Monday, September 22, 2014

Camping Cache - Blanco, TX

In honor of R(m)B's first cache, we dropped off a trackable!

RDB and I have really enjoyed out Caching adventures, and had the chance to introduce R(m)B to the sport during our trip to Blanco State Park.  There are a number of them, all within walking distance, inside the park - and it was a blast to get to find them this time with friends!

TxGCC13 Blanco
Spring Break 14
Birds & Bath

Cool Cache Ever!! "Birds & Bath" It was a log in a log behind a log!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Quaint and Quaff

The weekend at Blanco State Park was both quaint and quaffed!


: having an old-fashioned or unusual quality or appearance that is usually attractive or          appealing


: to drink a large amount of (something) quickly

We were excited to join R(m)B at the park Friday night since it was the first time we'd get to go camping with them since they bought our pop-up this past Spring. But, had I known that RDB and I wouldn't get out of Houston before 6pm on Friday I might have picked a campground that was closer than 40 miles west of Austin. It was a haul - yet the sunset made it oh-so worth it!

We got up Saturday morning slow and lazy. R(m)B were doing pretty much the same.  After a pot's worth of fresh coffee we decided to let someone else do the cooking and went into town to have breakfast at the Chess Club Cafe.  It's just 1.3 miles south of the park entrance, between the Sonic and the Dollar General, in an old remodeled home - it's the picture perfect definition of quaint.  We were all SO GLAD we went, as the reviews on Yelp didn't do it nearly enough justice!

Breakfast Tacos and Blueberry Belgium Waffles

Yes, that is a two-inch-tall Mason jar full of warm maple syrup.  And, yes, I nearly stole it, the thing was so cute! But that wasn't the only reason why we went back for breakfast on Sunday, too.  I mean, the food, all the food was just amazing!  If  When you go, you have to get something that has a slice of the homemade bread - RDB and I shared French toast Sunday morning, and it was amazing! I know I keep using that word: Amazing, but it truly was - some of the best tastes and least expensive home-cooked meals we've had in a long time (our bill both days was right at $20 and RDB and I had 3 entrees and a glass of OJ). Max, our waiter, even remembered our drink orders on Sunday - he did an incredible job and was just the powdered sugar on the pancakes!!  It was worth the drive to Blanco just to have our breakfasts here!

The Chess Club Cafe has been in Blanco for 4 years, and the sign out front says it all: "Don't be a pawn, eat like a King." 

To bide the time between trips to the Chess Club Cafe, we enjoyed a fair amount of what Blanco State Park had to offer - the water, the trees, and some really great friendship.

R(m)B arrived at the park before we did, and saved us a spot next to them.  Thankfully, even with all the rain South Texas has gotten this week, it wasn't too muddy this weekend.  Blanco SP has really sturdy covers on each site over the picnic tables - and we loved the shade and the protection from the sprinkles that popped up Saturday afternoon.

The nice thing about the rain is that is gave us all a chance to nap as well as cooling everything off without making it too muggy.  I had a chance to enjoy the hammock in a not-so-traditional way.... who says you have to have two perfectly-spaced trees to make it work? (Thanks for the photo, RDB - glad you couldn't hear me snoring from way back there!)

Later Saturday afternoon, RDB and I went for a walk, crossing over the damn built by the Civilian Conservation Corps back in 1933-34.  We both pondered how much of an impact it would have had on the local town to have had this project created for them.  We were thankful for the opportunity to still enjoy the stone damn and waterfalls today, nearly 80 years later.

The evening brought about cooler temps and an improvised beer garden.  R can't lay claim to being a Beer Cicerone, but he sure does have a love of craft beer and enjoys introducing others to the flavors and fun of various styles of beer.  He brought everything we needed to enjoy a beer tasting and helped to get us started on our journey beyond BMC. He even had an app that walked thru explanations of each of the beers we were trying and provided us with tasting notes about what we were experiencing. Out of the nine beers we tasted in our flight, RDB enjoyed Buffalo Bayou's Summer's Wit - a light, citrusy Belgium Witbier that would be perfect for a hot summer's night, and I really fell in love with Oskar Blue's Ten Fiddy - a darker stout beer which had a strong coffee aftertaste and 10.6% alcohol in just one can!  It was great fun to share in R's passion about beers. 

