Wednesday April 17 Through Wednesday April 24, 2019
The universe was not well aligned with Wednesday as the chosen move day. Forecast predicted rain on the route from Fort Richardson State Park and Historic Site (blog post) to Blanco State Park. A few drops on the windshield don’t count as rain and the four hour drive was uneventful. The gusty side winds made the narrower four lane sections of US-281 into a fight for control with the steering wheel.
Park arrival and campsite setup went smoothly. By mid afternoon we were sitting outside enjoying the gentle breeze with the dogs people watching. Blanco’s forecast predicted overnight rain in the ninety plus percent range so all the outside camping gear was moved under the gazebo and shelter by sundown.
It did rain Wednesday night. Buckets and buckets of rain. Luckily, Blanco was on the moderate end of the thunderstorms that wracked San Antonio with hail and high winds, less than an hour drive south.
Thursday morning, all the camping gear under the gazebo and shelter had remained dry through the storm. Always grateful for blessing great and small.
Thursday afternoon was spent in San Antonio. Cardiologist appointment, prescription refills, mail pickup and dinner at The Barn Door, our favorite local San Antonio steakhouse before suffering through the tail end of rush hour as we drove back to Blanco.
The Caswell Nature Trail was chosen for the evening dog walk. Back in December 2006, our last stay at this park, there were few residences along the park boundary. The Caswell trail runs right along the park boundary and feels like walking through an alley behind a subdivision. Our neighborhood intrusion was greeted by large barking dogs living in homes along the path.
Even so, the hike was enjoyable for both human and dogs. With variations in the amount of brush on the river side of the trail, the river view came and went. At the end of the trail the path turns left down the river bank where a dam was spilling water. Scenic and peaceful. Here the State Park is on both sides of the Blanco River. At this moment, the decision was made to walk the other side of the river during the next day’s early morning dog walk.
Friday morning, before sunrise, walking the dogs along the park road across the river from the nature trail taken the night before, we walked under the US-281 bridge north. On the left, the park boundary, was house after house after house. All new construction since 2006. More barking backyard dogs.
Just past the dam seen from the nature trail the evening before, is a bridge with a sign stating “Maintenance Area – Area Closed – Authorized Personnel Only.” Buildings had been built directly on the road on the other side of the dam. This is also new since 2006. From the cars parked out on the street, it looks like at least some of the buildings could be ranger housing.
Turning left just before the bridge, there was an archway with a gate. The gate was open. On the archway were the words “Blanco State Park.”
The dogs pulled through the archway. I had been on this trail in 2002. Only back then it wasn’t paved. The trail leads up to Blanco’s town square. The trail is now a park with a name – Roland and Viola Bindseil City Park. Houses line one side of the trail leading up to the town square. More backyard dogs barked their warnings and greetings. Back in 2002, there was a champion Live Oak tree along the trail. Is the tree gone??? It is so large it would be hard to miss even before twilight.
Since the nights had been cold for the past three weeks, I’ve been checking the propane tanks daily. Tuesday the automatic changeover from the nearly empty bottle to the full one was just about to happen. Thursday, it went all red signalling that the left bottle was done. Empty.
We hurried out to a nearby propane dealer to fill the empty bottle before noon. In Texas, it is not uncommon for businesses to close at noon on Good Friday.
We met up for lunch with a friend at Blanco’s Redbud Cafe. We arrived right at 11:00 and by noon the restaurant was packed. Their food was good and I would eat there again.
For the rest of Good Friday, we hung out in our camp watching campers arrive and setup. Other park patrons were coming in for the day to picnic, hike and/or play in the river. Cars loaded with people were driving slowly around the campground staring at each of the campsites. People watching people watching people.
Easter is a holiday and like all holidays, the parks are full up. Saturday morning, before the expected crowds would arrive in the park, we drove the half hour south to Bulverde to grocery shop at the big HEB-Plus there. The weather was gorgeous – perfect for hanging out under the campsite gazebo. In the evening an hour before sunset, I went out with my camera to catch the setting sun.
People were fishing in between the big cypress trees lining the Blanco River.
Others were walking along the giant spillway or swimming in the dam’s swimming hole.
Even though there is a sweeping bend in the Blanco River inside the park, I like to think of the park as being shaped like an H. The vertical parts of the H run along the river in the form of roads or trails. The horizontal bar is the single park bridge across the river.
Looking from the bridge downriver, there is a road running along the river on the left and a trail (Caswell Nature Trail) on the right. The US-281 bridge crosses over the park road and trail. Not visible is another dam.
If we were to turn around on the bridge to face upriver, on our right would be a road that turns into a trail. On the left is a road to where the RV campsites are. That road goes all the way to another dam at the far end of the park.
By the time the above picture was taken, most of Saturday’s park visitors (not campers) had gone for the day.
One group in for the day on Saturday, stayed overnight in their day use area along the river. They had an elaborate camp setup. These campers were up and active by 7:30 Easter morning.
On the other side of the river, a picnicker had claimed her family’s picnic table before the park officially opened for day use. She was dozing in her nearby parked car.
The Easter sunrise was particularly inspiring. HE IS RISEN!
Mid morning, while walking the dogs, we stopped to chat with one of the park hosts. She told us the park filled up Saturday afternoon. Only visitors with reservations were allowed in.
I spent much of the day working on the computer, writing this blog.
Expecting the park to overfill on Easter (which historically has been the norm in all Texas public parks on Easter), the surprise was the park was busy but not overflowing. The rangers closed the park again when the park filled up. The vibe in the park was really good. Very mellow. Everyone happy. Busy, not overcrowded.
The Easter peace continued to Sundown.
At dusk, the more hearty Easter revelers broke camp and headed off. By Monday morning, the only Easter celebration evidence were the overflowing trash bins.
Monday, we drove down to San Antonio to get our driver licenses renewed so they didn’t expire while we were in Canada next summer. After lunch at Jim’s in San Antonio, the next stop was laundromat with machines large enough to accommodate two weeks of clothes in four loads.
Monday evening, after dinner, we put camp away. It was supposed to start raining cats and dogs Tuesday and continue on through Wednesday when we were planning to drive to our next park.
Picasso has congestive heart heart failure, a progressive disease that is generally terminal. Monday night, he had a spell. He had persistent coughing accompanied by difficulty breathing as a result of fluid buildup in his lungs. His coughing, wheezing and gasping lasted all night. None of us humans or dogs got any sleep Monday night.
Tuesday morning, we changed our travel plans. Instead of going on to South Llano River State Park on Wednesday, we would instead stay in San Antonio at the KOA to be close to Picasso’s veterinarian.
We dropped Picasso at the veterinarian. The vet, who had been treating Picasso for congestive heart failure, took lung xrays and put Picasso on an IV containing Lasix, a strong diuretic.
While Picasso was at the vet, we had lunch at Luby’s and got our hair done. Luby’s is a cafeteria style restaurant that has become Texas landmark chain restaurant.
In the afternoon, the vet called and told Linda that Picasso was OK. Then he described the diagnostic and treatment process. When we picked Picasso up from the vet, he was much better. We went home with twenty days worth of Lasix. Since Lasix is a strong diuretic that can cause kidney and liver damage, Picasso will need to see the vet in a week for blood tests. If his liver/kidney panels look funky, the treatment will need to be modified.
Tuesday night, Picasso slept well. We slept well too despite the rain.
Wednesday morning, we awoke to a day of thunderstorms. Not likely the drive to the next park would be uneventful.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!