If you’ve had enough of lights, commercialism, and noise, come join me in remembering the timeless beauty of Enchanted Rock. Anita, Kynan, and I climbed to the top, then scrambled through the Echo Canyon train and the trail around the park.
The beauty in winter is that you can see for so many miles, and when you do hit upon a bright spot of color, it feels really special. No more talking, just pictures.
Many of you will be celebrating Christmas with friends or family this year. We have both. Even if this isn’t one of your holidays, looking at cheery lights at the darkest time of the year isn’t all bad.
So, that’s what we did last night. Lee drove me, Anita, and my son, Kynan to the downtown square in Fredericksburg to enjoy the lights and fun. It was a crisp, but not cold, night, so you didn’t have to shiver and rush your viewing. It felt “Christmas-y.”
We really enjoyed watching the little kids running around, looking up into the trees, and saying ooh and ahh at the German carousel thing going round and round. Ah, thanks to Wikipedia, I know that these are called “Christmas pyramids.” I guess I thought they’d have a more exotic name. Anyway, it sure was a big one.
We are saving the lights in Johnson City for tonight. Kynan says they were spectacular when he was driving to Fredericksburg from Austin.
Oddly enough, my favorite things I saw were some statues that are in the park all the time. This one of a Native American who had lived in this area looked really thoughtful in the light of my camera flash.
While we wait for the final family members to join us, I’ll try to share some more images, so there may be two posts today.
When we got to our vacation rental, we noticed there were a lot of satellite dishes across the street, and big towers. Then we looked to the left and saw a 50s style building. It had letters on its sign: KFAN.
Of course we had to look it up, and when we did, we found out that we are adjacent to a real treasure: Texas Rebel Radio. Lee remembers listening to it in his past, though I’d never heard of it.
KFAN is one of those legendary independent AM and FM stations with LOTS of power. Once I read about the station and its owners, I began to love it more and more. Here are a few tidbits:
The station was founded in 1990, and has been run by the same family since then. They play album-oriented “rebel” musicians, like Willie Nelson and Marcia Ball, but also new artists they discover. I guess it’s Americana/Country/Folk-ish. This is a blend I can listen to, since the kind of country I like is the less “commercial” kind.
Texas Rebel Radio is variety with a Texas twist. In one hour on KFAN fm 107.9 you can hear country, blues, rock, zydeco, ballads, current and classic music all blended together. The thread that runs through it all is Texas. KFAN breaks all the rules when it comes to programming. No other station in Texas, the country or the world has a format quite like it. It’s not corporate radio. It’s radio the way it should be with music you won’t hear anywhere else.
Amazon Alexa listing
They claim to have fought the Supreme Court to let them have more broadcastinig power to reach all of the Texas Hill Country. I guess that explains all the towers!
They have a blog they haven’t updated since 2014 and supposedly stream on the Internet. Oh good, that works; some country gentleman was reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Give them a listen here. I think I’m going to do so when I have a chance!
Today was our day to get out of town, so we decided to head down the most scenic highway we could think of, the road from Fredericksburg through Kerrville and on to Hunt, Texas. You may recall that I took this same drive when I attended the Bennett Trust Women’s Conference.
This time, Lee, Anita and I took things slowly, stopping for lunch outside of Kerrville at an excellent local Mexican restaurant, which happened to be on the banks of a dam by a creek leading to the Guadalupe River. It was our first glimpse of this winding waterway and its many tributaries, which many claim is the most beautiful river in Texas.
As we drove down the road, we enjoyed many crossings, then dropped by to visit some friends of ours, the Hudsons, who build and sell amazing hand-made lawn furniture. Lee has known Jack since high school. We got some great pictures and caught up. We should visit more often, that’s for sure.
Then we went back on a long road with many Guadalupe River crossings. I hope you like my photos through the car window!
The highway also wound through some of the most beautiful Hill Country ranch property there is. One reason it looks so great is that the ranchers have made a huge effort to remove most of the ashe juniper (cedar) trees, so the land looks more like it used to look.
The terrain strongly resembles African savannahs, especially since we saw, for the most part, mainly African animals behind all the very high fences. This is the heart of the exotic ranching area, and it’s quite obvious. We didn’t see a cow other than one herd of longhorns, until we were almost back to Kerrville. There was one flock of goats, but otherwise, gazelles, antelope, pronghorns, and other animals I have forgotten since I visited the exotic animal organization headquarters filled the pastures (well, mostly it was empty, because of good range management).
