Tag Archives: Eisenhower State Park

Proud of ‘Ike’s park’

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

EISENHOWER STATE PARK, Texas – Every so often I feel the need to extol the virtues of enjoying the great outdoors in our great state.

That urge has overtaken me yet again.

I offer this brief missive aiming to entice fellow North and Northeast Texas to enjoy the state park system that I continue to believe is one of the major accomplishments of our state government which occasionally draws barbs from me.

My wife and I ventured to Eisenhower State Park, just outside of Denison, right on the Red River and in this region the local news media refer to as “Texoma.” This place is a jewel. It’s clean, well-managed, with well-marked hiking and biking trails. We did pick up an empty Coke can on one of our hikes through the park, prompting my wife to wonder out loud how someone who ventures to one of these places to “enjoy nature” could possibly toss an aluminum can into the bushes.

Summer break is coming up for students all across Texas. That means, of course, that demand on these parks will increase dramatically during the summer. Listen up: If you intend to camp at nearby Eisenhower State Park, you’d be wise to book your campsite soon, perhaps even right now!

Gov. Greg Abbott has lifted many of the mandated restrictions brought to us by the COVID pandemic. That doesn’t mean you can ignore safety measures recommended by infectious disease experts, a point that Abbott has sought to make. Texas Parks & Wildlife officials continue to disallow public use of office. TP&W staffers are still masked up and keeping their distance from those of us who venture to the park.

I want to make another point about Eisenhower State Park. It is named in honor of a great American, the nation’s 34th president, Dwight Eisenhower, who was born in a modest home in nearby Denison. Ike went on to do a couple of pretty big things. He helped defeat the 20th century’s most evil tyrant during World War II and then got elected to two terms as president of the United States. He famously warned us during his farewell address in 1960 to guard against the “military-industrial complex,” which even at the time was an amazing admonition from a man who bore the title of general of the Army.

The National Park Service has put together a wonderful exhibit at Ike’s boyhood home. That, too, is worth seeing … along with the state park that bears his name.

Take my word for it: spending time away from the hubbub and hassle of today’s news provides great therapy for the soul. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has answered that need with this – and many other – wonderful parks.

NOTE: This blog post was published originally on KETR-FM’s website, ketr.org.

How would Ike fare in today’s GOP?


EISENHOWER STATE PARK, Texas — Sitting here amid the trees that are rustling in a light breeze, my mind tends to wander.

I’m thinking at this moment about the man after whom this beautiful park is named: General of the Army Dwight David Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States of America.

I am thinking especially of how he might react to what has become of his beloved Republican Party. My hunch? He’d be furious at what has happened to it.

Think of any contemporary Republican today who’d have the courage, as Ike did in 1960 — as he was preparing to leave after two terms in the White House — to warn the nation of the perils of the “military-industrial complex.”

Ike knew all about that. He retired from the Army with five — not just four — stars on his uniform. He earned general of the Army status merely for leading Allied forces in their successful fight against Nazi/Fascist tyranny in Europe.

When he ordered the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France, he wrote two statements, one in the event our forces succeeded — and one in the event they failed. He obviously never delivered the second set of remarks.

We’ve heard much this election cycle about “anointment” of presidential nominees, namely Hillary Rodham Clinton. In 1952, just seven years after returning home from World War II, Ike was anointed by the Republican Party to be its nominee. He won in a landslide and was re-elected four years later in similarly impressive fashion.

He wouldn’t like the rancor that has developed today. He wouldn’t condone efforts to shut down the government to suit the tastes of a minority wing of his party. He wouldn’t tolerate the intense partisanship that stalls important projects that need to be done for all Americans.

Ike’s signature achievement as president arguably was the development of the massive interstate highway system that connected a nation along its three coasts. These days, members of his GOP are fighting efforts just to maintain the system that President Eisenhower pushed through Congress.

Ike’s birthplace in Denison is just a few miles south of the park that carries his name. We visited it once years ago, so we likely won’t return on this visit. We’re going to enjoy the park named in this great man’s honor.

And I’ll keep wishing his once-great party eventually returns to its senses.



