Camping at Colorado Bend SP 2/1/18-2/4/18

Thirteen Townies and three guests ventured out for camping at Colorado Bend State Park just west of Lampasas, one of the most primitive of our state parks with no hookups. It was no big deal, hey our tenters always boondock! What a beautiful weekend – Texas winter weather – chill at night, warm sunshine, only a smattering of rain drops, big sky full of stars followed by a big bright moon.

Some of us arrived Thursday to a very quiet camp. Five TOWNIES took advantage of the early start and hiked to Gorman Falls on Friday. It’s beautiful as always, even with dry conditions throughout the area. Prescribed burns were evident. The falls were green and lush and we could see huge fish in the crystal clear bluegreen river.

More campers trickled in and by Friday evening gathered for the pot luck meal. Never a shortage of food with Townies. The burn ban – no campfires due to continuing lack of rainfall – didn’t stop the nightly gathering under the “hobbit hole” around the propane “bonfire.” Most called it a night early and were up and ready to go caving Saturday morning.

The Discovery Cave Tour took our group of nine up the road and on a short hike to a hole in the ground. Our guide from Nichols Outdoor Adventures was knowledgeable and fun. Once over the initial “We’re climbing down there?” hesitations, several of our more nimble members, took to their knees (bellies!) and crawled further back in. What a neat experience.

Same day, was that just yesterday? After a lunch break, nine of us headed out to hike Spicewood Canyon meeting up with Spicewood Springs trail for a nice loop, about 4 miles. The Canyon trail was up, not too challenging, just up. But what goes up, must come down. The Spicewood Springs trail to bring us back was a bit more challenging (understatement), requiring us to slide down a cliff on our butts, and navigate water crossings back and forth across the stream with slick rocks and more up and slides down. Gravity took it’s toll, but we still won out and made it back with everyone intact. Consensus: Spicewood Springs Trail earns its difficult rating!

Sunday morning dawned with warmth and sunshine, enough that four TOWNIES and a guest launched their kayaks for paddling on that beautiful river. Three of us took our sweet time packing up and made a stop at Storm’s Burgers on the way back home. The entire weekend was an adventure and we have 2 new members! I call that a success. Thank you soooo much to all the wonderful amazing Townies who help with everything and make hosting an outing easy.  xocheryl

June’s Game Night 01/20/18

Fourteen TOWNIES gathered together for game night on our pretend red carpet.  SandyO  brought her newest gift which was a battery operated microphone.  We tried our best to announce and interview guests as they arrived.  After catching up with one another, eating pizza, cookies, and Susan’s peach cobbler, we decided to let the games begin. One group played Mexican Train and another group played a new card game called Wacky Tricks.

I forgot to mention the healthy food we had at the game night.  LindaBW brought a big tray of vegetables and lots of popcorn. Thanks to the dog whisperers – Lynne, Jacque, and groomer Sheila, my foster dog Twitter (also called Tippy Toes) had a good time too.

We had lots of laughs and TOWNIES donated too much money for pizza so we will have to do it again and the food will be on me.  Until next time….

June

Hiking at McKinney Falls State Park, 1/6/18

Happy New Year TOWNies!

It was so good to see so many familiar faces at the 2018 Holiday Party! We missed those of you who weren’t there and hope to see you soon at another TOWN event.

If memory serves, twenty two (22) of us gathered with hopes of hiking the Homestead Trail on what turned out to be a very nice weather day for hiking. However, we could not find a good place to cross the creek to the trail without getting wet. We were all in agreement that wasn’t a good plan. So, we went to plan B:) We hiked along the creek passing under the Rock Shelter (this limestone overhang has provided shelter for over 4,000 years), seeing huge cypress trees of several hundred years in age until we connected with the Onion Creek Trail. Unfortunately, the bridge and part of the trail was closed due to construction on the visitor/interpretive center. There were a couple of bird sighting but they were scarce. We hiked approximately 2.8 miles.

