Photo by Self “Absorbed” Timer
Some would say that using an alarm clock while on vacation is absolute insanity. I say take a Texas vacation including outdoor destinations in August, and you might begin to understand.
The subsequent departure toward an unknown destination didn’t faze me, because the rolling hills make every road in the Texas hill country a scenic drive. I got a clue when we turned off the paved road and started seeing signs for Krause Springs.
We passed a camping area, a grassy field dotted with tents overshadowed by large hardwood trees, and parked in a gravel lot near a small house. Outside the van we heard only a slight breeze in the trees and the deep, rich tones of very large wind chimes. A few steps beyond a wrought-iron gate, to our right we saw a butterfly garden and heard the babble of springwater falling down a man-made rock wall.
A gaunt elderly man, shaking slightly with what appeared to be Parkinson’s Disease, stood near the house smiling as a camper thanked him for a wonderful time. The older gentleman guided us to a small table, where a man in his early 30’s and grizzled with a thick, unkempt red beard took our $5 each and had us sign a waiver. Its margins shouted NO DIVING FROM THE BLUFFS.
(click any pic to enlarge)
Redbeard gave us a few tips on where to find the trails, and we were on our way.
[photopress:DSC_8797_sm_blog_1.jpg,thumb,alignleft]A few people, including parents with buoyant babies, enjoyed the confines of a spring-fed, man-made swimming pool. Still cool in the shade of the forest’s edge, we couldn’t imagine getting into the cold water. I had flashbacks to the times that a friend and I swam in the Little Red River, which stays a constant 55 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. That might have been okay when I was fourteen and sweaty.
[photopress:DSC_8798_sm_blog_1.jpg,thumb,alignright]I wandered to the end of the swimming pool and peered down between the brushy green tops of towering Bald Cypress trees. That was where Nature’s pool, and for me the big payoff for the drive, awaited. Bordered in places by smooth boulders, craggy bluffs, and shaded forest floor, the water’s surface already undulated with the movement of the day’s first swimmers.
Shannon and I descended a perilous-looking but sturdy staircase down the grotto’s steep hillside.
Look closely for an idea of how high the rope swingers flew.
There were only a few swimmers at first, so I snapped a couple of nearly people-free pics before we explored downstream. Between the campsites atop the bluffline and the arid, cactus-adorned rocky hillside, cypress trees of all sizes filled the narrow forest. When the woods opened up into another camping area, we headed back to the main swimming hole, by now getting fairly crowded.
[photopress:DSC_8842_sm_blog_1.jpg,thumb,alignleft]Adults floating on various colorful inflated objects watched mostly teenagers swing wildly on the rope swing. A few kids flouted the waiver’s uppercase admonition and leapt from the bluff. Although adults were watching them, when a boy no older than six hesitated at the edge, I handed all my electronics to Shannon and prepared to jump in if his attempt went wrong.
Click to go to Part 3.