Spring Break. Debi couldn't find anything in hill country near Austin or San Antonio. She was going up near DFW. I said, why not come out my way? San Angelo is about two hours east of Midland, and about six hours west of Houston. That sounded like a good compromise to me!
I loaded up the bikes on my trailer and towed it behind the Tacoma down to San Angelo on Saturday afternoon. Debi's ETA was 5 PM. I drove around a bit, trying to get the lay of the land. Sabkha and I hiked around some water below a dam, which turned out to be the Twin Buttes reservoir dam.
Debi showed up with her Mitsubishi Outlander (a really good car except for the mediocre interior), with Mary and a pop-up camper in tow. (Please note: Mary was in the car, not actually being towed --Ed.). We set up camp in the north section of San Angelo State Park, and it was nice enough, although we weren't on the lake. It was basically a giant field full of prickers and burrs, with a few groves of trees around the edges. The southern section of the state park is more desirable if you want a lake and/or a view.
We hung out at camp and Mary played with the neighbor kids, who were camped about 18 inches away. The family (or two families?) had about 15 kids, although they were difficult to count because they were always moving so fast. We took a drive into town around dinnertime in the new truck. Debi hadn't seen it before because I bought it on the NW side of Houston and immediately drove it straight to Midland.
As usual, the day after Saturday was Sunday. We went for a hike in the southern part of San Angelo State Park. It was dry country (hasn't rained out here for over six months), but we identified plenty of desert plants. The day was warm and windy.
Flower observed on hike, San Angelo State Park
Master Naturalist (in progress) Dr. Andrew McCarthy gestures at a plant
Mary explores a deer blind
Parasitic plant on another plant
After our hike we decided to go into town a bit. Downtown San Angelo was surprisingly nice. It has the Concho River (dammed to form a lake through town) as a focal point. That is one thing that Midland is missing -- no river runs through it. All the great Texas towns have a lovely blue river (thinking San Antonio, Austin... heck, even Waco!).
Mary chases a duck along the Concho River
I check out some statues on the river in San Angelo
Odessa has the rabbit; San Angelo has the sheep. They're everywhere.
San Angelo has some nice neighborhoods and a more diversified economy than Midland, with oilfield (of course) and also the Air Force base, meatpacking, call centers, and recreation. The downtown has a smattering of cool old late 19th/early 20th century buildings, with quaint and quirky businesses now occupying them. Unfortunately it was Sunday, and everything was closed.
Cool building, San Angelo, TX.
Mother and daughter
"Hey guys!!!!" ... snap
Mary pretended she got ran over... or was she micro-napping?
"One of these shops HAS to be open!"
We checked out a nice little local coffee shop, Baker Street Cafe, then drove over to Lake Nasworthy. This clay-blue lake was completely full and is clearly regulated by outlets from the two lakes higher up the Concho River. Looks like a great place to jet-ski. Soon.
Me and Mary and Sab; Lake Nasworthy.
We walked out onto a dock, watched some prairie dogs, then headed back to camp for dinner. Mary and Sabkha and I walked around the campground and discovered a little pond about 100 feet from the camper. The water was lovely and blue. This was actually part of a stream that was not flowing. We had a great time throwing sticks into the water for Sabkha to fetch.
Down by the pond
"Mary of the Trees" - artistic photo
Monday we finally got geared up to go riding (dirt biking). We headed over to Twin Buttes, on the south side of the reservoir. We tested out the new Tacoma by driving up a steep hill. 4LO didn't get us up, but the rear locker did, no problem. At the time I didn't know you had to actually activate A-TRAC with a button while in 4LO, so didn't try it. We also did a number of stream crossings that seemed dangerous at first but really were pretty pedestrian. Debi in particular enjoyed off-roading in the truck and soon declared "I want one."
It was way steeper than it looks. Mary was highly concerned.
Stopped and pulled the bikes off the trailer. The Yamaha would not start -- dead battery? I usually carry my charger but of course didn't have it on this trip. It was dead as a doornail. The Honda started right up, so we took turns riding that and Debi did some practice to get the rust off. Then I took the Honda and did some trail riding while Debi drove the Tacoma and Mary rode with her. What fun! I did some stream crossings on the Honda and was surprised what I could ride through. The area we were in is not the official bike trail area; that is on the north side of the reservoir. But I didn't know that at the time. It was great fun to ride the two-tracks. Debi took a turn too, and Mary rode around a little with us at low speeds.
Prepping to ride. Twin Buttes Res in background.
Mary on the shores of Twin Buttes Reservoir
Mary tries out the Honda
Debi is ready to ride, with her new helmet