The “My Texas” Challenge!

With 2019 just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about new goals. I propose the “My Texas” Challenge- crossing off everything in the Josh Abbott Band song!

Many of you are probably familiar with the song “My Texas” by Texas Country artist, Josh Abbott Band. If you don’t know the song, hopefully you know the band. If you’re at a total loss, check them out! They’re fantastic.

So the whole premise of the song “My Texas” is all of these things to do and places to see in Texas that are truly “Texan” and make the state what it is, according to Mr. Abbott.

I know have tried crossing them all off, and my best friend has told me it’s an item on her bucket list. I assume then, that it’s on the bucket list of many.

I just thought it would be fun to really pose it as a challenge, just because I’ve had so much fun and made so many memories trying to check them all off. Now I had crossed a lot of them off prior to even hearing the song, but everyone’s different.

So without further ado, here are the lyrics (pulled from AZ Lyrics for time saving purposes):

If you haven’t climbed up to Enchanted Rock,
Drank a cold Shiner down in Luckenbach,
Taken your baby to the River Walk,
Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

If you haven’t floated down the ‘Ol Frio,
Heard Red Dirt music on your radio,
Eaten Cooper’s down in Llano,
Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

You haven’t been to the Houston rodeo,
Sang “Carry On” at a Pat Green show,
If you ain’t seen an Abilene sunset,
Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

If you never caught a trout down in Port A,
Heard the words to Corpus Christi Bay,
Never seen fireworks on PK,
Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

Haven’t had a kolache when you go through West,
Never heard of the Larry Jo Taylor fest,
Think polished pop country crap sounds the best,
Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

You haven’t been to the Ft. Worth stock show,
Sang along with Cory Morrow,
And if you ain’t seen a hill country sunset,
You ain’t met my Texas yet.

You say you haven’t hiked through Big Bend,
Had your hair blown back by a Lubbock wind,
Been somewhere where they call you “friend”,
Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

You haven’t been to the San Antone Rodeo,
Sang “Everclear” at a Creager show,
If you ain’t seen an El Paso sunset,
Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.
No, you ain’t met my Texas yet!

 

At the start of the year, I’ll keep a tab up on the side bar to keep up with what I’ve got left. I’ll make sure I keep a link back to this post, so that, if y’all want, y’all can comment below and share the things you’ve done!

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Good luck!!

~Hannah ❤

 

 

*Today is Veterans Day. THANK YOU to the men and women who so bravely and honorably served this beautiful country. Because of your patriotism, we are able to live in freedom and safety. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for you and your families. Thank you.

And a special thanks to my own grandfather, a marine who served during the Vietnam War. 

Waco & DFW

Typically, in a post like this, I’d cover the whole area (see Hill Country, Coast, Beaches, etc.), but this is a special case. I don’t go to this entire area all the time. I mean I do now, but it’s not like I grew up going here and know all the trade secrets.

I stick to these two spots: Waco and the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Trust me, there’s PLENTY to do!

Things to Do In

Waco

Magnolia Market, Bakery, and the Silos

Fans of the hit HGTV show Fixer Upper come from all over the country. As a matter of fact, the first time I went, I met a family from South Dakota. Waco loves Chip and Joanna Gaines, as do I, so of course this is one of my favorite spots. When I first got there, I grabbed a bite to eat. They’ve got tons of food trucks parked on the grounds in front of the silos. I ate at Captain Billy Whizzbang’s and had the BEST BURGER OF MY LIFE. Gotta get the Whizz Pig. Just have to. Next I hit the Seed & Supply. It’s a cute little shack beside the silos with a welcoming garden in front.

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I am now the proud owner of two succulents.

Anyway, next I ventured across the lawn to the store itself. I must say, it is a little pricey, but from what I can tell, it’s good quality stuff. It’s all beautiful home decor and accessories, as well as t-shirts, Jimmy Don signs, candles, books, and more.

Including lots and lots of people.

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It’s totally worth it though, especially if we’re talking about the Silos Baking Co. I had a lemon lavender cupcake and a cup of coffee, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This bakery is a legitimately delicious bakery that I will go to again and again, not for the touristy fan experience but for the cupcakes. Seriously.

If you are a fan, make sure to swing by Laverty’s antiques. Just email them (see their Facebook page) for when they’re open!

The Backyard

Not far from the Silos is The Backyard Stage, Bar, and Grill. I’m going to be honest, I’ve never eaten there. But. I love, love, love the atmosphere. I went there one night to see Stoney Larue, and the outdoor stage, neon lights, homey vibe, and friendly folks had me falling in love with this place.

Cameron Park Zoo

It’s not Houston, but if you’re in the area, it makes for a fantastic outing, even without children. They’ve got plenty of animals to suit your fancy. They have lions, giraffes, rhinos, flamingos, tigers, lemurs, and more. I had a blast.

Heritage Creamery

I like to think of myself as an ice cream enthusiast. I mean. I can eat some ice cream. After seeing this place on Fixer Upper, I had to be that tourist and go.

So worth the touristy feeling I had walking into this place.

Honestly though, it isn’t a touristy spot. It’s right across from Baylor, so it’s mostly young folks there for ice cream, just like you. The parlor has such a homey, old-school vibe. Very much an old soul. The ice cream is made based on the seasons and Texas ingredients. It’s made right there, and you can get it in a cone that they also make themselves.

I had lavender chai and honey lavender (can you tell I like lavender??), and I was beyond pleased! If you’re not feeling the ice cream, you can go right next door to Common Grounds for a cup of coffee. Or to the Pizza Hut next to that, if you’re hungry.

