Big Bend Ranch State Park: Hikes for kids

When I read about hiking online, I get all confused about the ratings of difficulty. So, this is my best attempt at advising parental units on which trails might work out if you’d like to bring the kiddos to this state park.

My husband and I took a 4-year-old (okay, he’s almost 5) adventuresome child on these trails and finished them without much trouble. We brought along a 3 wheeled jogging/hiking stroller for longer hikes. We did a hike in Lajitas towards the wax factory. I do not recommend that trail as a hike. It is boring. And tedious. Seriously, we did it for exercise only. It’s best for mountain bikers.

The recommended trails:

1. Nature path near Sauceda Ranch (Easy with some hand-holding.)
2. Cinco Tinajas and Ojito Adentro (Will need to help children up and down trail.)
3. Horsetrap Trail (Heavy duty jogging stroller required for smaller children, as it is a 5 mile hike.)
4. Closed canyon (Mainly easy; gets more challenging the deeper you go. We had to pass the kid between us to get him up and down the canyon in some parts. Yes, like a piece of luggage.)

Other than the Horsetrap Trail, the others are impassable with a stroller of any kind due to trail conditions. If you are just driving through the state park on FM 170, it is worth your time to stop at Closed Canyon. If you stay at the Sauceda Ranch, the other three trails should keep you occupied during a short stay.

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what you might see on the trails.

1. Nature Path: Sorry, no pics. We arrived at 4:30 and hiked at 5:15-6:00. Not much light available in evening on 12/21 (winter solstice).

2. Cinco Tinajas and Ojito Adentro


Ojito Adentro
Ojito Adentro
Ojito Andentro trail
Ojito Andentro trail

3. Horsetrap Trail

View once you hike up.
View once you hike up.
Snack time on trail.
Snack time on trail.

4. Closed Canyon

Kid sliding down wall at Closed Canyon.
Kid sliding down wall at Closed Canyon.


Parent dangling from wall of Closed Canyon.
Parent dangling from wall of Closed Canyon.

Gross effin’ bugs in my yard.

I don’t recall giving permission for a nasty ass bug orgy on my pomegranates. GAH. THIS IS DISGUSTING ON SO MANY LEVELS.

Here’s one of their horrid offspring:


Thanks to for the help in identifying this infestation.

To get rid of these monsters:

This link is to the Aggie Horticulture site. You can pick the bugs off the plant and drown them. I know a person who uses a shop-vac to suck them up. That’s also good. You can also go nuclear and get bug killer with permethrin in it.

I had ZERO luck with any other methods. None of the “organic” killers did a darn thing to the bugs.

Belle Meade Plantation (Nashville, TN)

Slave quarters.
The main house.
The back entrance.
The smokehouse.
The family members in the mausoleum before the property was sold off.
Inside the mausoleum.
Bench outside mausoleum.
Inside the greenhouse.

After reading “Mighty Rough Times, Tell You” I am just at a loss at what to say.


I’ve never been a big fan of the “Old South” bullshit. The visit to Belle Meade only solidified my views. This is not the only plantation I have ever visited. So, I can tell you with some authority that they are shoddy shows meant to cover up the poor foundation and materials used in construction. I’ve been to Ecuador and seen abandoned villages from the days of the Incas that just needed thatch to cover the roofs.

Plantation ‘mansions’ are all pomp and no substance. Just some fancy ostrich feathers to cover up a bald spot. And talk about the 1%! In any event, I would have rather slept in the stables. The ground is brick, the ceilings high, and the building easier to clean.

I still do not understand how slavery was an economically viable method to run a business. Let alone the *ethics* of the whole situation. It was a stupid idea. Putting yokes on people to till fields? Were the plantation owners morons? There are these animals, I think they are called oxen. They’re supposedly good at that plowing stuff. Or, you could get off your own dead ass and work the fields, too. But, between sipping mint juleps and beating the ‘servants,’ I suppose little time was left for real work.

And get that damned Confederate flag down. Let alone the association with slavery, it is unpatriotic. Most irritating is how patriotic those who fly that flag claim to be! If you are loyal to the union, you don’t fly that flag. Sure, you are free to do so as a matter of free speech. But don’t claim to be an uber-patriot. Own your succesionism.

Beautiful Hixon,Tennessee

I stayed in Hixon (just a bit outside of Chatanooga) on Saturday night in a neighborhood up on a mountainside. It was so quiet that it was a bit eery for me. Even though I live in the outskirts of Austin, there’s some background noise from IH 35 and various neighbors. Nothing like that out in Hixon! The person I was staying with warned that Great Horned Owls sometimes hoot at night, but I guess they took a vacation. Or, I was so tired I passed out.

On to the flowers: The dogwoods were in full bloom, as were lilacs and other small flowers.

