Monday, May 18, 2009

I Left My Heart in Colorado Bend

Last weekend we took our annual anniversary camping trip. I'm not usually one to return to the same place over and over, but Colorado Bend is such a great park that we returned for the third (maybe fourth?) time. What makes it so great? It's relatively close to Austin (about an hour and a half drive), it's on the water, the primitive, hike-in camping is only about a mile from the parking lot, and it's pretty.We weren't able to camp in our favorite spot (which I'm not revealing with any more detail) on Saturday night, but we moved to that spot on Sunday night and had the whole place to ourselves.

On Sunday, we hiked along the Colorado to Gorman Falls. It used to be that you could only visit the falls on a guided tour, but since our last visit, the park has opened up the falls to all.And I kind of wish the falls were still protected. Despite signs saying that the falls were off limits and a sensitive ecosystem, and chains in front of them, several people were climbing all over them. There was the father leading his kids up the falls while the mother stepped over the "Do not enter" sign as she lit a cigarette and took pictures with her cell phone. Then there was the couple of their two large dogs who climbed all over the rocks and falls, dislodging moss and other plant growth.
I tried to explain to my dog why she wasn't allowed to do the same, but I ended up just telling her we'd take her swimming elsewhere.This pool wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I told Pear she could go swimming, but boy was I glad she found it. We were all getting pretty hot on the endless hike back to our campsite. The one thing that Colorado Bend does not do well is signage. The trails are very poorly marked.

(If you want well-marked and well-maintained trails, visit Government Canyon State Natural Area. That place is so well marked that even my father could navigate his way. I guess that statement would be funnier if you knew my father but trust me, it's hilarious.)

On the hike back, I began having flashbacks to a hike we took years ago in Slovenia that was supposed to take two hours. Twelve hours later we stumbled into an outdoor bar with the only Slovenian bartender who was a Spurs fan.

I digress.

Our hike in Colorado Bend didn't last quite as long, but I was worried. We decided to hike a different way back, which is really how all troubles begin. I think my husband got worried when I decided to take a lesson from the dog and lie down in the shade of a cedar tree. Finally, we bushwhacked our way and luckily stumbled upon our campsite. The trail markers we were following were some sort of rogue trails.
I was so hot by that point that I didn't bother changing into a bathing suit. I just stripped down to my sports bra and underwear before jumping in the river. The park ranger had said we would be all alone on Sunday so I wasn't worried about anyone seeing me.

And then the park ranger came around. Oh well.

I wish I had brought some of bug collecting supplies. There were lots of cuties on the wildflowers.I like how this one is color coordinated with the Indian blanket.

I'm not exactly sure what this plant is, but the whole pack of them was quite graceful.

Our dog loves, loves, loves to go camping. She gets to sleep in a tent with us, she gets to eat some people food, and she gets to hike, swim, and "fish."
We love camping for many of those same reasons, and one additional one: our normally extremely active dog actually wears herself out.


  1. While I certainly enjoy these photos and learning about Colorado Bend, I'm particularly amused that:
    1. you're brave enough to jump in the water in your bra/underwear
    2. a Slovenian bartender is a Spurs fan
    3. your dog's name is Pear.

  2. That looks like a great place to camp.

  3. How awesome that you guys do this every year. Great idea. If we didn't have kids...oh...who am I kidding. If we didn't have kids I'd be going out to dinner, drinking lots of wine and sleeping late.

  4. Ugh- we had a similar experience at a waterfall in New Mexico this weekend. People leaving trash everywhere. ICK. Your dog looks thoroughly satisfied. What a lucky pooch!

  5. I'm totally bummed on the waterfall's behalf for the poor treatment it's been getting from the ignorant masses.

    Also, I just wanted to say that I think your dog is one of the most adorable dogs in the whole wide world. Is there a story behind her name?

    P.S. Your underwear wasn't too embarrassing, I hope.

  6. It looks quite lovely, V, and I'm glad you guys didn't get lost! I am certain Pear would have come through in the clutch, though. Thanks for the gorgeous pics but can you please identify all the bugs? Some of us didn't take the entomology class!

  7. Excellent post, V. (Y)our dog is the most adorable dog in the world! Can't wait for the next trip to Colorado Bend.

  8. Great photos, esp. of the bugs, as always. It sounds like much fun was had by all. Bummer about that family's treatment of the waterfall though. Shame on them.

  9. @Iris and Lori: Pear is short for Perdita. We got her at Town Lake Animal Center so we thgought "little lost girl" fit her.

    And @Lori, I completely agree with you about how adorable she is.-)

    @Bonnie: we still had a great dinner and lots of wine, just al fresco.

    @Anon: I'm working on the bug IDs. Haven't been able to find the red one in my books.

  10. Vertie, You take the best trips and this one sounds wonderful! I tend to spend time with like minded folks so I am always taken aback by folks who don't get that there are fragile eco-systems. gail

  11. Awesome post! You've listed some of the reasons I'm a winter camper only...other folks not respecting nature...the signs etc. Love the pics of the bugs!

  12. Thanks for sharing your trip to this very interesting park - love the heart-shaped cactus!

    If you find out what that red beetle-y looking insect is, please share that, too, Vertie.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  13. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Heart Cactus!

  14. Looks like a wonderful park to visit. With such a beautiful place they really should have a guide but I guess it all takes money for that. Did you carve the heart into the prickly pear? I know what you mean about poorly marked trails. England is full of them. You have to have an ordinance survey map to find your way. Often you find yourself following a sheep trail.

  15. Hi Vertie,

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  16. How wonderful! I feel like I was right with you. I wonder if the park ranger and the Slovenian bartender have compared notes?

  17. I love that area of Texas. My paternal grandparents had a ranch not far from there. Gorman Falls, Lemon Falls and some little creek near a hillside "camp retreat"--those were the watering holes of my childhood. It was nice to see them again.