Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring Break 2017: Day 2

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Day 2: Pedernales Falls State Park

We woke up with a purpose on Day 2.  We ate breakfast and packed for the day.  Packing was relatively easy.  Our bag from the previous day at Barton Creek was essentially packed.  I would like to say this was planned, but I'm gonna be honest that it was from laziness that we didn't unpack it.  I'll take it though.

From our location on Lake Travis, we were about 50 min out.  So just a side note about the Hill Country, you can't really use time to judge distance.  Pedernales Falls was only 36 miles away (HWY 101), but due to the back roads and terrain, it will take a bit to arrive.  So plan ahead.

Though it took awhile to get there, it was worth it.  Remember, the drive is part of the experience.  It was a great drive, one that you want to just roll down your windows, weather permitting, and just take it all in.

I will warn you though, there is a small water crossing along the way.  And it does sneak up on you.  Clear water can be tricky to judge depth, but since we were in an SUV, I wasn't that concerned.  Though Stephanie had a heart attack, a stroke, and another heart attack when we went through.

We survived the "Great River Crossing of 2017" and arrived at the park.  Beautiful drive into the park to the front gate, which had a great view.

The view was nice and we had plenty of time to enjoy it as there was a line to get into the park.  Ah, yes.  Spring break.  Due to the heavy influx of tourist, the Falls were closed due to being at capacity. So we were diverted to the swimming area.  I was really bummed out, but I had hope that we could get there later in the day.  I decided to enjoy time with family where ever we ended up.  I was not disappointed.

The Walk Down

At Least There Are Steps

Realized that this will be a hike.  Not a long hike to the water, but still a bit. It will be easy going down, not so much going up.  Totally worth it.  I won't spoil you with the details because it's better for you to experience.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Swim Area

My Beautiful Wife

Lowery's can use anything to fish

It's Me!

Fly Larvae

A Family That Hikes Together...

After our adventure at the swim area, we packed up to head to the Falls.  Unfortunately, it was still closed.


The staff was very friendly when I asked if they knew when it would reopen.  They said to check out a few of the other areas and come back.  So if you decide to go during Spring Break, be prepared to wait. We drove around for about 15 min. and then returned.  Gate open!  Off to the falls we go.

The Falls

Natural Spring

Upstream from falls

Some gorgeous people

It was amazing.  We wore out the kids, but they loved every minute.  So many sights to see and all was very relaxing.  We called it a day and made our way back to our cottage to rest up.  Day 3 lay ahead and we needed the rest.  Pedernales Falls is now on our list of areas to return to visit in the future.  I hope you add it to yours; you will not be disappointed.

Day 3 lies ahead...
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Break 2017: Day 1

If you are planning a trip in 2017, or even Spring Break 2018, I've got a plan for you.  Austin, TX.  Austin has been our Spring Break destination for 2 years now.  Though Spring Break is extremely busy, it seems to have worked out.  But this trip could easily be done in the summer, maybe with better results!

We wanted to take the kids somewhere without spending a fortune, and avoiding the crazy Spring Breakers. I remember how crazy I was...I mean, college kids ...were during Spring Break.

Note: Austin host SXSW during Spring Break, check your schedule to see if this is occurring during your trip.  It did ours, but this greatly affects where you can stay, and hotels get expensive fast during this time period.

Day 1: Tacodeli & Barton Creek Greenbelt

Don't let your arrival day be a dead day due to check in.  Most check-in times are 3:00 pm, which usually kills your first day.  We were having none of that.  Because of our proximity to Austin, we planned to arrive there around lunch time.  Our destination was Tacodeli (dog-friendly), which is located at one of the entrances to Barton Creek Greenway (also dog-friendly).

We have two kids that are hungry every 20 minutes, so to avoid the lines we ordered ahead.   I advise ordering online about 15-20 min before you arrive to avoid the lunch rush.   It's a great place to eat and everyone knows it.  From 11-1 it is busy.  We arrive and park on the street.  Most people will be parking there to access the trails as well as Tacodeli.

