Saturday, March 31, 2012

TEXAS WILDFLOWERS

Yesterday I drove up to the Hill Country to see the wildflowers.  They are supposed to be especially good this year, because of our winter rains.  It has been many years since I've seen bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, and other flowers for which Texas is known.  This is Lady Bird Johnson's legacy; she convinced the Texas Highway Department not to mow on the right-of-ways until the wildflowers had bloomed.  And it's quite a sight.

I'd been waiting all week for a window of favorable weather and light, and it finally came on Friday.  So off I went, maps in hand and a definite plan in mind.

First I detoured up the Grey Forest Scenic Loop, and then meandered through back country roads to Highway 16 headed north to Bandera.  Here are some views along that leg of the trip:
Grey Forest Scenic Loop: Old Tractor

Tarry Bank-Toufant Beauregard Rd:Yucca and Flag
There was nothing worth seeing in Bandera.  Long known as a tourist destination for dude ranches, it is now taken over by bikers on the weekend.  I got out as fast as I could.

I stopped in Fredericksburg for a lovely outdoor lunch at a restaurant called "Smoke and Sweet".  They feature home-smoked meats and baked desserts.  Sort of an unusual combination, but it works.  A young woman played the guitar and sang for us.  She sounded a lot like Nora Jones. 

After lunch I headed up to the Willow City Loop, a famous ride for viewing the flowers.  Here are some of the things I saw:
Ranch Rd 1631: Longhorns and Indian Paintbrush
Willow City: Wildflower Landscape
Willow City: Phlox
































Willow City: Wildflowers and Prickly Pear
Then it was time to head south on Highway 16 back to San Antonio.  I retraced my path (except for the Scenic Loop) but still had a couple of surprises along the way:
Camp Verde FM480 S of Center Point: Bison
Hwy 173 S of Center Point:
Bluebonnets in Late Afternoon
The light was not right for capturing the old storefronts in downtown Center Point.  This is a charming town (though not as charming as Comfort, in my opinion).  I'll make a special trip back to photograph Comfort and Center Point.  Comfort was settled by liberal Free Thinkers from Germany and still retains more 19th-century charm than many of the other nearby towns, including tourist-spoiled Fredericksburg.

Finally, here are some special scenes on the way back closer to San Antonio, as the afternoon light took on that wonderful golden quality of late afternoon:
Highway 16:  Phlox and Sheep

Pipe Creek Hwy 16: Old Service Station
On the whole, a tiring but most enjoyable day.


-bjd