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42 Things I Noticed at Guadalupe State Park

It has been a while since my last solo adventure at Guadalupe State Park. I had spent a night with friends in freezing temperatures back in December, but that’s neither here nor there.  As always, I noticed a few things…

handwriting

#1 Needs Improvement

  1. I wrote this list down on paper and thought about posting scans of the pages. I looked at my terrible handwriting and thought better of it.
  2. I think I like taking Blanco Road up to the park instead of 281, fewer lights and a more relaxed drive.
  3. Also more jackasses tailgating you on the slower parts, but what can you do?
  4. Had to take a site with electricity due to the water-only campsites being worked on, oh well.
  5. Nothing like that OH GOD, PLEASE DON’T BREAK feeling when putting up tent poles.
  6. Of course the sun comes out after I set up the tent and go hiking.
  7. Sound that I don’t miss: Vehicles.
  8. Yes, I have my phone on me, for pictures. With the ringer muted and my smartwatch on, I don’t have to worry about missing calls.
  9. There aren’t many people here, which is nice.
  10. Since I don’t go outdoors as often as I should, I find myself constantly wondering what all the noises are.
  11. Lots of butterflies about, even managed to photograph a few.
  12. More work in the park being done near the river, not sure what’s going on there.
  13. Beginning of hike: Feels good! One hour later: Whew!  Nearing camp on the hike back: OMG ARE WE THERE YET?
  14. Got spooked by a large bird taking off from the branches above me, nothing like that WOOSH of big wings flapping.
  15. As I neared camp, I wondered if maybe I should have packed sandwiches instead of canned food.

    butterfly

    #11 Butterfly!

  16. Surprised I haven’t burned off my eyebrows from lighting my camp stove yet.
  17. It’s nice to have camping cooking equipment instead of borrowing from the kitchen.
  18. Upon further review, hot food for lunch hit the spot!
  19. Slightly disappointed that I still have a cell signal, but at the same time it’s good to know it’s there.
  20. I’d been going nuts trying to find one of my flashlights only to find I had left it in my tent when I folded it up back in April.
  21. Note to self: Take the picture first before trying to move in closer. Armadillos spook easily.
  22. Also: Don’t only pack food things that contribute to heartburn. Off to H-E-B.
  23. Yes, I always have to say ‘LET THERE BE LIGHT’ whenever I light my lantern.
  24. Had a story idea pop in my head mid-afternnon. It had an unfortunate ending until a more optimistic one came to me during dinner. Don’t write when hangry if you want happy endings.
  25. If you like them, they’re ‘critters,’ if you don’t, they’re ‘varmints.’
  26. They had better not be any awoo-ing while I’m trying to sleep tonight.
  27. Heard a bunch of what I hope were fireworks at around 8:24pm.
  28. This being Texas, gunfire isn’t necessarily unusual, though.
  29. Shop towels aren’t bad for washing dishes.
  30. Always gotta find that one dark spot in camp for, how can I put it, ‘taking care of business’ without having to walk to the men’s room 😀
  31. Got spooked by a pair of raccoons fighting in a nearby tree.
  32. I had put up my food and know to not feed the wildlife, so to the victor, go no spoils.
  33. I’m not saying I’m paranoid about raccoons, but I’m making damn sure the Excelsior (my Honda CR-v) is locked whenever I’m not nearby.
  34. Almost fell into temptation during the trip to H-E-B, but avoided stopping at the Whataburger across the street for dinner.
  35. Thing I forgot: Radio.
  36. Idea: Replace the ‘nut-buster’ tripod chair I use in the tent with a small beanbag.
  37. Nice to know the animal I’ve been hearing for the last half hour was just an armadillo
  38. Armadillos are noisy!

    cooking

    #17 A perfect fit!

  39. My battery pack can charge my phone all the way…now that I have a smaller phone!
  40. The overnight weather was perfect, cool without being too cold.
  41. I chose poorly at breakfast; sometimes a McDonald’s McGriddle isn’t worth the lousy service.
  42. Going to pass by my old office on the drive home, going to be hard to not flip the bird at the building as I pass.
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Camping Journal #7 – …And Home Again

Suspect is fuzzy and likes bread and eggs

July 14, 2012, 816 am, at McDonald’s in Spring Branch

-a little sunburned-

What a night.

