LBJ State Park

Nestled out in the beautiful Texas Hill Country are two parks that illustrate what life was like for our 36th President Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ). I’m going to write about LBJ State Park in this post. I’ll follow up tomorrow with the National Park and the Texas White House.


The state park is west of Austin out on Highway 290 about 13 miles west of Johnson City. If you’re coming in from the East I recommend turning onto Park Road 1 and coming into the State Park from the North Entrance. It is a nice drive through the surrounding farms and sort of gets you in the mood for the park you are about to visit.

LBJ State Park is home to the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm.

picture of sign at road

This farm is a working farm operated by two volunteers. They dress, act, talk, and work the farm as if it was 1915. 1915 was a good year for the farm, but I’ll let them tell you that story.

If you have an hour or two hang out at the main house and listen to the stories. One of my favorite was when the couple explained what they do with the milk. Did I mention that the lady still milks the cow every morning? She also gets eggs from the chicken coop. Back to the milk. They have a good demonstration in the kitchen about how they don’t waste the milk. It’s used for various dairy products for the farm and they do it all by hand. Ask about the milk. You’ll thank me.

The couple uses the vegetables from the garden and the meat from the farm to feed the volunteers/park employees at lunch each day. So expect some traffic around lunch time, but it is nice to see what they are able to do with a 1915 kitchen. It really makes you think.

The pictures don’t do this park justice, but that seems to be the case with every park I visit.

Barton Creek Greenbelt

Off of the soap box and onto the trail. I’ve been sitting on this post for a busy couple of weeks. For those that have the pleasure of experiencing the Barton Creek Greenbelt you’ll agree with me that it’s an amazing escape from an even better city.

Less than two miles from the capitol there is a trail that takes you along the creek bed for more than 7 miles. Last Saturday we did the full trail; almost 15 miles. You can park at the Barton Springs Pool and start the hike there. The trail follows along the creek past Highway 360 and MoPac for about 7.5 miles. We park at the pool, hike to the end, and come back to get to the full 15 miles. Get there early and you won’t have to fight the crowds or walk miles just to get to the trail from your parking spot.

flowers at trail

trail in austin

water in barton creek

Luckily we had some rain in the preceding days and there was some water in the creek. Everything was really dark green and full of life.

creek

There are several places along the trail where you’ll encounter rock climbers of all talent levels. I don’t have any good pictures of the climbers from that day, but here’s a few of the rock faces along the trail.

rocks on trail

rocks on trail

Austin is Underrated

I recently read an article that claimed Austin is overrated. That same article also said “Go to Houston instead.” I won’t do the internet community a disservice by linking to that hack. You’ll just have to take my word on it. I’m just not that good of a writer.

The Barton Springs Greenbelt is a great example of how Austin is underrated. That’s right. I said it. Underrated. How can that be? Good writers say Austin is a great town for food, sports, live music, politics, festivals, drafthouses, and races among other things.

cap 10k
borrowed from http://www.flickr.com/photos/danyanjared/

They usually still say it’s a city and most people outside of Austin probably think of it as a city. It’s really so much more.

McKinney Falls State Park, Bull Creek Park, Zilker Park, Northwest Hills, well the list goes on and on of great places to hike and enjoy the outdoors. And they’re all within the city limits. It’s amazing when you think about it and even greater to experience it.

Think about Austin right now. Session is going strong and it’s crazy around the capitol.

austin capitol with crowd outside

Multiple giants of industry are opening new offices or expanding (VISA, Google, GM, Samsung, Apple, etc). Movies are being filmed all over the place. There’s an F1 track in case you haven’t heard. I’ll admit that the track is not actually in Austin, but everyone in town felt the effect of the race going on that week. Every week there is a major event of some kind. It’s just crazy around here. Yet a few blocks from the capital you can escape and find yourself out in the middle of nowhere it seems. You go from the pictures above to this:

greenbelt

This picture was taken less than two miles from the Texas State Capitol. Overrated? No way. I can only begin to paint the picture for you. You have to experience this city to understand why many Austinites feel the way they do. I’ve been here almost 9 years now and I’ve only just begun on my Austin adventure.

West, TX Benefit Today!

Don’t forget to come out to the benefit at LA BBQ from 11-2 today.