Getting to Ike’s park proves challenging


EISENHOWER STATE PARK, Texas — So help me, it wasn’t supposed to be this hard.

We’ve hauled our fifth wheel all the way from Amarillo to Denison, the birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower. We exited the highway right where the sign told us exit. We turned west, heading — we thought — for the main gate to the park.

“Road Closed” blinked a large electronic highway sign. The park had been deluged by rain during the spring and early summer. Many campsites been damaged, some were destroyed. But it reopened for general use just a few weeks ago.

The first thought that ran through my mind: This isn’t happening. I did not want to have to turn that fifth wheel around on a dime, back it up, do whatever motor vehicle gymnastics I would have had to do to get our assembly pointed in the right direction.

My wife said, “Why not turn right at that street and maybe we can circle the block?”

Good call. Actually, it was a better call than I imagined.

We made the turn, headed north along this narrow street. Out came a gentleman. He waved us over.

You might recall a blog entry I posted about three weeks ago about being watched over by guardian angels in Santa Rosa, N.M. Well, another appeared in the form of this fellow.

I didn’t get his name. I’ll call him Mr. Wings.

Mr. Wings said that, yes, we could circle our rig around the block. But he informed us of an alternate route into the park.

We had to go north, across the Red River, into Oklahoma, turn left at the second exit, go west a few miles, then turn south  and drive “over the dam” and then we would find a great road into the park.

OK, man. Thanks.

We circled the block, came back out and standing before us was Mr. Wings.

“Good thing I talked to one of my partners back there,” he said. The road we were to take west was washed out.

He then instructed us to head back south on U.S. 75 take the second exit we saw, drive along U.S. 84, make a few sharp turns and that would take us into the park.

So, we got to Ike’s park.

It’s a lovely place. Quiet. Dark.

We’re quite certain that getting out of there in a few days won’t be nearly as harrowing as coming in.

As for Mr. Wings, he has shown me once again about the truth behind the existence of guardian angels.


Now … about all that rain

Ama street flooding

In my 20-plus years living on the High Plains of Texas, weather-related conversations usually have fallen into several discussion topics.

They go something like this:

* Boy, how about that wind? You’d better hold on to your hat today.

* Hey, is it hot enough for ya? When’s it going to cool off around here?

* I had to dig my car out of the snow this morning on the way to work. When will it ever stop snowing? When will it warm up around here?

Rarely have I had to talk about rain. Copious amounts of it, to boot. Then again, my wife and I are still fairly new to the area. Long-timers around here have talked about the flooding of the late 1970s. Or they’ll mention the storm-drain lakes built to catch all the water.

The talk all over town — indeed, all across Texas — has been about the rain.

We’ve gone a long time around here without rain being atop our minds’ awareness.

As I scan my assorted news sources this morning, I see that as wet as we’ve been in Amarillo and the Panhandle the past few days, we’re still relatively desert-like compared to places like San Marcos and Wimberley in Central Texas. The Riverwalk in San Antonio has spilled over. Our old haunts in the Golden Triangle, as well as in Houston, well … they’ve been wetter than usual — and that’s really saying something for that part of the state. Dallas-Fort Worth also is soggy beyond belief

My wife and I are hoping to take our fifth wheel out over Father’s Day weekend. Our plan is — or at least was — to go to Eisenhower State Park in Denison, on the Oklahoma border. We called to make our reservation. “Sorry sir,” the young lady said. “We aren’t taking reservations right now. Too much water. The lake is overflowing. Roads are closed. Try again closer to the date when you want to come here … and we’ll see.”

Hey, I know you can’t control the Almighty — which is why we call him “Almighty.”

I’m going to hope for the best. The rain is surely welcome. The playas are full. The rivers are rushing. Lake Meredith, just north of us in Hutchinson County, is going to get a lot of in-flow from its watershed for the next several days as the water continues to drain from Amarillo and other locales.

Perhaps, though, I’ll just ask that it more or less evens out. In fact, I think I might say a little prayer to that effect.

Why not? Someone — such as the Almighty himself — already has answered our prayers for rain.