Cody and Nick Go Camping, Part 2 (Now with Video!)



We took our third camping trip this past weekend to Hill Country State Natural Area. The name is no joke, this state park is about 2 hours away from Austin at an elevation of 1,500 feet.

Map to Hill Country SNA

I picked this State Park specifically for a few reasons:

  • They had exactly one open campsite on the weekend we wanted.
  • The campsite was not directly next to the car, but also wasn’t a mile hike either (it ended up being about 50 yards away across a small creek - perfect!).
  • It had good reviews on Yelp (yes, I checked…)

They don’t let you check in to your campsite before 2pm, so we feasibly couldn’t leave Austin until around Noon. We ended up leaving right at 1:30 and arrived to the campsite around 4. I knew I had picked the right place after I walked into the camp headquarters and was greeted with a “Howdy Partner!” from one of the park rangers. Awesome.

There was a herd of cattle relaxing just off the road right before you get into the State Park, so Cody hopped out to snap some pictures.

Badass Cow

We quickly setup camp and had time to walk Vito for about a mile before the sun went down. I used this as an opportunity to test out my new GoPro that I got for free with credit card points. Turn the quality up if with the settings gear if the video starts playing in low resolution :)

Vito scarfed down his dinner after we got back and then immediately took a nap. Cody and I then decided to make our own dinner, which involved possibly the hardest thing we would do that night - start a fire.

Seriously, that was way harder than either of us thought it would be. I had shamelessly watched a few Youtube videos before we left; really, how hard could it be?

Luckily we had brought quadruple-redundant fire-starting supplies:

  • Full box of matches
  • 2 lighters
  • 1 small portable stove
  • 1 large stove

I had picked up some free firewood on Craigslist that morning so we had plenty of wood to practice with. Cody came in clutch by spending a good 20 minutes hacking away at a log with a bowie knife to create a huge pile of kindling that fueled our many failed attempts. I’ll spare you most of the details, but we began with lighting a paper towel on fire with kindling on it, and somehow ended up getting enough of a flame going to catch very small sticks on fire.



We then decided to cook dinner as fast as possible, not knowing how long our campfire would last. We had hotdogs (without buns, I forgot them at home. Oops!), burned beans (my fault..again…), and S’mores (delicious!).

The rest of the evening was spent talking around the campfire, making sure Vito didn’t wander off into the darkness, and taking photos of the stars.


This was the best camping trip we’ve had so far. The combination of a private campsite, the weather, and a fire made for a great evening.

We take off for Japan in 16 days. Here’s what’s coming up next on

  • Our packing list and itenerary for Japan
  • Giant robot battles
  • Entirely too many pictures of sushi