Friday, June 26, 2015

Austin for iPadpalooza June 2015

Well, I have been excited about this trip for a long time. I won a discounted registration to the iPadpalooz conference almost a year ago in a Twitter contest. Att that time, I was totally enamored with using iPads for education from a technologist's perspective. Now, I want to learn things to apply to my new position. It should be great. On top of that, I am staying at McKinney Falls State Park for five nights- how cool is that!

I originally planned to come up today (Monday, June 22), but Josh asked me to come up on Sunday so that we could go play trivia with his awesome girlfriend Cat. I had to make a second reservation, but that just caused me to go checkin for the remainder of my stay this morning.

Yesterday, June 21st, 2915

The trip to Austin was totally uneventful. There was more traffic on I-35 than I like, but that is just how it is these days. Rachel was shocked at how fast I got here when I texted her to say I made it safely. I drove a steady 65 MPH, which is faster than usual for me when pulling the trailer. You can't do 55 on I-35 and survive it.

They assigned me to site 29. It is a beautiful pull through site. It started to sprinkle just as I pulled into it. I hurridly got the trailer off the hitch, plugged into electricity, and stablized. I had just enough time to get my stuff (clothes, food, supplies, etc.) in the Colby T before it started to pour for real. I just spent the storm setting up the inside. It takes about 30 minutes to get everything stowed properly and set up the cabinets and countertop for use.

Once I was convinced that the rain was over, I hit the trails. I took the long Onion Creek Trail, then walked to both the upper and lower falls. Then I got back on the stretch of the Onion Creek Trail that goes in between my campground and the park headquarters. I noticed that it was getting a little darker. Then the wind started blowing and a light rain was begining to fall. I still had about a mile to get back to camp. Then  I saw a white truck through the trees. It was my Silverado. I could see it and the Colby T, but didn't want to bushwhack to get over to them. Last summer (the same week in June), I suffered the worst chigger bite episode of my life. Ths time I am bathing in DEET, but still paranoid of high grass. Anyway, I kept walking on the trail, albeit a lot faster. Suddenly I saw the Colby T through the trees from a different angle. There was a footpath headed right to the site near it. I took it and got inside right before another downpour.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading and playing games on my iPad. Then at 6:00 I went to HEB on Riverside to get some meal replacement bars for my lunches at the conference. I forgot to get them in SA. I also left my ten oranges that Rachel made a special trip to get for me. I am missing those. They are my main snack these days. Now I am snackless! I should have picked some up at the store while I was there. But, NEWSFLASH- I'm an idiot!

I got to Josh's apartment at about 6:45. I was supposed to be there at 7:00. It worked out though. We just drove over to pick Cat up. She was going to walk over to his place by 7:00.

We headed out to the Blackstar Coop Brewpub. I love that place. They brew some really nice beer and the food is really good. Josh and I ate, but Cat wasn't hungry. Because it is a coop, you don't tip. You also bus your own tables and wipe them down before you leave. Weird. I know. It's Austin. I love it.

We played great for 7 rounds. We were actually in 4th place out of 21 teams. Then the 16 point 8th round killed us. We ended up in 10th place at the end.

I dropped the kids at their apartments and headed over to the park. I was dreading it. You have to get out of your car on a dark deserted road and open a combination lock, open the gate, drive through, close the gate, and lock it back up. As much as I love camping, that little process gives me the heeby jeebies. By some really amazing stroke of luck, the gate was open late last nght, and I just drove on through.

I got home at about 11:00. I pretty much went straight to bed and read for awhile.

Today, June 22, 2015

I set an alarm for 6:30 so I could get up early enough to get a long hike in before going to pick Josh up. I needed to help him with his truck. There were some electrical problems, but he couldn't really do anything about them until he got his battery charged or replaced. 

I took my time with breakfast. Today I had oatmeal with sausage flavored TVP and Mexican seasoning. It is one of my favorite meals these days. I prefer savory to sweet for breakfast, and this hits the spot. After eating, I cleaned up the camper and made the bed. Then I dressed and headed on the trail at about 7:30. It was a nice walk. There was nobody else on the trails until the end of it. I got to take some really nice shots of the falls without people standing all around, The ony bad thing was the humidity. I felt like I was pulling the Colby T behind me most of the way. I just can't get enough air in my lungs when it is humid. I was dripping wet and couldn't wipe enough sweat away to make a difference.

