Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bloggin' from Blanco

We've been parked at Blanco State Park for the past two weeks, a nice park right outside of town. Many of the small towns we've visited, although somewhat faded, still proudly display restored courthouses, refurbished store fronts, and carefully attended parks. Blanco, however, is not one of them. Not because of a lack of care, but just because...well, it never was much to begin with. It's troubles started back in 1853 when the first settlement had to be moved because of a flood. Cotton was king then, but soon the crops were wiped out by the boll weevil and cotton root rot fungus. Then the folks thought that Blanco would be the county seat, and spent two years building the county courthouse, but four years after completion the county seat was moved to Johnson City, a move that still irritates some of the residents. But don't get the wrong idea; Blanco is still a great place to live and visit. Small shops and restaurants ring most of the storefronts around the square, and the old theater and adjacent stores are being restored. The state park sits astride the Blanco River, which has small dams to keep the water deep enough for the trout that are stocked periodically during the winter. It's a convenient location for day trips to San Antonio, Fredericksburg, and other interesting places to visit. And, best of all, Blanco has one of the best little pie-serving diners in the state. How good? Well, when the waitress set the piece of coconut cream pie down between us, all I could see above the meringue was the top of Brenda's head. And only $2.50 for a huge slice......we could live here! The Blanco Bowling Club Diner is one of those memorable little places in small town America that makes traveling such a pleasure. Part of the "Bowling Club" (9-pin, manual pin setting only), the diner offers simple fare with unusual prices - the dinner special one night was meat loaf, scalloped potatos, and vegetable for $6.73, ice tea for $.92, so that when tax is added, no pennies will be necessary. Did I mention the pie?
In between pie-eating trips, we managed a day visit to the Pedernales Falls State Park, near the town of Dripping Springs. It's another great Texas state park, very popular among families for its swimming areas and large campground. We took the trail down to the falls area, which even in the winter is almost cave-like due to the density of the trees. Once at the river, we could see where the falls would have been if there was a larger water flow; unfortunately, with the current drought, the falls were almost dry. Still, it's a pretty area and a great place for kids to climb around on the rocks and scare their parents.
Speaking of scary, on a hike at Palmetto State Park, I looked up and right over the trail hung what I first thought was some type of fungus, and then realized was a honey comb. As you can see by the picture, it's a large structure covered by what I hoped at the time were semi-frozen bees. We'd never seen an open-air hive before, and learned from reading on-line that they're rare. The hive is already large; I have to wonder how long it can grow and stay secure, especially in the hot weather. If you're thinking of hiking the trails here, you might want to consider wearing a helmet and be prepared to run fast!

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