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Mammoth Museum

This place is a wonder. A true, awesome, incredible, humbling wonder. It’s an active archaeological site where a while back, somewhere around 17 mammoth skeletons were uncovered. You can go through this site and get a full history of the Texas ice age, when the grass was six feet tall, mammoths bigger than the woolly mammoth, tigers, and camels roamed the plains. There’s even a tree that’s older than our civilized nation. That’s all in addition to seeing the remains of freaking mammoths.

Other places in Waco…

Dr. Pepper Museum

Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

Baylor Sporting Event

Hippodrome

 

Fort Worth

Texas Motor Speedway

This one’s for the race fans. I am a huge NASCAR fan, so I’ve been to the track a couple times. You know, even if you’re not a fan, you need to go to just experience how huge this structure is and how loud and powerful human engineering can be.

The Stockyards

Ah, the stockyards. It’s a happy place. So many brick roads, cowboy hats, and cow s***. I love it. Bring your wallets, though, because there is a whole lot to buy: boots, shirts, belts, hats, and more. You’ll easily blow a couple Benjamins if you aren’t careful. We haven’t even gotten into the things to do, like get your boots cleaned, get on a not-mechanical bull, see the cattle drive, go to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, hit the bars, and grab a $50 bite to eat at the Cattlemen Steak House.

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Other things…

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Forth Worth, from what I’ve noticed, has lots of museums and an entire cultural district. I suggest it.

Also, try to time your trip around the Stock Show: more shopping, livestock, and a rodeo.

 

Dallas

A hop, skip, and a jump away is Dallas, with its own things to do, namely the JFK tour. You can go to every site leading up to the assassination, if that’s something you’re into!

 

 

Thank y’all for reading!

I would like to say one thing, though. I don’t think my pictures are great, but they aren’t bad. These are all pictures take for myself, but I would rather use my own stuff than pull stock photos or something. I have done that because I don’t have a picture on me, but for the most part, I won’t write about something or post a picture of something that I haven’t been to/done/taken.
I’m sure none of that really matters to anyone, but I felt the need to say that. So, thanks. 🙂

 

With love and appreciation,

~Hannah ❤

Huntsville & East Texas

Since we’re rooted in Texas, I like to talk about Texas. 

Things to Do in (2)

Full disclosure, I’ve only been to East Texas once, but it was enough to know what it’s all about. I stayed in Huntsville for a weekend, and I did so much in the area.

 

Forest

My favorite part was the Sam Houston National Forest. It’s over 160,000 acres of tall, green, dense pines. For someone who’s only lived in the Hill Country or along the coast, this was such a shock. It’s kind of humbling, actually, seeing these things that are so much bigger and more majestic than you.

I went in through Huntsville State Park, which has miles and miles of hiking trails.

For more nature, you can hit up nearby Lake Conroe or any of the other lakes and creeks in East Texas.

 

History

Texas is chalk full of history. We’ve been under six flags, including our own, and won a lopsided revolution.

Our first president was Mr. Sam Houston, and the town of Huntsville doesn’t let you forget it. Huntsville loves Sam Houston. It’s home, of course, to Sam Houston State University, and every year around his birthday in March, there’s a festival where the town basically shuts down and gathers for history, food, music, and more.

If you’re not there for the festival, you can still become an expert on the president. His bagillion foot-tall statue towers over I-45 coming into Huntsville from Houston. In town you can visit the Homestead, which has the “Steamboat House” where he died, his law office, and more. You can also visit his grave at Oakwood Cemetery.

 

More in Huntsville

One of the most fascinating parts of Huntsville is its prison system. It is home to the big daddy- Texas State Penitentiary Huntsville Unit, as well as six other units. It’s here in Huntsville that convicts in Texas are executed. You can’t really tour the prison, obviously, but there are ways to learn about it and its past. There’s the Prison Museum in town, and the cemetery. I must warn you, the Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery is moving and haunting. Not haunted (I mean I guess it could be) but haunting because the experience just sticks with you. It’s where death row inmates and unclaimed deceased inmates are buried, dating back to the 1800s. Some have unmarked crossed. Some have marked crosses. Some are marked, but only with prison number, not name.

While you’re there, keep an ear out for the prison sirens. Every hour, they do a prison check, and they use a city-wide siren system to help keep everyone on the same page. One siren announces the head count is beginning, and a second announcing that it’s over, but if you hear a third siren, that means someone hasn’t been accounted for or something went wrong.

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Also, Huntsville is home to a guy that lives in a boot.

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More in East Texas

As I’m not super well-traveled in this part of the state, I know it has a lot to offer! There’s of course the forest and plenty for outdoorsmen to do. If that’s not your thing, head south to Houston where there are endless goings-on.

If Houston isn’t your thing, hit up towns like Nacogdoches, Palestine, or Tyler.

I guess if Texas in general just isn’t your thing, Louisiana is just a hop, skip, and a jump across the Sabine!

 

Sources:

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/texas/about-forest/districts/?cid=fswdev3_008443

https://events.shsu.edu/event/general_sam_houston_folk_festival_8269#.WtDbdi7wbIU

Texas Czech Road Trip

The Czech community is huge in parts of Texas. The kolaches, churches, and bumper stickers asking, “Jak se máš?” are endless and make for a fun, unique, and enlightening Texas experience.

I am of Czech descent and am minoring in Czech language. I think the language, culture, and history are fascinating, so I thought I’d try to give it some love and attention on my blog. Fall is upon us, which is when all the festivals are happening around the state. Pick a weekend during one of the festivals and hit the road on this Czech road trip!

 

Jdeme na to!

Texas

Victoria, TX- The last weekend of September, the Czech Heritage Society of Victoria hosts a Czech festival with cultural food and music. Some songs you might want to learn on your trip- “A Já Sám” and “The Shiner Song.”