I am going to stop here. I am suddenly really tired. It is probably the glass of Merlot.

Okay, it is now 8:46 on Wednesday night. I was out too late last night to get any writing done.

Back to Monday morning... when I got up to the area past the falls, there were some red mini vans from the Austin Fire Department. About 30 or so fire fighter recruits got out and started stretching and doing some excercises. Later, when I was finishing my hike, I got a glimpse of them running in formation through the trees, They went some odd way that took them past the campsites instead of on the trails. At the very end of my hike, they were somewhere in the distance running and singing in cadance like soldiers. It was pretty neat.

Back at the camper, I got cleaned up and then headed to get Josh. I drove him out to O'Reiley's to get his battery tested. He has had somme electrical problems. It was going to take 90 minutes to charge it and test it, so we headed over to Pint House Pizza and had a pizza and some beers. 

When we got back to see the results of the battery test, it was dead. It wouldn't even charge. I suspected as much. It may have been the original battery from 1999! I bought him a new one. We put it in his truck and it took care of all the problems.

It was late afternoon by then, so I came on back to camp and took a nice long hike. My friend Susan texted me and told me she had shingles and wasn't coming for the conference. When I got back from the hike, I set up a shared folder in Evernote so she could see my notes. Then I wored on this for awhile.

right before going to bed, I saw some tiny ants on the counter top. I sprayed some ant poison and haven't seen any sign of them since. I inspected the outside looking for trails, but there weren't any. They probably came on board at the storage lot or maybe even at Kerrville Schreiner.

I set my alarm for 5:30 and went to bed. I wanted plenty of time to eat breakfast, shave, dress, and get to the conference. I wasn't sure what traffic would be like, or if the gate would be open. I pulled out of here at 6:45 and made it to the conference by 7:15. I sat in the truck for a while until I saw soone go in the school. When I got in, they were already setup for registration, even though it was supposed to start at 8:00. I got my badge, a purple knapsack, a water bottle, and some sunglasses. I took it all into the auditorium and sat there until 8:30 when the keynote was going to start. I got to watch all the sound and lighting checks.

I started to worry that I was in the wrong place. then suddenly at about 8:20 people flooded in. I guess they weren't letting people into the auditorium. They didn't seem to mind my being in there.

It was a full day of sessions. I didn't even break for lunch. I brought some meal replacement bars like I do for TCEA. By the end of the day my behind was really sore from sitting all day. Most of my sessions were clustered pretty close, so I barely walked the length of a football field all day. 

Westlake High School is beautiful. They have a lot of really nice features that only a really rich area would ever have. Their auditorium had two huge sections that rotate and form two smaller (but still huge) auditoriums. It is amazing.

I came back to camp for awhile to freshen up, etc. Then I headed out to pick up Josh for trivia. I was pretty late because of the traffic, even though I left super early because it was raining at camp. We drove over and picked up his girlfriend before heading over to a parking garage. then we walked to the Drag Bar and played triviia. (It is a bar on the drag- not a bar for people dressed in drag). We really stunk this time. We ended up 13th out of 14 teams. It was brutal.

We still needed dinner so we went to some bar with anchor in its name for burgers. They were cheap and really good. Josh wanted to stay later and play darts, but I begged off and dropped them both off before heading back to the  Colby T. 

I messed around for a little while then set my alarm for 5:30 again and went to bed. I wanted to have plenty of relaxing time in the morning.

This morning (Wednesday) I got to the school at about 7:30. I went to the cafeteria and found John and Doug sitting at a table. I joined them. After awhile we headed on over to the auditorium for what they called a "keynotathon". There were about 8 or 10 presenters who each got to talk for 3 minutes each. It was great.

The rest of the day was spent in sessions. They were all pretty good. The last one was a kenote address by Guy Kawasai who worked with Steve Jobs during the early days of the Macintosh. He was pretty good. As soon as he finished I took off. I wanted a headstart on the traffic. I had been invited to go eat BBQ with the NISD group, but I didn't want to 1) eat the calories, 2) spend the money, and 3) most importantly miss out on an opportunity to hike the trails.

