I posted a few pictures from our weekend trip to Enchanted Rock. Find them in the gallery.
so i had a nice labor day weekend. friday night, becca and jen and i drove to enchanted rock, west of austin (and north of kerrville, for my mom who likes kerrville). we didn’t leave until 6 because becca had to work late, and got stuck behind two wrecks. it took us two hours just to get to katy, and traffic sucked pretty much the entire way to san antonio. there were so many cars on the road, and again yesterday coming back, that i wish it was three lanes the entire way to san antonio. as it was, we were moving around 70 mph, but still mired in a stressful field of endless cars.
we got to the park around midnight and fumbled in the dark for a while before finally finding our campsite, which was ideally located beneath a lot of trees and next to a dry (at least for the moment) creekbed. we set up our tents and hit the sack. saturday we woke up and headed towards the rock. enchanted rock is just like stone mountain, except a different type of rock. this one is pink granite, which looks pretty cool.
we hiked up to the top, which didn’t take very long, and wandered around for a while. the top was really big, so there were lots of areas to explore. there’s even a cave, which we explored from the top, but didn’t venture too far into because we didn’t have flashlights. from there, we walked back down and went farther back into the park, where we ate lunch and then continued around the loop trail for 2 miles or so until we were back at the campsite. it was just after 2:00 and was getting really hot, so we spent the rest of the afternoon lounging and napping and reading under the nice shady trees. it started to rain late in the afternoon, so we retreated to our tents for a while. during a break in the rain, we had spaghetti for dinner, but then turned in for the night around 9:30, when it began to rain again. it was actually a pretty cool lighting storm, lighting up the entire sky every few seconds. it was fun to watch the sillouette of enchanted rock flash against the sky.
gavin arrived late saturday night around midnight. sunday moring we got up to an overcast sky, but the rain had stopped and the weather was wonderfully cool! for august in texas, we had amazing weather. anyway, we bypassed the summit trail and instead headed up to the top of turkey’s peak, a neighboring rock. it was actually more fun to climb that one than enchanted rock (e-rock is just a gradual slope that you hike up; this one involved some scrambling and true climbing, which was fun). i reached the top first and enjoyed a minute or so by myself, watching people hike up to enchanted rock, before becca, jen, gavin, and the three dogs joined me. eventually we climbed back down and went looking for the bottom side of the cave. we found the entrance, but by this time it had begun to drizzle again, and the rocks were getting slippery, so we decided to leave exploring the cave as an activity for a future trip.
we continued around the back side of enchanted rock, taking shelter under a large boulder at one point when the rain picked up. when we emerged to follow the short trail back to camp, we found that it had been turned into a mini-waterfall! the trail ran between enchanted rock and neighboring little rock, and all the water running down the two rocks converged on the echo canyon trail and turned it into a river! not wanting to soak our feet or risk slipping and hurting ourselves, we instead followed the longer trail around the back side of little rock, finally emerging about a hundred feet above the parking lot and having to scramble down some slippery rocks to get there.
by the time we got back to the campsite, the rain had stopped, but we were pretty wet. so we sat under a shelter and played cards for a few hours while drying out and trying to avoid the millions of fire ants. it was a nice afternoon. around 6, becca and i headed back to fredericksburg to pick up some ice, and gavin and jen rescued to dry firewood from the car. we made a nice campfire and cooked hot dogs and ate smores. it started to drizzle just a bit more, but not for long. it was almost chilly outside, making it pleasant to sit around the fire and chat.
yesterday morning we packed up and headed back to houston. the drive didn’t take quite as long, but thanks to yet another traffic jam and a half hour lunch stop, it was 4:00 before i got back. i didn’t even stop at my apartment; i went straight to the climbing gym, where i warned everyone that i hadn’t showered since thursday and then threw my arms apart and said “who wants to be my partner?!?” 🙂 we climbed for a few hours, and i tried a few new (and harder) routes. it’s cool that i can see myself improving so quickly; yesterday i climbed halfway up a route that i never could have done a month ago. maybe in a few more weeks i’ll be able to make it to the top!
after climbing, it was home for a shower (ahhhh) and then off to dinner at esteban’s. finally, it was home again home again jiggity jog, to a messy apartment. but my bed felt great last night.
