Travel

Texas Car Camping Part 3

I’ve fallen in love… and not with my husband.

I have found a new love in car camping and hiking. The simplicity of the experience and freedom it allows me is everything I didn’t know I was missing.

I told you how I prepared for my trip in my post Solo Car Camping. I told you about the first night in my post Texas Car Camping and my second day in my post Texas Car Camping Part Two. Now I’ll detail my third and final day of my weekend away.

As the sun began to rise Saturday morning I was feeling all sorts of things.

  1. I felt a stiffness in my shoulder that I wasn’t sure if it came from sleeping on it wrong or if it was from climbing in and out of the cave the previous day.
  2. I felt the four blisters on my right foot and the one on my left from hiking 13 miles in new shoes.
  3. I felt excited to move on to Enchanted Rock State Nature Area where I would hike to the summit of a massive pink granite dome.
  4. I felt a little gross and dirty from not showering for a few days. Thank goodness for dry shampoo and baby wipes.
  5. I felt disappointed this would be my last day of my adventure and I would have to return to work on Monday.

All of these feelings energized me for the day ahead. I hit the road by 7:45am to drive the 1.25 hours to my destination. I arrived 30 minutes after their opening time of 8:30 to this sight: About 50 cars lined up on the side of the road trying to enter the park. I underestimated the number of people who would be interested in hiking and this fantastic natural location so early in the morning. Watching every car briefly stop to talk to the park rangers lined up at the entrance only to either continue on down the road or u-turn and head in the opposite direction, I finally got to the front of the line. They already reached their max capacity for the morning, but I was offered a voucher that guaranteed admittance at 1pm when they reopened.

With a little over 3 hours to kill, I fortunately had many options to occupy my time before I would be able to return to the park. I decided to travel the 17 miles to Fredericksburg, TX. What a fantastic town! This destination is known for its German immigrant culture mixed with Texas pride. There are tons of shops, restaurants, wineries and entertainment to keep you occupied for days! The town was bursting with activity and tourists participating in egg hunts, shopping and sight seeing since it was Easter weekend.

I’m not really much for large crowds or spending money so I did some quick research and found a nearby wildflower farm that was free to visit. Sign me up! Wildseed Farms was perfect! You can’t help but admire all the Texas Bluebonnets lining the roads as you travel through Texas, and to have a location with acres of them growing in on place was absolutely gorgeous. They have a shop, winery, an event venue, cafe, and of course the fields. If you’re in the area, you really need to make it a priority to stop.

As the time drew closer to 1pm, it was time to head back to Enchanted Rock.

It was worth the wait.

My intentions were to hike to the top of the dome and then complete a loop around the base of the mountain as well. You can see the trail map here. The climb to the top was tough, but doable. My shoes gripped the granite easily and even a simple tennis shoe would probably do the trick. The views were breathtaking. Nature truly is amazing.

My feet and blisters were not happy though. I laid down and smiled through the pain.

After basking in the sun at the top, I finally decided to make my descent, skipping the longer hike I had planned and headed home.

I don’t think I could have had a better time on this trip. Everything exceeded my expectations. I know there were a few people concerned for my safety, but not once did I feel unsafe. Cold? Yes. But never, unsafe. I really need to get that sleeping bag for next time.

Travel

Texas Car Camping Part Two

My first night in the car fell somewhere between enjoyable and a learning experience. In case you didn’t catch on in my first post, it was a little chilly in the car that night. Despite the cold, I woke up to a beautiful sunrise! vjWcOlpAQE+aCuTMUsrcuA

I had intentions of departing by 6:30 am, but I ended up leaving later than that since it wasn’t even sunrise yet, and I didn’t really feel like packing up in the dark. When I did finally roll out of “bed”, I was able to pack up my supplies in under 15 minutes, including eating my breakfast of pre-made hard boiled eggs and set out to my next location, Colorado Bend State Park. IMG_3943

Today’s itinerary included hiking Gorman Falls and Tie Slide Trail, and a cave adventure tour I booked through their website here. And here is a map of the state park, and all their trails.

I headed straight for the park headquarters upon arrival at the state park. I had my fingers and toes crossed to reserve a campsite for the night and I was super lucky that there was one site left! With my accomodations taken care of, I was behind schedule and didn’t have time to hike to Gorman Falls before my cave adventure, but I did have time to complete the Tie Slide Trail. This trail has lots of trees for cover from the sun and leads to a beautiful overlook of the Colorado River.

