Tips & Tricks | Lessons Learned from Our First Backpacking Trip

We took our very first backpacking trip right before Thanksgiving! We decided that the Good Water Loop around Lake Georgetown was a great first trip for a number of reasons. It is not super remote (so if we got into a bind, we wouldn't be out in the middle of nowhere), it was a reasonable distance (27 miles around the lake), and it wasn't too far away from us. After lots of research, purchasing packs (and proceeding to stuff them full of shit), and planning our route and daily mileage, we headed to our starting point of Cedar Breaks Park. Three days and like 100,000 steps later, we made it back with aching feet but a sense of pride and accomplishment. Was it a perfect trip? Absolutely not. But it was an adventure and there were a few key takeaways that we got from the experience.


This should go without saying, but we stupidly did not appropriately plan for water. We packed about 7 liters into our water bladders. I was convinced I was overpacking and never considered the alternative. Well, on the second day, we ran out of water with about three miles left in our hike. This happened due to a number of different factors, but it doesn't really matter WHY because, really, it can be anything. It's not so much about the why but about the obstacle that it presented. Everything I read recommended two different methods of water - packing in, a water filter, boiling, iodine tablets, etc. All we did was pack in, thinking that we'd have plenty to get us from refill point to refill point. I had carefully planned out where we would be able to refill and when we'd get there. All that went out the window when we got on the trail. Without a back-up plan for water, we were left thirsty AF and had to ask some fellow hikers for a spare bottle (that we proceeded to chug the fuck out of). Luckily, there were plenty of other hikers on the trail with us, but I will never again not have a back-up way to obtain water.


We didn't think much about our route besides mileage. I wish that I had done more research and considered the difficulty of each section of trail, as well. We did the hardest part of the trail on the very first day when our packs were at their heaviest. This then led to us stopping short of our daily goal, which had a ripple effect for the rest of the trip while we tried to catch back up. This won't always be possible if the trail has one very defined starting point, but for a loop like the Good Water Loop, there are so many different places you can start and, if and when we do it again, we will be starting from a different location next time!


We were a little too optimistic about what we would be able to accomplish each day, I think. Especially considering that we did not do any training with our packs (lol oops don't judge). Our plan for each day was (in chronological order): 6.5 miles, 9 miles, 6 miles, and 5.5 miles. What we ended up actually doing was: 4.5 miles (that for real almost killed me - I totally puked), 6.5 miles, 10 miles (this was rough), and 5.5 miles. I wish I had been a little bit more realistic about what we would be able to do each day and planned accordingly. Because we had a finite amount of time, we had to push really hard on that third day to catch up from falling short the first two days. I'd probably throw an extra day in there if we do it again. There are absolutely people that can do the whole loop with only one night on the trail. We are NOT those people. And that's okay. 


For me, this was just as much a mental challenge as it was a physical challenge. After the first day, I was seriously considering giving up. We talked about maybe just staying at that first campsite the whole time, but then I realized we couldn't do that because we needed water (refer back to the first point haha). At the end of every day, our feet were hurting, we were tired, and every step was a feat (feet lol) of strength. But through the hurt, through the exhaustion, through the weight of the packs and the humidity and the puking and the blisters, we fucking did it. I needed that reminder. The reminder of how strong I am, how much I am capable of. A reminder of how fucking AWESOME my body is, the body that carried me slowly but surely over 27 miles of rocky trail with 40lbs of weight on my back (and, for a while, Lily's pack on my front to give her a break). It may be soft and squishy but it is also fucking strong. It had been a while since I had been challenged the way this challenged me and it was nice to feel it again. I feel different on the other side of the trip. The experience changed me in a way that I don't really know how to describe just yet. It wasn't life shattering or anything, but I feel renewed.

If you're considering going on your first backpacking trip, DO IT. Be prepared to be challenged and be prepared to leave it all out there. You can do it!

