Jacob’s Well. 

I joined Doray for a trip to the Wimberly area.  We stopped by their new home site to check out progress.  Then we visited Jacob’s Well Natural Area.   Jacob’s Well is a narrow (10-20′ in diameter), but deep (up to 100′) hole in the limestone of the springfed Trinity Aquifer.  Young and old jump from the rocks into the waters of the well to cool off.   We were only hiking but I enjoyed watching the divers.  


Watch your step!   That first one can be a doozy.  

(Image manipulated using iPhone app brushstroke)

Sunday brewery touring, resumed.  

We took a break there for a while from our taproom exploration.  But we’re back.  First stop, 4th Tap Brewery Cooperative;  have a nice flight!


Next:  Oskar Blues Brewery; good tunes, too.  I learned a new word here:  zymurgy.  See, it’s an educational tour. 

We stopped for dinner along the way, but finished at Austin Beerworks:


We are in training for Fran’s visit…. 🙂

Artcycles.

Today Monte and I took a trip downtown to see the recently installed visiting art exhibit Forever Bicycles, by Ai Weiwei.   It is sponsored by The Contemporary Austin and the Waller Creek Conservancy.   Their material doesn’t cite an end date for the exhibit – it just says “ongoing.”  But get yourself down there to see it.   It is located at the “Waller Creek Delta,” which happens to be about where Trinity St runs into Lady Bird Lake.  The Waller Creek Boathouse and its cafe are nearby, so you can catch a bite as well.  And it is located right along the hike and bike trail.

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I found the exhibit of hundreds of stainless steel bicycles to be teeming with motion, from every angle.  Very cool indeed.

An overdue visit.

I made it to Laguna Gloria today.  It’s remarkable that it is only my first visit, after living here over 20 years.   It is the home of The Contemporary Austin, an art consortium.    The grounds are beautiful, full of trees, and trails that will take you down by the (glorious) lagoon, as well as Lake Austin.  A sculpture garden is spread throughout the grounds and trails.  It made for a lovely afternoon of hiking, birding and art appreciation.

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Texas Historical Marker for Laguna Gloria Villa

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The lovely Villa

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Looking towards Lake Austin from the Villa

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Miffy Fountain – Tom Sachs

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Looking Up – Tom Friedman

 

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Canopy Tower – John Grade

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Iron Tree Trunk – Ai Weiwei

Turnback!

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and you know what that means!   Yep, the annual Turnback Canyon Regatta; a two day sailboat race up the river from the Austin Yacht Club to Lago Vista and back.  We didn’t race, but our friends Kurt, Kevin and Gordon did, so we cruised up and anchored overnight with them.   There is a festival on-shore with live music and food, and it’s just a fun weekend overall.  Marty & Sue and Lori & Mike joined us, which made it all the more fun.   Memorial Day weekend is when we all say it is time to get in the water.  Lake temps were about 74 degrees, so we all jumped in.   It only gets warmer from here on out.   Good times await.

It was a tad humid and hazy, but any day on the water is a good day.

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The view anchored off of Bar K Park for the night.   We tried to count all the masts, but never we ended up with the same number twice.   Consensus was anywhere from 40-45 sailboats.

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From the Sunday sail home.   I count 32-ish sails in this one shot.

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Happy trails.  

I went to Pedernales Falls State Park today to hike with a couple friends.  They had never been, so it was fun to show them the different sights and trails.  

We walked a bunch.  After six hours or so, my Fitbit had logged almost nine miles.  Whew!

Hold still!

Scissor-tailed flycatcher, in motion.  They say the male’s tail is longer than the female’s, so I’m guessing this is a she.

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Taken at Commons Ford park.

Colorful.

I was excited to see my first ever painted bunting this spring, and several others since then; all on different visits to Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park.   I haven’t captured a NatGeo-esque photo of one yet, but I was happy to get this one today, showing its beautiful colors on display.  If you would like to see your first one, too, check out the park.

