Saturday, January 02, 2010

A Day at the Park

Bastrop State Park has gone all high-tech. Is nothing sacred?!?

Okay, so it's not actually high-tech, but they've reorganized the trail system since I was last there several years ago. The trails are all color-coded now, with signposts at each intersection indicating that, to stay on the red trail, you keep to the left. The blue trail is off to your right. The signposts have park maps with each trail indicated by a colored line. It's just like the Metro, only less expensive, and with slightly better odds of reaching your final destination, assuming you're trying to get back to your car.

They also have a cabin camping area. Cabins? We checked them out after our walk, driving among them slowly, scoping out our picks for some future weekend visit. Let me tell you what, those are some nice cabins. They are bigger than my house. They have fireplaces, too, and curtains. I haven't gone camping in several years now, but my dad used to take me all the time, so I know there are certain things that are a part of camping and certain things that are not a part of camping. Camping involves things like canned vegetables, Tang, collapsible 5-gallon water jugs, and (God help us all) pit toilets. It emphatically does not include curtains.

I've always hated pit toilets. I'm intrigued.

"Where would you recommend," asked my companion in the park office as he bought a year pass, "a good barbecue place in Bastrop?"

There was such a long silence that I wasn't sure the staffer had heard him. Finally her coworker piped up. "It's not a hard choice," she said, "there's only two."

"Billy's and Cartwright's," added the woman helping us at last.

"I saw Cartwright's as we were driving in," I said helpfully to my friend.

"Yeah," said the woman who had first spoken, "Cartwright's has a really big sign."

This didn't really strike either of us as a ringing endorsement. "So where would you go for barbecue?" pressed my friend.

There was another long pause. "Lockhart. I'd drive to Lockhart," they chorused.

Or Elgin, they went on to add, so we had dinner at Meyer's Barbecue there. I'd been to Southside Market once before, a year ago, on my work group's fam tour of Central Texas; and I thought it was really quite good, although a coworker of my friend's and mine, who lives in Elgin, was outraged that the tour took us there instead of Meyer's, which she insists is much better. So we checked out Meyer's, and I have to say, their sausage (for which Elgin is so well-known) really is tasty. At least I liked it, and I don't like sausage. But you can't go wrong with Southside Market either. I had a side of creamed corn and discovered that my companion thinks creamed corn is an abomination, which is something of a pity, as creamed corn, from a can, falls rather firmly into the things-that-go-with-camping camp.

But that's okay - so do marshmallows, a fact I don't have a problem with as long as the marshmallows are slowly immolated in flames until they drip, sizzling in sugary agony, into the glowing embers. Then you eat the chocolate and give the graham crackers to your kids: that's my recipe for S'Mores.

Happy New Year! 2010 is off to a good start. I'm looking forward to doing some camping.

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At January 03, 2010 6:54 AM, Anonymous Cookie said...

Apropos creamed corn and camping. My favorite campground pancakes: mix a can of creamed corn with a splash of oil, and egg or two and enough pancake mix/water to get it to a decent texture. Of my camping memories, these are among the best. They work at home, too, but I miss camping karma too much when I make them at home.


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