Park Life

I will return to my list of "10" albums shortly, but we've done some camping recently and I wanted to share a few photos before too much time passed. Last weekend we spent a couple days at McKinney Falls State Park which is in southeast Austin, and Garner State Park, about an hour west of San Antonio.

Here's our basic camping setup when we're prepared for rain. It is a good thing we ready, too, as it would have  been pretty uncomfortable without it. 

Here's our basic camping setup when we're prepared for rain. It is a good thing we ready, too, as it would have  been pretty uncomfortable without it. 

Garner is a pretty special place. Apparently, I'm late to the game on this one because everyone I've mentioned it to has said it's their favorite of the Texas state parks. It's in the middle of the hill country, that little bit of Texas that isn't flat and covered with wheat or grass that looks a lot like wheat.

The first full day we stayed there, it misted all night and stayed foggy until the sun burned off the clouds in the early afternoon.I'm a sucker for "water drops on things that don't normally have water drops on them" photos, so there many, many more than I've posted here.  

The fog makes the hills seem a lot taller than they are, but an 1800' peak is pretty tall for central Texas, particularly when it's rising out of the Frio river canyon. The camping space we had backed directly up to one of the taller hills and I bounded (note: "bounded" is an absurd exaggeration of the level of spryness I exhibited that morning, but it felt distinctly bound-y) out of our campsite and up, up, up. We took a couple of the more remote trails, including one that was the old road into the park, letting the mist keep us cool.

When the sun broke through, we were treated to an altogether different park. We left the hills and hiked down to a trail down by the river. The Frio was true to its name; cold, as well as swift and clear. We were lucky enough to have booked our trip during the 15 minutes between winter and summer when the trees are at their peak. We couldn't have planned it better to get those bright green leaves intermingled with the darker, older live oak leaves. 

The funny thing is that, while we had a fantastic time, we didn't even do some of the most popular activities at the park. The Frio is dammed at the southern end of the park, set up for tubing and, just below the dam, is the park's signature hill, Old Baldy. We missed out on that, as well as the food trucks, the miniature golf, and the dance hall. Guess we'll have to go back, huh?

P.S. Yes, that's a picture of a turkey. The Rio Grande turkey is abundant in the park. 

McKinney Falls doesn't have the same abundance of water features and topography, but it's a nice park, nearby, and it's where we got married, so it has a lot going for it. In case you were wondering, late May is a dodgy time to camp in Texas. Sometimes, its lovely, but it can be very hot or very wet. Or both, as was the case last weekend.

It's still well worth the trip. Nicole was clever enough to get us one of those tents that is all mesh above 30" or so, so we had a little breeze at night. We didn't really move around much except at dusk and dawn, but as it turns out, those are great times to take pictures. You may notice a picture or two where, lacking a proper polarizing filter, I just put my sunglasses over the lens. Worked a treat, too. 

The blue-tinted photo is a weird one. I took that one at night. We had little blue LEDs strung over the edge of the umbrella, and the fairy lights were reflecting off of the flashlight's lens in a really pretty way. It was better in person, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Funny thing: I didn't really enjoy camping when I was a kid. There were some good times, but it was mostly something to be endured until I could get back home to my...well, we didn't have computers or video games or anything, but I'm sure there was something I was eager to get back to. Now? I get it. We can take off on a Friday afternoon and spend two nights at a park and it feels longer and more relaxing than a month of weekends at home. I'm a lucky SOB in that Nicole not only enjoys it, she enjoys it in much the way that I do. Oh, and we can camp-cook like nobody's business. 

Hope you enjoyed the pics. This is my first time to use the slideshow function, so...will it work? Let's find out!