Well, I finally got my Camp-out on and it was everything I had hoped for and more. This past weekend, my brother TJ Bustem and I spent four days in Central Texas, specifically Pedernales Falls State Park. Texans know it as “Perdenales” thanks to LBJ and both pronunciations are acceptable according to the Parks and Wildlife web site.
Back in January while making plans to camp, I made a number of purchases to replace old camping gear, including a new tent, mummy bag and camp stove, etc. On this trip I planned to prove this equipment and since it had been years since I had camped, I also planned to tote along anything else I might need, erring on the side of too much equipment.
I was pleased with the quality of my “3 season” Eureka Apex-2XT Dome tent. It was about a hundred bucks and is easy to set-up. I did get a surprise Thursday night when I went to zip up the tent at bedtime when a honeybee stung me on my right pinky finger. I had left the fly open on the tent and when the sun went down and the temperature fell, the bee landed right by the zipper. Lesson learned – keep that tent zipped at all times.
My sleeping bag is the Kelty Mistral 20 degree mummy and I was toasty, even when the temperature fell to 26 degrees F Saturday night. My propane stove is the excellent Stansport H.O. model 206 and I heartily recommend this model to everyone. The H.O. stands for high output and I made coffee on it in under four minutes using my vintage Comet aluminum coffee percolator, and this at below freezing temperatures.
I broke-in my new cookware, which is a 3-piece set made by Texsport. They call it the “Hard Anodized Cook Set” and it was used to heat up water for oatmeal and clean-up, along with the various foods we cooked. I bought everything through www.JoesSports.com and their service and prices are very satisfactory.
It’s about a four hour drive from Baytown to PFSP and check-in time for a reserved site is 2pm, so that doesn’t give you a lot of daylight to set up camp and do much of anything other than walk down to the Falls and look it over. The Falls on the Pedernales River can flood in 5 minutes and I’m told they have a siren set up to warn folks that a dangerous (and I mean a Tsunami) amount of water may be on its way. It’s something to consider if you crawl over the rocks in the river bed and have physical limitations. 5 minutes to clear the area and if you think you can’t, then don’t go down there, but stay up high on the sides of the river. Here is their web site.
Let me tell you about the rest facilities (toilet/shower) at this Park. They are heated, clean and make your camping experience wonderful. The Park itself is well-staffed with “Park Hosts”, which are basically retired campers who help maintain the Park in exchange for parking rights and they do an excellent job.
It’s been a number of years since I broke out of my comfort zone when it comes to sleeping and I’m not counting motels beds either. Sleeping in a mummy bag inside a tent, out in the woods is a far cry from what our spoiled bodies like and the first night was a bit uncomfortable. Add in the raccoon that decided to check all our gear for food and I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep. Neither did TJ Bustem.
We were up at the crack of dawn though and it was 29 degrees. My hands and feet were beginning to freeze as I made coffee and stoked the fire pit. Camp fires are allowed at this SP if kept inside a metal pit, unlike the Guadalupe River SP, which is under a total campfire ban. Thank the Lord, as camping without a campfire, is like showering without water in my opinion.
We shook the cold off, made a breakfast of hot oatmeal, jet-fuel strength black coffee and jalapeno, bean & cheese tamales from Los Toritos in Baytown. I decided this would become a staple on my campouts, as you can easily heat them up in a covered pan of boiling water and they taste great and stick to your ribs; besides camp food always tastes great regardless of the combination. Stay tuned for part two.