First I'd like to thank Uncle MJM, Texas Longhorn, Pizza, Alan, CashKeith, Sandpiper, and Corncob for coming out to this neophyte's first attempt at organizing one of these things.
The most embarassing thing of the whole weekend was having my cell phone battery go dead after having made a slightly snarky comment that folks coming in charge theirs. The Lord reenforced the message he was sending when my back up battery pack did not back me up. Plugged it in over night and the next morning both the battery pack and the phone were dead. Further reenforcement came when I checked the console compartment where I store my power inverter and discovered that it was full of some of my favorite CDs. I hear ya, God.
I don't do video. What follows is a bunch of pics and the ramblings of a middle weight old man. But if you need a sound track, here's something from my mis-spent yoot for you to listen to while reading.
Arrived precisely on the dot of 1300 Thursday afternoon to a completely uninhabited campground. Well, uninhabited except for the skeeters. First thing I noticed was that the campsite I'd been assigned to was full of dead fall. Lots of nice firewood, but not something that inspires confidence in the trees one is to hang from. Perused my surroundings and moved to a site with no widow makers, and just a lttle bit of poison ivy. Most of the sites would only support one hammock, with a couple that had standing water in them, and about a quarter of the campsites had no place for a hammock at all.
Set up the HHDJXL with the stock tarp and reflectix insert as the temps were forecast to only going to go down to the high to middle 50s and I didn't think I'd need a UQ.
That's Scout The Wonder Dog in his secret identity as a mild mannered country dog guarding the set up.
Car camping. Its where you throw everything you have into the car, toss it on the pinic table, then make note of the stuff you actually use and pack that for the next overnight hike.
Alan showed up next after having bravely traversed Sawmill Road which is a hundred miles long and composed of gravel with stones roughly the size of his car. He set up at what we figgered was the only really good campsite in the campground. We figgered that because it was the only one with a organized pile of cut firewood, some of it store bought stuff still in its plastic wrapper.
Pizza was next. He came in after a long drive from Minnesota via OKC.
Pizza's on vacation. He said he was going to the Alamo from here. We tried to talk him into going through the blue bonnets to the Bluebell Creamery in Brenham, Stevie Ray Vaughan's statue in Austin, overnight at Pedernales Falls, then to Fredericksburg for some German food and a visit to the Nimitz Museum before heading north via Enchanted Rock and the Wichita Mountains. I told him there's two kinds of Texas: Texas on TV and the real Texas. There's so much more to Texas than the Alamo and Dealy Plaza.
Uncle MJM and Texas Longhorn were next.
After everybody got settled in, we did some visitin, then some supper. I tried my first dehydrated meal: Hawk Vittles Bison Pasta. Nothing I'd write home to Gramma about, but not tremedously bad either. I'm a C Ration baby so there's plenty of room for improvement in the camp food arena for this old boy. Beat the heck out of MRE's anyway.
There was a little bit of excitement just befor bedtime when it was discovered a feral cat had gotten into the back of UncleMJM's mini-van. Scout the Wonder Dog had decided to let him live, but Alan encouraged him to leave the premises post haste.
After a bunch of slap jawin' around the campfire at Alan's place, we all settled in for the evening. Around 3:30, a deep fog rolled in. It was dark, dark, dark, and real moist. I'd thought about taking the tarp off so I could look at the stars, but I got lazy and next morning was glad didn't. Things wuz wet.
Breakfast was oatmeal, fruit bars, OJ, bisquit, and Apple Jelly
Best thing about this breakfast is that it only takes a little hot water from the Jetboil cup to make the oatmeal, the rest is used for coffee. Need lots of coffee. Morning need coffee. Coffee good.
After breakfast I loaded up a couple of nalgene bottles and a gallon jug, then Scout The Wonder dog and I hiked the half mile down the trail to the hose bib to get his water and some for cooking, dishes, and bathing. Ran into Pizza coming back from a dawn hike. He'd seen 20 deer and 4 hogs on the way. Lots of both in the park, but neither had gone through the camp as we'd been warned might happen. Scout The Wonder Dog had made a couple of his Mighty Barks round midnight, which I'm sure left them quaking in their hooves as they ran away in terror. Scout The Wonder Dog saves the day again.
Sandpiper came in about mid-morning and there was more slap jawin' around the campfire until everybody decided it was time to go on down to the main park and show Pizza where the alligators are. Sandpiper has some good video of that.
People were likely to come in, so I volunteered to stay behind and bravely eat lunch and nap in my hammock. I'm all about making sacrifices for the common good.
Lunch was something I'm experimenting with. I usually take an envelope of tuna or chicken with me on a day hike, but its always kind of dryish. I dearly love tuna fish salad like Momma used to make, which would solve that problem, but eating anything with mayonaise in it thats been in Texas heat unrefrigerated for more than an hour or so can be downright detrimental to your health. A couple of weeks ago, I saw this on the shelf at Kroger:
The label says it needs no refrigeration and will keep for 6 months. I got a zip lock bag and put these components in it:
Tuna, Ranch Dressing, Lipton Vegetable Soup, and some MRE vegetable crackers. When its time for lunch, dump the tuna, contents of the soup packet, and the dressing into the bag and moosh it up a bit until the contents are mixed well, then set it aside for a few minutes for the veggies to reconstitute.
