Pablo made a solo trek to Roundrock today. (L and #1 Son were in St. Louis at a wedding.)
On solo trips, the power tools stay in the garage. Thus I could travel light and swift. I threw a few essentials in the truck (the beloved grass whip among them) and hit the road an entire half hour earlier than I would have had I been accompanied by the usual suspects. (Note: that is to be read sarcastically. Obviously, the swift part of my plan didn’t happen.)
When I drive to Roundrock, I pay attention to the posted gasoline prices along the way. Gas is nearly always cheaper in rural Missouri, and I was down to a quarter of a tank when I left my driveway, intent on visiting a station 40 miles away that always has the best price. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. The station not only had gas at $2.83 a gallon (12 cents less than in Kansas City), but it did have gas. (I was worried there might be a shortage.) More on this later.
The drive down was routine, though I still have some mastery of the iPod to achieve. After about an hour of listening, the narrator told me I had reached the end of disk 9. There were only 7 disks to the book (Persuasion by Jane Austen).
There was plenty of wildlife afoot on this visit. I saw four separate flocks of turkeys, amounting to more than 35 birds altogether. I saw a raccoon prowling my neighbor’s harvested cornfield, which is uncommon since raccoons tend to be nocturnal. There were deer. Turkey vultures. And six ducks rising from the greatly diminished waters of Lake Marguerite. I had the presence of mind to try to spot identifying features as they made their panicked escape. Based on what I saw, I think they were mallards, with the males in eclipse. They are common enuf ducks, but to see them at our puddle was a big thrill for Pablo.
I began my visit with a vigorous application of the grass whip in the pine plantation. I cleared away the tall weeds around each of the short trees, and I chopped avenues in one of the denser areas so it will be easier to water the pines later. This work went easily though there was a lot of it, and I didn’t tire, which was surprising. More on that later, too.
Since I had no tools to do big work, I thought I would just take a long hike in less visited areas. The biggest peril would be to trip on a rock (I naively thought). So after watering my beloved maple (still hanging around — bless the little thing!), and poking around the pecan plantation, I headed south across the dam and up the hill on the far side.
My idea was to go to the SE corner and walk along the fence that stretches half the distance of our southern property line. No problem with this, though the temp was above 90 degrees, which is a little uncommon for September. Still, on Pablo walked, taking lots of pictures and peering into the trees to find all sorts of little things to amuse him. The photo above was one: the first bit of autumn color I’ve seen so far at Roundrock this year. I think it is from a Virginia creeper, though I can’t say that I have ever seen this plant growing anywhere in the 80+ acres.
The going was a little difficult though. There were many more low branches in the trees here than I remembered. They tried their best to cut up my forearms as I tried my best to snap them from their trunks. Often, it came to a draw. My ambition was to walk the entire length of our southern line, beyond where the fence ended. But when I reached the end of the fence, I was more tired than I expected, so I steered my steps to the north, down the hillside into the Central Valley.
My feet were heavy, and the sweat was soaking my shirt. I found a log to sit on every now and then, and that was refreshing, but I was pooped. By the time I reached the creekbed (dry) in the Central Valley, I was seriously shot. If I bent to examine an interesting stone or root, I nearly blacked out when I stood aright again. I think all of that work in the pine plantation had finally found me. About this time I stumbled upon three nicely sized round rocks that just had to come back with me. That meant another 30 pounds or so. Hot. Tired. Thirsty. Delirious. Things looked grim for Pablo.
But fear not. I had three bottles of water in my pack, good boots on my feet, and dinner plans for the evening. I had no intention of expiring in the forest this day. With the promise of lunch and a comfy chair waiting for me at the shelter (which was only a quarter mile away for goodness sake!), I pushed on, downing most of the water and taking frequent breaks to enjoy the sound of the wind in the trees.
I’m sure you can already guess that I did make it back to the shelter. Life was good once again, though the toothsome lunch I had packed for myself was not very appealing. I’m pretty sure I had heat exhaustion, and plenty of water (and iced tea!) and rest were in order. I achieved this, but I decided to forestall any further ambitions for the day. When I was well rested and recovered, I packed my gear and decided to head home to a cool shower and clean clothes.
I could have gone swimming. There was enuf water in the bowl of a lakebed to provide a nice plunge, but swimming without L is not as much fun. She enjoys it so very much that I can’t help but enjoy it more because of her. Sigh.
On the drive home I passed the gas station where I had filled up in the morning. The price had dropped since then to $2.79 a gallon, so I topped off and continued home. Thus ended another worthwhile day at Roundrock.