Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hill Country Loop

Wildflowers are blooming all over Texas,  and the next month or so is forecast to continue cool and wet, boding only good for a long blooming season.   I did a loopy drive this week from Austin over to Fredericksburg,  north on 16 to Llano, west on 29 to Mason, and then back south on 87 to Fredericksburg.   Many bluebonnets along the rights-of-way,  some in the fields,  several very yellow fields, and a couple white with Prickly Poppy.  Probably the best along the highway were on 29 but very few places to pull off the road.  (I skipped the Willow City Loop as reports were kinda discouraging).

Wildseed Farms has lots of lupine of all colors blooming.  It's an awesome place to practice,  I got a few nice shots, including our favorite California Poppy.









Blue Bonnets on highway 16 just south of Llano.


Mason is a typical Texas small town with BIG Courthouse Square.  


Lucky to get shot of jail with no leaves on the tree!


The old grammar school is way bigger than might be expected for a town this size, it must have dawn from the surrounding county.  Now it houses many community programs, including Senior Center, fitness, and a museum (as usual, closed on Monday!).



The author of 'Old Yeller' is from Mason.


Abandoned silo behind the jail.


Breezy day at Enchanted Rock was really nice for hiking.   No rain lilies or bluebonnets,  but pretty daisies among the Prickly Pear and several outstanding Claret Cup Cactus.





Last, but not least, a prickly poppy on 965 east of Enchanted Rock.  (Three batteries for my Canon and they were all dead by this point so no field shots) 


If the forecast holds true the flowers will still be blooming when I get back to Texas in May!

   
















Friday, October 24, 2014

Capitol Reef

My first visit to Capitol Reef several years ago was a drive by.  This time I planned an overnight stop on my way to my next destination.  Let me tell you friends,  it deserves way more than a drive by or an overnight.

But first, you've  got to see the sign for 'Never Rip Overalls' on the side of the Grass Valley Mercantile. (Note the guys on the four wheeler giving me the evil eye that prevented taking the time for a more thoughtfully composed shot).


The Capitol Reef Campground is first come first serve, no reservations.  I arrived about 230 to find it close to 3/4 full all ready. Good lesson for future visits in the busy season!  After settling in for a few minutes I headed out to explore.


The entrance to the camp ground is a mile or so off the high way in a stand of cottonwood trees.


At this higher elevation all the cottonwoods were at peak colors.  A family of four or five kids adopted this old giant as their own; playing under and in it all afternoon.


The trail leaves the campground in two directions; to the left along the Fremont River.......


And to the right past the Gifford Museum and Bakery (!); early the next morning I picked up one of their signature mini (warm) Apple Pies to share at my next stop.  The museum has some nice displays to illustrate life of the early settlers.




But back to my walk.....a little friend....


Giant cottonwood.....


Late afternoon light provided gorgeous back drop for trees along the river....


All the fruit trees are descents of the originals.....


Back to camp from my walk, there was still time to explore the 10 Mile Scenic Drive.  


Well, that was true in theory, but I was way too tired to drive all the way out and turned around at the five mile mark to head back to camp (again); it's way down in the stand of cottonwood in the center of the pic.


Red rock, yellow tress, and blue sky across Highway 24 from the Visitor Center early the next morning.


One last shot in morning light before hitting the road to the most anticipated destination of the my trip.....Dead Horse Point State Park.





P.S.  Thanks to my 'anonymous' commenter for noting typo of 'capital', that is, of course, CAPITOL.  



















Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Observation Point Hike

Falling into a hole between big storms, my week at Zion was clear and warm in the afternoons; perfect for this year's big hike: Observation Point.  (The Subway is so on my list,  but I think I need to find a 'guided hike' for that one).

It's four miles and 2000 feet elevation gain up to Observation Point.  Proof:


The fork in the trail to the right goes to Hidden Canyon and to the left is the Observation Point trail.


The cottonwoods along the river had not started to turn; maples along the trail had great color all ready.


The drainage makes a sharp turn creating this cool 'natural' sidewalk.


Not much farther is Echo and other unnamed 'slot' canyons.  My gps did not like the slot canyons.
The signals bounced off the walls adding a good four miles to my hike!



It's a hard climb, but doable, and the rewards are pretty fantastic.....


Past this 'first peek", it's another 3/4 or so of a mile around the side of the mountain to Observation Point.  (That's Angel's Landing on the right side in the middle).


The following series of shots are all of the trail going back down the mountain. I have to tell you I enjoyed the trail more than the actual point.  It's surly my favorite in Zion. (But remember I haven't seen the Subway yet!).





Ending with some more pretty colors.....