Sunday, November 1, 2015

2015 Camping Trips

2015 Camping Trips

March 6-8th: Lake Livingston SP site #68

April 3-5th (Easter): Kim's Parents

September  25-27th: Galveston Island SP, ACWC

October 16-18th: Fairfield Lake SP

October 30-November 1st (Halloween): Steven F. Austin SP

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Weekend and the Bridge is Out

Pretty sure you can say I had a LOT of fun this past weekend:

Big Bug-eyed, LOTS of fun!!

RDB and I traveled back out to Stephen F Austin State Park for the weekend - this is one of our favorites since it's close to home, just an hour away, and the sites are all nicely spaced out and mostly level.

We carved pumpkins for probably the first time in a decade; it was just as much gooey, awesome fun-ness as I remember!

RDB was our photographer this weekend - nearly all the photos were taken with his iPhone 6s Plus (and the video uploaded a little grainy, but on the phone it's crystal clear!) So, you'll actually see me in a few more photos than normal this trip!

I couldn't help but smile: both of our jack-o-lanterns were happy, rather than scary.  Says a lot about how we feel about camping I guess.  And life in general these days.

The weekend started out pretty rainy; we spent most of Saturday morning in side in the camper.  By late afternoon it had cleared off though, and turned into yet another lovely day.  I'll tell you this: if you cancel your camping trip every time the radar shows some rain then you'll never end up camping.  Once the rain cleared, I took the opportunity to do a little decorating...

Yep, I know.  I'm fun. ;-)  And I had candy just-in-case of trick or treaters, too.  (Don't you wish you had come camping with us now, huh?)

The downside to all the rain was that the trails were closed, yet that didn't keep RDB and I from going for a walk.  The park was 'slammed full of critters': deer, rabbits, frogs, owls, mice and crawdads.

He was all kinds of vicious until I picked him up from behind. 

We hadn't been back to the park since December of last year, so when we checked in the Rangers gave us a warning that the bridge was out, we didn't exactly know what to make of it.  Sure enough, on our walk, we went back up to the front entrance (we had to enter the park using a side road: "You know, in case the bridge went out.")  Sure enough, there was no longer a bridge to the park! But the golf cart bridge was still standing.

And that's where the road *used to* be....

We spent time playing games inside: a few rounds of "Go Fish" with our giant Texas-sized playing cards, and then a few rounds of Rumikub.  I have a mini tile set that was passed down to me from my Granda Ford.  Odd, how the scoring pages in the cardboard box still smell like her living room.  Sweet memories then, and great new ones now.

It really was a great, relaxing weekend.  Even the time change couldn't put a damper on our spirits.  We were in site #1 again (and have our eyes on site #39 next time we go back.)  The rain flooded a number of the sites - so if you're tent camping, be sure to watch where you settle for the evening!

For a few more camping photos, go here.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Camping Cache - Fairfield Lake State Park


Dropped off a trackable Smokey the Bear - the park is under burn ban, and several others (Bastrop, Buescher) are currently closed due to this year's forest fires.  Here's to hoping this traveling Smokey can help spread the message: only YOU can prevent forest fires!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Change in the Weather

Dear Fall.....

I hope you're here to stay.

Love, Me

We traveled to Fairfield Lake State Park for the weekend, arriving late in the afternoon and grabbing a great lake view spot in site #87.  Very level, but no full-hook ups; we were right across from the bathrooms at least.  Wonderful weather, a quick day trip to Dallas to spend time with Dad and Bunny and the Grandparents.  It was refreshing, relaxing, and just what we needed.

For (just a few more) camping photos, go here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

An Afternoon in The Rainforest

It really was a joy to return to the Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid.  I had been once before - probably around 8th grade - and knew that it was a neat adventure.  Construction began in the early '80's and the Rainforest Pyramid opened to the public in the early 1990's.  It's gone thru a major renovation after Hurricane Ike in 2008 - no damage to the Pyramid itself, it was designed to handle the strong winds - but the flood waters reached 14 feet in the parking lot.  The renovation included a canopy-level walk way, that gives visitors the ability to see the rainforest form an entirely new perspective.  Pretty neat:

It was really awesome to have a bird's eye view of the jungle-like environment.

We arrived around 4 in the afternoon, and hadn't thought about it until one of the on-staff biologists mentioned it, but about that time of the afternoon, all the nocturnal critters are starting to wake up and move about, whereas the day-time creatures (like the birds) are finding a place to bed down for the night.  Didn't think about that until we walked past the canopy area that contained the bats.  Yes, BATS!!

They were stretching and moving along, scratching their faces and bodies against the wired fencing of their containment area.  The pictures really don't show the size of these guys - their bodies were easily 6-8" long and 4-5' inches wide, thier wing span was easily 2 feet!  Like gerbils, but with wings.  Eek!

I was ready at that point to leave the canopy behind, but someone was blocking our exit!

Once Shaggy moved away from the door we were able to start our trek down to the forest floor.  The way they've designed the exhibits really is neat - you go from the outdoors, up in the heat and humidity, into an air-conditioned and dark area that houses numerous small creatures in terrariums so that you can get an up-close look at them.

Did I mention, it was air-conditioned?  There were a few of these areas spaced throughout the exhibit.  RDB and I were talking afterwards - they were spaced at just the right points where you'd have had just about enough of the 'natural environment' and were longing for a bit of a break.  That's smart engineering right there!  It made the entire experience enjoyable.

The floor of the rainforest was lush, lovely, and cool.

Probably the neatest part of our trip was the Ocelot.  Also known as a dwarf leopard, it's habitat is mostly in South America, but it's been seen as far north as Texas.  It was an incredible little critter!

