Five will get you tent

This is what I call the Texas Hill country.

Five dollars did buy the tent that Bob and I have been using for the past year or so.  It’s gone to the beach and to east Texas.  A few weeks ago, it went to the Texas Hill Country and that’s where it nearly stayed.

We took some vacation days to play in the water, bow hunt in the wilds of Montell, and cut enough Texas pecan wood to construct a baby cradle for Bob’s first grand-daughter.  GE and the kids were joining us for part of our vacation so the mood was festive.

We got to Hondo, Texas in time for lunch.  Hondo is where we make our 90 degree west.  As kids we passed through Hondo when we travelled from Grandma’s house in San Antonio to our aunt’s house in Uvalde.  There’s a sign as you drive into Hondo which we used to gleefully spot and read aloud when we saw it.  Its humor never got old to us kids.  I imagine there was a mental eye roll from the parental front seat when we started shouting out the sign caption and laughing.

Hondo, Texas welcome sign

Bob hadn’t seen the sign so he was a new audience for the sign.

We de-tented at Big Oak Campgrounds between Montell and Camp Wood.  Bob and I had a minor skirmish about the staking of the tent.

  • I believe that tent stakes will hold down the tent.  Bob believes that stakes will pull out and that he needs to tie the tent down to trees and relatively immovable structures.
  • I believe the tying down idea wastes valuable time that could be spent swimming, exploring, and playing.  Bob believes that those activities are irrelevant if the campsite blows away.

Our fully tied down and staked campsite

Bob checked prevailing winds, tied and cross tied, and then let me put in my insignificant stakes.  He doesn’t call them insignificant; he cheerfully pounds them into the ground wherever I deem them necessary.  And then re-checks his tie-downs.

We had a snack and started making the hill country tour, heading up SH 55 to Camp Wood, and then over to Leakey via Ranch Road 337.

View from the Leakey ranch road.  There’s a reason why the state of Texas describes this country as “frontier”

We headed north from Leakey on RR 336, turning west on SH 41, and completing the circuit, taking a 90 degree south back to SH 55 at Rocksprings.

Even if we had been listening to the radio, we might not have heard the storm warnings.  We didn’t bother with the radio; there’s minimal AM or FM radio available in that part of the country.

We were busy spotting deer which was easy even for me.  Axis and fallow deer aren’t native to Texas; axis come from Sri Lanka and fallow from central Europe and the mid-east.  But hunting lodges introduced them to the Hill Country years ago and the non-native deer have multiplied.  Bob gave me whiplash since he kept pointing out herds.

Axis deer in downtown Leakey (Population 600 people and lots of deer)

Bob noticed the changing sky and the ozone smell long before I did.  He credits his 8th grade science teacher with his meteorologic sense; there’s a reason why you can’t pay good teachers enough money.

We drove nearly 80 miles doing our circuit of countryside and cervidae.  That was on top of the 230 miles it took to get from Bob’s doorstep to our campsite.

Fallow deer off RR 336

When we drove on Ranch Road 336, there were no fences, cattle guards in the road, and deer traveling in huge herds.  Evidently deer aren’t genus-ists since fallow, axis, and white tail were all hanging together eating grass.

We were so infatuated with deer that we forgot to look at the gas gauge and nearly ran out of gas.  About the time we sputtered into the Rocksprings Shell station, we noticed the sky was bright with lightening.  Bob commented that we had natural fireworks.

Panoramic view of the mountains off Ranch Road 336

Storm sky

The wind was picking up when we got to our campsite and the park manager skidded up to us shouting “Storm’s a-brewing!”  Not really.  That’s a line from Little Mermaid.  But she did loudly announce that the thunderstorm was coming our way.  Bob patiently retied the tents and packed the dry boxes with food we’d snacked on before our Ranch Road tour.  I nattered at Bob that the storm would probably pass us by.  He laughed and said that he had camped with his dad enough to know that he’d better take the warnings seriously.

This was NOT our tent. If Bob’s dad, Elmo, had been with us, he would have been proud.  Our tents were in place and upright after the storm.

By the time rain started falling, we were dry and in our tent, rain fly securely fastened.  The good news was that neither our screen tent nor our camp tent fell over.  The bad news was that our $5 camp tent had leaks in the floor.  We woke on our air mattress island surrounded by 3″ of water.  Thanks to Bob, our clothes and computer were safely stored in the truck.

Bob enlarged the floor leak to drain the tent and water rushed out.  We could hear the Nueces River a 100 yards away rushing where the runoff had swollen it to a fullness it didn’t get to enjoy last year during our drought.

The roaring Nueces the morning after

I had sworn that we were going to throw our tent into the trash when we were listening to the thunder and watching the lightening.  (Why on EARTH didn’t we buy a real tent, one that didn’t come off the garage sale, one that only cost $5?) In the end, we decided that we’ll replace the tent for serious camping and keep our $5 tent for beach over nights.

Maybe we’ll find something that has a lower profile like my little Kelty backpack tent but sized big enough for the two of us.

We’ll pass on the floor drains.  Running water is a nice feature in some places, but not in a tent.

About texasgaga

I am a mom, a grandmom (Gaga to my 2nd oldest grand-child), a sister, a friend, a construction estimator, a homeowner, an active member of a 12 step recovery group, an artist, a reader, a survivor, a do it yourself wannabe, a laugher
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5 Responses to Five will get you tent

  1. Thank you for reviving my childhood memories of the Hill Country:)

  2. Max Bales says:

    Excuse me, I would like to use part of your picture of the Hondo sign for a community project. I was wondering if you would mind as it wouldn’t be for anyone’s profit.

  3. Alex Sheridan says:

    My name is Alex and I work for an ad agency in Boulder. One of our clients is interested in using your photo of the Hondo “God’s Country” sign. I am hoping to have a discussion with you regarding licensing costs. Please let me know if you are interested and we can discuss the details.
    Many thanks,

    • texasgaga says:

      I took that picture at the HEB across the street from the sign. I am pretty sure anyone could take that picture so your client is welcome to it. Since it belongs to Hondo, perhaps you need to talk to them?

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