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Discovering some small-town events, with dad along for the ride

Written by , published October 31, 2012

Last week I took some time off to host my dad while he visits from out of state, which means I got to play tour guide. In his previous visits, we already explored most of the sights around my home in Austin, so this time I made plans to get out and stretch our legs in the surrounding area.

I let dad rest up on his first evening here, but the next day, we were off to explore downtown Bastrop and Bastrop State Park. Among the downtown shops and eateries on Main Street, we especially enjoyed the sign to the right (which, naturally, points to a door that can’t be opened). In the park, the loblolly pine trees still bear scorch marks as a reminder of the Labor Day fires that burned the area more than a year ago, but the trails were all open. Newly built wood bridges span many of the creek beds. More sun gets through the sparse canopy than it used to, but there’s plenty of healthy, green growth underneath.

After our six-mile morning hike, we jumped in the car again to head out to Round Top. For a little country town, a lot of events happen here, and this weekend was no exception. The beautiful concert hall at Festival Hill was hosting a chamber orchestra performance, but unfortunately, we were too late to attend, so we browsed the cute shops in historic buildings at Henkel Square instead. At dinnertime, we found an Oktoberfest celebration at Scotty & Friends Restaurant, complete with lederhosen, accordions and German tunes by Das Ist Lustig (“That’s Fun”). I enjoyed a huge cheeseburger and dad had a plate of tender sauerbraten and sauerkraut at one of several tables on their outside deck beneath a huge oak tree. It was pretty much perfect except for a few yellowjackets that seemed to really like hanging out with dad, too--one of them eventually drowned itself in what was left of his beer. Prost!

Last Saturday, we gathered more of the family together to head down to Boerne for the Harvest Moon Celebration. We overshot the location at the Boerne Visitor Center at first, not expecting it to be essentially in the parking lot of a Walmart. But once on the grounds, encompassed by the historic Menger-Kingsbury-Shumard House, we lost track of our surroundings and found ourselves immersed in a fascinating birds-of-prey demonstration by Last Chance Forever. Founding falconer John Karger and volunteers led an engaging hourlong presentation that featured hawks and falcons  flying over the audience; a juvenile (but huge) bald eagle; insights into raptors’ roles in the environment; and how to tell birds apart by their colors and shapes from afar. One of the hawks decided to hunker down in a tree directly over my head rather than swooping in for a proffered treat—luckily he didn’t do any decorating on me. An owl presentation later in the evening, plus belly dancing, a children’s costume contest and henna tattoos, made this little fall festival a real treat.

Though dad has already headed home, the fall weather is so lovely that I might keep this going and venture out somewhere else this weekend...I have my eye on Wurstfest in New Braunfels. What are your plans for this weekend?

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