Bracken Cave Preserve | July 2021

Lily and I ended the month of July with a visit to Bracken Cave Preserve in Garden Ridge, just outside of San Antonio. Bracken Cave is home to TWENTY MILLION Mexican free-tailed bats in the summer. Yes, you read that right. TWENTY. MILLION. It is the largest bat colony on the entire planet and the largest concentration of mammals in the world. It is a maternal colony, meaning the entire colony is made up of females (and later in the summer, their pups).

The preserve is privately owned by Bat Conservation International and the Nature Conservancy. In previous years, the only people that were able to access the site to see the bat emergences were members of BCI. This summer, they opened the preserve up a couple of times for non-members and I am so grateful they did. We booked two months in advance and the openings sold out relatively quickly. I appreciated the small crowd size due to their limited amount of reservations. It created a much better experience not being crowded in the relatively small viewing area (and we could social distance easily).

They will contact you a couple of days before the reserved day to give you an update on what time to arrive, depending on when the bats have been emerging. We arrived shortly before 7PM and had time to walk the trails, learn some really interesting stuff from the volunteers (uh - there are almost EIGHTY feet of guano on the cave floor WHAAAAT), and attend the pre-emergence bat talk. Then you move to the viewing area and wait.

The bats emerged just before 8:30PM. Before they started streaming out, you could see them swarming right at the mouth of the cave. I almost felt like I was hallucinating because the cave is dark and you can just kind of see blurs of movement and you wonder if you're even actually seeing that or if it's just the dark playing tricks on you. The stream starts thin but steadily grows until it is just a massive black cloud of swirling black blobs. The bats will circle up out of the cave in what the volunteers referred to as a bat-nado until they got enough lift and could head out to find food. We saw a Swainson's hawk picking a couple of them off mid-air. After the emergence had been going on for ten minutes or so, a volunteer led us to the overlook on the other side of the cave so we could experience the bats flying right over us. It was so damn cool to experience it from that different perspective.

We stayed until it was too dark to see anything else. The bats were still just pouring out and would continue to do so until around 11PM.

highly recommend making a visit to Bracken Cave if you have the opportunity to. It's a once in a lifetime experience to see the world's largest bat colony in all of it's glory right here in Texas! If you do make a visit, here are a few small tips to help make your visit as amazing as possible.

  • Wear closed toe shoes - for comfort and safety while walking along the trails and through the mostly undeveloped property in the dark
  • Bring bug spray - there weren't mosquitoes but the gnats were pretty annoying!
  • Bring plenty of water - Texas summers are hot and don't be fooled into thinking that because it is in the evening, it will be cool. There is no water on site so bring enough to last the duration of your visit!
  • Take some amazing videos - videos are far superior to photos if you want to really capture the magic. Slow-mo videos are really amazing for this, too!

Old Tunnel State Park | May 2021

We spent a recent Friday evening at Old Tunnel State Park. The park is the smallest park in the state, at only 16 acres, and is located outside of Fredericksburg. It has a really cool mixture of history and nature - the tunnel is an old railroad tunnel, part of a track that went from Fredericksburg to San Antonio. The track was built when Fredericksburg lost the competition for the hub for the larger railway system that was being built through the Hill Country (Kerrville got it instead - rumor has it that the Kerrville folks got the Fredericksburg folks drunk the night before they were arguing their cases and they ultimately bombed it). The train transported livestock and passengers and apparently wasn't run very well, as the company went bankrupt twice. When World War II hit, the railroad was shut down and the metal was all salvaged for use. Once the trains were gone, the bats moved in. The state acquired the property in 1990 as a Wildlife Management Area and in 2012 it became a state park!

If you're planning on visiting Old Tunnel, here are a few tips to have the best experience you can!

Wait 'til August

The tunnel is just under 1,000 feet long and is home to about 3 million Mexican Free-tailed bats from the summer months into the early fall. Even though the emergences start in may, don't make the mistake that we did and WAIT! It's better to go in August/September for a couple of reasons. One - May is generally wetter than the later summer months. When there has been a good amount of rain, there are more bugs and the bats don't have to travel as far to eat so they emerge later. They emerged at about 8:50PM when we were there and it was damn hard to see them. Second - right now the mother bats have not had their pups. That happens in June-ish and it takes 6-8 weeks for the pups to be able to fly. Once they are able to, the number of bats emerging increases significantly, up to that high end of 3 million. We had about 1 million at the time of our visit (which is still a lot, but less than half of the peak!).

