We've been trying to go camping now that the weather has gotten colder, and our first choice was Inks Lake State Park, as we've gone there for day trips and my parents have taken me there as a child.
As luck had it, Inks Lake was booked through the rest of the year! At least, campsites with a fire ring on the lake side were booked. If we wanted to hike in ~1.5 miles schlepping our gear to a primitive site, there were a few openings.
We had heard about Krause Springs and had wanted to check out the place just as a swimming hole, and found out they had campsites. I called them up and spoke with Elton Krause himself, and when I asked him about reservations, he said just come up, drive around until you find a spot you like and pitch your tent!
We left later than we planned, and had to make a few stops on the way, and got to the campsite a few minutes before dark. We used our headlights to help us set the tent (thanks Erika and Ty!) up and managed to drain our battery. Some nice neighbors help us jump it the next day.
Our first night went without a hitch and we woke up to masses of Monarch butterflies gathered in the trees right over our heads.
One of the other campers mentioned that they were migrating, and I wasn't sure about this (but I had no reasonable explanation otherwise - I guess it is the skeptic in me), so when we returned, I consulted my pal Google. Armed with the knowledge that Spicewood, TX, is roughly at Latitude 30, I consulted this migration schedule. Zut alors! The time matched!
My wife found a Coleman cooking stove thing at a garage sale for $5 (normally ~$50) and it worked like a charm! It uses a small thermos-sized canister of propane, and we had a blast cooking outside. I had to go the instant coffee route, as I didn't have a chance to look around for a suitable camp coffeepot or get my French Press action going, but roughing it is roughing it!
Krause Springs has some amazing natural rock formations, with grottos, waterfalls, rockwalls teeming with squirrels, HUGE cypress trees, a natural spring that feeds into a lagoon/swimming hole, etc. We went exploring and ran out of space on our 1GB photo card.
I also took a panoramic shot of where we camped. We were in the middle spot - under the RV hookups and above the primitive area.
The right-most spot in the panorama was filled with Cub Scouts from Saturday to Sunday. We were there the weekend of the Red River Shootout (Texas vs OU) and one guy was camping in our area I noticed what I thought was football sounds coming from his area. I investigated and he had stretched over 200 feet of extension cord from a table outside his tent to a power outlet in the RV hookup area to watch the game. Roughing it indeed!
They also have a butterfly garden with some wind chimes bigger than I am, plus a swimming pool that is fed directly from the spring. Let me tell you - it was cold! I eased in to my waist before I took the plunge, but my wife was brave enough to dive in. It's brisk!
We had a fantastic time, and will definitely go back. In fact, we are trying to work out a November camp date. The kids loved it, we loved it, and it's cheaper and closer than Inks Lake. Win-win!