As if sleeping in the humidity wasn’t difficult enough, I had some visitors at about 2am.  A raccoon came to camp looking for a bite and got  into my food container.  I got up and shooed him away, but not before he got a loaf of bread.  I put the container in my vehicle and resumed trying to sleep.

Not even 15 minutes later, he was back for the cooler.  I didn’t have the presence of mind to get one with a latch, and sure enough, the next thing I know, I’m putting that away and thinking I could forget about breakfast; the fuzzy bastard had eaten the eggs I had packed.

I got up at 7, and started to break camp, a task made slightly easier because I had already put up half my stuff.

And so I here I sit, drinking a cup of coffee at Mickey D’s before heading back home.

It was a fun time, and I learned a few things for next time.  Hopefully my brother or one of my friends can join me next time.

I’ll just be sure to get a cooler with latches this time…and some flip flops.

-ES

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Camping Journal #6 – Lights Out

July 14, 2012, just past midnight, in the tent

-sleepy-

It’s time for bed now, and I think that my ‘beta test’ was a success.  Except for a slight sunburn, everything went well.

I don’t know how well the tent will be able to withstand Oklacon, but for South Texas, it seems to do just fine.

Mostly everything was able to fit into the Excelsior without dropping the back seats, and I can leave the table at home next time.

I might need to get a bigger ice chest, but other than that I think I’m ready to go for a 2-night stay.

I’ll just have to remember to get some flip-flops.

-ES

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Camping Journal #5 – Rain, Rain, Make Up Your Mind, Already!

July 13, 2012, 708pm, at camp

-perturbed-

About an hour and a half ago, the sky went grey, the wind picked up, the animals went silent…and nothing.

I had planned on going for another swim but instead, I battened down the hatches, put everything in my tent or in my vehicle, and waited for the skies to open up and unleash a torrent of water.

Nothing.

I’m not 100% certain that the threat is over, so I’m on a hair trigger, ready to dash into my tent and zip up the windows at the first sign of water.

Maybe going camping on Friday the 13th wasn’t the best idea in the world.

-ES

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Camping Journal #4: Their Turf

You can’t see me!

July 13, 2012, sometime before 5, at camp

-a little tired-

I should have bought a pair of flip-flops, because walking in or near the river was murder on my bare feet.  I eventually put my tennis shoes on, and while that did make things easier, I now get to schlep my soggy shoes everywhere now.

As much as I’d like to take a nap, there is no breeze right now, and that means the inside of the tent is actually hotter than sitting on the picnic table.

I’ve seen a few animals today; two deer while driving back from the river, and a few lizards scurrying about the campsite upon my return.  One lizard was perfectly camouflaged, I did a double-take when I realized I was looking at one that was masquerading as part of a tree.  I then went for my camera and got a few shots before it scurried away.

The hustle and bustle of the city has been replaced by a cacophony of creatures.  Birds, chicadas, and an army of flying bugs are constantly providing a steady stream of sound.

Its unnerving on a certain level, I find myself occasionally turning to find the source of some sound or noise.  Sometimes there is something there, often, there isn’t, but I think its the thought that I am infringing on their domain instead of the other way around.

Like it or not, I’m on their turf.

-ES

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Camping Journal #3: Base Camped

Just like the picture on the box!

July 13, 2012, 110pm, Guadalupe State Park, Site #34

-content-

I woke up at 8, showered, packed my food, bought ice and hit the road.  I stopped to gas up the Excelsior, grabbed some breakfast at Whataburger, and headed up 281 for Guadalupe State Park.

Going up 281, you really get to see a few hills, unlike I-35 to Austin.  It was an uneventful drive, the park was easy to find and only a half hour’s trip from San Antonio.  I paid the fee, got to my spot and set things up.

As a side note, the employees at the office were all women, as if I needed another reason to go camping.

The tent gave me a bit of trouble, mainly because I’ve never put up a ‘modern’ one, my experience was limited to the six-man Hillary tent my folks got from Sears many years ago.  Its made of canvas, held up with aluminum poles and held down with railroad spikes.

They sure as hell don’t make them like that anymore.

This is my first time here, and I have to say that it is pretty nice.  Each site has a table, a hook to hang your lantern from, a fire pit, and a designated spot for your tent.

The only downside I’ve found so far is that my spot would seem to be pretty far away from an easily accessible spot on the river for swimming.  I took a hike to see the river and found myself on a ledge about 15 feet up overlooking it.  Rats.  I figured I’d follow the river until I found an area where I could get to the river itself.