Sunday morning, more slow waking, more coffee, more Chess Club Cafe.  (I'm telling you, no lie, I'd go back again tomorrow before work if it weren't four and a half hours away).  We had told (m) about our ventures into Geocaching, and she asked several times throughout the weekend if we could go "treasure hunting."  As usual, RDB and I liked to save that event for Sunday morning before we pack up to leave, and we loved being able to introduce R(m)B to the adventure this weekend.  You can read more about it in this post.

We really had so much fun this weekend.  Great campground, great food, great friends, great beers - we were quaffing it as quickly as we could, since we had only a short weekend to drink it all in.  That being said, we're already looking forward to our net trip with R(m)B in October to Lockhart SP.  

Hmmm, October..... Oktoberfest? 

Proof that (m) was looking both ways before she ran across the street! 

We were in sites 4 and 5 at Blanco State park. Both were very level, beautifully shaded, and had concrete pads and shade covers for the picnic tables.  This was the first campground I've heard of that had codes for the bath house showers - perhaps because we were right on the edge of the city of Blanco (four blocks from the county Courthouse) they were necessary.  We're thinking we may come back for a long weekend (like Thanksgiving).  You know me - I always say that!

For more camping photos, go here

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Camping Cache - Rusk, TX

Probably my favorite photo ever - thanks, RDB! Butler Park Geocache

PCS #105

Geocaching out in Rusk, TX this past weekend, we were introduced to the tiniest container ever.  It was magnetic, so it was hidden exceptionally well (we had to look at the hint to find it). Just for reference, that's a standard size ball point pen in the picture.  I mean, we're talking tiny.

Slow Children Series #4
PCS #63
PCS #105
Butler Park
Trackable: ThinkPink!

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Gift: Long Weekend, Long Post.

Yes, that is a South East Texas POP-UP Camper's Club banner beside a travel trailer.  Why? Because we Scouted this weekend, and because this all-inclusive Club doesn't discriminate by breed, creed, gender, religion, or what you go camping in! (Although, to be totally honest, we did join the club while we were still in a pop-up...)

RDB and I took a few extra days off to make the Labor Day weekend a little longer, and left late out of Houston after running errands, going to the gym, and dropping Diesel-Dog off at doggie day care (we wanted a bit of a vacation to celebrate RDB's birthday and Double D doesn't understand what 'sleeping in' means). Honestly, it was a little odd without him.

We're back (again!) to an old favorite - the Texas State Rail Road campground up in Rusk, TX.  (Remember how last year, RDB said he'd gladly spend his birthday here again?) M&D from the camping club beat us there and had already picked out one of the more secluded sights.  J/D had family in the area and weren't coming over until Saturday morning.  We made ourselves at home in site 10 and snuggled in for the night.

By the way - if you haven't picked up a dog-bone for your camper, you should do so. Our 30amp wasn't working, but the 50amp was - so the connector (which was still new in the package after all this time) finally came into good use.

Friday morning we slept in(!), enjoyed our coffee and breakfast, lazed around the camper for a bit, then took a trip into Palestine (to have lunch at Giovanni's. Again!)  We made a stop off at the Walmart - one set of my outside rope lights had died on our past trip, so we picked up another - and we spent a little time in downtown Palestine.  I had researched a quaint little shop called the Texas Art Depot before we left: they were supposed to be a Thomas Kincaid gallery (I think we saw one print) and had several different local artisans. We thought the metal works were really neat and ended up buying one for my Dallas Bro.  

See the red-headed poker player at the bottom? Yep, that's my Bro.

Back at the campsite, we spent some time talking with M&D.  They had gone to the Caddo Mounds  Historical Site that morning, and were planning on riding the train on Saturday once J/D got in.  Since RDB and I have ridden the trains twice, we opted to spend this trip sight-seeing (and eating... a quick side note: I packed only 3 main meals (just dinners, no lunches) because we always come home with food. 4 nights, 3 dinners this trip, and somehow we still came home with food uncooked?!)  We finished up chatting with them and walked back to our site just as the sky opened up and it down-poured on us.  Good thing I bought Despicable Me for RDB's birthday....