If you miss the festival, there is still much to do in Victoria! There are a few museums, a zoo, plenty of shopping, beautiful historic downtown, painting with a twist, mini-golf, bowling, skating, and plenty of both local and chain restaurants. I recommend Huvar’s and the Pump House.

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Photo: http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasGulfCoastTowns/VictoriaTexas/VictoriaCountyCourthouseVictoriaTexas.htm

 

 

Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse- Head north on Highway 59 towards Houston to Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse in Hillje, between Ganado and El Campo. The front of it looks like Old West storefronts, and the inside is a sight to behold as well. As soon as you walk in, the smell of meat, spices, and baked kolaches and klobasniky fill your nostrils. The options are endless: fruit kolaches, cream cheese kolaches, meat and cheese klobasniky, jalapeno klobasniky, breakfast kolaches and klobasniky, roasted meats, dried meats, fresh baked breads of all kinds, a wide assortment of cheeses, jerky, and more, all complete with a large wine selection, fresh brewed coffee, and the usual convenience store items and refrigerated drinks. You can also snag some rustic home decor and gifts from the shop within Prasek’s and the assorted merchandise throughout the store. They also have kick-ass bathrooms.

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Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons

Fun fact- a koláč, or as we know it, kolache, is a round doughy pastry filled with fruit or sweet cheese. A pig in the blanket is NOT a kolache. The pastries that are bread completely enveloping savory foods like meat, cheese, or peppers, are called klobásníky, or klobasniky.

Fun fact #2- Prášek in Czech means “powder,” so práškový cukr is powdered (confectioner’s sugar).

 

Hruška’s- As if one kolache joint wasn’t enough, head northwest on Highway 71 out of El Campo and hit up Hruška’s bakery in Ellinger. You can’t miss the flashing “Jak se máš?” sign as you approach. Inside, you’ll find the bakery selling kolaches, klobasniky, and other pastries, as well as sausages and meats and regular lunch items, like burgers. They also carry your typical convenience store staples, in addition to a stellar on-the-go coffee bar. I highly recommend the Texas roast! They also sell tons of rustic, quirky, and down-home decor. Like Prasek’s, they also have some really nice bathrooms.

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Photo: https://www.facebook.com/HruskasStoreandBakery/

Fun fact- Hruška means “pear.”

Czech Heritage Center, La Grange- These folks really help to maintain Czech heritage in the state. Only a hop, skip, and a jump from Ellinger, you’ll find the Czech Heritage Center is full of things to explore there in La Grange. They have their Main Museum, elegant Hanslik Hall, Melnar Library, Sanford Schmid Amphitheater, Kopecky Gift Shop, and the Texas Czech Village. You can go and look around or join a tour.

They also have events going on all the time. For example, they have a conversation hour where you can learn the language, movie screenings, special exhibits, and of course, festivals.

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Photo: http://www.czechheritage.org/chs_library.html

 

Schulenburg, TX- Down Highway 77 from La Grange is the little town of Schulenburg. Schulenburg and the surrounding area are home to beautiful “Painted Churches.” You could spend a day looking at these beautiful, awe-inspiring churches. They were built and ornately decorated by Czech immigrants, and are still true to that heritage. The Stations of the Cross in some of them are written in Czech, and the altars are breathtaking. Drive out to the nearby towns of High Hill, Ammansville, and Dubina to soak in the Old World beauty, talent of our ancestors, and the peace of these churches.

Fun fact- Dubina is related to the word dub which means “oak” in Czech. The word for April is “Duben,” which is related to the trees blossoming during that time of the year.

 

For a link to all the churches, click here!

 

Flatonia, TX- The last stop on this tour is Flatonia, TX. It’s just west of Schulenburg on Interstate 10. The first stop I’d make is in Praha (Praha is Czech for the city of Prague). It’s home to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, one of the painted churches. Go into town, though, and you’ll find cute and quaint downtown Flatonia. It’s rich in Czech culture, as you’ll notice from historical markers, the Chamber of Commerce, and family names on signs posted on businesses, street names, or political signs. Go during October, and you’ll be able to attend Czilispiel (“chili spill” if you can’t see it), which is a huge celebration of Czech and German culture.

Here are some of my pictures when I was at St. Mary’s last fall:

BONUS- West, TX- If you’re really feeling the drive, take Highway 77 to Waco and then jump on northbound Interstate 35 to West, Texas. It hosts a huge Czech community. As soon as you get into West, you have your choice of bakeries and Czech eateries. I personally like Slovacek’s, but they’re all good! In the fall, they hold a huge Czech Fest. People come from all over every year, just to take part in the festivities, from food to beer to music.

 

I know it isn’t the most exciting of all road trips, especially if you’re not Czech. If you need more to do, I recommend these stops:

 

Ganado, TX- Ganado (where I happen to be from) is a super small town, but we’ve got enough to offer to keep you busy. I especially suggest grabbing lunch at the Ganado Cafe- Lori makes some damn good burgers- and catching a movie at the theater. It was the first theater in the U.S. to have digital fiber optic sound, opening in the early forties, and is one of the last in the nation to be privately owned (by a man with Czech origins, actually).

 

El Campo, TX- El Campo is bigger than Ganado, and has its fair share of things to do. I highly recommend a night at Greek Brothers. I love Greek’s. It’s a swanky honky tonk restaurant that serves great food and offers up live music pretty often by well-known Texas Red Dirt artists: Roger Creager, Randy Rogers, William Clark Green, and one I’m thinking of going to, Koe Wetzel. Even bigger mainstream names like Luke Bryan and Eric Church have played there. It’s the place to be!

