Monday, March 8th, 2015
It is a cold wet rainy day here at
Lockhart State Park. I am sitting in the Colby T wondering if there
will be even a moment's break in the rain. The pouring started late
last night, and has shown no signs of stopping any time soon. So much
for a sunny spring break hiking trails and communing with nature.
That's okay, though. I enjoy any chance I get to be away from home on
a camping trip.
Saturday night was pretty miserable. No
matter which of my long-learned tricks for falling asleep I employed,
sleep would not come. I guess I did get about two hours of frequently
interrupted sleep. I was just too excited about getting started on my
trip to Lockhart. It had been a month since my last camping trip at
McKinney Falls for the TCEA conference, and I was itching to go. To
add to the misery of the night, the time change took place, merely
emphasizing the fact that I was not going to be very rested the next
I woke up at 5:38, a full seven minutes
before the alarm was supposed to go off. It was set so early because
I needed to be awake by 5:55 to check Rachel in for her flight to St.
Louis. I managed to get her the 37th position in group A,
which is none too shabby. She also got up, because the next morning,
she would have to get up at around 3:30 since her flight was
scheduled for a 5:55 departure. Her other challenge would be getting
Jared up to drive her to the airport. I was more worried about his
driving home after dropping her off, though. He doesn't like to drive
on the highway, the weather was supposed to be rainy, and I knew he
would be suffering from sleep deprivation. But I had my own agenda to
ponder, so shaking those thoughts out of my head, I went downstairs
It had rained during the night. Nicky
was pretty wet when I let him back in. Fortunately, he appeared to
have avoided his favorite muddy spots, and getting him dried and
cleaned was not too much of a chore. He is really well behaved some
times. Coming in the house is one of them. He sits on the big towel,
calmly waits for me to wipe the mud and water off of his front paws,
then stands up, turns around, and lets me get the back ones. Of
course, he does nothing for free. He knows there is a treat involved.
In fact, on rainy days, he asks to go out just so he can get cleaned
up and earn a treat.
I showered and shaved quickly before
finishing packing up the few odds and ends that had to wait to be
packed: toothbrush, razor, deodorant, charging cables for
electronics, etc. Then I took it all downstairs and grabbed my second
cup of coffee. By this time, Rachel was downstairs, also, watching TV
and trying to stay awake.
I decided to go gas up the truck, since
it was still too dark to think about hitching up. I went to my
favorite station, but it was open. I wasn't sure if I could pump gas
or not, even though the lights were on at the pumps. Instead, I
headed over to HEB, since there were a few items I wanted to pick up
anyway. I was back home within thirty minutes.
I brewed another cup of coffee in the
Kuerig and joined Rachel in the den. She was watching some crazy
movie about a guy looking for a guitar gig or something. I mentioned
that I would wait until seven to leave. Rachel told me it was already
seven. I had been fooled by the clocks on the microwave and in my
truck, which hadn't been reset for Daylight Savings. I had even
thought it was getting light a little too early.
I threw my stuff in the truck, kissed
Rachel goodbye, and headed over to PackRats. It was already fairly
light by the time I got there. Once again, the lock wasn't locked. I
wish people would be more careful. I guess they don't realize that
the Colby T is parked there. Surely they would be more careful, if
they did. I always follow the rules there. Today was no different. I
pulled my truck inside the gate, then locked it behind me.
Because of the rain, I wanted to change
into my camping tennies, but they weren't in the Colby T. I carefully
hitched up and towed the trailer to the house to get them. They were
under my bed. I remember that I brought them home from the last trip
in case it was muddy the next time I left. A lot of good that did!
PackRats has a white gravel/dirt mix that gets muddy, but brushes off
when it's dry. I still don't like to get it on my shoes.
I drove to San Marcos and got off the
highway at the exit for Lockhart. I didn't follow my normal route
though. Instead of turning on the road that goes to Lockhart, I went
farther on the San Marcos Highway to Fentress, where I turned onto
highway 20. The park entrance is actually on that road, and it never
made much sense to me to have to drive through Lockhart only to head
south for three miles.
