Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just Some Goings On At Cottonwood Creek RV Park

May 24, 2011 Cottonwood Creek RV Park Dripping Springs, Tx.
Our site, 11
Wow! I don't know what else to say about the ravaging deadly storms in our nation's heartlands. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone affected by the storms and let's not forget the flood victims. We pray our RV friends and others in the path of storms find shelter or escape altogether. As I type this tornados and storms are marching through Oklahoma and headed for Joplin Mo. again!
Here in Dripping Springs Tx (Southwest of Austin) we've avoided severe weather and continue to be in need of rain. The last few days our weather radio has gone off sometimes 3 times a day warning of severe thunderstorm watches or warnings. None of which have affected us as the storms have been staying primarily north of us. Dry conditions are forecasted for the next week as the temperature tomorrow is expected to soar to the triple digits. Oops!...the weather radio just went off again with a warning from the National Weather Service of a "severe storm watch till 4:30 am"! This just after the local Austin TV weather reported nothing in the viewing area!

You may recall from an earlier post, that here in Cottonwood Creek RV Park we've been trying to catch a destructive armadillo that is attracted at night to freshly watered sod for digging up grubs, worms and insects.  Well, after the first traps failed in our site, things have gotten a little more serious....
Joyce made four of the above wanted posters and posted them around the park (lol). The park owner, Les and I went to work constructing a better trap using 50 ft. of wire fencing, metal stakes, trip wires and a wood trap door. After fencing off the capture pen we soaked it down with lots of water to attract the 'dillo.  The first night with the new trap failed to attract Dillo.  But, his days are numbered and now I'm afraid the live trap isn't an option!
The new Armadillo trapping pen set in the wood line.
I failed to mention in previous posts about a little pot-luck Brisket BBQ get together that the park owners, Les and Sheri put together for all of us. 
Partying on the back porch!
Les got up about 3 am one morning a couple of weeks ago and started the fire in his smoker to cook the 16 lbs. of beef brisket for a good 12-14 hrs.
Les and Sheri's smoker.
This was the second time this year that we've had some of Les' smoked beef brisket and let me tell's fabulous! Chances are if you spend a few months or arrive at the right time here at the park you will get an invite, as Les' cooks up the brisket a few times a year.

Rico, Maggie and Les' dog Ema helping Les with the cleanup!
Another two weeks before we will be heading for Corpus Christi. We had so much fun with our last kayak adventure, we plan to get another trip in before we leave. 
I'm still staying busy with mowing, trimming, cutting and grinding up tree limbs here in the park. I could stay busy here all day everyday, but it gets so warm and muggy in the afternoon that a few hours every few days is enough for me.
This evening, while walking Maggie and Rico, we strolled by a site and I heard a woman call out my name. After introductions, it turns out she and her husband knew us from our blog and in fact, it was our blog that helped them to decide to stay here at Cottonwood Creek RV Park. It was nice to meet them! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kayak Trip on The San Marcos River

May 17, 2011
A few days ago, Les and Sheri, the owners of Cottonwood Creek RV Park invited Joyce and I to go kayaking with them and their good friend Steve. Les and his friend Steve are both getting into kayaking and have been going to demo events to test out different kayaks before buying. Their main interest is in finding a kayak suitable for fishing. They had narrowed their decision down to two Kayaks, both of which they intended to rent and tryout for the day.
Monday, Les, Steve and I traveled to Austin to rent 4 kayaks for the 5 of us. Joyce and I would be using a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 130T Tandem Sit-On-Top KayakAlthough we have our own inflatable Sea Eagle Tandem Kayak, our hosts wanted us to try the "sit on top kayak". So, we loaded the four kayaks on a trailer and brought them to the park.

The next day we got up early and all went to breakfast at 8:00 in Dripping Springs in preparation to kayak The San Marcos River. After breakfast, we drove to the City of San Marcos' city park.
San Marcos River map courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
Our route from San Marcos to near Martindale.

The San Marcos River bubbles to life from the San Marcos Springs at Aquarena Center (formerly Aquarena Springs) on the campus of Texas State University (formerly Southwest Texas State University) in Hays County and flows about 85.5 miles through Guadalupe and Caldwell Counties to the confluence of the Guadalupe River in Gonzales County. In practical terms, recreational use of the river is usually limited to about the upper 16.5 miles between Old City Park in San Marcos down to FM 1977, just above Staples Dam, but can be paddled all the way to the Guadalupe River. The river has many dams and low-water bridges that must be portaged, coupled with rough terrain, making casual recreational paddling for less experienced boaters not all that much fun and more than a little dangerous. However, experience paddlers capable of recognizing and avoiding hazards can paddle the entire river to Luling and beyond.
Ready to go!
At the city park we unloaded the kayaks. The City Park is just yards away from the campus of Texas State University. Steve and the girls prepared the kayaks as Les and I drove to the take out point to leave the truck and trailer. I then drove us both back to the park in our Jeep.
Our blue rental tandem kayak
It didn't take long for Les (L) and Steve (R) below to get settled into their kayaks ready to row! 
Below, Sheri kicked off heading down stream in the pristine clear spring fed river.
Sheri heading down stream!
The San Marcos River, Known as the "River of the Innocents" to the Spanish Monks who "discovered" her, the San Marcos is one of the largest spring fed rivers in Texas. Average flow at the headwaters (known as the Aquarena Springs) is 130 cubic feet per second, and even during the driest of summers there has always been sufficient water for canoeing and other water sports. It is recognized as one of the most unique ecosystems in the world, with several endangered species living in its cool, 72 degree waters
We started out crossing under a number of bridges for pedestrians, rail and vehicles.

