Trek to Tawakoni

IMG_2059It’s hard to believe that more than five years have passed since we last visited 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, and provides recreational opportunities for camping, fishing and birding (the area is not only the catfish capital of Texas, but also known for its bluebirds).

Lake Towakani covers about 57 square miles, making it the tenth largest lake in Texas. It’s 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, except that they raised corn and tobacco, and they were among the first tribes to seek peace with the U.S. government. Like many other tribes, they were decimated by disease and warfare brought on by European explorers. By the mid-19th century, only about 250 Tawakoni remained–a number reduced to 125 by the century’s end.

Considering the tiny number of Tawakoni, it seems odd that the state park that bears their name attracts more than 100,000 visitors every year. So we were grateful that, after a last-minute closure of Loyd Park, we were able to reserve the only remaining campsite at the park. We made the 58-mile sojourn easily, and set up in plenty of time to enjoy a late-afternoon margarita under falling leaves and clear skies.

For Date Night dinner, Chef Cliff grilled a flatiron steak, Eisenhower-style, along with asparagus, shishito peppers and a baked potato. We ended the evening by watching a disappointing final season premiere of “House of Cards.” We decided that we wouldn’t binge the remaining episodes this weekend, or any weekend.

We spent Saturday taking long walks, surfing the ‘net, and reading The New York Times. For supper, Chef Cliff grilled lemon chicken, while Jon prepared a fire in the pit to ward off the evening’s autumnal chill. A late-night line of thunderstorms ahead of a cold front brought lightning and heavy rain–perfect weather for snuggling with our doggies.

Sunday morning started an hour later, thanks to the end of Daylight Savings Time. We enjoyed our regular routines: coffee and biscotti, CBS Sunday Morning, The New York Times, Bloody Marys, brunch. By mid-afternoon we reluctantly broke camp and began our return trip to Dallas, where household chores awaited.