Monday, January 16, 2012
I always thought these were the words to one of my favorite Steve Miller songs. As we drove down the road I was belting it out, "Chug-a-lug it's driving me mad making me crazy." Paco said, "What did you just say and I confidently sang out, "Chug-a-lug!" He then informed that it was Jungle Love not Chug-a-Lug, whatever I will still sing Chug-a-lug it sounds better!
This weekend's adventure was not far just about an hour and a half away. Who knew so many state parks were so close? We picked Palmetto state park for our next adventure. Palmetto is south close to Gonzales and a tiny town called Ottine. We arrived late afternoon (basketball is going to present a bit of a challenge for a while). The park office was closed so just drove in and picked a site. This park was much more tent friendly in fact there were only a few rv's and those belonged to the camp host.
Seriously took us 10 minutes to set Ruby up. She attracted a lot of attention this trip. Within thirty minutes of arriving 3 people stopped to check her out. "What in-carnation is that?" Our camp host, from Michigan also admired Ruby commenting that she looked brand new..The campground itself was small but quaint. We were surrounded by many tall post oaks, cedar elm, sycamore and pecan trees.
We got a fire going quickly and the temperatures fell just as fast. Probably our coldest night of camping yet. Had Nathan's hotdogs again (I am over the hotdogs!) and broke out the chat pack-a conversation card pack that we got at Waterloo many moons ago. They are fun conversation starters that make us laugh and sometimes even get into heated debates. The boy was really tired, after his first basketball game and retired especially early. I managed to stay up a little longer but the long run (where I got lost earlier that morning) and the wine lulled me into sleepy mode. But before I hit my bag I heard the coyotes and a barred owl. Paco braved the clear beautiful night alone and came to bed later reporting that he heard 3 owls; the barred, screech and great horned owl! Along with a donkey and random country dogs.
Slept great and didn't hear a thing (I sleep with ear plugs) but it was *** cold! Once I got up I was surprised to feel that it was actually warmer outside then in Ruby. We lazed around and read had some coffee and non-burnt oatmeal. I was in Ruby changing when a family walking by decided to stop and check out Ruby. I whispered loudly to Paco to get them away that I was well... naked. He snickered and opened the sliding door to show the full moon...just kidding he quickly answered their questions and said that someone was changing otherwise he would show them the inside. I breathed again..
We walked to the headquarters to register and pay. It was only about 1/4 of a mile away but we saw several bluebirds, a kinglet and an orange-crowned warbler-all in about 5 minutes. The ranger at the headquarters was nice but very dry and warned us to make sure that our fires were out. We then set out to hike several loops around the park. It was an interesting hike so many birds! This time Paco wrote them all down for me..white throated sparrow, mockingbird, Caracas, phoebes, cardinals, Carolina wren, winter wren, red-shouldered hawk and more I am sure that I am forgetting. The terrain ranged from riparian to Ottine swamp with boardwalks and these huge palmetto palms (which reminded me of palm Sunday) to more of a South Texas landscape with mesquite, anacua trees and prickly pears. There were tell-tale signs of the draught, huge keeled over trees some with trunks as big as trucks. And little signs if spring with thousands of paper whites ready to bloom. The trail was well marked, in fact the whole thing was covered in crushed granite. It would have made a great trail run. I spotted a deer about 100 yards away. I have a good eye and would be a great hunter if I didn't cry.
The boy got way ahead of us and the dense brush made me a tad nervous of more hog encounters but none this trip. We finished the trail and found ourselves in front of a grand stone hall that was made during the Great Depression by the CCC under F.D.R. There was a great old black and white photo of the men who worked on it. Reminded me of my dad's dad who did some work in California for the CCC.
Went back to the campground and chowed on some jerkey and cheetos and found the campground pretty much cleared out. There were goldfinches by the hundreds cleaning up the crumbs it was quite amazing to see them all. We walked to the front lake area and discovered a smaller pond, about the size of an olympic size pool that was swarmed with fishermen. Figured it must have been stocked. We then caught the last 20 seconds of the Texans and Ravens game on radio from a ranger. He talked football for a while and told us that the Saints had won?! He was really old..We considered a boat rental but decided to just hike around the small lake instead. It was a spooky light, very wintery. Great backdrop for the great blue heron on the bank of the lake. All this walking made me sleepy so I took a nap in Ruby.
A much warmer evening..When Paco bought firewood the camp host had no change so we ended up with about 180 pounds of wood! The fire started early and stayed big and bright! We thought it would be a quiet night but then the college kids next to us started drinking and it got louder and louder and very entertaining. Although I don't think the park host found it too entertaining. Still heard the coyotes' cries and later the owls returned.
Packed up quickly the next morning and we were hungry. We planned to hit Lockhart on the drive home. We did have to stop and marvel at a convenient store, not it was too large to be considered a convenience store it was..well a Buc cees! I had never seen such an establishment. Not sure what impressed me the most the endless bathroom stalls or the hunting attire selection? All we wanted was a ball point pen and a fountain drink. Who would have thought you could buy a whole stuffed buck head in the middle of nowhere?
Took the long and scenic way back and saw things you just don't normally see in Austin..
*an old dilapidated billboard in someones front yard with those letters that you arrange-it said "Life without Jesus is like a broken pencil there is no point"
*2 boxer dogs in the middle of a trampoline
*Every oil pumping jack in the city of Lulling was made into some kind of a character
Just more interesting to take the long way home...
Oh and we got to eat at Smitty's! Yum..I am not a rib girl I like brisket and sausage but these ribs, well I would eat these ribs. We bought a lot and figured we would bring it home-we ate it all!
Well till next time..get out there!
*This trip was dedicated to out sweet Esme!* We love you and you will always be with us on our adventures. :)