The ranger told me to go ahead and go
pick my site and then come back to register. I had a reservation in
the full hookup circle this time. I was a tiny bit nervous about
backing in, but when I looked at the satellite view of it on Google,
the sites looked angled in a way that would make it fairly easy. I
chose site #8, and did not have any issues backing in. By this time
there was a little drizzle, so I hurriedly got the Colby T off the
hitch and did a few inside setups until it stopped. Then I hiked back
to headquarters and checked in. I stayed and chatted with the ranger
for about twenty minutes. I know they just love that! I probably have
a reputation statewide. I can't help that I am very social and
Back at the camper, I finished getting
set up and suddenly remembered that the Spurs were playing at noon. I
couldn't get enough phone service to listen to the game that way. I
got out my radio and finally got it tuned in about ten minutes into
the game. It was all squeaky and crackly, but I was able to follow
along. Then, I heard the announcer say something about the game being
on CBS. I got the TV out of the closet, raised the antenna, and found
the game in beautiful High Def on an Austin channel. I was glad, too.
That was a great game. Even though Timmy never scored a field goal,
he and all the other Spurs were amazing. Tony Parker looked like his
old self for the first time in ages
After the game, I decided to hike up to
the park lodge. It seemed like the rain was going to hold off for
awhile, but the trails looked pretty muddy. Hiking up the hill by
road made more sense. The lodge is all torn up for reconstruction,
but I was able to get to the patio and take some photos and check for
messages on my phone. That is the only place in the park where I get
enough service to do anything more than text. I suddenly had to pee,
so I stood behind a dumpster and did. Just as I started, a ranger
truck came up the hill. I took a quick step to the left where he
couldn't see me and finished my business. Then I started hiking back
down the road.
When I reached the trail head for the
Rattlesnake Run trail, I took a few steps down it to see if it was
muddy. It didn't seem too bad, because it wasn't the kind of mud that
accumulates on your shoes, so I made a decision to take the trail
back to camp. After about a mile, I was regretting it. There were
some steep hills that were really slippery. But, I managed to make it
to the part were the trail edges the golf cart without falling and
breaking my old ass. My feet were getting a bit cold and wet, so I
opted for the paved golfcart path instead of the trail. I ended up
following that until it looped back to the main road. By that time,
the rain had picked up a bit. I had my camera inside my jacket trying
to keep it fairly dry.
When I got back to the Colby T, I
discovered that there was mud all over my jeans at the bottom of the
legs. I must have slid my shoes against them. No other explanation. I
carefully took them off and hung them in front of the heater to dry.
I put my tennies in front of it, too. After about an hour they were
all dry. I took a brush to the jeans, and got them pretty clean.
By that time, I was ready to eat. All I
had eaten so far was a pack of microwave pork rinds during the game.
I cooked up a batch of powdered eggs and sausage flavored TVP
(textured vegetable protein- just in case you aren't familiar with
it. That's the stuff that looks like ground beef in a lot of frozen
foods.) I ate it on the stale tortillas that were accidentally left
in the Colby T after the TCEA trip. Hey- if I don't see mold, I ain't
The rest of the evening was pretty
rainy. I watched a little TV, played a game on the iPad, listened to
music, and drank Merlot until about 10:00. The rain on the roof of
the Colby T sounds like a bunch of leprechauns are tap dancing. It
was very pleasant. I got the best sleep ever. I woke up in a panic at
6:30, when I realized I hadn't heard from either Rachel or Jared.
Both were instructed to text me: Rachel when she was safe on the
plane, and Jared when he was safely back home. I nervously laid back
down and kept telling myself it was the service, or lack there of.
Then at about 6:45, I got a text from Rachel saying she was on the
plane and Jared was safely at home. I guess it waited to come until I
had a break in the clouds long enough for a bit of phone service. I
knew that Rachel was already in the air by the time I got the text,
so I dozed off listening to the leprechauns, who had intensified
their dancing on the roof.
The rain has not stopped at all since
last night. I ate breakfast and messed around a bit in the camper
before driving over to the headquarters to use their WiFi. I wanted
to send Josh some money for SXSW, but the signal wasn't good enough
to use the bank app. (By the way, I am telling you this, dear
readers, because I consider you my friends. DO NOT breath a word to
Rachel about my gifting money to Josh. She doesn't like it. She says
I pamper him too much. She is absolutely right. However, as long as I
can afford to do nice things for my boys, I will do them at my
discretion- not hers. That is the only thing we don't see eye to eye
on.) Anyway, I decided to drive up the hill and use data instead of
WiFi. Unfortunately, the cell service sucked up there today. Probably
due to the weather. I was able to transfer the money, but everything
took so long that I was frustrated and decided to come back to the
Colby T and enjoy being off the grid.