The animals didn’t hold still, so no photos, but hey, you know what they look like: funny looking deer.
Tomorrow we hope to go somewhere and hike with at least one of my kids. More then!
Since I’ve been vacationing I haven’t forgotten to look up. Since we’re in a house over a garage, it’s easy to look up and see lots of cute sparrows.
In the town, I discovered that quaint tourist spots are great for up-looking. There is a cool ceiling everywhere you turn, it seems.
And we’ve seen more gas light fixtures than I’ve ever seen in a short span before. The restaurant we ate at last night (Navajo Grill, with wonderful food that was too expensive for Lee, so he bought a burger afterwards), had lovely gas light fixtures, too.
Every time I come to Fredericksburg it becomes a little less kitschy and a bit more aimed at the wealthy. We went to a men’s accessories and doo-dads store that certainly was not aimed at regular folks. But, it was beautiful and had a great staircase.
We intend to have fun today looking at Mexican pottery, and maybe finding a winery or two. Yesterday we just had an actual day of REST to celebrate the solstice. Ahh.
PS: I had a bit of trouble editing this, so the captions aren’t actually with the pictures. But I think you can figure it out.
Yule greetings to all you blog readers! Thank you for being there, and for brightening my life with your likes and comments. I wanted to send you a personal Yule greeting, since my work commitments didn’t allow me to write cards or anything.
This time of year always makes me feel closer to the rhythms of the seasons and to the wonders that the Earth keeps showing us. As the morning sun came into my east-facing window today, I marveled at how far the sun moves between the seasons. And then I thought of my southern hemisphere friends who have the same marvel, only on their longest daylight of the year.
This year in particular I have really appreciated all the holiday lights around homes and businesses. They honor the ancient traditions of burning special fires (Yule logs, outdoor trees with candles) to make the dark days cheery and bright. I have my pop-up tree here at the rental house, but I know my solar lights at the ranch are greeting passers-by, and our sleigh of trees cheers up the Austin house.
Anita and I drove around our Austin neighorhood last week and oohed and aahed just like when we were kids riding around with our parents. I remember that my mother really loved to ride around Gainesville, Florida to look at lights way back in the 60s. No innflatable Star Wars characters or projected lights on houses back then, but w did enjoy silver trees in people’s windows, and lots of huge electric lights. (I will share Fredericksburg lights, and I hope lights from Johnson City later this week!)
Even in winter, there is much beauty to be seen, so I am wishing you the time to take a look around you and savor the changing seasons with your own family, friends, and communities.
PS: I have a whole bunch of subjects I want to share, so get ready!
Expect scenery posts for the next few days! Sadly, I don’t have any great scenery from yesterday, because I was driving, and I’m not one of those folks who uses their phone and drives, especially on hilly two-lane roads. Forgive my stand-in photos.
Yes, Anita and I spent three wonderful hours (minus 15 minutes on Interstate 35) traveling the back roads between Cameron and Fredericksburg. It was glorious. The first part of the trip, heading to Florence, was all new to me. There are some lovely fancy ranches on the road we took.
When we got to more familiar territory for me, I got to show Anita all my favorite small towns, like Bertram, Burnet, and Buchanan Dam. This is the heart of the Texas Hill Country/Highland Lakes area where Lee and I looked and looked for just the right property to retire to before calling Sara and deciding to buy the Hermits’ Rest, instead.
There are beautiful hills, long vistas, the lakes along the Colorado River, and the BEST thing: the karst! All around Inks Lake and Marble Falls is the beautiful red granite (the same stuff that makes up Enchanted Rock). Much of it is right on the surface, creating breath-taking views.
I have to admit that when we crested a hill and I saw the lakes and the rocks, I got all emotional and started to cry. I really, really love this part of Texas. My heart filled with joy and I had to slow down to look at it all.
This area has the Canyon of the Eagles where you can take a boat tour that I have never been on, plus Longhorn Cavern, and so much more. Go there, if you ever get the chance.
As we headed towards Fredericksburg, the sun was going down. Oh wow, there were shades of orange I’d never seen in a sunset, sort of melon orange. And as it got more and more purple, even the dead grass on the sid of the road reflected it, and the earth was awash in pink and purple. You can use your imagination, but it won’t do the real thing justice. It will live in my mind!