I got a 4.20 mile hike in. It was pretty uneventful, but very nice. I got back and had good scrubbing. I noticed that the black tank is pretty full. Now I am debating whether or not to stop using the toilet the rest of the trip and dump it on the way out Friday, or jpulling the Colby T over to the dump station tomorrow after the conference, dumping it, and pulling it back to the site. I will probably just stop using it. I don't use it when I camp in the winter, and that hasn't been a problem. The bath houses at this park are really nice. This time of year the park is mostly full of RVers. They use their own bathrooms.

Anyway, I am done writing for today. I can already tell I got pretty lazy with what I have done today. I am really tired and ready for bed, but I am afraid I will forget everything.

Thursday, 8:16 PM

I am going to try and have this finished before 9:00. Rachel told me that Rookie Blue is premiering tonight on ABC. I hooked up the TV and see that I get 48 channels here. One of them is ABC.

I got up at 5:30 this morning and took my time getting ready. At 6:50, I drove over to the closest bath house to do my business, since the black tank is nearly full. It was locked. They only open that one on the weekend. I just got back into the truck and went to the conference. I got there at about 7:10, but the doors were opened. I hiked way back to the back of the school before I saw a bathroom that wasn't locked.

I went back to the cafeteria and got a cup of coffee. Before long, John Moran joined me. We compared sessions and sat and talked for awhile. Then we went our seperate ways. 

My sessions were all good today. Even the one that really didn't show us much new stuff for augmented reality had some great nuggets that were exciting. I got a free teacher's account to a great AR site that actually does all the work for you. It was free for attendees to the session only.

John and I both decided to skip the closing keynote. I had no real interest in hearing someone's opinions about whatever. I also wasn't interested in any of the drawings. I never had time to enter any of them. John headed home to San Antonio. I headed back to the Colby T, stopping to fill up the truck on the way. I also bought a huge cup of diet Dr, Pepper. It was mostly ice and will last me through tomorrow.

I changed clothes and headed off for a 5 mile hike. I took water with me this time. It was damn hot! The thermometer in the Colby T said it was 103 outside and 81 inside. I'm not sure about that. Yes, it was hot as hell outside, but Weather Bug said it was only 89 here. Inside, I was comfortable, but 81 seems a litttle outside of my comfort range. Regardless, the hike was hot. It felt good to get back. I cleaned up and just sat here for awhile. 

I ate a quick dinner of beef tips over mashed potatoes. It was one of those Hormel Complete meals that I am so fond of these days. I'm going to have some microwave pork rinds later. That will bring my calorie count for today to 1440. I try not to pass 1500, so I am pleased.

As I said earlier, I hooked up the TV. Then I ended up watching the Mexican version of Ameirica Has Talent, Mucho Talento  (or something like tha). Now I am finishing this up and waiting for Rooky Blue.

This trip has really worn me out. the week after next, I am supposed to go to Stephen F. Austin SP for three nights. I am thinking about cancelling. I'm afraid I will be too tired for the drive to St. Louis. I haven't driven on a long trip in six years. I am a little worried about doing it again.

Like the last several posts, I won't add more when I get home unless there is something out of the ordinary to tell you about.

Happy Trails!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Well, Here I am updating, so you already know something must have happened.This is what I posted to the Open Roads RV Forum:

 I was heading home from a great five week stay at McKinney Falls in Austin, Texas this morning. Suddenly, I felt a strange vibration. I pulled over on I-35, but the traffic was so heavy there was no way I could get out of the truck. I could see the trailer tires in my mirrors. They didn't seem flat. The Truck computer indicated the truck tires were fine. I slowly drove on the shoulder to the next exit and managed to pull in behind a gas station. The tread had come off of one of the trailer tires. It did a little damage, but nothing compared to what could have happened. I have heard horror stories about blowouts.

I immediately used the GS app on my iPhone. I got a call from a rep almost the second I put my phone back in my pocket. She was very nice and told me that I would get a text telling me who was coming and what the ETA was. The text came about 20 minutes later with an ETA of 90 minutes. While I was reading the text, the Jack Rabbit Network people called me to tell me the tire service was on the way and would arrive within 45 minutes instead of the 90 mentioned in the text. 

