If you were going to spend several months in a single US state to see as many natural areas as possible, Texas might be arguably the best place to go. We have been enjoying the natural beauty of Texas. Dinosaur Valley was a treat for parents and kids alike, and Meridian State Park was no different.
When we arrived, we reported to the Visitor Center to get some information and pay for a campsite for the night. The park ranger gave us a backpack to use with the kids, and when we opened it, we were thrilled with the contents.
The backpack is geared for kids; however, I wish they would have this backpack available for anyone visiting the park. It contains field guides for recognizing birds, butterflies, trees, flowers, and more. It has this awesome “take-along field guide” about animals and plants—I wrote down the name of the book, as I’d like to purchase a copy for when we get back home. The backpack even had a pass-along nature journal with blank pages where kids can add their pictures or signatures before returning the backpack to the visitor center.
We pulled out some of the guides during our walks to see if we recognized some of the plants and trees. Birds weren’t as plentiful as if we were visiting at at different time of year, but the scenery didn’t disappoint. What an absolutely gorgeous park.
As we enter the trail, the barren trees form a perfect archway, and branches frame the sun as trees embrace one another. The day is bright, though cold, and a walk in the forest energizes little and older ones alike. Despite the heavy rain the day prior, the trails are fairly dry, except where brooks run, providing the perfect mini-adventure for little legs.
The children take turns jumping over the water, and then enjoy climbing the stone steps into another trail.
Dan and I are not sorry we ignored the repeated cries of “I don’t want to go for a walk,” but we know better than to rub it in. Instead, we take it in. We take it all in.
The beautiful blue skies, the dormant trees whose branches rustle in the wind, the sound of the water running in the small brooks that have been raised by the rain of prior days. We take a moment to just “be.” And we know how blessed we are.
There are very few people on the trails—it’s the middle of a weekday in the winter, after all—but the place still feels full of life. We very much enjoyed our hike together. When the walk is over, we come to a beautiful brick structure that has been decorated for Christmas, and where people can take and leave books at the “park library.” After observing the scenery some more, we make our way back to the campsite.
The next day, I go for a walk on my own, and I take in the beauty of this park with all my senses. In one part of the trail, I sit down on a rock formation, and I close my eyes. I breathe in the smell of the forest, I hear the running water, my hands run through the uneven surface of the rock on which I sit.
I open my eyes and I notice the small details: a leaf hanging on to the ghost of fall, still perched on an otherwise barren tree; the small red berries that make the slightest contrast with the red-brown branches on which they hang. Here, in this place, time is of no consequence. The forest has that effect on you—you want to sit and stay a while.
Despite my creaky knees that never stop hurting, my nonexisting arches that make me prone to twisting my ankles, and the constant S/I joint pain, my love for walking and hiking in nature will never diminish.
I will keep hiking for as long as my body will let me, even if I look odd doing it. Because while others might give you judgement when they see you putting on yet another brace, or sustaining yet another injury… the forest doesn’t care. The forest will always be there to welcome you, the rivers will keep on running, the birds will keep on singing, and the seasons will keep on changing…. bringing new life with each cycle, inviting you in with every change. And Meridian State Park will continue to share its beauty, with anyone willing to enter its majesty.