No internet. Not even a laptop in sight. No television, movies or games. The cell phone stayed off, and available only as an emergency.
Our music was sweet sound of water rushing over the rocks and the wind through the trees. Birds sang the melody, and the cicadas kept the bass accompaniment. The music video played out on a blue screen the size of the Texas sky.
We left home at the not so early time of 10am, arriving at Pedernales State Park (just East of Johnson City, about 90 miles west of Austin TX) about 3pm. It was hot, but no hotter than it had been at home. The rolling hills of the Hill Country region of Texas were what I remembered. Oaks and Mesquites grew with Prickly Pear Cactus and hardy wildflowers. The white rocks of the hills slopped down to the river. The Pedernales river.
The boys and I walked down to the falls, and then out onto them. The water level in the river was down and you can walk across them. We watched fish, skipped rocks and climbed over sand bars. After much walking, we made our way back to camp exhausted. The next day we swam in the river for hours. Lots of games of tag, and looking for the perfect skipping rock. The river was warm but refreshing. We swam, walked, waded, splashed and sat in the river. The view was wonderful, and the company was better. On this river, this time we saw no fights, no alcohol, no high school drama, and no one who was not just lazy in the river and happy to be so. The few people who were there were nice, considerate family folk; just like us.
As skin started to pink up, we went back to camp. After sandwiches and a small camp fire (yes when you have boys you have to have a camp fire, even if it is 90 degrees outside) we went to bed happily exhausted.
Getting up the next day, we went to Longhorn Cavern State Park. We explored the caverns with the tour. We came out of the 68 degree caverns into the 98 degree heat of the Texas afternoon. We heard the story about Sam Bass, and the Texas Rangers that rescued the girl in the caverns. Back to camp, and then fishing.
So much fun we had! Chasing lizards, watching deer and counting birds. We walked, hiked, threw rocks and sticks, told stories and had a good time. The boys said it was really fun, but they missed mom. I did too.
This trip is my fault. See, several years ago I realized that one day my sons would no longer want to hang around Dad, at least for a while. I wanted to make memories with them that would last, in case we never got to work past those awkward years. Back then I took my oldest and middle son on a few trips in the summers. Fun things for dads and sons to do together, usually fishing and camping. I wanted to have fun and make memories. We did. And then we went on more trips. More memories.
We had to take a break for a couple of summers for various reasons. This year we started again. This was also the first year the youngest went, and the first that the oldest didn't. It is a cool kind of "guys only" time we spend. It may have been hardest on mom, although she said she enjoyed the peace and quiet. Time spent together is special.
One day, I hope they look back and remember.