About 50 minutes later, the tire guy arrived. He jacked up the Colby T, changed the tire, aired up the spare, let the Colby T back down, handed me his receipt book to sign, gave me my receipt, and drove away with a $10.00 tip.

I got back on the road within two hours. I was very satisfied with Good Sam's response, the wait time, and most important to me- the quality of service I received from the tire service.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Kerrville Schreiner Park: June 2015

June 16, 2015, 8:32 PM

It was only a few weeks ago that I was here for Memorial Day. That was the weekend that most of Central Texas flooded. I was in the same site. Today was another rainy day. A tropical storm is hitting the Texas coast. I hope this isn't going to be a flood-filled time. There was already too much damage from the last one.

I woke up yesterday morning with one goal in mind. Get to Kerrville and work on cleaning out the fresh water system of the Colby T. On  and off for the last few years, the water in the fresh tank has had a really foul sulphur odor. This summer, however, the smell has been non-stop! I have only myself to blame. You are supposed to sterilize the tank every year at a minimum. Since I don't drink the water, I never bothered. It sounded like a lot of trouble just to make water safe to drink, especially since I had no intensions of drinking it. I am  strictly bottled water when camping.

I skipped breakfast and rushed to get ready. As usual, everything had been packed, except a few lastt minute essentials, beginning the day I returned from the last trip. I through it all in the truck, kissed Rachel goodbye and went to Packrats.

I arrived at the park around 9:30 AM. I got to pick site 129, which is now my favorite. It is level, heavily shaded by giant pecan trees. has decent phone service, and when wanted, gets all of the Kerrville over the air channels. (There aren't very many.)

I did most of my usual set up stuff, but completly postponed my inside work. I had to take everything out of the bathtub and put it on the bed during the process, so there wasn't room for much indoor activity. I mixed a half cup of bleach with a gallon of water and used the hand pump I normally use to add potable anti freeze in the fall to get it in the fresh tank. I had hooked up the sewer pipe and run the tank dry using the fresh water pump. I filled the tank the rest of the way with the hose, ran all the faucets and the toilet for about two minutes each, then turned them all off and let the bleach water sit in the system for four hours.

Whille I waited for the four hours to end, I brought my stuff in and fot as much of my inside stuff done as possible with a bed full of extra stuff. I took the three handme down throw pillows Rachel gave me a few weeks ago when she changed the den from maroon and forest green to teal over to the picnic table and got rid of all the dog hairs that were on them. 

Then, I decided that I wanted a cold drink, so I hiked the two-mile round trip to the convenience store across from the park and got a Powerade Zero. On the way back, a strange deer and her fawns walked across the street. I didn't have my stinking camera with me. I knew they were some kind of exotics that had escaped from one of the area exotic game ranches. I was bummed to not have the camera with me, but hoped to see them again. When I got back to camp, I sat under a tree and read for an hour or so. 

There was still some waiting time left, so I got the bright idea to go to HEB and buy some tripas. For those of you who don't know, they are beef intestines. They are one of my favorite foods, but I am not allowed to cook them at the house. Every once in awhile, I cook them while camping, since I know I can hike and burn the calories. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) HEB didn't have any. I spent about an hour walking around the store putting things in my basket and taking them back out. I just couldn't bring myself to any agreement on what to buy. I decided to just go back to camp with nothing and eat dinner at Brewdawgz later.

By the time I got back to the Colby T, it was time to flush the system. I ran each of the faucets for a few minutes, then let the kitchen faucet run until the pump started to stress at empty. I filled the fresh tank with clean water, ran all the faucets again until the bleach smell was gone, then turned them off, shut the sewer draiin valves, and did a little victory dance around the trailer. No more nasty smell!

I celebrated by taking a nice five-mile hike on the trails. Before I got to the trailhead, I saw two of those exotic looking deer across the field from me. I used the camera to zoom in close. They had spral horns! I managed to get a picture of one of them that is pretty clear. Later, I looked them up and saw that they were actually blackbuck antelope!