Book the Lower Viewing Area

There are two ways to see the emergence - the Upper and Lower viewing areas. I recommend the lower area if you're able to coordinate that (you do need reservations for both - tickets can't be purchased on site). You're closer to the bats as they emerge and can see them better (especially if they emerge when it's really starting to get dark). You can even smell them!

If you reserve the lower viewing area, you'll also have access to the trails prior to the bat program. Lily and I got there about an hour and a half before the educational program was slated to start and we walked the short trail. It takes you down in front of the tunnel and then through the forested canyon area. It's nice, shaded, and it's actually a pretty good trail considering the park is so small and only has a staff of one (their volunteers are AMAAAZING and do a lot of maintenance and upkeep).

Be Patient

As with all things in nature, it can't be scheduled. You generally will have a good idea of about when the bats will emerge based on the times from previous days, but don't be surprised if they make you wait longer or if they come out early. They've come out when it's still broad daylight, when it's pitch black, in smaller groups, and in one big mass. Make your plans around the estimated time that is posted on the park's Facebook, but be prepared to possibly be twiddling your thumbs for a while. The educational program is great for passing the time and you can ask all of your burning bat questions while you wait.

Come Hungry

If you're able to, I highly recommend grabbing dinner at Alamo Springs Cafe beforehand! They've got some of the best burgers in Texas. Unfortunately, they have limited hours right now due to lack of staff, but typically they are open through the evenings and are located right down the road from the park!


Old Tunnel | May 2021

Have you seen any of the bat emergences in Texas before? Which is your favorite?

Mother Neff State Park | May 2021

At the beginning of the month, Ben and Rebekah were visiting from California. They spent a night with me in Stonewall and then I drove them up to Gatesville to see her parents the following day. In addition to getting loaded up with tons of plants from her mom, it also gave us an opportunity to spend the afternoon at Mother Neff State Park - the park that inspired the Texas State Parks system!

Mother Neff is named after Isabella Neff, a Virginian who relocated to Texas in 1852. Her youngest child, Pat Neff, was the governor of Texas from 1921 - 1925. When Isabella Neff died, she left six acres of land to the state. It was turned into a local park and officially opened as a state park in 1937. One of many Civilian Conservation Corps parks in Texas, this small park has a lot of history. That history doesn't start with Isabella Neff, though. For thousands of years, this area has been inhabited by Native Americans. It's no surprise that settlers displaced them - that's the foundation of our country, really...

These days, the park is 400 acres. One thing that I liked about the park was that it actually seems better to walk it than drive it. Trails connect pretty much all the open areas and, in my opinion, are superior to the road, which narrows and dead ends at a gate at the south end of the park. This gate blocks off the area of the park that is closed due to flood damage from 2015.

The size of the park makes it really easy to hit some of the most prominent features in the park in just a short 1.5 mile loop! Here's how:

TOWER TRAIL - 0.6 miles

When you enter the park, head to the camping loop and park right by the bathrooms. Pick up the Tower Trail and walk to the CCC Rock Tower, arguably the most iconic structure at the park. Go ahead, walk up it and enjoy the view!

When you're ready to move on, keep following the trail until you come to an old CCC stone picnic table. One of the things the CCC did was try to design structures in a way that allows them to blend in with the environment. This is a common theme among CCC parks - it's known as landscape architecture or organic architecture, a term coined by world-renowned architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. This picnic table kind of looks like it's growing out of the ground.

CAVE TRAIL - 0.2 miles

Take a short detour from the picnic table to head to the Tonkawa Cave. It's not a "cave" per se, more-so a rock shelter. It's really neat to sit underneath it and think about all those that have come before and sat in it's shade, as well. This is a great place to sit and enjoy a snack, some water, and the quiet. When you're ready, head back the way you came.

