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  • J.F. Rowan

Goodbye Austin, Hello Llano!

We look back at our house stay in Austin Tx. and really wish we had a small car to take in the city. There are so many things to see and do there but Bandit didn’t quite fit in, literally.

Click Photo for YouTube video for Vlog# 9

We take 290 south from our house-sitting gig which works perfectly, avoiding any Austin city traffic. Yvette has her iPad set to the “Waze” app for navigation and I have the “Mylink” running. Both units have basically the same preferences set the same, that is, no interstates, etc. Sure enough, it only takes about 8 miles and the MyLink has me taking a right. But we go with it. And boy, are we ever glad we did. I have some pretty cool footage from the dash cam, if you want to see it, take a look at the Vlog on YouTube HERE.

Click Photo for YouTube video for Vlog# 10

As it turns out, it is a very scenic road. Smooth, rolling land, light traffic. We see gorgeous views and huge ranches, one after another. It’s not what you would expect Texas to be like at all. And what we’ve been seeing more and more is the way the highway engineers in this area (and probably others) design all of the culverts that control water run-off completely different than say in New England. Here, every run-off is treated as a flash flood potential. So if you drive down into a swale where the water normally goes under the road, they design the road to accommodate water if it flows over the road with concrete re-enforcement and heavy steel grate inlet covers set at sharp angles to deflect debris. At one location in our travels, they didn’t even bother with a culvert. In an area where there was an active stream, maybe fifteen feet in width, they designed the road so you just drive right through the creek over a cement pad.

During our travels, we came to a small town which was rich in German heritage. Some of the food and the architecture showed heavy German influence yet still, we were intrigued by a small place off the beaten path that sold “Smoked Burgers”. I can always get a Schnitzel, but when am I ever going to get a smoke burger. It was a 10! One of the best burgers by far. On to South Llano State Park.

Jennie's Original Smoked Burgers, Fredericksburg tx

Smoked Burgers at Jennie's in Fredericksburg Tx.

Jennie, the owner of Jennie's Smoked Burgers

We are low on fuel. I have a standing practice that I start thinking of getting fuel when the fuel indicator reaches half. But today we tried rolling the dice for a certain price point, and we never got it. As such, our fuel level drifted below a quarter of a tank. Not only did we not get to our price point, we ended up paying over $3.25 per gallon in a small town called Junction Texas. I beginning to wonder if there is a direct correlation between the price of fuel and cell phone reception in any particular town.

The town of Junction is roughly 20 minutes from South Llano State Park. The park itself comprises of large groves of older Live Oaks and slow meandering river shaded by large Cottonwood Trees. One of the cool things about this park is large…oh crap, what’s the word? Is it a flock of Turkeys? I know someone will correct me. Anyway, this park has a LOT of what they call Rio Grande Turkeys. Though I couldn’t find this particular subspecies in my grid book, they do look a bit larger than our New England variety. The park actually closes off large sections of the park after 3 PM every day so that the big birds can roost in peace amongst the oaks.

Our other favorite highlights of this park? First encounter with an Armadillo (they’re like squirrels down here!), Star Party sponsored by the local astronomy club, great trails for biking, spots were private and had easy access to just walking into the wilderness off the trial. We also spotted an exotic mammal called an “Axis”. Looks like a deer except it’s spotted and I think slightly larger. They were imported here for hunting and now are showing all over. Folks don’t seem too pleased about it because they eat…everything. And they seem to be having an effect on the habitat of other species.

The "chital" or "cheetal" (Axis axis), also known as spotted deer or axis deer.

All in all, a great time. We spent two days there and planned our next leg to Seminole State Park in Comstock TX. See you on the way to Seminole!

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