I am an extremely independent person and I love solo traveling. This is a good thing as I typically cook up some sort of outlandish adventure scheme no one in their right mind would want to participate in. Occasionally, however, I manage to get some friends caught up in one of my crackpot plans. This was one of those weekends.
I’ve decided recently that I would like to do some overnight cycle trips around central Texas by camping at area state parks. It is a great way to get ready from my two day bike trek from Houston to Austin coming up in just two weeks and I will get to see some new sights right in Austin’s backyard.
A few cycling friends and I set off on Saturday morning for a 65 mile ride through Texas hill country ending at Pedernales Falls State Park. The park is actually only about forty miles away, but we regrettably opted to throw in twenty-something extra miles of hill work before we really set off on the route. The weather was perfect, the bluebonnets were gorgeous, and the hills were nightmarish. The one redeeming factor was a pit stop for pizza and beer at Jester King Brewery, which is about 20 miles from the park.
By the time we reached the park I was beat. All I wanted was to take a hot shower and nap. But wait, I was the one with the bright idea to go camping in the wilderness instead of enjoying the comforts of my own home. As my riding companions turned back to make the trek back to Austin I couldn’t help but think they may have taken the easy way out by opting for the century ride over the camping excursion. My two girlfriends showed up a short time later and then it was time for the real adventure to begin.
Now when we booked our campsite just a week in advance all of the campsites with luxury amenities such as electricity and toilets were already reserved. They did, however, have plenty of primitive campsites left. That means no electricity, no bathrooms, and a hike to reach the campsite. Sure, it wasn’t ideal. But, we were only spending one night so how bad could it be? Plus, I planned to take what was absolutely necessary in order plan plan for future rides when I will pack only as much as I can carry on my bike.
When I peered inside my friend’s Honda Element I quickly realized they had not packed with the same minimalist mindset. Every camping accessory you can imagine was heaped inside that vehicle. There was an air mattress, eight different kinds of lanterns, a gas cooker, a cooler of every size, and bedding galore. Apparently my roommate didn’t look at the email detailing the 2-3 mile hike to the campsite until they were on their way to the park. And so began our trek toward our “primitive” camping.
The gravel road seemed to stretch for ten miles. Conversation went mostly like this:
Me: “Oh, what are these in the bag?”
Roommate: “Those are champagne glasses. For our mimosas in the morning.”
Me: “Ah, cool. And I see there’s also a french press. And a salad bowl. Oh and a gas cooker, too. I thought we were having sandwiches?”
Roommate: “That’s for roasting marshmallows tonight.”
Friend: “Do you think we’ve walked a mile yet? Maybe it is time to take a break and drink some beer?”
An eternity and several beers later we did finally arrive at our camp site, which was really whatever rocky clearing in the trees we picked for ourselves. We pitched our tents with relative ease. I was impressed!
Then we enjoyed the spoils of all of the amenities we had hauled on our own backs those long miles. We roasted marshmallows before bed and woke up to french press coffee. We astounded, or perhaps horrified, our primitive camping neighbors with our mimosa breakfast. Complete with three different kinds of mixers and strawberry to garnish!
After breakfast we just packed right up and schlepped back to the car. We figure we did get in about a ten mile hike just walking our things back and forth. The next stop was Hamilton Pool to cool off in the 55 degree water and finally relax.
While solo adventuring can be exciting and challenging there is certainly something to be said for having great friends to share the experience along side you. My companions this past weekend are a couple of the toughest gals I know. There’s a short list of people I can imagine I could spend hours with just hauling stuff on my tired and sore back and still say I had one of the best weekends I’ve had in a while. When you set off on your own adventure it can be overwhelming to think about being responsible for all of your own planning, finding your own way, and carrying your own burdens. It sure is a nice change to have someone help share the load. Cheers!