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24 Nov

Mitchell Lake Audubon Wetlands Walk, San Antonio, Texas

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Birds, Dragonflies and Spiders, Oh My!

My 10K Volksmarch today was at Mitchell Lake Audubon Wetlands in
south San Antonio. I would have started much earlier than 8:25 a.m., but
the wetlands don’t open until 8 a.m. When I arrived at the Audubon
Society, I had to go into the office to pay my $2 admission fee and sign
in for the Volksmarch. The man working at the Audubon Society was very
chatty and that took another 15 minutes or so.

A tour
of two people was ready to head out for a bird survey. I guess they try
to identify as many birds as they can on the survey.

Upon leaving the building and passing by beautiful, butterfly-attracting flowers, I had to photograph a butterfly or two.

Monarch butterfly (danaus plexippus)
Monarch butterfly backlit by sun.

The first birds I encountered were a family of purple martins on a line.

Purple martins.

Today was enjoyable because I could take my time,
listen to bird calls, and try to spot elusive birds (not too successful
on the elusive birds). Here are interesting finds along my path…

Hairy-looking seed pods.

A couple of wild rabbits darted across my path, but they were too fast; no chance to get my camera in position for a photo.

Silver-leaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium)
Wild petunia (Ruellia sp.)
Carolina wren.

When the Bird Pond appeared on my right, I started
looking for water birds, but didn’t see any other than the great egrets.
As I walked, a casual glance to my left almost made me wet my pants. I
am petrified of spiders and what I saw was a HUGE orb spider sitting in
the middle of a web that was, I’d guess, four feet across. The spider in
the middle, including legs, was as big as my palm.

Golden orb spider in the middle of its web.
Golden orb spider.
Golden orb spider.
Northern rough-winged swallow.
House finch.
House finch.

While walking near the Bird Pond, I met a man and asked him what birds he had seen. His name is Jim and he writes a blog called Jim’s Assorted, Usually Photographic, Ramblings.
He said he wasn’t looking for birds but was looking for dragonflies.
That’s his specialty. In fact, in front of us was an Eastern Pondhawk
dragonfly, perched beautifully, waiting for its photo to be taken. You
can find his photos on his blog. I was able to capture the Eastern
Pondhawk as well. Jim explained to me that this particular dragonfly is
very mean to other dragonflies and bugs. I would have missed it if it
wasn’t for Jim pointing it out to me.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly.

Once he pointed out that Mitchell Lakes is a good
place to spot dragonflies and damselflies, I was on the lookout and you
will find a couple more photos of dragonflies today.

Identification, anyone?
Four-spotted pennant.
Roseate skimmer.

As I rounded the corner from the Bird Pond headed for
East Poulder, it was full sun ahead: 85-90 degrees with relatively high
humidity. My best birding of the day took place in East and West
Poulder ponds. The black-necked stilts are in residence and they are
gorgeous. They also make quite a racket when a threat comes around.

Black-bellied whistling duck family.
Black-necked stilt
Least sandpiper and killdeer.
Four black-necked stilts in a row.
Black-bellied whistling duck.
Black-bellied whistling duck and willett.

Every once in a while you find something you don’t
see everyday, like a turtle or armadillo remains. The turtle below was
trucking along the trail until I came along, then it got all shy.

 

Armadillo remains.
Snowy egret fishing.
Neotropic cormorants.
Orb spiders were everywhere today!

Self portrait. Don’t you love the hat?
Cacti ready to bloom.
Orb spider in front of cacti.
Beautiful blooms outside the visitor center.

By the end of this walk (which lasted three hours), I
was beat. Couldn’t wait to get inside the visitor center. The desk
person helped me identify the birds in the photos, although he wasn’t
sure about the sanderling because the photo was so small on my camera
screen.

I really enjoy my alone time on walks like this
when I can go at my own pace, look for birds and photograph to my
hearts content. I would love to learn the songs of different birds to
identify them as it isn’t always possible to spot them.

