Camping

2014/03/29

I took my girls camping at Inks Lake last weekend and I was embarrassed and dismayed when Sylvie informed me that this was the first time she had been camping. Ever. I always think of myself as a camping type person, but I guess that facet of my self has been dormant for the last decade or so. Shameful. We were in the primitive spots off the lake and weren't allowed to have a campfire, but that was my only regret. We had a lovely weekend and it was a good break away to spend time with my girls. It was perfection just to be. Sitting, talking, laughing, complaining that Oreos didn't come in larger packages.

Break

2014/03/15


Mom says there were far too many hours spent this spring break on screens. Girls say it couldn't possibly be enough. But there were at least a few moments spent in the great out of doors.

SXSW

It's that time of year that all Austinites either love or dread, South by Southwest. Last year I partook a little too heavily and this year I was more in the mood to just skim the rich offerings of the week. I spent a few afternoons and one evening downtown meandering from spot to spot, just taking it as it came and it was pretty lovely. I heard dozens of bands but my desire to document them all for my concert list fell away pretty quickly. A few I knew, most I did not. A few I will listen to again, most I will not. But there is something pretty awesome about a city who turns itself over to hundreds and hundreds of bands for a week of madness.

Nature

I read an excerpt from the Outermost House by Henry Beston while hiking last weekend and it moved me deeply. So perfect for the setting.
Some have asked me what understanding of Nature one shapes from so strange a year. I would answer that one's first appreciation is a sense that creation is still going on, that the creative forces are as great and as active as they have ever been, and that tomorrow's morning will be as heroic as any of the world. Creation is here and now. So near is man to the creative pageant, so much a part is he of the endless and incredible experiment, that any glimpse he may have will be but the revelation of a moment, a solitary note in a symphony thundering through debatable existences of time. Poetry is as necessary to comprehension as science. It is as impossible to live without reverence as it is without joy.

Trail

I'm headed for the Appalachian Trail this summer and this past weekend I went on a four day backpacking trip to kick off my spring break and test out my gear and my legs. I went with my two friends and fellow Math teachers Nathan and Carlos out to Sam Houston National Forest to the Lone Star Hiking Trail. It was beautiful and difficult which fit the bill perfectly.

Day one we got a late start starting at trail head 1 and hiked only five miles before the rain threatened and we sequestered ourselves to our tents for the night. A long night with the rain beating down but my tent performed like a champ and I stayed dry. 

Day two we got a fairly early start and hiked about 11 miles to Lake Conroe. Trail conditions were muddy at times, but not overly difficult. I twisted my right ankle mildly which slowed me down some, but nothing too painful. We spent a lovely afternoon at the lake napping and reading and then built a fire to better enjoy the chilly evening. 



Day three was the difficult one. Our pace had been so good we decided to extend a bit and take a side loop on the way back rather than down the known path; in hindsight not a great decision. Trail conditions were pretty bad (read awful) with lots of thick mud that sent us into the brambles to keep dry for several miles. And then we reached a section of trail that was basically a swamp and we had to wade through two foot high water for several hundred yards. I was the only one who had packed extra shoes and socks so I fared the best from our adventure in the swamp. I did learn that I am somewhat afraid of water snakes. Not that I saw any, but moving through their territory was pretty unpleasant for my psyche. The difficult trail conditions slowed us down incredibly and we opted to cut back to the main trail to save a few miles. We covered about 11 miles that day, but could have easily done five more if conditions had been better. We made camp and fell asleep exhausted. 

The last day we pushed out another 9 miles to make it back to my car. The trail was mostly good, but by this point we all had enough aches and fatigue that the game was mostly mental. My ankle bothered me in fits and spurts, mostly just holding back my pace.

I am overall pleased with the outing. My gear choices were all on point and other than my ankle (which is fine now) I felt great. I ran a couple of miles the day after I got home and my hips were sore from the adjustment to carrying the weight of a pack, but my legs and rest of self felt perfect. Yay body. I realize this post has been more technical than my typical of late, so let me add that the weekend was also just fun and cleansing for the soul. So nice to get away from school, away from the city, away from my phone, and just walk in nature.





That said, man was I glad for a shower when it was all said and and done. 

Karma

2014/03/07

While in New Orleans we spent some time wandering through the sculpture gardens. This piece was one of my favorites, entitled "Karma". It was striking in the brilliant sunshine and hasn't left my thoughts since I first saw it. Karma is more and more how I understand the world around me.

Mardi Gras

I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras last weekend with some friends. I took almost no pictures, which is very unlike me. I wore no watch and did not concern myself with time, which is very unlike me. I had a marvelous time which was very easy and just what I needed.

The parades were on a scale that I didn't really anticipate. Amazing. Such friendly people from all walks of life. Everything is much more family friendly than common perception says (except Bourbon Street, it's rather awful). New Orleans is such a great city for food and culture. I am rather smitten as a two time visitor.