Hail. It’s the one word you don’t want to read in the forecast when you’re planning a camping trip in an Airstream. Deke took off Friday so we could have a 3 day weekend in Atlanta State Park, so all week I’d been watching the weather — and all week it said ‘hail on Saturday”. Not “chance of hail” or “hail possible”, just straight up “hail”.

In these types of situations, I’m usually the one to throw in the towel and scrap the trip for a better weather opportunity, but Deke kept a level head and suggested we travel opposite the storm and drive west. Opening our guidebook to Texas campsites, one of the first listings within a manageable drive was in Albany where you can find Ft Griffin Historical Park, or what I refer to now as The Best Campsite Ever (www.visitfortgriffin.com).

The trip to Ft Griffin wasn’t the best road experience we’ve had (through no fault of Texas or their roads). Many things happened that frustrated and disappointed us, and we were hoping that this place (keep in mind we’re visiting it sight-unseen) would wash all that frustration away. From what we read, it promised to be quiet and peaceful with just enough interesting things to keep us busy for 3 days — and it did. Ft Griffin was built to protect the area from a variety of unsavory types and is just one fort in a line of defenses around the area. The remains of the fort are located on top of a hill that looks over a town known as The Flat. A short drive down the road you can see a few of the structures — a saloon, blacksmith, store, and jail — some original and some rebuilt (I think). It’s kind of what I imagine Tombstone looked like before the reenactments and the tourist trap stores that line the streets by the O.K. Corral. The land is owned by a man now, who hopefully will just keep it the way it is.

But back to the campsite. To check in at the campsite, you actually have to go to The Fort Headquarters, which is less than a quarter of a mile on the opposite side of the road from the campground entrance. There are about 28 sites here, both tent and RV spots and when we pulled in, only one other site was occupied so we had our pick. We chose #13, but you really cant go wrong with any of the sites. They’re very spread out, some have stairs down to the creek behind the site (there are little canoe-like boats to rent for $10), some are next to the Longhorn Pen (more on that in a minute), and some are just by themselves along the road. You can get full hook ups, or water and electric (the dump station is right at the entrance by the bathroom/shower). All sites have a grill and a fire pit and ours came with a resident armadillo. There are beautiful large trees in most of the spots to provide shade and what I noticed most is the place is incredibly clean. There wasn’t a sign of litter anywhere and even the restrooms were spotless when I checked them out on Sunday.

On the way up to the Fort Headquarters you’ll pass a fishing pond that’s stocked. I know nothing about fishing nor have I ever fished, but I had a lot of fun with Lucy walking around watching Deke and I tried casting a few times but mostly ended up hooking a tree. It was still just a lot of fun to be there and do something new. We also ran into an employee of the park, Eric, who told us a bit about the fort, the animals and the history of the area. We even got our photo taken for the Ft Griffin Facebook page. We saw Eric a few other times during the weekend when he stopped by our site on his daily drive arounds to see how we were doing. I’ve learned that people in campsites are incredibly nice and will stop by and share info or help you with something if you need it. Coupled with how nice people are in Texas, meeting Texans at a campsite is a deadly combination of niceness that 13 years of cold, hard Chicago attitude will breakdown in no time.

The rest of our Saturday was spent grilling food, walking along the many trails in the park, visiting the Longhorns and just relaxing. There’s no Wifi here, yet, but we didn’t mind.

All I have to say is thank god for hail.

(Part 2 of Ft. Griffin up next)