End of the Year Wrap up

It is a challenge to keep up your cheer when you have things hitting you from every end.  Whenever you can go out and do something you enjoy…savor every moment!  It’s your time to recharge so you can think clearer.  On the way to visit family for Christmas I took advantage of some time to hike part of the Hill of Life in Austin.  Austin is so very cool!  They have lots of outdoor things to do.  Friends from the Big Bend trip told me about this hike.  It’s on Austin’s Barton Creek greenbelt.  The best I can guess is that this is a 6.7 mile hike one way.  I knew that I would only get a taste of this with my kids and figured we would walk to the water…which is spectacular and back and I was guessing it would be a couple of miles.  You have to know the capability of your company!  This trailhead begins in an older neighborhood.  There are many people hiking with dogs and even mountain bikers.

hill of life

You walk down to the water and the “hill” is the way back.  The rocks are a challenge, there are pea size to grapefruit size rocks.  A lot of unevenness.  When we got to the bottom we saw clear water.  There were two waterfalls not far apart.


If it were warmer, I would be swimming!  My daughter got me some Chacos for Christmas, very cool water shoes.  It was too cold to wear them this day.  We met a man with a Brittany and a black dog, they were well behaved despite their venture way ahead of the man who brought them.  We made our way back up the hill in time to travel an additional 5 or so miles to the Austin 360 bridge also known as the Pennybacker bridge before sunset.  This was my daughter’s idea and a great one it was!  So my husband is not the hiker, however my kids were intrigued.  I’ll take whoever will go with me.


You have two paths, one steeper than the other.  At the top, to the left you can see the Austin skyline.  Once we climbed to the top we saw a marriage proposal in rose petals with sand and lined rocks.  So sweet this was done at sunset.  You can also see cedar trees lining the highway, people decorate them as Christmas trees.

cedar trees

This was an amazing day.  We had a great time together and then had a really great dinner.  Christmas was amazing, the food the company, everything.  I know how lucky I am.  I hope you find your happiness too.  This is the BEST part of life!

End of the Year Wrap up

Big Bend Part 2

The second full day was a kayak trip on the Rio Grande.  I thought it was going to be in Santa Elena canyon, but it was out by Lajitas in the Big Bend State park.  One bonus was the fact that we would have the opportunity to stop by the ghost town of Terlingua.  Santa Elena canyon was muddy so the group didn’t plan a hike there.  There are a couple of options to kayak Santa Elena, one is to paddle upstream 3 miles and then float back.  The other is to do an overnight camp on the river.  Our 3 hour kayak trip in a two man inflatable kayak was perfect.  We did experience rapids and they were exhilerating!  We started the trip on a somewhat swift moving river and immediately crossed over onto the first bank and stopped on the Mexican side…legally?  We ate lunch on the Texas side.  It was so much fun watching everyone enter the rapids.  Everyone was hoping to make it through without flipping.  We all did!  You definitlely get wet!  The kayak guides had dry bags to throw your stuff in and those things stayed dry.  The weather was beautiful and the water was probably 75 degress.


This was a great opportunity to get to know your new friends.  One of the most facinating things was our female kayak guide and her life off the grid.  She came from a family of park rangers and is married to the park ranger that runs the Big Bend State park.  They live on solar energy in the desert environment.  Solar energy does not provide enough electricity for things like air conditioners.  So how do they stay cool, especially at night when sleeping?  They spray themselves down with water, including the sheets and sleep wet!  WOW!  They bring in their water, which must be a task because the closest town is 100 miles away.   And here is the best part…no complaints.

Afterwards, we headed to the town of Terlingua.  This town was the place I originally thought would be great for my family to say in a hotel…on second thought, no.  I was reminded of my plans to stay in a boutique hotel in Venice beach, CA.  This was exactly the same idea.  Not a good fit for the fam.  Camping is MUCH better!

The town is really unique.  First of all, the big draw is the general store that has all kinds of interesting things.  Some of the group got great T-shirts.  (Day of the Dead themed…it is that time of the year) There were people on the porch playing guitars and hanging out.  I would describe the scene as straight up hippy….old school style with young people.


We visited a local restaurant/bar and had wine margaritas and pork nachos.  Fun day!  Bill and I opted for dinner at the lodge instead of cold spaghetti and we both enjoyed a great trout meal and showers at the lodge.  We tried to watch the media shower that was obstructed by the massive full  moon.