 

La Grange, TX- This city has plenty of its own to offer outside the Heritage Center. They’ve got endless shopping and history. It’s home to band ZZ Top and where The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was filmed. If you’re there at the right time, you could drive out to Warrenton, Round Top, and Carmine for Antique Weekend. It’s the biggest junk, craft, and antique show in the state. It’s amazing.

 

Shiner, TX- Shiner is south of Flatonia on Highway 95. It is of course where Shiner beer is brewed. The Spoetzel brewery is available for tours year-round.

Endorsement- I’m not a beer drinker, but Shiner is a beer I will more than willingly drink. Shiner Bock, Shiner Premium, and Shiner Homespun have amazing flavors and finishes. If you’ve never had a Shiner, have one.
Gonzales, TX- West on Highway 90 from Shiner is the historically significant town of Gonzales. This town kickstarted the Texas Revolution with the famous “Come and Take It” flag and canon. To learn more about Texas’ badass history, head to Gonzales!

Johnson City: Texas Markets

This post, as well as a few others like this, profiles one of the many markets in Texas. I attend markets regularly as both vendor and customer, and there’s a reason for that: they are so fun!

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Nestled in the Hill Country, Johnson City Market Days is one of my favorites. It’s in downtown Johnson City, Texas, home of President Lyndon B. Johnson (whose boyhood home you can visit, if you’re a history buff), and falls every fourth weekend from March to October, with special dates during the holidays.

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The entire market is situated on one block, so it is pretty small. Despite its small size, the quality, diversity, and talent of the vendors more than make up for it.

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I sampled raw honey from a kind old man. There was a booth that sold unique stylish woodwork. There was jewelry, handmade knives, salsas… So many things that were handcrafted. I think that’s why I loved it so much: almost everything there was crafted by someone local. It wasn’t stocked with folks selling retail.

I ended up getting a hand-poured candle by Rustic Swank out of Marion, Texas. Their candles are made with “soy, dehydrated fruits, spices, an fragrance oils,” and all coloring, if used, is organic. I got the Lavender Fields scent, because I’m obsessed with lavender. It was $10, and they’ll refill it for half price.

 

The Texas Hill Country

A broad look at the gorgeous Hill Country.

CANVA Texas Hill Country

The Hill Country is the part of Texas I think everyone comes to see. The rolling hills, the breathtaking rock, blue skies, clear rivers, and blanketing bluebonnets are enough to make anyone want to drop everything and move here. Hell, I did. I moved here to go to college, but when I would question my choice of university and start looking somewhere else, the Hill Country kept me from leaving. In today’s post, I’m going to highlight just a few of my favorite places in the Texas Hill Country, but it is not, by any means, an exhaustive list.

 

Austin

Austin is known for so many things: the Capitol, Sixth Street, UT, Austin City Limits, South by Southwest, Circuit of the Americas, and more that I’m probably forgetting. So many people come here, too, because of how “weird” it is by reputation.

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Me at Jo’s Coffee on SoCo.

There’s more to Austin, though, than Sixth and Keepin’ it Weird. In fact, those are personally my least favorite things about it.

If you were to come to Austin, here’s where I’d send you:

Nutty Brown Cafe

I love the Nut so much. It’s easily my favorite music venue, and I’m sure they have great food, too (disclosure: I haven’t actually eaten there). I have been a couple of times for musical performances, once for the We Are Blood charity concert featuring Wade Bowen, Stoney Larue, and others and again for the Randy Rogers Band. It’s located west of Austin on Highway 290 going towards Dripping Springs. You can’t miss the neon cowboy out front! The amphitheater is located behind the restaurant. It has a large standing area that faces the stage and surrounding all of that is a lovely (and welcome in the summer time) grove of trees, tables and chairs of a wooden deck, a gorgeous bar, and sometimes a food truck or two. It’s so intimate, comfortable, welcoming, and fun. They usually feature country artists, both higher profile (like Jake Owen) and beloved Texas Country artists.

 

Pictures I took from the We Are Blood benefit concert, featuring Wade Bowen and Stoney Larue.

Lick Ice Creams

For most people, it’s all about Amy’s. I like Amy’s a lot, but I love Lick. Lick is located on Lamar Boulevard in downtown, and it features a rather unique variety of ice creams. Their ice creams are made mostly with products grown or raised here in Texas and is all natural. In addition (this is my favorite part), the flavors are… different. They’re a little weird, but they are damn good. Some flavors I have gotten have been Pink Peppercorn Lemon Twist, Grapefruit with Champagne Marshmallow, Goat’s Milk with Honey and Thyme, Fromage and Fig, and one with dewberries (I can’t remember the name…). They have their year-round, standard (which aren’t so “standard”) flavors and another set of seasonal flavors, which of course incorporate seasonal ingredients, like the dewberries in the spring. If this doesn’t quite sound your speed, I suggest Holla! Mode which is Thai Style ice cream. If you aren’t familiar with Thai style, then you better get there. It’s so cool. The ice cream makers (usually in a food truck) will mix up your liquidy ingredients and right before you, pour the mixture onto a cold table and start chopping, scraping, and mixing your ice cream until it’s frozen. Then they roll it on up into swirls and stack the swirls up in your bowl.

 

Lick Ice Creams

 

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Holla! Mode ice cream on Barton Springs Road with some pictures from the Greenbelt and Mount Bonnell.

 

The Capitol

This is for the history buffs out there. Lucky for you, if you go anywhere in Texas, you’ll be surrounded by decades of history. After all, we had our own Revolution and were our own country once. Anyway, the Texas State Capitol, is one of the most beautiful buildings in Texas, from the grounds to the Goddess of Liberty on top. They do free tours every half hour or you can do a self-guided tour. Keep an eye out for blond squirrels, as well!