So here I am sitting at the computer
for over an hour. Still no sign of the rain letting up. There is a
small threat of the park road flooding and becoming impassible. I am
not concerned. I am perfectly content here, and already canceled
today's BBQ venture anyway. If the road floods, I don't want to be
caught outside of the park.
Well, I messed around in the camper for
a while. There's always something to do. I got curious about the
road, so I went over to see how the creek looks. Wow! They already
have signs out warning about high water. I would say it would have to
rise about three more feet before it compromises the actual bridge.
The dam is totally overflowing with a wild torrent of rushing water
that is making an awe-inspiring roar as it crashes over and hits the
water below with such force it is making suds. I drove around to all
the high water areas and took some photos and a few videos. If the
rain doesn't stop sometime soon, the bridge may be closed soon. As I
said earlier, I am not concerned. If I have to stay a day later, I
won't complain. Jared is house sitting, and Rachel's flight doesn't
get in until midnight on Thursday.
Monday, 2:04 PM
I am trying to decide whether to read,
watch TV, play a game on the iPad, or take a nap and luxuriate in the
pleasant sound of those wonderful leprechauns, since they are putting
so much effort into their awesome performance on the roof. I'm
leaning towards the nap. They other things can be done at home. Why
waste a perfectly good rain?
Well, I opted for the nap. It turned
out to be one of those special ones where you doze in and out having
unusually vivid short dreams. I like when that happens, so whenever I
did wake up, I allowed myself to drift back off. Altogether, it was a
About five minutes after I got out of
bed, the rain suddenly stopped. It was instantaneous, as if someone
had simply flipped a switch. Everything in the park seemed different.
Other people started milling about, some cleaning up from the rain,
others just walking around celebrating the end of it. I cooked a
quick early dinner then went off for a nice long hike.
I didn't even think about the trails
this time. I stuck to the roads. First I went to check on the bridge
and watched the roaring water crashing over the dam for a few minutes
before heading up to the lodge. Everything had a surreal feel to it,
more likely a psychological effect of being locked inside listening
to those leprechauns for so long. The sounds of birds and water
dripping of the trees would have given any symphony a run for its
money. I could even hear far off sounds from the highway, a good five
miles away. I even heard the lonesome wail of a train passing through
At the lodge, I took some more photos.
There was a ranger up there checking on things. He left for a few
minutes, but drove back up. I guess he was worried I might be going
in the construction site. We chatted about the job. He said it should
be finished by mid July, although the rain was going to cause a few
days of delay. I started off on the road, and he drove past me and
didn't come back. Just then, the sun came out for a few glorious
minutes. I even posted a “sunshine selfie” on Facebook, since I
had service up there. I also checked my mail and tried to log in my
meals, but the app wouldn't load with only two bars of service.
On the way down, I picked some Mexican
buckeye pods. They aren't like the ones from Ohio that I used to
carry around in my pocket when I was a kid. They are much smaller.
I'm going to try and get one to grow at the house. I may get lucky.
About halfway down the hill, a
beautiful little white dog came running up to me. He was one of three
little American Eskimo dogs. His owners and I chatted for a few
minutes. They are retired school teachers who live in Lockhart. He
had worked in San Antonio for Northeast ISD. She said she interviewed
once at Rachel's school several years ago. Small world. I am terrible
with names, but I know she is Susan Red. I believe her husband's name
is David. They have a busines called Kids Wings, which is somehow
related to Bluebonnet books. She told me to have Rachel contact her
and she will hook her up. As I left them, I quickly loaded their
website and bookmarked it. I'm not one to say I'll tell Rachel about
something and then not follow through. They were good people.
I took a loop around the golf course
again. It was amazing to see a full-blown stream cutting across it. I
had to wade through it every time it crossed the path. There were
other people out walking with dogs or kids, also. Totally different
from yesterday and earlier today. Before the rain stopped, it felt
like I was the last man alive, even though nine of the ten sites in
the circle are full.
