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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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"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.

 


Palmetto State Park | November 2014

The Thanksgiving holidays were wonderful. I took almost a full week off of work and headed to the new house in San Antonio. It is cozy and cute and centrally located. Pretty much everywhere I went in town was 20 minutes or less. Restaurants are easily accessible, as is HEB. I really like it and I'm looking forward to Lily and I building new memories there.

My break was incredibly active. On Thanksgiving, I ran a 4 mile Turkey Trot that was put on by the San Antonio Roadrunners. I have been running regularly since late July/early August and I've put in the miles that should have made this run pretty easy. What I wasn't expecting.... were the hills. I am used to flat, sea level runs. The hill country has, well, hills. They were kind of brutal but we pushed through. Literally, I pushed that fucking stroller up those fucking hills. We hit our goal of under 44:00 minutes, though! It was our first run as a family and I hope to do more in the future. I'm getting pretty great at juggling a dog and a stroller.

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Much food and wine was consumed following the race throughout the day. The meal was delicious and Lily enjoyed her first Thanksgiving, though we were both a bit congested.

That Saturday, we decided to trek to yet another new park for us. We set our sights on Palmetto State Park, though it was a close race between that and Blanco State Park. The recommendations of other park folks swayed our decision, in the end.

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The park is located in Gonzales, TX and the drive took us a little over an hour. Not bad at all. It was a warm day and a great one for hiking. We arrived at the park, got our permit, and headed to the trailhead of the Ottine Swamp trail. We connected it with the Mesquite Flats trail, and ended on the San Marcos River trail for a total of a little over 3 miles. The trails were pretty empty and we only passed a small handful of people along the way. It was peaceful and perfect.

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The park flora is strange. You're in a forested area... and there are fucking palm trees everywhere. Dwarf palmettos, to be exact. It just seems so out of place and odd to see the differing plants in the same area. I suppose that is what makes the park unique, though. I was freaking out, man. But not really.

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Once we finished the hike, we checked out the old CCC refectory. I used to really not be interested in history much and then when I worked at a CCC park, all of a sudden something clicked. I love seeing the old buildings that still stand 80 years later, that are still being used by park visitors. I think it's pretty awesome.

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I love that the leaves are actually changing color in some parts of the state. You'd never know that it was fall on the Gulf Coast.

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As we left, we enjoyed the scenic park road and got our last glimpses of the beautiful scenery. We headed home to rest up for our next adventure the following day.

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Goose Island State Park | February 2014

Our second state park outing... but really it's the first visit of any worth. I consider her first park my park, even though she hasn't even seen the beach yet. She's seen where I fill out my time sheet, that counts right?

When my friend, Tara, was visiting last week, in between painting the furniture and watching the entire season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix, we took a trip out to Goose Island State Park in Rockport, TX. Our ranger friend, Janelle, was leading an edible plants walk so we thought we'd pack up the mob and go explore! We loaded up Lily and the pups and headed out. Rockport is about an hour away, it really wasn't a bad drive, though! 
 
It was pretty damn chilly the day that we decided to go. High 30s, low 40s. I was debating whether it was a good idea to bring Lily out or not, but I knew she'd be in the carrier and I could help keep her toasty warm so we decided to brave it!
 
We pulled into the meeting area, not surprised to see that we were the only brave souls who actually wanted to go walk around in the wind and the cold. We came prepared, though, and bundled ourselves up. On the hike, Janelle taught us about oak trees and plants that will make you vomit and plants that will make you say 'mmmmm'. I'm being pretty broad here because, honestly, I can't remember any of the fucking plant names. Damnit. I was really paying attention, too. Sorry, Janelle.
 
Did I mention I love babywearing?
 
You may remember Lucy from here. She helped me test out the carrier way back when.
 
We walked around on the trail for about an hour. Lily slept through the whole thing. Figures. Maybe if she had been awake she could remind me of the names of the plants. C'mon, Lily. What are you good for?! Oh, yeah, you're fucking cute. That's right.
 
After the hike, we took a quick drive in the (heated) car to go see the water and the fishing pier. We swung by the Big Tree, also, where I breastfed Lily in the car while Tara got out and took some pictures. The Big Tree is this huge live oak that is like.. 1000 years old. That's an old fucking tree. It's all gnarly looking and, according to Tara's investigations, there are all sorts of wires holding the branches up. Sounds super safe.
 
This is Big Tree. It's a big fucking tree. I stole this photo from Wikipedia.
 
We stopped for some essential hot chocolate at the fanciest cafe in town (read: a gas station) and made the drive back.
 
I know I've said this before, but I am super gung ho about raising kids in parks. I plan on taking Lily camping as soon as it warms up a little bit.  I want her to appreciate the outdoors and recognize the value of nature.  I anticipate her next park will be Garner State Park! Keep an eye out. I know you're on the edge of your seat.

This post was brought to you by the word 'fuck'.