The neighborhood sits across from a nuclear power plant, which I would never have noticed if I had not been told. I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves this time. This is my visual task of ‘show not tell.’ Fewer words, more pics!

Bug on a flower.
Eeew! Bugs!!!
Among all the new construction, I found this gem sitting at the bottom of a developed property. I hope they keep it there--it's a piece of Hixon's history.
Unknown yellow flower on the lake's edge
Nuclear power plant with 5 parallel 345 Kv transmission lines (or possibly 230 Kv)

My best use of lens flare to date!

As I strolled through what I thought was an empty section of the Socorro Cemetery, I realized that the grave markers had disappeared and with each step I was sinking into old graves. I’m kind of a stomper when I walk, so I made an effort to step lightly so as to avoid being knee-deep in someone’s final resting place.

Closer to the front of the cemetery, a very large prickly pear was growing out of a grave marked only with a slender metal stake with the number 19 on it.

I noticed that the sun was shining brightly when I turned to face the grave, so I took several shots to make use of the heavy lens flare. The last shot I got was this one, which was admittedly overexposed a bit. I worked on that in and also employed a faded border to highlight the color of the flare.

Of course, as I was doing this technical stuff, I was once again waxing poetic about the cactus being nourished by the remains of the  person below ground. Being an atheist, it rather depressed me. Here you go living your life, you croak, and then your body is broken down into its mineral makeup so you can be cactus food.

Oh well. I guess a cactus has a right to live too. And, I’ve eaten plenty nopalito paddles in my time. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust? More like, cactus in my body, my body in a cactus.

Now I’ve totally grossed myself out. Everything we eat is nourished from dead stuff. Or feces. Horse poop, chicken poop, you name it. Worm castings! Blech!! I put those in my garden. That’s nasty.

Barton Creek Pool!!

Freaky foot shot. I really should not have been swimming w the fancy camera....
Mwah! The lovely barton springs pool view.
Olga's giant arm crush small child. Cripes! What have I done to myself with all that home improvement?

It’s been about three years since I was last there. Cold as ever. I took my kid. He was a 6 month old when I went the last time. 68 degree water = not an appropriate baby venue!

I remember feeling like a cow, but I wore my bikini anyway. I was shocked that I actually attracted some male attention, and not in that, “Oh dear, she really should consider a one-piece,” ways. I mean floored. I was just too lazy to go to Wal*Mart and get a new suit.

By the way, Wal*Mart has this awesomely awesome camo bikini. Even the extra large won’t fit my bust. #pissedatstupidsizes

My mom was not happy with how slippery Barton Creek Pool is. My kid was freaked too. So, I took him in a deeper part and had him hang on to my bikini top whilst I swam. He loved it until he got too cold.

We then went to the pool in my neighborhood, which was a lot warmer. Someone took a long nap, and it wasn’t me!

Grape development. (for my rapt audience)

My best plant. Back row, partial shade. This will be the one I start babies from. Oh, don't even bother trying to start from seed. I read that it was damn near impossible, but I had to learn on my own. Always the hard way. Always.

Yeah, well. It can’t all be boob shots and beer. (And you’re like, “I don’t remember any beer, Ann.” Whatevs. I have plenty of booze pics; beer is shorthand.)

My Black Spanish grapes are coming along nicely. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been watering them about three times a week this year. I didn’t have to do that last year. It’s just been so dry and hot. I saw my front row (the one which receives the most sun) with shriveled grapes a couple weeks ago, so I knew I had to water each plant if I wanted to have a decent crop.

The back row (which is partial shade), has produced the best for me. It doesn’t even require supplemental water. So, I think when I add to my grapes, it will be along the back row. In heavier shade, the plant looks nice but produces even less than the sun-scorched ones. Like practically nothing. There’s one plant like that in the corner which is shaded by the others. It’s on the north side of my property.

Oh! I just remembered. In Austin, which is ickily humid, you should plant your rows in east-west lines to get the most wind. Grapes can suffer from mildew and rot. The breeze in Austin tends more along the east/west as opposed to the north/south. The wind helps blow the wetness and yicky spores out. Yewwww. If you get mildew yewy yew, copper soap fungicide works nicely.

I hate aphids. I just thought I would throw that in. And fire ants, even though they haven’t done a damn thing to my plants. I still hate them.

So, my advice for Black Spanish grapes in Central Texas would be to find a location that is shaded from the late afternoon sun but sunny the rest of the day. Also, cut those plants back, back, back. NO! Prune them good, or you will get a bunch of green growth but hardly any crop. I know they look sad as heck in January when you chop ’em back. But, grapes are super-aggressive growers. You have to be mean to get them to produce a decent crop.

Front row (full sun all day). No purple grapes here!