We had a great time visiting and catching up with old friends and making new friends as we had several new members joining us for the first time.

A special thanks to Jackie D and Carol C for their help in trail selections:)

Cheers,

Jenny

Hiking Barton Creek Greenbelt – 12/2/17

We had a nice group of 7 women today that did a 6 mile hike on Barton Creek Greenbelt today: Emma, Allison, Nicole, Carol, Carolyn, Kim and Marsha. The weather was perfect and the trees showered us with leaves. Looking forward to more hike soon!

Marsha

West Texas Camping Trip 11/9-11/21

Trip Report: West Texas Camping Trip, Fall 2017

The following campers participated in different segments of the outing:

Sandy S, Bev T, Jana W, Carrie L: Davis Mountains area (5 days)

Linda BW, Flo M, Davis Mts plus Big Bend (9 days)

Marilyn F and Judy L, Davis Mts., Big Bend, plus Big Bend Ranch State Park (12 days)

Susan W and Eola L joined us for 2 days at Cottonwood in BBSP.

 

This extensive camping outing had many activities, and photos are posted by each participant on Facebook as well as on the TOWN-Austin Facebook group and our MeetUp group. So this trip report will include a summary of each segment as well as suggestions for next time. It was all fun, we learned a whole lot, the weather was gorgeous.

Segment 1: Davis Mountains State Park was our campground, with excellent wildlife viewing, friendly volunteers, and long hikes through Fall’s yellow grasses. From there we had day trips to:

Alpine for a brief town tour and lunch at a famous restaurant, Reata Alpine.

Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute (CDRI), near Fort Davis, a nature center with several trails and a mining exhibit with interpretation.

Fort Davis, for the Veterans’ Day ceremony, the old drugstore, and an opportunity to order and buy handmade decorative brooms.

McDonald Observatory, a star party and entertaining talk, looking through telescopes and an indoor presentation.

Marfa, a brief town tour that included El Cosmico, a quirky trailer park (re: Amazon Prime TV series I Love Dick) and the no-show Marfa Lights in the windy cold.

Suggestions: Indian Lodge was closed for lodging at DMSP, call ahead if planning to stay there. The long hikes (Indian Lodge Trail or Scenic View Trail across the hilltops were both dicey—you’ll want two trekking poles. Reata Restaurant in Alpine was excellent, make reservations. Marfa Lights Viewing area does have a restroom. DMSP wildlife viewing areas are really neat, with indoor and outdoor seating; they are not fenced, so javelinas also come in and eat the goodies.

Segment 2: Big Bend National Park. From our campground at Cottonwood we ventured into Santa Elena Canyon, waited for the daily rounds of bobcat and javelina, watched a great-horned owl perch above us in the daytime and swoop off to hunt at night. We heard coyotes. We were camping without electricity, water, or campfires, so we mostly went to bed soon after dark and got up to toasted pink sunrises above the walls of stone nearby. Some took the 4WD River Road for a few hours, all hiked Santa Elena Canyon Trail (it goes about ½-mile into the canyon, we drove into Terlingua in the heat of the day (83º), showered in Study Butte, hiked to Cattail Falls (Judy can explain how it looks different from 2 years ago), hooked up with Susan and Eola for 2 days, stopped to walk at Tuff Canyon, Sotol Overlook, Chimneys Trail, and other pullouts along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. On our last day at Cottonwood a group of about a dozen javelinas paraded through the campground (Judy heard them crunching, probably on seed pods), and the littlest ones were like guinea pigs with hooves. Javelinas are not pigs, but are related to hippos! Everywhere we walked the tracks of a multitude of different animals preceded us, but wisely hid from view.

Suggestions: November is the best time of year to camp at BBNP, even though the nights are very cool, because the daytime highs remain tolerable. However, November is also a very busy month for the Park, so do not expect solitude. Photographers who can afford to stay at the lodge come in August, when there are few tourists, lots of wildlife, and glorious thunderheads. Don’t try to see the whole Park in just 5 days. We stayed on the west side.

