• 04Apr

    We needed to get away. After our best-laid plans to go to Paris for the “paperwork trip” failed, we made plans for another MicroVacay. (If a vacation is a few days, and a mini vacation is a weekend, then we consider a day trip without an overnight stay to be a micro vacation.) We went to Marble Falls where we found even more stuff to do than on our previous visits.


    our view

    bluebonnets were thick along the roadsides…

    …and out in the fields, too.

    Marble Falls has a dalmation-painted fire hydrant.




    99 bottles of beer on the wall.

    This was my dream car in ~1993. I even wanted this color.

    This view is atop a hill in Marble Falls next to a restaurant and event center.

    “Stonehenge”

    “Stonehenge II” down below.

    Moar! Blue! Bonnets!

    Desserts: sundae for E, key lime pie for L

    And, we did all of this in our new car (our 4th Mazda, zoom zoom!)! We went in for an oil change and they worked a miracle for us for a new one. We upgraded features for just a tiny bit more than we were already paying. Plus, we got a color this time (blue). The gray one just never worked right after its accident.

    I’m calling her Bonnie (and did pictures early) in hopes of warding off any bad luck we had with Stormy (who never really got a name and who never got photographed until that chick ran into us at the red light and did $8500 in damages).

    The drives were pretty. The patio enjoying was fabulous. The little shops/boutiques were wonderful. The walks/hikes were great. And we plan to go back in June for their adult soap-box derby.

  • 03Jul

    We needed a little getaway, but the calendar gods were not smiling upon us. So, instead of a mini vacation for a night or two, we took a micro vacay just for the day.

    I picked Colorado Bend State park. It wasn’t too far out for us to miss our obligations, like visiting Mom. I did note that there is nothing fun to do in the Brazos Valley, so we could make double use of our trip to Bryan. No wonder we always left there to go to Austin or Houston anywhere else. CBSP is a primitive park, so the vast majority of the park is left all natural and untouched.

    Our primary task was to hike the ~1.5mi to Gorman Falls. It’s fed by a spring & the waters pour over limestone to create a beautiful piece of nature. My iPhone photos do not do it justice!

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    They mean it. The hike is strenuous, especially on a hot day. (I think it was 97? during our hike from ~11:30am to 2pm.) Water is essential. Gatorade, as it turns out, was a bad idea. The sugar seemed to attract more bugs. We had resisted using any bug spray for fear it would make us hotter. The terrain is rough, there is some climbing and it’s ~3 miles round trip with up- and down -hill hiking both ways. I stress this because we saw two guys without any snacks, and an entire family with their dog and just one tiny bottle of water for them all.

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    The early view from near the trailhead.

     

     

     

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    the hike down

     

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    about Gorman Falls

     

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    the downhill climb

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    Our view during our picnic lunch.

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    The springs are protected, so you can’t get in them. And the river is gross; you don’t want to get in it.
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    What’s worse: uphill or down?

    After some much needed time in air conditioning, we drove through the rest of Colorado Bend state park. Camping is quite primitive (no electricity), but the tent sites are right along the river. After we left, we stopped at Bob’s Bad Burgers & General Store for a drink.

    The next part of our adventure took us to Lake Buchanan. We saw it a few years ago when this current drought really kicked off. It’s not any better. Every marina and “waterfront” neighborhood is just sad; the public boat ramp is totally useless.

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    Remember when boat ramps went deep into the water? This one ends several hundred feet (we guessed a mile) before the water’s edge.

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    Fishermen have made “roads” on the former lake bed so they can get to the water’s edge.

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    A bluebonnet. In JULY. Growing against an old tree stump in the former lake bed. Bluebonnet. July. Wrap your brain around that one!

    Upon leaving Lake Buchanan, we saw a bonafide zebra ranch. Their gate security was insane–I guess it’s a good place to pull pranks–so we didn’t stop for any pictures. As if the bluebonnet wasn’t a crazy enough sighting. then, just about the time we were over the crazy stuff, we saw another pair of zebra’s at another ranch. Are people entering zebras into rodeos, now, or what?

