Weekend Camping on Benbrook Lake, Texas- Part 1

And Other Fort Worth Attractions

By now, my hunny and I are used to stolen moments. Back in July 2017, I began a 10-month commitment with AmeriCorps, in order to serve my country and help disaster survivors along-side FEMA. (Read more here.) The journey has taken me across the country to more than 7 different states, and although the experience has been rewarding, nothing makes me happier than getting a weekend off to go exploring with my boy in whatever state I happen to be in at the time. Lucky for me, Aaron is just as adventurous and gypsy-spirited as me, so our paths cross among the states quite often.

In this post, I want to share with you how we spent our weekend in Fort Worth. He picked me up on Friday, and from there we had a full four days to spend with each other exploring and just taking some time off from reality. Keep reading and I tell you about restaurants that we dined at, places we went to go see in the city, and other places of note that I would love to share with you. This weekend brought me a lot of joy, and I hope that I can share some of these wonderful places with you for your own enjoyment should you choose to visit them yourself 🙂

So, first things first. For Aaron and I, this weekend was about many things. It was about spending time with each other above everything (obviously). Being in a long distance relationship means that the time we do spend together is precious. We don’t waste time on social media or scanning the internet, but instead, we focus on each other and the places that we experience together. We talk about all the things we have gone through in our own lives when we’re not together, and we talk about the dreams and things we want to accomplish when we are together this summer when my program is over. It sounds very simple, but it’s everything.

Another thing we have realized over the course of a couple months is this- we don’t need to spend a lot of money while we are together in order to be happy. And in keeping with that sentiment, we decided to cut down on the crap and the distractions and opted out of getting a hotel. So what did we do instead? We went camping!

I went on reserveamerica.com to find a campground that was close enough to the city but far enough away too to be away from the traffic and populous, and I landed on Holiday, Texas; a cute, well-maintained campground that is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers. It was perfect. I found a site close to the water and booked it for a whopping 14$ dollars a night. For a four night reservation, we paid less than you would for one night at a hotel. Boom.

Guys, if you’re looking for a way to get away for the weekend without breaking your bank, please consider camping- I really can’t recommend it enough. It is so much cheaper to make a reservation and it’s a great way to unplug from the monotony of the everyday world and really bring yourself closer to nature. All you need is a tent, a few blankets, a flashlight, and someone to share it with. And if you don’t have a tent, ask around! Chances are, someone you know has one that they’ll be willing to lend you for a few days.

Setting Up Camp

Our site was absolutely breathtaking. We were right on the lake, and our spot felt like it’s own oasis from the rest of the campground. While the rest of the sites were landlocked and small, comparatively, ours was pretty big and we only had one neighbor. A little later after we set up the tent, we took a walk around the campground to check it out to its full extent and I really believe we had the best spot. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the camp was beautiful, but our spot was in a world of its own. For a few days, we were the proud renters of waterfront property.

It was getting dark by the time we got back from our walk so we decided to just stay in for the night. Aaron had been driving for more than 10 hours that day in order to get to Fort Worth, and I had just gotten done with a long week at work, so to just relax and lay down was heavenly. We pulled our little foam cooler into one of the two vestibules that the tent had to offer and procured our snacks for the evening- chips and salsa, and an entire circle of shrimp cocktail. This is what we call glamping folks. We didn’t stay up too late though because we were both excited to start our day the next morning and explore Fort Worth.

Day One

Fort Worth Water Gardens

The Water Gardens of Fort Worth are located just a couple blocks away from downtown. Made up of three different water features and a whole ton of manmade, stone features, this place is the oasis of the city. Aaron and I spent a couple hours here just sitting and admiring the fountains and taking our time to explore and take pictures. We were absolutely blessed with a beautiful day in the high 70’s and although it was swarmed with people, we had fun despite the crowds. The water gardens are a great place to get away from the inner city to have a picnic or to just chill and relax for a while. It’s also a perfect place to even read or study too. The water in the background is just so calming and it’s the perfect backdrop for a really peaceful, serene day. By the way, the kook you see in the picture below is Aaron.

Istanbul Grill

This is hands down one of my favorite places to eat in the city. It is a romantic, upscale restaurant right in downtown Fort Worth and they have the most scrumptious Mediterranean menu. My personal favorites are the falafel made with greens, Ezme, and the fresh grilled salmon. Order a glass of Yeni Raki on the side for a more complete and authentic Turkish dining experience!

Downtown Boutiques in Sundance Square

Call it fate- but it started raining on our walk back to the car. Had it not been raining, we might have never stopped in some of the cute boutiques in downtown to shelter ourselves. Here are a couple highlights of stores that I absolutely adored, and I think you will too!

The Virgin Olive Oiler-

Wine, Snacks and Olive oil; all in one. Think I’m kidding? This store is so cute and is perfect for your inner foodie. We walked in and was immediately greeted by the ladies working there. They offered to combine any of the artisan olive oils together and create a unique mix, or to offer pairing suggestions from the rows and rows of olive oil (at least 50 different flavors)- And then they pointed to the side table where they were offering complimentary wine and crackers with spread while you shopped. Talk about heaven.

Earthbound Trading Co.-

This store has everything to feed your tree-hugging, spiritual, gypsy soul. There was jewelry with gemstones and birthstones to align your chakra and make you positively sparkle. There was bohemian/gypsy style clothing all made of recycled and earth-friendly materials. Himalayan salt lamps, incense, and aromatherapy diffusers lined the shelves to the right, and portraits of the moon and natural life hung in every corner. This place is super artsy, and hipster and it has a ton of electric finds. I actually gave in and purchased one of those Mexican style siesta blankets too and it became our go-to picnic blanket throughout the weekend.

