I have a three-day weekend coming up, and Deimos has a vet appointment on Friday afternoon, but that still gives me two days to go . . . somewhere.
Maybe I’ll go state parking again. Choke Canyon State Park supposedly has 9,999 reservation slots. I highly doubt that, but I’m very curious. Maybe I’ll go out there. It’s not like they’ll run out of reservation slots.
Or maybe I’ll just do what I’ve done most weekends and hide in my house.
In Gratuitous Amazon Link news, we’ve finally hit 2020. I know this because today’s link is the first book in Jenny Lawson’s Fantastic Strangelings book club, Follow Me to Ground, by Sue Rainsford. This was a creepy one, but obviously one I’d recommend, based on the fact that I’m including it as a Gratuitous Amazon Link. Neither Ada nor her father are human. They were constructed from twigs and branches and placed in the Ground, a patch of dirt with healing properties. Ada’s father is training her to use the Ground to heal, plans that suffer a major setback (to say the least) when Ada falls in love with one of the local humans, whom she and her father refer to as “Cures,” because almost all of their contact with them is when the humans come to them to be cured of an illness or injury. Apparently this book is magical realism, but I saw it more as something post-apocalyptic. To each their own, you know?
I probably have written about Guadalupe River State Park, but just figured that since that was my outing today, it can’t hurt to write again.
Back in the misty dawn of history, I used to go to Guadalupe River State Park up US Route 281 to State Route 46. This, combined with its mailing address in Spring Branch, made it feel like it was way out in the boonies (is boonies racist? I’ll leave it here for now).
So, when we wanted to go to a nearby state park, Thomas, Alex, and I used to go to Government Canyon State Park, which has a mailing address of San Antonio.
Then, at some point, it may have been due to my next-door-neighbors, I realized that if I go up Blanco Road to State Route 46, it’s not nearly such an arduous trek.
I just checked Google Maps, and Government Canyon is ever-so-slightly closer, but that route is way more inconvenient. As a result, I’ve been using Guadalupe River as my “local” state park.
There are a few places to walk there, but the biggest draw is the Guadalupe River, just like it says in the name. Today, Evelyn and I took the dogs up there to start to expose them to swimming. We got each of them to swim a bit, but none of them seemed really enthusiastic.
We then walked around in the park for a while to lessen the possibility of wet-dog smell in the car, and once the dogs, and my sandals, were dry, we headed home.
We definitely intend to take the dogs back to the river. We’ll being chairs and snacks this time (Evelyn has a canopy/pavilion thing we can sit under, too) and be prepared to hang out for a while. Maybe a few trips like that will have them more eager to spend time in the water.
Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Today we have Holes by Louis Sachar. I’d always heard great things about Holes, but couldn’t get focused enough to read it until I saw it in Half Price Books on my annual trip to buy myself a Christmas present. Unlike some of my annual Half Price Books books, this was definitely worth it.
I think this is my 6th post for today. Maybe it’s my 5th. I was, like, well, I can always look at the place where I paste all of my posts for the month for NaNoWriMo counting purposes, then I realized that I don’t copy that part of the post over because I feel that would artificially inflate my word count. I’m not even that sure if my Gratuitous Amazon Links should count.
Agh. Never mind. Longhorn Cavern.
First, a warning. Since I had Mila with me, I couldn’t go in to buy a ticket for the tour, so I haven’t taken the tour yet. I do intend to sometime. Whenever I have the time and energy to go all the way to Burnet again.
I wouldn’t’ve been able to take her on the cavern tour anyhow (I just double-checked that with the tour website), so I definitely didn’t take the tour.
There are three things that make the park interesting. The first is kind of standard if you’ve been around here very long — the hiking trails. It was pretty warm, and while I’m getting Mila used to strangers, she was a little tense with strangers, since she was so far from home (I’ll bet that Burnet smells different from San Antonio to a dog). I’m hoping that she’ll get better about that, since I want to be able to use her as a travel buddy. As a result, we didn’t get to see all of the trails. We did the trail near the cavern entrance, and the Backbone Ridge Nature Trail. The Backbone Ridge Nature Trail connects the second interesting point:
There are a number of Civilian Conservation Corps (“CCC”) structures in the park. I believe that I’ve gone through this before, but given the nonlinear nature of this blog, I’ll do it here. The CCC was one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, and it may have been the one that was most popular with the general population. The men who worked for the CCC were housed in camps and given food, work uniforms, medical care, and an income that works out to less than $3 per hour in today’s money, quite a lot of which were sent to the men’s families.
The CCC was employed in building flood-prevention structures, reforestry, and also in building structure to improve public lands, including parklands. There are three CCC structures at Longhorn Cavern State Park. One, the administration center, is next to the visitor center at the park. This building has a deck that is reachable without going into the building, so Mila and I went up there. There is a cabin, and an observation tower. The cabin is used for storage and the observation tower had this metal spiral staircase that I didn’t like the looks of, so we didn’t go up there.
