The Texas Eagle, 70 feet long and 19 feet wide, glides through murky Colorado River water. Twin 165 horsepower engines hum along as they propel the craft through willow trees and past a logjam. Bird watchers clutch binoculars and peer through large glass windows. Sightseers on the upper deck pull up their collars against the cool, November drizzle. Tour guide Tim Mohan points out a massive bird that has just taken flight. “A great blue heron, at two o’clock, just took off from the shore. Look at the beautiful, blue feathers on his chest. They’re blowing in the wind.”
Back in 1984, folks around Elgin thought newcomer Bill Walton must have lost his mind. He planted a crop that everyone knows doesn’t grow in Central Texas — Christmas trees. Hundreds and hundreds of them, none higher than a foot tall.
Watching free range chickens dart back and forth across Farm Street in downtown Bastrop, one can’t help but recall that corny old riddle asking why did the chicken cross the road. But the Rhode Island reds, clarets and round heads aren’t merely trying to get to the other side. They’re probably scurrying away from a tourist’s camera. Among the many awards Bastrop has earned for historic preservation and promoting the arts, there is one distinction that stands out. Back in 2009, the city council designated several blocks of Farm Street an Historic Chicken Sanctuary. City workers then hung from light poles bright yellow signs urging motorists to slow down. This unique corridor, where chickens freely skitter back and forth across yards and fly into trees to escape pesky sightseers, is emblematic of Bastrop’s laid back lifestyle. And just around the corner from these cage free chickens, a T-shirt for sale at Old Town Restaurant and Bar proclaims the city’s independence from its big sister, Austin, which is only 30 miles east of town. The loud teal T-shirt announces in bold letters: Hip—not weird—BASTROP. In the shadow of the self-proclaimed live music capital of the world, Bastrop has asserted itself as an alternative to traffic jams, long lines at concerts and pushy big city folks.
Not long after San Antonio businessman Pat Molak purchased Gruene Hall in 1974, he arrived at the ramshackle building to find a shocking sight. A huge crane hovered above the old water tower, menacing claws ready to dismantle the steel structure that could be seen for miles. Molak saw the water tower as an historic landmark.
Story by FRED AFFLERBACH
Story and photos by FRED AFFLERBACH • Aerial photo by JOHN ANCHETA
Story by FRED AFFLERBACH
It’s a warm spring day at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin and a small crowd has gathered in a sun-drenched courtyard. Water trickles into a small pond lined with native ferns, rushes and lilies. A wind chime plays a soft lullaby. Someone has printed “shh” on a chalkboard. A hush falls across the curious visitors. Rather than looking down at bright bluebonnets, they are gazing upward toward a brown, sandstone archway.
These days there seems to be an emphasis on eating a healthy plant-based diet.
Rugby has been dubbed a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen and women. As of last fall, it’s also played by Texas A&M University-Central Texas students.
For almost 50 years, instructors at the Aviation Science department at Central Texas College in Killeen have been helping the careers and dreams of aspiring pilots take flight. Whether you’re looking to earn a certificate that permits you to fly a small, single-engine craft for fun, or aspire to make a career piloting large jets for major airlines, CTC can help those ambitions get off the ground.
Take a back roads adventure away from the reality of every day life and spend a romantic getaway with your sweetie at the Cabins at Angel Springs, in Georgetown.
The Hill Country town of Fredericksburg is captivating any time of the year, but its atmosphere is even more spectacular during the holiday season when glistening decorations and German influences enhance its charm.
Long lines at shopping malls. Traffic jams. Overflowing parking lots. You can bypass these holiday headaches and take a trip to an exotic land with intriguing music, food and dance that is only an hour drive from the Killeen-Temple Metroplex. Folks in Bosque County, population 18,000, celebrate the yuletide with small town charm and a Norwegian twist. Oh, and you can bring home a fresh-cut Christmas tree from a local farm. The day after Thanksgiving, the lights come on and the parades begin rolling down Main Street, so pack up the kids and take a short hop to enjoy some holiday traditions and festivities that you won’t find in any shopping mall.
You don’t have to be weird, or a live music fan, to enjoy a visit to Austin. And you don’t have to wear burnt orange attire and join the legions flocking to football, basketball and baseball games to have a good time in the Capitol City. That’s because Austin has a slew of museums that celebrate art, history and politics. Visitors eager to learn the story of Texas, from the first European explorers through the space age, should visit the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. A short hop away, the LBJ Presidential Library brings to life a native son’s rise from his hardscrabble roots in the Hill Country to being sworn in as our 36th president aboard Air Force One only hours after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963. Other, smaller museums off the beaten path, enlighten and enrich your Austin adventure. For example, the oldest house still standing in Austin was built by a French diplomat in 1840, and today it’s the French Legation Museum. And you can visit the studio of a pioneering woman sculptor, Elisabet Ney, whose marble sculptures of Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin are on permanent display at the Texas Capitol and the U.S. Capitol.
Stocking your kitchen with the essential tools is the key to making cooking enjoyable, fast, and fun. Many people claim they “hate to cook” or that they “can’t cook,” and you would understand why if you stepped into their kitchens. Even a short, 30-minute recipe that requires only a couple chopped ingredients becomes very laborious when using a dull knife; and then cooking with a cheap, thin pan that causes foods to stick or burn only escalates the problem. No wonder people choose to eat out or warm up a pre-made convenience meal from the freezer.