Dreaming of Spring

Christmas cactus, or pencil cactus

Christmas cactus, or pencil cactus

Tuesday, March 3

Today is both a work day and a jogging day.

In the morning, Julie and I head out to clean the Clevis Multrums – the back country composting toilets. The park has just acquired a brand new gator, only one and a half hours of run time on it. It’s green and yellow, a John Deere, and I feel almost bad about taking it onto the Loop trail for the first time. It’s all shiny and clean now, it won’t be for long.

Heavy fog blankets the landscape and a chill hangs in the still air, everything is damp. Enchanted Rock and it’s smaller cousins could have gotten up in the middle of the night and left and nobody would be the wiser, they are completely hidden from view.

You might think that cleaning toilets would be one of the worst parts of camp hosting, but the setting here makes it kind of fun. It takes just over a half-hour to get to the furthest commode, out by Buzzard’s Roost, and the 4×4 cart handles the rock slabs and eroded parts of the trail very well. The drive is pleasant, we have the back country all to ourselves. The scenery looks foreign to us, the fog makes it impossible to pick out the usual landmarks. It’s like discovering the park anew.

Enchanted Rock as the fog lifts

Enchanted Rock as the fog lifts

The actual cleaning goes pretty quickly. The weather was bad here this past weekend too so there weren’t many visitors. The floor gets swept, the trash taken out, the toilet paper restocked, the toilet seat wiped down, and there is a bacterial liquid that gets dumped down into the toilet along with sawdust – to help with the composting. Then it’s back into the gator and drive to the next one. We start with the furthest, and make our way back at a slower pace, hitting all five outhouses.

Start of the fabled Hill Country flower season?

Start of the fabled Hill Country flower season?

On the way back, a breeze picks up from the south and starts scattering the fog. Enchanted Rock hasn’t gotten up and left after all, and lies wreathed in the low clouds.

After work gets out at noon, Julie and I change and go jogging. I’d like to say I’m one of those people who jogs regularly no matter where I am, but I’m not. It happens in spurts of all or nothing, months of maintaining a regular schedule, followed by months of nothing, depending on where I am. Many campgrounds I stay in don’t have a good paths for jogging nearby, and when you’re working 40 or more hours a week it’s still hard to find the time – stationary or mobile. E-rock is probably the best place I’ve stayed at for jogging since I hit the road, it’s always easier at volunteer places with less work hours.

We retrace our path from this morning on the Loop trail, powered by our legs instead of a diesel engine. The sun has burned through the clouds after days of being absent, and it’s warmed up considerably just as the forecasters promised. I’d had my doubts after this morning. It’s about 62 with a steady wind, good weather for jogging and I feel like I could run forever… until the last 5 minutes or so of our timed 30 minutes, when my energy gives out and it feels like a slog. It was effortless, it wouldn’t be very good exercise.

The hill country is trying desperately to summon spring. Despite the unpredictable weather of the past couple weeks, the grass is noticeably getting greener. Small purple, white, and yellow flowers have tentatively poked up out of last year’s dried vegetation. A few daring trees have opened their buds early. Good luck plants, I think we’re all ready for the season to change.


* * *

The day after I wrote this, we got buried in ice again. I’ve never seen anything quite like it: a thunderstorm came through around 9 pm Wednesday night when the air temp was 30 degrees, so it was lighting and heavy rain mixed with sleet and ice pellets. By noon the next day it was mostly melted off. From a quick walk through the park, it looks like the new vegetation has come through alright, but the low tonight is suppose to get down to 23, the coldest it’s been since I arrived in Texas. C’mon, spring, you can do this thing!

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  1. dawn from camano island on March 14, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Good morning Becky. Gorgeous photos–i would love to visit the Texas Hill Country on one of our trips. Spring has come to Pancho Villa SP too–lots of pretty flowers on low-growing little plants & the cholla is blooming too. Today we’re headed north to see large poppy fields along the flanks of the–gee, the volunteer at the depot told us & I can’t remember–mountains northeast of Columbus. Sheesh. Have a good day–you’re probably super busy right now.

    • Becky on March 14, 2015 at 9:39 am

      Enjoy your trip Dawn, sounds like it’ll be fun! I’ll do my best to enjoy today too, Saturday though it is. 😉

  2. Jim on March 10, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    I always enjoy your blog, Becky, and just want too comment on our changeable weather. We’ve lived in North Texas for 20 years and don’t plan to do another winter here when I retire. Sharon told me a couple of weeks ago she’s ready for flip-flop weather. I told her this is Texas flip-flop weather weather – it flips and flops every few days.

