The Artist Couple
On the evening of December 12 and early morning of December 13 there was the spectacular Gemini meteor shower. This is said to be one of the best meteor showers of the year. Because of this, and the fact that we spend way too much time in our (somewhat) boring apartment, we decided to go camping at Pedernales Falls State Park.
This was Topher and my first time really sitting down and watching a meteor shower, and it was magical. This was also our first time camping in Texas (definitely beats winter camping in Wisconsin.) We didn't see any crazy colored meteors, just the usual whites and yellows, but you can't complain about the hundreds of shooting stars we did see in only a few hours. Sadly, we only had my camera (Nikon D5100), which to our surprise wouldn't take any photographs of the night sky. We had planned to shoot some long exposures but even on manual mode, with the correct setting it wouldn't allow us to take any photographs and insisted it was "too dark." The latest of only a few letdowns about this camera (I think it's time for an upgrade.)
We set up camp in one of the 4 primitive campsites in the park. These are about a 3-3.5 mile hike into the park and if you're starting your hike out in the dark like we did, make sure you know your way around ahead of time. The maps at the park head quarters aren't the most accurate, and it took us about 45 minutes just to find the right trail. We were lucky it hadn't rained more the day before because there are 3 river crossings (without bridges) you must hike through before the campsites.
We camped underneath juniper trees (the perfect climbing trees) and set up our hammocks right on the bluff overlooking the Pedernales River.
It was a little cold that night (low 40's- is this even considered winter?!) and the Park doesn't allow ground fires, so all we had for warmth was a little hobo stove that lasted us about 3 minutes before we got tired of stoking the fire every 30 seconds. We ended up just using hand-warmers and drinking a lot of vodka and Bloody Marry Mix to warm us up during the magnificent meteor shower.
Just like every camping trip we take, I wish we could have stayed longer to further explore the many miles of trails the Pedernales Falls State Park has to offer. Even with no fire and the chilly breeze this trip was worth every second. Spending a romantic evening side-by-side in hammocks, sipping bloodys and stargazing with your best friend, is a day worth living over and over.
The Artist Couple
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Back in July, Topher and I road-tripped around the midwest from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to St. Louis, Kansas City, Eagle Rock, Missouri, and even made it to the tiny town of Mt. Ida, Arkansas! In just two short weeks we visited art museums, family, friends, and of course hiked a few trails!
Not only is Mt. Ida home to my lovely Grandma and Grandpa, it's also the quartz crystal capital of the world. Located in the middle of the Oachita National Forrest, remarkable mountain ranges, parks, and trails surround the tiny town of Mt. Ida (so small it doesn't even have a stoplight.) For this reason as well as many others, Arkansas is one of my favorite states, but maybe I'm just a little biased, seeing as how it is my birth state.
In Arkansas, green doesn't even begin to describe the magnificence of the foliage. The waterfalls are plentiful and pour into pools as clear as the crystals that hide beneath the mossy forrest floor. The trees seem to reach higher than the clouds and talk softly when the wind blows. It is truly a magical place to be.
This Thanksgiving, Topher and I made the trip up to Mt. Ida once again to visit family and spend some much needed time outdoors.
As we loaded our packs and geared up for the rain, we could see surprised expressions peering through the windows of the nearby lodge. Huddled up by the warm fire, the vacationers were probably thinking we were crazy for wanting to camp in such weather. To us, they're the ones missing out on all the fun, rainy or not.
We hiked our way down Mount Mena and set up camp in Queen Wilhelmina State Park. It was pretty soggy and wet to say the least. The four days before we camped were filled with inches of rain and flooded rivers and creeks, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the trails!
Mother Nature must have been looking out for us that day because as soon as we hiked to our camping spot, the rain eased up to a light sprinkle and the fog cleared just enough to tease us with a view of the world below. The views were so breathtakingly beautiful it was hard to focus on our footing at times. The trail was a mix between slippery rock fields, waterfall stairs, and soggy muddy moss- and we both only slipped once!
The Oachita Mountain range is unlike most, it runs east to west rather than north to south. Because of this unique orientation, the mountain slopes have a distinct striping pattern, where the north facing slopes are covered in a dense hardwood forrest and stay moist, while the south facing slopes are filled with dry Pines and woodlands. The photo below isn't the best representation of this, (sorry for the lack of quality-these are photos from our phones) but behind all the fog and clouds there's a little bit of green and brown stripping going on.
Back home in Texas, Topher and I have been working hard to get our Artist Couple business up off the ground, and it's not easy... or speedy. We are learning that it is a slow and painstaking process, that takes a lot of patience and hard work. We've had so much to do we almost forgot just how important our time outside is. To avoid this forgetfulness we plan to schedule hikes at least once every two weeks (hopefully every week) and many more camping trips.
Spending time adventuring and letting our minds unwind makes the work week so much more productive and life in general much easier. This break was a nice little reminder to never let work get in the way of what keeps you sane.
Sara & Topher
We are a working artist couple based out of Austin, TX. This blog chronicles our life and artistic ventures, as we work to make the world and environment a little better every day.