Wyche August 2010 Where ever Vacation

  A week of going where ever in Texas. Our preparation was $31 of gasoline at Proto Mart and a picnic supplies buy at Wheatsville.

  The first hankering was for a visit to "Canyon of the Eagles". It was kind of late in the day by the time we had visited a few places around Lake Buchanan so we challenged each other to chicken out on camping out (since we brought a fair amount of camping gear). That settled we agreed to pick a quiet campsite (and we succeeded) on the water. We almost changed our minds about camping until we tried out site #5 which had a steady breeze that did carry away immediate heat. We went back east to Burnet for a BBQ supper which was our intended repast for everyday this week.

  Well, we failed! BBQ was not to be had on a Sunday evening in Burnet. We checked out every road that might (and did) have restaurants on it. The *one* bragging on BBQ was closed.. we assume for Sunday only.. but who knows. So we settled for Italian food in an old converted house with a floor so unlevel that 4 sugar packets did not stop our table from rocking. Carol was avoiding dairy so it was tomato sauce and no parmesan. Eating at places like this are more memorable than the recurring uniformity of great atmosphere, diversity, and service in Austin. It is a mixed gift of mammals to adjust to a norm so it is ... you know ... just the norm!

  Back at the park we talked to the couple who were the Park Hosts. Since we were the only ones on this Sunday, 100+ day, it was an extended talk (as is my way, I'm afraid) and they turned into real people in no time. As dusk approached (9 pm) we setup the tent. See the map. Carol upped her RBQ (Red Blood Quotient.. from a book Carol shared with me back in the early 70s) seeing as how this was her 65th birthday.

  I awoke in the middle of the night to light coming through the side of the tent. Some inconsiderate arriving late trying to find a designated camping spot... I sat up to find it was the (nearly) full moon shining brightly over all... THAT bright!

  The next morning we did the Butterfly trail. We figured this would need to be the way to be going: see sights in the morning; travel after it got hot; make a picnic lunch; drive to a place; secure the place for the night; and then do more sight seeing by foot in the evening.

  It was an easy drive along SH377 over to Llano. A museum that Carol wanted to see was CLOSED ON MONDAYS so we parked over by the red topped jail adjacent to the Llano River which we went down to dip our toes into. We met another couple there. The guy was fishin', but the girl talked a bit with us. Back up near the jail there was a picnic table (our original reason for really stopping) where we made our lunch.

  Continuing along SH377 we reach our today's destination: Junction. We chose the Day's Inn just south of US10 sort of on the way to Segovia. It was high up on a bluff and seemed like it was part of a larger scheme that has since been repurposed into a monument of some sort. I got Carol's assent so we drove the old road (non IH10) to Segovia, which always intrigued me with a sign for truck wheel repair, clearly seen from IH10 on all of our trips west (and return). But, Segovia has yet to garner the tourist trade to tease anything out of its meager sites from a short trip though by us.

  Back in the motel I got to read up on the concerns of the fine citizens of Junction from their local newspaper. There was quite an article on plans for routing of the latest tech power lines which some in town opposed because of the high cost and taking of properly by building through people's land. I think this is about having sufficient capacity for the wind farms further west.

  South Llano State Park is the big event for today. There is a great place where the Llano comes through under the State Park road to drop into a pool. We parked nearby, walked along the "river" (almost a creek!) to where tubing enthusiasts can take steps up to connect to the park trail. Back at the spillway we spread suntan lotion on and jumped in. At one point I negotiated rising out of the water onto the road ledge above and south of the spillway. An "old" guy looked down at me and said "Gettin' old is no fun, eh?" which I took to be comment on my exit performance. I guess I must of unconsciously avoided having to crouch and push up with my knees. Hah. I've been doing that since I was 35!

  We enjoyed about 2 hours in there, but hunger for lunch pushed us to a picnic table beneath a huge live oak. With our wet, swim suits and wet hair we found it very pleasant. We napped on the picnic table benches... we had the place to ourselves. Amazingly cool.. especially knowing the temperature was surely into the 90's already. We packed up and headed for the day's drive.

  We drove ALL OVER SH41, east and west. It was our main road for forays down and up along SH335, SH336, and US83. See a typical and pleasurable view in the 4th image above. These are the same roads that Claire Ceneray would take next spring with her "motorcycle gang" in what was a 12 hour, one day extravaganza. That's probably not a French word!

  It was kind-a late in the day when we started looking for a place to eat and were once again disappointed, because places had already closed or just plain not open. We decided we better hoof it on down to Uvalde, which is a county seat for "big town" accomodations (if you are not camping.. and now were were not). In fact we ate at a steak place. It was dark when we came out of there. We had no trouble getting a place to stay.

  Knowing we wanted to go into Lost Maples we pretty much headed straight that way. Neare the bottom of that website there is a link for a pdf of the park's trails. We chose the East Trail and headed east. Immediately you can choose the Maple trail which hugs the wall of the Sabinal stream bed or the official East trail. It seems to have rained recently so we decided the Maple trail would have more ups and downs and might be muddy so we stuck to the stream bed.

