Thursday, May 27, 2021


March 24, 2021

Bob had scheduled a visit to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, formed in 1992 to preserve the habitat of two endangered songbirds, the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. (Bob gets excited about things like that.)

We plugged the name of the refuge into my phone and followed the directions down a long, windy road to a locked gate that looked like personal property rather than a wildlife refuge.  On our way back, Bob realized that he had seen something that looked like it could be a refuge, and so we stopped to check it out.

Yup. It was what Bob was looking for--the Shin Oak Observation Deck. We have no idea why my phone took us right past this spot to a seemingly unrelated place.

A lengthy wooden walkway led to the observation deck . . . 

Thursday, May 20, 2021


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

After visiting Longhorn Cavern, we drove to the town of Marble Falls, where we were planning to spend the night. Lake Marble Falls is actually a reservoir, and we had a good view of it from our hotel room window. (We never saw any falls, and I'm not sure there are any.)

Marble Falls is pretty small town--just 6,000 or so people. For such a small town, it had an impressive outdoor art scene in its downtown where there are a series of pieces that make up what is known as "Sculpture on Main."

Some of it is a little kooky.

Some of it made me hungry.

Monday, May 17, 2021


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

One of the things I enjoyed about this particular trip to Texas was seeing the evidence of work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, a group established during the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt to rebuild both the economy and the country's physical infrastructure.

One CCC project in Central Texas during the 1930s was clearing a huge underground cavern of 2.5 tons of debris and building stairs and walkways into and inside the cavern to make the cavern tourist friendly. They also built the scenic byway that led to it and facilities within the park, now known as Longhorn Cavern State Park. 

Longhorn Cavern is a limestone cave formed thousands of years ago by an underground river that no longer exists. Before the CCC turned it into a tourist attraction, it was used by indigenous people, Confederate soldiers, outlaws, and speakeasy operators.

We joined a group of about 20 people on a guided tour of the cave.

Friday, May 7, 2021


 Tuesday, March 23, 2021

We began the next day with a three-hour drive to the LBJ Ranch in Stonewall, which is due west of Austin.

I am always on the look-out for good murals, and I made Bob stop for this one in Eden. Is that Eve? (Note: We actually did pass the Garden of Eden, but unfortunately it was not on Bob's agenda.)

We visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin in 2012 (although for some reason I never got around to writing about it here). On this trip, nine years later, we decided to visit the ranch where LBJ was born, lived a good part of his life, and was buried.

The LBJ Ranch is in Stonewall (yes, named after Confederate General Stonewall Jackson who died as a result of friendly fire in 1863). After paying our fees at the Visitors Center, we walked out to a living history farm based on a 1918 German farm. (Apparently there were lots of German settlers in this area. In fact, 15 miles away is a town named Fredericksburg that is full of German shops.) The farm was one of the better living history places we have visited. The volunteers work the farm and literally eat the fruits of their own labors.

We walked through quite a nice home . . .  

. . . that supposedly belonged to this friendly couple:

I wish I knew the story of this beautiful framed wreath hanging on the wall.

Monday, May 3, 2021


 March 22, 2021

San Angelo turned out to be a pretty big surprise--in a good way. It turned out to be a place I think we just touched the surface of, a place it would be fun to return to. There were many things that were closed because of Covid that I would like to see, and there were some great places we didn't know about before we just stumbled on them. One of those amazing, unanticipated finds was Paintbrush Alleyway.

This second sign has a hilarious nod to Bob Ross (star of the TV show The Art of Painting) in the middle section.

The alley is part of San Angelo's "Art in Uncommon Places" initiative that we had seen the fruits of in other places. The sign says it is themed after the 1956 movie Giant, but there were a lot of other "themed" murals before we got to Giant.

So here are some of the other murals. One of my favorites is this peacock that welcomes visitors.