Monday, February 16, 2009

Plan A: Go Outside

So Friday night around 10:30pm I see a text message from Wildcat asking if I'm going to Jesse H. Jones Park on Saturday for the Texas Heritage Days Festival. Being a manly man, my whole Saturday's plan for me and the Wethergirls was "go outside" so meeting up with Wildcat and his cubs seemed like a great way to flesh this plan out a bit. Plus, Heritage Days at Jesse H. Jones Park rocks, assuming you dig the lifestyle of Texas settlers from the early 1700's up to the mid-1800's (which I do). Miniwether and Mambowether get really excited when I tell them the plan as they love Wildcat's cubs (note to self, come up with aliases for them) and they love Heritage Days (more specifically, the free pioneer foods such as stick bread, beef jerky, and bear sign). I had a plan and the plan was good.

You can probably see where this is going.

We get to the park and it's empty.


Then Wildcat drives up, rolls down his window and proclaims he's a doofus. Heritage days was last weekend!

Not a problem. I have food, I have water, I have a knife, he has food, he has water, he has a's exploration time! Into the woods we go...and by woods I mean the really cool play ground they have there at the park.

The girls run around like kids did thirty years ago while Wildcat and I discuss our plans for the upcoming economic collapse. Did I mention we had layoffs at my company last week? Yep, our head count was reduced 25% just in research. Other divisions faired even worse. Time to buy some chickens, folks.

Eventually we were able to drag the girls off into the woods...does that sound bad? Eh, whatever. We spent a few hours exploring the park trails.

The ideal catwalk for young ladies.

Sharing lunch with a turtle. You can't see it in this picture, but its rear, right leg was missing and the shell in that area was all deformed. It may have been clipped by a car or something, but it was all healed now.

I love this shot. It's actually a picture of the reflection of the trees on a pond.

While we had missed Heritage Days they still usually have something going on every weekend at JHJP. This Saturday it was dutch oven cooking over a campfire.

Getting ready to cook rice jambalya, peach cobbler, and mixed-fruit cobbler.

There weren't many people there for this class so we pretty much had the teacher to ourselves and we grilled him (ha ha ha) about campfire cooking for almost three hours while he did his cast iron culinary magic.

Wildcat gets some grub!

Merriwether gets some grub.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the girls with their grub as they grabbed the bowls and ran off to continue playing. They'd all zoom by heading in one direction, then suddenly they'd zoom by from a completely different direction. They ran wild and free for hours.

Which means when it was time to leave I had to carry Mambowether the 1/2 mile back from the campfire to the car. You know what though? This just made the day that much better...

So then around 10pm Saturday night I get an IM from Clark asking if I could go hiking the next day. The ever-supportive Misseswether gave me her blessing and so after a bit of discussion we decided to head down to Brazos Bend State Park. I had read good things about this park plus a fellow adventurer has been trying to get me down to the observatory there for the last few months.

The best place in Houston to see stars. (sidenote: I do NOT consider Matthew McConaughey to be a star)

Brazos Bed State Park if filled with miles and miles of hiking, biking, and horse trails through oak forests, along streams and rivers, and past ponds (many of which are filled with alligators).

I would just like to add lots and lots of alligators! It was so cool!



Big honking alligator.

Clark with big honking alligator.

Clark with big honking tree.

Merriwether with different big honking tree.

Big honking vulture.

The beauty of gray trees covered in gray Spanish moss on a gray day.

Clark and I walked for miles through the woods and along streams. The day started out as cool, overcast and drizzly which isn't such a bad thing when you are out being feral. By lunchtime the sun had come out but a nice breeze kept the temperature comfortable.

Where a man has lunch.

I'd like to stop her a minute and state that in my opinion Mountain House freeze-dried foods have got to be the most gawd-awful crap ever to pass by my lips, and long-time readers know just what that a statement like that entails... I have yet to find a Mountain House food that doesn't suck worse than any other food has ever sucked before. Those of you planning on stocking your blast shelter with this stuff better find room for a fat person or two because you'll probably enjoy eating them rather than this imitation dog food. Seriously, don't buy this stuff.

There's so much wilderness around Houston waiting to be explored. I've been doing this for years and I've still only scratched the surface! I doubt even I will see every park, preserve, and pond this area has to offer but I'll be out there every weekend trying. Give me a "Howdy, Merriwether!" if you see me...five to ten bucks would be nice, too. :-)

Adventure! Exploration! Little-To-No-Planning-Yet-Everything-Turns-Out-Great!


Brad said...

Sounds like you had loads of fun, wish I could have been there with Z. Ah well.

I am free next weekend (hint hint :) )

Izzy G. said...

Good picture in front of the observatory. I dig the attire most highly.

Anonymous said...

That Dutch Oven cooking session looked awesome. You've certainly got some nice photos of what must've been an awesome weekend!

J. David Boyd said...

What kind of bag and vest are those please? They look very very functional.

Merriwether said...

Brad, let's hit the woods unless you are still suffering from malaria.

Boyd, the vest is a Kakadu Oilskin:

and the bag is just some Chi-Com mil surp bag I picked up at a local Army/Navy Surplus store for $15. However, both items work great. Between the vest, the bag, and experience I have all I need.

Merriwether said...


All I need is a whip!

Mike_H said...

Not a Mountain House fan eh? Surprisingly enough, I really like them.

I'm curious, which ones have you tried?

I'm still a fan of MREs. Would love to get my hands on the new issue FSR (First Strike Ration).


Windrider said...

I not a fan of mountain house stuff either. The only time I'd consider carrying it is on a long distance hike ( 50 miles or more ) due to its relatively light weight.

Overall, I like the MRE main entrees. The full MRE is too heavy for backpacking IMO.

man, I can't wait to get back to Tecas for good in a couple of years. I miss all the state parks.