 

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24 Nov

Howl at the Moon, San Antonio, TX

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tonight Bob and I had a date to Howl at the Moon (no not like
wolves), a dueling piano bar in downtown San Antonio. We
got there a little before 7 p.m. and were early enough to snag a table.
I enjoyed listening to all the music they played…everything from
Beatles to Elton John to Journey to Neil Diamond to more recent tunes.

We had beer and what was left
of the appetizer buffet. (It closed at 7 p.m.) Basically, we kicked back
and listened to music for two hours. Then we hit Sonic Drive-In for
dinner around 9 p.m.

Here are some photos taken with Bob’s SmartPhone. Not high resolution, but hopefully you can see them well enough.

At Howl at the Moon rock ‘n’ roll dueling piano bar
The two pianos
The crowd.

That’s all folks.

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24 Nov

Hamilton Pool Swimmin’ Hole, Texas

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 (continued):

The drive to Hamilton Pool Preserve from Austin takes 40-45 minutes
and is really outside of Bee Cave, not Dripping Springs. We hoped we
would be one of the 75 cars allowed into the preserve. After the 75 cars
are in, for each car that leaves, one car can enter. That is how they
manage the property so it isn’t overrun with people.

When
we arrived at the entry gate, there were five cars ahead of us and they
were moving. Good sign. The entrance fee is $10 per car.

We
made it in and found parking under a tree. (In case you haven’t heard
me say it before, shade is a plus – as is a swimmin’ hole – when the
temperature is forecast to be 99° F.)

We parked,
slathered on sunscreen, and headed down the quarter-mile trail to
Hamilton Pool. When we got there it was quite crowded on shore, but the
swimming hole is big enough to hold lots of people.

Being
that we were mighty hot, especially after hiking in, we immediately got
in the water. Brr! This pool is a lot cooler than the swimmin’ hole at
McKinney Falls. After we got in, though, it was quite pleasant and
refreshing to hang out in. We liked that we could swim either in the
shade or, if we got too cool, we could move over a few feet and be in
the sun.

Hamilton Pool Preserve swimming hole.

After we cooled down and soaked our weary bones, we
hiked the trail through the natural grotto behind the swimming hole.
There is a trickle of a waterfall coming over the top, but not much.
People thought it was fun to sit where the water comes off the rock
above.

Loving this place…reminds me of Oregon.
Natural grotto.
Where the “falls” come over.

 

Must be under the falls!
Another view of the beach and pool.
Ladder on trail around back of grotto.

Hamilton Pool trail.

The family we had met at McKinney Falls yesterday was
here today. Their boys were dying to show us the big catfish close to
shore. The boys threw little dried leaves in the water and the catfish,
thinking the leaves were food, would come to the surface. A couple of
those fish were over a foot long. No fishing allowed in the Preserve.

A
park ranger was on duty at the swimming hole to make sure no one breaks
the rules. There are a couple of life rings on ropes that can be used
to rescue people from the deep parts of the pool. We stayed about an
hour, and then headed back to our lovely campsite at McKinney Falls.

Both
of us were exhausted from getting up early three days in a row, so we
napped away the afternoon. To prepare dinner, we made another campfire, ate roasted
hot dogs, coleslaw, left-over chicken breasts and cooked another veggie
skewer in a foil packet on the hot coals. For dessert, we wanted
S’mores but had run out of chocolate. Oh well, we’re mellow, we made
S’mores without the chocolate and they were good anyway.

We
had a wonderful time on our five-day getaway to McKinney Falls State
Park in Austin. It’s hard to believe all the things we crammed in, but
that’s why we chose this state park – it is very close to downtown
Austin so we could easily drive into town. The park is well maintained
and well patrolled by the park police and rangers.

Our only wildlife sighting was this morning; a skunk waddled through the dump station at the park.

Tomorrow, we head back to San Antonio.

Travel Bug out.

