Here are some things I like about camping:
- Spreading out and enjoying some privacy in the great outdoors
- Drinking beer
- Staying up late with friends after the kids have gone to sleep
Here are some things you CANNOT do at Buescher State Park:
- Spread out and enjoy any real privacy in the great outdoors
- Drink beer
- Stay up late with friends after the kids have gone to sleep
Seriously. This place was a total downer.
We decided last week that the weather and timing was right for camping, so we planned an overnight trip with our BCF (Best Couple Friends) Wally and Leigh and their kids. [begin understatement] Leigh and I aren’t big campers [end understatement] and have individual agreements in place with the men that if they want us to camp with them, they’re required to do all the heavy lifting and, well, WORK in general. (This could possibly be considered an anti-feminist move but let me clarify: It’s not about man vs. woman so much as “person who likes camping” vs. “person who thinks camping is a bunch of unnecessary, crappy work” thing. I do not discriminate against anyone who wants to pack up my car, unpack it, put up the tent, and grill sausages for me.)
Turns out, there’s this silly thing called a burn ban going on throughout Central Texas right now, and finding a place to camp where we could have a fire was a bit of a challenge. Since campfire s’mores are a dealbreaker for us, the menfolk searched until they found a spot that would allow fire – which is how we wound up at Buescher State Park, located off of FM 153 in Smithville and about an hour’s drive from home. Which was fine. But then we got there and had to reserve a campsite (can’t just pick your own spot) and followed the map to a tight cul-de-sac of campsites, where our closest (and I mean SUPER CLOSE) neighbors were a group of 10 or so twenty-somethings with no kids, no dogs, basically nothing but tents. Of course, WE showed up with three kids, three dogs, and a bunch of beer (which is prohibited in the park) – not sure they were too thrilled to see us.
There were some pretty cool things about the park itself. For starters, the facilities were AWESOME. Great bathrooms with roomy showers, which were really close to the campsites (are you getting the “close” theme here?). And lots of stuff to do – fishing, two large playgrounds with playscapes, hiking trails, etc. Also, the park is obviously well-kept and safe. All pluses.
BUT. A few things.
- Dogs are required to be leashed, which I understand given the close quarters, but we didn’t expect it and showed up with our wiener dog Napoleon in tow, sans leash. Napoleon doesn’t like leashes and has the Jaws of Life so he bites through them in (literally) two bites. We tried tying some rope to his collar but every time we turned around there he was, with a little nub of rope hanging from his collar and a really proud look on his face.
- Did I mention that public consumption of alcohol is prohibited? This means NO BEER. In case you were confused. (We sure as hell were.)
- There was an unusually strong park ranger presence out there, which I guess is a good thing for safety’s sake but kind of sucks when you have (1) a dog who likes to chew through his leash and (2) BEER.
- After we put the kids to bed, we sat around the campfire drinking… wait for it… BEER, and talking. Just before 10 pm, the park ranger came by and told us it was time to “quiet down.” We weren’t exactly sure what that meant so we continued talking and about an hour later Ranger McNofun showed up again and gave us our “third and final warning.” We’re not exactly sure when the second warning happened (could we have drunk THAT much beer? well, yes –yes we could) or the first one either, for that matter. And it’s not like we were shouting at each other and dancing naked around the fire — we were sitting in chairs, by the fire, talking. You know — CAMPING.
Maybe this kind of Big Brother camping experience works for other people, but it just was NOT our thing. Next time we’ll hit good ole Muleshoe or some other park where we can choose our own site, let the dogs roam around a little and drink our beer in peace. With all that said, though, it should be noted that the kids had a fabulous time. They played track ball and some kind of kids’ precursor to beer pong, fished, climbed on stuff, roasted marshmallows and slept like babies. Wally and Leigh’s oldest created the most spectacular camping hors d’oerves I’ve ever seen.
And there was a paved driveway, which allowed my husband to attempt “skateboard skiing” and led to this video, which I can watch over and over and over again and never get tired of:
(note illegally freed wiener dog)
So the weekend wasn’t a total wash.