September brought cooler weather to Texas in 1999. With the cooler temperatures came the camping bug... the desire to commune with nature... the need to go where you can count more than a dozen stars in the sky... the desire to leave the comforts of the city and really rough it.
Did I say "rough it?" Perhaps that was a misprint. What I meant was, the desire to rent a cabin in a state park and cook out on a "primative" charcoal grill.
Off we went to Lake Brownwood State Park, just an hour from Abilene (and more than a few hours from Lewisville). We set out after work on Labor Day weekend and didn't look back. By the time we got there, we couldn't look back, because it was really late and really dark. We didn't really know what our cabin looked like until the next morning. We did know what those ants in the bedroom looked like, and fortunately had a little insect spray to take care of matters.
The next morning we were surprised to find our cabin (the last one available in the entire state parks system by the time we called to reserve) was actually kind of nice. Not luxurious, but nice in a rustic kind of way. All the plumbing worked, the electricity was on, and there was actually a view of the lake from the back -- if you fought your way a few yards through some brush.
(Daddy got some bug spray and played at "Orkin Man" for a while to keep the women-folk happy.
For the next few days, we had fun swimming in the lake, playing with the remote control toy car, dodging the wasps, and generally taking it easy.
We enjoyed taking walks to the group campsites near the lake. We knew they were there because of the party they had the second night we were there. Alison and Daddy also took a few walks into the brush behind the cabin. There, Ali saw her first cactus. Yeah, we were real close to tumbleweed country.
Towards the end of the weekend, somebody got the bright idea to introduce Ali to fishing. We headed for Wal-Mart and picked up the cheapest fishing gear we could find. The rod and reel set had to be purple, of course. Then we got to the ranger station just in time for Dad to fish legally in Texas for the weekend. Oh, yeah -- we bought some WORMS too!
On the morning of our last day, we set out for the fishing pier. No one was sure if the fish would bite. No one was sure if Ali would even like fishing. We opened up our chairs, baited the hook, set the bobber and waited. Daddy showed Alison how to feed worms to the fish (yeah, Daddy is a real fisherman), then it was Ali's turn.
After a few tries, and some help from Mommy, Alison caught her FIRST FISH! She probably scared the little guy half to death as she squealed her delight! Ali had caught a baby sunfish that we sent back to the lake to grow bigger.
Mommy took a few turns next. It wasn't long before she had landed a gigantic catfish! Well, it wasn't that large, but it sure was bigger than the one puny sunfish that Daddy finally caught. Everybody had a good time, so we will probably keep the camping gear nearby and drown a few worms again soon.