6:20 PM, July 10th, 2016, Buescher State Park
Today has been one of the best days of this 18-day adventure. I woke up to a coolish morning at 6:30. For only the second day of the trip, I had a full day at my campsite to enjoy without the nagging thought of getting back on the road biting at my brain. I savored every bit of it, and intend to do so for the remaining of the evening.
I enjoyed a breakfast of bacon jerky and a cup of coffee before getting dressed for hiking and cleaning up the Colby T a bit. Just as I was about to leave for my morning hike at around 7:30, I realized that my phone was down to 23% of battery power. I knew I would want to take pictures and be able to make a call, if I broke a leg on a trail, so I plugged it in and waited to close to 8:30 before getting on my way.
I hiked by road to the trailhead of the trail that heads off in the direction of Bastrop SP. I knew from talking with the ranger yesterday, that only eight tenths of a mile were open due to some damage they had from flooding a while back. That was not a problem, because I only made it about half a mile before turning back. There were huge flies swarming all around me, and, every once in a while, one landed and had a taste of me. One actually drew blood! Waving my hat around as I hiked was tiring, and my lack of attention caused me to trip a few times. It just wasn't pleasant enough to continue.
When I got back to the road, the flies gave up on me and flew back into the forest. I was grateful. I took another trail directly across the road that wound through the walk-in campsites. There was nobody camping I that area at all.
That led me to a short cut-through to one of the camping loops. This one was mostly for tents, I believe. I didn't see any RVs. There were about three sites being used, but it was quiet as if nobody was there.
I followed the road around the park stopping to see and take pictures along the way. I wanted to see one of the RV camping loops to see if it had been remodeled since my last visit. It had. The sites were all very new looking. There were some cabins on the lake side of the loop, and I investigated one that seemed unoccupied. It was actually on stilts over the lake, with a large deck just hanging out over the water. The breeze coming off of the lake was wonderful, and I imagined myself staying there, sitting on that deck, and just enjoying the feeling of being there.
Next, I came to the place that has a boat ramp and canoe rentals. I considered renting a canoe and going out on the lake, but I have never canoed by myself, and my college canoeing class was in 1977. I'm sure that I have forgotten everything about canoeing over the last 39 years. It just didn't seem prudent to try it now, so close to making it home in one piece.
I walked on and stopped at the park headquarters. Even though it was cooler this morning, I was totally soaked with sweat. I only carried one bottle of water, and this turned out to be a two-bottle hike. I was hoping to fill my bottle with water from the water fountain, but I couldn't take the taste. Instead, I went in and bought an ice cold bottle of water, using the money I carry in a tiny plastic bag that I keep in the tiny pocket on the front of my hiking hat. I keep it in the plastic bag because nobody wants to touch icky wet sweat-laden money.
While at the headquarters, I spent some time asking my usual obnoxious questions. I'm sure that every park has my picture posted in the back office with a warning that says, "Do not engage this old fat man in conversation. He will stay here and ask you rapid fire questions for at least thirty minutes". Regardless, the rangers are all some of the nicest people I have ever come across, and they always tolerate me and answer my questions.
I learned that they began overhauling the park last July (2015) and actually finished the project in March of this year. They poured new pads for all of the campsites and resurfaced all of the roads. They did a damned good job, too. When Jared and I camped here about three years ago, the Cozy Circle Camp Ground was pretty bleak. Our site was so not level that we had to use the BAL leveler and raise the port-side tire almost 10 inches off the ground. Now, the slabs are much wider, longer, and definitely level.
I drank the cold bottle of water as soon as I walked out the door of headquarters. I knew that I was about 3/4ths of the way back to camp, and the half bottle I still had with me would suffice.
I stopped next at the group picnic and fishing area. Just as I entered the circle, I spotted a beautiful fawn. It was tiny and wobbly, so I know it wasn't very old. There was no sign of its mother. I turned and walked the other way around the circle so I wouldn't frighten it. It eventually disappeared into the brush.
