CAMP

Camping Big Lagoon by Kelly Garcia

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Every February, just when we can't handle the Nashville chill any longer, we pack our bags and join the snowbirds down in Florida for a pre-Spring break weekend warrior trip. This year we camped at site #66 at Big Lagoon State Park. We camped at this park last year and returned because we wanted to relax somewhere familiar, quiet, and safe. At BL we can count on being surrounded by RV campers (no SPRING BREAKERS!), hot showers and water hook ups - You know, the simple pleasures that make a big difference. All of us have 9-5 type jobs, so an easy trip in good company every now and then is just what we need.

Since we had pull up access to the site, we didn't limit ourselves on supplies. Hammocks, chairs, speakers, yeti tumblers, not one but two coolers (wet/dry), a screened canopy to go over the picnic table to keep bugs and raccoons out of our food, and food. So much food. You would probably laugh if you saw how we do mealtime on our camping trips. No matter what kind of camping situation we are in, Drew always makes the group a killer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all on a single cast iron skillet. 

We spent our time napping on the beach, tossing a football, skim-boarding, canoeing the lagoon (last trip), visiting Fort Pickens, shopping for fresh seafood at Joe Patti's, taking photos, and catching up around the campfire. I made a note to bring horse shoes for both the camp site and beach next time because sportsballs aren't my thing. (I also need to bring a wider lens!)

As long as I live in Nashville, TN, I will be making the snowbird's journey south every February. 

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LOCATION / STYLE: Big Lagoon State Park in Florida / Tent and RV
SITE AMENITIES and PERKS: Pull up access, Clean restrooms, hot showers, local firewood (Gypsy Wagon), fire ring, water hook up, picnic table, electricity, easy lagoon access, trees for hanging hammocks, and canoe rentals. 
SITE DOWNFALLS: Have to drive to beach access, close to neighbors.

PACK: Other than the normal stuff, I recommend a Hammock ( I took my Eno), screened canopy to go over picnic table, horseshoes, skimboards, bug spray, bucket for doing dishes, 2 coolers (wet/dry), and a bluetooth speaker.
SEE: Fort Pickens
DO: Hang out on the white sands of Langdon Beach. Canoe rentals at Big Lagoon.
EXPLORE: Joe Patti's Seafood Market. Frank Patti Senior cut us some great tuna on our last trip. 

APP RECOMMENDATION: Since there were five of us splitting everything even, we used Splitwise (paired with venmo) to track spending and payout to each other during the trip. 

Buenos Journey West by Kelly Garcia

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If you have ever been out to west Texas, you know. The sky goes on forever and like the sea, you can't tell where the earth stops and the sky begins. You can see the shadow of every bird that soars between you and the sun. There are hot springs, cold springs, snakes, tacos, cacti, sand dunes, bears, mountains, cold rivers and swift shifting skies. Shaking out your boots is a routine part of every morning and you'll need a bandana handy for the next sand storm. It's a magical land where tumbleweed roams and you can see the start and end of a rainbow.  I could go on forever with details, but you just don't know until you go.

This whole adventure came about because my husband Seth booked a few guitar gigs in Texas. We are both from Texas now living in Tennessee so of course I invited myself along on his trip back home. It had been around two years since I had visited my favorite place on earth and that's unacceptable. I blocked out a few days to be in Houston with family before and after the journey west and starting looking at which destinations I could hit within 8 days. So many places, so little time! I wanted to hit a few new places and still reserve time to revisit some golden oldies. Once I had a rough idea of what I was going to do, I invited my sister Brandi to join me. We've been out west a handful of times, but never just the two of us. I warned her that is was a camping trip and my two person tent meant that we would be sleeping shoulder to shoulder. Brandi is constantly traveling (check out her blog here), so I fully expected her to say she was already going to be out of town or she needed time to rest between trips, especially with only three weeks notice! But she didn't. She was down for the 8 day journey west. 

The plan was as follows:

Sunday 3.5.17 .......... Houston --> Balmorhea State Park
Monday 3.6.17.......... Balmorhea --> White Sands, New Mexico
Tuesday 3.7.17.......... White Sands, New Mexico
Wednesday 3.7.17.......... White Sands, New Mexico --> Marfa, Texas
Thursday 3.7.17.......... Marfa, Texas --> Terlingua, Texas
Friday 3.8.17.......... Terlingua/Big Bend
Saturday 3.9.17.......... Terlingua/Big Bend
Sunday Terlingua --> Houston, Texas

But as things usually go, the plan went out the window due to some unfortunate events that took place during our first night in Balmorhea. Stay tuned for the full story and for our actual whacky west Texas route that spontaneously developed! 

In the meantime, check out Brandi's blog post about my desert hairdo, the triple braid.