Nestle Cookies-

Okay who doesn’t love cookies? We had originally stopped in this store for a single cookie for each of us (just a little sweet something after dinner) AND we ended up leaving with six. In my defense, they were having a buy three, get three sales and well, dammit, I like cookies. We had Reese’s peanut butter cup cookies, an apple fritter cookie, and oatmeal raisin. They made all my cookie dreams come true.

Day Two

Cooking Over the Fire Part One: Breakfast

One of my favorite things about camping is cooking over the fire. Not only is it a lot cheaper to make your own food instead of going out, but it’s kinda rewarding and primal to be able to say you made a fire in order to eat. Plus, you get that delicious, smokey flavoring in everything you make.

However, having our camp right on the lakeside had one downfall- it was downright gusty. That made it hard for us to get a fire going. As soon as we sparked the lighter, a gust of wind blew it right out; and when we did get a piece of kindling lit, the wind would suffocate the tiny flame. Lucky for us, this isn’t our first rodeo.

Right in the morning when we drove to the corner store down the street to grab cheap coffee for our sleep addled minds, we had also grabbed charcoal. Our original plan was to use the easy-light charcoal (the kind that doesn’t require lighter fluid) and use the grate attached to the fire ring on our site to cook breakfast. Turns out it wasn’t that easy.

Here’s the thing; the charcoal went out. It looked promising at first, flaming up at the touch of a lighter, and then… flatline. It completely goes out. We were dumbfounded. But we didn’t let that stop us. We built a regular wood fire (exercising plenty of patience and a piece of bark for a wind barrier) and cooked over that instead.

We cooked bacon and vegetarian sausage patties first. We used the bacon grease to leave a really good seasoning on the cast iron pan before washing it out and adding in the eggs. We spiced them up with salt, pepper, and a dash of chili powder and for the cherry on top, we made biscuits with the help of a little tin foil. If you’re interested in reading a more in-depth description of how we cooked over the fire with cast iron and how we made our breakfast- please please send me an email. I would be happy to type up a post about it.

Everything turned out great, and after we separated the eggs and biscuits between the two of us, we pulled out the blanket to eat our breakfast with a view of the lakeside.

Hookah

Not very late in the day, we decided to get out of the campground for a bit and drive to the outskirts of the city to Fusion Hookah. For those of you that are unaware, hookah is a glass contraption used to smoke flavored tobacco called shisha.

The place we decided to go to had a really cool vibe. Right when you walk in, there is a large smoke shop selling all types of smoking memorabilia such as bowls, bongs, and various other gadgets. However, attached to the smoke shop was two different hookah lounges. The one located in the back had high-top tables and a fireplace going in the corner. The front lounge was the more typical hookah area with a ring of couches and low lying tables.

We chose the front lounge and made ourselves comfortable while they made our hookah. We spent a couple hours there just talking and passing the pipe back and forth before heading back. It was a really chill place to just hang out and relax and the staff was really helpful and friendly. If you’re looking for a great hookah place to go to in the DFW area, check this place out. They have a huge menu of flavors and a lot of customizable options. The cheapest one you can get is 15$, but you can also mix a couple together or choose one of their premium flavors for more.

Cooking Over the Fire Part Two: Dinner and Dessert

Starting a fire again for dinner may have been even harder than doing it that morning. We had collected some wood under the metal canopy covering the picnic table before we left for hookah in case it rained, but it did nothing to help the fact that it was already wet from the night before. Repeat aforementioned problems. This time, it took us about an hour to just get the fire going with a good enough coal base to even entertain the idea of cooking. But once we were confident we could burn big logs without it going out, we whipped out the cooler and sharpened some sticks to start dinner.

Before the weekend had officially begun on Friday, we had stopped at Walmart to pick out our campfire roasting goodies. Aaron chose pork and beef sausages with jalapeno, however, me being a vegetarian, I opted for the meatless veggie dogs found near the tofu. Here’s something I learned pretty quick about the tofu dogs- they don’t like to stay on the stick. I had two dogs crack in half and fall into the fire before I managed to heat one up and eat it. I discovered that instead of roasting it, like you do with all other meat dogs, I only had to warm the veggie dog up on the tip of the flames before popping it in a bun. Easy peasy- once you get the hang of it.

Then we moved on to dessert; my favorite part. A couple days previously, I had found a recipe on Pinterest for campfire cinnamon buns and I was incredibly apt to try it. Instead of piercing the entire roll through the side, the picture showed to unroll the bun and then reroll it around and down your fire stick instead. Aaron was skeptical at first, but it actually worked super well! We found that it was better to wrap it making sure there was no overlap so it cooked evenly. The roll when came with a tub of icing, so when they were cooked, it was just a matter of tearing off small pieces and dipping it in. Honestly, and don’t hate, but I think this recipe was even better than s’mores.

We stayed up a little while after cooking to enjoy the heat of the fire and the ambiance of the flames before calling it a night.

This is only two of the four days that Aaron and I spent exploring Fort Worth. In the next post, I talk about the Coyote Drive-Ins, the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, a scrumptious popsicle bar and more! Read Part 2 here!

-Stay Tuned My Precious Wildlings-

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