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Greenbelt

If you are an outdoor enthusiast and Lady Bird Lake just doesn’t cut it, take a hike through the Greenbelt. The two entrances I recommend are at Zilker Park (if you’re facing the entrance to Barton Springs, walk to the right-or westward- until you hit the entrance of the trail) or at Loop 360 and Mopac (it’s at the southbound feeder road onto Mopac from 360, where it crosses over Mopac. Instead of going on the ramp to get on southbound Mopac, stay right and go straight. You’ll see cars parked on the side of the road right there.) The Greenbelt’s trails range from easy meandering trails to more difficult ones with rocks and slippery dirt. There’s rock climbing and of course, Barton Creek, with plenty of places to cool off or splash around. Beware the slippery rocks, however.

 

 

Salt Lick (Driftwood)

When it comes to supper time, go big or go home. One of my favorite places that I don’t go to enough is The Salt Lick Barbecue in Driftwood, southwest of Austin. Totally worth the drive. The place is usually hoppin’- a sign of its deliciousness- and has its own vineyard as well as live music outside on the lighted deck. The best part- the food comes out right away. That’s because in the middle of this joint is a massive pit that cooks the barbecue all day long, so as soon as you order, all someone has to do is go cut it and pull it off the pit. And you get so much food.

 

Fredericksburg

This town was my first taste of the Hill Country as a kid. We used to go here when we took my sister to camp. There is so much to do, and it never gets old. You could go back again and again and still have just as much fun.

Enchanted Rock

You can’t go to Fredericksburg and not climb up Enchanted Rock. Basically, it’s a big ass “mountain” of limestone. It’s truly awesome. As you drive closer to it and see it start to rise above the horizon, you really get to develop this appreciation and awe for nature. You won’t feel the same when you’re climbing up its steep sides! Not really. Even when you’re sweating and out of breath, you will still (hopefully) be mesmerized.

 

 

Luckenbach

Ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain out here. Luckenbach is a little bitty town outside of Fredericksburg, and it’s a must. They have the general store, which features weird stuff from the past, t-shirts, and of course, Waylon Jennings’ music. Of course, there’s the dance hall. It isn’t very big, but the hardwood floor and lack of air conditioning put a smile on my face and take me back to what it must have been like decades ago before people lost their minds. There’s live music played in Luckenbach almost every day of the week, too, and they’ve got good food out there to go with it.

 

 

Market Days and Downtown Shopping

I won’t go into the market as much, since I have another post about it.

Downtown, though, is so damn cute. There are shops that go on forever on both sides of the road: boutiques, B&B’s, restaurants, antique shops, and my favorite, Rustlin’ Robs- endless honey butters, jellies, salsas, pickled things, peanut butters, and more, all with free samples. It’s heaven.

German restaurants: Der Lindenbaum and Auslander

Fredericksburg and the surrounding area were heavily settled by German immigrants, and they embrace the culture. Even the street (strasse) names in downtown are in German. The first restaurant listed, Der Lindenbaum on Main Street, is my favorite of the two because it is much more authentic, quaint, quiet, and, well, German. I’m no German expert, but I have been to Germany and ate its food for days, so I like to think I have a little bit of credibility here. Plus, the last time I ate there, my waitress was from Munich. The other restaurant, the Auslander, also on Main Street, is more tourist-y, but I enjoy it all the same. They oftentimes have a live band performing in the bar, and they feature less traditional (but altogether tasty) German cuisine.

 

Frio River

The Frio River is certainly one of my happy places. It runs through southwest/ southwest central Texas (this state is so big I don’t even know how to categorize places), west of San Antonio. It’s a huge vacation place for Gulf-Coasters like myself. I go every year. We get a big house in Concan, Utopia, or somewhere else close to the river and just set out everyday and float. One year we were actually on the Sabinal river, and we got to kayak there as well as float the Frio. The water’s cold, the sun is hot, the grass green, the rocks are big, and the hills are tall. It’s heavenly.

 

There are so many places I could point you, too. Here’s a brief list of some towns I suggest looking into…

 

Bandera

Bandera is not too far east of Utopia, mentioned above. I love Bandera for its cowboy style and cute shops. The Hill Country State Natural Area is one of the best hiking spots (I think) in Texas, and the O.S.T. Restaurant is delicious and hardy, especially for breakfast. It’s not only got great food, but everyone is super nice and friendly and John Wayne is everywhere.

 

 

Boerne

Boerne is another cute little town north of San Antonio. It has a gorgeous, old-fashioned downtown with plenty of shops, including an awesome frozen yogurt place. If you do go to the area, see if you can check into the Ye Kendall Inn– it’s supposedly haunted. I stayed once and didn’t sleep a wink because I was so afraid I’d see someone staring back at me in the mirror that was not me. Nothing happened, but I was not comfortable! If you’re in Boerne, venture to some other nearby towns just to really embrace the Hill Country spirit: Sisterdale, Kendalia, Blanco, Bergheim… there are several dance halls around here, so check those out too!

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My very colorful and delicious frozen yogurt bowl.

 

Wimberly

Wimberly is southwest of Austin, directly west of San Marcos. It, like all the others, is great for shopping and dining. What the others don’t have is one of Texas’ best kept secrets: Jacob’s Well. Jacob’s Well is a natural swimming hole in Cypress Creek. It’s wonderful to see, just to imagine how nature can do such cool things. If you want to take a dip, though, you have to make a reservation. If not, head over to San Marcos and float the San Marcos River.

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Hell, drive down Interstate-35 aways to New Braunfels and you can float the Comal or Guadalupe Rivers. While you’re in New Braunfels, I suggest eating at Clear Springs Restaurant, doing some shopping and dancing in Gruene (home of Texas’ oldest dance hall), and going swimming at Canyon Lake.