    Down the highway a bit, and separated by only a dam, Inks Lake is full and thriving. Campsites were all in use. People were skiing and swimming. Many “bundled” rafts and giant floaties created make-shift party barges in the middle of the water. We walked the little trail to Devil’s Waterhole to watch the teens and college kids jump off the cliffs. We picnicked on our supper while we enjoyed the entertainment. Yes, that’s right: two picnics in one day!

    On the way back home, we stopped a Scooters & Shooters (or: as one patron declared, they need to drop the initial S’s and call it Cooters & Hooters) for a drink. We were lucky enough to meet the owner and his girlfriend. They were finishing up an audit (where they are having to prove they pay their 14% liquor taxes; the local uptight fundies ratted them out for something they didn’t do.) and talking of their upcoming trip to Sturgis. Of course.

    We topped off our #MicroVacay with a dip in the pool at home. Pretty good for a $34 “vacation”. :)

  • 05Dec
    Birthday Bacchanal 2012

    Emil and several of our #childfree friends have late-November through early-December birthdays: Kelly, Jeff, Emil, Judy, and Ryan. So, we made a huge weekend out of it for all of them.

    Friday, Jeff, Judy, Emil, and I went for Thai lunch in Cedar Park on our way to Flat Creek Estate winery. We had the most amazing wine tour ever and nice grounds for gentle “hike”. I definitely recommend the place as well as taking the day off from work to go on a weekday. (Look for it soon on AsYouWishAustin.com, too since they have wonderful wedding pakckages.) On the way back into town, we stopped off for Italian and then played What Were You Thinking? Saturday, a whole mess of people (Pam & Ryan, Kelly, Tim & Sallie, Marvin & Keisha) joined us at Independence Brewing‘s monthly beer party. After a siesta, Pam and I threw a Dr. Who themed party for the birthday kids. Sunday morning, Jeff/Judy/us went to brunch at the new Jack Allen’s kitchen in Round Rock.

    Anyway, here are a few of my favorite shots from the weekend.

    this one will become a water color quite soon!


    I don’t think I’d ever been to a vineyard in the fall. It’s a totally different look!


    It was so nice to enjoy the fall colors in Hill Country!


    awwwww!


    This glass (with a category five HURRICANE) is from Independence Brewing’s fifth anniversary party.


    The elusive Maya made a grand appearance at the party.


    And Kitten Pickles did her best to steal the show!

     

    I’m already looking forward to next year’s Birthday Bacchanal™

    ™ trademarked by the lovely Judy

  • 25Dec

    What a great  Cristmas Emil and I had.

    We got to see both sides of the family [1]  and made time for oursleve, too. And, this is the first time in a long time that we didn’t get each other a same gift.

    Armed with new toys and gadgets (this blog post is coming to you from our couch via the new bluetooth QWERTY keyboard for my iPhone), we have a few days of R&R planned. We’ll see you all in 2012.

    Happy New Year!

    .

    [1] At Thanksgiving, we learned that one oft he Amanda’s is pregnant. Today, we learned the other one is too. The first cousins will be born in June and July. If my count is correct, these will be our 20th and 21st great neice/newphews. That’s a lot of babies in just 10 years.

  • 28Nov

    Day 3 was a relaxing “get back home” day for us.

    After cleaning up the cabin and packing, we headed back to “town” for lunch. On the way out, Emil drove us over the river so I could grab these pics.

    Water over the road...

    Water over the road...

    We tried the Wimberley Cafe for lunch. Good thing we were leaving because we’d tried all the good restaurants in the town! :) I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of vegetarian options; my veggie sandwich sans cheese was quite good. And, this was the WiFi hotspot of the town. Lots of folks were there to work.

