Blake, our 5-year old grandson (turning 6 next month) went on his first camping trip without parents or brother or cousins, just Blake, Papa and Nana! He has been asking for over one-year when he was going to be able to go camping by himself so this special trip was planned.
Parker, Blake’s 10-year old brother, went for a week to Prestonwood’s Church WOW summer camp along with Lily our granddaughter, Addison another granddaughter was on vacation in Florida with her Dad the same week. We decided this was a perfect time to schedule a trip with Blake.
We took Parker and Luke, another grandson, to Dinosaur Valley State Park in the summer of 2012 and they had a fabulous time. Parker was about the same age as Blake, turning 6 in November of 2012. It was fun looking back at the photos taken in 2012 and comparing them to the ones taken this year and seeing the similarities of the two brothers. Luke is now 16-year’s old, so looking at the pictures of him with Parker in 2012 makes you realize how much both boys have grown-up in 6-years.
Dinosaur Valley State park https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/dinosaur-valley is located in Glen Rose, Texas and is a great place to visit with kids. It’s known for the many dinosaur tracks that are visible today in the Paluxy River that runs through the park. There are hiking trails, a playground, swimming in the River, searching dinosaur tracks, it’s an Equestrian facility with designated areas to ride your horse, plenty of things in the area to do. There is only one-camp area in this park and it has 46-campsites, there are a few areas set-up for large groups and we had a large group of tents next to us. Like many of the state parks, you need advanced reservations; however, you cannot reserve specific sites, it’s a first-come basis on the sites.
We arrived by 12:30 on Monday, June 25 and was able to get a nice shaded site, site #34. There are only a few sites that are considered river-sites which we did not get this trip, but the river was dried up along this area and it is a steep-climb down to get to it. After setting up camp, the River was the place we headed to cool-down and have some fun. A good day for Bill is any day he can have ice cream! So after the swim, we made a trip into town for a DQ run which got no complaints from Blake.
In 2012 when we were here with our two grandsons, we were able to swim in the river running behind the campsites, but this trip we were told by the Park Rangers that the Blue Hole was the place to swim. There are many trails that run down the hill to get to the Blue Hole. We learned, through personal experience, that a few of the trails down are more difficult than the one we ended up using the remainder of our visit.
Tuesday, June 26, we scheduled an early departure to visit Fossil Rim, a wildlife park only approximately 7-miles from Dinosaur Valley State Park. Fossil Rim https://fossilrim.org/ is a park you can drive your own vehicle through or take a guided tour with a group. Fossil Rim does offer a discount if you have a Texas State Parks pass and they also offer a senior discount rate that can be combined. You show your Texas State Parks pass to get the discount.
(click on individual photo below for caption)
We recommend you planning to arrive at the park at their opening time, especially during the summer months, as it is a long-drive through the park with many stops to feed the animals. Blake and Papa rode in the bed of the truck while Nana drove which was pleasant for most of the drive-through.
The animals walk up to the vehicle and reach up to take food (provided by the park) right out of your hand or if you are nervous about feeding from your hand, you can drop the food on the ground. You are able to get really good close-up photos of animals you may have only seen in a zoo or from a distance. The giraffes were a favorite of our two grandsons we took in 2012 when we drove through in our SUV with a sun-roof and the giraffes stuck their heads through the top of the sun-roof to get food right out of our grandsons’ hands. This trip, Blake was able to actually pet the giraffe and the photos taken were amazing getting them from the bed of the truck.
There is a restaurant and souvenir shop about half-way through the drive, along with a petting zoo. It was good timing for a break in driving and Blake enjoyed the petting zoo. Blake was so tickled, laughing out loud, as he was feeding a goat hay he had pulled from the hayrack where the goat was eating when the goat lightly butted him, enough to knock him on his butt (basically telling Blake to back-off he could eat on his own).
Visiting Fossil Rim was the highlight of Blake’s day and he said it was the most-favorite thing he did on this 3-day camping trip.
Tuesday evening Bill built a campfire so Blake could roast marshmallows and have s’mores that he couldn’t wait to do. We were able to capture the biggest smile on his face as he roasted his marshmallows and unlike our other grandchildren, he actually likes eating the s’mores. Our past experiences with the older grandchildren was that they love roasting the marshmallows and eating the Hershey chocolate bars meant to go on the s’mores, but they do not like eating the actually marshmallow or eating the s’mores on a graham cracker.
Wednesday, June 27 was another early up and departure to attempt beating the heat of the day as we visited Dinosaur World. Dinosaur World https://dinosaurworld.com/ is only approximately 1.5 miles from the entrance into Dinosaur Valley State Park. You actually pass Dinosaur World getting to the State Park. This is a self-guided, walking tour of hundreds of life-size species of dinosaurs. There is a children’s playpark within the grounds, interactive exhibits, an indoor museum and various ticketing options. They have picnic tables and you can bring your own ice-chest with your own snacks because there is no food service at the park, just a soda machine and water fountains but that’s about it. Fortunately, you are close to the campgrounds, if you are planning on camping.
This park is dog-friendly, so Gabby was able to visit along with us. We paid the extra charge, in addition to the regular admission, for Blake to participate in the Fossil Dig and the Dino Gem Excavation. We learned later that there are four different prices (ranging from $8 to $13.00) for the Dino Gem Excavation, we ended up with just the basic which was fine with Blake. We did not remember paying an extra charge for the Fossil Dig when we brought Luke and Parker and didn’t remember there being a Dino Gem Excavation in 2012. If there was a Dino Gem Excavation, we didn’t take any photos of Luke and Parker participating.
(click on individual photo below for caption)
Blake thoroughly enjoyed himself at the park, his favorite was the Dino Gem Excavation. He wanted to spend a lot of time sifting through his gems and selecting the many choices that he was going to take home. You can keep all of the gems collected at the Dino Gem Excavation whereas at the Fossil Dig, you are only able to keep you favorite three (3) fossils. It was much more difficult for him to decide what his top-favorite 3-fossil finds he wanted to keep. Papa helped him with his selection choices.
Wednesday, our last full-day, was the hottest day of our stay with temps reaching 102 degrees. Fortunately, we had finished our visit at Dinosaur World before it reached these hot temperatures and spent the rest of the afternoon playing board games inside the RV with our AC cranked as low is it would go and fans blowing on us. Blake, along with all of our grandchildren, loves to play board games. His favorite is Life, and he is actually really good at playing it. We have to read most of the Action cards for him, but he definitely understands the concept of the game and watches his money, counting it pretty good for a 5-year old. By 5:30 pm, we decided it had cooled off enough to make our way to the Blue Hole for a late afternoon swim.
Thursday, June 28 was our pack-up, departure day. Blake started asking earlier in the week why we couldn’t stay longer, why couldn’t we stay Thursday night too since Parker wasn’t going to be home from camp until Friday afternoon. However, today he was saying he was ready to see Mom and Dad. So as we thought in our planning this trip, he is still a little young to be gone away from home much longer than 3-4 days and only approximately a 2-hour drive home (120 miles), close enough to bring him home early, if necessary.
Glen Rose is also well-known for The Promise musical production. https://thepromiseglenrose.com. We had seen this production several years ago with our Sunday School class and thoroughly enjoyed it.
God has so blessed us in having 5 of our 7 grandchildren living so close to us; the two far away are grown and the oldest has two children of his own and he is serving in our Armed forces. We thank Him and praise Him for all He has done in our lives!
Ephesians 6:4 is our hope for our family as they grow and mature.