Park Place

Our favorite backyard park is a woodland area about 17 miles from our storage unit, but it may as well be a world away. Locally popular but otherwise unknown, Loyd Park provides not only an escape from work but quick, easy access to Joe Pool Lake and 220 campsites nestled under mature native Texas trees. Watching children run and play while sitting around a campfire is timeless and relaxing in a way that can’t be taught.

Throughout the park, you’ll find local people like ourselves taking an afternoon off, or camping for a day or two. It’s easy to get lost on a lazy, warm afternoon under cloudless skies, when sunlight seems to shine on every surface, claiming luminous dominion over the world. As we walked through a forest glade, just along the water’s edge, breathing in the thick and languid air amid the smell of far-off grills and insect repellent, we felt as though everything was right with the world.

Following the wettest fall on record, spring’s above-average rainfall has left Joe Pool Lake nearly 8 feet above normal. The receding waters left behind a band of dead or decaying foliage along the roads, as well as small ponds in low-lying areas that attracted flocks of mallards, snowy egrets and blue herons. Another product of the wet spring was an almost unprecedented growth of poison ivy. It seems to be everywhere! And preventing five chihuahuas from brushing against the plants is a constant challenge.

This weekend also found Cliff smoking beef ribs on the Big Green Egg. Despite what you may see on the internet, smoking beef ribs is not as easy as some would have you believe. Cliff’s BBQ idol, Aaron Franklin, says they are not only easy to cook, but also “the richest and the most decadent, succulent, and flavorful cut of beef you can put on a smoker.” Let’s just say we haven’t yet perfected the technique. But Cliff made some damned fine potato salad!

Because the temperatures soared into the mid-90s, we spent most of our weekend enjoying the air-conditioned luxury of Cloud 9. To commemorate Gay Pride, we watched “The Imitation Game,” the 2014 historical drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the English mathematical genius who broke the German Enigma code and changed the course of World War II. Turing, who was imprisoned after the war for being gay, took his own life as a result of court-imposed chemical castration.

In a bit of nostalgia, we then watched “Mass Appeal,” the 1984 dramedy about a popular Catholic priest in a conservative parish who was challenged by an upstart liberal seminarian. The film strongly influenced our own decision to enter the seminary and become ordained, so seeing it again after so many years prompted reflection and discussion. Some of the film’s lessons still ring true: “The most important thing in life is helping other people,” “What you believe in has got to be more important than what other people think of you,” “You’re a lunatic, and Christ needs lunatics…but the trouble with lunatics is they don’t know how to survive.”

This pattern of breaking away during the waning hours of our workweek to set up camp and enjoy outdoor pursuits and indoor inactivity will likely be repeated over the next two weekends as we make final plans for our trip to Glacier National Park at month’s end. That’s our Airstream life.