And, of course, the third thing is the cavern itself. Mila and I walked down to the entrance of the cavern, which has stairs and arches and things that I think are also by the CCC.
The cavern was formed by water filtering through cracks in the ground during what’s known as the “Llano Uplift,” which I don’t really understand and will have to research. I eavesdropped on one of the tour guides and he said that there are relatively few caverns formed this way, and even fewer (I think he said four?) are open to the public.
Now for the Gratuitous Amazon Link. I really need to catch up on my nonfiction reading, to give this section a little more variety. Alas, this is another kidlit book. The Secrets of Solace is the middle book in a trilogy by Jaleigh Johnson set on the planet of Solace. Interestingly it looks like the three books of the trilogy are independent stories. The first two certainly are.
Yeah, that title pretty much says it. I’m so tired I’m getting a little punchy.
I left the house at 8:30 this morning and picked up Mila at 9. Then we started on Blanco Road, which is a smaller street that’s less congested than US 281 closer in to the city.
We got to 281 and headed north to Burnet, where we tried to get into Inks Lake State Park. I say “tried to get into” because they were waiving entry fees today in honor of Veteran’s Day. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website recommends reservations for day use, but reservations were effectively required. So that eliminated Inks Lake State Park and Pedernales Falls State Park. I didn’t even bother trying Guadalupe River State Park.
I also tried to sign up for a state park pass and accidentally made what I intended to make my password into my username. I have no idea what my password id. My mobile data connection was spotty that far out, so maybe I accidentally typed the wrong thing into the wrong field.
Um. Actually. I just checked my email and there is an email with the username I wanted to use and that has my info and the password I wanted to use is attached to that username. I’m so confused.
Okay, so I went and got my credit card and tried again. So I now have a state parks pass. I’ll have it in my hands in a couple of weeks. And if I want to go to a state park before then, I can always have the look up my pass number.
Not that that would have done me any good today, you understand. But it’s good to have in the future.
Originally I was going to do my annual national park this weekend, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. I wonder if Alex is off on the 12th, 13th, or 14th? I’m off all three and we’ve long had plans to go back to Waco to finish Cameron Park. We could hit Waco Mammoth while we’re there. He’s probably already busy then, but I can ask, right?
I try to visit all of the famous bodies of water that I can make it to when I travel. In 2014, Alex and I went way out of our way to see (and for me to dabble my feet in) the Mediterranean. So, I had to at least see the Great Salt Lake. I had two choices of destinations to visit the lake, Great Salt Lake State Park and Antelope Island.
Antelope Island looked as though it was more “on our way” than Great Salt Lake State Park, since it’s northwest of the city and we’d be traveling northward on our way to Yellowstone, but when I put them both into Google Maps, I realized that Great Salt Lake State Park was actually significantly closer, because to get to Antelope Island, you actually have to go north and then back south again. So, since we were facing a seven-hour trip (six hours if we were going direct, but we were planning to stop in Promontory to visit the Golden Spike National Monument), we opted for the easier-to-access destination.
So we headed out. After a brief stop at the store for provisions, we hit Interstate 80 towards Magna. It turned out that Great Salt Lake State Park was probably the better choice for two reasons aside from the shorter commute time.
First, I had read about Saltair, a Victorian-era resort where Mormon dating couples could go swimming and dancing without worrying about their reputations because there were Mormon chaperones everywhere. I did not realize that Saltair had been in that section of the lake. I say “had been” because the original Saltair was destroyed by a fire in 1925. The building at the exit from Interstate 80 is not exactly where the original Saltair had been; the original was two miles farther east, but it was close enough in my opinion.
The second was the Kennecott Utah Copper smelting plant, which is pretty much directly across the Interstate from the park. I had noticed the smokestack (the tallest man-made structure in Utah) from the air, and if we had gone to Antelope Island I may never have known what that smokestack belonged to).
I had read that, due to the brine shrimp and brine flies, it wasn’t really advisable to swim in the water, but when we arrived, I saw people in bathing suits rinsing off under a hose. And I thought, “I’m going to touch that water.”
We nosed around in the visitor’s center for a while and then headed outside. The lake was, well, a lake. There is a lovely little island not too far from shore, and there were a *lot* of brine flies on the shore. There are only two things that live near that water — brine shrimp in the water and brine flies near the shore. However, the brine flies attract (1) migratory birds and (2) spiders. I like spiders, so that part was cool for me.
I didn’t swim in the water (I still had a six-hour (it ended up being even longer) drive ahead of me), but I did wade in up to my ankles. The waves made nice Zen-garden-feeling patterns in the sand. I rinsed my feet off under the hose, but still felt like I needed to wash my hands. The restrooms were kind of dark, but seemed clean enough when I was there.
The observation deck is fully ADA-compliant, as are the restrooms, or so the website of the architect who designed them assures me. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a path down to the water that wasn’t rocky, so that seemed off-limits to wheelchair users.