Camping at Meridian State Park

It’s hard to say what I like most about camping. Exploring a new place. Walking peacefully down a wooded trail. Sitting around the campfire with my husband and dogs. All are pieces of the whole.

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Hiking buddies

Just being in nature is perhaps the best part. While our home is our own natural oasis, it is still surrounded by one of the fastest growing cities in America. The more the city grinds forward, urbanizing the fields, woods, creeks and hills that I knew as a child- the more I crave my nature fixes.

Our latest camping adventure takes us to Meridian State Park. The park was established in 1934 and is a great display of Civilian Conservation Corps craftsmanship. The old pavilion over looks the 70-acre, limestone rimmed lake.

There are several short walking trails, including an easy 2.5-mile trail that circles the lake. The lake trail meanders through cedar breaks, limestone bluffs and hardwood groves along Bee Creek. On this visit the trees are filled with hundreds of Robins, Cedar Waxwings, Yellow- Rumped Warblers and other small birds. The bird’s chirps and songs, mix with the wind in the trees to bring music to the day.

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Casino taking a break while we read the map.

The park has only a few campsites and screened shelters, so it area isn’t crowded with people. On the trail we met an enthusiastic millennial man who declared Meridian was his favorite park. When I asked him why, he responded, “cause its peaceful.” He smiled and looked up at the trees towering overhead as he thoughtfully replied.

We took a little afternoon trip into town to see the historic courthouse and slipped into a little antique shop. The woman there knew all about the Sweet Heart Dance that the park was set to host that evening. She explained in her thick Texas accent that dances had been a tradition at the park, but they had not had one in a long while. The restoration of a tradition seemed to please her.

Back at the campsite, we lounged with our pack of four dogs. We named our RV- Camp Lazy Paws- and the name certainly fits the activity of the afternoon. It is unseasonably warm at 86 degrees in February. But there is a soft breeze, and plenty of shade under our giant awning and young live oak trees.

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Courthouse at Meridian

The park is beautiful today. But I can see how it would be a total oasis in the hot summer with the cool lake and shaded campsites. Motored boats are not allowed on the lake, but the park does rent kayaks to get out on the water. The park store also has a tackle loaner program for those that want to fish. There’s even a fishing pier that looks pretty new and was filled with people when we stopped by on our morning walk.

After sunset we wandered down to the Sweetheart Dance at the Refectory. A large group of people gathered on the veranda to listen to the band and dance under the full moon. Kids ran past with flashlights while older folks shared stories of the dances of their youth.

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Dancering at dusk

Back at the campsite we enjoyed an hour laughing and reflecting on what an amazing day we had enjoyed. We finally decided to turn in when nature gave us one last gift. A screech owl bid us goodnight.

 

 

A Day in the Woods With My Friends

I’m lucky to live in a place that is close to where I can keep my horses and still have some open lands to ride them on.  This video is a short chronicle of a day doing some trail work with my dogs before having a nice ride with friends.  Most of the footage is shot from the backs of Chief, the dog with the pointy ears or Casino, the one with the floppy ears, or from the back of my big grey mare- Breeze.  Ranger, the dun mustang, didn’t make the ride today- but he got lots of attention, which is what he loves the most.  The rest of Austin, TX is knee deep in SXSW- but I would much rather be in the woods with the real wildlife, and my friends.

Dog Vision

For Christmas the dogs got me a harness that they could wear the GoPro on so I could see the world the way they do.  This a short mix of clips from the dogs at the park.  As you can see, there is a lot of joy in every step as they explore the park. Casino makes a big run at the opening and for those that know my giant lazy dog- this is a long sprint for the Big Guy.

 

Chuck

Chuck gets stuck

Chuck gets stuck on a small log

Perhaps the signs were right there in front of us the entire time.  From an early age it was clear that Chuck simply was not an outdoor dog.

He preferred luxury and comfort, and enjoyed the fast, hard city life.  He filled his days with lounging, and his nights with fancy swirled drinks and belly rubs.

Chuck on the town

Chuck on the town

City life for a dog only 13 inches from floor to shoulder can be rough.  He recruited security, and trained with dogs ten times his size.

Chuck and Casino

Chuck’s personal body guard- Casino

Then the signs really started showing up and patterns of reckless behavior increased.  He started sleeping on the furniture, shredded stuffed toys, stole socks and underwear from the laundry, and on more than one occasion stalked and killed a bug.  The cruel world of nature dealt him one last final blow when he was stung in the nose by a bee.  This rejection from nature thrust him only deeper into the sinister indoor and urban world.

Chuck at the vet

Chuck- rushed to the vet after bee sting

Determined to be an indoor high roller, he flew with his people to Minneapolis and demanded breakfast in bed at the Eden Prairie Marriott.

Soon after the trip to Minneapolis he started dressing in questionable outfits with sculls and crossed doggy bones.  The other dogs found it disturbing.

Punk rock dog

Chuck on the edge

This fall, we decided it was time for an intervention.  We took Chuck on a family campout to try to break the cycle of sleeping on the sofa, lounging on the chair in the back yard and demanding endless belly rubs.  But camping proved too much, and Chuck snapped.  In a daring attempt to align himself with another pampered pooch from the ritzy RV side of the park, he escaped his harness for a full 15 seconds and made a run for it.  Park police were called in, a two hour investigation ensued and with out a mention of voluntary compliance to the leash laws, Chuck was made into a known criminal in Kimble County Texas.

The intervention was a bust.  Chuck was grounded from sleeping on the furniture for a week and was subjected to rigorous walks in the neighborhood.  It will be a long road to rehabilitation. I am proud to report he is 20 days clean from escaping his harness. But he did growl at the rain this week.