Garner State Park – Day 2 Hiking

Saturday was sunny and warm, so we picked that as our kayaking day. Today was grey with a threat of rain. A good day for hiking, if not so much for photography. The mountain hikes headed up into the hills and looked much like what we had done previously. We decided on the 3 mile meadow hike and bike trail. Not so sure we made the best decision, but here goes.

The trail makes a loop that begins at the visitor center and ends within sight of it. Near the start we happened upon this bird watching blind.

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Bird watching blind

We took our places behind the blind. Within a few minutes this cardinal showed up.

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Given the weather and distance, this was the best I could do with my new smaller hiking camera. See Our Cameras if you’re into that sort of thing.

Also, while bird watching I got a call about an emergency situation at work. All our customers are banks or credit unions and we provide 24×7 support. My boss had gotten a panicked call from a bank executive. Hmmm. What to do? I forwarded the email with the pertinent details to all the key players on the team and from the trail, scheduled a web meeting in 60 minutes. My thinking was this would give them time to come up to speed, do a little research and for me to finish the hike and get back to camp.  So off we went again.

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Mary Lou and Chloe “hiking”

The trail is more of a dirt road than a trail and there is no elevation change. But there were some nice views of the meadow.  The clouds thickened and we were splattered with a few rain drops, but nothing serious.

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Mike with Chloe

I got a couple of phone calls as we walked from team members who needed info before the group call. This slowed me down and, added to the time we spent bird watching, I began to doubt we’d make it back to camp in time. A new goal was set to make it back to the car for the call. At least if the rain picked up we’d be inside. We picked up the pace.

As we continued around the loop we came across the Frio river.

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Frio river from the trail


Garner SP-102We did get back to the Jeep in time for the call and the weather cleared so I took the meeting sitting on a bench near the visitor center. This meeting was to get everyone up to speed on the issue and assign some initial tasks.  I set up another meeting in an hour. I was sure I’d be back at the rig by then. And I was.


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Field office

We met with the customer during this meeting, explained what we thought the problem was and our plan to address it. Both my team and the customer had things to do that were going to take a few hours. I set up another touch base for my team tomorrow at 2:00.  Fortunately, that was the end of working for today.

We’ve only had our trailer for 3 months. I wanted to make sure that everything worked and we’d exercised most components, but not all. When we first arrived on Friday it was warm and stuffy inside, so we ran the A/C for the first time. Worked fine. Also, we hadn’t yet tried the outdoor kitchen, so …

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Lunch cooked al fresco

There was a brief moment of concern when we could not get the burner to light. My lovely wife posed that there might be a gas shutoff valve at the hose connection and, sure enough… It then fired right up.

After 4 trips we’re still on the first 20lb bottle of propane.  I’m kind of wondering how long it will last.  I’ve keep the second bottle turned off so I’ll know when the first one runs out – except when traveling.  We wouldn’t want the refrigerator to stop on us.  Also, I’m wondering should I refill the nice new bottle that came with the trailer or just swap it at CVS?  I don’t really care about the price difference since we use so little.   If you have advice, please leave a comment.

We invited our neighbors over for happy hour.  That’s their trailer in the picture – 30 ft.  Nice.  Only the second time they’d had it out.

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Tim and Jackie

They’re from San Antonio. We had a fine time meeting each other and drinking a little wine.   The previous night we had really enjoyed gazing at the stars while sitting by the campfire, but it was too cloudy tonight. We parted for separate late dinners.   After a fine meal of grilled salmon, we returned to the campfire, then called it a night.


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We’d planned to leave the next day around noon, but when we arose, a cold front brought us a morning of gusty frigid winds. So we ate a quick breakfast and hit the road.

And that’s it for this trip.  We had fun.  We always do when we’re on vacation. Isn’t that the point?

Garner State Park – Day 1 Kayaking

In February we chose Garner State Park on the Frio river.  It’s a highly rated Texas State Park and we had the urge to do some kayaking.  We arrived on Friday afternoon of the three day Presidents Day weekend (at lease for some). I work for a company whose customers are banks or credit unions, if they’re closed, we’re closed. We checked in using our Texas State Park card and got three days camping with water and electric for $39. Garner SP is a large park with a new area and an old area.  We were in the new area in Rio Frio loop.  The water and electric sites are in the inner loop, not on the water.  They are nicely spaced. In the photo below, out spot is in middle and you can see there’s lots of space between us and our closest neighbors.

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Space 508 in the Rio Frio loop

Our spot was mostly dirt and gravel, although many of them had grass.  Still, I liked it fine.

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Mary Lou whipped up a nice breakfast.  Nothing tastes as good as bacon when you’re camping.

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We took a walk from our campsite down to the river.  It was flowing, but not a lot.  We knew we couldn’t kayak here – too shallow.  But it was quite pretty.

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Frio river – Looking upriver

Mary Lou and Chloe ventured closer.   Chloe is not a water dog, but she did get her feet wet.   That is amazing in itself.

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Chloe wades


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Here’s a selfie we took while on our river walk.



We headed off to the older part of the park.  There they built a dam that creates a small lake.  We drove upriver away from the crowds where the river enters the lake and inflated the kayak.  It was only the second time we’ve inflated it, but it went much faster than the initial attempt.


And we were off.  One downside of the tandem kayak, as opposed to the hard shell singles we have at home, is that I spend a lot of time looking at Mary Lou’s back.  She took this photo by holding the camera behind her head with me giving her aiming instructions.  This is the second shot.  The first one was of my feet.


From our entry point into the lake we went upriver as far as we could. Chloe was in her usual place on the bow.


Heading upriver

We investigated what we thought might be way around a small island, but we couldn’t go all the way around.  Still, it was nice to explore.

The secret cove

I liked the reflection of the clouds in the water in this shot.


Once we went as far upstream as we could we turned around and paddled down almost to the dam where the lake is it’s widest.  The water was crystal clear and even where it was 8 or 10 feet deep we could clearly see the bottom.   We saw a couple decent trout and some smaller unknown fish.  There were a fair number of campers fishing near the dam and we saw one small fish brought up.  At the dam we turned and went back upriver and went all the way upstream again as far as possible, which isn’t very far,  before determining that we had seen all there was to see.

In the video for this kayak, they show someone inflating then deflating and repacking the kayak in about 10 minutes each.  We would be happy with twice that time.  But, you can’t fold it up when it’s wet and it’s always wet when we’re done.  Last time (see Inks Lake post) we drug it back to our campsite to let it dry. This time we were a couple of miles away, so we took out the seats, heaved it up on roof, secured it with a strap and putted back to camp.

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Mary Lou showing her inner Vanna

We let it dry overnight and planned to wrestle it back into it’s bag in morning. That’s about it for day 1.  Tomorrow we hike.  Stay tuned.