s post office, but is now a visitor center. Unfortunately it was closed on a early Sunday morning. One of the things I wish I could have seen from the inside were the nine flags that flew over Nacogdoches. We will eventually go back so we will be able to get a photo of them from the inside.
Most of the buildings in the square are from the mid to late 1800’s and they had names on the tops. Many of the buildings we walked by were definitely updated, but still held the historical architecture and artwork. We found a couple of store fronts built by the Mesker Brothers out of Missouri. You will find these storefronts throughout the U.S. and they were sheet metal and iron cast.
While we wandered about, we came across Nancy Yarbrough who owns Downtown Arts which a custom embroidery shop (machine embroidery). She was extremely thrilled to see visitors on a Sunday morning and invited us into her shop to show off her work. I loved how she had her applique pieces set up and her work. I was very impressed with her creative spirit and found out she not only does embroidery, but she paints. Forty-seven years ago she and her family moved to Nacogdoches from the DFW area so she has seen the downtown square go from well lived in to almost dead to tourist destination. It was thrilling to see the area from her view. If you are ever in Nacogdoches, you should look Nancy up at her shop at 405 E. Main.
Once we had exhausted our visit to Downtown Nacogdoches, we headed to Center, Texas which is another county to mark off. We were able to mark of Nacogdoches, San Augustine (a full .01 mile) and Shelby. I love that we are counting down which counties were travel across, it makes me see our travels as progress in a way. The traveling has enabled me to learn about regional history, customs and cultures. One of the most interesting things I have learned about has been the Woodman of the World (WOW). The founder was Joseph Cullen Root who founded the Modern Woodmen of the World in 1882, but decided he was not happy with the organization and left to create the Woodmen of the World which was a fraternal organization dedicated to helping others, promoting patriotism and civic responsibility, as well as providing financial protection for families. While we were on our trip we located a Woodmen of the World building that was built by the organization and used as their offices. At one time in its history, WOW did offer grave monuments to families of deceased members. Sometimes these monuments have the motto Dum Tacet Clamat, which means “Though silent, he speaks , ” etched on the stone.
Since Center is a county seat of Shelby County, we stopped to take photos of the county courthouse and were amazed at what it looked like; it looked like an Irish castle. Upon reading the historical markers, the building was designed and built by John Joseph Emmett Gibson from Dublin, Ireland. He wanted to show off his brickwork skill so he went with a very Irish feel. I know that I say this every time, but I think this is my favorite courthouse!
Finishing up photos we decided to head over to Logansport, Louisiana. It was a spur of the moment side trip, but we had read a historical marker mentioning Logan’s Ferry on the Sabine River. We decided since it was not more than fifteen minutes away from us we would go ahead and visit. Both Scott and I were ecstatic to cross the Sabine and then to see a park right on the river’s side. They had a walking trail with some signs discussing the history of Logan’s Ferry, a pier and a stage. It was a very beautiful location and a great place to stop and decide our travel home.
The only problem with spur of the moment quick trip is the drive home. We always find new and unique things, but by the time we see the apartment we are more than ready.
Scott and I were discussing everything we have been doing lately and we realized we had not been updating our blog with everything we have been doing. Looking at the blog this morning, I was stunned to find our last post was October 24! It always amazes me how time flies; especially when you are having fun and we have been having lots of fun.
October was a very busy month of us. Scott had attended the O’Flarherty Music Retreat and not only worked on his guitar playing, but he was able to do a little bit of photography. I was home working on embroidery for the four days he spent in Midlothian at Camp Hoblitzelle playing music. It was such a quiet weekend for me and I was able to get pretty far on the Thistle Thread Shady Bowery project.
When Scott came home he was extremely focused on music once again and played as often as he could. I love to listen to him playing music, especially after he has been to O’Flarhety. When we moved to the apartment there was a bit of concern for how we would deal with his practice. Fortunately he is improving every day and it has actually become something I usually look for ward to. Granted, there are days I need to find something else to do away from the house giving him time to practice and me a bit of piece and quiet.
