Monday, July 20, 2009

Barton Creek Torture Test

After work on Friday I went for a little bit of a run along the hike-and-bike trail. That lasted all of 12 minutes, and then I walked to Chuy's for dinner. The run wasn't bad, but as a form of exercise it's really not for me. It's hard on the joints, which are what give me trouble anyway. The only real upside I see to running is that a lot of good looking women run. I had a "lighter" dish for dinner, meaning that it didn't come with rice or beans, so I gorged on chips and ate all of the guacamole that came with my meal. So, as ever, it was far from a healthy meal. I would have run a little bit more on the way back to my car, but I was far too full.

I woke up early Saturday for no reason, but dallied enough that I didn't get to the Barton Creek Greenbelt until after 9. There were a whole bunch of cars, probably a lot of them from a group of people running together that were finishing up as I was starting, so I had to park a fair ways up Barton Skyway. I shouldered my 48 pound pack and started hiking. It went fine on the way out, albeit at a bit of a slow pace, only going about 2 miles an hour over fairly flat terrain. Around 11 I stopped for a snack in the dry creek bed, but that was the only stop along the roughly 6 miles to the hill of life, other than slowing down to gawk at rock climbers. I stopped once going up the hill, then again at the top before turning around. I went to the creek where I had swam a few weeks ago, hoping to jump in again, but the water was so low that it was barely flowing and looked pretty stagnant and gross. I did take my boots off and dip my feet in, since those were the most in need of some refreshment. I sat in the shade by the water for a while eating my lunch. I packed up and started back around 1. I was feeling tired at that point, but not bad and still in good spirits. While trudging along, I started fantasizing about hitching a ride from MoPac back to my car. I was getting more an more tired; my knees, feet and ankle were hurting; if I had been randomly offered a ride, I probably would have taken it. However, when the trail split, I stuck to the creek and did not go up to the road to beg for a ride. The hike from there was a complete trudge. I stopped several times and took my pack off for a rest. I thought about dumping my two 1-liter water bottles I carry as "extra" water or just ballast, but as I was worried might happen, I wound up needing them when I sucked my main reservoir dry. Around 3 o'clock, I started thinking I must be pretty close. I hadn't seen the Gus Fruh access point, which was one mile from my car, but I was thinking I must have passed it on the other bank or something. When I did get to the access point a little bit later, it was terribly dispiriting. I wanted to give up then, but it probably would have taken ages to hitch a ride or whatever. I sat down for one more break, had a snack, and fantasized about the ice cream bar and Dr Pepper I would have once I got to the convenience store near where I parked. I finally made it back to the access point, and then had to climb up a hill to the road. Then my heart sank again when I saw how far I still had to go up the hill to get to my car, since I was forced to park farther away. I wrestled my pack into my car, switched to sandals and drove to the convenience store, where I got a 1-liter Dr Pepper and an ice cream bar. They didn't have the one I was craving, but I got one that was a reasonable substitute. I drove home, showered, then vegetated but didn't fall asleep. Jimmy called and I went over to his house for beers and some darned good grilled chicken.

Sunday was a supremely lazy day. I didn't get enough sleep overnight, but I did have a good nap in the afternoon. I went and saw Harry Potter, which I enjoyed. The theater was pretty crowded, but not completely full. I was thinking about doing something afterward, but was feeling tired and I went home for that nap. In the evening, I managed a few minutes of productivity doing some weeding and watering in my backyard, and for my efforts I got about a dozen ant bites on my ankles.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Pedernales

I woke up on the late side Saturday morning, around 8:30, after somewhat of a late night on Jimmy's deck Friday. Mainly because I didn't have any bread in the house to make PBJs for lunch, I decided to swap my original plan of hiking Saturday and biking Sunday. I had some trouble motivating myself, and barely made it out of the house by 10 for a noon showing of Bruno at the Alamo Ritz. It turns out I didn't have to be in quite as big of a rush as I was, the theater wasn't open yet when I got there at 11, and there wasn't as big of a crowd as I thought there might be. There were about 20 people waiting when the doors opened at 11:20, and more filtered in until the theater was about half full at showtime. I enjoyed the movie, I liked that it had a little bit more of a plot than Borat, but some of the magic is gone, in that I was thinking about how much of it was pre-arranged versus being spontaneous. I thought about doing something after the movie, but just headed home after a spin along the hike-and-bike trail. My legs were already kind of tired at the beginning of the day from riding to work on Friday, so the ride home was pretty rough. I stopped in to 7-11 for a free mini slurpee to try to beat the heat, then stopped again a little further down the road to get some groceries. I didn't really want to be carrying more weight, but I really needed milk and bread and wasn't sure I would go to the store once I got home. When I got home I took a shower and vegetated for a while. I called Jimmy to see if he was going to our mutual friends' last-minute party and wound up going to hang out over there for a little while. He didn't go, but I went to the party around 8. It was a good party, lots of old friends I don't see that often any more. It wasn't nearly as crazy as some of their other parties have been, despite having a beer pong setup, which I performed disappointingly terribly at. I stayed until way past my bedtime and didn't get home until 3.