For the first day of a vacation, this was about as good as it gets. We got to our rental house, which is incredibly thematic. If there’s a Santa Fe kind of item, it’s here. We are really enjoying the rugs and pottery, and I’ll share more about it later.
We decorated for Christmas, and are ready for fun!
While we were exploring the Avery Ranch cave, I remembered where I’d seen other caves in the neighborhood over from the one we were in, Oak Brook. I suggested that, if anyone wanted to go look at other local caves, I’d take them there. Unfortunately, my memory issues made giving directions stink, and since I didn’t remember the name of the place we could not look it up. So, only one carload made it.
However, we had a great time at the Oak Brook Karst Preserve once we found it. I have some bittersweet memories of this spot, because I used to go over there long ago, when I was sad about marital issues, to be sad where my kids couldn’t see me. I gave my troubles to Mother Earth, I guess. On a happier note, my traveling companions liked it for more Master Naturalist reasons—flora and fauna!
Continuing on our vacation, we spent time in High Point, NC, where lots of my family and old friends live. It’s a beautiful town, though we avoided most of it, because it was Furniture Market time. The hurricane had made a big mess of the town, but they sure cleaned up quickly!
On our way back to Texas, we took a detour, since we knew that we were in the heart of bluegrass music territory, and we owed my son a steel guitar. My friend, Vicki, had told us of some leads and people she knew in the community when we visited an amazing bluegrass instrument store in Statesville. Lee and I figured the time to buy that 2016 Christmas gift for my son was NOW.
We did some detective work and found that a reasonably priced guitar on eBay was actually nearby in Albemarle (which promoted my stepmom to list everyone she ever knew who lived there and their addresses, from the 40s). We tracked the guy down, and he invited us to come on by.
What a beautiful drive it was! We really enjoyed the countryside, the amazing morning glories growing everywhere (they look like the kind you buy, not like the ones in Texas).
Finding Mr. Hudson (actually he’s a minister) was not easy, but we got help from some deputy sheriffs and Hudson’s wife, who directed us to a garage. There we found beautiful instruments! There were many pedal steel guitars, and also a resonator built like a steel giutar, so you could sit to play it.
We agreed on a price for the guitar we wanted, and headed into town for money. What a charming little place. We hope Cameron can look so nice eventually. We even found trees changing color, at last.
After we paid, we followed Mr. Hudson to his “new” shop. Wow. It was down a long driveway in a gorgeous setting, and consisted of many portable buildings all set up into a series of guitar building rooms. I’ll not invade his privacy to show you the drills, saws, and other equipment, but the place was as spotless as the huge place I saw where they make Taylor guitars in California.
The luthier says that at sunset you often see dozens of deer and large families of turkeys in the field. That is a great workplace!
The way back to the interstate was also a lot of fun. And then we enjoyed a glorious sunset, complete with sundogs!
I guess that’s it for nature viewing until we get back to Texas, but this was certainly a worthwhile detour.
I’m spending time in High Point, North Carolina, where my step-mother, step-sister, and other family live. Mostly my husband and I are visiting, but I did get to walk around the woods that surround the facility where my step-mom lives, Pennybyrn at Maryfield.
I’ve written about it before in the past (on Facebook I guess), since she and my dad lived there since the place opened. It’s one of those places for well-to-do people over a certain age, with homes, apartments, assisted living places, and a wonderful nursing home. There are lots of nice nuns and a lot to do. And the buildings are lovely.
It’s on a lake that’s off the Deep River, and bordered by some lovely mixed hardwood and pine forest. I enjoyed walking out there today and looking at all the native plants and birds (the landscaping is also nice, but not all native). It was interesting to see what was and wasn’t damaged by Hurricanes Michael and Florence, which both came through recently.
The variety of trees is amazing. Maples, oaks, short- and long-leafed pines, sumac, dogwood, and redbud, to name a few.
And I saw blue birds, blue jays, crows, cardinals, house finches, and more (including geese I heard but did not see).
It’s just so different here from Texas. The trees are SO tall, and the plants so varied. And it smells great, thanks to all those pine needles. One of these days I’ll take another vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sadly, the hurricane blew down most of the autumn leaves, and the remaining leaves were quite tattered. Huge old trees are down all over town. I guess that makes room for new trees and lets the sun in.
While I’m at a place where lives end, I always remember that death makes room for life. Hmm, good thoughts for the current autumn/Halloween season.