My son is home! You know how some people get depressed in winter? While I doubt I have seasonal affective disorder, there is about a week every summer where I almost completely cease to function. My son spends the entire summer with his dad out-of-state and the following happens every year. The first week is full of letting loose and being spontaneous. Then it settles and everything is normal. Then I realize nobody has taken the trash out for two weeks and the garage smells like a rotting skunk. My husband and I come to terms with the fact that a large percentage of our actions are based on trying to be a good example for our teenager and, without him to hold us accountable, the house turns into a Lord of the Flies island. Shortly after we readjust to acting like actual grown-ups, I panic that he is coming home soon and make one last-ditch effort to take advantage of feeling younger than my age. (This year that manifested as losing a small chunk of money on penny slots in Louisiana.) But it’s the week before he comes home that is the worst. It’s supposed to be when I’m most excited but it always turns out to be the opposite. At this point he’s been gone for so long it’s like there is this dark part of me that insists he is never coming back and everything is hopeless. I can barely bring myself to clean, to sleep, to eat… I pretty much cry until he comes home because I miss him so much. All that being said, I wouldn’t have it any other way, even though that last week is hard. He spends the whole summer there but it means I get him every birthday, every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every holiday except for what? 4th of July? Meh! I am getting a pretty good deal. Until now I was fairly confident in my ability to be independent from him on the trail next year. I know it’s going to be hard but it won’t be the end of the world. Or, at least, that’s what I kept telling myself. Really though? How am I supposed to last 6 months on the AT when I can’t even last the summer without spiraling into a tearful frenzy of Netflix romantic comedies from the 80’s while stuffing my face with cheeses that contain no actual cheese?! Well, we’ll just have to find out. The trail is calling and I must answer.
Until then, here’s my promise to start filling in the blanks from my Texas State Parks checklist. These pics are from McKinney Falls SP in 2011. Being inside Austin city limits, it’s a popular spot during the warmer months so we went the day after Christmas. We had the park almost entirely to ourselves … if you ignore the company of emergency sirens most of the night. I suppose that’s the trade-off for being inside the city but it was still disappointing. The other disappointment was losing count of how many rusty abandoned fishhooks we picked up and threw away. They were everywhere, at camp, on the trail, etc. I just don’t understand people sometimes. I’m not even preaching from a Leave No Trace standpoint… not littering is just something you should’ve learned in Kindergarten. It’s not rocket science. And as if littering isn’t bad enough, let’s add pointy ends hosting a Clostridium tetani party! Jerks.
Despite those two things, it was actually one of my favorite trips. We had a pretty camping spot along Onion Creek (no longer listed on the website because of flooding last year), put battery operated Christmas lights on our tent, and woke up to frost on top of the tents in the morning. I know, I know, who cares? I do! I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve seen snow. This wasn’t even snow…. just some tiny ice crystals on the tent that melted as soon as the sun came up but it was magical the day after Christmas! We hiked to the falls, the rock shelter, the remains of the McKinney homestead, and threw in some Geocaching for good measure. Oh and this is where I learned how sneaky raccoons can be! Now I know.
As long as you are clear that this park isn’t a getaway from the city, or the people, it’s still beautiful and has a lot to offer. Their sister park, Pedernales Falls, is about an hour drive from McKinney Falls and will be the destination for my birthday at the end of the month. After my last solo trip I am downright giddy to be bringing along my two favorite guys again. :)