Johnson City flips the switch on its annual Lights Spectacular November 28, turning on more than 100,000 lights that drape the Blanco County Courthouse.
The pale green waters of the San Marcos River slip silently past my comfy spot on the shady deck. During summer, groups of kayakers would float by, but at this time of year, the only sound is the delicate percussion of distant rapids.
Not sure about grilled goat? Then head to Brady this Labor Day Weekend (August 29-30, 2014) for the World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-Off, now in its 41st year.
It is nearly dusk on the lower Guadalupe, one of those incomparable evenings when skies are clear, humidity is low and the only insects in sight are lightning bugs. The river is low and has been since the drought came along in ’05, and maybe that contributes to the blessed dearth of mosquitoes. But water flows deep enough for the handful of fly fishermen who have spread out along this stretch to get a hit every 20 minutes or so. They aren’t speaking—it’s not even clear if they’re together—and are too far away for me to hear the zzz-zzz-whoosh as they rhythmically cast their lines over and over. I can hear the burbling Guadalupe itself, but just barely.
If Ottmar von Behr had gotten his way 155 years ago, Sisterdale would look a whole lot different than the tiny town it turned out to be.
Luci Johnson, the youngest daughter of President Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, admits that her love of nature came later in life, despite her mother’s devotion to protecting and restoring native plants. But, thanks to Lady Bird’s gentle persistence, an enthusiasm for the natural world eventually rubbed off. That’s one of the reasons Luci speaks with such passion about the new Luci and Ian Family Garden at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin. Opened in May and named for Luci and her husband, Ian Turpin, the garden’s lead donors, the center’s elaborate, 4.5-acre addition intends to change the way children and their families approach play.
Driving to Fredericksburg from the east on US 290, it’s easy to notice that spring adores the Hill Country: This oak-studded landscape is a hot spot for wildflowers—bluebonnets, firewheels, black-eyed Susans, and others color the vistas like a painting come to life, while roadside stands open in anticipation of peaches, tomatoes, blackberries, and other seasonal bounty coming to market.
If I were to dream up the perfect kingdom, it would be a land of flowing rivers, abundant vineyards, smoky barbecue, and maybe even some gold. I searched for all of this and more on a recent day trip to the Texas Hill Country and the aptly named town of Kingsland.
Most antiques stores discourage eating while shopping. Carousel Antiques and Fickle Pickles in Boerne is different. The shop encourages spontaneous nibbling while browsing and keeps a sample plate of its homemade Fickle Pickles near the cash register. Visitors can pluck a pickle—or two; it’s impossible to stop at just one—and enjoy what many consider to be some of the best pickles in Texas, if not the world. The crisp, crinkle-cut pickles start off sweet but quickly take a spicy turn.
It’s a dicey proposition, living in a picturesque, easily accessible town in the Texas Hill Country—in my case, Boerne. On the one hand, our population swells significantly on temperate weekends, meaning we locals relinquish our usual haunts to the visiting hordes. Plenty of folks who start out as tourists come back to stay—enough to cause an 86 percent rise in population between 2000 and 2012. And though I was one of those latecomers, I was hoping like everyone else that they’d close the gates behind me.
For its size, what small town boasts the most walking paths anywhere in the state, but doesn’t show up in guidebooks about Texas hiking or biking? The answer might surprise you—San Marcos.
Seated on a large, flat rock along a tranquil section of the Guadalupe River, I hear the faint whoosh of my husband’s fly line as his cast cuts through the air. He’s fishing in front of me, hip-deep in the water. Behind me, two squirrels are chasing each other, rustling about in crinkly fallen leaves. I look up at a towering pecan tree next to me, relaxed by its occasional sway. This is the soothing soundtrack I look forward to every winter. I’m at Rio Guadalupe Resort in Sattler, reading a book at water’s edge, just steps away from my rented cottage for the week.