Austin Thrills & Texas Hills

As a developer, Butch often travels and occasionally I tag along.  A couple of weeks ago we flew to Austin, TX for business and added a couple of days for pleasure.  Since the conference hotel was fully booked, I made reservations at the historic Driskill that opened in 1886.  What a little gem we discovered and a better price than the convention hotel!

We still have places we’d like to visit someday, but this part of Texas was not on the list.  Australia yes, but Austin?  Not that we had heard anything negative about this part of the world, we just didn’t know much about the region.  A little research and then a few days to roam revealed to us that Austin, San Antonio, and the Hill Country all have much to offer and plenty of surprises!  July would not be our recommended month of travel, but you take opportunities as they come!

As an interior decorator, I pay attention to details.  Just those special touches can make a huge statement.  The Driskill Hotel took extra care to add those little details.

Leather and cowhide sofas in public spaces
Leather and cowhide sofas in public spaces
Window seat in our suite with The Driskill printed on the cornice
Window seat in our suite with The Driskill printed on the cornice
Shadowbox of antique items hanging in our hallway
Shadowbox of antique items hanging in our hallway
Fresh bouquets everywhere!
Fresh bouquets everywhere!

While Butch attended his meetings, the temperatures soared to 103. I busied myself inside reading, journaling, and tasting a few things the local places had to offer.   I discovered a neat bookstore with a refreshing lavender lemonade & hibiscus mint tea.  The two didn’t mix in the cup, and I still cannot figure out how! I am sure it is some chemistry thing that I don’t understand.

austin8

I imagined myself being in a Parisian cafe, as I sat in this little nook with its marble topped table, white rose, French roast coffee, fresh fruit, banana-walnut bread, and a new book on travel and food. Bliss!

The Texas State Capitol is quite impressive!  Built in the 1880’s, it is the sixth tallest State Capitol building and one of a few that is taller than the U.S. Capitol in Washington.  Now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the complex sits on 50+ acres just south of the University of Texas “hook ’em horns” campus.

Texas-sized waffle enjoyed in 1886 Cafe. “Everything really is bigger…”

Gruene (pronounced Green) is a small, but charming historic area on the north edge of New Braunfels. Much to see here and it seems to attract thousands of visitors each year. The general store alone is worth a stop!

Gruene Mansion Inn
Gruene Mansion Inn
Gruene General Store
Gruene General Store

We had heard stories about the Alamo that suggested there was not much to see– some even said they would skip it altogether.  We are so glad we decided to go because to the contrary, we found it very interesting and rich in history.  Certainly the compound doesn’t cover a square mile and take hours to see, but it was well worth our time.  Maybe our low expectations caused us to be pleasantly surprised.

Rudy’s famous Texas bar-b-que has quite a reputation!  We visited the original, which is just northwest of San Antonio.  This place was a hoot!  Your plate is a piece of freezer paper they tear off and hand to you while you are in line to pick up your food.  Seating is on your own inside (or outside if you can bare the heat), at any of the long communal tables, all covered in red checked plastic.  And by the way, the food was great with the best creamed corn you’ll ever put in your mouth!

Bandera calls itself “The Cowboy Capital of the World”.  It is said that the idea of “dude” ranches originated here.

Both of us being history buffs, we really enjoyed touring the ranch known as the Texas White House during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency. The Johnson era as President coincided with our pre-teen/teenage years, and our everyday living in those young days did not consist of political thoughts or even following the nightly network news.  It was neat to put eyes on the place where he spent roughly 25% of his presidency.  At the ranch, you can drive a marked route and stop at a number of places at your leisure.  Amazingly, you can take the tour in your own vehicle at no charge! The only charge is $3 per person to take a guided tour of the Johnson ranch house.  The tour only takes a few minutes and you don’t want to miss it!

Burial site of President Johnson and Lady Bird
Burial site of President Johnson and Lady Bird
The podium where many press conferences were held during the Johnson presidency
The podium where many press conferences were held during the Johnson presidency
Johnson ranch house

Vineyards in the Texas Hill Country, who knew? Peach orchards also dotted the landscape.

Most of us know Luckenbach only through the lyrics of a Waylon Jennings song.  Since it’s not officially a town, being unincorporated, the best description comes from the terminology found in the Luckenbach Moon, a regular publication from Luchenbach, that coins it “a state of mind”.  To describe it as interesting would be a gross understatement.  It is almost guaranteed that if you stay very long, music will fill the air.  In reality, you could make the rounds with a short 10 minute walk, hop in, or on your ride, and be on your way.  But the place captures you and gives no choice but to stay a little longer.  We love their slogan:  “Everybody is somebody in Luckenbach”.

Not Waylon and Willie, but "some of the boys"
Not Waylon and Willie, but “some of the boys”

“I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.  Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.”

-Psalm 145:1-3

3 comments

  1. Jill Roberts says:

    I love everything about you two! Hotels are one of my favorites…. love these photos! Can’t wait to travel with you to unknown places.. and dine at your table on Tablescape Tues! LOVE your “everyday” thoughts and expressions! 🙂

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