In November of 2016 I wanted exactly one thing: to see the beach again. When I was young my family and I made a lot of trips to Florida, but as an adult I rarely feel the sand between my toes, or sit and relax while listening to the ultimate white-noise machine that is the Gulf of Mexico. I missed the beach so much it almost hurt.
So for my birthday we bought our first tent and made a leisurely trip down to beautiful Galveston Island. I was worried about rain, but the weather was just about perfect that first day—windy and cool but still swimsuit-appropriate. We flew a bright yellow kite and I ran around splashing in the edge of the ocean, giggling like a crazy person. Our tent site was wonderfully close to the beach, and the beach was almost always empty.
The next day was grey and overcast and we hiked the marsh trails. They were so strange and flat and treeless compared to what I’m used to; a wholly different kind of beauty.
The experience was lovely and I dearly want to go back. I didn’t take too many photos (I’m definitely going back one day and remedying this), although my husband got a couple of shots that I absolutely fell in love with (see below.)
Tyler State Park is teeming with wildlife! Fish, turtles and snakes in the lake; insects, armadillos and deer in the woods; birds in the air and in the trees. Oh, and raccoons. Raccoons in the bushes, raccoons in the trees, raccoons in the bathrooms, raccoons in your tent site, raccoons in your car! I do love them, though. Who among us hasn’t had the occasional urge to pig out all night and pass out in a dumpster?
I chose the username “trashpanda” for this blog because I can’t think of the park without thinking of raccoons—and I also spend many of my working hours there picking up trash.
Below are some recent photos of the critters of TSP. So far I haven’t been able to get good shots of the deer, wild pigs or the park’s lovely pileated woodpeckers, but I have big plans for long lenses and will keep adding to this page.
Tyler State Park is one of my favorite places in the world, and the park that got me interested in the Texas State Park system. Even though I’ve lived close to the park my whole life I didn’t take advantage of it till just a few years ago, and in May of 2017 I signed up to volunteer in the maintenance department two mornings a week.
I initially did this because I wanted an excuse to get outside and get a little exercise (my home business involves a lot of sitting) but I quickly came to see the park as a second home, developed a strong love of the outdoors (along with a pretty good tolerance of the heat) and a desire to see what else Texas has to offer.
In 2018 I became a full-time seasonal maintenance assistant, and while my season ends at the end of August I will keep coming back to volunteer and also, of course, just to visit and enjoy everything TSP has to offer.
(If you’re interested in volunteering at Tyler State Park please visit the official website for more information!)
Below are some of the recent photos I’ve taken of my beautiful park.