South Llano State Park Birding Festival
I had a great time at the second annual festival in Junction. I hiked over 35 miles, ate an amazing hamburger, and saw hundreds of birds, seven of which were new to my life list.
The only problem I had on this trip was hitching up the Colby 2.0 at the beginning. The sun was shining in such a position that I couldn't see anything in the backup camera. I got the tennis balls out, but even that didn't work at first. I started to feel really stupid. Hitching up has NEVER been a problem for me. I finally did it "blind", which is the method I used back in the days of the Colby T. I backed up where I thought I needed to be, got out and looked, got back in and adjusted, and repeated until I got it done.
The drive was perfect. I didn't even mind all the construction on 1-10 that lasts until you get past Boerne. I used more gas than I expected, but I was driving into a wind. I got to the park before noon. The ranger, Scott Whitener, checked and the site was empty, so they let me go on in.
By 1:00, I was all set up in site number 23. It was a nice private site with lots of birds in the trees. Unfortunately, the trees were not in position to provide any shade whatsoever. It was pretty cool inside the Colby 2.0 when I got there, which is unusual. I went ahead and got everything set up and moved in. Then I headed back to Junction.
I had planned on eating a burger at Junction Burger Company. It is owned by the same people as J and P Bar and Grill in Comstock, where I had the best burger of my life back in December. This burger was exactly like that one. It was huge, and I felt like a bloated pig after eating it and the accompanying fries.
After lunch, I headed back home and hit the trail with my binoculars and camera. I had a great time, and ended up hiking about five miles. It was nice and cool in the shade, although the sun was blistering, if you were in it for a long stretch. I never even broke into a sweat that whole day.
Back at the camper, I skipped dinner. I was still too full from the burger. I opted instead to enjoy microwave popcorn and Merlot while watching the things I downloaded from Netflix: season three of Kim's Convenience and season three of Santa Clarita Diet. Afterwards, I lay in bed reading until I evidently fell asleep. When I woke up, my glasses were under my neck, and I had neglected to use my dental guard. Plus, my phone was sitting on my stomach. That is an extremely rare event for me.
I spent most of Friday hiking the trails and taking photos of birds. Then, at 4:30, I headed over to the Texas Tech Field Center for the Meet and Greet. I picked up all my stuff, then sat at a table by myself until a couple that I had met earlier in the day while hiking joined me. We talked for a while and ate some of the snacks. I left at about 6:15. I wanted to get back to the camper to get ready for a Frog Watch led by a park ranger.
I hiked over to the Acorn Bird Blind and sat at a picnic table waiting for people to show up. The ranger came at about 8:20 (the watch started at 8:30). There was another man there with us. The ranger asked if I came to the park often because she recognized me. I told her she seemed familiar to me, as well, but not from this park. Just then, Ranger Eric Ray came over and talked with us. He was visiting from the Texas Parks and Wildlife headquarters in Austin, so he could lead some of the bird walks. He gave me some tips to share with Jared about getting a park ranger position. As we talked, I mentioned how Jared and I had gone to take the interpretive guide training in July. Suddenly, the other ranger, Lorissa, shouted, "OMG! That's it. I was in that class with you."
Over the rest of the weekend I went on three guided bird walks/tours. It was wonderful. I saw parts of Junction that I had never seen before. Sadly, the festival was all over for me at noon. I spent the rest of the day hiking in the park.
The trip home was totally uneventful until the very end. I was sitting at the intersection of 1604 and Bandera Road. I planned to turn left onto Bandera. I noticed that there were police everywhere. I thought they were taking up a collection or something. Then the light turned green and I saw cars where there should be no cars. I panicked. I thought I had pulled out into the intersection by mistake or something. I was so confused by it that I was actually worried that I might be having a stroke. I looked at the police officer closest to me and held my hands up in a "what the hell do I do?" position. He slowly pointed his arm and showed me where to turn. That was actually in the normal location. It was just that there were now so many weird lanes to the right of me I was disoriented. I'll try to find a diagram of the new format.
Anyway... I got home to an empty house. I took a shower and fell asleep on the couch. It was a great trip!
You can see all the photos I took on this trip in my Bird festival folder at this link: I haven't gone through and gotten rid of the bad ones. Sorry.