Unexpected Joy


I consider myself a fair weather camper. I like it cool at night, warm during the day, and I really like my air mattress. I don’t camp in storms, hail, or freezing temperatures. At least, not by choice. A handful of times, I’ve found myself camping in these situations. Most of them were not at the top of my list of great camping experiences, although, they have persuaded me to improve the quality of my gear. But one in particular, turned out to be one of the best camping trips I’ve experienced so far.

We arrived at Colorado Bend State Park on a Friday night in January around 10pm and found an empty site. The night sky was brilliant and beautiful and although we could hear the river in the distance we couldn’t see it. It was freezing, but we went to work and pitched our tents. Soon, we had tents up. Even though we couldn’t feel our fingers or toes, we crawled into our sleeping bags and tried to sleep. It was a clear, beautiful, and very cold night. We did not stay warm.

The next morning we woke to a layer of frost on the inside of our tents. Even though it took an hour for us to feel our hands and feet again, it turned out to be a beautiful day. We found this in our backyard:

Our backyard
Good Morning

My daughter went underground and explored caves with her Girl Scout Troop and a couple of guides, with nothing more than a light on her helmet, some knee pads and a pair of gloves. I never thought I would have any interest in going into these caves. I was actually looking forward to sitting in my chair reading my book while I waited on them to complete each cave. I am certain, though, had it not been for recent knee surgery, I would have been in that cave with them. I am already planning our next trip.

Kyla exiting Turtle Cave


In the evening, back at the campsite, I took a short walk by the river.

Saturday night, we stayed warm. A few suggestions for keeping warm: change your socks before you go to bed and make sure they are wool socks, wear something on your head, layer your clothing, and, my favorite, hand warmers.

Determined for adventure the next day, we went on a hike to Gorman Falls. If you go to Colorado Bend State Park, do not leave without visiting the falls. I was intimidated by the three mile hike there, but the majority of the trail was easy. The last 50 feet were a little challenging and probably not what my physical therapist would have recommended, but the view was worth every step. These pictures do no justice. This place is so magical, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had actually seen a fairy, or two.

Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls

Gorman Falls

It’s impossible to regret the experience of camping in below freezing temperatures when I walk away from this realizing what I might have missed out on waiting for the perfect time and the perfect weather. If I go on backing out of situations just because the conditions are less than ideal, I’ll miss out on, well…life. I’m thinking this might have been one of those bits of wisdom that I might have lost along the way. Now, I’m trying to say yes more often.

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10 thoughts on “Unexpected Joy”

    1. This was my first time to this park and I couldn’t believe how beautiful and diverse the park is! My daughter and I went with her girl scout troop and another troop. I can’t wait to take my family back with us! Thank you for sharing, it’s great to connect with Texan neighbors who love the outdoors as much as we do!

  1. Beautiful spot! What a nice way to spend a weekend. Your daughter is brave to go down into the caves.

    We drove through northern Texas last fall and I was awed by the amount of open space that is there. I’d love to go back and spend some time exploring.

    I’m looking forward to reading about your outdoor adventures this year.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and comment. I really appreciate it! I have lived in Texas my whole life. I am still surprised and pleased to discover new and beautiful places.

      I am enjoying your blog! I love the meal planning ideas. I am already planning our next camping trip meals using a few of your suggestions. I also love the table/sleeping set up your husband made! How creative and resourceful!

      1. Thank you! I’m glad you were able to find some ideas that will work for you for trip meals.

        I’m jealous that you get to go camping in February! Unless I want to winter camp (which I haven’t tried yet, but am also in no rush to try) I have to wait until May to get the tent out.

        I’ll “camp” vicariously through your experience until then 🙂

  2. Loved the waterfall shots!

    i don’t mind being in cold weather or rain. It’s funny, on the Sierra trip i’m currently writing about, I found myself in a lake, rinsing off…i looked up and it was snowing! Go figure!

    Another alternative to straight wool socks are made by a company called Smart Wool. For anyone that can’t do wool or doesn’t like itchy feet. They are a wool blend and super comfortable. They also come in different ‘makes’ i.e. light hiking to very thick expedition. REI also makes their own brand of these, and they are a little less expensive and the quality is about the same.

    1. Thank you! If you find yourself there someday, hike down to the falls. I had a hard time capturing the beauty with a camera.

      I enjoy reading about your Sierra trip! I am minding the cold and wet less and less. We don’t deal with severe cold in Texas very often, and I have learned that I actually enjoy it, if I go prepared! I’m still learning. Thank you for the tip on socks, I found I was ok if my feet stayed warm! Like the idea of softer version!

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