Car camped Hill Country Natural State Area and day-hiked out of the West Verde campgrounds to the headquarters and got to meet the famous park ranger Agustín, whose voice is fit for narrating documentaries and old school Walt Disney movies. Impeccable service from him on the phone reserving same-day. No hassle. Burn ban was a drag because we wanted fireside bliss but it is what it is. We were delighted with our wooded campsite: looked up at the flurries of monarch butterflies circling around the boughs like flying flower petals. We night-hiked to headquarters because we had itchy feet and were startled by a pig-sized shadow in the ditch that fled into the night. We headed back to the campground for some Uno. Our family shows no mercy with wildcards as did the invisible spiders pricking my back into perky red bites.
Armadillos bulldozed the woods around us and the campers next door let their chihuahua with a blue glow stick collar circle our campsite with abandon. The dog owner dropped by after one of our Uno card battles and said he lost his dog. He invited us to his campfire, rocking to and fro like a drunken John Wayne, sizing up our set-up. He swayed and slurred, out for the count. We declined and continued our revenge card games. My son did a nice job inflating the mattresses and my wife killed it with the spaghetti she made that morning. Even packed fresh Jalapeños for yours truly. Spoiled ass that I am. But the cinnamon cake was over the top. I almost took to cussin’ it was so good. Too bad sleeping wasn't gonna happen that night. We weren’t tired enough. Sometimes exhaustion is the only guarantee for meemees.
We awoke like tin men and my wife made breakfast tacos but forgot to put the pot holder on my stove. She bent the ignitor and shot the flame sideways and burned the plastic till it smelled like trouble. We let it cool and it still worked. We were in business. We packed up and headed to the West Overlook trail. Website and the ranger said all trails were open so we headed up. Watch out for horse dookie! —The only drawback is horseback—if you know what I mean. It's everywhere! Made it to the West Overlook trailhead from Merrick. Guess what? Closed. So what do I do? I take out my cell phone like a soccer mom and ask for the manager. Ranger says it's been closed for a year. Nice to know. We took our detour and made it to the overlook.
I love this park. This is Texas. We made a loop back home by taking Spring Branch Trail east to join the Bar-O trail. The Bar-O is basically old pasture land with a grassy trail. My wife and I think flat miles are the hardest. All sun and slog. We kept seeing butterflies and even saw a green helicopter cruising above us and circling by like a teenage driver. It looked like a kit copter piloted by a show-off. We made it back to the campground and had fresh sandwiches and packed up, making 23 trips to the car walking like frontier captives. This is camping.