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Saturday.

We packed a picnic basket and visited Becker Vineyard’s annual lavender festival.   The lavender fields bloomed early this year so there wasn’t much purple to photograph today.  But a good time was had by all.  

Tread carefully.

I spent Friday night and Saturday with friends that are participating in this weekend’s MS-150 bicycle ride from Houston to Austin.  After taking their luggage to the drop-off point at Tully Stadium at dawn, I spent the rest of Saturday exploring and birding in several parks outside of Houston with Doray.

While our friends were pedalling their hearts out on the 100-mile Day 1 of the two-day MS-150, we had a very fun day.  We visited Cullinan Park, Fiorenza Park and Bear Creek Pioneers Park.   I’m still going through my photos to figure out exactly what we spotted.

While walking on one of the trails at Cullinan Park, I nearly stepped on this snake.  I didn’t see him because I was looking up into the tree tops as I was walking, trying to spot birds.  I’m very thankful for good luck, my guardian angel, and cat-like reflexes 🙂 , because I have since learned that this is a venomous juvenile cottonmouth snake. 😮

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My day could have turned out very differently if I hadn’t been lucky.

Be careful out there, folks.

Perdinaliss.

If you hang around Central Texans long enough, you will learn that we are fond of bestowing our own pronunciation on the names of some of our favorite local places; confounding out-of-towners, I’m sure.

One of those place names is “Pedernales” – the name of a river, a series of water falls, and a state park.  Take note:  locals refer to it as “per-din-al-iss.”

Whether or not you can say it right, you must go see all three.   I took a day trip and visited Pedernales Falls State Park today.   I enjoyed visiting their bird blind, walking down to the Falls, scoping out birds while hiking, doing a little geocaching, and taking in the beautiful scenery on a gorgeous day.

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The falls from the scenic vantage point above:

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A new (to me) park. 

I discovered a lovely park, right off Loop 360 and Spicewood Springs Road. The trail head for the Irving and Hazeline Smith Memorial Trail is on the northwest corner of the intersection.  You can park right nearby.  It’s an easy, flat, 1.5 mile loop through woods, grassland and near the creek.  No dogs permitted, though.  

Little golden headed birdie.

I had an unexpected morning free, so I headed to the Bull Creek Preserve again to go explore the trails.  Note that entrance to the the Preserve is restricted between March and July each year.   You’ll need to apply for an entry permit to enter during those months.  Today my goal was to catch a glimpse of the endangered golden-cheek warbler that nests in the preserve after migrating here in early March from Central America.   I went out on Monday and had a great 3 hour hike, and heard their calls everywhere, but I didn’t see the little bird – they were very elusive.

Today, I tried some different trails in the Preserve, and I finally saw several of them!  Next, I pulled out my camera to try to get a decent shot.  I took many more than these few photos, but together they might give you an idea of how hard it is to get a good shot.   Most of these won’t look like much unless you can zoom in on them…

I saw one sitting on the power line.  Right. Above. My. Head.  But, by the time I got the camera up and focused, zoooom, he was gone.   See the little bullet-shaped bird with a yellow head exiting the frame on the right?

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A while later… I saw one in a shrub about 30 feet away!  See him in the center of the frame?  But, darnit, he wasn’t facing me.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And then… zoooom, he took flight.  See the little yellow headed torpedo coming toward the camera? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Then several miles and about 2 hours later…. one popped out of a cedar branch at eye level about 10 feet away!   He even posed for a minute.   I got several shots.  This is the clearest.  Success!  I’ll be back for more, though.  🙂OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Spring!

I visited Commons Ford Ranch Metropolitan Park today.   There are some short trails that go down by Lake Austin, through a bit of woods, and around a beautiful, recently re-established prairie with native grasses and flowers.  I saw about 10 different species of birds, including my first Eastern Bluebird.  The bluebonnets are everywhere.

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