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24 Nov

Austin: Bouldin Creek and Bats

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weird, unique, quirky, unusual, maybe even kooky, definitely batty – that’s Austin for you. We had quite a day.

On
our 10K (6.2 mile) walk today it seemed something quirky or unusual was
around every corner. There will be a lot of photos and you can judge
for yourselves if you think Austin packs a lot of surprises.

Extended
Stay Suites on South 1st St at Barton Springs Rd. was our start point.
Within a few blocks, our route took us on Dawson Road where we had the
option of walking on the street or hiking through West Bouldin Creek
Greenbelt. We chose the Greenbelt.

On a SnoCone food truck.

 

The Greenbelt

After the Greenbelt we hooked up with Dawson Road again, then started winding through many neighborhoods.

Collector of classic cars.

On our itinerary were libraries, parks, schools,
history of local architecture, churches, food trucks, SoCo (South
Commerce) and tattoo studios (no we didn’t get a tattoo). There were
beautiful flowering trees and shrubs along the way too.

 

 

Bamboo, even.
Park with lots of fountains.
This park looked like so much fun – especially since it was in the 90s.

At greenpasturesrestaurant.com (Green Pastures Restaurant), peacocks have a home. There are also beautifully carved peacock sculptures. We even found babies.

White peacock (not sure if it’s albino, no pink eyes)

Look at those gorgeous feathers!!
Mama and babies.

Peacock sculptures.
Baby peacocks.
Isn’t he magnificent?
Green Pastures Restaurant
Mural at a mechanic’s shop.
Phoenix – tile work.
Toadstools.
“Your Essential Magnificence” shrine by James Talbot

The
day was HOT and we were dragging. Nothing a good cupcake won’t cure.
Our next stop was Sugar Mama’s to have a cupcake in air-conditioned
comfort. I had a Pinup cupcake (vanilla with chocolate buttercream
frosting) and Bob had a mint chocolate chip bar (kind of like a
brownie). Delish! A good break from the heat and some quick energy too.

Special cupcake flavors today were mud pie and French toast.

Sugar Mama’s interior

 

Sugar Mama’s sign

Mural on the side of Sugar Mama’s Bakery.

The houses in the neighborhoods we walked ranged from cubist to modern to common.

 

This home looks Italianate.

The
area that really pepped us up was SoCo (short for South Commerce). We
would describe SoCo as bohemian, hip, trendy, and fun. If you go, look
for food trucks in addition to traditional restaurants.

SoCo (South Commerce in Austin, Texas)

Zebra disguised as Carmen Miranda.
Costume shop: Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds

How do you like the classic RV below?

Lots of murals around the SoCo and 1st Ave. area.

 

On south side of “Roadhouse Relics” building.

Roadhouse Relics specializes in making
authentic-looking relics. Even though everything in the store looks old,
it’s not. They sell well-made reproductions.

Mural on a tattoo studio.
Gingerbread cottage – looks like something from England.
Bouldin Castle.
Along someone’s driveway – hubcap row.

Very large yard art!
Passion fruit flower.

 At the end of our walk, we needed some ↓↓↓↓↓↓. The heat really saps your strength.

Driving
back to McKinney Falls State Park we saw this cool mural on a Chevron
station in town. It shows a number of reasons Austin is famous:  Stevie
Ray Vaughan, the State Capitol, the Colorado River, and bats coming out
from under the Congress Street Bridge.

When we returned to the 5er we had lunch, then Bob called a special
phone number to find out what time the bats were estimated to fly out.
The window of probable bat departure was 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. We rested
until it was time to head downtown.

Our evening
included viewing bats flying out from under the Congress Street Bridge.
Austin, Texas, has the nation’s largest urban bat colony living under
the bridge, estimated at 750,000 bats.

