A while back, we decided to plan our next camping trip. We pulled up the Texas Parks and Wildlife site and poked around for places near home and then we tried to give up in frustration. Most campsites within the "drive there after getting off work on Friday" range were booked through next fall. Having to plan that far in advance takes some of the spontaneity out of the exercise and speaks to a serious lack of park space in our fair state.
We got a little less picky about the dates and decided to consider camping in late January. Clever readers will notice that right now is, in fact, the very definition of "late January," so I'm writing to you from a tent at McKinney Falls State Park. It's an absolutely lovely evening. My phone, the final arbiter of all things weather-related, puts the temperature at a brisk but still unseasonably warm 62 degrees. We've had a fair bit of fortune this weekend.
One of my greatest fears is "camping in the rain," a fear burned in to me by years of character-building expeditions in my youth when no amount of interesting weather would bring about the cancellation of a camping trip. Floods. I have literally gone canoeing during floods. So, you get the idea. I associate camping in the rain with being chilly, damp, and miserable the whole time. I've spent my entire adulthood avoiding camping in the rain.
It rained last night and this morning.
And you know what? It was ok. Nicole has a marvelous sense of not only camp arrangement, but of how to handle a little bad weather without it ruining the trip. She brought cards and checkers and dominoes and books and an extra tarp and we were safe and dry in our tent playing two handed poker without any betting which was more charming than it sounds.
We're in our second night here, our first two-night trip, and I'm feeling very much like we could go longer than this. In spite of all the hiking, we may put on pounds as a result of the camp food. Burgers last night because we needed to keep it simple for the arrival night, then pancakes and bacon for breakfast, a light, no-cook lunch, and then short ribs braised for several hours over the fire in a Dutch oven tonight.
We haven't left the park at all today and even managed to hike the entire Onion Creek trail which my quadriceps are still complaining about. The little bit of rain we got added significantly to the enthusiasm of the falls themselves. We didn't see nearly as much interesting wildlife as last time, but it was still a lovely, peaceful hike (except for the bit that runs up against a housing development going in right next to the park which strikes me as a little off-message, but progress, right?).
The park is full, but we really haven't seen that many people. We're among the very few people here camping in tents. Most folks are in enormous home-replacement sized RVs, which I'm not knocking, but there haven't been very many cooking fires these evenings.
The only bit of work I've had to attend to has been just making sure all of our locations sent their data to the reporting site. One didn't, but that was no big deal thanks to the double-edged miracles of modern technology, the same ones allowing me to write to you from here. I didn't even watch my beloved Leicester City thump Peterborough 5-1 this morning, although I did listen on the radio. Other than that? It's just been us and a bunch of outdoors, which is an awfully nice way to spend a weekend.
So we're sitting here, under the giant umbrella next to the tent, enjoying the slight breeze and the quiet. Well, that and Nicole's Pandora station which mixes French cafe jazz, progressive rock, and Windham Hill-ish instrumentals (including Maxence Cyrin's solo piano cover of "Where Is My Mind," which is the perfect summary of this mix). It's peaceful enough that I think I'll leave you for a while and get back to doing an exquisite version of nothing with my wife.
Good night all.