Camping with kids

A Dreary Weekend at Lake Bastrop South Shore Park

So first things first, I’m just letting you know that if you’re showing up at Lake Bastrop South Shore Park after 4pm on a Friday with your camper, you need to call ahead and let them know. I’m not always the best at reading the fine print, but fortunately we knew our site number and the park host made sure we were good to go. In my defense, I originally planned on showing up at check in time, but life happens and it didn’t happen.

Lake Bastrop South Shore Park

Where’d we go camping?

Lake Bastrop South Shore Park (an LCRA Park)

Lake Bastrop South Shore Park is one of a collection of parks located along the Colorado River in Texas operated by the LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority). We paid $22/night to stay in a water/electric RV site and then paid an entry of $5/day for just the adults. The park does have a dump station and I believe they also have just a few full hook up sites. If you don’t have an RV, cabins are also available for rent and of course you can bring your tent.

Site Number?

Site number 4. We made our reservations kind of late and I wasn’t actually excited about this site at the time of reservation. Turns out it’s (in my opinion) one of the best campsites in the park. It’s super spacious with a sufficient enough pad for our monster of a camper and it has a little trail right down to the water. You can actually see the water from the campsite when you’re looking down the trail. This site would be perfect for anyone planning to bring kayaks along as there is plenty of room and an area perfect for launching kayaks just at the end of the trail.

What did we do there?

So we have a running joke already in our household about my ability to choose camping weekends. This was only our 4th trip, but each trip has come with some kind of weather. The first one was cold and a little rainy, the second one was cold and super duper windy, the third was actually mostly okay, but it was a little cold in comparison to the weekends on either side of it, and this one came with the promise of legit storms, flash flooding, and potential for 2 inch hail. Yep, I sure know how to pick them. That being said we didn’t really get to take too much advantage of our time at the park this go around. I think we watched every movie in the camper at least once.

We spent some time down by the water near our campsite watching fish swim around, listening for and finding frogs, and just playing. We also explored the other community areas of the park which included fishing docks, a playground, boat rentals, and mini golf. Of course with the weather we didn’t get to do all of those things, but we were impressed with the amount of activities available. Hiking of course is also on the list of things you could do. You could even hike all the way to the North Shore of the park to the LCRA park there.

Campsite 4. This was our first night and the best weather and light of the entire trip.

Campsite 4. This was our first night and the best weather and light of the entire trip.

Pre bedtime exploration on night 1. This is the area just at the end of the trail from the campsite that would be great for launching a kayak or canoe.

Pre bedtime exploration on night 1. This is the area just at the end of the trail from the campsite that would be great for launching a kayak or canoe.

Camping at Lake Bastrop South Shore Park
Messy eater didn’t get cleaned up before setting off to explore.

Messy eater didn’t get cleaned up before setting off to explore.

Do you see the frog? This little guys were hanging out all over near the water. It was so fun to spot them.

Do you see the frog? This little guys were hanging out all over near the water. It was so fun to spot them.

Camping at Lake Bastrop South Shore Park
Looking for fish swimming around. There was actually a bass just off the shore. Would have been a great fishing spot.

Looking for fish swimming around. There was actually a bass just off the shore. Would have been a great fishing spot.

Next time bubba.

Next time bubba.

My heart.

My heart.

Fishing pier at the RV loop.

Fishing pier at the RV loop.

Part of the park playground.

Part of the park playground.

Swimming area. It was a little cold for swimming though.

Swimming area. It was a little cold for swimming though.

Love this quiet moment.

Love this quiet moment.

More from the swimming area at the main community area where the playground, mini golf, and boat rentals are located just off a large parking lot.

More from the swimming area at the main community area where the playground, mini golf, and boat rentals are located just off a large parking lot.

After this last photo we headed back to our campsite for lunch and Corbin’s nap. By the end of Corbin’s nap, the weather was starting to approach and any plans we had were out the window. We stayed inside the rest of the time and watched movies and waited on storms to pass.

Leaving the next morning was quite eventful. Check out is noon and all we saw on the radar was one storm after another. We packed up the inside of the camper and waited for a break and weather and then hooked up as fast was we could and hit up the dump station in the rain with thunder off in the distance not all that far away.

Ponchos are a definite must have to have on hand in your camper. If you don’t have them, go to the dollar store or jump on Amazon and order some now.

