Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: Austin (Page 1 of 2)

Texas Hill Country Road Trip

Cow at LBJ State Park

A little over a year ago we took our last getaway before everything shut down and the world changed. February 2020, we scored cheap flights for a long weekend in Austin, Texas and even though it was unseasonably cold (although not as unseasonably cold as Texas this February) we fell in love with Austin.

While we were stuck at home social distancing, we found a new love, travel shows, and one of our favorites is Samantha Brown: Places to Love. Since we had recently took a tour of Austin and the Texas Hill Country, one of the first episodes we watched was about the Texas Hill Country and we realized that the tour we took didn’t even scratch the surface of the Hill Country. When we were looking to use up our flight credit from our canceled spring break trip, we found a deal to fly back to Austin to fully explore the area.

After what may possibly have been too much research, I came up with with following itinerary:

  • December 28: Fly into Austin
  • December 29: New Braunfels, San Antonio Riverwalk, and Boat Cruise
  • December 30: San Antonio Missions National Historic Park
  • December 31: Cascade Caverns, Hill Country Wineries
  • January 1: Fredericksburg and Wineries
  • January 2: Lyndon Johnson National Historic Site and Wineries
  • January 3: Exploring the Hill Country back to Austin
  • January 4: Flight to Orlando and then connecting back to Detroit
  • January 5: Tampa and Disney Springs
  • January 6: Flying back to Michigan for real

This ended being a great trip and we have been looking back on it a lot since it has been so cold here. You might notice in my above itinerary that our connecting flight home from Orlando got canceled and the earliest flight they were able to get us on was two days later. This cancellation resulted from flight delays due to the closure of Jacksonville air traffic control due to a COVID outbreak. Needless to say, it has made us nervous to take any other flights right now.

Be sure to check back here every week as I tell the stories of our road trip around the Hill Country! Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

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Wordless Wednesday: Performing Arts Center

Turo: A Modern Car Rental Option

When planning our Austin trip, we decided to save money and not rent a car.  Austin is a very walkable city and I never felt the least bit unsafe walking around. Uber and Lyft are prevalent in Austin as well. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper and more exciting, Revel mopeds are all over the place as well as the slightly more dangerous Lime Scooters. If you’re looking to go a little further without going through the traditional rental car companies, I highly recommend Turo.

We now have crowd sourced taxi services through uber and Lyft, grocery delivery from Shipt and Instacart, and food delivery from Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub. Now, rental cars have become crowd sourced through Turo, which allows you to rent cars directly from people. If you’re interested in unusual cars, Turo has more options than the rental car agencies. You can find a showy sports car, a camper van, or a rugged truck.

Barton Springs Pool

Where traditional rental companies encourage longer rentals, Turo allows you to even rent for a single day, which is what we did to get out of downtown Austin and head to Mount Bonnell. We rented a tiny, electric, Fiat 500, which is the exact opposite of the massive Nissan Armada we got tricked into renting to drive to the Grand Canyon last year (there are only two of us. Why would we need a third row of seats? We didn’t really even need the second row). It was the first time we had ever driven an electric car and that was an experience, but it wasn’t difficult to find free electric charging stations in Austin which made it much cheaper than renting a typical gas powered vehicle. And with a ridiculously low $20/day rate, it was hard to go wrong with that tiny car.

With Turo being so new, they’re not as common outside of the big cities. There were plenty of cars to choose from in Austin but there’s only a few available where I live. Of course, since you are renting someone’s personal vehicle there are mileage limits that the traditional rental car agencies have done away with. So, Turo may not be the best option for your next road trip, but its a great choice if you are traveling to a city and would like to be able to explore it with your own wheels.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

Turo did not pay me to write this, but if they offer, I wouldn’t decline. 😉

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Wordless Wednesday: Savanna Meadow

The Savanna Meadow

Wordless Wednesday: Austin Bridge

Wordless Wednesday: Family Garden

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Waterfall in the Family Garden

After climbing Mount Bonnell, we were looking for somewhere else to explore outside of downtown Austin to enjoy the beautiful Texas sunshine. Even though it was February and I knew there wouldn’t be much blooming, we headed to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Located 10 miles southwest of Downtown Austin, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is the state botanical garden and arboretum of Texas.

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson opened the gardens in 1982 as a way to showcase and protect native Texas flora. The wildflower center has five distinct zones: the central gardens, the family garden (top), the Texas Arboretum, the Savanna Meadow (below), and the hill country trails. Even though we visited in February and there weren’t a ton of flowers in bloom, there was green to be seen.

The Savanna Meadow

The hill country trails are a unique area of the wildflower center with 70 acres set aside to study prescribed fires and how they affect the growth of native plants. There are about a mile of trails in this section that give visitors an up close look at fire and land management.

The Texas Arboretum features 16 acres of native Texas trees. A mile long path takes visitors through the arboretum to see the variety of maples, oaks, and more. One of the most unique features of the arboretum is the Hall of Texas Heroes which features offspring of some of Texas’ most historically significant trees. Trees on display include the Battle Oaks, Heart O’ Texas Oak, and the Matrimonial Oak. These trees grew from acorns harvested by Arboretum staff from the famous trees and planted on the grounds of the Wildflower Center.

If you are planning a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, visit their website (wildflower.org) ahead of time to discover what is in bloom and get a lay of the land.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Wordless Wednesday: Stevie Ray Vaughan

Hiking Mount Bonnell

The view from Mount Bonnell

After our rainy first day in Austin, we decided we wanted to get out of the city since the sun was shining on our second day. We rented a car and headed to Mount Bonnell, the highest point in Austin. We first glimpsed Mount Bonnell on our tour of Austin and the Hill Country and I knew that I wanted to return in the sunshine and climb it!

Located in Covert Park, Mount Bonnell stands at 775 feet above sea level and is a great way to get a view of Lake Austin and the many impressive mansions built on its shores. As our tour guide suggested, we started at the trail at the end of the parking lot that is a more gradual incline. That way, we saved the 102 steps for our descent. The park at the top is a great place for a picnic and enjoy the beautiful Austin weather! If you are looking for an outdoor experience during your trip to Austin and you have a car, definitely check out Mount Bonnell! It was an easy hike and the view cannot be beat!

Being that Mount Bonnell is a big tourist destination, it is an area that sees a lot of break ins. There are signs all over the parking lot not to leave valuables in your car. If you are planning a visit, make sure you leave valuables that you don’t want to tote up the mountain wherever you are staying.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Visiting the Texas State Capitol

“Texas stands peerless amid the mighty, and her brow is crowned with bewildering magnificence! This building fires the heart and excites reflection in the minds of all.” – Senator Temple Houston

One of the most highly rated attractions in Austin is the Texas State Capitol. The Capitol Building is modeled after the US Capitol Building in Washington, just like the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing. Being that this is not uncommon for state capitols, I didn’t understand the appeal of Texas State Capitol before I laid eyes on it. The exterior is made of beautiful, local, red granite and contains 360,000 square feet of floor space, more than any other state capitol. The building is 302 feet tall making it taller than the US Capitol. Why? Because everything is bigger in Texas.

I had not planned to visit the capitol building until we drove by it on our tour of the city. I have seen the US Capitol. I have been inside the Michigan State Capitol. They are all the same right? I was really wrong there! This building is bigger than you can imagine. It is an impressive building and has be seen to be understood.

Built in 1888, the rotunda is decorated with a portrait gallery featuring the Presidents of the Republic of Texas and Texas Governors. Sitting on 22 acres, there are many important statues and monuments on the Capitol grounds. Guided tours are offered every day departing about every 30-45 minutes. For more information about tours, visit tspb.texas.gov.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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