Dripping Springs and Gruene, Texas!

 

The 2nd of January, we drove to Hamilton Pool Park in Dripping Springs and hiked ½ mile to a large natural pool and waterfall area. It was sunny and beautiful, and I wished I had worn shorts instead of jeans.

With the Grands we climbed over rocks, took a walk under the falls and headed towards another trail, which led us to the Pedermales River. When we arrived at the river all hot and thirsty, we wished we had brought the water bottles from the car.

May I suggest—don’t leave the water bottles in the car thinking you are taking just a short hike. You may change plans in the middle of all that beauty.

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A ready Boy Scout.
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Turtles in the sun.

The spontaneity of our son-in-law then led us up the highway, and the next thing we knew we were on our way to downtown Austin. After an exit or two and down a few blocks, we parked in front of a real Italian Pizzeria. Because sometimes you need good pizza.

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Gruene, Texas

Before we arrived in Texas, we heard about this great little town of Gruene. Our biggest goal was to see the oldest Dance Hall in Texas.
Here’s a bit of history:

German born Ernst Gruene, (pronounced–Green) came to New Braunfels in the 1840’s, but found acreage scarce there and settled down the river a bit farther. There he bought 9,000 acres and built his home with early fachwerk framing. He and his two sons planted cotton. Later, his son Henry D. built several homes, including a Victorian house, a brick mercantile, a cotton gin, gristmill, and the dance hall on the Guadalupe River.

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Google image

In later years after Henry D, died, the town fell into decline. The cotton gin burned down and was replaced by a newer modern electric one. The blight of the boll weevil and the Depression were too much for the small community and they all went under except for the Dance Hall.

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In the 1970’s, an architect student named Kaufman discovered the town and it’s buildings and made inventory. He contacted a group of real-estate investors and the whole town was nominated for the historical registry. Soon the town was bought up and many shops appeared.

These famous country singers have appeared at the dance hall: Willie Nelson, the Highway Men, George Strait, Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, and Lyle Lovett, and many more.

Here is a list of some of the shops in Gruene:

  • Gruene Coffee Haus
  • Fickle Pickle
  • Tipsy Gypsy
  • Cotton Eyed Joes
  • Dancing Bear
  • The Grapevine
  • Gruene General Store
  • Gristmill Restaurant
  • Gruene Outfitters—top of the line outdoor wear, fly tackle
  • Gruene with Envy—women’s wear
  • Hunter Junction
  • Natural Selections—jewelry, rocks, fossils
  • Simply Detailed Boutique—women’s wear
  • Smiling Eyes Photo Gallery—old time photos
  • The Barn Pottery
  • The Great Texas Pecan Candy Company

We were in town by 9 am at the Coffee Haus and enjoyed our coffee and hot chocolate outdoors while being serenaded by a mocking-bird. I believe they open at 7, but all other shops open at 10 am.

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If you plan a trip, be sure to take your time. The folks in Gruene are very friendly and don’t mind asking how far you traveled to get there.

We had lunch outdoors at the Gristmill Restaurant, overlooking the Guadalupe River and had the best beef sandwich and fries. What is surprising to me is that they serve plain tea and not just sweet tea.

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Large cities are full of great things to see, but don’t miss out on small towns if you plan a trip to Texas. There are delightful folks in the unique specialty shops.

 

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Interesting antiques.

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The Grapevine, an old lumber building.

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Just covering over old holes in the floor.
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Any kind of bacon you want!
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You can find just about anything in the general store.

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Next time…Wimberley 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Perspectives, Pt 2

On December 28th we left our family in Kentucky and headed to Kentucky’s Mammoth Caves National Park.

I neglected to say in my last post, that beyond visiting the National Monuments in Washington, D.C. when I was a girl scout, I have not been to any other National Park. We headed to Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio on our second day. Here is where we bought our Senior Pass cards, and stamps for our new passport to National Parks.

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Stamped with park and Centennial year.

Mammoth Caves National Park

What would a 2 hour tour be like in mostly dry cave conditions? This cave system is  the largest in the world, reputedly 400 miles long. As we took a bus to the cave opening the park Ranger gave us some insights into the cave systems. As we climbed down 250 steel stairs (in some close quarters), we began to understand the mammoth! If you dared to lean over the rail, you saw deep, dark pits, seemingly with no bottoms. I did not lean over; in fact it made me nervous to see the young man in front of me lean over! (It’s a mother thing) I’ve never been good with most heights but this was daunting.

After the steps, we leveled off and came into a cave ‘room’. We sat on benches, while listening to the Ranger tell us cave explorers have been measuring the length of the cave and now believe it might possibly be as many as 600 miles!

Our Ranger then lit small light, and turned out the lights in the cave room. After a few moments she put out the last light. I have never before seen pitch black, nothingness! It was incredible.

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Cave photos from my iPhone. I didn’t want to bang around with my camera down there.

At the information center I loaded up on postcards to mail to my sister, and also collected an embroidered patch for my hiking shirt. We took a few minutes and walked downhill to one of the cave entrances that’s blocked off.

 

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Only bats go here.

Signs and interesting things we saw on the way to Texas.

  • Grandpa’s Cheese barn.
  • Sign on old barn for Look Out MT. You can see 7 states from the top.
  • Beef cows everywhere. Thus the sign…
  • Beef—it’s what’s for dinner.
  • Tina Turner Museum-Memphis, not one sign of Elvis!
  • MLK Dr., Arkansas
  • Louisiana Purchase, Historic state Park I-40 W
  • Brinkley Cotton Plant
  • Rice Fields in Arkansas
  • Flip Flop Flea Market (AR)
  • Loretta Lynn on billboards all over. Could she still be singing?
  • Audie Murphy highway
  • We crossed the Tennessee River.
  • Sign for Natchez Trace State Forest.
  • I-40 W –road lined with pine trees.
  • Exit 66 Brownsville—Fort Pillow
  • On I-30 we saw Geyser Springs 1st Baptist Church and Sherm said it is the size of the Johnson City Mall in New York.
  • Saw a zip-line ‘dummy’ hanging in the air next to a billboard for the same.
  • Pyramid Bass Pro Shop
  • Czech bakery (need to see and taste that!)
  • Magnolia Market, Waco, TX

Just so you believe me about the pyramid store I’m including a photo while we drove by at 70 mph.

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Another worthwhile store!

New perspectives is more to me than this traveling adventure. Since my husband lost his job last year, we’ve been in limbo about what’s next. It’s hard to plan on working five more years, and find out you’re unemployed at age 64.

It’s a hard place to be!

We’ve had many discussions about what to do next but nothing concrete. Should we sell our house? Move to the lake?  All sorts of things that roll around in our heads, and there are nights I can’t sleep because I’m tired of the merry-go-round. Some days I wish we had a clue, after all, how long can you wait?

One day we think we have a plan, but for many reasons it won’t work. But for the present…our perspective is day by day.

Stay tuned for Gruene, Texas…and beyond…