I guess it’s just not a good rock climbing night if I don’t come away scraped. Either that, or I just had a bad Monday. Yesterday morning I cut my finger while slicing a tomato. Then last night I scraped my elbow falling off a past-vertical wall, and later pinched my finger in a carabiner. Today, I’m sporting three bandaids. Mmm.
The server’s back up, so you can now view the photos I posted from James and Chrissy’s wedding. Chris posted some of his pictures too.
I realize that I never actually said anything here about my trips last week. The AIAA conference (which I mention first because it was definitely the more boring of the two halves of my vacation) was interesting, and Becca’s and my tag-team presentation of our DPS jettison design paper went well. In fact, our session chair even nominated us for best paper of the conference! The award won’t be announced until later, and we probably won’t win, but it was still exciting to find out we’d been nominated.
But the wedding was, of course, the highlight of the weekend. Carter gave a nice summary of events on his journal a week ago, so I won’t repeat what he’s already written for me (I am such a mooch!), but everything about the wedding was lovely. Friday afternoon was lunch at Mellow Mushroom, followed by trips to see where the church and reception hall were, followed by amusement in the hotel room as Natasha tried to figure out how to iron her bridesmaid dress without melting it.
Friday evening was the rehearsal, followed by dinner at Maggiano’s. Good lord, the food was so good. Especially the salmon. Mmm. Anyway, the restaurant was perfect for such an event; they had a second floor that consisted only of private party rooms, each with space for 30ish people and with a small (but fully stocked) bar. The bartender amused me the entire night. At one point, Claire (James’s very cool and very hilarious sister) and I were standing at the bar talking when the bartender turned to us and said “you look like you could use a couple shots.” We gaped at him for a moment. Then there was a moment of wondering whether it was appropriate to do shots at a rehearsal dinner. Looking at each other and shrugging our shoulders, Claire and I said “well, ok.” So the bartender made a random pink concoction, and wouldn’t tell us what it was until we’d downed them.
They were actually really good, and thankfully not too strong. Turned out it was vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, and pineapple juice. In what proportions, I have no idea.
Saturday we awoke bright and early, showered, I put on my new dress, and Carter and Kent were looking really snazzy in their tuxedos. We were at the church by 8:30, where the boys joined the other groomsmen, and I began my job as go-to girl. I adjusted tuxedo vests. I pinned flowers on the boys. I drove rose petals over to the reception hall. I fetched people when needed. At 10:30, I started greeting people like a madwoman. I was on a roll!
One of the fun things about the wedding is that I got to see so many people I hadn’t seen in a long time, people who aren’t close friends, but who I still enjoy talking to. But of course the highlight was watching James and Chrissy get married. When the groomsmen had taken their places, James walked in with a huge smile on his face. Now, James is a guy who always has a huge smile, but the one he wore during the ceremony was even bigger, I swear. Chrissy looked absolutely beautiful in her dress, and as she was walking down the aisle, she had a smile big enough to match the one on James’s face. They both looked happier than I’ve ever seen them; it was awesome. I love weddings.
After the ceremony, Christina and Sara and I skedaddled to the rehearsal hall, where we again greeted all the guests and then got down to some serious post-wedding partying. As James was so fond of pointing out, there was an open bar. 😉 But more importantly, there was good food, and lots of dancing, and really good champagne for the toasts. The reception hall, though unassuming from the outside, was actually really nice on the inside, and the decorations were cool. The entire ceiling was covered in white christmas lights, like stars. Very nice.
Anyway. That is the 15-minute summary of the wedding. Now someone else needs to get engaged and plan a wedding for next summer so I can keep my streak going. It’s been four years now…