-Moninca


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Spring Break at Inks Lake State Park

You know what Saida and I fought about just before heading out with the camper to Inks Lake State Park? She didn’t want to go and and kept telling me we should just stay home. Homegirl junior. Not that she cares, but I had to pull the “well mommy and daddy don’t spend too much money a month on this camper to not go anywhere so do you think we should go camping or do you want to sell the camper?”

Obviously we went camping. I won’t say she didn’t cry about it for an hour and half on the way there though because she totally did.

Where’d we go?

Inks Lake State Park (and Longhorn Cavern State Park for a couple hours)

Site number?

West Loop, Site 43. I’d highly recommend this site especially if you like being right on the water and you like having the park store nearby with boat rentals and such. It is very close to the park store though and when they did fishing with a park ranger, there was a lot of foot traffic on the trail between 42 and 43. We didn’t mind, but if you do, consider a different site. And also fair warning, someone did mention to me on the Texas RV Camping Facebook page that they had seen a rattlesnake and some water moccasins in this particular area. We kept and eye out, but never saw anything.

What we did while we were there

Camped, hiked, paddle boated, made memories with family, made s’mores and hamburgers, watched movies in the camper (we’re real people), fished, hit up the park store for ice cream, made a quick trip to Longhorn Cavern State Park to take a cave tour.

Other Things you can do there

They have at least 2 playgrounds, a Kona Ice truck, kayaks, canoes, more hiking trails, swimming in the lake & events depending on the day. Also I had my eye on a winery up Park Road 4 called Perissos Vinyard and Winery, but we didn’t actually go there.


Around the campsite

Campsite 43. You can see the canoes from the park store behind the camper.

Campsite 43. You can see the canoes from the park store behind the camper.

Golden hour behind our campsite looking towards the park store.

Golden hour behind our campsite looking towards the park store.

From our campsite (43) looking out over the cove.

From our campsite (43) looking out over the cove.

Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas
Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas

Hiking

Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas

My kids aren’t exactly experienced hikers so when picking out a hike, we went for something that appeared manageable. We chose Lower and Upper Fisherman’s Trail and essentially made a loop. We ended up on the dark green trail for a few minutes so we walked a little further than originally anticipated, but overall this was a great trail for them. They got to climb a little, see the lake, and it wasn’t too long or challenging for them (ages 3 and 5). Corbin fell a few times, but that’s mainly because he’s a little more clumsy than your average 3 year old.

Upper Fisherman’s Trail

Upper Fisherman’s Trail

Lower Fisherman’s Trail and they were only climbing because the wanted to. This is actually just above the trail.

Lower Fisherman’s Trail and they were only climbing because the wanted to. This is actually just above the trail.


Paddle Boats

Anyone curious what happens when I ask my kids to stand next to each other for a picture? THIS! This is what happens. This is why I don’t ask them to do it. Also the only reason I have this sad image is because we were about to buy ice cream and they weren’t taking a chance of not getting it. Also this was after getting off the paddle boats which ended up being a disaster because everyone was tired and both kids (who couldn’t even really reach the peddles) wanted to be able to peddle at the same time. We didn’t even use our full hour and then when I asked Saida what her favorite part of camping was after we’d been home a few days, she said the paddle boats. Blew my mind. I’m like you mean that thing we did where everyone whined the whole time. They really did have a great camping trip overall though.

Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas

Longhorn Cavern State Park

Camping at Inks Lake State Park in Texas and Longhorn Cavern

Longhorn Cavern State Park really wasn’t on our list of things to do on this trip, but when we realized it was literally down the street from Inks Lake State Park, we decided why not. To be honest I really wasn’t sure what we were getting into. I thought we could explore a cave on our own for like 20 minute and then go hit some trails (because from what I can tell they have some super easy and kid friendly trails), but turns out this cavern is much more expansive than I originally thought and it’s only accessible by a 90 minute guided tour. Obviously we took the tour and decided against any hiking trails since we were well into nap time by the time we finished. The kids absolutely loved it. Corbin was a litte over it about an hour in (because it was nap time) but overall he did really well (thank goodness).


We’re only three camping trips in, but so far we’ve really enjoyed each one. I think the kids are anxious to come back here again sometime soon. My final thought is that it’s a fantastic park for families and next time we look forward to bringing bikes for the kids as well. Maybe I’ll even hit up that winery and report back.