We parked at the
Austin American-Statesman parking lot on the southeast side of the
Congress Street Bridge at 8:00 p.m. and walked along Lady Bird Johnson
Lake until we ca

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24 Nov

McKinney Falls State Park Camping, Austin, TX

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Easy peasy two-hour drive was accomplished this morning from San
Antonio to Austin, Texas. When we reached McKinney Falls State Park at
11:45 a.m., a sign informed us the campground is sold out. Good thing I
made reservations four weeks ago!! We will be here for four nights.

Back-in
site #27 was assigned to us, but the ranger told us if we didn’t like
it we could drive around and find a site we do like, then call to find
out if it’s available. Site 27 had no appeal for us whatsoever. We drove
around and found a pull-through site we liked, called the office and
were approved for the pull-through site, no extra charge. So nice here;
but hot and sunny. Here we are, all set up.

Our home for four nights!
Nice and spacious.
We have a fire ring and no fire restrictions!

Did I ever tell you all how much I love nature? Just a
few minutes ago, a deer ran by our 5th wheel and a squirrel is hanging
around outside our door.

After going to the
Visitor Center, walking to Upper and Lower McKinney Falls, and going
grocery shopping, we were in mellow vacation mode.

McKinney Falls State Park
Upper Falls Swimming Hole
Upper McKinney Falls swimming hole–dry falls.
Upper McKinney Falls swimmin’ hole cypress trees.
Visitor Center at the park.

At the Visitor Center, we saw man-made
chimney swift towers. Chimney swifts historical natural nests used to be
hollow old-growth trees. However, since most old-growth trees were
logged years ago, the swifts adapted to man-made structures. The towers
are for birds to roost and nest in.

Chimney swift tower.

We took the short walk to Lower McKinney Falls. Can anyone
identify the flowers? The first flower is
white with yellow center. The second is like a jack-in-the-pulpit.
There’s a pod with a very small purple “head” poking out.

 

Swimmin’ hole at Lower McKinney Falls.
We can’t wait to go swimming!

 

Interesting potholes in the rock.

 

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24 Nov

Government Canyon State Natural Area, San Antonio, TX

Through the Woods – Sunday, July 14, 2013

 

Our hike today with San Antonio Hill Country Hikers started on the
Government Canyon State Natural Area trail at precisely 7:45 a.m. One of
the attributes I like about this group is they start on time…no
dilly-dallying.

We headed out into the frontcountry on
easy trails to warm up before heading uphill into backcountry. The first
part of the hike was on wide, flat trails. When we ventured into the
backcountry, the trails became narrower and a lot rockier. Thankfully,
most of the hike was in the woods. Woods = shade!

Hill Country Hikers at one of the park overlooks.
Trail distances. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Trail map. (Click photo to enlarge.)

 

Shade!
Nice logo on the spur trail signs.
Well, not quite. Paul took us down to an overlook.
View from the overlook toward park headquarters.
Brief break.
Paul describing the lay of the land.
Our group with Paul, our leader.
Gone to seed.
Nice tree trunk arch frame.
 Straw flower.  

 

Horse crippler cacti.

 

Mountain lions inhabit area.
Saying our good-byes.

We hiked six miles this morning and learned a lot
about Government Canyon: There are at least 40 miles of hiking trails,
more acreage has been added to the park, and new hiking trails will be
constructed; wild pigs live in the park as do rabbits and mountain
lions.

 

There was talk of going out for pancakes after
the hike and I was game, but a solid plan didn’t materialize by the time
we left. Instead, we stopped at Taco Cabana and each had egg and potato
breakfast burritos with salsa from the Salsa Bar and a bottle of orange
juice. What a great protein replenisher after the hike.

Have a good week. Travel Bug out.

 

 

 

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04 Jul

Eisenhower Park Fitness Hike

Okay, I did it again. We went on a fitness hike. After the first one,
I wasn’t going to do the fitness hikes, they’re just too darned fast
for me. But when I read the description of tonight’s hike, the “fitness”
part didn’t jump out at me. They walk 3.5 to 4 mph up and down rocky
trails. {{{pant, pant, pant}}} Thank you, Anthony, for hanging out with
us in the back so we didn’t get lost.