    • Becky on March 10, 2015 at 4:59 pm

      Haha! Flip-flop weather, I like it. 😉 It does seem a lot like that doesn’t it? Well, better than cold days every day like farther north.

  3. Becky on March 9, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Yes, the staff and everyone else around here is very happy for all the rain we’ve been getting. Drought killed off a good number of the oak trees in the park, and the vernal pools had laid dry for a long time. I guess last year things started to change, and there’s been even more rain this winter – good news!

    Thanks again for the sticker, and again just let me know if you do a re-print on those “Bigger on the inside” t-shirts. 😉

    For those wondering what I’m talking about, Brian and Carolyn run an Etsy shop with cute small trailer merchandise, check them out! http://www.coolcampcreations.com/

  4. Brian and Carolyn on March 9, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Looks like you guys are getting more rain in the Hill Country. While that might sound bad, keep in mind ANY rain in the Hill Country is desperately needed.
    Please be safe and watch out for flash flooding.
    Soon it will be sunny, 80 degrees, and wild flowers everywhere. Enjoy!

  5. Jodee Gravel on March 7, 2015 at 7:37 am

    I’d rather be cleaning up a back country restroom than sitting in a big building doing anything. I love watching the fog lift and reveal a completely different world – your photo is lovely. We are already in the 80’s and our trees have been in bloom for weeks. Sometimes our Spring gets pushed out by an early Summer and I’m so hoping that isn’t the case this year! The ice storm however does not sound like a fun option – glad the buds survived 🙂
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..Beach Day for the BrideMy Profile

    • Becky on March 7, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      80’s already? Yikes! Yes, I would say that’s better than ice storms.

      I think in my ideal world, the high would be 75 every day, and the low 55. That would be about perfect for me. It’s amazing how often I don’t get that kind of weather, even though I try to travel to follow it, haha.

  6. Terri on March 7, 2015 at 7:27 am

    I apologize for being absent from commenting for so long -lots of changes going on, on my end, including the fact that soon I will have a tiny house!! 🙂

    Becky, I am so with you on wanting spring to come. Don’t know if you remember, but I’m in Boston and well, we have had a lot of snow this winter to say the least. I’m hoping it melts by the time the Boston Marathon comes around. Beautiful pictures as always…and I admire your getting out there and exercising with the nomadic lifestyle. So many people could use that as the excuse, permanently, you know?

    Ok, now to catch up on your earlier posts! Remember, clocks spring forward tonight! (Does Texas follow daylight savings?)

    • Becky on March 7, 2015 at 9:35 pm

      Welcome back Terri! I understand, real life gets in the way of online life sometimes. 🙂

      A tiny house? Awesome! I’ve always admired those things. Have you ever heard of Tammy Strobel? She writes and blogs about tiny house living… and she has cats, too. You can find her at http://rowdykittens.com/

      And yes, Texas does observe daylight savings. Most of Arizona does not, and I think there’s one other state that doesn’t but I can never remember which.

  7. Karla Kirk on March 7, 2015 at 6:47 am

    That picture of ERock was absolutely awesome. You all are so blessed to see sights like that on a regular basis. Hope you write a book some day and include these special photographs. I would certainly be a customer.

    • Becky on March 7, 2015 at 9:30 pm

      When I’m done with my how-to book Karla maybe I’ll put together that kind of book next. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the pictures!

  8. Old Fat Man on March 6, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    ERock is one of the prettiest places in the USA during the spring flower outburst. Enjoy it.

    • Becky on March 7, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Can’t wait!

  9. EmilyO on March 6, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    I feel the “teasing” between spring and winter is much harder on us than the “teasing” we get in the fall. Love the flowers. Unfortunately, I got bit by the spring flower bug and now am waiting to put them in the ground – a couple more weeks I tell myself. Enjoy.

    • Becky on March 7, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      I’m with you on that Emily. By March everyone’s had several months of winter and we’re getting tired of it.

      When I worked at Lowe’s a couple springs ago they always got the outdoor garden center going and fully stocked with flowers before the weather was appropriate, that way when the first good weekend came and everyone went out to buy plants they’d be ready. Keeping them all alive when the weather was still cold was challenging at times though. Hopefully it won’t be long.

  10. Todd on March 6, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    I retired from John Deere Horicon Works. I would say you are driving something that was built close to your home in Wisconsin. Treat it well.

    • Becky on March 7, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      It’s got the best shocks of all of the carts Todd, I like it. 🙂

      And yes, it’s got a little placard on it that says it was made in Wisconsin, I commented on that to Jullie and we got a kick out of it.