Scoop it out of the bag with the crackers, and there you go. The only thing I'm going to do different is not use the Lipton Soup. The combination of the spices in the soup and the Ranch Dressing made it a bit too spicy, and not in that good Tex Mex way. Next time I'll just toss some dried salad veggies in the bag and use those. This should be good for a first lunch on an overnight or lunch on a day hike, but not sure if I'd take the dressing on an overnight and exposed it to Texas heat for more than four hours or so.
The folks got back from the gator safari and we found out that Alan was good during the viewing. A bit later Cash Kieth came in from Uvalde. He set up in an area that had had some standing water in it the day before, but had gotten to being just damp. We checked out his Kammock, which seemed pretty nifty.
Supper for me was some Knorr Chicken Flavored Rice wth a packet of cubed chicken tossed in. Not a bad little caserole, and just the right size for me to eat and have some table scraps for Scout the Wonder Dog. Table scraps are the secret source of his Mighty Barking Power and it needs to be regenerated on a daily basis.
Probably time for more sound track. Here's something from my mis-spent young adulthood.
Late afternoon brought the arrival of several groups of ground dwellers, complete wth a bunch in a 1971 Volkswagon Campmobile who looked like they were the advance team for Occupy Brazos Bend, or just thawed out from being cryogenically frozen in 1972.
I took some time out and removed the reflectix insert from the HHDJ. When I napped, I found that if there's even a little bit of sunlight on it, it will heat up right nice. Prolly purty good for December, but not for nappin' when its 85 degrees. I also like to sleep wth my head a little high up in the peak and I found that this made for about a 2" wide cold spot between the end of the insert and the bottom of my pillow---right along the top of my shoulders. I put the DIY underquilt on and used a Crazy Creek Crib for an undercover in case the fog rolled in again that night.
Uncle MJM, Sandpiper, and I took a short quarter mile hike down the trail to the canoe landing on the Brazos. The river was pretty full, and moving very fast, with a lot of deadfall and junk floating in it. The canoe landing was under water. Uncle MJM got some video of the opposite bank shearing off and falling into the river It looked just like the National Geographic stuff of the glaciers shearing off into the ocean, just imagine a red glacier with vegetation on it falling into a brown ocean full of logs and old ice chests and you've got it.
Night time brought more slap jawin around the campfire, and later the arrival of Corncob who had parked in the main park and made the 3 1/2 mile hike from Hale Lake mostly in the dark.
Saturday morning pic of CashKieth on the left, Corncob on the right, and Alan's #2 hammock in the distance.
The DIY UQ worked real well, and the undercover did its job as more fog rolled in that night. Scout the Wonder dog did not have to deliver any more fearsome Mighty Barks, the dark forces of deer, hogs, and coyotes having learned their lesson the night before.
Breakfast was my favorite as its one that needs no water for mixing in with the food, so ALL of it can be used to make coffee.
Put your unopened single slice envelope of Spam into the water as you heat it on the Jetboil.
Get yourself two slices of MRE Wheat Snack Bread
When the water boils, pour it into your coffee maker and while its brewing, open up that Spam slice and slap it on the wheat bread.
Then open wide, cuz here comes the sweet, sweet goodness of a nice hot Spam sammich.
Life is good innin it?
Pizza left before dawn, so we're not sure if he decided to go the tourista route to Santone, the one through the bluebonnets, or his own combination of the two.
Corncob had to drive to Dallas that afternoon, so Cash Kieth and I acompanied him for the first half mile of his hike back to his car on another water run. When we got back, Uncle MJM, Sandpiper, and Alan were packing up to go home as they all had previous Sunday commitments.
After making all our goodbyes, Cash Kieth and took a hike down the trail next to the River. Had some conversation with a group of students from Lonestar College who were out on a botantical lab. I told them how 30 years ago, most of the trail was pasture so they could get an idea of how quick the forest can grow up in these parts. Most of the growth is 3" diameter deciduous trees with a lot of tangled undergrowth spaced very close together. In a few more years, the trees will be bigger and the canoy will chokce the sun off from the undergrowth except for some of the grasses.
It was a little late in the day to see any wildlife, but we did get to see some fine old trees.
One just starting to blossom
And another fine old soul who was likely there when Sam Houston's Army came through on the Runaway Scrape on thier way to San Jacinto and Glory.
These fine old Live Oaks make ther own mini-eco system under those branches
Yup. There's good places to hang in Brazos Bend. They're just not in the camp grounds.
When we got back, all the other hangers had decamped, and CashKieth had a long drive back to Uvalde. We made our goodbyes and he headed out. Scout The Wonder Dog and I took another couple hour nap before packing up and heading back to the farm ourselves.
All in all, a qualified success, but mostly because of the fellowship, not anything I did. Thanks to everybody for being who you are, which is real nice folks to slap jaw around a campfire with.