(From manuptexasbbq.blogspot.com)

1. Honest Tea is donating bottled teas and lemonades.
2. Teas of Texas is donating bottled teas and waters.
3. A local wine importer is donating cases of malbec & chardonnay.
4. Saint Arnold Brewing Company is donating beer & root beer.
5. Gloria Corral will be at the event selling copies of her book “BBQ Lovers Guide to Austin.” She will donate 100% of the proceeds!
6. Austin Eats Food Tours is donating 10 passes for a free food tour. (Their tours generally range from $65-75 per tour.) We will have a table set up to raffle off the passes. All of the proceeds will be donated!
7. We will sell The Q Card at the event, & 100% of our sales will be donated!
8. Stephen Joseph, owner of Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue (Jefferson, TX), is donating 100 koozies & a case a rib rub for the event!
9. Junior’s Beer and Wine is donating 3 kegs of beer!
10. Shannon Lee Nelson will be the live-music entertainment!

West, TX BBQ Benefit

I have a post about my recent hike on the Barton Creek Greenbelt forthcoming. In the mean time I wanted to let everyone know about a BBQ benefit to support the families in West, TX.

An associate of mine is organizing the benefit at LA BBQ this Sunday, April 28th from 11am-2pm. More information can be found at his blog – Man Up Texas BBQ.

What: West Benefit
When: Sunday, April 28, 2013, 11AM-2PM
Where: la Barbecue (1502 S. 1st St., Austin, TX)

We’ll have live music, drinks, and free chopped-beef sandwiches until they run out. (You are, of course, free to purchase any other food from la Barbecue, as they are open for regular business, as well.)

KVUE also has a list of ways to support West, TX which includes some info on the benefit at LA BBQ.

This benefit is legit. I know the organizers and trust them enough to publicize the event here. Every penny raised will go to families in West, TX.

From the BBQ blog:

Speaking of “every little bit,” let me be clear: EVERY SINGLE PENNY DONATED AT OUR BENEFIT WILL GO TO THE RELIEF EFFORTS IN WEST. People who defraud/trick/scam people during times of crisis and tragedy are sick, sick people. We hope you feel confident enough in us to help out. We have held several benefits like this in the past, and we have never taken a penny for ourselves. Any costs for the event will be borne by the people contributing. There will be no taking of a cut of the donations to cover expenses. I don’t know specifically where we will donate the money, but as soon as I do, I will announce it, so as to be transparent.

Ting Ting’s Cupcakes

cupcakes

The picture is probably all I need to post here and you’ll be googling Ting Ting’s Cupcakes. You won’t wait around to see if I post a link. Don’t worry. I will.

One of my good college friends just started her own cupcake business – Ting Ting’s Cupcakes. Although I am a little biased in that Ting is such a good friend of mine I will promise you these are some of the best cupcakes you’ll ever have. Not only are they tasty, but they are beautiful as well. She puts as much TLC into the appearance as she does in the recipe and that’s saying a lot.

You can order them from her site http://tingtingscupcakes.com/ or on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tingtingscupcakes . She does offer delivery to approved areas. Email her for more info.

My recommendation is the chocolover (pictured right) cupcake. From the menu, “chocolate cupcake with a rich chocolate buttercream frosting swirl.”

Order today and tell her John sent you for the uber duber good deal. Just kidding, but she’ll think it’s funny if you do say that.

Hart’s Firehouse BBQ

On my recent Texas State Parks day trip I stopped for lunch at a BBQ place in Lampasas, TX called Hart’s Firehouse BBQ. This joint has been open since 1965, with different owners along the way, and has a great atmosphere to go along with some good BBQ. It’s located at the intersection of highway 281 and Plum St in Lampasas, TX.

Firehouse BBQ front of store
Firehouse BBQ in Lampasas, TX

We arrived right before lunch on Saturday and found ourselves second in line. The lady in front of us proceeded to order sandwiches for the entire staff of the city of Lampasas. As I waited in front of the “please order ahead for large orders” sign I took a look at the restaurant’s interior. It was a nice country homey place with plenty of seating and natural light. They have plenty of outdoor seating and parking which is always a plus.

Entrance of Firehouse BBQ in Lampasas, TX

Once the City Office staff were given their order we were up to bat. The first thing I noticed about the menu is they seem to like their spice. This is good for me, but I can understand how some people wouldn’t like the extra kick. For those people, you probably shouldn’t stop at a place with fire in the name.