 

Llano

I say this for one reason- Cooper’s Barbecue. I drove an hour on my birthday and five and a half hours on my boyfriend’s birthday just for this barbecue because it is that good.

 

 

San Antonio

Okay.. Alamo, Riverwalk… San Antonio has endless things to do. I have not been enough (or at least not that recently) to really give an honest “report” of things in San Antonio, but I love the city all the same. My favorite things are the Alamo, the Riverwalk, and the wax museum (because I’m a nerd).

 

Oh yes, and of course… the endless wineries and distilleries all over the state. Drive down any highway up there long enough and you will come across a vineyard.

I feel like there is something I’m forgetting here… maybe because Texas is just so pretty and fun and big that I can’t possibly capture everything about the Hill Country in one post, but I certainly tried. I hope this can act as a decent guide for someone wanting to get a little adventure in!

Stay adventuring, my friends. Appreciate the little things, eat all the barbecue, buy the junk you don’t need, and smell the bluebonnets. Many blessings!

 

~Hannah ❤

Beaches

This is “Making With Texas,” so I am going to talk more about Texas. Think of this as a travel piece, if you will, because by the end, you’ll want to hit the beach.

 

 

 

I grew up on the Gulf Coast, but not literally on the coast, with beaches in my backyard, which is essentially what this post is about. Take a minute, though, and pray for these places. In 2017, they were hit very, very hard by Hurricane Harvey. I was lucky enough to have been further inland, but these beautiful places were not so lucky. But hey, they’re in Texas, so of course they will bounce back!

Texas Beaches

Port Aransas

Port Aransas is my favorite beach. Not because it’s breathtakingly picturesque or the ultimate paradise, but it’s where we’d go when I was a kid when we went to the beach for real.

Port A is just north of Corpus Christi- right across the water, actually. It’s accessible by ferry-which I think is always fun- and is such a lovely beach. The sand isn’t full of shells or seaweed (though they are present). It’s clean and, well, sandy. Not like clay. The water is fresh and salty, not too murky or dirty. They even have an ice cream truck (or they did the last time I was there). An ice cream truck!

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Corpus Christi

Let’s keep it in the area and talk about Corpus Christi. Not just the beaches, but the city as well. The beach is nice, but the last time I was there I was swimming with a bull shark. I suppose that can happen anywhere, though! I like Corpus for more than its beach, frankly. I love the U.S.S. Lexington. It’s a carrier docked in the bay that you can go tour. If you’re into history like me, especially World War II (I am obsessed with learning about WWII), then the Lexington is where you need to visit. The Texas State Aquarium is in Corpus, too, which is fun every single time. Everything from sharks to itty bitty seahorses are there to see. You can even pet the stingrays! Not to be forgotten among all of this is Harbor Bridge- it’s gorgeous at night, with its lights reflecting in the water. For food, head to Snoopy’s Pier. It survived Harvey!

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Rockport

Memories. My dad used to work in Rockport, so in the summer, we would sometimes drive down to see him and hang out on the beach. It’s my second-favorite beach, I’d say. Like Port A, in my opinion, it’s clean and pretty. Also, head down to Copano Bay for some fishing! Note, by the way, that Rockport, as well as these others, were hit hard by Harvey. We are Texas Strong for sure, but the love and prayers are always welcome.

 

Galveston

I haven’t been to Galveston, but I hear great things! I want to go. Not just to the beach either. There’s Kemah Boardwalk, for one. Galveston also is known for having some haunted locales, mostly because of the hurricane of 1900 that killed 8,000 people. So if you’re into fun in the sun, carnival rides, and ghosts, Galveston is the place to be.

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Those above are some of the bigger beaches. Those are the ones that a tourism pamphlet would point you to, but I’m going to take a minute to look at the beaches I frequent more often, even if they aren’t the prettiest.

 

Magnolia & Indianola

Magnolia Beach is not too far from Port Lavaca, if you know where that is. It isn’t great, but it’s free, not very crowded, and still fun. The sand has a lot of shells, but it’s not too bad. I’d go there before Rockport or something, if I just want to get out for the day.

About a minute down the road is Indianola, which has such a fascinating history. It was founded not long after Texas became a state, but in 1886, a major hurricane completely wiped out the city, killing nearly 100 people and levelling buildings. All that’s there now are a few bay houses and the towering monument of La Salle, who landed at Matagorda Bay in the 1600s.

Indianola has been good to me as far as crabbing and fishing are concerned! Might not be the best place to sunbathe, but certainly a nice spot for outdoorsy folks and history buffs.

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This is one crab (out of about a dozen) I caught one year during spring break.

 

Matagorda Beach

On the complete other side of this bay is Matagorda beach. It’s not a bad beach either, though sometimes it can be a little dirty, since the young folks like to party there sometimes. It isn’t free, but it isn’t much and worth it if you want to just get to the water!

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These last few places are like home to me. Places like Magnolia, Indianola, Matagorda, Port Alto, Olivia… it’s home. So you decide: go local or go tourist, or hell, do both!

 

Hope to see y’all there!

