March 15th we flew about 1400 miles south to visit the Texas Hill Country.
We were able to drive by the ranch near Comfort, where Mitch used to stay with his grandparents during his summers as a kid.
It was nice to hear birds singing, we haven't heard them here up north in a while.
We explored twisting, climbing highways, and safari-like ranch roads.
Just outside of Kerrville, we met up with "Scrappy," the town's school mascot.
Scappy is a scrap metal sculpture of a whitetail deer, some 16 feet tall, standing on a smashed car body. A pretty impressive piece of work!
Kerrville is home of 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny "Football" Manziel. We passed by his high school field a few times - notable for the pair of football enthusiasts with us.
Throughout our stay, we saw wildlife & animals galore.
Turkey, whitetail deer, fallow deer, axis deer, amazing Scimitar Oryx and Red Stag. Some of these creatures I'd never seen before. Exotic sheep; Mouflon, Black Hawaiian, Corsican.
Part of our trip involved a Texas hunt. While hogs were what they were really after, Mitch, Mason & Eric each had success with a ram. (I'll share in a separate post.)
We saw beautiful Blackbuck antelope from India that are now thriving in Texas.. herds of them leaping, young babies bouncing, and bucks, who I learned turn black as they mature (hence the name.)
We even came upon a horse along the countryside that had two zebras as it's pasture mates.
I spied a few Texas turtles sunning themselves. Mitch also found an empty shell that we brought home.
We crossed the Guadalupe, Perdernales, & Llano Rivers a few times.
had prepped myself with knowledge of water moccasins beforehand, and did creep near edges of waters a bit. Thankfully, of the many creatures I saw, snakes didn't make the list.
Hill Country is full of prickly pear cactus and fences. Lots & lots of them both.
There were small, purple flowering trees scattered throughout. I think they are redbud?
The towns we passed through were filled with fantastic architecture.. they were also crowded with people while we were there, so other than a good Texas cafe breakfast and BBQ at Cranky Franks near Fredericksburg, we stayed mostly to the country.
Some of the modern ranch compounds were unfathomable to me. I prefer the beautiful old barns and simple two story stone houses.
One of my favorite (if not my most favorite) things about the south is the live oak trees.
I spent a good deal of time reading under the one below. Mason couldn't resist climbing up into it.
And I can't forget about the watusis. We saw a small herd from a distance a couple of times on the ranch we were staying. I got within photo range of this bull on his own, staying near trees at all times. Mitch said he couldn't get to me there, because his horns wouldn't fit. ☺
How about those horns!?
This guy kept an eye on me. (And I on him.)
The Hill Country land is very rocky.
I wanted badly to take this rock home with me, but I didn't have room in my luggage. I know where it is if I ever go back, though!
I did gather a good collection of smaller flint & stones from creek beds.
Ancient arrowheads are found throughout the state of Texas.
These rough & rugged, prickly areas were dotted with the tiniest purple flowers here & there.
We visited LBJ
Ranch (Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park) where I acquired an interest
in Lady Bird Johnson, someone I've never known much about before. I
share her love for native wildflowers.
As mentioned the other day, I found some Texas bluebonnets to photograph.
Oh, beautiful, beautiful Texas,
Where the beautiful bluebonnets grow,
We're proud of our forefathers
Who fought at the Alamo.
You can live on the plains or the mountain
Or down where the sea breezes blow,
And you're still in beautiful Texas,
The most beautiful
State that we know
This song, "Beautiful Texas," played while we cruised through the LBJ ranch.
I was won over.
I definitely hope to return to see more of this diverse & wide spread state.