It’s difficult to imagine a more perfect fall day than one spent at Lake Tawakoni State Park. Opened in 2001, the park is one of the newer facilities in the Texas State Park system. The reservoir, located on the Sabine River and constructed in 1960, supplies water to Dallas and surrounding suburbs, as well as recreational opportunities for camping, fishing and birding (the area is not only the catfish capital of Texas, but also known for its bluebirds). The lake is named after an ancient Native American tribe, now affiliated with the Wichita, that was first noted by French explorers in Oklahoma in 1719. Tawakoni means “river bend among red sand hills,” and likely refers to the small tribe’s village location, near a stream. Not much is known about the Tawakoni people. By the mid-19th century, only about 250 Tawakoni remained–a number reduced to 125 by the century’s end.
It seems odd, then, that hundreds of thousands of visitors trek to Lake Tawakoni State Park every year. On our first visit, park rangers informed us that we were wise to have made reservations in advance, as it was “Daddy-Daughter” weekend and the park was near capacity. Moreover, several Scouting organizations were “roughing” it in the primitive camping area and at other sites, meaning our chilly fireside evenings would be punctuated by the distant cheers of children at campfire gatherings.
Still, the constant foot and vehicular traffic couldn’t spoil a perfect fall weekend. Even now, watching Cliff napping with Ranger in his arm and Baxter in his lap, the sun streaming in through open windows, Rosi Golen singing Hazy in the background, this seems like heaven on Earth. Soon, I’ll awaken him so he can begin preparing our brunch. Then, we’ll reluctantly break camp and begin our 50-mile sojourn west to Dallas, where household chores and workplace routines await. Moving from the state park to our house on Hollywood Avenue may be easier than the ancient Tawakoni could have ever imagined, but the desire to stay and cultivate a way of life remains unchanged. After all, it’s the simplest pleasures that offer the greatest meaning and most enduring wealth.