An hour later, I found myself back at camp with sore feet and no closer to finding water.  I had lunch and am about to hop into the Excelsior to see if I can find the ‘swimming hole.’

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Camping Journal #2: Just One More Thing?

I haven’t even gotten there yet!

Read Journal #1 here.

July 13, 2012, 937am, at Whataburger

-pensive-

As I eat breakfast before heading out, I keep wondering if I’ve forgotten anything.  Yeah, I made a list, I’ve done this before (though not by myself) and I’m stopping at HEB up the road to get one or two last things, but the thought of “I forgot something” keeps popping in my head.  I guess its only natural, and I’ll find out soon enough!

-ES

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Camping Journal #1: (Semi) Roughing It

Lined paper! WHEE!

I took a camping trip recently and while I admittedly spent way too much time on my phone updating my Facebook status, I also bought along some paper to keep a written journal.  As I’m pretty sure folks don’t want to decipher my awful handwriting, I’m transcribing them.  Enjoy!

July 12, 2012: 5:13 pm, at work

-enthusiastic-

I’ve made my list, checked it twice and I’m heading out camping tomorrow for the first time in years.  I used to love going to Lake Corpus Christi with my folks, family and friends Back In the Day, but this time I’m going alone.

I suppose that’s the downside of having a bunch of nerds for friends.  I’m looking forward to it, though, and maybe sometime in the near future I’ll bring some friends along.

-ES

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27 Things I Noticed About Camping

I camped out at Guadalupe River State Park last Friday.  It was the first time I had been out camping in years.  I used to go with my family to trips to Sunrise Beach at Lake Corpus Christi back in the day, and felt it was high time I rediscovered the Great Outdoors.  So I bought a tent, a lamp and a stove and headed off to adventure!  It was a fun trip, but I did notice a few things…

tent

Just like the picture on the box!

  1. I contemplated getting a dual-burner stove like the one my folks have, but remembered that I’m not a skilled enough cook to run 2 burners at once.
  2. Propane sucks.
  3. Its nice that Coleman stoves and lanterns can run off unleaded gas in a pinch, but did they have to stop making them green? 😦
  4. Always remember to subtract one ‘man’ from the number of people a tent can supposedly hold.
  5. I kept thinking: ‘should I get better stakes?’ ‘should I get better stakes?’ Yeah, I should have bought better stakes for the tent.
  6. I don’t know if its because of the heat, but I get powerful thirsty when camping, I should maybe pack some Gatorade next time.
  7. According to the map of the park, the river should have been nearby…it was, but the map didn’t mention the 15-foot drop to get to it.
  8. Thus, I had to drive to the part of the river that you could swim in…it didn’t feel right somehow.
  9. I purchased sunscreen, I took it with me, but did I use it?  Nooooo.
  10. I was both happy and sad to get a cell phone signal out there.
  11. They also had Wi-Fi.  Sign of the times, I guess.
  12. If you go walking around the Guadalupe River with bare feet, you’re going to have a bad time.
  13. So much for taking an afternoon nap. When there is no breeze, it’s actually hotter inside the tent
  14. Nature is pretty noisy, but when things get really quiet, it feels like you’re in a horror movie.
  15. Good to know I can still light a lantern and a camp stove.
  16. As night fell, I could hear generators starting as I sat under my lantern…geez, people, for a few bucks more you can stay at a site with electricity.
  17. I could have stayed ‘off the grid’ but no, I had to bring my laptop and use my smartphone as a hotspot. /shrug
  18. I just had to go Beavis for awhile when the flame from my camp stove shot up a foot in the air after I lit it.  FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!
  19. The humidity at night had me tossing and turning, I’m totally not used to it.
  20. The animals have not been very active at campsites I’ve been to before, so I was a bit surprised when that raccoon opened my food container at at 2 in the morning and swiped a loaf of bread.
  21. I was even MORE surprised when he opened the cooler.  Them’s smart critters.
  22. In an unrelated note, instead of scrambled eggs for breakfast at camp, I had McDonald’s on the way home.  Pbbbt.
  23. How is there condensation on the BOTTOM of the tent when there is no grass?
  24. The tent actually fit back inside of the case it came in -mind blown-
  25. Nothing like that ‘am I sunburned or not?’ feeling.
  26. Of course, the first time you step into a hot shower…you know for SURE.
  27. Can’t wait to do it again!
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