James had a gig in Austin Friday night. It was just a few days past our eighth (!) anniversary, so it seemed a good excuse to have a weekend away. I haven’t spent much time in Austin the past few years and was a bit surprised by all of the road construction. It could have been that we just happened to choose routes that were under construction and the rest of the town was flowing right along, but it seemed everywhere we went the roads were completely closed or were suffering from severe congestion. Day and night. On the weekend. If not for the iPhone’s handy map, we would have driven around in circles more than we did, which was a lot. The word for the weekend was DETOUR.
Saturday morning we decided on a whim to go to Hamilton Pool, which James had rhapsodized about the previous evening. Typically when we travel I have a three-ring binder full of maps, itineraries, information on various diversions, etc. It sounds rigid, I know, but our trip planning has allowed us the chance to see some cool shit we wouldn’t have known about otherwise. We hadn’t planned anything for our Austin weekend (other than his gig and a trip to Book People), so the last minute journey to Hamilton Pool required the purchase of a couple of towels, sunblock and a cooler. I’d only brought flip flops with me on the trip (because I like to dress classy), not realizing we’d be doing outdoorsy stuff. Luckily the short, rocky hike down to the water was doable as long as I was careful about where I stepped. James shot some video on our trek down and can be heard saying, “I wonder how many people get hurt down here and have to be carted out,” to which I replied, “I dunno but I can tell you that I wore the wrong shoes for this.” Once we got down to the pool, I noticed a large plastic box that was chained to the ground. It seemed very out of place in this unspoiled bit of nature, and I told James that it must be a first aid kit. The word for the weekend was FORESHADOWING.
Look at these beautiful shots of our destination taken by a photographer over the past couple of years. It was truly magical. And the water was wonderfully cold. Unlike the unpeopled photos in the link, the place was packed when we were there. It was hard to walk on the little sandy beach down to the water without stepping on a woman breastfeeding her kid or a dreadlocked white guy tossing a tofu banana to his girlfriend. After a brisk soak in the emerald water, we walked around the edge of the cave part of the grotto, coming around to the other side where the waterfall would be in non-drought times. This weekend, the waterfall was more of a watertrickle. We were going to leave at that point, but the cool water and hot air made me want to get in again. James went in first, telling me to be careful because the steep rocks on this side of the pool were slippery and slimy. I was being careful, but as is typical in my life, I fell. My foot shot out sideways and I landed on my ass. Hard. I’m amazed (and relieved) that a tittay didn’t pop out of my bathing suit top. The word for the weekend was SHOULD-HAVE-STOPPED-WHILE-WE-WERE-AHEAD.
You know that feeling you get when you realize you might be hurt more than you initially thought? I’m a regular klutz, and I always end up bleeding/falling when we travel. I cut myself on the Tor House tower, leaving blood on the stone, and fell on the Jade Cove trail (twice) on our last trip. So falling in a bathing suit in front of a gajillion people at Hamilton Pool wasn’t a biggie. But when I looked down at my toe and realized I’d sliced it open, further realizing that I was in flip flops and still had to walk back up the rocky trail with booboo toe, I became a bit concerned. Oh, there is this other little bit of information about Hamilton Pool that you need to know – sometimes they don’t let people in because of bacteria levels being too high. So I’m sitting on a slimy rock watching my big toe bloom with bursts of bright red blood, and all I can think about is bacteria entering my blood stream. The word for the weekend was OVERREACTION.
We walked over to what I’d earlier presumed was a first aid box, and there was a park person sitting near it. James had ripped a strip from one of our towels, which I’d wrapped around my toe and secured with my hair band, but we hoped to find something a bit more sterile in the box. Ends up, they had a couple of life preservers and some other shit, but no alcohol or bandages. I had to hike out of there wearing my ghetto tourniquet. Once back in the parking lot, we thought the ranger station would have a first aid kit. They did not. Perhaps I will donate one to them. We drove to a gas station about 15 miles away that had a remarkable selection of first aid supplies for a quickie mart. While James made the purchase, I sat in the car, bleeding, and called Tohner. He’s a great internet researcher, so he looked into the bacteria situation at the pool. Seems bacteria is only an issue when there’s been a lot of heavy rain, so I had little to worry about. In theory. I poured some hydrogen peroxide into the opening, let fly a few profanities from the hot pain, taped some gauze on my digit and we were on our way. Then James said, “At least you’d know by now if it was flesh-eating bacteria because your toe would already be half gone.” The word for the weekend was REALLY?
A few days later, the toe has lost its angry red color, and the opening is healing up nicely. I don’t think any of the horrible toe-related scenarios that were spinning around in my head are going to come true. During our last trip I made a promise to myself that I didn’t keep but am really committed to this time – the next time I’m out enjoying nature, I’m going to wear the appropriate footwear. I probably would have still fallen on Saturday even if I’d been wearing water shoes, but at least my toe would have been safe(r) from harm. Only my pride would have been bruised, and it heals pretty quickly. The word for the weekend is BE-SPONTANEOUS-BUT-ALSO-SORT-OF-PREPARED.