Well, I am already nearly fifteen
minutes late for my first dose of Merlot. We can't have that. I also
want to clean up the dinner dishes before settling in for a quiet
(practically silent) night in the Colby T. Maybe tomorrow, I will run
into town and pick up some BBQ at Chisholm Trail. You can read my
blog from two years ago that details my trying all four of the BBQ
joints in town and telling which one I like best. Chisholm is just as
good as any of the others, but half the price. Now that Rachel and I
are living on a fixed income in preparation for retirement in a few
years, I am more than happy to settle for the less expensive place.
Besides, there isn't a BBQ place in Lockhart that can hold a candle
to Billy's in Bastrop or Coopers in Llano.
Tuesday, March 9, 2015
Woke up this morning at 7:30 happy to
see that it was still not raining. It is cloudy and overcast, but the
sun is there trying to break through. Not really expecting anymore
rain this trip. I had a quick breakfast of powdered eggs and Sausage
flavored TVP on tortillas. Then I played a game on the iPad for a
while until I was ready to get out and about.
I took a nice hike. I started up the
road to the lodge, but decided to try the old deserted road that I
found last time I was here. It was unblocked this time, so I thought
it would be usable. The ranger at headquarters told me the road was
not off limits, so I started up. About a hundred yards up the road,
they have built some kind of water processing plant right in the
middle. It is fenced off, but you can walk around it and rejoin the
road on the other side. The road ends at the old CCC-built water
tower right next to the lodge. It is a steeper climb on that road,
but takes about a third of the time to get up there.
There was a lot of activity at the
lodge. There were three park trucks, a park supply trailer, and an
independent contractor's truck. They must have been making up for
lost time, because they were all pretty busy working on things.
I came back down on the main road,
turning off at the golf cart path to make a loop around the golf
course. There were some golfers out today. Most of the floods have
disappeared. The golfers were all bundled up for winter weather,
although it was in the mid fifties. I was wearing a T-shirt and
shorts, which I overheard one of the golfer's commenting on.
Evidently, I am crazy. Who knew? I will admit that it was a little
breezy when I first started out, and I did consider going back for my
jacket. Glad I didn't, as the walking warmed me up, and a jacket
would have been too much. Let's just admit it- I have a nice coat of
blubber. It keeps me pretty warm.
I checked out the dam on the way back.
It is still flowing pretty strongly, but nothing like yesterday. It
was still pretty loud though.
I bypassed the turn off for my camping
loop and walked down past the pull-throughs to the loop by the trail
heads. The water flowing across the creek trail was still making it
impassible, but I don't like to cross there anyway. I remember
thinking the map must have been wrong the first time I came here. It
said that was a crossing, but to do so, you have to walk precariously
across a damn made of boulders and actually wade through two
sections. Not my style, although I did cross it that time. I swore I
would never do it again.
As I passed by the bathhouse, I saw a
park ranger and what must be a prisoner. The prisoner was wearing
black and white striped pants and was doing all the cleaning work.
The ranger shouted a hello, and I ended up chatting with him for at
least thirty minutes. He is a third generation game warden and had
lots of stories to tell me about previous floods. He used to live in
Grey Forest, so we also talked about the growth spurts in Helotes.
Super nice guy. I haven't come across a ranger who isn't super nice,
I came back to the Colby T and made
some coffee. Then I started this little update. The plan now is to
clean up, get dressed, and drive into town to get some BBQ at
Chisholm Trail. Not sure if I'll dine in or bring it back here.
Depends on how crowded it is. I feel guilty taking up a table by
myself when it is busy. I also need to run to WalMart and pick up a
can of squirt cheese. And, before any of you try to tell me that I
mean Cheese Whiz, you are wrong. Cheese Whiz comes in a jar. Squirt
cheese comes in a can with a nozzle. It is actually called EZ Cheese,
I believe. When I get it, I will come back and say the right name for
I don't know if I have ever explained
my shaving process in the Colby T. Sometimes, I use a small battery
operated razor that came in a gift box of cologne back in the 80's. I
prefer to use my dollar shave club razor. To do that, I saturate a
washcloth and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then I hold the
scalding hot thing over my face until the whiskers are nice and soft.
