We first visited Texas in March of last year with the expectation of seeing wild Bluebonnets growing in the hill country. In fact, it was the impetus for the trip. I lamented in this post, about not seeing a single one of those cherished blooms, but we had a wonderful time discovering Texas and vowed to return. We honored that vow (with better timing) this year and the bluebonnets greeted us in abundance.
If you have visited Texas Hill Country, generally defined as areas near Austin, San Antonio and Fredericksburg, in the spring, you may have witnessed this prolific display of color alone the roadways. It only lasts for about six weeks, between March and April and attracts thousands of visitors and locals alike to enjoy their fragrance and beauty.
Driving the Willow City loop near Fredericksburg is a great way to experience this iconic wildflower up close. There are places to pull over and grab a quick shot, but it would not be wise to trespass on private property, or trample the flowers. Both are illegal.
You will find scenes like this one all along the thirteen mile drive and while some ranchers exhibit a bit more humor than others, everyone seems to participate.
Feeling satisfied, but a little sad that this treasure will be gone in less that two weeks, we moved on to something more permanent – Texas caves.
Last year we visited Natural Bridge Caverns near San Antonio, and were amazed that it actually existed. We have caves in Florida, but you need to be a skilled scuba diver to explore them. You can see some photos from Natural Bridge Caverns in the post that I referenced above. As it turns out, there are seven caves in Texas which are commercially operated and include daily tours. Natural Bridge is the largest in operation, and having seen that, we did not know what to expect when we selected “the cave without a name” for a visit.
Well… let’s go down and see what you think.
The descent into the cave is 126 steps and most are tiny, unlike these wide ones at the beginning. There are handrails all along the route, and once you are at the bottom of the cave, the ground is level and paths are well marked with ambient lighting. The tour was about one hour in duration, the temperature is comfortable without a jacket, and the tour guide was knowledgeable and engaging, especially with the two young children in our group that included eight adults.
It was hard to get a wide angle shot without guests being included, but this is one example of what you will see inside the cave. One of the ‘rooms’ is aptly named the Throne Room. When our guide turned the lights on inside, the group released an audible gasp. It really is that grand! Concerts are regularly hosted here and I can only imagine what the Pentatonics singing Hallelujah might sound like.
Most of my photos are close ups of formations that I found particularly fascinating. Once you get past the grandeur of it all, it’s the details that make this place truly extraordinary.
These stalactites look remarkably like bacon and some of them are razor thin. You will have to take the tour, or search Google for the science behind caves, stalactites and stalagmites to fully appreciate these centuries old formations because I was too busy seeing abstract shots like the one below to give my full attention to the lesson.
The formations are so intricately detailed, I could have spent hours studying them and letting my imagination go. It is the kind of place that compels a return visit.
This one sort of looks like a brain, don’t you think?
Craters on the moon?
This little reflection pool was so inviting. I loved the color effect from the walls and white light. I did not use a filter, but I did enhance the reflection just a bit to highlight detail.
One thing I do remember from our ‘lesson’ was how to remember which is which when it comes to Stalactites and Stalagmites. Do you know the difference and how to remember? Hint C and G.
Texas is so much more than bluebonnets and caves, but we highly recommend visiting during the spring. Bluebonnet season is typically at its peak around the first or second week in April. We suggest that you base in Fredericksburg for a minimum of three days to fully enjoy everything the area has to offer. We stayed in Bee Cave, which is about a thirty minute drive from Austen, but Fredericksburg will get you closer to all the action.
Wineries, the LBJ ranch, Ladybird Botanical Gardens, the National Museum of the Pacific War, the Enchanted Rock, lots of parks (Big Bend National Park is a favorite) for walking, hiking, swimming and canoeing, along with multiple bluebonnet trails and touring caves will keep you busy for days.
The towns of Burnett, Marble Falls and Ennis are well known for their fields of bluebonnets, so check them out before you go. There are numerous on-line resources to consult prior to your trip and we recommend beginning with this one.
Note: You may have noticed that I did not include FOOD in this post. That is because it’s TEXAS and we all know how that goes!!! Let’s just say I have about 10 pounds to loose before the next trip, which is just 6 days away. Wish me luck.
Link to Cave Without A Name Website
RV, other Travels and Home Life in Retirement
Reflections on places traveled and photos taken.
Independent travel, food, photography and culture
Writing in Vermont
My site is all about my travels around the world and in Australia, plus daily life photos!
Sits down with The Two Doctors and .....
Enjoying life and the empty nest while easing into retirement,
A Life Less Ordinary
More Daddy Fool Than Daddy Cool
Travel snapshots from Toonsarah
Tales, Thoughts + Tribulations of a Free Spirit in Suburbia
“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” ― Eudora Welty
Our Next Chapter
Having fun blogging with friends
Keeping Life Simple, Authentic And Holistic
The Joy of Slow Travel
Adventures and Postcards from the road
Come along on an adventure with us!
Mainly through the lens of a Nikon
The Beach Girl Chronicles
envisioning & implementing life's next stage
Read this, not that!
Life - Photography - Traditional Art
Giving and Receiving Blessings
by Susanne Fletcher
...but change is certain.
capturing memories one moment at a time
Navigating retirement as an introvert
Random Ramblings and Reviews from Trent P. McDonald
People, Places, Nature, LIFE!
A Canadian Perspective on Living in the Windy City!
Little treasures discovered while exploring the back roads of life
Running and life: thoughts from a runner who has been around the block
Author, Baker, Sunrise Chaser
Creative Exploration in Words and Pictures
Encouraging women in their fifties to live in a meaningful way
Suzanne's Life and Travel Musings from New Zealand and Beyond
WordPress & Blogging tips, flash fiction, photography and lots more!
Serenity is an Inside Job
A Midlife Journey
Food and More
Valuing quiet and solitude in academe.
"This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." - F.G.
Taking steps to live a healthy and enriched life
Writing Stories of Love, Faith and Happy Endings While Enjoying the Journey