By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

Glamping, a shortened word of the phrase “glamorous camping,” is exactly what it sounds like: The great outdoors mixed with hotel-style accommodations.

I’ve had a different form of the experience some years ago, so I was familiar with the concept. When the opportunity arose to book a writer’s retreat stay over at Houston and Sherry Clark’s Purdon Groves farm, I jumped at the opportunity.

Candidly, I needed the break from civilization. A travel restricted year from the pandemic, coupled with a recent accident injury I’m still recovering from provided more than enough reason to get out of the house for a day. With a selection of various meats and snacks from Buc-ee’s and beverages for our hosts, the Missus and I packed our dog collection into the car and made our way to Purdon.

While I have covered Purdon Groves in the past, this marked the first time I would visit as a guest and make use of their amenities. Their upgraded tent feels like a hotel room, filled with standard conveniences such as a refrigerator, air conditioning and heating, and power outlets. The bed itself is incredibly comfortable, and I had to fight the initial urge to take a nap upon arriving.

This was also the first time my dogs have ever seen farm animals in their lives.

Each dog approached their new surroundings with a different personality. Sophie, my 18-year old blind senior, was just happy to be somewhere, and took a long nap in the tent. Stardust, who prides herself on being a “fearlessly wild animal,” was mystified by the donkeys, letting out a small “Ooooooo” of confusion that something could possibly be larger than her. Frodo, a small Yorkie mix and the lapdog of the three, trotted up to a donkey and gently touched noses with her. The effect of nature at work was charming.

The dogs also met the farm’s chickens and pigs with varying curiosity (especially the new piglets), and Samson, the Great Pyrenees who serves as one of the farm’s nightly guards.

After getting unpacked, it was time for dinner, and time to fire up one of the grills in the outdoor community dining area. The meal plan was to cook up a pork tenderloin, a few jalapeño poppers, and a sausage link. While everything turned out fine, Houston clearly uses a more effective brand of charcoal than I do because my cooking choices became instant blackened flambé. Fortunately, the meat’s inner layers were nicely cooked and tasty, but they were definitely ugly, so I didn’t want to take pictures of those.

The Missus and I took a moment to sit with Sherry and Houston, and learn more about their ideas about being an artist and writer retreat, as well as their goals in being an active part in the Corsicana art scene. Food and history were shared in equal measure, and as part of the stay, we discussed me doing some farming the next morning.

After Sherry and Houston left, the Missus and I planned to have an outside campfire, but opted to just enjoy our tent. Being the only people on the farm, the campground was quiet and dark, illuminated by the glow of the tent’s porch lights. The bed itself was soft and comfortable and after a busy day, dogs and humans slept soundly. Occasionally, Samson could be heard barking at some unknown in the dark.

We did wake up by 6 a.m. however, courtesy of Stardust and Frodo. The two donkeys decided to hang out in front of our tent, and with that being an unfamiliar sight for the dogs, they sleepily woofed and growled at the intruders. The donkeys remained unimpressed.

After finally awaking to some coffee, I walked out to the hydroponics station to assist Sherry in collecting and weighing lettuce and spinach for local customer orders in town. I’ve never harvested vegetables before, so it was a new, but surprisingly relaxing experience.

Purdon Groves was a wonderful “day off” for someone who usually does not get one. Sleeping in a comfortable tent surrounded by the peacefulness of nature, met with a variety of animal personalities quickly become familiar elements. I would like to revisit Purdon Groves during one of their artistic events, but for those who look to get away from it all, yet remain a little spoiled in their lodging, this is an easy drive for something new and different.

After the last year, “new and different” is good.

For a visual tour of the glamping experience, check out the video below.

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