Day 3’s plan was a hike in Boquillas canyon, crossing the border into the Mexican town of Boquillas and a dip in the hot springs.  I rode with some really cool people that were so much fun!  As we hiked into the canyon, we heard singing.  As we made our way to the bottom, we found Jesus…that’s right, Jesus singing.  Now who is going to tell Jesus that he can’t come to America illegally and sing to us 🙂



I chatted with our leader Regina about the issues we have with Mexico and the border, namely the dangers of drugs on the border.  She thought it was safe and spoke with some of the people in Boquillas who said here wasn’t an issue.  Truth?  I don’t know.  I have heard stories from my own neighbors that cautioned not to go off the trail that there are drug mules in the area and it was dangerous.  I can’t imagine, this is a really rough terrain area.  For MILES there is nothing but desert.  I guess if you are really motivated, you would find a way to do whatever it is that you plan to do.  I felt safe, even with very limited ranger support.


Big Bend Part 2

A Walk in the Woods – Bayou City Outdoors

My daughter found a free activity this weekend!  Hiking in Memorial Park led by a group called Bayou City Outdoors.  We met up at the parking lot at 8AM and proceeded with a 2 hour hike on the trails.  Memorial Park is huge (5.9km^2)!  I’ve played tennis there many times, however, there is running, baseball, soccer, rugby, biking and golf! (to name a few)

It rained pretty hard yesterday, but the trails are groomed with thick mulch which keeps them dry.


There were about 30-40 people that attended.  These get togethers are designed for people to meet new people, it’s great for people new to the area or for someone looking for something to do with no one available to go with!  As a result, people are friendly and approachable.  And you are meeting people that like the outdoors and are pretty sociable.   I was absolutely thrilled to find out that a sister group is going to Big Bend this October.  I’ve already emailed the coordinator to find out how I can sign up!  This is one of the first things I learned from talking with Vivian.

Some of the trails were closed so we ended up back tracking, but some of the highlights were seeing different plant life, water lillies, my daughter saw a small snake that quickly moved out of our way!  There was a cat lounging on a trail and plenty of others walking their dogs.  We did see a pond with turtles on a log.  A sign read, “do not feed the turtles”…interesting.

turtles on a log.jpg

At times the trails were narrow, other times you could walk side by side.  We continued chatting with new people talking about what we do for a living to natural supplements. Even with the hot humid weather, there is quite a bit of greenery keeping the sun away. It was actually dark enough in some areas to remove your sun glasses.  Everyone carried water and we walked from 8AM – 10AM which was about 4 miles.  Afterwards, everyone was invited to brunch at a local restaurant.  My daughter had other plans!  Cabo baja tacos & burritos where they make fresh corn tortillas and the food is delicious!  A great Sunday morning!  It’s worth it to get up early!


A Walk in the Woods – Bayou City Outdoors

Enchanted Rock

What and where is Enchanted Rock?  It is a natural preserve state park in central Texas just about 20 minutes outside of Fredericksburg.  The rock itself is made of granite (pinkish) and supposedly the Tonkawa Indian’s believed it to be enchanted by a Spanish Conquistador that was captured by the Indians and escaped by casting a spell…at least that is one story.  It’s 425 feet high and it’s a half mile hike up the rock.   So I came here to find my own enchantment and was not disappointed.


We came here to enjoy the views of the hill country and to see some wildflowers…especially blue bonnets.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous the day before and turned windy and cold (in the 40s).  It should be obvious when planning a trip to be sure to check the weather.  However, since it’s March and has been nice, I didn’t think to even look! Thankfully a quick stop to Walmart for some sweat pants was exactly the type of gear needed to climb to the summit!   People warned us that there would be LOTs of people there and a big line to get into the park if you didn’t leave super early.  Maybe it was the weather, but thankfully we did not have that issue.  There were campers in tents in the parking area.  What a cool idea to camp out here.  Supposedly the rock makes creaking sounds at night and at the top you can see ghost fires.

So setting a personal goal to make this journey to the top is in itself easier said than done! There were kids with their families climbing, young couples, and a few older people.  This was not an easy feat for some.


Taking the pic above at this point you are leaning at about a 45 degree angle to keep standing up “straight”.  Plenty of people stop and take in the views…


There is a place at the top where you can go into a cave.  I wasn’t going to push my luck here…just happy that we were at the top!  Although I would love to come back and take the loop tour and climb the rock on the backside.  I’ve heard it’s a little more challenging and would be fun to do!


Here is quintessential beautiful Texas …


And we found some blue bonnets…never too old to have your pic taken in them.


On the drive there were patches of blue bonnets along the road, it makes the drive so pretty.  Nothing says Texas like a patch of blue bonnets, the wild flower that only comes out for a few weeks in the spring.  It was $7 per person for 13 and up.  Senior citizens and the disabled get 50% off and they allowed dogs …didn’t see any climbing 😉  Relatively speaking it’s pretty inexpensive to enjoy some of the most spectacular gifts from God! It’s so pleasing to the sense of sight and to reconnect with the most important people in your life. And for the small fee the park is kept nice for many to enjoy!


Enchanted Rock