  We crossed the river stream^H^H^H^H^H^H creek? a couple times and where Lane Creek comes in there was a nice, clean cut in the wall which the Sabinal was whittling away so we chose our early afternoon relaxation in the shadows and tree shade. Carol chose one of the higher planes and I dangled my legs in the slow meandering side waters. I spent most of the time launching ships made from maple leaves, tracking their travels.

  On the walk back the way we came we were met by a couple asking about the trail. It was uphill for them now. We assured them it was only about 10 minutes more of uphill. When we reached where the oncoming trail diverts into Maple and East we found a family with a baby buggy negotiating stream bed. We didn't see them getting too much further without having to carrying that thing to get it over the rocky way. It funny how you get to considering yourself the wizened one with trail knowledge in such a short time! What a wonder the imagination is.

  I can't remember where we ate lunch though the front of the place is fairly vivid if not unusual. It definitely sported a middle last century Texas roadhouse flavor. We had hamburgers. It was somewhere on the path down to Tarpley and on down SH462 with my intent to take County Rd 131 through the Hill Country State Natural Area. Carol was dubious when we came to an unimproved stretch, but we just went slower. We stopped for a potty break at the building "area" which was vacant just now. The place clearly catered to horses. The road improved when it turned into SH1077 and we arrived about 6pm in Bandera. The first place we considered staying was $90/night and did not have any internet connection. The proprietor laughed and said it'd still be awhile before decent connections became available. So we shopped around some more and stayed at the River Oaks Inn & Restaurant. The decor was... unusual. I take it to be a cross between India-indian and cat-house western. See the 5th image above!

  Since we had already driven the major roads looking for a motel, we had seen Busbee's BBQ on Main St and we ate there. It was nearing their closing time so we got to watch people rushing in just before closing. Afterwards we walked a little bit around there. Quite a party town on the main street.. probably all on the weekend I would guess.

  Carol has a road side geology book, but it sticks to identifiable roads and since there were lots of entries for SH16 we head toward the north, stopping at places mentioned in the book. That brought us eventually to Kerrville, the biggest town we driven through since we left Austin last Sunday. A little past the middle of town we saw a non franchise sandwich type place where we lunched. We kept on SH16 through Fredericksburg, but stopped in Llano to see the Llano County museum that was closed last Monday. Very curious. A lot of it, even now, is the legacy of wealthy adventurers who bequeathed their private collections to Llano of all places. Instead of being a "Texas" museum it was no holds barred study of the mind of those adverturers: shrunken heads, animal trophies, clothes, carved everything.. I could sure go there again.

  Heading on north through Cherokee, San Saba, Goldthwaite, Comanche, De Leon. By then we knew our goal was Possum Kingdom Lake, a place we only vaguely knew about, but the attraction of a large body of water is great because of the heat beyond the car's door. After crossing through Strawn, it was fun scaling the escarpment along SH16 where it was coincident with US180. We drove west following US180 to Caddo and around the north side right against the lake on 1148. We came around to Pickwick and followed the signs right out to the peninsula's end. This was clearly a place that was interested in people with money. There was quite a bit of gated feel to it all. Carol chose to "walk in" in to use their bathroom meant for clothes-changing to use the private beach. A visit to PossumKingdom.com reinforces my view of this. Still it was a fun drive around it.

We left there, went east, then south on Hwy 4 down past Palo Pinto, back down off the Palo Pinto Mountains, we passed Lake Palo Pinto, went through Santo, down through Morgan Mill, Stephenville, Dublin, to Proctor and found a place for the night. I know we went back north a tiny bit and cut over to De Leon. I *think* we ate there, but I can't remember now. I do know we came back over in time to take those last 2 pictures at Proctor Lake view of Baker Hotel

  I erroneously thought we could find lots of "up-and-down-hills" thrills, but we couldn't find same. I liked the name Mineral Wells so we headed that way. My, oh my! I had never heard of the Baker Hotel. Click on the thumbnail to see the large version of at commons.wikimedia.org/wiki. We were looking for a likely place to eat and stopped across the street to the west of the Baker because we saw a shop there. Though we got to talk to the woman running it, it only served smoothies and some pastry/cakes. She was enthusiastic about the Baker and told me a few sentences about it. We continued west through town. When the one way east (E US180) joined one way E Hubbard in the other direction we knew the town was going to start thinning out. We saw the Mesquite Pit and ate. It was about 2:30pm.

  We kicked all around the roads perpendicular to IH20 taking the littlest roads we could find. Same for further south taking us through Lipan, Tolar, Bluff Dale, Fairy, Cranfills Gap, Hamilton, and Evant. I think Carol was willing to do more, but I was done and wanted to go home. She said, "OK", and we continued on south on US183, through Watsom Com, Briggs, Seward Junction. I *think* that is where we ate. It was dark. We arrived home about 10:30 pm.

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