I opted to do one
loop of three miles. When we got to the intersection where the decision
was made to do another loop, I bailed out to walk 0.7 mi. back to the
car.

Bob came separately from work in his truck and he opted to do the second loop. So midway through the walk, we parted ways.

Uphill climb

 

The tower.

Below is a highly zoomed photo of Six Flags Fiesta Texas. If you enlarge it,you can see some of the roller coasters in the park.

Six Flags Fiesta, San Antonio, Texas

 

Part of our hiking group.

 

Our hike leader, Paul.

 

Bob heading downhill.
And there he goes.
A paved trail here.

Shortly after the above photo, I opted to head back
to the car, 0.7 mi away. On the way back to the car, I moseyed,
lollygagged, photographed, admired the scenery and chilled (as much as
one can chill
when it’s 80 degrees and muggy).

The paved trail.
Rain lily.
Blackfoot or rock daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)

 

Hearts.
Trail scenery.
Juniper berries. Lots of juniper trees in this park.
A very large juniper.
Recent rain.
Greater tickseed (Coreopsis major)
Close up of the flower stalk from the yucca below.

 

A nice fence to keep people from going on a trail.
This park is in the flight path for the San Antonio airport.
Texas plume (Ipomopsis rubra)

When I returned to the meetup area everyone was
already back! Was I THAT slow? No, the rest of the group bailed on doing
the second loop. They all wanted to go to Freetail Pizza for pizza and
beer.

We followed someone who knew where they were
going and found the place. For dinner, we ordered the “Date Night
Special,”  a pitcher of beer and a small, one-topping pizza. It was fun
talking to Kevin, Nicki and Don for an hour.

What a great way to spend the evening. Thanks to everyone for coming out.

Travel Bug out.

 

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04 Jul

Brook Hollow, San Antonio, Texas

Today I tackled Brook Hollow neighborhood Volksmarch on my own. My
Centurion Challenge is getting behind so I need to do more Volksmarches.
A good benchmark is 50 walks completed by the end of June. Currently, I
have finished 35.

The Brook Hollow walk is very close
to where Bob works. The start point is La Taza Coffee House on San Pedro
Ave. Most of the walk is in established neighborhoods with old oak
trees. The temperature was 84 degrees with 70% humidity and a nice
breeze. Even though I developed a moist sheen on my face, neck and arms,
the breeze dried me off. There were sprinkles for five minutes, but
nothing to speak about.

Here are photos from today’s Volksmarch:

Magnificent magnolias in bloom.
Tall mountain larkspur (Delphinium scaposum)
Nicely shaded streets.
Stately old oaks. You can see the humidity in the air.

 

Almost missed this doe. She was hiding behind bushes and lawn furniture.
Mimosa tree.
Clematis “Integrifolia” feathery seed head.
Long, quiet neighborhood streets.
Red bird of paradise, also called pride-of-Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

 

What kind of cactus?
Oleander and cactus.
Oleander flowers.
 
 
 
 
 
Leftover rubble on the sidewalks from the downpours.
Texans love their BBQs!! Look at this set up.
Why it’s called a white-tailed deer – tail goes up in alarm when disturbed.

The 10K (6.2 mile) walk took 1 hour and 50 minutes. Very pleasant area to walk in. I felt safe.

Ciao for now. Travel Bug out.

 

 

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04 Jul

Museum Reach of San Antonio’s Riverwalk

At 7:00 p.m., San Antonio Hill Country Hikers started their walk near
La Gloria Restaurant behind the Pearl Brewery. Goal: a four-mile round
trip walk to the Houston Street Bridge and back. Twenty-five people
walked the walk and talked the talk, some of it trash talk.

A
greeting committee consisting of our group leaders welcomes everyone
and explains the walk. A group photo is taken at the beginning, then the
fast walkers set their pace, and everyone else settles into their own
rhythm. Also at the start point, hanging out in the water were mallards,
a coot, and a yellow-crowned night heron.