The sunset Friday night after the rain was just glorious. I'll let the photos speak for themselves:

I don't think the steam and diesel trains in the campground will ever grow old to me.  There's just something so magical about the type of travel we used to do - and hearing the train whistle totally delights me.  I spent a good bit of time after the rain Friday evening walking the tracks and taking photos of the empty station (you can see them in my Flickr feed - link at the bottom).  I ventured out Saturday morning to wave to the other SETPUCCers who were going for a ride on the #7 Diesel that morning. M&D said they had known about the trains up in Rusk for decades, but had never made the time to actually go and ride.  It's for that very reason I'm glad we Scouted this trip!

While they were off on their rail adventure, RDB and I drove down to the Caddo Mounds State Historical Site.  We've driven past the mounds nearly every trip up to Rusk, but had not taken the time to go walk the site.  The museum is currently under construction and will reopen partially  in October ("When the politicians are available.") and will be fully completed in December.  Rachel, the education coordinator, was extremely knowledgeable and gracious enough to lend us the keys to the golf cart ("It is August, after all!") so that we could ride around, rather than walk the mile trail between the mounds.  I really do look forward to going back once the new museum is open and spending a bit more time there learning about this ancient culture.

Once we all made it in from our respective 'rides,' we debated a bit about dinner.  Tradition has it on SETPUCC trips, that there's a potluck on Saturday night.  With just 3 families attending this weekend a potluck seemed a bit over the top.  So, on M&D's recommendation (aka, TripAdvisor research) we jumped in the truck and went back out to Palestine for dinner at Little Mexico.  (J/D stayed in... which in hind-sight, was the better choice!)  The place was packed, but the service was severely lacking. And the food? Ehn.  I think we'd have done better going back to Giovanni's (again!) which happened to be literally right next door! (I think I've figured out why I keep coming home with extra food....)

Saturday night we planned to go for an Owl Prowl after we got back in from dinner.  RDB and I got back to the camper, unlocked the door, grabbed our trash and as I took it to the dumpster, he closed our gray tank.  I got distracted chasing a frog as he made it back around to the front door.

"Look what I caught!" I said, motioning to the frog.

"Look what I can't open." RDB said, tugging on the camper door.

(Somehow, magically, our door had re-locked itself and we were stuck outside.)

I said: "No problem! I have a spare key in the truck - I just need the truck keys, but they're..."

" the camper?" RDB said.

"Maybe we could use a screwdriver to pry it open? I have a tool set, but it's..."

" the camper?"

"We could.... call AAA? I've got a membership! I just need my phone, and it's..."

" the camper."

About that time, D and D showed up and joined us in pondering how we managed to get ourselves locked out of our camper (it felt like the old "Who's on First" routine all over again.)  Thankfully, M had a tool set back in his pop-up and after trying a multitude of non-violent attempts to pick the lock, RDB decided "force" was the only means necessary, and skillfully broke the lock. I say skillfully, because he only broke what was necessary to get the handle to open - the door still latched, and the deadbolt still locked... but it will eventually need to be replaced.  You know, I had a locksmith back in Raleigh tell me a story once about Gremlins....

Speaking of Gremlins, we did some Geocaching on Sunday (Gremlin, Garmin. Get it?)  We found four, but didn't do much searching beyond that.  When your Hubby says, "I'm getting itchy just looking at that one," you know you've gone about far enough.

Found our tiniest Geocache ever, and our first TravelBug.  I'd say four was plenty!

The rest of the day was spent enjoying the campsite (and watching Despicable Me 2 when it started raining again).  I cooked coconut crusted chicken for lunch, and though it was good, I'll never do it again - frying stuff, even lightly, in the camper leaves a fried-fast-food-restaurant smell that even Febreeze had a hard time getting out.  After lunch, once the rain cleared, we took another walk around the lake.

Life is sweet to us right now.  We really enjoy our camping, our friends, our life together.  It's hard to imagine that only a year ago next week, RDB proposed.  It may be his birthday today, but I feel like I'm the one waking up each morning to a gift.

For more camping photos, go here.