    Even though Lizzie had told us that the old store was only open on the weekends, Emil wanted to try to go see what she had described. Of course, it was closed, but the drive there was pretty. The Devil’s Backbone is the top of the ridge line with valleys on both sides. It’s quite pretty, even at this time of year. We drove on up to Blanco. We tried to find their buggy museum (as in “horse and” not as in “grocery cart”), but it wasn’t at the address we had and we didn’t care enough to look further. I guess we are pretty lazy tourists at times.

    Just north of Blanco, we spied a “lighthouse” tower of some sort, so we drove closer and found a vacation rentals place that must have a fabulous view! Maybe that will be our next adventure…

  • 28Nov

    Day 2 of our mini-vacay brought us much fun!

    After a late night of hot tubbing, we slept in. Actually, I slept until about 8am when I could no longer breathe. I blogged and wrote our Yelp reviews from the day before; Emil was up by ~11am. We ventured out to have some lunch. The Leaning Pear was too foo-foo for Emil and a too carnivore for me (but the Fried Green Tomatoes sure were good). It was just lunch, so we were fine. It was nice to see that they make an effort to use local farms and organic ingredients. I made a note to blog about the differences between vegetarian/vegan and organic and raw. Many assume those “land” among the others. This is not the case.

    Next, we hit the “other side” of the street to patronize the businesses we missed on Day One. A couple of them were weak. They need a secret shopper in this town to tell some of the business owners that the “perfume” of the business is too strong. :/ I will say this about Wimberley, they certainly include the “girly” in any girl. From petticoats to jewelry to wine-oh-MY, they reach the BFF and Girls-gone-not-too-wild weekend crowds.

    We finished shopping just in time to leave for our Zip Line Adventure Tour. Getting there early, waiting to gear up, and “Flight School” was brrrrrr cold on the windy day, but the rides were well worth the effort. Once we got properly geared, the rides were super fun! And, now that we’ve been on one of the Adventures, we are eligible for a night tour complete with glow sticks! We also learned there is a zip line tour in Austin, so now, we’ll need to check them out. The whole event was well worth the price of admission and the red wind-burned cheeks on this blustery day.

    It would seem that riding a zip line would be lazy work, but there was a lot of hiking and other effort to the whole Adventure. After the tour, we headed to a local fave, Kate’s Place, for supper. I was lucky to find several vegetarian items that could easily be made vegan. Our food was delicious and the service was impeccable. The funny part of our visit here was the group of four grandparents (three women and one man, apparently all just friends) who were celebrating the end of the Thanksgiving weekend and that all their grandchildren finally went home! LOL! Emil and I just grinned to each other when we heard them. Ah, problems we’ll never have!

    After a fine meal, we drove back to The Junction to visit the Devil’s Backbone Tavern. I had a couple of beers, we played shuffleboard, and we chatted a lot with the bartender (Lizzie) and some incredibly friendly locals, including one guy I’m practically certain I know from working at Texas A&M. Who’d’ve thunk?

    Our late evening consisted of trying to get the hot tub, well, hot, while I wrote up this diddy about our day. It’s a great day to be a Luza, except for that failing hot tub thing. :)

    Emil geared and ready for our Zip Line Adventure

  • 27Nov

    Last Spring, on our way home from Canyon Lake, we saw lots of traffic on I-35 (surprise) and chose to take the back roads, instead. We drove through the little town of Wimberley and decided it would be our next destination.

    We weren’t able to make it to Paris for Thanksgiving this year, so we took advantage of the long weekend (and a couple of days off for Emil) to get away from it all.

    Emil found us a great cabin that was well within our budget.

