Planning Thanksgiving campouts can be tricky. Is it going to be too cold? Rainy? Sunny and cold is one thing, rainy and cold is another. A few months ago we sat down and made our camping reservations for the year, which you have to do because reservations at popular state parks fill up months in advance, and Chris pinpointed that he really wanted to go the Davis Mountains State Park in Fort Davis.
For those unfamiliar with just how big Texas is, this drive from our house to the state park is akin to driving from Washington DC to Portland, Maine. Or DC to Savannah, GA. It’s about the same distance from our house to Wichita, KS or Memphis, TN, or Crestview, FL as it is to get from our house to Fort Davis. And El Paso is still another 3 hours beyond that! Needless to say, it was going to be a haul! And Thanksgiving week is really the perfect week to do a trek like this without eating up 40 hours of vacation time to do it.
Our initial intent was to head out on Saturday morning and drive to Fort Davis and stay through the Friday after Thanksgiving. But lots of other campers were ahead of us and there weren’t reservations available for Thanksgiving. Thinking about our options and the drive, we opted to stay at the Davis Mountains through Wednesday and drive halfway-ish back and spend two nights at South Llano River State Park in Junction to round out our time. We camped there two years ago for Thanksgiving—and oh my, looking back at those photos of two-year old Forest is just, well, I might reach through a time warp and pinch those cheeks! Oh, and we didn’t leave on Saturday and drive straight through. We left work a couple of hours early on Friday and drove to Kerville and got a hotel for the night! Much easier!
The Davis Mountains were amazing and the trip reminded me that we’ve spent too little time in west Texas. This was only my third time in the region. Chris and I went to Big Bend National Park in college with several of our friends but that was back in the spring of 2000, and then we went to Guadalupe National Park in 2011 with our friends Patrice and Justin and that’s been the extent of my west Texas adventures. I guess I did have a softball tournament in Midland in highschool but I don’t think that really counts. And we did some camping on the High Plains near Amarillo in 2010, which when you live this far southeast it also seems like ‘the west’, but not exactly the same kind of habitat. Needless to say, it was new territory, especially for Forest.
The drive into Alpine graced us with our only glimpse of pronghorn, and later we did encounter javelina, roadrunners, mule deer, and several bird species we wouldn’t encounter in our home region. And Chris had a wonderful nighttime encounter with a ring-tailed cat at South Llano River State Park. Last time we all caught the tail end of one at the same bird blind Chris saw this one. Forest was tired and so we both went to the tent but Chris stayed up and was rewarded for it!
It’s going to take a bit to wade through all of the photos and there’s enough there that I can easily break posts down into different hikes or certain days. I will say, Forest really proved himself to be a great hiker on the trip. I mean, we weren’t winning any speed records and there was quite a bit of dawdling going on, but our longest hike was about 5.5 miles up and down a mountain! We’d prepped with a 3 mile up and down a mountain hike the day before—that one did result in an encounter with a cactus that had him asking if the next trail had cactus on it! Oh child, we’re in the desert!
All in all, I think we could have kept on camping but now we’re home and Leo is clingy and wanting attention and my garden needs to be attended to because I never got to clean it up after last week’s freezes—was that last week? It feels like months ago.
Hope your Thanksgiving was lovely!