Paul photographing the group at the start.
Placid aquascaping.
Yellow-crowned night heron.
Many blooming flowers along the Riverwalk.

The Museum Reach of the Riverwalk is north of
downtown and passes by the San Antonio Museum of Art. Along the Museum
Reach are works of art along the bridge overcrossings, under the bridges
and along the path.

Hands across the water (bridge overcrossing art)
Faux bois (false wood – concrete) arbor

Many tile murals line the Riverwalk. Here are a few…

 

Tile work to beautify an outlet cover.
Tile work depicting the San Antonio River.
Downtown, Tower of the Americas and river in the foreground.
Houston St. Bridge artwork of Mission Concepcion.
Fish art hanging under an interstate bridge; crepe myrtle blossom in foreground.
The Grotto – cement art complete with skull and waterfall.

The Museum Reach is beautiful with many trees and
flowers currently in bloom. Jasmine wafted in the air through sections,
honeysuckle scent in other sections. The hibiscus are in bloom and have
the most vibrant colors – red, orange, yellow, pink. The dramatic
trumpet flower has blooms that measure 10″-12″.

Trumpet flower.

For Bob and I, these walks give us time to connect
and talk about what’s going on in our lives and what we plan to do in
the future; all while enjoying the fresh air and beautiful surroundings.
The temperature was in the high 80s this evening and VERY humid!

 

Museum Reach of Riverwalk
Another yellow-crowned night heron.
Places to go from the Riverwalk. Well marked path!

When the walk was over, a number of people from the
group were going to The Cove for dinner and invited everyone to go. We
had never been and decided to check it out. What a good place. One thing
Bob and I have noticed about San Antonians is they like to sit outside
under a tree, patio, or the evening sky to eat. The Cove has a large
outdoor seating area with a small, air-conditioned inside area (the
bar). Bob and I both had “Lisa’s Special” which is two tilapia soft
tacos made with cabbage and poblano sauce, along with a spinach salad
for $9. That was the perfect ending to our four-mile walk.

We
returned home at 9:30 p.m. Thank you to the Hill Country Hikers. You
have a knack for making people feel welcome and a part of the group from
the first outing.

Travel Bug out.

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21 May

Inks Lake State Park, Texas

San Antonio Hill Country Hikers came through again with another fun
day. Bob and I left San Antonio at 7:10 a.m. and drove to Inks Lake
State Park two hours directly north of us.

State Park
Hwy 4 west from US 281 is a roller-coaster of a road, literally. As you
crest the first hill, you can’t see the bottom of the road. It is very
steep. The road goes up and down a number of times, not to mention the
tight 35 mph curvy section closer to the park entrance. Vehicles towing
RVs and boats beware!!

At
the park entrance gate, we showed our state park pass and were given a
vehicle window sticker for day use. We located the parking lot at the
trailhead and waited for more people to arrive.

Twenty people later we were off,
walking at a good clip along the green trail to Inks Lake. The
highlights of this hike were the wildflowers, the trails, lake views,
expansive granite outcrops and the cacti. However, there are a lot of
exposed areas, i.e., no shade. If you plan to hike here, be sure to put
on sunscreen and take lots of water! Start as early in the day as
possible if the temperature is going  into the 90-100 F. range.

Bob ready to roll.
Prickly pear and brown-eyed Susans.
Paul leading the pack.
Pink granite and yellow stonecrop.

The geology around Inks Lake dates back millenia and showcases
pre-Cambrian pinkish granite-like metamorphic rock called Spring Valley
Gneiss which was formed from re-crystallized sedimentary rock. The
sparkles in the rock come from feldspar minerals. Throughout our hike,
we crossed large areas of gneiss with the lovely little yellow stonecrop
succulents living in the vernal “pools.” These succulents thrive in
limestone, sandstone and granite. The yellow stonecrop lives in the
vernal (spring) depressions in the rock to absorb and use moisture
stored in the pools.

