Now taking reservations ONLINE!

For those that haven’t heard you can now reserve your spot at our state’s parks using the online reservation system. This is great for those parks that are difficult to get to and then you do get all the way there and see the dreaded “park full” sign. Not any more. You can now reserve a day pass to popular parks like Enchanted Rock and not worry about there being space when you get there. Plan ahead though as parks are filling up faster than ever.

Reservations!!

Texas Monthly Top 50 BBQ Joints in the World*

Along with visiting all the parks and historic sites my friends and I are hitting the top BBQ restaurants along the way. The best guide is the Texas Monthly BBQ Top 50 List.

Here’s a Google map of the top 50 along with some honorable mentions.

Map by @chriscreel

Follow my not nearly as detailed attempt to visit all 50 of the BBQ joints to make the 2013 TMBBQ list.

Pedernales Falls State Park Bird Blind

After the storms on Monday, I headed out the Perd to see if the rains had any impact on the water level. While out there I remembered that there’s plenty about this park that I haven’t experienced yet. One of those things is the bird blind at the park.

My expectations were really low because I thought “low budget and state park must mean bench and tree = bird blind.” Boy was I wrong.

If you haven’t had the pleasure, put it at the top of your list for your next visit to the park.

From the park store, head towards the main falls. Keep an eye out on the left side of the road for the parking area for the blind. It is well-marked and should be easily found.

To get the most out of your visit and to be respectful of others at the blind:

  1. Turn your radio off before you turn into the parking area.
  2. No talking unless you are able to whisper (not all people are able to in my experience)
  3. When you park, try to park at the far end of the lot away from the entrance to the blind.
  4. Close the door to your car as quietly as possible
  5. Don’t set your alarm. Lock your doors, but no honking of the horn to set the alarm.
  6. Enter the blind quietly (don’t let the gate slam)

There are two large bird blinds once you enter. The first one on the right, pictured below, has a few hummingbird feeders.

I saw several different species in just a short time in this blind.

There is another blind in this area that has a special visitor right now.

I was lucky to get there around feeding time. The volunteer, Mr. Strickland, said that the baby fox, pictured below, shows up every day around 5pm and stays about an hour.

According to Mr. Strickland, there is a mother and a couple of other young foxes. However he had not seen them in a few days and the worry is that something might have happened to them. Hopefully this little guy is not on his own so young.

The park is in the middle of a large project at the blind/surrounding area. They are building a large star gazing area. Mr. Strickland said that there would be a telescope and accompanying facility. I look forward to visiting this facility when it opens.

Pedernales Falls (again)

I made it out to Pedernales on Monday after the heavy rains. Got some great pictures with the old camera I dug out of the closet. Easy to say that this park is my favorite so far. Every time I visit I see something I haven’t seen before.

picture of rocks at state park

limestone cave at state park

old tree at state park

TPWD Colorado Bend Video

I found this great video of Colorado Bend State Park from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department YouTube channel and wanted to add it to the blog for that park. Enjoy!

 

Black Spur Emporium and Coffee Shop

As is tradition on our trips we found yet another hole in the wall coffee shop. This gem was on our way to LBJ State Park.

Black Spur was a combo of funky decorations and good service. Just don’t mention the “S word” while there. (starbucks)

Black Spur is found on Main St in Johnson City about a block West of the city park. I’ve had the iced tea there 3 times now. It’s been good each time. My friends have had the espresso and coffee and can vouch for that as well.

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.