-Monica

Galveston Island Camping Trip: More of My Happy

If you’ve known me for more than 5 minutes, you probably know that the beach/bay is the place my soul craves. Our latest camping trip to Galveston Island State Park was gloomy, windy, and cold. I didn’t care. It rained all weekend at home so gloomy, windy, and cold with a bay view seemed just fine to me. The sun came out on our last morning just as it was about time to start packing up. We decided to spend just 30 more minutes exploring before we had to leave and the dunes on the beach side of the island is where we ended up. They called it their mountain. They were in thier own kind of heaven and I can’t even explain to you how overwhelmingly happy and at peace I was in this moment. It’s the kind of happy and peaceful you forget exists until it sneaks up on you. There isn’t a worry or a care in the world because in that moment nothing else matters except being present and completely soaking it in and storing it in a place to keep you content until that feeling sneaks up on you again.

Beachside at Galveston Island State Park

Beachside at Galveston Island State Park

Leaving was the hardest thing. Nobody wanted to go.

More of my favorites from our trip below.

Galveston Island State Park Hiking Trail

Galveston Island State Park Hiking Trail

Lensbaby detail in the camper

Lensbaby detail in the camper

Saki Monkeys inside the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens

Saki Monkeys inside the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens

Outside Moody Gardens Rainforest Pryramid

Outside Moody Gardens Rainforest Pryramid

Inside Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid

Inside Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid

Walkways over the intercoastal at Galveston Island State Park

Walkways over the intercoastal at Galveston Island State Park

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Hiking at Galveston Island State Park

Hiking at Galveston Island State Park

Camper window light with a lensbaby

Camper window light with a lensbaby

We stayed with our RV at Galveston Island State Park on the bayside in site 55. I feel like sites 58-64 would be ideal in terms of a killer view of the bay. That’s my goal for next time. I think I acutally prefer the bayside to the beachside. The bay has a sense of calm that is totally my jam so I think I’d do that again.

We try to keep things simple. This was a quick trip so Moody Gardens Rainforest Pyramid is the only attraction we spent money on. We did things like drive by port on Saturday while two ships were in and the kids thought that was cool. We didn’t take the ferry this time, but kids also love that and it’s free. Just do it when it’s not crowded. In the past we’ve done the offshore oil rig museum which is pretty cool and affordable and just right there by the cruise ships, just with the wind we skipped it this time. I think Corbin would love it though so I want to take him to do that someday. What I really wanted to do was the oil rig museum at 4pm when the ships left so we could wave to the cruisers on deck as it passed by. That would have been cool, but our go with the flow attitude meant we weren’t around for that. Exploring the park and connecting with nature was priority for me even though we made time for fun in town too.

The Picture That Sums up Why we Bought a Camper / Our Trip to McKinney Falls State Park

I promised myself I’d start blogging about our camping trips once we actually started taking them. I wasn’t sure what these blog posts would be exactly. I’m pretty sure I was thinking at some point I would become some sort of camping expert and people would flock to my blog to hear about our trips and what cool things I did/cooked that they too need to be doing, but I’m not sure this is where that is going. Big dreams, huh? I feel inspired for like 5 minutes and then it’s gone so…. Also, like, I’m never going to be that person. EVER. I don’t have my shit nearly enough together for that.

This morning I edited a picture from our trip that basically sums up our reason for buying a camper and trying to take a camping trip every month. Do you want to see it? Not that your answer matters because I’m going to show it to you whether you want to or not.

Here it is…

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You: But Monica, that’s just a blurry photo of your child swinging on her hammock. How could that possibly sum up your reasons for buying a camper?

Me: Um no, it’s not. That photo right there is a feeling.

But for real, the out of focus element of this image is giving me this out of body experience where time has slowed significantly and I’m just exactly where I’m supposed to be. It’s that thing I was reaching for when we bought our camper. It’s that thing I’ve wasted the past 6 months or so of my life anxiously awaiting. It’s that thing we’ve been missing in this life that doesn’t ever seem to slow down. It just goes faster and faster and faster and we were afraid that before we knew it we’d wake up and our kids would be grown and we would have let the opportunity for these kinds of experiences pass us up.

It’s easy to skip these things over. It’s easy to say, “Well, life is just to damn busy to stop right now.” We live in a world where we have to intentionally schedule time to slow down and so that’s what we’re doing.

Me: You wanna see more of my favorites from this trip to McKinney Falls State Park?

You: Yes, Monica. I can’t think of anything I’d love more.

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Where we stayed: McKinney Falls State Park in Austin, Texas

Campsite: 18, (1 of 12 50 amp sites with water and electric). Very large pull through campsite with one site very close by (worked out fine because they never came out of their camper) and next to the bathrooms which turned out to not be a big deal at all. In fact when Corbin pooped in his pull up we were just thankful there was a dumpster nearby.