We pick-up our food and eat.  So delicious; there hasn't been anything I didn't like on their menu.  Now that our belly was full, it was time to hit the creek.

So here is where preparing ahead of time pays off.  We dressed in our water/hiking clothes before we left home and now we only needed to change shoes. With kids and dog in tow, we headed down the trail directly across from Tacodeli.  The entrance is a little steep, so take your time.  Once down, you can either turn left to head towards a swimming hole along the creek or turn right toward the climbing wall.  Expect other hikers and mountain bikers, but there is plenty of areas to stop and rest, or just play in the water.

The water is cold year round and can be very refreshing during hot summer days.  We didn't do any swimming as the temperature wasn't very high and we didn't want anyone getting too cold, but there was plenty of wading and splashing.  Just relaxing by the stream riffles was perfect.  The kids just loved exploring.

After a couple of hours, exploring and playing in the water, it was time to check into our home for the next couple of days.

There are many options for sleeping accommodations in and around Austin.  We tried to book some cabins around the Bastrop area but they filled up fast.  We might have waited until the last minute...and by we, I mean me.  But I came through.  We booked a cottage at La Hacienda RV & Cottage Park, located near Lake Travis.

I will say, this wasn't my first choice as I wanted the true Cabin-in-the-Hill-County experience.  Kids loved it, wife loved it, therefore I loved it.  Great amenities and pet-friendly.  Dog parks, fitness center, heated pools, playground, putting green, blah blah.  The best amenity was the cottage front porch in which I could drink a cold beer.  Also, there was a grill, so yeah I drank a beer there too.  We grilled out and slowly wound down for the day.

Huge Playground

We finished our day with a cold beer on the porch and the kids in bed sleeping soundly.

It happened to be my birthday!

Day 2 to follow...
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Saturday, March 11, 2017

The "Giant Ocean Tornado" Box


Call it a shelter-in-place box, a bug-in box.  Being in the potential path of future hurricanes, It's called the "Hurricane Box" around our home. Whether for storms, power outages, or flooding, every home should have an emergency box. Everyone will face different potential dangers so your emergency box will differ from mine.  However, looking through mine might give you an insight as to what you might need and why you might need it.

Water is number one on the list.  Often times during major extended outages from storms or floods, water treatment facilities are not able to keep water clean for customers they service.  It's great if you have a way to treat your own water, but often times it's easier to simply have some on hand.  Just make sure you store your water off the floor, particularly concrete.  Concrete can interact will water jugs and foul your water over the long term.

Food is also important.  Though you will be busy eating whatever is thawing from your freezer or fridge, having some back up for any extended stay will be helpful.  Most grocery stores are picked clean days leading up to a storm and days after.  It will take a few days to restock, so buy now and have it stored.  Choose foods that are easy to store, easy to make and fun to eat.  Having comfort food is important for morale if you need to dip into the box. 

Busy Items
As I have kids, this is high on the list.  I throw a few things like toys and coloring activity books into my box.  Kids can get bored easily so its important to keep them entertained. Of course, with kids, they will more than likely want to play in the box more than anything else.  Something about boxes cats and kids love.

Medical Kits
Most people already have medical supplies on hand in the home.  Simply having a back up is reassuring.  Also, if you need to pick up and go, you have one already packed.  First Aid kits are always tricky and the store bought kits are never up to my standards.  It is okay to start with those types of kits, but I suggest adding more gauze and large wrappings, topical antibiotics, iodine, 3M wrap and some cold compression packs.

Flashlights are cheap, there is no reason not to have a few tucked away somewhere.  You can buy some high dollar lights and I recommend having one well made light; my favorite are headlamps.  Headlamps are nice because you are hands free.  I am also linking to the Goal Zero Solar Charger I mentioned in the video.

So there you have it.  I've listed out the basics, for a more detailed journey through my items, please check out the video.

Did I miss anything, leave a comment!
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