WASH POND TRAIL - 0.5 miles

When you get back to the picnic table, briefly hop back onto the Tower Trail and then veer to the left to join the Wash Pond Trail. When the trail splits, take the left route to head to the Wash Pond. The pond has CCC history, as well as they expanded a natural dam to make the pond bigger. Back then, it was used for laundry and swimming, but nowadays I don't think I'd want to do either in it. It was really pretty when we were there, though, with the blue skies and trees reflecting off the surface of the pond!

Backtrack a smidge to get back on the main Wash Pond Trail and keep following that until it intersects back with the Tower Trail. From there, it's less than a tenth of mile back to the road!


If you've got limited time to visit this park, you can't go wrong with this itinerary! The hiking is easy, the trails are shady, the scenery is beautiful, and the history is abundant!

Mother Neff | May 2021

Pedernales Falls State Park | April 2021

Since we don't have another camping trip scheduled for about two months, we are getting our outdoor fill by day trips and hikes instead. This past Friday after school, we packed up our gear and headed to Pedernales Falls State Park in Johnson City. We had our sights set on the best overlook in the park and hoped to catch it at the end of the day when the sun was low in the sky.

The trail starts on Trammell's Crossing, which - as the name suggests - crosses the Pedernales River. From the river, stick to the northern portion of the 5.5 Mile Loop trail. In just under 2 miles, you'll be rewarded with some beautiful views of the Texas Hill Country and the Pedernales River.

The trail is listed as moderate. You definitely want good shoes that can get wet (or be prepared to take them off to cross the river). I wore my Chacos and they were just fine for me. Immediately after the river crossing, there's a bit of a climb to get up, but once you've hit the top it's pretty flat the rest of the way. Coming back is easy because it's downhill, except the very end getting back to the parking area.

This was our first hike of the year where it was above 90 degrees. I regretted not bringing my hat - I would have dipped it in the river and plopped it on my head before heading up the trail. That is definitely one of my favorite forms of trail air conditioning. Getting your feet wet in the river post-hike is really satisfying, too! Take some time to wade around and cool off.

 I highly recommend this hike. The distance is doable if you're short on time and the views are well worth the effort on those steep areas!

Pedernales Falls | April 2021

Colorado Bend State Park | April 2021

After stalking the reservation system for a couple of days, I was able to snag a campsite for one night of Easter weekend in Colorado Bend State Park. It was the only campsite that was available so I wasn't expecting much, but hey - a campsite is really just a place to eat and sleep.

As it turns out, we had the best campsite in park (not just my opinion - my pal Debbie that works at the park told me when we checked in!). Site 25 - book it for a couple of days and thank me later. The site was pretty secluded - you're down a bank from the road and the drive-in campsites. On one end is a small trail to the river (only one person came through while we were in the site) and the next site over was a good distance away. The river is a really short walk so it's easy to go back and forth without any hassle. The only downside of the site is that hauling our gear up and down the bank was kind of a pain in the ass, but I would do it again (and I plan to soon). It was probably just sucky for me because I'm out of shape, though, so take that with a grain of salt!

Since we were only camping for one night, we obviously had a lot to pack in. Here's what we did during our 24 hours at Colorado Bend!

Skipped rocks in the Colorado River

It sounds simple and boring, but damn, we really enjoyed this. After setting up camp, we brought our camp chairs down to the river and placed them right on the bank with the legs in the water. We had soaked our feet in the cold water and hunted for flat rocks that we sent flying across the surface (and also straight in - we're not very good at skipping rocks). We watched black vultures soaring around above us and the fishermen dotting the river. Sometimes the simple things are the best things.

Hiked the Spicewood Springs trail

Before dinner, we wanted to hike to see Spicewood Springs. The trail starts in the Spicewood Day Use Area and is 1.3 miles long. That's a little misleading, though, because the trail is one way and can be connected with the Spicewood Canyon trail to make a loop. The area where people swim in the springs is right at the beginning so if you just want to swim, the walk is easy and short. We stupidly didn't bring bathing suits because I was convinced that the water would be too cold to swim it. It was cold (as was the river), but it was totally swimmable.

