Krause Springs, in Spicewood Texas, is one of Texas’ most beautiful swimming holes. It is located about 30 miles west of Austin. Krause Springs has many natural sites to explore. There are 32 springs
on the property, and several feed the manmade pool and the natural pool
which flows into Lake Travis.
One of my favorite buildings in Austin is the Seaholm Power Plant on Cesar Chavez. This Art Deco building was built in 1950 and is now slated for redevelopment. Plans call for the building to contain 80,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space. It will also contain meeting or conference space and event space and a possible culture entertainment component. I would bet that the price of the condos looking down on Town Lake will be well above my budget.
I went to visit my friends at Anthony Barnum PR for a very productive discussion on social media today. They’re in the beautiful Frost Bank tower. Maybe all the intellectual horsepower in that room sucked my brain dry but getting in and out of the Frost Bank parking garage is tough. I couldn’t find a consistent way to go up floors, it seems like every floor offers a new and unique puzzle on how to get to the next floor. There are half floors I never did quite figure out to get to…and managed to wind all the way down to the bottom only to find out that wasn’t the visitor’s exit. Damn! Gotta turn around in a tight space and go up and up and up…to find the visitor’s exit. Did the people who designed this parking garage get fired from their jobs designing carnival mazes?
Mt. Bonnell Park (3800 Mount Bonnell Road) offers one of the best lookout points publicly accessible in Austin, 785′ above the Colorado river. The park is 1 mile past W. 35th street on the top of Mt. Bonnell Road (also accessible by 2222). There is usually ample parking at the base, but be careful about leaving valuables in the car–the parking lot does have a reputation for car break-ins.
The summit of Mt. Bonnell is 200′ about the parking lot–102 steps will take you to the top. The stairs are paved and have a nice handrail; it is an easy climb.
From the top you can see the city to your back (ok if you’re short you might have to hop up on the picnic table), Tom Miller Dam (near Hula Hut) on the left, and 360 bridge on the right. The park has 5 picnic tables so if you get there early you can have a nice picnic as the sun sets or just enjoy the breeze.
Dry Creek Saloon, one of Austin’s legendary bars, is close by on Mount Bonnell Road. Mayfield Park (with peacocks) and Laguna Gloria are on 35th street.
Our friends John and Allison kept having dinners where they served the most wonderful vegetables and fruits from Boggy Creek Farm. Although it is a bit of a drive for us (from far west Austin) we decided to check it out last weekend. The urban farm is tucked away on Lyons road surrounded by houses, schools, and stores. As we drove down the long driveway we could see huge fig trees and salad greens being grown. The folks at Boggy Creek also grow some of their produce (tomatoes, potatoes, squash,) at a rural farm in Milam county.
The heavy rains in Central Texas have made this year’s crops a bit sparse. Larry’s Smoke Dried Tomatoes aren’t available mail order and weren’t even available at the market. Nevertheless, we found some long string beans, fresh okra, and japanese eggplant. I wasn’t quite brave enough to try the goat milk ice cream but we did buy some fresh goat cheese.
Boggy Creek Farm is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is located about a mile and a half east of downtown off East 7th Street, close to Pleasant Valley Road.
Natural Bridge Caverns, the largest known cavern in Texas, was discovered on March 27, 1960, by four spelunkers who were students at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. The name was derived from the sixty-foot natural limestone slab bridge that spanned the amphitheater setting of the cavern’s entrance. If you have never been in a cave before the formations can make you feel like you’ve stepped into a dreamworld. Their size and the lack of light make it a bit hard to get a good picture–count on buying some postcards.
You can walk through the cavern on a number of guided tours. The cavern stays at a year round 70 degrees–although the humidity will make it feel a bit warmer especially towards the end. Wear comfortable shoes with good non-slip soles. The trail can be a bit steep and is frequently wet. Because of time constraints we decided on the quick one and a half hour North Cavern Tour. Tours as long as four hours are available.
Natural Bridge Caverns is a quick trip from Austin. The cavern is located off Farm Road 1863 in the hill country of Comal County midway between New Braunfels and San Antonio
Inks Lake–one of 7 lakes in the Highland Lakes chain–sits about an hour north of Austin, and provides the perfect setting for a daytrip or weekend retreat. Grounds have playgrounds, a fishing pier, a park store that rents canoes, kayaks and surfbikes, and friendly rangers. We explored the park on our bikes before settling on a pink granite swell to watch the sun set. Park authorities are proactive and progressive to offer family-friendly entertainment. The night we were there, a bluegrass band entertained campers after sunset. They also host nature walks, geology hikes and canoe tours. But you can be as social and participatory or as reclusive as you’d like. Hike 1.5 miles in for a primitive site ($8). Or, if you don’t mind hearing the murmurs of nearby campers or the neighbor’s kids coming to pet your dog, $10-$16 gets you a campsite with water, electricity and restrooms close by in the more populated (but still clean) areas of the park. The best part: since it’s a constant-level lake, you never have to rule out swimming, boating, skiing, scuba diving or fishing. Park entrance is $4 per adult. Children under 12 enter free.
About an hour and a half northwest of Austin is the largest lake of the Highland Lakes–Lake Buchanan. The Vanishing Texas River Cruise to spend a morning (or an afternoon) exploring this lake which holds a couple of surprises–a waterfall and bald eagles. Yep, bald eagles in Texas at least from November to March. Unfortunately the last time we left the eagles had already migrated to their northern hunting grounds but it was still a relaxed way to afternoon and the waterfallwas truly beautiful. One of the things I enjoyed about the cruise was that there wasn’t a lot of pressure to buy add-ons–food was available but you were welcome to bring your own; binoculars were also available but again they didn’t mind if you bought your own. Binocular’s are quite useful because of the wildlife that you can see on the cruise. In the two and a half-hour cruise we managed to see blue osprey, white osprey, feral spanish goats, and cattle from the Goodrich ranch (not so wild). All in all a wonderful way to spend a nice spring day.
Austin has retained one of the most pleasing and urban unique lighting systems–moonlight towers. What are moonlight towers? They are the 165-foot-tall towers that support outdoor lighting for parts of Austin. Thirty-one of these metal giants were erected in 1895 using electricity from Austin’s first power plant on the Colorado River. The towers first used carbon arc lamps that were lit nightly by a worker who got to the top in an elevator that runs up the center of the framework. These were replaced in the 1920s by incandescent lamps and then by mercury vapor lamps in 1936. There are 17 towers in use today. A replica of a moonlight tower serves as the center post for the Zilker Park “Christmas Tree” of lights each year. The seventeen towers are located
This 8.5 mile gravel pathway circles Town Lake and is one of the most popular and beautiful spots for strolling, running or even bicycling. You will frequently see rowers on Town Lake (something I’ve always wanted to try) from one of the bridges crossing the Lake. Canoes can also be rented to get on the Lake. If you go to the Congress Avenue bridge close to sunset you might see bats coming out in force. The Four Seasons hotel also sits on this trail. Town Lake is located between Cesar Chavez and Riverside drive.