Saturday, April 14, 2012

Camping at Martin Dies Jr. State Park - Easter 2012

On the way home from Kevin's families' Easter get together last year we made a detour to Martin Dies Jr. State Park on our way home.  It was a beautiful park we wanted to explore more, so this year we decided to head up on Good Friday and spend the weekend camping at the park.  Kevin's brother Randy and his wife joined us along with their grandson Luke.

We lucked out and got a beautiful spot right on the water.

There was plenty of room for Randy & Diana's motorhome.  Though the one-way street and winding, curvy road they would have to take to pull it out of here was a bit questionable.  :)

There was also a great flat shady area for us to pitch our tent.

A perfect landing area for the canoe with a convenient step to get out on.  Or so I thought... Kevin might not quite agree in hindsight, but more on our canoeing escapades later.... :)

There was even a perfect protected spot to pull up the boat under the shade of a tree where you could just step up and walk right on.

We really couldn't have gotten more lucky. We lucked out in the canoe department, too.  We got the last available canoe on our side of the park for the long weekend.  While the boys napped, and Diana kept an ear out for them Kevin and I paddled the boat over from the launch to our campsite. 

With an hour or more remaining of their nap Kevin and I headed out for a short paddle on the still glassy water. 

We paddled along the shoreline enjoying the views of the cypress tress and a thicket of lily pads. Before long we made our way into the slough on the adjacent side of the island.

The slough narrowed and the cypress trees spread across all the open water. 

About that time we decided we had better head back to get back before the boys woke up.  A quick check of the map however showed that we were about half way around the island and it was just as short to continue on as it would be to turn back, or so we thought...  So we continued on into the growing swamp alive with a cacophony of birds and bullfrogs making their presence known. 

Along the first half of our tour we had seen several people fishing from the banks and had passed 2 or 3 other canoers out for a paddle.  As we ventured further into the swamp and the sun headed further south we saw no one.  No signs of civilization what-so-ever.  It was about then that we silently started wondering if we would ever find our way back.  Or maybe that was just me.  Apparently Kevin's only doubts were that I could read a map that there was indeed a path that went somewhere... I assured him that there had to be a bridge ahead, and surely it would come into view any moment.  And I was right.  We eventually heard the rattle of traffic across the bridge long before we could make it out in the distance.  Re-assured we continued on and before long the giant wooden bridge we had visited on our first trip to the park came into sight.  The one where we saw dozens of alligators.  Out in the exact water we were now paddling.  :)

We continued on and made our way out into the more open unprotected waters, eventually past the fishing pier and finally the boat ramp where we had put in initially.  I had been telling Kevin for a while that the boat ramp had to be just ahead and that we would surely see it any minute.  I think he was beginning to doubt I had any idea where we were.  :)  So we continued to paddle against the wind, a little desperately knowing that the boys should be waking up at any moment and that we still had a 10-15 minute paddle back to our campsite.  And indeed by the time we got back Ryan had been up for 10-15 minutes.  Luckily Connor was still sleeping. 

Once we got back I hopped out for the second time of the afternoon using the handy tree and root bridge.  And then I went to "help" Kevin out by pulling the boat up on the shore a little more to help stabilize it and make it to where he could reach the tree.  And "help" him out I did.  Right into the water.  :)

Needless to say between his yelling, and splashing around everyone in the campsite knew we were back.  Ryan and Diana came running over to see what had happened.  Probably envisioning Randy or Luke having fallen in and drowning or being attacked by alligators. :)  Kevin, now standing up in the water promptly told them that I "THREW HIM IN THE LAKE!!"  And by that point I was practically doubled over with laughter.  I couldn't stop laughing long enough to even begin to tell them what had really happened.  :)  Luckily after he dried off a bit even Kevin had a hard time keeping a straight face about the accident.

With a few hours of daylight left Randy, Luke, Kevin, and Ryan went out to do a little fishing.  Connor who had just woken up and I wandered down the shoreline a ways to see if we could see them.

We could hear them for a while, but never did see them so we returned to camp to wait for them to get back.

 We finally gave up and got in the car and headed over to the other camp ground area to check it out.

We made it to the pier just before sunset.  The views were spectacular.

We watched the sunset and headed back to the campsite.  The boat had come back and they had started a fire for dinner. 

Randy cooked everyone hamburgers.  After we polished them off we broke out the roasters and the smores for a final treat before bedtime. 

Kevin and Randy headed off to do some more night fishing while I put the boys to bed.  I enjoyed the remnants of the fire and the soft light of the full moon for a while before finally heading off to bed myself.

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