Bugs beware! Escaping into the great outdoors

Savanna Gregg is the general assignments reporter and a layout and design editor for the Burnet Bulletin. You can read her columns in the Burnet Bulletin and The Highlander. To send her a note, email: savanna@burnetbulletin.com. To subscribe to the newspapers, call 830-693-4367 and 512-756-6136.

We all need a getaway every once in a while, a chance to leave our daily work behind, sit back, and enjoy the simpler things in life.

Our escape, when we aren’t traveling to the beach, watching a NASCAR race, or going on a cruise, is a nice, relaxing camping trip. I adore waking up with the sun and birds and enjoying the sounds of nature around me as we slowly start our day, and falling asleep to the sound of crickets chirping among the rushing of a river.

There are many aspects of camping that I truly enjoy, and each trip always leaves me with a sense of peace - and anticipation for our next trip.

I didn’t camp much as a kid, but my husband, Adam, was a Boy Scout way back when, so I am always camping with the master. Adam can start a fire, cook a mean steak on said fire, and protect me from creeping insects (I have a serious issue with bugs) throughout the entire trip; that leaves me with the harrowing responsibility of kicking back and basking in the wilderness that surrounds us. After I help pitch the tent, of course.

Bugs aside, camping is always something I look forward to. There is something about spending your days in the water, hiking, or relaxing in a hammock with a good book and ending them with a night around the campfire, then sleeping under the stars and waking up to do it all over again.

One of my favorite things about our camping trips is the food we eat - we dine like kings and queens each time. I think food is tastier when it is prepared outside, and nothing beats a campfire steak and potato dinner, or a recent dinner we shared of shrimp, sausage, green beans and mushrooms prepared in a foil pack.

The next best thing is the memories made on each trip we have taken.

One of our first camping trips together was at Pace Bend State Park in Spicewood, which is a great option for primitive camping. We picked a spot on a bluff overlooking Lake Travis where we were able to see the sunset each evening, and it was truly a beautiful weekend, when I ignore the fact that I had a few negative encounters with creepy crawlers.

When I say Pace Bend State Park is primitive, I mean the restrooms are stalls with holes in the ground, and the only light campers are able to see by is the one created by their fires. It is great.

One evening, we were sitting by the fire in the pitch black night when I felt a daddy long leg scamper across my foot. We had seen them earlier, but it was easier to steer clear of them when the daylight gives away their location.

This spider was probably just passing through on his way to the bushes beyond our campfire, but honestly, he could have picked another route. He skittered across my sandaled foot, and I bolted out of my chair hollering like a wounded animal. Then my nerves were on edge and I instantly felt every other fly, mosquito and moth that had crossed my path that evening and commenced to smacking my arms and legs in an attempt to get rid of the creepy feeling.

Adam just looked at me with an expression on his face I find difficult to describe - it was a mixture of surprise, annoyance, and amusement - as he said, “I did not know you were that scared of bugs.”

After three years of dating, he was bound to find out eventually! After that encounter, Adam was dubbed the bug bodyguard and continues to protect me from my tiny fears while camping, and we now make sure we bring a lantern and flashlight on every trip to ward off any unwelcome guests.

We recently went on a trip with my parents to Bend, outside Lampasas, where we enjoyed the refreshing flow of the Colorado River while my dad attempted to catch our dinner.

I have to brag on myself for a little, at this point. Apparently, catfish love grasshoppers more than they love chicken livers. There was an abundance of them flying around us and my dad caught a few - I cringed as he snatched them out of the air like they weren’t creepy at all - and threw them in his pocket before taking off down the river.

He was running out of grasshoppers about an hour later, and when it looked like he was about to head back, we saw a couple of them backstroking down the river - which I actually thought was really cute. With a burst of bravery, I ran downstream and let one float into my hand.

The big juicy bug with his spiky legs tried to escape, but I was determined to give my dad one last shot at catching a fish before we headed back to the campsite, so I clamped my hands shut as tightly as I could and ran to him before I let my fear take over.

I made it through the rushing rapids with my biggest fear in tow, and triumphantly handed him the poor little grasshopper. I shuddered as I felt its legs scrape my hand on its way out, but I did it! That will probably be the last time I intentionally touch a bug, especially since my efforts did not produce a fish dinner (when he was unable to catch a fish for each of us, he mercifully freed the two channel cats he did catch) but I was proud of myself for conquering a sometimes-paralyzing fear to have a little fun.

We have made many memories in different places - Bend, Inks Lake State Park in Burnet, Krause Springs and Pace Bend State Park in Spicewood, Mystic Quarry in Canyon Lake (a recent discovery and new favorite), Camp Riverview in Concan on the Frio River, each trip different from the last and special in its own way.

I hope to continue expanding our camping horizons and find new favorites, create new memories, and share my stories of adventures and appreciation of the beautiful world we live in.

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