DAY 20 June 13, 2009
I started the day at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos - such a sad state of affairs. I remember visiting this old theme park as a child. Now it is just an old amusement park that nature is reclaiming (note all the decay and plant life taking back the land).
The new LBJ Museum in downtown San Marcos was a much better experience. I learned a lot about his life and why he made the choices he did.
On to Wimberley, which while a cute little shopping area was currently under motorcycle & tourist siege. I went to check out the "Pioneer Village" which was free, but required a $5 parking fee. I passed on this experience and would suggest that if you are interested to go ahead and pack a picnic and your swimwear-then you can make a day of the experience.
I was actually much more interested in getting to the Wimberley Lavender Farms for lavender fest. The farm was lovely, but I had expected to hear the cookbook author leading talks or discussions about using lavender. Instead she was sitting at a table explaining several dishes and offering tastes of these delicacies.
Also present was Hearts and Hooves of Austin TX http://www.heartsandhooves.org/. I met the founder of this amazing resource. She, through observation, has discovered that miniature horses (all horses for that matter) can interact with abused children in a way that allows her to understand exactly what happened to the child. She has successfully presented her findings in court - just astounding. This is a 501c3 organization absolutely worthy of your financial support 608 W. 12th St. Austin, TX 78701 (512) 376-7667
Moving on to the Bella Vista Ranch, I caught the very end of a tour. The proprietor is a fascinating guy that has really analyzed wine, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar production and can effectively convey that information to visitors. The wine was okay-nothing really unique. The olive oil was very peppery (a sign of freshness) but did not have that lovely rich olive flavor I prefer. Finally, the balsamic vinegar was absolutely divine!!! I will be purchasing this product when I get home, as there is little likelihood that it would do well traveling around in a hot vehicle for another two months.
Next stop was the Driftwood Winery the tasting was $5 for 6 wines. The view was incredible (plan to buy a bottle and enjoy the sitting area that overlooks the valley). The wine was good-reasonably priced-but I am really looking for wines that are truly unique.
The town of Driftwood, Texas is barely there. Blink it is gone... The Salt Lick http://www.saltlickbbq.com/ (on FM 1826 about 1 mile east of RM 150) is very easy to miss-evidenced by the fact that I drove right past the somewhat obscured sign (watch VERY closely and then flip a U'ey when you pass it).
I ordered the combination plate with brisket, ribs, and sausage. Loved the potato salad-it was very different almost more like a chunky mash with spicy mustard YUM! The other sides-coleslaw and beans-were quite good. The meat was delectable, as expected, but the sauce was strange. I didn't dislike it, but would have preferred that it not be there-order it on the side.
I located a room at University of Texas-Austin's Woodal Hall, but upon arriving I noticed a very large population of homeless kids (including the one that slipped into the storm drain as I passed by). Decided that it wasn't worth the $15 savings to risk parking my car on that street. I jumped on I 35 in search of inexpensive lodging. I found myself in Seguin, but the "cheap" hotels weren't inexpensive, just sleazy looking for $50-55. Since there was really nothing I just had to see there, I drove on to Gonzales and obtained a nice room at the Carefree Inn. The desk clerk (manager I think) was very accommodating. Even with the shortage of rooms, they placed me on the ground floor so that I would not have to tackle the stairs. Good thing to, since I had decided to clean out the car.
ROUTE: I35 North>TX 150 West>TX 3237 West>TX 12 North>US 290 East>I 35 South>US 90A East
Lodging: Carefree Inn Gonzales, TX
Meals: The Salt Lick (****Food)
Attractions: Aquarena Springs, LBJ Museum, Wimberley Visitor Center, Wimberley Pioneer Village, Wimberley Lavender Farms, Hearts and Hooves of Austin, Bella Vista Ranch, Driftwood Winery,
$$$: $$ Donation $15 Food $22 Fuel $68 Motel = $105+