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Kayak fishing the Lone Star State...


#1572906
This was my last camping trip of 2010. Because of the 4 day weekend and because I knew my boss would probably let us leave early, I wanted to go some place farther than 3 hours away and this park certainly qualified. I left Lewisville about 2:30pm and got to the park at 12midnight but that does include an hour in Sweetwater while grocery shopping at Walmart and dinner at Wendy's. I had just driven most of this route in April with my sister so it seemed familiar and the drive went by quickly.

Since it was midnight, I decided to sleep in my car and put my tent up the next day. The park had a list of assigned sites for the late arrivals and I found mine. The next morning I made my safe arrival calls and while doing so got an invite for a pancake breakfast. Nice neighbors! Hey between the 2 families they had 11 people so what's one more mouth to feed?! First let me say this park has very few large trees and none basically on the inside of the loop. That said, my site was on the inside of the loop! I looked across the way and saw one that backed up to some nice shrubs/other scenery so went to the hdqtrs and told them of my change - no problem. Here is the tent and the cover over the picnic table.

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Thanksgiving day was nothing but sunshine and temps in the 70s. I went to the pool and took some pictures.

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The above picture shows a light color on the left and darker on the right. This section of the pool is sort of round and there is a nice drop off from about 8ft down to 15 ft or so, also in a circular fashion. Very clear water.

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Not only did you have to swim with the fishes, you had to swim with the ducks! On Friday, with no camera but while swimming, I saw a huge turtle just gliding through the water. Yes, I did swim 3 of 4 days, but like Barton Springs in Austin, this is a spring fed pool. It is a few degrees warmer though, coming in at about 72 degrees year round.

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Those of you who like to fish for catfish may have been tempted to drop a line or two as I saw lots of cats but alas, no fishing allowed in the pool! This deep end is about 10 ft deep along the sides and slopes down to almost 20-25 ft in various areas, all nice and clear. I must have had hundreds of tiny fish (fry? 2-3 inches long) following me around!

I had cooked a Thanksgiving meal for my aunt and uncle on Tuesday, including turkey, mashed potatoes, scalloped oysters and peas. I heated that up for dinner as the sun went down - yum! For sleeping, I had a tarp under the tent and a fleece throw under my bottom blanket. Under the Hudson Bay blanket were 3 more blankets and a sheet. I took this tent as it is a bit bigger (8x10) than my other one (7x9) and I knew I'd have my TV/DVD player in the tent with me at night as the lows were to be in the mid 20s. Well next time, screw the extra space and take the one that will keep me warmer at night. Dang it got cold Thanksgiving night - down to 17 degrees, my new low temp for camping!!! To add insult to injury, as I rocked myself back and forth most of the night (as I could not get back to sleep after I woke up at 2am), I heard the furnace for the Casita parked behind me kick on multiple times during the night. I knew that lady would be warm and I was not! I finally drifted off about 6am and slept until 8:30am when it was getting so warm in the tent, I had to get out!

I took a nice walk around the park (no hiking trails at all - the pool is the big attraction) and saw this guy - look to the left of the bridge.

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I kept creeping closer and closer for a better picture and finally he/she got fed up and flew off - what a wingspan! Here's the park offices:

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He may have been looking for his dinner - this looks to be a juicy morsel:

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I think this is the only park office/store that I've seen selling pool noodles! The daily entry fee is $7, the most expensive that I've come across. They can charge this because of the pool. But my park pass made the entry fee vanish for me!

So now it's nighttime again and I set up the TV and DVD player again. Watched a B&W Bette Davis movie and decided to hit the sack. So, this night I got out the space heater my cousin had given me. Plugged it in and turned it on - whoa! The filament just blazed a hot white, lit up the inside of the tent like daylight and then switched off. This was supposed to be a new heater and it freaked me out so much I just left if off. Now what to do? Well, I just grabbed up every blanket and got in my car. I tucked a blanket in around my feet, around my legs, across my lap and chest and then put the HB over the length of me. Can you say toasty? I still woke up at 3am to potty so by the light of the bright moon, I did my stuff and scrambled back in the car. I didn't even care if anyone else was out at that time of night and happened to catch me in the act. I just wanted to get back to the warmth! I checked the temp and it was only 25 degrees! Woke once more, pottied again and then slept til 8am. Not a bad night's sleep!

So it's Saturday and there's a ball game I wanted to see, so I took off for Alpine. It was about 60 miles and a real nice drive. A bit of scenery here.

