While Spicewood proper may be nothing more than a few buildings tucked away down a country road, the town’s real charm lies hidden in the surrounding hills. And if you know where to look, you’ll find plenty of reasons to support the locals’ claim that “life is good in Spicewood.”
9:00 a.m. The best cup of coffee in Spicewood (and maybe Texas) isn’t served in a coffee shop or diner, but in a metal warehouse that holds the roasting facility of Cuvée Coffee. I popped in for a morning cup and ended up with a personal tour from owner Mike McKim. After explaining the coffee trade and roasting pro-cess, Mike brought me into Cuvée’s science lab, where I watched my morning joe pass through experiments and ma-chines that I haven’t seen since high school chemistry. As the first deliciously warm sip hit my tongue, I realized there’s much more to making coffee than just pushing a button in a morning stupor.
10:30 a.m. In the mood to test my courage, I drove straight to Cypress Valley Canopy Tours for a zip-line adventure through the treetops. While some areas had to be rebuilt after the 2011 wildfires, the new course is better than ever and includes a head-to-head racing zip and platform rappel. Though my body wasflying through the trees at in-credible speeds, my mind felt more at peace than ever—that is, until my wife skunked me on the race line. A quick dip in the spring-fed pool quickly washed away the sting of defeat.
12:15 p.m. For some delicious grub on ground level, I followed the smoke to Opie’s Barbecue. Named for the owner’s old dog, Opie’s imparts a literal meaning to the name “Spice”-wood. My half rack of Opie’s “sweet and spicy” pork ribs combined with a link of jalapeño-cheese sausage and a cup of spicy creamed corn had my lips burning and my belly very happy. Luckily, a whopping serving of homemade banana pudding soothed the burn.
1:30 p.m. I hopped on my mountain bike and hit the trails of Muleshoe Bend Recreation Area. Beyond offering access to Lake Travis, Muleshoe boasts an excellent, 6.5-mile bike trail that was so fun I had to turn around and do it all over again … in reverse. It turns out that many of the hills were much more fun to go down than climb up.
3:00 p.m. Dripping with sweat from the 100-degree heat, my only chance for survival was a dip into Krause Springs, a Hill Country oasis where several natural springs pour over a cliffside waterfall and into a natural swimming hole. I dove into the crisp waters and felt refreshed enough to tackle the rope swing and explore the cave below the water-formed grotto.
5:00 p.m. Ready to slow things down a bit, I stopped in at Spicewood Vineyards, which has been crafting delicious wines for 20 years. After an informal tasting, I picked up a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to go and ventured off to find dinner.
6:30 p.m. To try my luck at spotting Spicewood’s most famous resident, Willie Nelson, I drove to Poodie’s Hilltop Roadhouse, once co-owned by Randall “Poodie” Locke, Willie’s long-time stage manager. Though Poodie passed away in 2009, his legend lives on every night as live music rings out from this hilltop bar and the grill continues to turn out its legendary “Poodie Burger,” a wonderfully greasy hunk of beef topped with green chiles and pepper-jack cheese. As I sat on the deck and watched the sun dip into the hills, I could fully relate to Poodie’s motto of “No Bad Days.”
Though Willie was nowhere to be seen, I did find ample diversions hidden in the Hill Country hideaway of Spicewood. And after spending just one day in town, I can now adamantly agree that life is indeed good here. So, whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope
to see you on the road.
Contact the Burnet County Tourism Office, 830/798-3029; www.thehighland lakes.org.
Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper travel show on PBS.