Our camping excursion for the end of March was over to Lake Livingston State Park. I hadn’t been since I met Keely there in 2013 and it was Chris’ and Forest’s first time. This state park is one of the few in Texas that allowed advance spot selection when you reserved your site—usually you have to take the luck of the draw when you arrive. Apparently this is a feature that is going to be available at more state parks later this year, something we are thrilled about. We’ve been frustrated by this lack of ability since we’ve returned to Texas and it was a feature we liked about Florida state parks.
Chris and I took a three day weekend so we planned to enjoy a long weekend camping. We knew in advance that the weather was likely to be rough Friday afternoon and evening so we went ahead and planned to eat dinner in Livingston instead of trying to make dinner while it was storming. Well, the afternoon came and went and it was gorgeous! When we arrived at the campsite it was quickly evident that this is a bumper crop year for eastern tent caterpillars because they were constantly dropping from the canopy and also dropping their frass everywhere. Forest has become accustomed to seeing various caterpillars in our yard but this was such an overload that I’m sure it was the toddler version of a bug horror movie—he was not pleased. It took him until Sunday to finally come around to them but it was a near state of terror for him a lot of the time. Needless to say we spent a lot of time trying to play in areas where the canopy didn’t overhang the campsite, which was more towards the picnic table and parking area and out on the street where he would ride his little four wheeler.
The campsite was directly across the street from the lake which made it a prime spot for Chris to set up a spot to fish. We spent a little time over there, the caterpillars seemed less dense than over at our campsite, and we enjoyed some time looking out across the lake. By dinner time the rain was moving closer to east Texas but it still wasn’t that close and looked like it would arrive after dark. We headed for Livingston anyway and found a great local place called the Blue Duck Kitchen. It was the kind of place you would find in a trendier small town which made me wonder if Livingston was trying to become that trendy small town, trying to revitalize their downtown as an excursion for Houstonians. The food was great as was the atmosphere and I recommend the place if you are in the area!
The storm did blow in about an hour after Forest finally got to sleep, somewhere around 10pm. Chris and I were checking various weather reports and watching the radar as there were severe thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings around the area. The county the park was in did end up with a tornado warning that extended to our north which prompted someone from the park to drive around telling people about it and to take cover “if you need to” in the bathroom. The warning wasn’t for the park itself but we kept it in mind knowing that some worse weather was coming our way with another cell directly behind that one. When the second cell arrived, the wind kicked up and with one whoosh the west side of the tent collapsed.
Before we’d settled in for the evening I had put a few things together in case we needed to get into he car but even in the flurry it was hard to grab everything plus hold a sleeping toddler (who only woke the entire time when the cold rain pelted him just as we got out of the tent!) and rush to the truck. We waited it out in the truck for about 30 minutes until the rain subsided enough for Chris to fix the tent. I kept imagining everything being soaked through that we’d have to sleep in the truck and go home the next morning. At one point Chris was going to go out and take down the pop-up tent over our cooking table but I told him it wasn’t worth it for him to get soaked and cold. In the end the tent blew over and it broke. Oh well.
Somehow there was no damage to the sleeping tent and very little water inside the tent. Chris fixed it and we piled back inside to go to sleep. Or attempt to sleep. I was wound up from the events and not long after someone started playing music from their RV. I was irate—and I never do this—but I got up and went to find the source so I could bitch them out. It was after midnight and I was not having it. Thankfully they turned it down and actually we heard very little from them the rest of the weekend.
The rest of the weekend was not eventful in a stormy way and the weather cleared. More caterpillars dropped and we had to protect our food from little pieces of frass falling into our meals. No one wants to ingest caterpillar poop. Forest became a helper and would sweep the caterpillars off of things he wanted to play with and eventually found some bravery in dealing with them. Chris fished down at the docks near the park store and saw an elusive mink—apparently it is a rarely seen resident according to park rangers—and there was a lookout tower that Forest became enamored with, which had to be climbed multiple times.
In all it was a fantastic camping trip. I’ll have separate hiking reports for the trails we hiked on soon!