Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Enchanted weekend

I'm still working at remembering how to change the design on my blog, so one day that lovely mural of Astoria that I stole without crediting the artist (I should really find out who the artist is...) will be replaced by some Austinian icon. Until then, you can just keep enjoying this slight disconnect as I continue to "live the Astorian dream" from parts Southwest.

It was gorgeous this weekend, and Sam and I decided to go for a hike at Enchanted Rock. It's an enormous pink granite rock formation about an hour and a half outside of Austin. This huge bit is actually only a small part of the whole rock, which underground is apparently four times the size of Manhattan. I thought the name for the rock came from a Mark Twain quote from when he spent time there, or at least I swear I read that on the park's signage, but I can't find that information on the Internet, so who's to say what's real?

This is just one smaller, but equally enchanted, bit of rock on top of the larger one.
We were a bit stressed out getting to the Rock because the park website insisted the parking lot for the natural area could fill up as early as 11 in the morning and I figured that issue would be compounded by the fact that it was perfect weather. Nevertheless, despite the best intentions of leaving early, we rolled up at about 12:30, and there were no issues of overcrowding at all. I guess the Enchanted Rock Natural Area people have inflated their importance a bit, or else people in Texas hill country are just over the novelty of beautiful weather.

The rock is covered by little patches of trees, flowers, and cacti, that manage to grow in eroded bits of the rock. Ah, the power of nature.
We took perhaps too many pictures, but it's such a cool environment.
Anyway, after a nice drive through the wine country of Texas, we arrived at our destination. We climbed to the summit and walked around enjoying the views. Growing up in Houston, I never really thought of Texas as particularly beautiful. Flat, yes. Hot and unbearably humid, sure. But in terms of beautiful landscapes, Houston is not your target city. Consequently it's been really enjoyable to explore Texas hill country, which definitely has an attractive quality with its rolling hills, wildflowers, and patches of cacti.

The view from the top!
Sam at the start of the Summit Trail
Since we drove all the way out to Enchanted Rock, we figured it would be silly to go back to Austin without checking out Fredrickburg, a few miles south. Fredricksburg is a small tourist town with winery tasting rooms and galleries. It was settled by Germans, and that's still an important facet of its culture, so we weren't surprised to find and Oktoberfest festival going on. Unfortunately, it did make parking rather difficult. We wandered around for a few hours, at least 20 minutes of which was spent in this awesome store that gives you samples of all their salsas and sauces. I ate enough sample crackers that we didn't even really need lunch.

This was at the Pioneer Museum and Visitor Center. The docent woman was pretty aggressive and strongly encouraged us to sign the guest book in exchange for using the public bathrooms and receiving a map of main street. 
Sam takes close up pictures of signs he likes the graphic design of. Sometimes I post them. 
This final photo is not from our Saturday jaunt at all. On Sunday, Sam had been talking about wanting to go to the LBJ Library. I hadn't been since I was 12 or 13, and remembered it being rather boring (as most presidential libraries are when you're 12 or 13, I suppose). What I have no memory of from when I went before was this animatronic LBJ. You can't get the real creepiness from this photo, but he's moving, and also, for some reason, telling jokes.
Apparently there's a (possibly now defunct) rock band in New York called "The Animatronic LBJ"

Anyway, I know two of my most loyal readers are likely not reading this week, so I feel a little bit like I'm writing this for myself. (But then when am I not?). If you're out there, readers, hope you're doing well! 'Til next week...


  1. I'm a loyal reader and I'm still in town! I should fix that, this hiking thing sounds fun, I want to do it too.

  2. We have been watching for posts. Mom

  3. Your third (although I'm sure there are many more) reader decided to come out of lurking. This is to let you know that you've been bookmarked from the beginning, and therefore have an obligation to post more often. That, and I'm totally jealous of that sky!!! (Nath)