If you hike this trail, be aware that there are numerous creek crossings. The first one we came across, I fell on my ass in front of numerous people and got my pants soaking wet. For the rest of the hike, I looked like I had pissed myself. Oh well! Wear good shoes, though, because some crossings are deeper/more slippery than others and you can/will get wet. I had my Chacos on which were perfect for walking through the water, but not great for the rock scrambling. They did fine, though.

We hit the overlooks as the sun was lowering in the sky and the views looking down at the springs were really phenomenal.

Hiked to Gorman Falls

After a good night's sleep, we woke up around 7AM and got moving for the day. We put our hiking clothes on, packed up our backpack, and by 8AM we were hitting the Gorman Falls trail to see the iconic 70 foot waterfall. The trail is 1.5 miles one way and I'd classify it as fairly easy until the very end. There are cables strung between posts that you hang on to as you slide your way down slick rocks on a steep slope to get to the falls. Equally fun going up (no, that's not sarcasm, it really was fun!).

Gorman Falls looks like a cave on the outside of the Earth. The process that formed it is the same one that forms caves, so the comparison is appropriate. The water comes from an underground spring and through time has created the travertine formations that the site is known for. The area is home to Guadalupe bass and is a very sensitive and fragile environment. Please don't be a jerk and cross the barriers. Also, don't fucking leave your trash everywhere. Lily and I picked up a lot of trash from the area. It's not hard to bring a trash bag, y'all. Don't suck!

We were the first ones to the fall that day and didn't see another soul on the trail until the very end when we were almost back to the car.


So that's pretty much it. I know it doesn't sound like a whole lot of hiking, but damn my legs are sore. It was about six miles total. Both hikes were labeled as challenging and contained areas of scrambling/climbing up rocks. I worked muscles I haven't used too often lately. It was definitely a good enough amount for us considering we had very little time in the park. In the morning after the hike, we asked if there was availability for a second night and got an answer we didn't want but did expect - a big ol' NOPE. We begrudgingly packed up camp and headed out. We are definitely going to be back sooner rather than later! And next time, we WILL bring our bathing suits.


Colorado Bend | April 2021

Cascade Caverns + Old Tunnel State Park | July 2017

July has been a stupendous month. Lots of outdoor-ing. We've visited Blanco State Park multiple times to swim, including for my birthday weekend. I sure do like that park. Angela came up for my birthday, along with my family. We grilled, karaoked, and went spelunking. Well, not really, but whatever. The day after my birthday, we decided to day trip to Boerne to check out Cascade Caverns. Lily had never been to a cave before, and with 100+ degree weather outside, the prospect of a 60 degree temperature in the cave sounded just right.

The drive wasn't too bad & we listened to MBMBaM (My Brother, My Brother, and Me for those of you that don't know - check them out, it's a hilarious podcast). We got to the cave just in time to catch the 2PM tour. Lily was hesitant at first as we entered, but she ended up really enjoying herself (minus when they turned the lights off). She saw bats hanging from the ceiling and got cave kisses and saw a waterfall. She even walked the majority of the way without falling on her ass. Ben can't say the same, as he slipped within the first five minutes. We had lunch in Boerne after the tour and headed back home.



Last night, we decided to head to Old Tunnel State Park to finally check out the bat emergence. Old Tunnel is just what its name indicates - an old, abandon railroad tunnel. It is home to about 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats that emerge nightly from May to October. We arrived at about 6:30PM, not worried about getting in to the Lower Viewing area (which sells out quickly) because kiddos ages 3 and under aren't allowed there anyways (BUT NEXT YEAR IT'S ON). By the time we got there, the Lower Viewing area was indeed sold out and we found a nice seat in the Upper Viewing area bleachers. It was hot and Lily got a bit antsy, but one of the volunteers chatted with us for a while about bats and answered questions while we awaited the emergence to begin. Finally, at 7:25PM, the bats started to come out and holy hell, it was SO COOL. It was 20 minutes of bats spiraling out of the tunnel, creating dark clouds in the sky from where we were and beyond.


