Texas State Parks Coping with Summer Heat

Created Friday, 31 July 2009 21:09

Texas State Parks Coping with Summer Heat, Drought

News Release
Media Contact: Rob McCorkle, 830-866-3533, robert.mccorkle@tpwd.state.tx.us

July 31, 2009
Texas State Parks Coping with Summer Heat, Drought

AUSTIN, Texas — Visitation to more than 90 Texas state parks, up significantly in June compared to last year, remains steady this summer, even as much of central and south Texas  suffers with above-normal temperatures and severe drought conditions that have negatively impacted river flows and lake levels, and sent all but the hardiest campers indoors.

In the more than a dozen parched state parks in the Hill Country and South Texas Plains regions, visitors are flocking to the sites blessed with steady lake levels and still-flowing rivers — places such as Inks Lake State Park near Burnet and South Llano River State Park in Junction — and parks like Bastrop and LBJ that have swimming pools.

“The drought’s effect on state parks is being felt most acutely in the central and southern parts of the state,” Walt Dabney, Texas state parks director, said. “Many parks report being busy and people having fun outdoors, but water-related activities, especially on Hill Country rivers, are more limited until we get some significant rainfall. East, north and west Texas parks are in pretty good shape for normal, water-based recreation.”

It’s been raining steadily the past few weeks in Texas Panhandle parks such as Palo Duro Canyon, and in the Piney Woods, Tyler State Park Superintendent Bill Smart says there’s been plenty of rain in East Texas parks and more is predicted over the next two weeks.

“We’re sitting pretty good up here,” Smart said. “The only park in our region with a burn ban is Mission Tejas down in Houston County. “Business is steady as far as traffic goes, considering after July 4, visitation generally slows down.”

Burn bans are common in many of state parks in counties suffering from drought. Some park managers report that they still are allowing campers to have small cooking fires in ground pits as long as they are supervised.

Cabins at Bastrop, Brownwood, Possum Kingdom and other state parks that offer air-conditioned accommodations report reservations are going strong, especially on weekends. Recreational vehicle campers are still filling the campgrounds at parks such as South Llano River, which continues to see plenty of visitors seeking refuge from the heat in the cool, spring-fed waters that flow through the park. The clerk there reported renting all 100 of the park’s tubes during the past weekend.

A few intrepid campers are braving the heat in tents, keeping cool by using fans and taking an occasional dip in a nearby lake or river.

At Blanco State Park, where office manager Jim Cook reports the park campground has been full every weekend. He says that although the river is lower than normal, visitors are still finding relief from the heat with a soak in a deeper part of the river behind one of the dams.

At several state parks, rangers report that hiking trails are still being utilized, though use has dipped in recent weeks due to the summer swelter. Heat-related incidents are possible, prompting words of caution.

“You need to take plenty of water, wear proper clothing and hike early in the morning or late in the evening,” said ranger Christine Clopton of Colorado Bend State Park, which has had some instances of hiker struggling with heat exhaustion.

Clopton says the park’s boat ramp has been closed down due to a significant drop in the river level, but creeks are still flowing and the Spicewood Springs swimming hole is seeing plenty of action. Many of the campsites are still busy despite the heat as families try to get in last-minute summer campouts.

Office manager Lisa Fitzsimmons has been amazed by the tenacity of campers at Garner State Park in recent weeks in the face of soaring temperatures.

“People are still enjoying the park and we’ve had as many tent campers as we’ve ever had,” Fitzsimmons said. “Mostly it’s the water level and condition of the river that they ask about. The river is low, but still flowing and cool.”

Inks Lake State Park in Burnet County is actually busier than normal because boaters who can’t launch at nearby Lake Buchanan due to low water levels are finding the smaller flow-through reservoir still accessible. The park’s air-conditioned, limited-use cabins are booked up on weekends until Aug. 22-23. Ranger-led interpretive tours, however, have been limited to canoe tours, moonlight hikes and owl prowls to avoid the heat.

It’s been so dry along Texas’ mid-coast that the Lamar Volunteer Fire Department has been watering the state champion live oak in Goose Island State Park that’s known as The Big Tree. The volunteer community effort is making an extra effort to assure the survival of the massive coastal live oak that has survived countless hurricanes and other natural calamities over the centuries.

In the adjacent county, San Patricio, pumpers can’t help Lake Corpus Christi, which is at 37 percent of capacity, leaving the state park’s boat ramp and fishing pier totally out of the water, negatively affecting park use. Other lake parks, such as Birch Creek and Nails Creek state parks on Lake Somerville southwest of College Station, haven’t suffered as big a drop, but are still feeling the impact. Though the lake level is down only three feet from normal pool elevation, it’s been enough to make all but one double-lane boat ramp at Birch Creek unusable.

