The river rounded a bend and ahead of me, civilization dropped away. A heron soared overhead, Pterodactyl-like, and a few dragonflies hovered around the front of my boat.
The same natural beauty and fertility that first attracted Native Americans and some of Texas’ earliest settlers to the pine forests on the Colorado River still make Bastrop a welcoming escape today. Bastrop capitalizes on its rich heritage with historic neighborhoods and a downtown full of restored buildings that house charming shops and cafés.
Somewhere on the first mile of our hike through Bastrop State Park, I quit gawking at the canopy of foliage above and realized our trail had transformed into a fine, beach-like sand. I stopped and scooped up a handful, recalling the park guidebook in my pocket discussing this sandy earth; how it retains moisture from the clay-based soils below; how it’s the reason a dense pine forest is able to grow in the heart of Central Texas. As we lingered among these towering trees, I told my girlfriend, Duvall, that the setting reminded me of the Deep South—perhaps southern Alabama or Georgia, or my home state of Mississippi, for that matter.