Do you have a special place/routine that you retreat to when you need to recharge your mind and body? Mine is heading to the heart of the Texas hill country in spring… to the land of sparkling clear rivers, blue skies, and seas of bluebonnets carpeting rolling hills and pastures. Everything is fresh and renewing itself after a cold winter. White-tailed does and their new fawns are frolicking across green grasses, young hawks are testing their wings on the warming air currents, and the breezes are plentiful and fresh.
My first stop on my whirlwind pilgrimage was as dusk was falling across the hills and bathing the landscape with its soft golden light. We pulled off the road and positioned our cameras across a field of bluebonnets to where the timeless stone edifice of The Bluebonnet House stood just before you reach the town of Marble Falls. Photographers were already there seeking their sweet spots to capture another photo of this iconic place. I found mine and snapped away.
Then came a sunset shot from the shoreline where we stopped for a bite to eat at a local restaurant. Texas sunsets charge the spirit of this Texan. Arrived after dark at the home of our hostess and host… the Pattersons (relatives). Or as we really refer to ourselves, the real Lucy and Ethel and Ricky and Fred. This is due in large part to the adventures we always manage to find ourselves in each time we are together. And we have shared some more than worthy of our own television show! And as is usual, we old folks stayed up until 3 a.m. catching up on news. I don’t recall hitting the pillow before I was out… happy to be back in the land of bluebonnets and Texas-sized adventures to come.
April 8, 2017
The day began with a pilgrimage to visit a sweet angel taken too soon from us… a ladybug named Brooklyn. One of these days, you may find her crossing the pages of one of my books in loving memory.
As it was the noon hour, where else would we wind up but at the famous Gil’s in San Marcos, Texas… a few steps from the campus of Texas State University. I first visited Gil’s over 4 decades ago. I keep going back because of the world-famous, incredible Manske Rolls they make there. Think of a cinnamon roll but three times better!!
Rolling out of there, we headed for some R & R to ready ourselves for the evening’s main event… a climb into the hills above the lakes to the west of Austin, Texas. Anyone who has ever been to the Oasis, knows the best sunsets are to be had from the many terraces of this one-of-a-kind eating establishment perched on the side of a cliff overlooking Lake Travis.
April 9, 2017
Rise and shine early and hit the trail of bluebonnets. We found the best crop of blue at Pedernales Nature Park in Johnson City. They were just about to turn and go to their ‘weedy seedy stage’ but I got some shots that were worthy of the beauty of the hill country and to share with my readers. An hour down the road, my travel buddies and I reached the Texas Bluebonnet Festival in Burnet, Texas. LOTS of arts and crafts booths, carnival, street dances, and a 100-entry kick-off parade. I was soaking up the atmosphere and jotting notes because as many of you know who have read my books to date, these grandest of country customs… the small-town fairs figure in some way in my story lines. I am a people watcher and this is a great spot. While some things change, so many things still stay the same in Texas and I love that.
Lunch time arrived and it was time for some of the best tradition in Texas… BBQ. And since we were in the neighborhood, we drove over to Llano, Texas, and enjoyed ourselves immensely at Cooper’s Old-Time BBQ. The line is out the door and around the building. Charter buses come and go, and there is a never-ending supply of the food served on butcher paper for plates and lots of finger-licking goodness.
More bluebonnet photos were taken along the backroads to our destination for the evening, Marble Falls, Texas. After some stops to shop at local stores, we crashed at our hotel. And no one drives through this town and does not stop at The Bluebonnet Café. Again, the line is long morning, noon and night. But you can’t beat those mile-high towers of meringue on pies that have the diners rushing through meals to get to the best part… dessert. It was a long day, but it was FUN! Good company, beautiful Bluebonnets along with Mexican Blankets, Indian Paintbrush, pink Buttercups, etc., and great Texas food. Head hit the pillow with a smile on my face.
April 10, 2017
Bidding farewell to friends and family, we head for home. My soul and brain have been revived and refreshed from my journey to the hill country. And I came home with more ideas and stories floating around inside my imagination. Can’t wait for next spring and its crop of Bluebonnets!
I hope you have enjoyed my trip to renew and reinvigorate my creative processes. It is this land, this people, this state that underpins my writing and brings forth the stories that I hope you have enjoyed and will continue to do so. I have a LOT more to come over the next few months.