    We spent our first afternoon shopping at some of the quaint and fun stores and dined at the Cypress Creek Cafe. When we checked into our cabin, we learned the town has a new Trail of Lights sponsored by the local theater group. To cap off a great day, we went to Brewster’s for a sampler flight of the seven beers they currently have on tap. We had a lovely time chatting with the owner’s dad and his caregiver. Bruce, the owner, played NFL football and was on the 49ers teams when they won the ’88 and ’89 Superbowls. The place is covered in his memorabilia. Back at the cabin, we took advantage of the big-tub-of-hot water. Mixed with the cool breezes, it was quite relaxing.

    Great day one!

  • 15Jun

    No, friends, there is not a naked moment in this story; get your minds out of the gutter. (Heh, I can’t even type that without laughing.)

    So, for a music pseudo-contest in high school, I didn’t take a suit with me on the day trip. The park we were to attend—yeah it was a real tough contest—had a pool, but it wasn’t yet open for the season. Thus, I didn’t see any logic in taking a suit.

    On the way there, I found one friend and made another. They brought their suits (and books and headphones) to this boring park. So, I was the dork laying out in the sun–back when that was cool–in my shorts and tshirt pulled up and tucked in as far as possible. I felt like such an idiot. I could have brought a suit to change into. My friend Cheryl, a future Homecoming Queen, was really sweet and gave me a jacket or shirt or something to put down on the grass since I didn’t have a towel either.

    So: Never. Again.

    Since that event, I have never traveled without a swimsuit. You never know when a pool will be heated.

    On another high school trip—in the winter—a group chaperone[1] saw a group of us swimming and then actually asked, “Is that pool heated?” Being the resident smart ass of the group, I countered with, “Do you see the steam coming off the water?” and then did a couple of flips in the water.[2] With our students (and now friends: Beth and Leanne) on the Alternative Spring Break trip, we stopped at Ft. Stockton on the way back. With AMay’s advice, we picked a certain hotel with an indoor pool/hottub in their atrium. So, our stop was a nice reward for all our hard work during the week.

    I was reminded of all this on our trip to DFW last summer. While it was certainly warm enough for outside swimming, the pool and hot tub at our hotel were both indoors. I never considered they would be, but it makes sense. It was a corporate/office park area of town littered with business-friendly hotels and chain restaurants. The pool was designed for doing laps, not for getting a tan. So, it could be the next “Blizzard of the Century”[3] and I’d have a suit…and then I’d be set for some laps and some flips and some splashes and, in this case, some time in the hot tub and dry sauna, too.

    Now, my next mission is to find a swim up bar. Austin is bound to have one (or ten).

    [1] Gawd she was dumb-diddy-dum-diddy-dum-dum-dum. And, annoying. She’s the same mom that followed the school-sponsored hayride with her lights on bright. GASP. High school kids might kiss on a hayride? The horror! It’s not like anyone was going to take anything off on a cold night and on a flat bed trailer with 30 other kids there. Did I mention she was stupid? Yeah, she was “that” mom on a high school trip. …and she hated being called out. :) tee hee hee
    [2]I’m pretty sure that was our trip to Hattiesburg, MS. In February. I don’t remember our performance or anything else about that trip, but I remember that pool! *swoon*
    [3] I was in the “Blizard of the 20th Century,” on an Alternative Spring Break trip, no less!
  • 29May

    Saturday, Emil & I wanted an adventure away from the Memorial Day weekend craziness. So, after lunch at Pita Fusion (OMG was it GOOD!), we drove out to a National Wildlife Refuge near Burnet.

    Our Journey

    Memorial Day Meandering

    On the way there, we ventured through some developments with marinas and/or boat docks. In one of them, we found this gorgeous windmill.

    Next, we took the road less traveled through the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. As is typical with a refuge, there weren’t really any places to stop and get photos, but it was a pretty drive with a lot of low water crossings. (And, now that we have iPhones, we have @waze, so we munched the dots on the entire road and racked up a bunch of points. Bonus!) It was strange to see homes and other obviously personal property inside the refuge. Our guess is that they were living there before it was declared a refuge. The road runs along Cow Creek, so of course we saw a lot of cows.