The first week of Novemember I attended an EGA workshop through the Fort Worth EGA Chapter. Tanja Berlin, from Berlin Embroidery in Canada, taught her Needle Painting with Thread course. The group had four different projects to choose from and I decided to go with the Red Fox. We all had so much fun, but it was a very focused class causing me not to be able to take photos.
As you know, I can’t keep my embroidery projects to just one thing so I have added a few more projects. Haha. I decided to began working on Christmas projects for 2016. So now I am working on the Shady Bowery project, Red Fox needle painting, and the various Christmas projects to finish for 2015 and now afgahns for all the grands. I am pretty excited about the afgahans. So far I am only working on the mermaid tails for the Grand Sarina and Grand Aubrey, but they are turning out so cute. I am using the pattern by Nadia Faud on her blog Yarnutopia. I am hoping to be teaching this in the Hurst, Texas, area in February.
We went home to Oklahoma to visit family in November; it was a short but a good trip. We decided to take a bit of a detour and drive through Sulpher, Oklahoma. We had not been through there in a while and so the detour was a nice way to avoid all the end-of-the-weekend-traffic. One of the “breaks” we took was stopping at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area just on the edge of Sulpher. We had forgotten just how much we loved this place. It was once a sulpher spa people were drawn to for healing. Unfortunately it was getting late and we were not able to spend any real time there.
Eventually we did go back and visit Chickasaw. He came home from work a little early and I was ready to head out. I wanted him to be able to get some good photos so we needed to be there before the sun went down. Since this was the goal we needed to leave about noon because it is about two hours from the apartment. We had such a great time. Scott was able to take some great photos and actually took some decent photos of me. I usually hate having my photo taken, but these turned out great!
Scott loves to take photos of water. It seems to be something he loves to do; not sure why. He was practicing to get the blur of the water. He does this by lowering settings on the camera so the shutter stays open longer. I do not completely understand it, but he has gotten pretty good at it, but that is just my opinion. There are a few other adventures we have taken recently taken, but I would like like that to be another post. So I will leave you with the photos he took from Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Please enjoy and safe adventures to you.
Scott and I have really been visiting the Texas State Parks recently so we thought we would step out of my comfort zone and do something that Scott loves to do; we went to a Star Party a couple weeks ago. The newest park, Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, invited guests out to star gaze during the new moon phase. We were fortunate to meet up our good friend Kristi from Rambling Woolysheep. She and her son were a hoot.
When the lunar eclipse occurred a month or so ago, we also met her and her two boys at Mineral Wells State Park & Trailhead. It was fun as well. I had never seen a lunar eclipse and was in awe. Kristi wrote about her experience on her blog and I thought I would share it with you. She has some wonderful photos a few telescopes and such that were there as well as the eclipse.
So here is Kristi’s post from her blog Rambling Woolysheep.
You might not realize it but Stitchntravel is actually the project of two people, Ren who you have already heard from, and Scott. That’s me.
My primary interests are history, science, woodworking and music. For the last couple of years I have been teaching myself to play the guitar and getting involved in the traditional music scene in Dallas and Fort Worth, and of course the Texas States Parks Project.
If you read this blog then you know that Ren and I have set ourselves a goal to visit all of the State and National Parks in Texas over the next couple of years.
In the last two months we have taken a short break on that project in order to make some progress toward a longer term goal. We want to move into an RV and travel the country.
As a first step we have sold, given away, or thrown away most of our stuff, and moved from a large house into a much smaller apartment. This has been a time consuming, and for me at least, an emotional experience. I can become very attached to my possessions, and it is sometimes hard to let go. I am amazed at how much unnecessary stuff I have accumulated over a lifetime, and how much of it I have moved from house to house without ever really using. While it was hard letting go of things that once held meaning for me, (the books were the hardest), it is also very freeing. It also made moving considerably easier.
As we are settling into the new apartment, and finding places for everything, it is becoming clear that we have not yet gotten rid of enough stuff. We will be spending the next few weeks paring our possessions down to the minimum amount of stuff we actually need and use.