Meanwhile, out in the Davis Mountains, normal late summer rains have fallen, greening up the hillsides and filling mountain creeks.

“In some places,” said far West Texas parks regional director Mike Hill, “we’ve even had too much rain in too short a time, washing out some roads. And on parts of the Rio Grande, they recently got eight inches of rain in a six-mile stretch in just two hours. That’s a year’s worth of rain for some of us out here.”

So, depending on which part of the state you’re traveling and what your outdoor interests are, plenty of recreational opportunities in Texas state parks remain. To book a cabin or campsite, call (512) 389-8900 or visit the Texas state parks Web site. For general state park information, call 1-800-792-1112.

On the Net:

* http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/

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August Puzzle Sudoku

Created Thursday, 30 July 2009 16:00

August Mission Realty Sudoku

Sudoku instructions: Complete the 9×9 grid so that each row, each
column, and each of the nine 3×3 boxes contains the digits 1 through 9.
Contact me for the solution!

This newsletter and any information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the ccuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible for errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.

Family and Home Tidings is brought to you free by:

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to tell me what you think about this newsletter, or if you’re thinking of buying or selling real estate, please get in touch.



Brie and Fresh Tomato Pasta

Created Thursday, 30 July 2009 15:53

Recipe: Brie and Fresh Tomato Pasta

4 Servings
·    ½ cup finely chopped red onion
·    1-2 cloves garlic, minced
·    ½ teaspoon salt
·    12 ounces (340 g) brie
·    1 pound short pasta, like farfalle or penne
·    4 cups chopped tomatoes
·    ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
·    ½ cup shredded basil leaves

In a small bowl, combine the onion, garlic and salt. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally.

Place the brie in the freezer until firm and then carefully slice off and discard the rind with a sharp knife. Cut the remaining cheese into cubes and set aside.

Cook the pasta in plenty of water until tender but firm and then drain, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid. Gently toss the cooked pasta with the onion mixture, brie, tomatoes and olive oil. Gradually add as much of the reserved liquid as needed until the brie melts and a creamy sauce coats the pasta.

Add the shredded basil and serve.


Ask the Agent

Created Thursday, 30 July 2009 15:48

Ask the Agent: This Month’s Question

I want to sell my house as quickly as possible and for a good price. What kind of mistakes must I avoid making?

The single biggest mistake people make is setting the asking price too high. An amount suited both to the home and to the market conditions attracts the greatest number of prequalified buyers, increasing the likelihood that you’ll get a higher price in the end.

Houses not shown at their best are another source of lost profit. Act on any advice you are given about cosmetic changes and minor repairs.
·    Set viewing hours for the greatest accessibility to buyers. In a competitive market, people can easily go elsewhere and fall in love with another house.
·    Don’t be home during the showings. Prospective buyers feel more comfortable raising concerns and poking about when the current owners are not present.


August Birthdays to Remember This Month

Created Thursday, 30 July 2009 15:44

August Birthdays to Remember This Month

Lucille Ball, born on August 6, 1911, is best remembered as everyone’s favorite redheaded comedian featured on I Love Lucy.

Robert Redford, born August 18, 1936, became a legend in his own time by staring in hits like The Sundance Kid, The Horse Whisperer and Out of Africa.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, born August 30, 1797, was the wife of poet Percy Shelley and later became famous for her tale of terror in the story Frankenstein.

Cameron Mathison, born August 25, 1969, in Ontario, Canada, is best known for the role of Ryan Lavery on All My Children. Diagnosed with Perthes disease at an early age, he spent four years in leg braces and underwent extensive treatment to avoid complications.


Why GPS Is More Than Just Maps

Created Thursday, 30 July 2009 15:31

Why GPS Is More Than Just Maps

Think GPS is just a fad? Better think again. GPS, or Global Positioning Systems, are being used for more than just traffic. In fact, GPS is one of the fastest-growing technologies in the world and is rapidly being adopted by commercial and private interests both domestically and internationally. Here is just a few samples of the useful ways you can use GPS:

911: Emergency assistance is only a call away even when on the road, thanks to GPS-enabled cell phones.

Pet Finder: Keep a virtual eye on your favorite four-legged friend through the use of a GPS-embedded tracking device. It’s especially useful for those who travel with pets. Farm animals, livestock and even birds can also be fitted with the same device for quick tracking in the event of an escape.

Roadside Assistance: Being in an auto accident without the ability to speak or call for help is a concern for every driver, but thanks to OnStar and other similar systems, automobiles around the world can summon help even if you are unable to do so. Consider requesting this feature when reserving your next car rental.