Steve and Les leading the way!
The small bridge below required us to be a little flexible and flatten our bodies to get underneath. Sheri ended up taking a spill as her kayak rolled just after coming under the bridge. The other option would have been to portage around.

Joyce watching out for submerged rocks and trees.

Sign at the Rio Vista Falls
We arrived at Rio Vista Falls which is a series of three spillway dams. With potentially 4 kayaks to portage some distance over rocks to get around the dams, Les and I decided to try and kayak at least two of the boats through the white water. So, I watched as Les successfully made it through the white water in his kayak. I then got into Sheri's single man kayak and tried my luck in the white water.
Attacking the first Rio Vista Falls
I should have been wearing my PFE vest!
It's all fun and games till somebody gets wet...then it's a blast!
I got dumped out of the kayak at the first falls losing my sunglasses. Fortunately the water was cool and refreshing but moving at a pretty good clip which made it difficult to stand.
I tried again with the other falls and was quickly dumped as I wasn't able to get balanced and straight before the river current swept me over the next whitewater falls.
Hanging on as the current pushes me down stream.
So after my splashing good time at Rio Vista Falls, I got out of the river and helped to portage the other 2 kayaks around the falls. Joyce and I then got back into the tandem kayak at the base of the third spillway. Well guess what? We both rolled over in the tandem kayak after kicking off from shore. The current was too strong and it hit us broadside rolling the kayak. After collecting our gear we got going again. However we weren't going along very far before the swift current pushed us into a tree trunk in the river that we didn't see and again we flipped! Thankfully we were pushed into a shallow sandbar and we were able to collect ourselves and gear before trying it again!
Further down the river, we came to another 4-5 foot falls that we had to portage. At that point it was convenient to go ahead and eat our lunch.
We ended up having to portage on at least one or two other locations as we continued down stream. At one of the portage locations we had to lower our 4 kayaks over and down a wall about 15 ft. Fortunately we had rope to hold and lower the kayaks. 
I was surprised at the speed of the current in some areas of the river. The strong current coupled with the twisty narrow nature of the river and sunken trees made it tricky at times to control the tandem kayak.

We had to be constantly alert for trees in and below the surface of the river as well as large rocks and sandbars. We came across several trees that had fallen across the river almost blocking passage. We depended on Steve and Les to find a safe route as our tandem kayak was harder to maneuver and drafted lower in the water. We saw lots of river turtles and even fish in the clear water.

Joyce and I against a huge Cypress in the river.
After about 6 hours and maybe 10 miles on the water, we made it to the take-out at San Marcos River Retreat! We were all spent but we had a blast! We loaded up and were on our way home by 5:30. We were scheduled to return the kayaks to Austin before 6:00. We had thought we would be off the river by 3:00. Obviously that didn't happen, you know the saying,"time flies when you're having fun!" Hope they don't charge us for another day!
Joyce's camera got wet today so we will have to let it dry and see if it survives. I kept mine in a ziplock bag and it stayed dry. I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked due to my inability to get to it fast and then secure it while negotiating hazards. My G'zone phone got soaked but it's waterproof and survived!
As far as my opinion of the "sit on top kayak"... I think our inflatable Sea Eagle would have been more maneuverable. We've never flipped in ours! However, there were some serious tree branches, rocks and rock shoals that we scrapped against or over that might have been damaging to our inflatable! Steve and Les had been especially careful with the new kayak they were testing and still they managed to scrape up the bottom. I'm sure we would have come close to puncturing our inflatable. 
I'm convinced that tandem kayaks are just not very maneuverable no matter what the style unless perhaps you have very experienced paddlers.
If you ever get the opportunity to kayak on the San Marcos, be prepared for more than a leisurely float but, it's worth the trip!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Armadillo problems and working on the rig

May 10, 2011 Cottonwood Creek RV Park, Dripping Springs, Texas.
Site 11
This will be a second attempt at this post. Apparently the original post on this date was lost after Google Blogger did some maintenance and a software glitch occurred. That glitch dropped this original post. From Blogger:  Here’s what happened: during scheduled maintenance work Wednesday night, we experienced some data corruption that impacted Blogger’s behavior. Since then, bloggers and readers may have experienced a variety of anomalies including intermittent outages, disappearing posts, and arriving at unintended blogs or error pages. A small subset of Blogger users (we estimate 0.16%) may have encountered additional problems specific to their accounts. Yesterday we returned Blogger to a pre-maintenance state and placed the service in read-only mode while we worked on restoring all content: that’s why you haven’t been able to publish.  We rolled back to a version of Blogger as of Wednesday May 11th, so your posts since then were temporarily removed. Those are the posts that we’re in the progress of restoring.
So stay with me as I try to remember and type what I wrote the first time:

