This past weekend, we went camping at Lake Texana State Park and had a great time. This park is about two hours southwest of Houston, off of Hwy 59 in Granado.
We wouldn’t normally go camping back to back weekends, but this trip was a special one. We had committed ourselves to helping with the boy scout troop of a co-worker of mine, members of which were working on their geocaching merit badge. Some of the boys had not heard much about geocaching, and some needed help with certain items on the the requirement list.
Our family of four helped out by giving an hour long introduction to geocaching, as well as loading the troop’s donated GPS units with the 17 caches in the park we wanted to find. After the talk and explanation of how to use the units was over, we headed out on a hike with this troop to find some of the ones we loaded for them together, so we could give them helpful hints along the way.
There were about eleven boys in the troop, plus three adult leaders, myself and J, my two boys, and three of our dogs along for the trek. We started on the Bobcat Tracks trail near the park headquarters, and headed north. Eventually, we came to a turnoff for the Alligator Cove trail heading southeast, then hooked up with the southern end of the Texana Trail. Caches we found along the way included: Bobcat Track, Matthew 7:7, Corner Post, Gimpy’s Cache, Big Man Pig Man, TxGCC11 Texana, Ha Ha Charade You Are, Head Down a Pig Bin, and R U A Texa”CAN”. It was a lot of fun watching new people get all enthusiastic about the game.
Before the last cache, my co-worker had to turn the younger boys further on down the path to complete a five mile hike requirement. My little boy and some of the dogs were worn out, and so we stopped here for the day, after 2.5 miles and about two hours worth of hiking around.
After this, we went back to the campsite. The boys and I wandered down to the waters edge and looked at animal tracks, trying to figure out the stories of the wildlife who passed this way. On our walks to the bathroom, we got to see some of this wildlife for ourselves: a few armadillos and white tailed deer.
The lake had shrank considerably since last time J was here (this was our first time here). He asked a ranger, who said the lake was at 30% capacity, following this year’s drought. Normally, the waters would have been up to the platform edging of our campsite, but now we had more than 500 feet of marshgrass and sand to explore. A short time later, we grilled hamburgers, played Uno, and roasted marshmellows over the flames of the camp stove J gave me for Christmas (burn ban was in effect, so sadly, no campfire) for our s’mores. After a couple of s’mores and Sasquatch sighting stories, the boys were ready to lay down in their tent for the night, and I in ours. A barred owl or two called in the night as we nestled in our sleeping bags for the night.
The morning arrived wet with dew and mist. Birds came fluttering around the campsite, making little bird tweets, calls, and coos. We cooked a warm breakfast of bacon, spam, , warmed tortillas and eggs while a brave cardinal fluttered close by, watching. A Carolina Wren sang a morning song for us in the brush. J spied a Forster’s Tern dive into the waters for a fish and awed.
My favorite part of the weekend, the part I keep replaying in my head, happened after breakfast. The boys and I went down to one of the fishing piers, hoping we could drop a line in there (no such luck), and as we started to walk up the pier, a huge bird, which had been perched on the pier railing, took off and flew right past us, then swooped down into the marsh grass below for a kill. It was a beautiful specimen of a red shouldered hawk, a dark red along the body, with sharp black and white striped wings.
We had seen a great number of hawks on the way in to the camp, and we are still not sure what kind they were. Road hawks, maybe, red tails or coopers hawks possibly, and one we stopped to take a long look at I am almost certain was a ferruginous hawk, but this was the most amazing of all of them. My only regret is that J didn’t get to see it, as he is the one who would appreciate it even more than I did. I was being annoyed for petty reasons and had not invited him, necessarily, to join the boys and I down at the pier. Because of my petty selfishness, he missed out on an experience that certainly would have burned in his memory the way it has in mine, and for that I am sorry.
I was also sorry that we didn’t bring rain gear with us when we went on another geocaching hike a short time later. We found a few more caches, but more than half a mile from the trailhead, it began pouring down rain. Our idea of letting the tents dry out in the morning sun proved to be futile, as we ended up having to pack wet gear in a hurry to get home.
What I am not sorry about, though, is insisting we go on this campout, even though it meant missing an annual geocaching party that J and I have not missed in the several years we have been caching. I am also not sorry we went to this park – for Lake Texana is full of natural wonder, birding pleasures, awesome geocaches, and now, fond memories.