Texans are quick to tell you how great the Lone Star State is, and as a native Texan I’m not about to say anything different.
We have such diversity in this state. Depending on the map you favor, there are several distinct regions: Gulf Coast, Piney Woods, Prairies and Lakes, Hill Country, Panhandle Plains, South Texas Plains, Big Bend Country. Each has its own attributes and appeal.
My wife and I recently made a trip — without the kids — to Marble Falls. It’s an easy travel distance, about a two-hour drive from Waco, going through McGregor, Gatesville, Lampasas and Burnet (not to mention Pidcoke and Topsey).
Despite my entire life in Texas, it was my first visit there (I know, shocking). Lake Marble Falls and the Colorado River are gorgeous there. Of course, we had to go to the famous Blue Bonnet Café, known for its all-day breakfast and fabulous pies (chocolate meringue for me).
We tried for a late breakfast/early lunch, but there was still a line that Saturday. In fact, we never drove past without seeing a line out the door. And it was that good.
During that weekend we ventured to two state parks: Pedernales Falls and Longhorn Cavern.
Driving to Pedernales Falls, we went through Johnson City, hometown of President Lyndon B. Johnson. We didn’t have time to explore more that day, so that merits a return visit.
Pedernales Falls is an impressive state park, with its landscape and the Pedernales River flowing throughout.
I left a little of myself in that park. While my wife Jean wisely sat on a decent-sized boulder and slowly dropped to the ground below, I foolishly thought I could step down with a mini-jump. Bad plan. Instead, I tumbled to the gravel, scraping my knee and knuckles in the process.
Washing my bloody knee in a park restroom, one of the staff asked if I “required medical attention.” I declined. The shame was sufficient. Besides, my wife had already chastised me for being too old to be jumping off rocks.
The next day we escaped the rising temperatures with a visit to the underground cave system that is Longhorn Cavern State Park. The 65-degree temps were enjoyable during the 1½-hour tour, though there was a fair amount of ducking to avoid bonking your head on low ceilings. I didn’t plan to shed more blood on this trip; plus, the park guide repeatedly warned everyone not to touch anything for fear of stopping stalactite growth and such.
It was a great weekend and we didn’t explore that much. That section of the Hill County is filled with state parks and lakes. It’s worth a return visit.
Speaking of visits, as we move into summertime this month’s issue reminds us of places nearby worth our exploration, whether it’s in our Waco backyard, or to some of our neighboring towns. You can find culture, entertainment and plenty to do if you just go out and visit.