February 26, 2009

Foster Farm in Retrospect

Well, this is long overdo, but we wanted to share some of the most memorable take aways from our camping adventure to our friend Brent's property (referred to as "Foster Farm").

What was the best thing that happened?
Joe says: I finally got to fire off my rifle. There just aren't many (legal) opportunities in the city.
Kristi says: I didn't say anything stupid (refer back to the Lake Bob Sandlin "eye spy" joke).

What was your favorite activity?
Joe says: Other then firing off my rifle (as mentioned in the "best" question), I really enjoyed riding around the property on the ATV 4-Wheeler.
Kristi says: I really enjoyed riding the ATV for the first time. I also enjoyed the commradery with Joe, Brent, Lyn, and myself around the campfire after dinner. I also loved the big campfires. Brent and Joe built some HUGE fires (not quite bonfire quality, but almost)

What was the funniest thing that happened?
Joe says: I am a little embarrased to admit this, but I was kind of chicken about going late night exploring through the trails. What can I say? The coyotes were a little detering.
Kristi says: I am so glad that Joe 'fessed up to backing out of the late night hike, because if he hadn't, I was going to put him on blast. Here is the scenario: We got far enough away from the camp site to where we could barely see the camp fire anymore, and Joe insisted that we turn back around. In retrospect, it was probably the right move seeing that Brent later admitted the trails had changed since the last time he was out there. Drunken inspired hikes at midnight can wait until the next time...

What is your favorite memory?
Joe says: Saturday night we made beef fajitas for dinner with all of the fixin's. I can not get them out of my mind. Fajitas will definately be in the regular camping cuisine rotation.
Kristi says: It was one of those nights when the moon shines so full and bright that it lights up the entire clearing. We were looking up a the stars and Joe fixated on a rather unique tree. This specific tree was entirely bare with the exception of one "poof" of leaves on the higher limbs. It was such a unique quality that the tree was dubbed (and will forever more be known as) the Dr. Suess tree.

What was the worst thing that happened?
Joe says: Manual labor... Brent, Lyn (Brent's father), and I moved about 3 dozen large cuts of tree into the shed. It was exhausting.
Kristi says: Joe chastized me for letting the dogs play and swim in the pond.

What is a must do if you return?
Joe says: fish in the pond, explore more of the property, shoot my gun off again
Kristi says: I definately want to return so that we can explore more and check other camp site locations. I want to go on the ATV again.

February 9, 2009

Foster Farm In Lone Oak, TX

This weeks camping adventure takes us about an hour east of Dallas on Interstate 30. Once we neared Greenville, TX, we took Highway 69 towards Lone Oak (population 521) boasting one lonely stop light in the middle of town.

Our friend, Brent invited us out to his family property just outside of Lone Oak to camp, explore, and hike over his 50 acres of property. Being city folk (for the most part), we weren't sure exactly how big 50 acres was, but Brent assured us 50 acres was plenty enough room for us to have an over-night camp adventure.

So, in the early afternoon on Saturday, February 7th, we headed out of town towards our camping destination with our dogs in tow. It was a short ride, just about an hour from start to finish (heck it can take over an hour just to drive across the Dallas metroplex).

When we first arrived we were greeted by Lyn, Brent's father. He was busy working in his workshop taking advantage of a few more weeks of cooler weather to cut wood before it gets too hot (which could be as early as March in Texas). Our particular camp site destination was about half a mile deep into the property and difficult to reach by car. So Lyn suggested that we load up the trailer hitched to his tractor and haul it out there.

While, the guys were loading up the trailer, Kristi and the dogs checked out the pond just behind the workshop. It wasn't long before the dogs were knee deep in water along the shore line of the pond. Kristi proceeded to test Bronte's resolve by throwing sticks repeatedly into the pond coaxing Bronte to fetch. Bronte is known to fetch a tennis ball out any body of water with little hesitation, but this was a first for him to fetch sticks. After several tries, he figured out how this game was played, and proudly emerged from the pond soaked to the bone dropping the stick on the pond bank in front of Kristi.

After Joe gave Kristi a brief chastising for letting the dogs play in the pond water, Lyn took off on the tractor towards the campsite. We all, soaking dogs included, followed behind on foot. After a 10 minute walk or so, we ended up at our destination, a modest sized clearing among the cedars. Lyn drop us off and set back towards the workshop to take advantage of the remaining daylight hours.