I got the two meat BBQ plate with brisket and jalapeno sausage.

two meat plate at firehouse brisket and sausage with green beans and potato salad
Two Meat plate at Firehouse (pic borrowed from texasbob.com)
Entrance of Firehouse BBQ in Lampasas, TX
Patio area at Firehouse BBQ in Lampasas, TX

The brisket was good brisket. The sausage was good sausage. Nothing to brag about, but good food. The green beans and potato salad (jalapeno potato salad of course) were pretty darn good. The jalapeno in the potato salad was a nice touch and wasn’t too spicy at all. The spicy sauce was excellent and I recommend it for the sausage. Overall it was an ok place to stop between parks/hikes. Having been to as many great BBQ places as I have had the pleasure of eating at, it is difficult to impress me when it comes to Texas BBQ.

How it all began…

An attempt to visit all of the Texas State Parks and Historic Sites

At some point in the fall of 2012 I messaged one of my good friends, “I think I’d like to visit all the state parks.”

Response: “I’m in.”

This site documents our story. Below is a list of the sites we’ve visited so far. There are blog posts on each park. I have personally been to some of them more than once so there are multiple posts about several of the sites. I hope you enjoy and I hope that our story inspires you to visit some Texas State Parks. There are some amazing treasures out there and the only way to experience them is to get our there and explore.

The main focus of my site is the attempt to visit all 93 parks. Several people have asked about a post that tells a little about myself or my story. Ask and you shall receive.

My name is John. I’m an 8th generation Texan and proud of it. I was born in the Houston, TX area and got to Austin as quick as possible. I went to the University of Texas at Austin and decided it was so great I’d never leave. I started working full time for the University and still hold a position today.

I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. My dad would take me fishing at Lake Livingston State Park when I was 5 or 6 years old. I can vividly remember waking up and staring at the alarm clock waiting for it read 5:00 AM. I knew that would mean my dad would be coming to wake me up to take me fishing at the state park. That is my earliest memory of a state park, but there would be countless more to follow.

Shortly after my dad passed away, I joined the cub scouts where I met a family which would become somewhat of a surrogate family to me. Over the next eleven years they would include me in many of their family trips to state parks, national parks, or any number of other outdoors destinations. Not only did my love of the outdoors stem from this relationship, but this family was also responsible for me becoming a Longhorn. I can’t begin to put in words how important these people were in my life growing up and continue to be today.

In 2004 I enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin. A love of sports developed and I made it a point to see as many events as possible while a student. It has helped to fuel my passion that some of the greatest athletes in the history of Texas Athletics have come through while I have been on campus. Cat Osterman, Vince Young, Sanya Richards, Colt McCoy, Kevin Durant, Lamarcus Aldridge, Derrick Johnson, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker, Aaron Peirsol, Cedric Benson, Aaron Ross, Michael Huff, the list goes on…

Through various friendships and connections I met some of my closest friends today. Every fall we combine our love of UT Athletics, BBQ, and having fun and host tailgates for our friends and family. It was after one of these tailgates that I sent one of my friends the text.

“I’d like to visit all of the state parks in Texas”

Gettin’ Sauced Date Set

The date and location are set for this year’s Gettin’ Sauced BBQ Sauce Festival. September 28th at Hops and Grain Brewery in Austin, TX.

From our friends at ManUpTexasBBQ.blogspot.com :

“Planning is underway for our 4th Annual Gettin’ Sauced! BBQ-sauce contest/festival! Today, we announce the first details: date and venue. This year’s event will be Saturday, September 28, at Hops & Grain Brewing in Austin. Put it in your calendar, b/c we’d love to see you there. We haven’t sent out the sponsorship/vendor/entrant information, but if you want to receive it when it’s available, email us!”

Gettin’ Sauced is just around the corner!

Just bought my ticket! I recently went on a BBQ tour with Man Up Texas BBQ. If this festival is anything like that trip…well let’s just say pay the money. I’ll guarantee you have fun.

Gettin’ Sauced! is an annual BBQ sauce contest and festival in Austin, Texas. Taste sauces, & pick your favorites. Listen to live music in the Live Music Capital of the World. Enter to win door prizes. Cool off with a cold drink. And meet with BBQ joints & sauce vendors. A perfect way to spend a Saturday! Festival is from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM.

picture of bbq festival