Category Archives: Travel

A Rule to Live By

Eliot in life jacket

Cathy and I just returned from a short camping trip on which we inadvertently discovered a new rule to live by. It could be that my judgment is a bit clouded at the moment, as my emotions are still running high from the ordeal, but right now I would say that this rule trumps all others, regardless of context:

NEVER BRING A TWO-YEAR-OLD CAMPING.

Every checklist in the world needs to be rewritten with this rule in mind. If you’re going on a trip, first make sure that it won’t involve camping with a toddler. If you’re planning a wedding, proceed only if you’re certain there won’t be any camping with two-year-olds. If you’re a heart surgeon, then before you crack open another patient’s chest, you really need to double-check — just to be safe — that you won’t end up getting roped into a camping trip with a toddler as a result of the operation you’re about to perform.

I’ll leave the details of the debacle to the reader’s imagination and focus on some positives here: (1) In the end, we did still decide to keep the two-year-old in question. (2) The child, who shall remain anonymous, seemed to have enough of a blast at certain moments on the trip that the hellish periods may indeed have been worth enduring. For him, at least. (3) We got to see a beautiful starry sky from the dark woods of Goose Island State Park.

A Nice Texas Road Trip

IMG_1896 (1)

Just before the end of my summer vacation, Cathy and I managed to squeeze in one last road trip. It was only two days long, but even in that short time we found some gems that are worth sharing. They are:

  • Longhorn Cavern State Park
  • Inks Lake State Park
  • The Lakeside Lodge at Lake Buchanan
  • Colorado Bend State Park

Longhorn Cavern State Park has some nice views of the hill country and a few buildings of historical interest; but the main attraction there is, of course, the cave. There are three things about it that make it interesting.

First, it was formed by flowing water rather than acidic solution. As a result, it has broad passages with smooth walls and ceilings. Some of the chambers are quite large, and one of them is sometimes used as a venue for underground concerts and weddings! During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers made gunpowder in it, and during Prohibition, somebody turned it into a restaurant (that served alcohol).

Second, the cave is home to about 30 to 40 Eastern Pipistrelle bats, which are interesting because (1) they are really tiny and cute, and (2) they are solitary. Whereas most species of bats huddle densely together on cave ceilings, each of these little guys prefers to have one chamber to itself.

The third interesting thing about the cave is a chamber that they call the Hall of Gems. Its walls are covered with beautiful crystals, many of which are about the size of your fist (some as big as your head). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any good pictures.

From Longhorn Cavern, we drove to Inks Lake State Park. The lake is quite small, but the scenery is nice, and you can rent kayaks and canoes. There are well-maintained campgrounds as well, which we intend to return and use in the near future.

That night, we stayed at the Lakeside Lodge. The building itself is somewhat old, and it is not a luxurious resort; but the view of the lake is quite nice (especially at night, with the Milky Way overhead), and the hosts, John and Virginia, are great people. We enjoyed hearing their stories, eating a huge, home-cooked breakfast, and playing with their collies, which are all rescue dogs.

The next morning, we drove to Colorado Bend State Park (note: in Texas, not Colorado). One of the main attractions there is a 60-foot waterfall (Gorman Falls), but because of the recent drought, it was all dried up. It would have been a bit hot for the lengthy trek to the waterfall anyway, so we took the Spicewood Springs hiking trail instead, which has a beautiful, emerald-green swimming hole.

You could see straight to the bottom of the hole. About twelve feet deep (maybe more), it was teeming with fish, some almost a foot long, with dark orange and blue coloration. As we swam, they played around our feet! The photo at the top of this post is us at the swimming hole; unfortunately, it doesn’t do the water justice. (It really was clear!)

There’s more to explore in the area, so we’ll be back for sure!