Segment 3: Big Bend Ranch State Park. Our first stop that morning was at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center in Lajitas where we got further instructions on how to reach “The State Park.” We then drove Tx 170 along the Rio Grande River west from Lajitas; it is a memorable drive and has several State Park sights along the way, such as Closed Canyon, but we did not stop and enjoy the scenery. We arrived at Fort Leaton State Park, near Presidio, TX. This Park was never a military fort, but was designed to look like one for its occupants, in full adobe dressage. They have a lock-up area for the vehicles of visitors to BBRanchSP, and we left both trailers and one vehicle. From that point we backtracked east on Hwy 170 5 miles to the ranch road to Sauceda. The road was rocky, washboard in places, generally wide and not too steep. It’s Accessible to 2WD vehicles with high-clearance, and it took about 2 hours to reach the Sauceda center. We stayed in the Bunkhouse for two nights.

Sauceda Bunkhouse has room for 12 women on one side and 12 men on the other. There are 2 or 3 single beds to a little room, and the rooms open onto a central hallway. A huge commercial kitchen has refrigerators, gas stoves, a big griddle, ovens, microwave, drip coffeepots, and plenty of counter space.

Sauceda Ranger Station has a gift shop and helpful staff.

The Big House will be rented within the next year after repairs and has several western-style bedrooms, a dining room, and kitchen.

Suggestions: Do not be frightened by the reservation clerk warning you to carry an extra spare tire and pick and shovel in case of rock falls. The road is bumpy and rocky, for sure; Just take your time. Taking water is a good idea in case you have to change a tire and get thirsty.

Don’t pack too much: There’s no room for it. You have no dresser or nightstand in your room, and all of your personal items are supposed to go under your beds. Windows are covered somewhat by vertical blinds. Beds are comfortable, and the bunkhouse has several window ACs and heaters.

The shower room has shelves for your toiletries. Bring an extra bathmat. Hooks keep your robe dry, but there are no hooks on the shower stall doors.

The Sauceda Ranger Station can provide information about road conditions and bunkhouse status. Call them at (432) 358-4444. To reserve space at the Sauceda Bunkhouse ($35 per person per night), call their special reservation line at (512) 389-8919.

The staff reports that the Bunkhouse renters are much more often men than women. Judy and I were the only 2 in the women’s quarters, and one young man was housed in the men’s quarters.

Kayaking Lady Bird Lake – 8/9

On this outing we welcomed two “strangers” who quickly became friends, Gigi T, who occasioned an international outpouring of welcome as we tried to get the outing information to her, and the brother of Suzanne R, pictured with her (below) in the double kayak.

No one stays a stranger long once exposed to the beautiful cliffs to the east of the Tom Miller Dam, the leisurely pace, calm atmosphere and the welcome drop in temperature on the water. We are grateful to the Rowing Dock for making our outings affordable for yet another year.

Gail P-C, Sheila R., Maria V, Debbie W, Gloria W., rounded out the group, each of us finding something to enjoy at our own pace, including the roots of the cypress trees intertwined at the base of Redbud Island.

Seven of us found a table at Shady Grove and were enthralled by Maria’s good news and her future plans.

The photos are from Gail, including one of Your Kayak Leaders, and the amazingly smooth water.

Hope to see you next time . . . the 22nd of August.

Kayaking Lady Bird Lake – 8/23

The cloudy skies, calm water, 7 TOWN-Austin women and another friend and a  periodic breeze made for a wonderful evening of kayaking!

We leisurely kayaked around Red Bud to catch the current on the way back.  We saw a beautiful Blue Heron along the way looking very stoic.  He didn’t move at all.  We had fun visiting with each other and enjoying the peacefulness

of the lovely evening. There was a lot of traffic on the roads, but not on Lady Bird Lake.  Afterwards, all but our new friend to TOWN-Austin went to Shady Grove for dinner and refreshments

Kayaking Lady Bird Lake – 9/13

Three of us, Maria V, Debbie W and me met at Lady Bird Lake to kayak. Although it was a small group we sure enjoyed our time on the lake. The water was like glass and the temperature was pleasant.

