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.

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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.

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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!

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A Walk in the Woods – Bayou City Outdoors

Hamilton Pool Dream Come True

Hamilton Pool is another Texas treasure!!!  This natural wonder is located just outside of Austin to the West.   You have to make reservations to go and there is no guarantee that you will be able to swim because of bacteria levels which are tested daily.  Reservations are from 9-1PM and 2PM-6PM.  This is my own opinion, but I think there are bats in the “grotto” and I would think that the unsafe bacteria specifically ecoli might have something to do with their poop.  That’s just a guess.   It’s worth the risk to make the 3 hour drive because you can still enjoy the view of this beauty which is quite spectacular.   And there are plenty of other things to do in the area. Determined to go, I made the reservations months ago.  Even if I had to go by myself. Fortunately, my mother-in-law, son, daughter and friend went with! Your reservation is by the carload and since we have smaller vehicles, it was worth it to rent a minivan.  I looked at this day trip as a mini vacation and treated it as such!  We were comfortable!

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We began the 1/4 mile rough terrain to the water.  It really is steep in some places and rocky, the rocks aren’t even.  There isn’t anything to hang on to.  People lug their coolers, chairs and floats regardless!  There is no wheelchair access, which makes me sad because for people with disabilities this would be a huge challenge to go see and some would never go.

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The vegetation kept the hot Texas sun away.  There are lots of mesquite trees and cypress as you get towards the water.  I’m standing on the “beach”  here taking my first picture. This is where we laid out some towels and I called it our base camp.  The beach is rocky crushed rock with good size stones.  Outside of the stunning beauty of the cave like curved roof with water gently falling into a clear green massive pool, I noticed these three very large catfish at the water’s edge.  They hung out there the entire time!  First things first, I wanted to explore!  You can walk in the cave all along it to the other side.

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I thought bats were coming out of the swallow nests, but they aren’t.  If you look closely, you can see the muddy nests with a hole in the middle on the ceiling.

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Here is a view of the beach from the other side…

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Sometimes the water that falls is quite massive, on a day like today, it was picture perfect for standing under.

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Under the waterfall is the rock where people jump in.  I swam around the pool.  At first I thought it was going to be freezing because the water temperatures are in the 60s year round.  It was cold at first, you quickly get used to it.  Even though the water looks clear along the edges, it isn’t as it gets deeper.  Still it’s a very pretty green.  Looking up at the water falling is pretty cool as you see the droplets take the plunge.  I could have spent the day here, however my crew is not the chilling type.  At least not here.  I’m guessing it’s because there is no cellular service.

The idea was to eat here, bringing in food.  However, for this group it was a better idea to go out to lunch/dinner.  We ended up going to Canyon Grill which is on lake Travis.  We had another amazing view and great food!  Fantastic day ! ❤

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Hamilton Pool Dream Come True

Jacob’s Well – A Texas Treasure

The time is finally here!  A reserved swim at Jacob’s well.  If you are going to make the journey from Houston to Wimberly, Texas you might as well plan on a few stops!   We could not believe the traffic on I10 between Houston and San Antonio, there were no accidents  and no construction, however the traffic was stop and go, which was very strange…maybe fourth of July weekend?  I was worried that we wouldn’t get to swim because we had a 12PM reservation and we were late! Hmmm, it is nice that they say swiming is for reservation only because it’s such a small place, there isn’t room for a large crowd, however I was completely shocked that there is no one policing it.  They don’t tell you, time to go.  And there is no lifeguard on duty which is also shocking.  You could jump from way up high, then mid way then pretty close and you are on limestone rocks that are slippy when wet.   They say no diving…um says who? jacobs well It is a 10 minute walk to one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen.  Being that it’s a state park I can’t believe there are no park personnel.   This is the beginning of Cypress Creek.  Which is murky in Houston, and CRYSTAL clear in Wimberly.  The water temp is about 68 degrees.  Here it’s a spring and it’s at least 120 feet down!  It’s like you are jumping into the abyss!

I talked to an adjacent property owner that walked by, he was an older man and said that in the 40s his grandfather built what appears to be a walk way around the well.  It definitely looks like it was made, and he told me it was because the well filled up with silt from flooding, they dug it out and took the material they dug out and built the platform that protects the well from filling up with material during flooding.  (It diverts the water around it).

