Bluebonnets at the Dahlstrom Ranch near Buda Texas which the landowners just entered into a conservation easement, which permanently preserves the ranch and prevents it from being sold to development or rock quarries, etc (though there is already one quarry on site). Usually conservation easements are done voluntarily by the landowner, but since the property is in the Edwards aquifer "recharge zone," Austin has a program to pay in some money to make it more worthwhile. It's a very cool property as you'll see in the next photos.
Julie Jenkins from the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District shows us one of the "karst features" on the property - basically a hole in the limestone that takes water in, bringing it down to the Edwards aquifer below. The recharge zone is a very porous part of the Hill Country where there are tons of caves, sinkholes, etc and so it's very important to keep yukky stuff out - like lawn chemicals, oil from roads etc. If you can protect properties in the recharge zone, it helps to keep the aquifer water pure. I took this pic.
A prickly pear cactus.
Me and Jack Dahlstrom, Jr., who manages the ranch currently. It had rained the day before and the mud, oh the mud! It was caked like 6 inches thick on the bottom of my hiking boots!
I think this is called Christmas cactus or something. Anyone know?
This is Sam holding a "devil's toenail" fossil - a little clam that there were thousands of in the ground. This part of the Hill Country used to be the ocean shore!
Possumhaw sinkhole, also on the Dahlstrom Ranch.
Sam at Hobbit Hole cave.
After the Ranch we headed to San Antonio. Here's the Torch of Friendship sculpture.
The San Antonio Riverwalk is a really neat place. We ate dinner the first night at Paesano's, an Italian restaurant right here. The redbuds were in full purply bud!
Another shot of the riverwalk.
The kiddos on the Riverwalk, with the riverboat in the background. There are shops and restaurants all along the riverwalk. Obviously I took this pic. :)
The Tower of the Americas. We took the elevator to the tip top and looked around, got a bag of candy... and then at the bottom did the 4D theater which was very cool. We'd gotten a passport to the city, courtesy of the San Antonio Visitors Center and Convention Bureau - I love being a writer! A famous Texas Jackalope. I took this shot.
I love these night-time shots of the Alamo. I took these two.
Another view, also by me.
We also went to Natural Bridge Caverns, where we met my friend Laurie her hubby Doug and her grandson. This is a shot inside the caverns (obviously) :)
Sam looking at a formation on the cavern wall.
Another view. There were giant rooms of stalagmites and stalactites that looked so Lord of the Rings!! So very cool. The photos do not do the place justice. I highly recommend it if you're in San Antonio or the Hill Country!
The kiddos and me in the caverns.
Afterwards Sam climbed a tree on the property...
Laurie sitting outside the caverns. I love her laugh!!
Me & Laurie at the caverns. I don't like this pic of me, but it's the best one we got!
On the Riverwalk I had to try Boudro's Texas Bistro which was recommended by a couple of my friends who live in S.A. It was well worth it! Yummo!
We splurged on 2 desserts for the 3 of us. The double decker brownie was so decadent and delicious (though the brownies were a bit hard). The other thing was fruit and whip cream in a sopapilla.
Me and Savie inside a ginormous tire at the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum. Doug and I had also visited the one in Gatlinburg Tennessee on our road trip, remember?
Last but not least, our visit to Government Canyon State Natural Area (for my article on aquifer recharge zone protection) included a trip in a helicopter!!
A view inside through the window.
Sam and Savannah before we took off.
Another shot of the helicopter in the sky (this was after we got out, shooting him leaving so we had a few pics of it!)
Sam in the helicopter.
A view of Government Canyon from above, in the helicopter. It was amazing!
On the ground, we did a short hike of the Joe Johnston Route in Government Canyon St Natural Area. This is Wendee on the job... interviewing Deridre Heisler, Superintendent.
Me on the hike, taking notes!