We are still outside Dripping Springs until June 6th when we will return to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi for our Son-In-Laws' Navy "Winging" Ceremony. Shortly after that we will be making a fast exodus North to cooler climates. For now we planning to return to Colorado and possibly travel to Wyoming and Utah over the remaining months before the onset of winter. 
In the meantime, we are enjoying the company of our hosts, the owners of the park, Les and Sheri. There are only about 6 rigs that have been here as long or longer than us here in the park. We've become friendly with all of them. 
Living in a RV really makes one want to spend more time outside. So much so, that it's easy to get to meet your neighbors. We've sure met a lot of wonderful folks that RV. Weekends around here are interesting as it brings in the "Weekend Rv'ers" and a chance to meet more interesting folks.

Earlier in the week, I had noticed large brown paper wasps entering the exterior vents of or refrigerator. I tore out the nest however days later I discovered the wasps were back at work building another nest.  So, I bought some 1/4" hardwire screen at the Home Depot in Dripping Springs. 
I cut the hardwire and folded it in half, fitting it to the vents. Hopefully this will keep the wasps and other insects out of the vents. Our furnace and water heater vents were already covered with wasp screens.
Exterior Refrigerator vents
It has been exceptionally dry. All of Texas is in a drought stage. There is previously installed sod outside the door of our RV. We've been trying to keep it watered. However, whenever we water, the damp ground attracts an Armadillo over night that digs up the sod in search of worms and insects. 
Subsequently, Les and I devised a trap using information from the internet. We used 10" wide boards to funnel the armadillo into a live trap. Unfortunately the first attempts didn't work as the armadillo never entered the live trap although there were signs he visited the sod. 
Our next attempt was to build a trap door on the right side of the funneling area. In the picture below the trap door had been tripped when the armadillo entered. Apparently he lingered for a while again tearing up the sod before we assumed he just climbed out. Again avoiding the live trap! Les and I will have to work on building a better 'dillo trap! I should mention that the 'dillo gets around as he has torn up other freshly watered (damp) areas in the park.
Tripped Armadillo Trap
At the time of the original post, we had not had any rain. However, our weather radio was going off the next two days as we had severe storms threatening. From those storms we got about an inch of rain. With the rain and damp ground, attracting the 'dillo to our trap has become impossible. But its time is coming!
The rain was just wonderful and much appreciated. It was enough to wash down the rig and knock the dust down at the same time infusing some green into the landscape.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Austin Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail and riding in the City.

May 4, 2011, Cottonwood Creek RV Park, Dripping Springs, Tx.
Today the weather cooperated and we had time to fit into our busy schedules another trip to Austin (lol). This time to ride our bikes on the Town Lake Hike and Bike Trail (TLHBT). 
I took the hitch off the front of our fifth wheel and put it on the back of the Jeep to load the bikes. Yesterday I made sure we had all our gear together so we could get an early start...early for us! We got on the road about 9:40. We've had unusual weather and it was in the upper 40's overnight but warming to the mid 70's.  Excellent weather for a bike ride.
We drove the 30 plus miles to Austin and then parked in Zilker Park Once again, under the Mopac (Tx Hwy 1).  As you may recall we visited Zilker Park to check it out on April 26th, 2011. 
Today we took off riding the bikes on the South side of Lady Bird Lake on the TLHBT heading east.
We started down the hard packed dirt trail.
The trail was very busy with pedestrians and joggers but I managed to get some photos without folks in them. Skinny tire bikes would find the sandy sections a bit sketchy.
Joyce at one of many scenic vistas along the trail.
Austin Skyline across Lady Bird Lake.
We discovered several of these pianos throughout the trails.
We never learned the significance of the pianos. Some were actually playable.
Barton Springs Pool
 Barton Springs Pool is a section of the lake/river that is fenced off for swimming.
One of several bridges.

Lotsa folks were out on the water.
Stevie Ray Vaughn Memorial on the trail.
Skyline from Pfluger Pedestrian/ Bike Bridge.
Lamar Blvd. Bridge
Pfluger Bridge
Another piano in the courtyard of the bridge catwalk.
The original Whole Foods Market?
Bike route map and parking.
Lance Armstrong Bikeway.
Joyce traveling down the Lance Armstrong Bikeway.
We rode into downtown for lunch on Music Row (6th Street). We ate at an overpriced little pub and had just an average meal. Afterwords we rode to Mellow Johnny's again in search of the Lance Armstrong Bikeway. The staff was kind enough to give us directions. Once on the bikeway we headed in the direction of the Jeep and ended up back on the TLHBT on the north side of Lady Bird Lake and followed that to Mopac which took us back to our Jeep.
We had a great time and couldn't have planned for better weather. Austin is such a bike friendly city. It has several bike lanes throughout the city and although we rode on many of the down town streets it didn't feel risky. We wished we had more time but we had to get back to Maggie and Rico.