I woke up at 9:30 Sunday and set about getting ready for a hike. I didn't get to Pedernales Falls State Park until just past noon, and of course it was blazing hot. I set off on a 4-mile hike, which other than getting down to, crossing, and then climbing the far bank of the river was fairly level. There were a few places with some enough elevation change to get my hard moving a little faster. Not surprisingly, the trail was deserted and the only person I saw was a guy on a bicycle. When I got back to the river I was plenty ready to jump in and cool off. I found a spot to set my stuff down, and then tried to find a decent place to swim. However, the river was down so low I didn't find any place that was more than waist deep. Plus the water was kind of cloudy to begin with, and then so full of algae that moving around stirred up big brown plumes. It wasn't great, but it was refreshing despite the water being fairly warm. I had some lunch under a tree, then headed back up to my car and drove home. I chilled out for a while, then ate some wings at Pluckers and watched TV for the rest of the evening.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Independence Day Weekend

Friday was a pretty darned lazy day off from work. I was originally planning on going for a bicycle ride, but somehow I got sucked in by my computer and before I knew it, it was already 11am and pretty warm outside. I had lunch at home, and other than picking a few things up off of the floor, didn't do anything productive all day. Finally around 6 I went to the veloway for a skate. There were only two cars in the lot when I got there, probably the fewest I've ever seen, most likely since it was still about 100 degrees out. After one lap, I started feeling a pain at the top of my right boot. I figured it was a burr or some other bit of debris that had come from a tree or some such thing. I was going to wait until I got back to the start, but a wheel was getting so loose I was afraid it was going to fall off, so I stopped on the track to tighten it and address the pain. When I loosened my right boot to get to the offending material, I realized it was the boot itself rubbing my skin raw because I was wearing shorter socks than I normally do. I tightened my wheels and skated back to the start in pain, and called it a day. I took a shower and had dinner at TX Roadhouse, then went to check out a brand new (opened that day) sports bar in the shopping complex. It was a nice enough place, but nothing amazing.

I was mostly awake but trying to go back to sleep at 7 when, because of a problem with his holder, my dad's cell phone called me. I tried to go back to sleep, but it didn't seem like it was going to happen. I called my parents to wish them a happy Independence Day, then had breakfast and headed out on my bicycle. I got to the downtown area around 10 and started doing laps around the hike-and-bike trail to kill time. There were as many people out as I've ever seen, and had my work cut out dodging them. Eventually, I sat down on a shaded section of wall near the confluence of Barton Creek and Lady Bird Lake and read the paper. Around 11 I went to Uncle Billy's, which seemed to just be opening, for beer and lunch. After lunch I rode over to Barton Springs pool, for my first time ever. There were tons of people there, but at least it's a big place. I crossed over the pool and found a place to set my stuff under a tree, then went for a swim. Most people were congregated around the shallower areas, with very few in the deep sections, so that's where I went. After swimming for a while in the fairly bracing 68 degree water I decided to wait in line to try out the diving board. Not being a diver, I just did a cannonball. I floated around for a while longer, then went back to my towel to sit and read for a bit. While I was sitting there a group seemingly quite consistent with the pool's demographic- underage teen girls in bikinis- set their stuff down and went to the water. After a while, I was drying off and starting to feel the 100 degree heat, so I went for another dip. After another cycle of swimming, then reading/drip-drying, I packed up and headed out around 2. I thought the 15-person line to get in was bad when I got there, but the line as I was leaving wrapped around the building and went on further than I could see. If it had been like that when I got there, I still would have never been in the pool. I was actually feeling hungry again, so I went to Shady Grove for some sustenance. I was pretty pissed when, at one point, I went to the bathroom for two minutes and came back to find some jerk had just shoved all my stuff over one stool so he could sit with his group rather than stand for one minute and wait to ask me to move over, or just stood the two minutes they were even at the bar. I hung out at the outside bar trying to keep cool, reading the paper, until about 4. I took another lap on the hike-and-bike, then went to Book People and chilled out until I got hungry. I didn't have much of a plan as to what I was going to eat, and pretty much just found myself at Hooters. It wasn't very crowded when I got there, but it gradually filled up to the brim, as did every bit of grass in the park across the street, as people gathered for the fireworks. When it started to get dark around 8:30 I left to find a place to watch. I stopped along Riverside where I could see the symphony, but I faced the other direction, toward the fireworks. It was a pretty good show, as it usually is (barring uncooperative weather). It wasn't all that easy, even on a bicycle, negotiating the throngs of revelers and all the cars to get headed home. For a while, I was moving faster than the cars were, there was so much traffic. When I got home I pretty much went straight to bed.

Sunday was another pretty lazy day, but I did manage to do a little yard work in the morning and some light housework. I finally hung up an elk horn I've had sitting in my living room for months, but I didn't hang a painting that's been sitting on the floor for about as long.