May 28- paradise, Texas

On Sunday, I fled the ranch for the comforts of an Austin hotel, then went out for another night of drinking and bar-hopping.  By Monday morning, I was ready for some r&r.  A friend who lives in town took us all out to Krause springs, an absolutely delightful swimmin’ hole about 45 minutes outside of town in the Texas hill country.  I never expected to discover such a paradise in this part of Texas, but I’m glad I did.

Just past the front gate, they’ve got an extensive “butterfly garden,” that at this time of the year was filled with echinachea in bloom, along with dozens of other types of flowers.Image

I’ve never seen such a massive Agave outside of Oaxaca.  I guess we’re not that far from Mexico…Image

Above the garden hung about a dozen enormous sets of wind chimes.  They must have spent thousands of dollars on wind chimes over the years.  The effect of all those chimes was quite meditative.  Image

As lovely as the planted gardens were, we were there to swim in some springs, and swim we did.  At the top of the hillside was this manmade spring pool, filled with clear cold water.  Worth a quick dip, but I was more excited to get to the natural spring pool below.Image

Looking down the hill at the natural spring pool.  The water was relatively murky due to all the recent rains, but it was a delightful temperature, and was clean enough for me…Image

There was a rope swing, and a fern-laden waterfall where the springwater overflowed from the upper pool overflowed.  A better swimmin’ hole could scarcely be imagined.Image

Yours truly, trying out the rope swing (it works!)Image

It’s hard to get the scale of the waterfall in this photo, until you realize that the leaves of the elephant ear plants at top are over a foot wide.  Image

After a long and refreshing swim, I took a short walk around the area, to look at the display of wildflowers that have been brought out by the recent rains.  The wildflowers have been pretty incredible the past couple of days; mostly I’ve seen them in great masses along the roadside as I’ve gone zooming past.  It was nice to go out and see them at a slower speed.Image

Just a couple of beautiful Texas wildflowers.  I don’t know what they are, but they sure were purty.Image


Field of semi-desert wildflowers.  Image

Walking back along the spring-fed creek, past these crazily eroded rock outcroppings.  Image

The outflow from the springs wound through an amazing forest of ancient cypress trees larger than any cypress I’ve ever seen.  Years ago, I saw some impressive ones in Corkscrew Swamp sanctuary in south Florida, but these were even more amazing.Image

The cypress on the left was almost as big around as a redwood tree at the base.  Like a redwood, the center of the tree had been burned out from multiple forest fires over the years, and only the living part just below the bark remained.Image

Many of the trees had beautiful spreading root systems,Image

After another swim in the clear upper pool, I walked a bit more through the cypress forest before heading out.  This was the largest of the trees I came across; far larger than any trees I expected to find in Texas.  Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with Krause springs, and I expect that on my next trip out this way, I’ll be bringing the family and pitching my tent in their campground for a day or three.Image

Just a couple of miles back toward Austin, we stopped at Opie’s BBQ, a famous local culinary establishment where every night they smoke up a massive pile of beef, chicken, pork, and sausage; they open at 11, and stay open until all the meat is gone.  Although somewhat off-topic, I just had to share this image of the mouth-waterin’ carnage we encountered.Image

Yup, it tasted as good as it looked.Image


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