The rest of the hike was pretty nice. It was a gorgeous sunny day. There were lots of rabbits and deer along the trail. I didn't see any humans whatsoever. Yesterday, there were only three trailers in Deer Field Loop. Nobody else arrived during the day. I had the trails to myself.

I just had a minor panic attack. I am using my bluetooth keyboard to write this on the Google Blogger app so I can upload it to my blog tomorrow when I get home. I just hit save and got a message that I was offline and could not save. I knew I was offline, but I thought you could save on the device. I cut and pasted what I had to far into the Notes app. Then I totally closed out of Blogger and opened it up to see that it was all still here. 

Anyway, I got back to the Colby T from my hike and took one of my at the sink baths. Then I sat in the AC and read for awhile until I was cooled off enough to dress for dinner. As I opened the door to leave, I saw that there were two deer in my yard, so I took some quick photos before going. Then I went on over to Brewdawgz, which is just outside the park gate.

I hhad planned on havinng a few beers and eating fish tacos. They were out of Mahi Mahi, but said they could substitute salmon. I just wasn't feeling that, so I ordered an oyster poor boy instead. It was really good. It wasn't until I paid that I realized it was the special. That made me a little nervous. I don't usually eat oysters in the summer time. I got a bad one in New Orleans a few years ago and squirted bright green liquid for nearly a week. I know- TMI. If they had oyster poor boys on special I figured they were tryig to use up their oysters. Fortunately, I dodged the bullet on that one.

Just as I left Brewdawgz a down pour started. I was glad I had driven over instead of walking like usual. It rained on and off the rest of the night, so I didn't get to take a late evening hike. I went on the internet and estimated my caloric intake. I figured out that all told, I had about 1800 calories for the day. I have been sticking to 1500 for the last six weeks, losing 23 pounds in the process. It was a good thing that I had skipped breakfast and eaten a very light lunch. I had only just undone the damage from all those kolaches on the last trip!

I spent a quiet evening reading and playing a game on the iPad. I wasn't in the mood to watch bad TV, which is pretty much all I can get here. I never even brought the TV out of the closet and hooked it up this trip.

I woke up this morning a little after 8:30. It was raining a bit outside. I spent a lazy morning reading, playing the game, and texting Tara Mastin, the TSS at my two schools. She was working her last day and was having a hard time finishing her inventory. Several items that we knew where disposed of during the 2012 deployment were suddenly back on it. She couldn't fiind my records. I told her that they were in the bottom drawer of the file cabinet in the lab. She said the file cabinet was gone. Sometime during the school year, it was taken somewhere else. Neither of us noticed. We think they did it to make room for the extra furniture they brought in for the teachers to use when they brought their classes for math. She finally found it somewhere on campus, but my folders were all missing from it. The only things in it were from before 2010. We must have texted back about 50 times trying to figure something out.

I also spent some time on a survey for the Lower Colorado River Authority about my trip to Oak Thicket  Park. I only had one bad thing to say. That was about the poor condition of that three-mile trail I hiked on. It was so overgrown I could barely see where I was stepping. That's no fun during the summer when the rattlesnakes are active.

At around 11:00, I decided to get my ass in gear and take a hike on the park roads. It was threatening ran, so I didn't want to be deep on the trails if it came. Just as I was bout to go, it started raining. That lasted for about two hours on and off. I ate lunch and read some more until I finally didn't hear anyone dancing on the camper roof. I went out and the sky seemed pretty clear, so I grabbed my hiking stuff and a gallon-size baggie for my camera (just in case) and headed off. I walked through all the camping loops along the way. Just as I was leaving one, it started to sprinkle, so  stood uner a tree to wait it out. After about five minutes, it stopped, so, I started hking again. I got about two hundred yards before it started pouring really hard. I ran to the bath house and stood under the overhang for about thirty minutes. Then I stuck the camera in the bag and went back to hiking in a light sprinkle.

I saw a lot of deer on the way. The rain didn't seem to phase them. I got shots of three different kiinds. I hope they turn out. The white tailed deer are not as skittish as the others. They are escapees from nearby exotic ranches, and have experienced being hunted. The white tails are like boardwalk pigeons- nearly domesticated. They only run off if you approach too agressively. Notmally, they stop, assess the danger, and go back to grazing.