Up next on our state parks list: Inks LakeLonghorn Cavern.

Lockhart State Park | January 2016

I know, I know.... one of these days I will make posting more frequently a priority. But until then, deal with the once-every-two-month posts!

The first week of February was the State Parks Conference. I'll write a whole post about that later. It was held in San Marcos this year, which was convenient and close-by to my parents! We headed up to San Antonio the weekend before so we could spend some time at home and see some folks. Kim & I had a lovely reunion and overdue hiking adventure. We decided to try out Lockhart State Park this time. It was close by (only a little over an hour away from San Antonio), had some good hiking according the map we scoped out online, and.... barbecue. Lockhart is famous for the barbecue (in fact, it is the official Barbecue Capital of Texas!) and we like to eat barbecue so it seemed like a match made in heaven!

We hit the road early in the morning and made the easy drive. We listened to music that brought us back to many years ago and we sang along with the windows down and enjoyed the cool air. We made good time and pulled into the park before we knew it. We got a map and, since their trail system is largely made up of lots of shorter trails, we settled on a few different trails to combine to get us to hit just under three miles (and, of course, taking us up to the overlook).


Lockhart State Park is one of many CCC parks in the system. It also is unique because it has a golf course and a swimming pool! Pretty neat, but I sure as shit would not want to manage a park with those things! The amount of mowing that probably happens makes my head want to explode. It really is a beautiful, small park. Everything was very green and the campsites that ran along the creek looked very nice and peaceful.




We hiked along the various trails and made our way up to the overlook, where the CCC pavilion is. It was closed for renovations but it was a neat little building and there were some pretty views from the top. It wasn't epic...but still pretty!




The weather was perfect and the ground was covered in crispy, fallen leaves. The sun was shining and we soaked it up, along with the fresh air. Lily just hung out, going along for the ride. We would pick up sticks and rocks for her to carry around. Eventually, of course, she began attacking me with the sticks. Go figure. But it was a small price to pay for her enjoyment of nature.




After the hike, we headed to the most important part of this day trip: lunch. There are many barbecue options in Lockhart, but we decided to try Black's BBQ. It was good. Not great. Good, though. We all split some brisket and drank unsweetened tea (not Lily, though - the last thing that kid needs is caffeine).


Lily napped as we drove back home and bid farewell to Kim until our next adventure.

Goliad State Park | March 2015

We had a terrific day yesterday. We drove up to Goliad State Park to watch the war reenactments that they do up there. The festivities took place on the grounds of the Presidio La Bahia.



Okay, so Texas history is actually really cool. The reenactments were focused on Fannin & his troops over in Goliad. There were a couple of skirmishes, which led up to the Battle of Coleto Creek. Fannin and his men were actually in the process of retreating from Goliad, but ran into a few problems that caused them to be delayed. The Mexican army, led by General Urrea, was approaching fast. The Texians hunkered down, forming a square, and prepared to fight off the Mexican army. They were quite successful, however Fannin had poorly planned and they were running out of water and supplies and ended up surrendering.


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The Texians surrendered with a few conditions - primarily being that they would be spared and that their injured would be cared for. Unfortunately for them, Santa Anna had just issued a command that all Texians bearing arms be considered pirates and executed. So, on Palm Sunday in 1836, the men were marched a mile out from the Presidio and executed. It's crazy because, even being from Texas, I didn't know much about Goliad or what happened there, but twice as many men died in the Goliad Massacre than at the Alamo and San Jacinto combined.

In between the battle reenactments, we wandered through the presidio and ventured down the road to the state park and visited Mission Espiritu Santo.




The mission was established by the Spaniards and was used primarily to convert the natives to Catholicism and their idea of community. Many natives opted for this way of life as a means of survival and gave up their nomadic ways. We got a tour of the grounds and learned a ton.


Seeing the reenactments and being immersed in some of my state's history was really, really cool. Lily loved the cannons and gunfire and was cracking up at them. She loved the horses and running around. We even managed to get a few bluebonnet photos by the Zaragoza monument that sits on the property.