What Makes a Good Value Home Today

Created Thursday, 30 July 2009 15:27

Buyers: What Makes a Good-Value Home Today?

Thanks in part to changing demographics combined with the economic downturn, a major move to get back to the basics is a hot trend in today’s real estate market.

For those seeking maximum value at a minimum price, keep these essentials in mind.

Bigger Isn’t Better: Bigger spaces are associated with higher utility bills, increased property taxes, expensive insurance and even more maintenance concerns. Instead of picking the largest house you can afford, search for the one with the amenities that your family will truly use.

Good Neighbors in Great Hoods: Friends, family and wonderful neighborhoods are major attractions. In fact, research shows that homes located in top-rated school districts routinely fetch 10% or more than do similar-sized homes in less desirable districts. Family-oriented neighborhoods with parks and other amenities are highly desirable, while empty-nesters can save thousands by searching for similar homes outside of popular school districts.

Fruit Trees and Gardening Are a Big Trend: Throughout the nation, high-maintenance lawns are giving way to eco-friendly (and budget-happy) gardens, fruit trees and other down-to-earth activities. Ask about HOA restrictions and the cost of water bills prior to buying with the intent of starting a garden.

Going Green Is Bigger Than Ever: From energy-efficient appliances to environmentally friendly building materials, green is not only “in” but bigger and better than ever. Save thousands of dollars by searching for homes that have already implemented upgrades like LED lighting and Energy Star appliances.

Entertaining: As the economic excess of recent years continues to drive down the market, people are interested in entertaining, exercising and even eating at home more. Focus on properties that support your interests and lifestyle for today and tomorrow. Remember, the average person remains in a home for seven years, so buy right to make sure that your next house truly feels like home.


Wondering How Much Your Home Is Worth?

Created Thursday, 30 July 2009 15:23

Wondering How Much Your Home Is Worth?

How has the price of your home changed in today’s market? How much are other homes in your neighborhood selling for?

If you’re wondering what’s happening to prices in your area, or you’re thinking about selling your house, I’ll be able to help. Just give my office a call for a no-fuss, professional evaluation. I won’t try to push you into listing with me or waste your time.

I’ll just give you the honest facts about your home and its value. And maybe I’ll also give you the “inside scoop” on what’s happening in the housing market near where you live!



August Worth Quoting

Created Thursday, 30 July 2009 15:07

August: Worth Quoting

Nintendo, now famous for computer games, was founded back in September 1889. Here are some quotes about games:

“Games lubricate the body and the mind.” Benjamin Franklin

“Computer games don’t affect kids, I mean if Pac Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive music.” Marcus Brigstocke

“Never play cat and mouse games if you’re a mouse.” Don Addis

“Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it’s just a game.” Nerijus Stasiulis

“It should be noted that the games of children are not games, and must be considered as their most serious actions.” Michel de Montaigne

August: Did You Know?

How good is your science knowledge? (Answers below)

1. What was the first disease conquered by human beings?
2. Which explorers’ destination does not have land beneath?
3. To which body part does the term “brachial” refer?
4. What does pH measure the concentration of?
5. By heating limestone and clay and then grinding them into a fine powder, you are making a typical:

(Answers: 1. Smallpox 2. The North Pole 3. Arms 4. Hydrogen ions 5. Hydraulic cement)


The Secret to Making Buyers Belong in Your Home

Created Thursday, 30 July 2009 15:00

Sellers: The Secret to Making Buyers ‘Belong’ in Your Home

It’s only natural for your home to reflect your personal style, but when it comes time to sell, what makes a house a home becomes a major hindrance. Learn how to depersonalize your home in order to obtain the best price.

Go Neutral: Unless your favorite color scheme is completely neutral, it’s time to get out the paint and restore the color to something less noticeable. Eggshell, white tones and beige are good options.

Don’t forget the other senses, in addition to color, make sure that the smell of your home is also neutral. Never assume that what you find pleasant smelling will appeal to others. Instead, have your home professionally cleaned using an enzymatic treatment that neutralizes all odors, including heavy perfumes and deodorizers.

Minimize: Eliminate all unnecessary furniture, belongings and clutter as much as possible prior to photographing and showing the home. Not only does it allow people to see the property more clearly, but it helps break down the mental and physical barrier separating buyers from seeing the house as their own.

Highlight the Home: Never showcase personal belongings, instead, highlight the home itself. Tour the house room by room to discover the essence of each area. Create a beautiful view, ambient lighting or other inviting scenario that attracts visitors without overwhelming them. Eliminate distractions that identify the home as belonging to you while allowing them to see themselves living in the house.