Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not A State Park But...

     A great park nonetheless! This weekend's adventure was in honor of the boy who turned 11. When asked how he wanted to spend his birthday he said camping. Now that warms my heart! So two weeks ago when he made his request Paco started searching but all the Texas State campgrounds within 2 hours of Austin were already filled. That was good news and bad news. Good that our parks are getting business and bad because we were all itching to get out in Ruby.
      Then I remembered a place where I had done a trail race with some friends in the fall, Bluff Creek, in between LaGrange and Giddings off of HWY 77. I looked up the website and quickly called and got us a spot on Turkey Tank. I was a little anxious because I didn't remember it very clearly and hoped it wasn't some cheesy campground. The woman on the phone was very friendly and helpful when we couldn't remember the turnoff.
     We picked up the boy's best friend and headed off on one of the most beautiful spring days yet! New cassettes courtesy of Jim played loudly as we zoomed down the highway. I must say we have got this camping thing down, we didn't forget anything. Well I did forget to write out the directions but like I said earlier they helped us find it. The ranch is mostly used for mountain bikers there are miles and miles of trails. We arrived late afternoon and pulled up to the main house, in a field where longhorn were grazing, we paid and got our site. A little more dinero than the state camp sites but we got free firewood as much as we wanted! The grounds were sparse with one main camp full of boyscouts across the tank. The boys started exploring immediately and Paco and I set up Ruby and a tent, the boys wanted their privacy.
     The site was beautiful with mature, towering pines, wildflowers and lush grasses. It was right in front of a dock that had swimming access on the tank.  Within half and hour the boy was yelling from the dock that he had caught his first fish. A little perch but that proud grin was priceless. That spurred them on and for the rest of the afternoon the boys were obsessed with fishing and catching random bait.
     Around dusk we started grilling and a man approached us and asked if he and his friends could come onto our campground to release the ashes of a friend off the dock. We solemnly watched 20 or so of them head out on the dock. It was sad watching them bow their heads and I felt a little intrusive being there. Soon they were laughing and making toasts to their friend. It was a bittersweet reminder to treasure your loved ones and tell them you love them every chance you get.
     The time change gave us extra light to play and stay up later. The boy enjoyed having a friend to explore with and they wreaked havoc on the poor june bugs who invaded the fire ring. Then a friendly black and white border collie came over and kept us company. She was nicknamed Tia for her kind eyes and gentle demeanor. I was ready to take her home as soon as I could deflea her. After she ate the remnants of our burgers (which was a nice change form the hotdogs, Thank you Paco) she fell into a comatose state till it was time for her to visit others.
     Not too many night creatures besides a few lone coyotes and a barred owl, although we weren't sure if the barred owl cry was real or imitated? The boys crashed hard and I stayed up a little longer and star gazed with my love. I am just so incredibly thankful for the memories we have already mad with Ruby and we have only had her less then half a year!
     A foggy morning greeted us and the boys had already been up for a few hours. After coffee and discussions about the Hunger Games we went for a little hike. The trails are very well marked and once out on them I was reminiscing about the trail run I had done there in November. I have a goal to run a 50 k this year and decided this weekend that I want it to be in Warda. The boy and Paco could be there and it would be a family affair, maybe Paco would even run part of it with sweet would that be..hint, hint!! There were many dead pines but it was hard to be sad because the fields were covered with wildflowers. The creek, were assuming was the Bluff Creek was flowing and we all enjoyed skipping rocks and hunting for treasures. On the way back Paco heard a golden cheek warbler but we never could spot it.

     Usually the morning after the last night of camping is rushed but on this trip we all wanted to savor it. Paco and I took a ride in the canoe around the tank. Then we took the boys. Then we took two more trips, I wish we could have stayed longer. We will definitely be back in November for sure if not sooner...Coming soon Easter Weekend, Colorado Bend State Park. :)