Inks Lake State Park, located near Burnet Park is an amazing spot for family adventures. It’s a well developed park with all the amenities any family member might need (ice, boat rental, fresh Frito Pies) while still retaining a  respectful sense of wilderness.

The park, like many in Texas (and around the country), traces its roots back to Roosevelt and the formation of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) a public relief program initiated during the Great Depression to provide work and relief to a younger generation of jobless youth, with its focus being on forestry, soil erosion, and flood control.

After first completing the development of nearby Longhorn Caverns in 1940 the CCC shifted their focus to a new lake created by the construction of the Inks Lake Dam (est. 1938). There in a large inlet the group worked hard on the newly planned Inks Lake state Park until World War II called them off to duty in 1941. Eventually the park was completed by the Texas State Parks Board (the predecessor to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) in 1950 providing the bastion of respite that many folks in central Austin have to enjoy over the following decades.


On a recent camping trip there with my family we were fortunate enough to stumble on overcast skies and slightly coolish weather that seemed to keep a majority of the the over- populated park limited to their campsites and RV’s.

The calm, still waters just a few feet from our campsite were an open canvas of angling fun waiting patiently for us and a mere handful of other random souls to skate upon.

Despite the endless leaps and splashes of overly caffeinated fish all around me, the amount of fish actually caught turned out to be lackluster at best, maybe my flies were de-caffinated. Still, the fish were almost secondary (except for the handsome and hefty White Bass that doubled my rod over) the main delight being hanging out with my family and enjoying the ability to sit still and not feel the tug of the internet, the news, debates, or any number of social outlets that were begging for my attention in the days up to the election.


The following day, after a wonderful paddle and hike early in the day, we were trying to decide whether or not to break camp before heading out for an afternoon paddle. The sky wasn’t dark at that point, but after reading the relatively normal clouds, and loosely smelling moisture on the air i made the call to pack up while we were dry, JUST IN CASE.

Within minutes of rolling the tent (our final dry item) into a way too small stuff sack, the sky was suddenly highlighted by lightning (far too close) and punctuated by a boom of thunder so loud, my neck hairs stood on end. Within seconds, we were caught in a deluge, me directing my family into the car while i loaded the boards onto the car in a downpour that quickly washed away every dry fiber that adorned my body, lightning bouncing around the sky and far to close.

“You’ve got Gore-Tex? Nice try!” the storm seemed to say, in a bragadocious way as it soaked me down to every last pore.

The lesson? If you’re isolated inside, with your level gaze on a monitor, or staring down religiously at an electronic screen in an effort to figure out what’s going on around you, you’re probably going to be surprised when the 30% chance of rain suddenly knocks out percussive rhythm on your roof. If however, you step out of your tent/house/comfort zone and keep your head up high and on the horizon, you’re likely to see the squall looming on the horizon and have time to react, pack your bags and maybe even be ready to wait out the storm with all your dry gear comfortably stashed.

So do this planet and yourself a favor, get out into the world and get your nails dirty. Visit people and places you’d never have considered to. Include people in your life that don’t agree with you. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and most of all, keep your eyes on the horizon, the future is always just around the corner, and the sunsets are amazing.