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Following this hike, I snacked on some grapes and headed back to the headquarters to meet my tour guide for the cave adventure. I’ve been in a cave before. I’ve toured the Natural Bridge Caverns outside San Antonio, TX and I’ve toured Diamond Caverns in Kentucky. Both of these tours were spent on your two feet the whole time and the most strenuous part might be going up and down stairs. The cave adventure I was about to participate in boasted a majority of crawling and a more raw experience than I had any history with. And an adventure it was!! The guide provided helmets and knee pads, which came in handy again and again as we spent the entire tour on our hands and knees and I bumped my head numerous times as I crawled around this primitive cave. It was AMAZING! I’m still not sure how I fit down this tiny hole and then climbed up through a different, but equally tiny hole. Yjh1g8i+SkOsVal8Qv9V7w

I cannot recommend this experience enough! It was well worth the $25 price tag, if anything, it was a bargain! J3Z1Zy2wTRCGKxele0tvfg

Our tour left from a different part of the park than I was expecting, so instead of going back to the trailhead for Gorman Falls, I decided to just hike from where I was at Cedar Chopper Loop. This added many, many miles to the amount of hiking I had originally planned, but I was feeling ambitious. I took Cedar Chopper Loop to Dogleg Canyon Trail and peeped this awesome canyon. naH1mcANQRuCeTuSyq4i8w

Dogleg Canyon Trail to River Trail and got to see a closed to the public cave entrance while using chains to traverse this tricky spot:IMG_4031

River Trail to Gorman Falls which got very slippery at the end as you descend down to the base of the waterfall. Ur15jHixSpC6TUs2djATAkXN+okRlqiPbYdz2YwUg

Definitely worth the struggle though.

I reached Gorman Falls and according to my Fitbit I traveled 10 miles by foot so far. My feet were preaching every step of that data. I still had to hike back to my car. Who’s idea was it to not drive to the trailhead? Mine. It was mine. No one to blame but myself.

Old Gorman Road to Cedar Chopper Loop got me back to my car the fastest. Once I was back in the RAV4 I headed to my campsite for the night where I quickly got my bed together, made my dinner and then did some stretching next to a curious armadillo.

Even with the cold that night, I slept very fitfully out of exhaustion. But I found a new love in hiking.

What do you or don’t you love about hiking?

Travel

The Hidden Gem of Corpus Christi, Texas

So the weather has been incredibly fabulous for the month of March. April-February are horrific, but March is really amazing. This weekend was so nice, I met a friend to explore the Oso Bay Wetlands Nature Preserve.

My first 11 months living in Corpus Christi, Texas, I was super lucky to live just a few blocks from the Oso Bay Wetlands Nature Preserve. I came across this gem fairly early into our residency, but it took me probably 10 months before I truly explored all this place had to offer.

When you first arrive in Corpus Christi, you are more than likely going to drive in on South Padre Island Drive (SPID). SPID is lined with pretty much every chain restaurant, retail store, and fast food restaurant you’ve ever heard of. It is also home to two malls, and multiple car dealerships. You would not expect to find some of the views and wildlife which can be found at the Oso Bay Wetlands Nature Preserve, which is not far off from SPID.

When I first started visiting this place I would walk a straight line down the trail from the entrance by the road, down to a really great overlook point on the Oso Bay. I did this for months because I thought it was the only finished trail, but I was so wrong! As I would find out many, many months later, there are multiple trails with various unique and worthy scenic points that I highly recommend. There is also a nature center open during the week, and a playground for the tiny humans.

I can’t help but feel like this experience can be a metaphor for life. We can go through life with blinders on, only seeing the path directly ahead of us. And while there may be a worthy destination within view, life can take you in many other directions also with equally fantastic, if not superior, experiences. We only need the courage and willingness to venture off the main path so we can be pleasantly surprised.

There’s also the possibility to meet a rattlesnake or two along the way, which did happen to me on my last visit, and scared the bejesus out of me. The snake was actually really chill and just slithered away into the brush like I was boring and it was time for a nap though.

Do you have any great trails near you?