As we kayaked around Red Bud Island, we saw a crane posing patiently for us as we took several pictures. There were quite a few stand up boarders, scullers, and people fishing. It was really a peaceful evening.  We  spotted a raccoon coming out of the garbage can as we walked to our cars.  He was so darn cute.  So we did see some wildlife!

Afterwards we went to Chuy’s for a bite to eat. The food was good, enjoyed visiting but it was loud. Hope you can join us for our next kayaking on Lady Bird Lake Wed, Sept 27.

Camping & Kayaking at Guadalupe Rive SP – 9/28-10/2

These TOWNies enjoyed this rare and diverse Park:  June, Gloria, Marilyn, Carrie & Aaron, Judy L, Sandy O, Kay, Beverly, Marie, Darlene, and new members Donna and Jane!

Those of us who arrived on the Thursday found all the hiking trails closed and very wet conditions. As Gloria said, “We are Outdoor Women but we are also Indoor Women,” and we were TIWN for Thursday and Friday. Some short walks had to do.

On Saturday, Judy, Darlene, Marie, Beverly and Kay took a fabulous tube float down the river.  We put in upstream, floated for 1/3 mile and walked up the trail to do it again.  Judy was our real adventurer by floating the rapids as we watched with our fingers crossed.

Saturday evening we had some delicious soups made for the pot luck souper. In fact, Darlene’s chili was so good we asked for her

recipe, which is below.

At 7:30 on Sunday morning, Carrie, Beverly and Kay joined about 12 individuals and the park ranger on a 3 hour birding hike.  It was a beautiful morning to see 38 different species of birds, some of which were very rare in the park.  Since all of the trails had been closed due to rain, it was especially exciting to get to go to parts of the park that had been inaccessible. A favorite part of the hike was to go to the canyon and watch two types of kingfishers diving for minnows.

On Sunday Judy, Carrie, Beverly, and Aaron went upriver to an outfitter and got kayaks and gear, then paddled 3 miles down just past the Park. They reported that it was a beautiful paddle.

Sunday evening we chilled by the fire on a beautiful night.
There was this cat that had come around, starving, and Marilyn fed it and now both she and Judy are engaged in seeing that it goes into the rescue pipeline. That part of the story is still unfolding.

Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake – 10/11

The Rowing Dock is now closing an hour earlier, and still, on the 11th,  six of us, JudyA., AnnaE., LindaF., PegG., Gai P-C and DebbieW took off from the dock, eager to not miss another outing on the water.  And on the dot of 6:30, we all turned around to head back. So for a short time, the slowest looked like the fastest . .  VERY unusual.

In that one hour we managed to gather most of the things that bring us such enjoyment on these trips;  beautiful and graceful birds (big egret and a blue heron), sights (the water was lovely and smooth, no breeze, we went toward Redbird Island with the cliffs and trees, views of downtown on the way back), and the relaxation of a slow paddle and time with friends.

There was nothing! slow about supper, though.  After an heroic trip from Round Rock, Maria met us at Shady Grove.  When we handed in our orders the chit-chat began.  Who would imagine tech maven Anna A would engage with Debbie W in deep discussion of quilting?  Maria mentioned where she was on her current development project, that she was going to Washington and Tennessee to visit similar places, and found Peg to be almost finishing her sentences, very knowledgeable. And of course, with Gail present, there was discussion about the Songwriters’ Festival which will be held in “downtown” Dripping Springs October 20th through the 22nd.   And the appearance of the Kerrville Folk Festival Winners at the Sycamore Creek Listening Room on November 4th.

A good time was had by all.

The last paddle of the season will be the 25th of October, so mark you calendars for either 5:30 at the Rowing Dock if you would like to paddle with us for an hour, or meet us at Shady Grove at 7:15.

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