When camping, I give myself what I call a “Saturday shave”.
That's one that looks like your shaved, but isn't to the point of
being smooth like a baby's behind. It only takes about a minute to
do. And, since I never use any shaving cream, it is a non-messy
method for the Colby T. Wow... don't you just feel like you are here
with me? More later.
Well I took a trip into town to get
some BBQ. First, I stopped in at WalMart and bought some squirt
cheese. Just for the record, it is called Easy Cheese. I bought the
WalMart brand called WOW, which is a dollar cheaper and just as good.
I also got some bread, tortillas, and a small bottle of Sriracha. I
don't really need the bread or tortillas, but I didn't want to have
to run to the store when I get home tomorrow. I went ahead and topped
off my gas tank. I used eight gallons getting here. I would have had
plenty to get home, but with a trailer, a headwind can really eat up
the gas, and I don't know what the drive home will be like. Always
better to fill up before towing. Besides, it's not like I won't use
the gas eventually anyway.
I got the BBQ at Chisholm trail. I
bought a sausage ring, beef rib, ¼ pound of brisket, and some potato
salad all for under $11.00. I decided to bring it back to the Colby T
instead of dining in. It wasn't all that crowded, but I felt that
“I'm an alien being stared at by the locals” feeling you
sometimes get in a small town.. It was fantastic! I'm going to have
to take a couple of nice hikes to pay for it later this afternoon and
skip dinner for sure! Now, I think I'll take advantage of the peace
and quiet and take a nap.
By the way, I just saw the Reds out on
the golf course walking their dogs. It must be nice to have this park
in your back yard. I like the Greenway near me, but this seems a
little more exotic.
Just got back from a really nice hike.
I followed the Creekside Trail to the Fence Line trail, and got all
the way to the top before deciding to fire up the Geocaching app and
see if there were any caches nearby. There was one about three tenths
of a mile away, but it was back down the trail. I decided to go for
it, even though it meant re-climbing to the top of the hill. I
figured the exercise couldn't hurt after the BBQ pig out. I found it
with no problems and headed back up the hill. There was another one
up ahead after the Fence Line Trail turned into the Chisholm Trail,
so I just kept going until I came to an old deserted barn. The cache
was fairly close to it. I noticed that I was following another
geocacher named Vandermastmusic.
I had to take Comanche Loop Trail to
find a third cache. There was a scenic overlook with a nice bench and
good phone service, so I sat there for a while catching up on email
and Facebook. I also had a text chat with Rachel. We had sad news
today. Her brother's wife, Goose, lost her mother today. It wasn't
unexpected. Her health had been falling recently. She fell and broke
a hip a few weeks ago, which for people in her condition is most
often a harbinger of the end to come. Rachel got to see her brother
and our niece today. They had driven up for lunch. Goose didn't make
the trip, as she is obviously getting ready to head home to North
Carolina to be there for her father.
I got back on the loop. I saw a small
evergreen tree that seemed to have beautiful orange flowers like mums
on it. I think it is some kind of strange creature nest or something.
I took several pictures and wanted to ask the rangers, but I got off
the hike too late. Anyway, finished the loop, and got back on the
Chisholm Trail. I followed it all the way back down to the golf
course. At that point, I took a left onto the Rattlesnake Run Trail
and followed it all the way to the top of the hill where it ends at
the road to the lodge. They changed the trail since the last time I
was here. There used to be really steep part that went way down to
the creek bed and then came all the way back. It was so steep, it was
scary to go down for me. Now they have a new section that does
pigtail turns down to a wooden bridge that crosses the creek. Then
you go straight back up the hill on a less steep incline. I took that
trail in reverse on Sunday and the mud coming down made me slip and
slide a lot. It was pretty scary. Today, even with a full day of rain
yesterday, the mud was a lot less wet and slippery. I can't explain
The walk down the road was nice. I kept
hearing what must have been deer crashing through the woods, but
never saw them. At the bottom of the road, near the bridge, I saw a
beautiful hawk. It kept flying from tree to tree screeching at
another hawk or eagle that was flying overhead. I tried getting some
shots of it, but once I zoom in to the digital level, all bets are
off. I simply can not hold the camera steady enough for that.
