We have realized several things during our travels in Texas:
- Texas is a big state with wide open spaces. You realize its size immediately when you drive into the state from Louisiana on I-10 and there is a sign for El Paso at the other end of the state—859 miles away.
- Texas winds blow. We have avoided putting up the awning on our Airstream because it could be damaged by the winds, and we were almost blown off of Enchanted Rock. The winds apparently start out in the western plains of Texas and there is not much to stop them as they sweep across the state.
- The Texas sun is hot. We are not sure why but the Texas sun on a clear day is almost blinding and really beats down on you—and this is spring. We now understand why wide-brimmed hats are a necessity out here
This week we spent more time in the Hill Country, the heart of the state. We started the week at Pedernales Falls State Park.
A view of the Pedernales “Falls”—during dry conditions, the falls are a series of pools connected by small falls.
Patty and other visitors admire the Pedernales. The park no longer allows swimming in this area because the river is subject to flash flooding—a sign indicates the river could reach flood conditions in as little as five minutes. We were curious to see what the falls looked like when it rains so we found the following photo on the Internet.
This view of the falls includes those areas shown in the first two photos. Flash flooding is apparently common in the hill country with warning signs at many of the road bridges.
The river has carved out channels like this through the limestone.
Water rushing downstream
Local flora and fauna
The next park we visited was Inks Lake State Park which is on a man-made reservoir on the Colorado River (the Texas Colorado River, not the big one through the Grand Canyon). It is one of those relatively remote parks that can be a logistical challenge—we have to ask ourselves questions like: “Do we have enough meals for dinner for several days” and, more importantly, “Do we have enough milk for both our cereal at breakfast and White Russians at happy hour?”
Patty kayaking on Inks Lake in an area known as the Devil’s Waterhole
No room on the rocks—it looks like the Jersey Shore on 4th of July weekend.
A mallard couple in Devil’s Waterhole
Our camp site where we could launch our kayaks and also watch the sunset—it doesn’t get much better than this.
Patty hiking above Devil’s Waterhole
These rock outcroppings are composed of a granite-like rock called gneiss (pronounced “nice”).
Water falls over the gneiss
Only the fourth snake we have seen on our trip—we’re not sure what type this little guy is but we didn’t stay around to meet his parents.
From Inks Lake we visited nearby Longhorn Cavern State Park. The cavern is an interesting place that was used in the 1800’s by Native Americans and outlaws. It was also a speakeasy during Prohibition selling illegal booze along with live music and dancing.
Patty in Longhorn Cavern—this room is the inside of a huge geode with calcite crystals covering the walls.
Calcite crystals on the cavern wall
Flowers near Longhorn Cavern—on the left is a yucca plant.
We ended the week at Bastrop State Park. Bastrop is located southeast of Austin and is known as the “most historic small town in Texas”. We’re not sure how they make that claim—maybe because parts of the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre were filmed there—but Bastrop does have a quaint historic downtown area that is worth visiting.
The state park is located in the Lost Pines Forest, a unique isolated area of tall Loblolly Pines. As you enter the park there is a sign that says “Watch for Falling Trees”. We thought the sign was somewhat silly—until we got to our campsite.
The view from our campsite—we learned that the Bastrop area was the site of the most destructive wildfire in Texas history in 2011. Over 34,000 acres were burned including 98% of the park. They have replanted about 250,000 trees and plan to replant a total of two million trees. The forest should be back to its original state in 50 to 80 years. On a positive note, the campground rest rooms also burned down and a new rest room recently opened—the nicest facility we have ever seen.
The week ended on a sad note in a bar in Bastrop. The only ones watching the game were us and another couple that was waiting to root for Wisconsin. However, it was a great season and we enjoyed watching this team all year, especially the four seniors who will all graduate in a few weeks. That includes Patric Young (above), a three-time SEC scholar-athlete of the year. We wish them all best of luck and the following advice courtesy of Henry David Thoreau:
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”