We headed back home, mildly sunburned and exhausted, and went to bed embarrassingly early. It was fantastic.

Mustang Island State Park + Pedernales Falls State Park | February 2015

I just returned from my first overnight trip away from Lily. I had to go to McKinney Falls State Park in Austin for a two day meeting. It wasn't too bad! She apparently did great and I was able to let my hair down a bit. Okay, a lot. Probably too much. It was a fantastic meeting, though. It's always great to meet other staff from around the state. We played Cards Against Humanity, which I am convinced is the best way to really get to know someone. We drank beer, played the horribly offensive card game, and stayed up far too late. YOLO. I'm just fucking with you, by the way. I hope that you know me well enough to know that I would never seriously use the phrase 'YOLO'.

Anyways, I digress. I just wanted to give a brief summary of recent happenings. My dear friend, Crystal, who I went to college with came for a visit a couple of weeks ago. It was so, so good to see her and it was as if no time had passed, even though it had been five years since we last saw each other. We caught up on life and enjoyed ourselves for a few days. They had never seen the Gulf of Mexico, so naturally, I took them to Mustang Island State Park - my home base.

This was Lily's first 'real' time to the beach. Y'know, because before she couldn't even sit up on her own or do any cool shit. Now, she tore the beach up. She absolutely loved it. Which, I must admit, was mildly surprising because she is terrified of the sand box my parents bought her. Maybe she just knows the real shit when she sees it.


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A grand ol' time was had by all. It was sad to say goodbye to Crystal, but we'll see each other again soon enough.

Now, let's jump forward a few weeks. I knew that I was going to be coming to Austin for my work trip, so I did what I normally do and popped up to San Antonio for my weekend that preceded the meeting. Kim's birthday is coming up and since I can't make it to her celebration, I wanted to do something else for her. What better gift than the gift of the outdoors?! RIGHT?! Really, though, nothing is more perfect for us. So we ventured out to Pedernales Falls State Park in Johnson City. We almost bailed on this trip because of the weather, but I had faith that it would hold out for us & it did. It was cold still, but the rain stayed away.

Initially, we planned on hiking the Wolf Mountain trail, which is about seven miles round trip. But, between the weather and our feelings of being semi-crunched for time, we opted for a shorter trail instead. We picked the Trammell's Crossing trail, which led to about a 5.5 mile loop (of which we only did about four miles).

Let me start by saying... I don't recommend this on a cold day. Why, you ask? Because apparently we didn't get the meaning of the word 'crossing' until we were faced with just that - crossing the damn river. It took us about 20 minutes to decide a) if we even wanted to attempt it and b) where/how we would attempt it. Finally, it ended with us taking off our shoes and gritting our teeth in the chilly water to get to the other side. I did it with Lily on my back, too. Duh.


"How in the ever-loving fuck are we going to do this?"

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"Why in the ever-loving fuck did we decide to do this? BRR."

Once we got across and got our shoes back on, though. The hike was nice and peaceful. The initial ascent got us both pretty winded, but we kept trucking on up (as we so often do). Once it flattened out up at the top, I let Lily out of the carrier and had her run around for a little while. She played and we swung her around and let her have her fun until we had to pop her back onto my back for the sake of time.


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After the hike, we had lunch at Pecan Street Brewing. It is a small, local brewery right in Johnson City. Kim & I both ordered bunless burgers with some sautéed veggies and we snacked on chips and salsa. I tried the County Jail Pale Ale and the Screw Loose Blonde - both were tasty! We feasted until our tummies could take no more.

It was starting to drizzle at this point so we loaded up into the car and decided to just do a quick drive through of LBJ State Historic Site & the Sauer Beckmann Living History Farm. I won't count either on my list of parks visited because we didn't even exit the vehicle, but I plan on getting back out there with Lily soon enough!

UGH. I am always amazed at how fucking long it takes me to write a post. I think, "okay, I'll just write something real quick before I go to bed" and sure enough, without fail, an hour later I'm confused as to how it took me so long to spew a bunch of words onto this thing.