 

~Hannah ❤

 

 

 

***Images/logos are not mine. I don’t own them or have any part in them whatsoever, nor did I in anyway edit or change them. I just wanted some visuals for readers , visuals that I myself could not just “get.” I found them from the following sites via Google Image search:

PORT ARANSAS:
http://www.portaransas-texas.com/vacation-rentals/port-aransas-beachfront-condos

U.S.S. LEXINGTON:
https://usslexington.com/about-the-uss-lexington/12/

ROCKPORT:
http://www.texasescapes.com/Museums/Rockport-Texas-Maritime-Museum.htm

http://www.rockport-fulton.org/51-Things-To-Do

 

GALVESTON:
https://www.hotels.com/de1436079-st4/four-star-hotels-galveston-texas/

 

LA SALLE:
http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasGhostTowns/IndianolaTexas/IndianolaTx.htm

 

MATAGORDA:
https://www.tripadvisor.com/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g56243-d4302648-i178830830-Matagorda_Bay_Nature_Park-Matagorda_Texas.html

 

HEADER:
http://matagordabaytexas.com/

Top 5 Texas Hill Country State Parks & Natural Areas

My favorite  outdoors-y spots in the Hill Country, just in time for summer.

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The family and I love being outside, whether it be fishing at the river, sitting by the fire in our backyard, or hiking in New Mexico.

Since I go to school in Austin, I take advantage of the nearby Hill Country to go hiking and sightseeing at the numerous state parks and natural areas. I never get bored looking at the limestone, little critters running around, and clear waters. I think Texas is beautiful, and I’m glad we have so many preserved natural areas.

I like to think I’ve been to enough parks now that I am somewhat credible when it comes to recommendations, so just in time for summer, I made a short list of my favorite places. I ranked them based on how unique their attractions are, the abundance of activities in the park, and things to do outside the park in surrounding cities.

5. Jacob’s Well

Wimberly, Texas

Fees: free to look, $9 to swim

jacob's well

Jacob’s Well is a fully submerged cave in Cypress Creek, which flows through the quaint town of Wimberly, just west of San Marcos, and feeds into the Blanco River. It serves as a spring, pumping out thousands of gallons of water every day at 68 degrees. As far as we’re concerned, it serves as a swimming hole!

It’s a truly fascinating place. It’s crazy to imagine that this pit (an over 1,000 foot cavern!) just formed naturally and so beautifully.

Besides swimming and sunbathing, there isn’t anything else to do at Jacob’s Well, which is why I put it at number five, but as I said, it is in Wimberly. In the little town is the cutest, most bustling town square with shops, restaurants, activities, and not far from downtown, a replica pioneer town. If Wimberly ins’t your thing, not far is San Marcos, with the San Marcos River, a huge outlet mall, and more. Up the interstate from San Marcos is Austin, which is a world of fun in its own right.

Also not far from Jacob’s Well is Hamilton Pool. It’s also another natural swimming hole- quite breathtaking. I kept it off the list for a couple reasons. One, it’s almost twice as much per person than Jacob’s Well. It’s also farther away from towns; Bee Cave (a town incorporated as a part of way, way west Austin) is about twenty minutes, Austin itself is another twenty or thirty, Dripping Springs is twenty or thirty, and the next closest town is probably Johnson City, unless you want to count Round Mountain, which is more of a community than a city. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to Hamilton Pool though!!!

 

4. Hill Country State Natural Area

Bandera, Texas

Fees: $6/person, children 12 and under- free

This is my favorite, despite it being at number four. It’s my favorite because it’s so big, so free and rugged, and is in Bandera, which is one of my favorite towns in the world. It has forty miles of trails for hiking, biking, and even equestrian use. The trails are of various difficulties, from easy walks to challenging climbs. Camping is also available.

These are the pretty much the only activities, but for me, that’s enough. Forty miles of hiking and sightseeing. That’s enough to make me happy. Throw in how open it is and how relatively few people (in my experience) are there, it’s the perfect getaway.

As mentioned, it’s located near Bandera. Bandera is a very western town, embracing the cowboy culture. I love it. There are so many shops, events, and restaurants (my favorite is O.S.T.) to keep you busy. Also not far (okay, it’s a little bit of a drive but not really) is the Frio River. It is a Texas favorite. I go float it every year!

 

3. Enchanted Rock

Fredericksburg, Texas

Fees: $7/person, children 12 and under- free

My pictures don’t do it justice. Enchanted Rock is a massive limestone rock north of Fredericksburg and south of Llano. It’s a truly majestic sight. Majestic. Seeing such a huge, natural structure is astounding and even humbling.

Warning- it’s a climb. I’m pretty in shape and workout frequently, and I even had to take a second to catch my breath. Once you get to the top though, it makes it all worth it. Seeing Texas unfold before you for miles and miles is awe-inspiring.

Nearby is Fredericksburg with its unlimited entertainment and experiences. The shops downtown offer a wide variety of goods, from jellies to clothes to quilts to jewelry to bath bombs to books. There’s of course the prominent German culture there, so you have your choice of German cuisine. If you’re there at the right time, you could head out on 290 to the Market Days- three days of antiquing, junking, and shopping. Even if there is no market, head out on 290 anyway and hang a right to spend time in Luckenbach. No matter which direction you head in, you’ll for sure stumble across a winery.

If you go the other way towards Llano, you’ll be pleased. The drive is lovely and Llano has something to offer as well. They have a cute downtown, with a multitude of shops, and it is home to one of my favorite restaurants- Cooper’s Barbecue.

 

2. Colorado Bend State Park

Bend, Texas

Fees: $5/person, children 12 and under- free

Colorado Bend State Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Located south of Lampasas and San Saba, west of Cherokee, and north of Llano, this over-5,000 acre park is home to Gorman Falls. It’s a sixty-foot, natural, “living” waterfall. It took centuries to form. The groundwater underground is dissolving the limestone. The dissolved limestone comes up to the surface where the calcite gets deposited. This is called Travertine. Because it’s so rich in nutrients and good stuff, that green cascading vegetation is able to grow.

Gorman Falls transported me to a fairy land. It’s gorgeous! It’s so hard to believe such a thing is even real. It’s pretty treacherous to get to, too.

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You’ve got to scale down these rocks to get to the falls. It’s worth it, but also quite intimidating!