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I got to Alpine and drove out to the north end of town and took a cursory look at Sul Ross State University. Nice little campus. Nice quaint town and the two could be an enticing combination for anyone wanting to go to school in a small town but who loved the out of doors. Lots of outdoor stuff including multiple state parks and BBNP not that far away. I found my watering hole, Harry's Tinaja and watched the game. I drove around town a bit and stumbled upon this church. I loved the stonework.

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On the way back, I wanted to check out a tree I had seen on the way down. A roadside sign said 'Wild Rose Pass' and I went by a tree that had some type of rose flower on it - that name just hit me somehow so I wanted to check it out. Well damn, upon closer inspection, someone had tied some fake roses onto this bush. I was crushed! I really thought they were real. I hope there wasn't any type of camera around to capture my ignorance on tape! I even u-turned and headed back to Alpine to get the best view. I felt gypped! I did drive by Ft Davis and took this picture of the post:

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I think when the state owned this property (signs I saw lead me to believe it's fedearl now), posted on the Davis Mtns SP site was a statement by an Army general (whose name escapes me at this late hour) who said "it was the prettiest post in the US" or something to that effect. Crap, I hate missing half the facts - oh well and nevermind!

Back at the park this is a shot of the scenery from my picnic table.

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and from a bit farther out

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I spent Saturday night in the car as well. Again, nice and toasty and it only got down to 30 degrees! I got up about 8am, again it warmed up quickly and the sun was on high! I went swimming again and had the pool all to myself. Walking back to my campsite, I realized how empty the park was. Saw a few RVs with satellite dishes out so I guessed they might be there a while. I had lunch and tried to finish reading a book. As I was reading, I noticed the wind picking up. It just kept up. This is my tent, completely up but all bowed by the wind. I finally had to take the poles out and just let it lay on the ground until I was ready to pack it up. And when I did, it was so windy, I couldn't even get it folded small enough to fit in its' bag!

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I finally got everything back in the car, went and took a shower and got in the car, popped a diet coke open and hit the road. Got home about 10:15pm and felt very relaxed.

While the park was nice, it does not offer a whole lot outside of the pool, a nice basketball court and some group use buildings. If your family likes to swim, it would make a great base camp or jumping off site for other things to do. It is very close to Davis Mts SP and even Guadalupe Mtns NP. And this area is made for cycling. Lots of great scenery and the hills not too punishing, well some of them anyway! There is a Lake Balmorhea where you can fish but I did not find it. There are not a lot of trees for shade so additional shade shelters would be a welcome addition. And it does not provide a lot of privacy between sites but the pool is worth it if you like to swim! There is the motor court called San Solomon Springs, about 18 motel rooms, some with kitchenettes and I think they all had grills out back along with picnic tables. They do have A/C. A canal or two run from the pool around the motel and form a cienega and there's a viewing window to see what's in the water.

There you have it!

GG
#1573022
Nice report, sounds like you had some fun. We get out that way a few times a year. We were there in August and believe it or not, we had problems finding a place to put our stuff and to swim without running in to someone. Summers there are crazy. I head to Alpine next week, hopefully it won't get too cold. Thanks for the post.
#1573322
GG,

Thank you for the wonderful post and all the details. I am sure this place has a different feel in the Summer.

I am impressed with your dedication to the outdoors and I can't wait to read your upcoming outing to The Guadalupe Mountains.

Keep it up and stay outdoors.

Thanks again,
Chago
#1573383
Thanks for the compliments y'all.

daveg99, no wetsuit! The water stays about 72 degrees year round (yes, I snorkel in the Keys without a wetsuit regardless of the season!) After a minute or so in the water, I'm all warmed up. It's warmer than Barton Springs in Austin (68 degrees there) and I love swimming there, especially in the winter when you start at dark o'clock and an hour later getting out it's still dark. Gotta get out of your suit quickly there - easy enough to do without flashing anybody!

I heard conflicting stories about the pool in the summertime. Some people said it was crowded, some not but it is a big pool. I didn't even post the picture of the shallow end. Guess it just depends upon the heat.

Aggroman, I've been peeking at the weather - still rather cold at night (there is nothing there to help hold any daytime heat in!) but daytime temps don't look too bad. Alpine's about an hour away and lots of great scenery - have fun!

Bigrock, just do it! You know you want to!

I want to do some scheming and planning this weekend to get a feel for where I'll camp this year. Now that I have a kayak, I hope to get out on the water more. And by hook or crook, I'm doing a river overnighter with somebody on this board if I have my way!!! Fair warning!

GG
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