Yucca fireworks (with brown-eyed Susans).
Yellow stonecrop.

The trail is rated moderate. You must keep an eye out
for rocks and roots on the trail. Hiking poles would be a good trail
aid at this park.  The
view of Inks Lake was great from this viewpoint.

Find your own way to the top.
 
View of the lake and dam from the top of the granite hill.

Here are photos from the first part of the hike.

 
 
 
 
Hill Country Hikers hitting their stride.
I want to go there, and we did.
Lovely wildflower (rose gentian/Texas star) all by itself.
Texas paintbrush (Castilleja indivisa)
Inks Lake State Park landscape.
Bull nettle (Cnidoscolus texanus)
The trail wound up, around, over, down, and through rocks.
Cool rock.
I wasn’t kidding about lots of rocks!
 
Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata)
 
 
Pencil cactus with bright red berries.

If you ever watched the old TV series, the Addams Family, you will recognize the following…

Cousin Itt cactus (my name for it)
More Inks Lake landscapes.
Natural xeriscaping (dry landscaping).
This cactus is cheering for us, “You can do it!”
I LOVE this little cactus. The star design is gorgeous.
The brown-eyed Susans were up to our thighs.
Hey, for once I’m ahead of the pack!

With 5.9 miles under our belts, we drove to another
part of the park for a picnic lunch and a one mile hike to Devil’s
Waterhole swimming area. The weather was hot and humid. Bob could hardly
wait to get in the swimmin’ hole. I sat in the shade, took photos, and
avoided ants and mosquitoes.

Visitor to our picnic area.
Lizard on the rocks.
Winecup flower under spotted beebalm.


Swimming hole, too stagnant for Bob and others in our group.
 
Scenery by the trail. Our group did not swim here.
Bob negotiating the rocks at Devil’s Waterhole to climb higher.

Bob said the rocks were very slippery! He had to be very careful.

As
you can see in the photo below, Bob enjoyed the jump into refreshing
lake water. After Bob’s first jump, a large group of people arrived who
were drinking beer, smoking and being obnoxious. The young men of the
group climbed to the top of the large rocks and leapt out over the lower
rocks for more of a rush. I’m happy I did not witness anyone hitting
the rocks on their way down! We left shortly after.

[An
aside: At some Oregon swimming holes, people die or become quadriplegic
after hitting rocks trying to jump from too high. One swimming hole in
Oregon, High Rocks, had to close to public swimming because drunk people
were climbing the trees on the cliffs and trying to jump out far enough
to miss the rocks. If they didn’t hit the rocks on the way down, they
hit the rocks under the water. Sad.]

People jumping from the rocks above where most people dive. Bob is 6′ tall, so we can guess these taller rocks add another 20′ in elevation to the jump.

Photo below is Bob jumping from the safer (lower)
height. To the left in the photo, you can see the edge of the bottom of
the rocks above.

Bob launching himself into the air.
Bob hitting the water (bottom left).

Okay kids, don’t try this at home. Bob grew up in
Hawaii and has been jumping off cliffs into the water since he was seven
or eight years old.

With Bob refreshed and
reinvigorated, we headed about a quarter mile back to the car and called
it a day. As we drove toward US 281, we stopped so I could take a photo
of a castle on the hill. We had no idea what it was, so I Googled it.
You can read about Falkenstein Castle here.

The photos on their website do it more justice.

Bob wanted to know how Inks Lake got its name so I
Googled that too. Inks Lake was named for Roy Inks, a Llano businessman
and mayor, who worked on funding to build a dam on the Colorado River to
provide power. The funding of the dam became an obsession for Inks
which resulted in him being named Director of the Lower Colorado River
Authority (LCRA). He died before the dam was completed. Because of his
efforts in securing monies for the dam, the lake was named after him as was one of the dams.

Travel Bug out.

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