I took advantage of the picnic area to sit and rest for a bit. I also took off my shirt and wrung out about a gallon of sweat from it. It was as if I had just pulled it out of the lake. Satisfied that I was rested up and headed on.
I didn't have much farther to go. I stopped at the other cabins to see them. They were a bit more rustic- more like screened shelters. I also walked over to the recreation hall to take a picture. I love seeing all of the old CCC buildings in the state parks. I need to ask why they are always built out of copper colored rocks.
I got back to the Colby T, and was happy to find that it was still only 73* inside. It had gone down to the mid-sixties during the night, but you can never take it for granted that it will stay cool during a hot Texas summer day. I go a nice cold drink (Have I mentioned how much I love that ice maker?), stripped out of my wet clothes, and relaxed until I felt dry.
The rest of the day was spent hanging around the Colby T. I sat under the awning for a long while enjoying a warm breeze that kept blowing most of the afternoon. Then, when it started getting hotter, I came in and alternated between napping and reading. It was wonderfully relaxing. Time to spare for the first time in about 6 days.
The Colby T never got warmer than 85* today, which sounds horrible I know. In actuality it is quite pleasant with the box fan blowing directly on me in such a small space. I went through about 8 bottles of water between making ice and drinking iced water and water with flavoring in it. I carried two cases of water to St. Louis and replaced what I used before the return trip. Water is the most important supply. Food, I can do without. Not water in July.
I should mention that, when I got back to the Cozy Circle, everyone else had left. There were five other sites being used last night- not counting the park host. Now it is just me and the host. This late on a Sunday evening, I am not expecting to be joined by any other campers. I may be wrong. We'll see.
Oh, there is one other thing I forgot to mention. Several of my FaceBook friends have been yapping about a Pokeman virtual reality game played on the iPhone. It sounded terribly silly to me, but when I saw that N1S was playing in Denton with his girlfriend last night, I decided to download it and give it a try. I spent about a half hour walking around the Cozy Circle "catching" Pokemons. It really isn't for me, but I can definitely see the appeal. It reminds me of geocaching in a way, and that is something that I do like. In fact, I might look to see if there are any near my camper and make a sunset run to get one or two.
One other thing I meant to mention yesterday. On my way out of Fairfield Lake SP, I talked to about five rangers who were at headquarters about the snake I saw. They do not think it was a copperhead because of the black coloration. I looked at hundreds of images on the Internet, and I have to agree. I think it was a water snake. It most closely matches one of the pictures I saw that was labeled a Northern Water Snake. Makes no difference, I steer clear of all snakes in the wild. I'm not afraid of them. I just smart enough to give them a wide berth.
I can't believe how emotional I am becoming on this last night of my adventure. It has been a fantastic eighteen day journey. Par of me doesn't want it to end. The other part can't wait to get home to Rachel. I am so fortunate to be married to such a wonderful woman. She supports my love of camping and puts up with my running off all the time to do it. Of course, she claims she likes the time at home by herself, but I still feel guilty being absent so much. We knew when we married that she would not be going camping with me. We also did not know that I would be hit with a camping bug five years ago that would lead to this obsessive need to tow the Colby T off all the time.
I'm going to let myself wake up naturally again tomorrow. Hopefully, it will be sometime around 9:00, although that doesn't seem to be the norm in the Colby T. I won't have breakfast because I have to have blood drawn tomorrow when I get home. It will take longer than usual to get on the road because I have to pack the things that I have been able to leave in the trailer during the trip. Also, things like the ice maker and Keuring coffee maker need to be cleaned, dried, and properly stowed. In addition, I need to give the sink and toilet a good scrub, vacuum and mop the floors, and make sure that everything that stays in the camper is in its official place. I have been pretty lax during the trip. Not out of laziness, but more out of necessity for quick and easy travel.
I won't post about tomorrow. If anything out of the ordinary happens on the way home, I will mention it on FaceBook. I hope that those of you who have been reading about my trip have enjoyed it. I write the posts mainly for myself. It is sort of a journaling thing. However, I appreciate those of you who take the time to put up with my silly stories, and especially those of you who make comments and egg me on.
Until my next trip... Happy Trails!