Sunday, April 8, 2012

It Feels Like The First Time...

     This trip was one of many firsts. Starting with the first, 1st camping over Easter weekend. Oh, how a four day weekend is just the perfect amount of time. Colorado Bend State Park is about two hours drive from Austin. It is between Lampasas and San Saba in a tiny town called Bend. We left on a Friday along with everyone else in Austin. Traffic is sometimes abysmal! I packed us up and well this wasn't a first but I forgot a few essentials but nothing the HEB in Lampasas couldn't handle. Besides how much fun would it be if I remembered everything?
     The drive once we got out of Austin was beautiful. Blankets of bluebonnets as far as you could see. Mother Nature has been good to Central Texas this spring. Once we reached the tiny town of Bend we turned off to the park and traveled about 8 miles on a kaliche road. If you squinted your eyes just right it almost looked like snow covered cedars. By the time we reached the entrance Ruby was a shade of pale. Thank goodness we had reservations the park was full. But it didn't "feel" full.
     Our site was at the end of the loop and we had no neighbors. It even had a secret grove with a fire circle. Ruby got popped up and we headed down to the river. This was our first warm weather camping excursion. We were curious to see how the night would feel later in Ruby. The river was wide and running and we yearned for our canoe (we have been pinning for one!) But the boy and Paco brought their rods and tested the waters. Another first, fishing while camping. While playing we spotted an osprey and it dove down to catch a fish! Yes, another first!
     Dinner was "mom's" version of the hamburger and it was unanimous that Paco burgers are better. After dinner we lounged around the fire and watched the full moon rise over the ridge. A very majestic sight and another first. We had purchased a propane lantern so that we could play cards but the lantern never got turned on. Just long talks and plans being made..The next day we wanted to get up early and hike to Gorman Falls. Ruby was a little warm that first night but we opened the windows and cooled off fast.
     The next morning we rose early for us and headed out on our hike. Just a 7 mile jaunt but I was wishing I had brought my trail shoes for running. I will get these boys to run yet! The hike was a little bit of everything. Shaded trail underneath a canopy of trees, full sun fields of cactus and Texas poppies and rocky canyon with a cave. It was also a birder's paradise and we made frequent stops to have Paco point out new species including several firsts. I finally saw the elusive golden cheeked warbler! But the coolest first was a hummingbird nest. The hummingbird was flitting in and out and the nest was the size of a chicken egg with the top cut off. Apparently this was pretty rare. All in all we saw/heard the white eyed vireo, red eyed vireo, chuck will's widow, black and white warbler, lesser goldfinch, house finch, morning dove, canyon wren, Carolina wren, cardinals, great horned owl, eastern phoebe and American crow!
     The trail came into another trail and then descended down a rocky ledge. It was steep but there was a metal rope for holding. Before we saw the falls we heard a massive crack and then crash a giant tree has just crashed into the ravine. Earry but cool sound. The falls were impressive and reminded me of falls we had seen in Oregon. They are a rare geologic formation. The water over time deposits this calcite and makes these beautiful travertine formations. It was very lush, green and cool. We sat for a spell, ate our cliff bars and then decided to head back before it got too hot.
     The journey back was warmer and the last mile seemed to take forever but we made it. Scrounged up some lunch of cheese, salami, crackers and apple. I was sleepy so Paco turned Ruby on and cranked the ac and I took a little siesta. We wouldn't normally do that but our site was in full sun at that hour. Energized and refreshed the boy and I changed into our swimsuits loaded up the rods, tackle stuff and chairs. The plan was to let him fish and I would soak in the water and chill. But the plans shifted and the boy fished for maybe five minutes. I have never been much of a sunner especially these days I am a sunscreen nazi. I have never been much a fishing person either. My first fishing experience was outside Hollis, Oklahoma with my great granny. Now she was famous for her fishing, she was always featured in the town paper for setting some record. She smelled like honey and fried chicken and when she hugged you, well you were temporarily lost in all of her folds. She was part Cherokee Indian and she dipped. She was once married to a bank robber. She was beautiful and I loved her! Ok where was I? Oh yeh so bored of just lounging in my chair I picked up the boy's rod and practiced casting a few times. It was fun so I put some bait on and then I was hooked. I fished for over 2 and half hours. I never caught anything but I saw some beautiful fish. It was mesmerizing I loved it. I am hooked on fishing! I hope I get my very own rod for my birthday. So there is another first. Granny that is for you! :)
     Paco eventually joined us he was taking care of a couple of things I forgot like ahem..water. I only brought 2 gallons? Oops. We do now by the way have an official master list that we will consult for every trip from now on. After another half an hour the boy was water logged so we left the river to get cleaned up for dinner. I had just changed out of my bikini and popped my first beer when I heard a squeal, "Mrs. S.!" It was two students in my class and their family. They have heard all about Ruby, I even made them go to the teacher parking lot to see it the first day I drove it to school. We chatted for a bit and then they left. Glad it was a sweet family and glad I had changed clothes :)
     I think I forgot to mention earlier that this whole trip birds were just singing like crazy everyone had mating on the mind. After an easy dinner out of a bag ( they are really quite good, the beef stroganoff is my favorite, we each have our fav.) we sat back and got ready to watch the moon show. But we got another show instead, the stars of this show were Delores and Henry, two armadillos who had love on the brain. They chased each other around our campground for at least 10 minutes. It was quite comical and the boy nicknamed them. Apparently they went back for round 2 after the boy and I had gone to bed. Another first, armadillo mating dance!
     Slept in Easter Sunday! I had brought eggs to hide for the boy. I hid one on top of sleeping Paco. On the way home we took the scenic route (like always) and went thru Cherokee, where the boy's great grandparents used to live. The flowers were even more intense and unfortunately we murdered a lot of butterflies! There were literally hundreds of them all over the road. We introduced the boy to Coopers and ate our fill and then some of bbq. And then were homeward bound..
     Overall this has been one of my favorite parks so far. It had all the elements water, trees and rocky hills. I loved it so much and best of all I discovered another new hobby. I am sad to say that this will be the last entry for probably a month! We got lots of events such as races, graduations and family coming in. Ruby will be an honored guest in the Run to the Sun at the end of the month. She will help cart runners to the next leg of the relay and will be up all night.. Next adventure will be first weekend of summer, it's a surprise. But please let us know if you have any suggestions for other camping spots. Until then get out there and soak it up! Peace and love, mon amie