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Bandera State Airport
posted by John : April 19, 2008

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We've got a shoer down!

It's the middle of April and the weatherman claims it's gonna snow. Yeah. Right. And my wife will get to spend a week in the Caribbean without me. Oh... wait... maybe it will snow. And even if it won't snow then we'll make it snow by going where there's bound to be snow.

Once again it's time for the perpetual question: Where can we go that is (a) interesting, (b) I haven't been before, and (c) I can take three kids and the dog? Yeesh. Tough one. We really only have to go a couple (ok, 10) miles up the freeway to get some good snow, but that puts us smack in the middle of the South Fork valley with steep hills on both sides. It's not really likely we're going to find something we can tackle with the girls' skillz there.

Except... the Bandera State Airport.

It's perhaps a little misleading. It might be more accurate to refer to it as that big field where planes could land if they were bored or perhaps falling out of the sky anyway. However, it is a real airport ("4W0" according to the FAA), but not so operational in the winter. The good part is that it's a whopping 0.3 miles from the exit. There should be good views of the surrounding mountains and a big open space that will be as cool as Lake Keechelus so it sounds darn near perfect.

We got there at the early hour of about 10:30. No need to rush. The goal was to get to the field for hot chocolate and then return home for lunch and naps. When we got out of the truck it was sunny and warm. There was about 10 inches of new snow on the ground, but only broken clouds and none of the raging storm we had driven through to get there.

We suited up and headed out. Immediately, Lilly decided to sample the quality of the new snow and declared it delicious. This meant that Clara had to give it a try and I'm sure if Henry had been close enough he'd have done the same.

Speaking of Henry, this was his first snowshoe outing. Like all third kids he's getting the short end of the stick. Clara's first snowshoe trip was to Source Lake and Lilly's was at least Gold Creek Pond.

The girls had a blast going slowly, falling down, and generally making me wonder if we'd actually make it the entire third of a mile to the field. After many snowballs and the promise of hot chocolate when we got there we did come in for a landing. Without a bundle of trees in the way we could see that the reason the sun had gone away was that the storm we had passed through on the way up (near white-out conditions) was at the edge of the runway about 2,000 feet away. (How do I know it was 2,000 feet away? Ya gotta love the weird stuff on the Internet.)

We snacked and headed back. Along the way we met dogs who were thrilled to play with Tokul and lots more snowballs and snowsnacks. It's a wonder the girls could keep warm with all the snow they were ingesting.

I had brought both the Incredible Pulk (actually Le Pulk Incroyable since it says, "Paris" on the side. No idea why) and the Noop Sled so I pulled the Noop Sled out for a few runs down the 10 foot drop just inside the gate. The snow was piling up on Tokul and even poor Henry in the backpack so we didn't stay long, but the girls got a few good last runs in.

As we were packing up some others showed up and asked if they could borrow the sled until we left. Sure, why not? A little while later they came back asking if they could buy the sled. Um... no. One does not sell a Noop Sled with a storied a history as this. Plus I had no idea what to charge for it and I'm too lazy to even think about a good deal and then having to go buy a new one next season. In the end I gave the sled to them with the agreement they would drop it off at our mailboxes when they were done. (True to their word they did leave it tucked behind the mailboxes.)

As an end-of-the-season kids-snowshoe trip it was a pretty good one. They got to snowshoe a manageable distance, drank hot chocolate, and went sledding. Good times all around.

As an epic snowshoe adventure it wasn't so impressive. Only 0.6 miles and zero feet of gain. Well... maybe five feet of gain. That sounds better, right?

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