    Just before we exited the refuge, we drove through the town of Oatmeal. I’d never heard of it until I heard Matthew Inman / @Oatmeal speak at SXSW (If you aren’t reading his comics, you should. The entire school system for Australia bought his “10 Words You Need To Stop Misspelling” posters for their classrooms. His stuff is not always safe for work, but it’s funny! And true. And real.) Anyway, they have a building with huge pavilions for family reunions and similar events. It looks exactly like the one in Deanville, Texas. They also have a “silo” piece of art painted like the Quaker Oatmeal container. Cute!

    In Downtown Burnet, we found the “World’s Smallest City Park.” It’s just a grassy patch in front of their visitors’ center, but it has a gazebo and a giant bluebonnets statue.

    Memorial Day (weekend) Meanderings

    Burnet’s “river walk” is a pretty park with lots of benches and shade.

    Memorial Day (weekend) Meanderings

    Memorial Day (weekend) Meanderings

    I wish these ducks hadn’t been so scared. Their spot in the sun blew out all the color on the little yellow fuzzies.

    Memorial Day (weekend) Meanderings

    Memorial Day (weekend) Meanderings

    From Burnet, we drove south to Marble Falls where we found a cute bar–with a ranch theme “R-“, the “R Bar & Grill–that had a shuffle board table. We spent most of the afternoon, there. Emil won every game but one. I have two “speeds” in shuffleboard: not worth a point and off the edge. We met a guy in a shuffleboard league who told us we were playing by all the wrong rules! Of course we were: Emil was in charge.

    We meandered home via some of the central highways and stopped at the Brick House Tavern & Taphouse for a drink. I had given them one star in my Yelp review because they don’t have anything on their menu that I can even modify to eat. But, it was a nice place to have a beer & a Dr. Pepper and sit on the deck. I may have to revise my score of them.

  • 20Apr

    On the last day of our Mini-vacay, we were forced to get up early and check out of our cabin so we could make…

    The morning Gorge tour was a bit early for me: 9am. The people there were clearly more “morning” than I am. But, with the help of caffeine, and after we finished the initial information and started the hike, I was ready.

    In 2002 a massive flood hit Canyon Lake. In one day, they got their entire rainfall for a year: 34″. The extreme power through the overflow unearthed a gorge full of our planet’s history. The water flowed approximately 7 feet above the overflow (remember, there is a dam, too!) and then contained flowing about six weeks. The sound of that much water was described as several 747 airplanes taking off at the same time…and the water kept flowing for ~6 weeks!

     

    Between hiking and learning, our tour lasted almost four hours. If you are ever in the area, the tour is a MUST DO! Tickets are only $10 and you only need 24 hours notice to sign up.

    gorge-photo-labeled

    We had enjoyed the Lucky Sailor marina restaurant so much, we decided to try their “sister” and had lunch at Lucky’s Kitchen. meh. Once again, I’m reminded of how much I love Austin.

    I-35 is always a “guess”, so we headed home back through the back roads that led us to Canyon Lake. This time, we drove through a little more of Wimberly. What a cute little town. We will have to go visit it one of these days!

    At home, Emil napped (surprise) while I took care of a few business tasks.

    Our vacation commenced with The Princess Bride Quote-Along at the Alamo Drafthouse with Beth and Marc. Best movie experience EVER! SO much fun. As we entered the theater, they gave us blow up swords, bells, and bubbles. They pulled a couple up on stage for a movie-themed trivia duel and gave away Alamo passes to a future show. We were then instructed to ring the bells for any kisses/love, blow bubbles during the wedding scene, stand up and spin in our spots when Westley rolls down the hill, and play along with the swords during the fighting scenes. While most of us were quoting lots of lines of the movie, the first official quoted line on screen was none other than, “As you wish…” I can’t WAIT for them to host a Quote-Along for When Harry Met Sally and Legally Blonde!