Besides Gorman Falls, Colorado Bend State Park has plenty to do, including camping, fishing, paddling, cave exploration, swimming, biking, and hiking. The park has 35 miles of hike and bike trails. I only managed to hike 6 when I was there.

In terms of things to do beyond the park, there isn’t a great deal. At least nothing in close proximity. Llano is nearby. Cherokee is a small community close by as well, with a tempting barbecue joint in a barn. You could also drive up to Lampasas or San Saba, both twenty-thirty miles from Bend. If you’re feeling adventurous, Austin is about two hours. In my opinion, however, I think the park offers plenty to do that you could spend at least a weekend seeing new things and doing numerous activities.

 

  1. Pedernales Falls State Park

Johnson City, Texas

Fees: $6/person, children 12 and under- free

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I love this park so much. It was one of the first parks I visited up here. It’s only about 30 miles west of Austin, and a hop, skip, and a jump from Dripping Springs and Johnson City.

The park is centered around the Pedernales River and displays the breath-taking Pedernales Falls. No, it’s not a sixty-foot waterfall, but it’s a vast landscape of limestone pits and crevices, where the cold clear water rushes, flows, and makes its way downstream. It’s one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen, natural or otherwise. I’ve been to Europe, so that’s saying something.

The park has so much to do. They have around 20 miles of hike, bike, and equestrian trails. There’s even a trail where you have to cross the river, without a bridge. You’ve actually got to take off your shoes (or not, I guess) and wade across. It was fun! They also have places for swimming, paddling, and camping.

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Get out there! Happy hiking, biking, riding, swimming, kayaking, or camping. May you revel in the beauty of the Texas Hill Country!

Be safe and have a great summer!

 

~Hannah ❤

 

Sources:

http://www.co.hays.tx.us/jwna.aspx

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/hill-country

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/enchanted-rock

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/colorado-bend

https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/pedernales-falls

 

All photos in this post are mine. If used, I and/or this site must be given credit.

My Coast

This is “Making With Texas,” so I am going to talk more about my Texas. Think of this as a travel piece, if you will, because by the end, you’ll want to come to the Coastal Bend of South Texas.

 

I say in the intro there that this is a travel piece, and in a sense I suppose it is. Mostly, though, I just want to talk about where I grew up. I talk about it a lot in a similar post to this, one that talks about beaches. I didn’t grow up with a beach for a backyard, but I grew up around Matagorda, Port Alto, Magnolia and Indianola, and Olivia. Those weren’t home, either, though. I grew up in Ganado, which is about half an hour from Olivia.

Ganado is small. I graduated with 45 people, which for many people is very tiny, but I wouldn’t want anything else. Our town is so special, too, and I talk about it a lot in another post about the Ganado market.

Ganado was settled in the 1800s along the new railroad. All it had at the time was a bunch of cows, hence its name Ganado, which means “cattle” in Spanish. That said, it does have a large Hispanic population, but a lot of us are Czech or German. It isn’t unusual to hear someone call a beer pivo which is Czech for beer.

In Ganado, we have a bit to do, especially for someone who’s into small town Texas. We have a an old theater that opened in the 1940s, the first in the U.S. to have digital fiber optic sound, and is one of the last to be privately owned.

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We have a monthly market, as well as a few shops, like a western wear store and a fabulous quilt shop. There’s a good Mexican restaurant, barbecue joint, burger place, and a little place that sells Blue Bell. Throughout the year we have festivals, like the Chili Spill and Crawfish Festival, complete with a dance and games. There’s Lake Texana, too, if you’re a fisherman or kayaker. If freshwater isn’t your thing, half an hour or so away is bay. You can to Olivia, Port Alto, Port O’Connor, or Port Lavaca, among other places.

Left: Olivia | Right: Lake Texana

There are many other cute towns around, especially if you go farther inland, a little away from the coast: Edna, Victoria (downtown is so old and beautiful), and Cuero, as well as up north into Fayette county. Oh, and you can’t forget Shiner!

 

Okay, so many of those towns are a good hour and a half or so from water, but we’re all close together. In one weekend, you could hit our theater and listening room- the Rear Window, Cuero’s beautiful antique shops and come back for Turkey Fest, Victoria’s downtown (you must drop some cash and eat at the Sendera) and come back for Boot Fest, to Shiner for some beer, then to Flatonia for the Czilispiel and the painted churches.

And all along the way, you’ll see cows and horses, beautiful fields of corn and cotton, green very gently rolling hills or the flat land that leads to the water, old barns, wild flowers, wrap around porches, creeks and rivers, and bails of hay.

It’s not much, but it’s home.

It’s Texas.

It’s who we are.

You’re always welcome!

 

~Hannah ❤

 

***Images/logos are not mine. I don’t own them or have any part in them whatsoever, nor did I in anyway edit or change them. I just wanted some visuals for readers , visuals that I myself could not just “get” at the time of this writing. I found them from the following sites via Google Image search:

LAKE TEXANA:LAKE TEXANA: http://wiseabouttexas.com/texas-towns-texana/lake-texana/
OLIVIA: http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasGulfCoastTowns/OliviaTexas/OliviaTx.htm

THEATER:THEATER: http://www.flickriver.com/places/United+States/Texas/Ganado/

 

It’s Springtime in Texas!

 

The Greenbelt in ATX is the place to be as the temps climb!

 

 

Mother Nature is in full bloom.

 

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And that means bluebonnets!

 

 

Even the beach is an absolute joy in March.

Magnolia Beach

 

 

Happy spring, y’all!

~Hannah

 

 

 

*All photos were taken by and belong to me. Use of them is prohibited without expressed permission. Thanks, y’all. 🙂