Happy as a Clam at High Tide

Oh, camping - how we've missed you!  

It feels like forever long ago that we were last with SETPUCC - now renamed the All Campers Welcome Club (ACWC) - and agreed to scout for this trip to Galveston Island State Park.  Just a short hour or so from Houston, its a great campground to head to after a long week of work and travel.  It was nearly 10pm when we finally arrived, though, and as much as we wanted to socialize with the Club, we went nearly straight to bed!

Saturday morning, we woke to beautiful weather and an awesome short jaunt to the beach.

Diesel wasn't all that excited about the sea water (there were stickers on the path to the beach, and we have a feeling he got stuck and then stung by the water).  I was loving it, though.  It has been so long since I've walked along the Gulf of Mexico with my feet in the water, feeling the cool waves lap at my ankles.  It was amazing how beautiful and clean the beach was; the only thing littering the coast was the multitude of teeny-tiny little mussels.  

After a lengthy morning walk on the beach, we found ourselves back in the camper again, enjoying the air-conditioning and deciding what we wanted to do with the afternoon, before our scheduled pot-luck with the Club. 

Pros and Cons of Galveston Island State Park: Pro? You're super close to a very private beach. Con? Not a tree in sight.

I had a few ideas on what I wanted to do around Galveston, Trip Advisor had a few more suggestions as well.  (I did *not* know there was a train museum and running train in Galveston!! We will be going back to do that for sure!!) And no, even though the Bolivar Ferry was rated as #1, you will not see me going on that adventure! We finally decided on eating lunch at a favorite spot on the water and then heading over to a well-known tourist spot.

So, if ever you're in Galveston, and you're hungry for some of the best fried seafood on the Gulf Coast, head over to the Fisherman's Wharf on Pier 21.  RDB and I have had lunch here before - watching the cruise ships leave out on a Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago.  We didn't expect to see them again this trip, but both the Carnival Freedom and the Triumph were anchored, getting ready for their next trip out.  The Fisherman's Wharf has seating both inside and out - with direct views of the pier and harbor.  I guess you could say, it was lunch and a show! ;-)  And just so you know, the Shrimp Kisses (part of the appetizer platter) were the absolute best thing we had - although the mini crab cakes (also an appetizer) are what brought us back again for lunch!

^^ Look!! It's a Ferris brick!! A HOUSTON Ferris brick! I had no idea they even existed!

With full bellies, we headed towards Hope Street and the Moody Gardens pyramids.  I had been to this indoor rainforest once before, back in 8th grade, and thought it would be a great idea for an afternoon adventure.  RDB wasn't so sure: rainforest? Hot, humid, tropical environment? It wasn't until I told him they'd designed the pyramid with air-conditioning that blows directly onto the walking paths that he agreed to go.  Can't say I blame him!

I'll write a separate post for our time at Moody Gardens - it was such a neat experience, and I have lots to share about it!

Once we returned from our rainforest adventure, we headed over to M&D's campsite where everyone was gathering for the pot-luck dinner.  Since renaming the Club this spring, we needed a new banner - M&D took it upon themselves and came up with a great one:

 "Owl" bet you didn't see that coming! ;-)

We had a rather large group this campout: M&D and D's mom, JS&D and their daughter, D&J, the Happy Camper, The Photog and K, their daughter and niece, and a new (younger!) tent couple: Submarina and Isle.  There were several other new additions to the group, as well, but I didn't get a chance to get around and meet them all.

The pot-luck, as always, was wonderful. It never ceases to amaze me how we can all come together with different tastes and dishes, and no one ever leaves hungry!

We brought the Bird with us as well.  It took no time for the guys to crowd around RDB and ask about all the features and capabilities of our DJI Inspire1.  While he played around with the quad-copter, I got old school and went over to the beach to fly a kite.

I absolutely love this one:

True to form, after dinner M suggested that we head out onto the beach for a walk: a Crab Crawl, if you will!  Several of us walked out to the sound of the waves, under a deep full moon, and chased the tiny little critters as we came across them. Submarina was by far the most hilarious, blinding the crabs with her flashlight and then taking off in a rush after them when they'd gather the courage to jump out of the light and make a break for freedom.  One she chased all the way to the edge of the tidal line, where it stood for a moment with a look at the waves like "I can't swim!" but then jumped into the swell at its own peril.  It was a perfect end to a great night.

The wind shifted as the sun set Saturday night. We went to bed with it whipping around at anything that wasn't tied down, and then sometime after midnight the sky fell out.  RDB and I both woke at various points to the crash and bang of thunder and lightening, and the constant drumming of rain on the roof.  Before we went to bed, a last minute tent camper had shown up in the spot beside us; by the next morning, they were gone.

Perhaps you can see why:

Seriously. We went to bed and there was a tent in the spot between us and Happy Camper's trailer (in the upper right hand photo). We woke up, and they were no where to be seen.  And that was only 1.5" last night.  We checked the radar, we were in a lull in the rain and it wasn't going to get much better, so RDB packed up the outside, while I quickly packed up the inside, and we were on the road back home again in no time.  There was quiet a difference in the swell as we rode along the Seawall and made our way back to Houston.

Yet another wonderful trip, and another wonderful campground.  We were in site 15 on the beach side at Galveston Island State Park. Very level side to side, but also a low-spot if it rains.  No trees (obviously) so bring a pop-up shade tent if you're planning to hang out at the campsite for a while.  The park has recently undergone (and is still undergoing) renovations to make repairs from the 2008 hurricane season.  Ike did  a number on the island, and the beautiful beachy park was not spared.  All that being said, I think Diesel liked it well enough.  Happy dog.  

For more camping photos, go here.