In addition to getting rid of unnecessary stuff we are also breaking away from old habits and developing new ones that will be more suitable to the life we want to be living in a few years. We got rid of cable TV a few years ago, and substituted with online entertainment, which in many ways consumed far more of our time. We could always turn on the TV and find something we really wanted to watch, and all too frequently we did. Once we move into an RV we will have to rely on our cellular plan and public WiFi for our internet access, so we made the decision to make that transition now. We use Verizon for our internet access because they have the best coverage area and network speeds. They do not however have unlimited data plans. We no longer have the “luxury” of binge watching entire series on Amazon or surfing YouTube all night. We’ve also had to cut back on the amount of time we spend on social media. This has given us more time to focus on other things we want to do, as well as letting us focus on them with fewer distractions. We both feel like we are getting more done.
I firmly believe that both of these changes are for the better, and will help us toward our long term goals. Neither of these changes has been easy, and neither is complete yet. We will be spending the next few weeks clearing out more stuff and figuring out just how much we can live without.
I hope that by the end of April we can get back to discovering the natural and historical treasures that Texas has to offer, and sharing those discoveries with our readers. Which I imagine will be more interesting for most of you than the personal posts we have been doing these last few weeks.
Unfortunately, the time has flown by since my last post. We have been so busy with preparing for our move I haven’t had time to blog about any of our adventures. However, we have had adventures, but I fear they are not exciting enough for a blog post. But I have been told by a few they are interested. Because of this, I am posting a short entry to get you up-to-date.
We are in the middle of a move; a long, drawn-out move. The house we live in right now is owned by a friend and it is rather large for just the two of us. About six months ago Scott and I decided it was time to take the plunge and move into something much smaller. We began looking into apartments that were smaller than 600 square feet and eventually found one that is 547 sq ft. This move will cut our rent in half so we can save some money, force us to purge everything that is not necessary, and give us an opportunity to see if we can live in each other’s laps.
Between the working world, planning, and life this move has caused us to start a chain reaction. We let our friend who owns the house now and she decided to sell the house. This caused her to find a realtor who let her know the best time to sell a house in our area was in the months of March and April. This made us have to move our plans up by a month. We found an apartment and the pricing we want has our move in late March. Yes, this made us need to move almost two months earlier. Scott and I are not upset by this, we just were not prepared like we should have been.
Because of this change in schedule, we have been sorting, packing, selling, and doing what we can to get ready to have the house in show-ready condition. We are so failing, it feels like. Fortunately, we have had one awesome garage sale and been lucky to sell lots of other things. Last day of this month we will have one more garage sale and then give everything leftover to a donation. It will not go back into the house – at all.
Fortunately, there have been moments when we have been able to do something fun. Below is a collage with a few photos of what we have been doing. I celebrated my 48th birthday quietly with a special birthday cake made especially for me by I Heart Muffins. I told her to surprise me with the flavors and decoration. The only rules she had was it was to be “tie-dye and yellow.” WOW! It was fantastic!!!! I adore her and her talent.
We attended a concert at the Live Oak in Fort Worth on Valentine’s Day. It was the concert of Matt the Electrician; one of our favorite musicians. We discovered him at a place called Poor David’s Pub a few years ago and he has never disappointed. I think my favorite song of his is Ghost Story. He had a really interesting opening group play for him. They were three young ladies called the Dana Falconberry Trio. You can hear her song Lake Charlevoix here. I plan on doing another post on Dana at another because she embroiders! This was one of the gems I love finding out and telling you about. They were awesome; if you ever have a chance to see either of them, go!
As for State Parks this month, we have only visited one. The Cleburne State Park is a small one, but very much worth your time. I love the limestone bluffs and the trails. I can’t wait to share more about the quick trip and to visit again and again and again…..
As for embroidery, I have been working hard on the White Girl needlepoint piece and took a bit of time to do a special piece for Scott. I am finishing up the Blue Bunting by Brenda Gervais to put into Scott’s pocket watch. I think it is a very interesting Valentine’s gift. I try to do something small for him every Valentine’s Day; I think this as small as a quarter piece fits that title.
I just wanted to let you know we hadn’t quit, we have just been focusing on getting moved. Glad you stuck around.
We apologize that the blog is having technical difficulties. At the moment most of the photos are not loading. We should have them restored in a few days.
We are headed to Fort Richardson State Park this weekend for their Ghosts of Christmas Past event and will work on the blog when we get back.