I went throught the other RV loop and was amazed to see the red Winnebago again. He has been here the last two times I came, also. He was walking to the dumpster so I asked him if he comes every two weeks like I have been. He told me that he had been camping here for ten weeks and was finally leaving tomorrow. He hadn't planned on staying so long, and ended up at one point getting a new reservation, which forced him to change sites. I wanted to ask him why he was here for ten weeks, but didn't. All I know is that I am jealous of him. That is one sweet rig, and living at this park for ten weeks must have been freaking awesome!

It was raining pretty bad by the time I got back to the camper. I used some of the bleach in a spray bottle and gave my awning a good scrubbing. The part that shows when it is rolled up was filthy from exposure, and some of the underside when open had some moldy spots. I guess I didn't dry it as well as I thought during the floody Memorial Day Weekend trip. I didn't use it at Oak Thicket. I was too busy taking day trips around the area.

The rest of the day was spent reading, facebooking, and playing that game on the iPad until about 7:00 PM. I had just finished eating dinner when I noticed that the sun was out a bit. I quickly donned my hiking duds, grabbed my camera, and started walking on the roads again. I got about a mile in with no rain in sight. Then I sat outside watching the deer grazinng for an hour or so utnil the gnats started bothering me too much. Ever since then, I've been sitting here writing this.

I'm going to read for awhile now before crashing early. I want to get a head start on departure procedures in the morning. With that tropical storm, Weatherbug is predicting a lot of rain tomorrow. I need about 30 - 45 minutes of outdoor time to drain the tanks, get my gear in the truck, and hitch up for the trip home. I figure that by starting early enough, I can get it done in increments whenever the rain stops for a few minutes. If it doesn't rain, well lucky me. I'll just get home earlier than expected.

I am going to post this to my Hot Air Depot blog site tomorrow. I won't add anything more unless there is something out of the ordinary tomorrow morning or on the way home

Happy Trails!

Monday, March 30, 2015

What's In the Window?

Back on the nineth of March, I was camping with my little trailer, the Colby T, at Lockhart State Park in Lockhart, Texas. You can read all about that trip in the previous post. While I was there, I took over 280 photos. One of them was very interesting.

It wasn't until I was back home in San Antonio uploading my photos to Facebook that I realized I had captured something odd in one of my photos. I had been standing about a half mile away from the trailer area, when I decided to take a photo the trailers. I kept zooming in a bit and snapping another shot until I was zoomed up really close to the Colby T. Thatt last shot is the one in question. As I uploaded it to Facebook and had the opportunity to see it on a bigger screen, I noticed what seemed to be a person looking out of the window.

I thought the figure in the window looked like a man wearing a sweat shirt, sunflasses, and a bseball cap. In fact, when I saw a photo of my father a few days later, I was convinced it looked like him. Now, I am not saying that it was my dad's ghost in the window. I'm only saying that whatever it is looks like my dad to me.

None of my Facebok friends saw a man in the window Instead, they all saw a little girl wearing some kind of pinafoore dress. They say she has shoulder-length hair and bangs. I now see that, when I look at it, which just goes to show you how powerful your imagination is, and how easily it is influenced.

I'm not sure what caused this strange apperance. I know it is not a reflection of someone near the trailer. I am positivie it is not someone being seen through the camper, but actually standing on the other side of it. If it is  ghost, I hope I am right. I can live with the thought of my daddy going camping with me from the beyond. However, the thought of being haunted by the unknown spirit of a little girl is quite unsettling.

What do you see in the window? Can you explain what is causing this "illusion"? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spring Break 2015, Lockhart SP

Monday, March 8th, 2015

11:16 AM

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 morning.

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 for coffee.

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 extremely inquisitive.

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 wasting it!

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 two-hour nap.

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 town.

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. Who knows?

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.

Monday, 7:14 PM
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
11:47 AM

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, yet.

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 you.

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.

2:17 PM
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.

6:38 PM
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 that.

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
4:29 PM

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 departure prep.

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 the countryside.

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. Yippee.

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.