Then it was straight to the business of setting up camp, our home for the next 24 hours or so. We were able to get set up and ready in short order. Brent and Joe proceeded to forage in the nearby forest to get a good collection of firewood to get us through the evening. We were fortunate that the weather was in the low 70s with an expected low that evening of 50ish, so the fire was more for utility then necessity.

We decided to get dinner going shortly after 5:00 so that we could get some of the cooking and preparation done before he sun went down. The menu that evening was beef fajitas with grilled onions and bell peppers with spanish rice on the side. Lyn provided us with an excellent grill that a prior camper had left behind. We put it to good work.

By 6:00 dinner was in full swing on the grill. Lyn, with some Corona's at his side, joined us for dinner shortly after dark. It wasn't long before the campsite feel silent as we all stuffed our faces with fresh of the grill fajitas. YUM!!

After a few hours of story sharing around the campfire, including stories of the local coyotes, wild boars, and armadillos, Lyn left us to fend for ourselves for the rest of the evening. It wasn't far into the evening when we heard the first chorus of coyotes. They serenaded us several times over the course of that evening. A few 6-packs later, both the fire and our energy started to fizzle out. It was time to turn it in for the night. We knew we would need some rest and energy for the fun we were to have the next morning.

As we lay in our respective tents, we fell asleep to the sound of the coyotes' chorus.

Brent was the first one awake, shortly after 7:00 am. He coaxed the fire back into full roar just as Kristi stumbled sleepily from her tent. By 8:00 Kristi and Brent went to the business of getting breakfast going -- griddle cakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon. The aromas of the food enticed Joe from the tent just in time for the food to be served.

We allowed our food to digest for an hour or so before making it out on our first hike of the morning. With the dogs at our heels, we set out on the path that we attempted to follow the previous evening (we were too chicken that we wouldn't be able to find our way back in the dead of the night). Joe set out on the 4-wheeler while Brent, Kristi, and the dogs hiked behind. We explored a good portion of the property that day -- Brent estimates that we covered at least 20 acres.

After 45 minutes or so, Kristi took her turn on the 4-wheeler. Naturally cautious, she started off at a slow golf cart speed, and gradually worked her way up to a more respectable speed. After 25 minutes or so of circling a rather large clearing, Brent took over and showed us how to ride a 4-wheeler.

Brent disappeared down one of the many trails. We could hear him from a distance, never sure which way he was heading or coming from. So, Joe and Kristi continued to hike through the many paths heading back toward the camp site (our at least we thought we were headed the right direction). A short while later, Brent turned back up with some cold beers, and a definite pathway back to the camp site. By this time, it was starting to warm up outside, and our dogs were exhausted and in need of something to drink (okay, so we were tired too).

As the morning drew to a close, we let our very tired dogs (and our tired feet) have a rest. It wouldn't be long before we needed to start tearing down our camp site and packing up our belongings. So, after a brief rest, we got down to the business of packing up. The clouds started to roll in and the wind started to pick up. We knew that the weather predicted rain later in the evening, but the signs were that maybe it was rolling in sooner. After a short debacle with the wind carrying away a temporarily unstaked tent, we managed to finish packing up everything.

The day would not be complete until Joe had the opportunity to take a few shots from his rifle. Living in the city, there are few opportunities for shooting practice. So, like a little boy with a new toy, Joe took aim and fired at a foothill. (Check out the slide show for a great action shot. You can see Joe reel back a bit as the gun kicks back and smoke spews from the barrel of the rifle. The picture could not have been timed any better).

At this point, we felt like perhaps the Cochran's Explorer could make it over to the campsite for loading up purposes. So, for the last time, we hiked back to the main house to greet Lyn and pick up the Explorer.

About 30 minutes later we had the truck and Brent's car all loaded up and ready for the short trip back home. Now, it was time to pay the piper -- Lyn in this case. The guys spent the next hour or so helping Lyn haul large sections of tree trunks into the workshop in preparation for chopping. These farm hands were exhausted, and ready to return to the luxuries of home after an eventful and busy camping adventure.