Well as you can imagine I wanted to drive Ruby everywhere and all the time. But she did already have 82,000 miles on her and has Paco gently reminded me she was an investment. Even though we took her to the best Volkwagen repair ship in Austin, Vee-Dub, and she got a clean bill of health. In fact they said that she was one of the best, BEST and CLEANEST Eurovans they had ever seen! So I drove her a few times to school and that was it.
Fast forward a month and it was full on Christmas Season! Our original plans fell thru and so we were luckily in Austin. But I had a bad itch to go somewhere and asked Paco to plan our first camping getaway in Mi Rubi (her Spanish name.) We couldn't got too far because we only had two days. I manically began sorting our camping gear and making lists (which I need to write about because everyone should have an essential camping list!) Without a list I did a pretty good job, even Paco was impressed. Then we headed to our neighborhood Wally World to pick up some grub; it's just not a camping trip without Nathan's Dogs. I also had to get the boy some new long underwear for his ever growing limbs. It did feel weird buying our camping staples in the winter.
The next day early afternoon we were off. We decided that the maiden voyage would be sans girls, Juno and Sassy (our dogs) so we could work out all of the kinks (this was a very good decision as you'll soon read about.) So with me at the wheel in my giant shades and birkenstocks we took off listening to James Taylor on our cassette player. How cool is that a cassette player! I had to order cassettes off of ebay and got some random tapes. Need to add that to the list..
She rode like a dream. If you have never driven a Eurovan or been a passenger in the front "co-captain" chair then you are missing out. I feel like I am king, well queen of the road. The boy was spread out in the back with a book and Paco was able unwind from his last minute work projects.
The drive was about 2 hours. Once we got onto the back roads the scenery was refreshing. Recent rains had made the fields lush with winter grasses and lots of cows basking in the sunshine. We could not have had more perfect weather. One of the roads (if Paco was typing this he would be inclined to specifically name all the roads) had an old railroad track bridge/tunnel thing that I might have gone a little too fast thru but it was all good.
The park was called Lake Somerville, the Birch Creek Unit. As we rolled to the park headquarters we noticed it looked rather empty. We pretty much had our pick of sites. Our Texas State Parks are facing major budget cuts-really sad..We did our part by purchasing a state park pass. The park manager, John was super kind and helped us on our way.
Maybe 30 minutes!! It took us maybe 30 minutes to set up our Ruby for camping and mind you that was our very first time to set her all up so really it will probably take us max 15 minutes. We popped her up, pulled out the camping chairs and laid out the bed and PRESTO! We were DONE. Now usually when we camp with the tent it takes us about an hour to get everything set up.
After arranging our chairs around the fire ring and buying some wood we walked down to the lake, well what was left of the lake. Surprisingly it was quite beautiful in a rustic, wintery way. There were these sections along the beach of tall reeds where we observed hundreds of red-wing blackbirds diving in for the night. We then caught a beautiful sunset and headed back to make a huge fire. (Paco and the boys favorite part of the night!)
The dogs were yummy but not burnt the way I like them (remember to add tongs to the master list). We were just chilling around the fire watching the night sky slowly fill up with stars when we heard a crunchy sound. We turned to look and low and behold there was a fat (really obese) raccoon stealing our Cheetos. He or she didn't even care that we were staring they just kept stuffing their face. Finally Paco yelled and it slowly sauntered off (mind you that pig came back three more times thru the night!)
Two dogs and countless other "crap" food later the boy was ready to retire. We sent him up to his perch and he was out. I managed to hang a little longer with Paco where we drank and reflected on the past year. Then I went to bed-downstairs. So much more comfortable then a tent even a tent with an air mattress. Paco tucked and kissed and watched Fatty come back fo rme before he finally retired.
Ruby has curtains-isn't that cute! We closed them but one side was missing a panel so the morning sun slowly woke us up. Usually when we are camping we are far from home and always on some kind of plan or agenda. This trip there was no plan or agenda and it was heaven! We slowly woke up. I had coffee and made the boy hot cocoa. Later I burned some oatmeal~just made it more campy tasting :)..Then we hung around the reclaimed fire and I crocheted, the boy explored and Paco pondered. It was divine!
*A little gripe* These massive rv's spend hours setting up including their satellites and then they stay inside the RV almost the whole time! What is the point of camping?? Ok I am done..
Once it warmed up we decided to go for a hike. Nowhere in particular just hike along stop and see the birds (ok so Paco is a HUGE birder and quite the expert) he will see this and make me go back and write each species we saw like the tit mouse, cardinal, more to come I'm sure..We hiked past the park office and then into another area of the park that was deserted. We were in one part where there was tall dried grasses and I heard a shuffling. I looked and saw what I thought were deer at first but then I thought they seemed rather short for deer and realized they were hogs; feral hogs about 10 yards ahead of us! Paco told us to quietly start walking back when one of the hogs at the end of the procession stopped and stared directly at us. This is where I thought I was so thankful that we did not have Juno or Sassy with us. Kind of cool and scary at the same time. Later when we told John about the hogs he informed us that the park would be having a public hunt next weekend.
On the return hike we decided to walk along the shore. It was full of empty clam shells and other treasures for 10 year old boys. The boy stripped down to his boxers as it got surprisingly warm. I found a beautiful piece of driftwood and got my arm workout carrying it for a while. We went to the corner store by the park entrance to get more wood and matches (ahem..opps I forgot that in my packing) and settled in for our last huge fire.