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This is an amazing experience.  I could have stayed here longer, however my adult teen and her boyfriend were ready to move on.   Which is fine…I wanted to go to an Olive oil “vineyard”…you can’t not go, it’s only 3 miles from here.  So we went to Bella Vista.  A lot of their oils and vinegars are made in California.  I made it a point to get the one made here.  I tasted it and it was good.  They also make wine, however I didn’t try any.  Another gorgeous place.  (They have a tour, which I didn’t even look into considering my company).

We then went to lunch at a place called the Leaning Pear that my daughter picked out…which was really great!  The restaurant is on Cypress Creek.  I got an amazing pic…

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My crew was up for one more adventure. And I was happy to hear that my daughter’s friend had never been tubing down the river.  Wow!  What an experience!  The river today is a little faster with all of the recent rains, apparently the Army Corp of Engineers are going to let out more water after the July 4th weekend which means the river will close! However today tubing on the Comal river was nice!   They allow for people to drink beer or whatever on the river (police were definitely here today) and when you get out that’s it. We spent about $20/per person for a couple of hours and got a ride back to the car.  tubingcomal

I am the luckiest person on earth to be able to have a day like this!  ❤

Jacob’s Well – A Texas Treasure

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.

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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.

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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…

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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!

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Here is quintessential beautiful Texas …

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

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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!

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Enchanted Rock

Signs of Spring   

What was the verdict with Punxsutawney Phil…the ground hog?  Did he see his shadow or not?  It’s been four weeks since ground hogs day and here there are signs of spring! Spring is one of the best times of year in Texas.  The weather is cool and pleasant and the color change is magnificent!  Everything just seems greener.  The trees bud and leaf out.  The flowers bloom. One of my favs is the red bud tree.  During the summer it looks like a regular tree, it loses its leaves in the winter and in spring you only see these beautiful pinkish purple (red I guess) blooms.

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We are starting to see the beginning of pine pollen.  We get a dumping of the yellow powdery stuff for a good two weeks straight!  It gets on everything!  You can see the pine trees with the male pine cones that release the pollen.  Just a simple touch or wind blow and the yellow powder comes out.

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People with allergies are having a hard time.  I’m not really sure what the secret is to avoiding allergy problems.  It doesn’t bother some people.  On occasion the amount of stuff in the air will clog my sinuses. We just need a good rain to wash it away!  Weeds are definitely everywhere too!  Landscape companies are really happy because they are going to be really busy!  Home Depot and the garden centers too!   Some plants need to be trimmed back and currently look like branches (like bougainvillea and esperanza)  Although, this year we didn’t have a freeze to take out the plants or make them bare probably because we are in the El Nino weather pattern.

It’s amazing to see your surroundings come back to life!  In winter we see a lot of dormant trees and the leafing out is pretty cool.  Spring is such a show.  On the first act, we have trees like the red bud beginning to bloom, and then we will have more plants blooming in a couple of weeks.  On the finale, the entire yard’s shrubs are in full bloom … indian hawthorne, bottle brush, oleander and yesterday, today and tomorrow shrubs as well as petunias and lantana.    And let’s not forget the wildflowers!   This year I’m excited to have a couple of opportunities to see their beautiful display out of the suburbs. (since everybody mows, the wildflowers don’t have a chance, that’s why it’s best to see them on the side of the road between cities or in the country).  Even if you are not a plant enthusiast, there is no denying an appreciation for the life and beauty around you.  I so look forward to spring!

This year I’m really excited to go with a friend to the azalea trail in a couple of weeks in the city with some really old well established grounds.  I’ve never been!  Azalea’s are so beautiful.  And kind of hard to maintain.  I tried it once and for a while they were gorgeous! They like acidic soil, so if they are planted around pine trees, I’ve heard that helps!    Why not take some time to smell the roses?  I’m still thinking about doing some kind of herb garden.  I’m not big on plant commitment…and so that explains the azalea failure!  Plants need to be hardy and survive if I don’t water it!   Fortunately if you go native, there are plenty of plants that will do well under those circumstances. Rosemary grows really well here too and smells so good.  And for a little garden/patio treat, tomatoes.  Just have to pick them before the birds and that is a challenge because the birds will go for them before they are ripe.  Sometimes I’ve had better luck with cherry tomatoes.  Nature ❤

 

 

 

Signs of Spring