I cleaned up the camper a bit. The
floor was kind of gritty. I'll vacuum tomorrow, but today, I just
gave it a good sweep. Ever since then, I've been sitting here typing.
It just turned 7:00, so it is Merlot time. The Spurs play tonight.
Austin started a new TV channel yesterday. I saw it on the news. They
said it would be showing Spurs games, but they might mean the Austin
Spurs. Hold on, I'll turn it on. Well, right now it is showing some
show about a bar mitzvah. The game is supposed to come on at 7:30, so
that doesn't look good. I'll try other channels, but it looks like a
radio game. Not looking forward to that, as the reception was pretty
poor on Sunday afternoon. Oh, that's Law and Order on the new
channel. No Spurs there.
Just stepped outside for a minute. I was getting a strange red glow through the windows. The sky was amazing. There was a horizontal cloud line just above and following the contour of the hill. The bottom of the clouds were bright red. My pictures won't do it justice, but I took a bunch anyway.
Anyway, I guess I need to get some
Merlot and start trying to tune in the game. Oh,goodie! I got my hawk
shots. Decided to check them on the computer before I shut it down.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
This morning was interesting. I woke up
during the night and decided it was a little bit too cold in the
Colby T. I didn't bother to put on the lights to turn the heater up.
I must have over done it, because when I woke up, the thermometer was
reading 90 degrees. I think the air near the ceiling (which is about
an inch above my head) was more than that. It made me feel so woozy
that I had to put the AC on just to make it bearable. Ridiculous!
Anyway, the damage was done, so there was no going back to sleep. I
went ahead and fixed breakfast and started leisurely during my
I've mentioned before that I use
checklists to make sure I do everything that needs doing. Nowadays, I
just get it all done and then confirm it with the checklist. Since I
de-winterized this trip, I was extra careful to follow the list.
Handling all the water related processes is pretty easy, but
forgetting a step or two can be disastrous.
I finally pulled out of my site at
10:45. By the time I dumped my trash and stopped at headquarters to
let them know I was leaving, it was already 11:00. I went through
Fentress again today. I must like that road, which is less traveled,
a lot better. Then I took the San Marcos Highway through Martindale
to San Marcos. Then it was 35 all the way to San Antonio. That was my
least favorite part of the trip. There are just too many truckers on
the highway during the week. I did one fifteen mile stretch with
semis on three sides of me. The had me all blocked in. I couldn't see
anything but trucks. I was too nervous to look off to right and see
When I got to Bandera Road, it suddenly
seemed like rush hour. I guess it was the lunch rush since it was
right about 12:30. People kept whipping into my lane taking up my
braking space. I guess they don't understand that trailers can't stop
on a dime. On top of that, there was a hefty cross breeze on Bandera
Road, which always makes me even more skittish. The wind was so bad
when I got to PackRats, that I had to use a bungy cord to keep the
gate from slamming back into me.
I got the Colby T backed into its space
fairly easily today. The last few times were a little harder than
usual because the big trailer beside me that never ever moved for
three years is suddenly gone. Now I don't have anything to visually
line with. My space is the second one from the gate. The first one is
at an odd angle to the rest. When I look in my rear-view, I get a
distorted idea of how straight I am backing in because of it. When
the big trailer was there, I just backed in right next to it.
I was at the house by 12:30. My loft is
trashed, but other than that, Jared seemed to have taken care of
everything. Once he gets all his stuff back into his room and gets
rid of the cups, silverware, plates, and pizza boxes, all will be
fine. I won't mention it to him until tomorrow. Hopefully, he will
spontaneously do it himself.
I transferred my pictures to the
computer, re-sized them, and posted them on Facebook. I was shocked
to see that I had posted 281 of them. I was even more shocked by how
some of my Facebook friends are liking each individual picture
instead of the album. My phone was sounding like a slot machine. I
had to turn off notifications.
Jared and I ran off to the Chinese
buffet. We sat there forever waiting for our check. I got back and
wanted to finish this blog post. Jared took off to hook up with his
roommate from last year. I might even get to take a nice quiet nap.
Here is the link to the photos on
Facebook. They claim that anyone can see it with the link, even if
they don't have a Facebook account.