Monthly Archives: March 2015

Cowboy Capital Of The World

Bandera: There is beauty in dem dar hills. Paul and I were drawn to the Texas Hill Country after our first visit a few years ago. It has an unfamiliar beauty and an openess that can intimidate and calm in the same breath. We also enjoyed the vast starry skies for our nighttime entertainment. During our 3 week stay in Cowboy Capital, we found some reasons for settling there. The people are extemely friendly, the weather in winter is pleasant, and you have one of the largest selections of cowboy boots you can imagine.

DSCN0554DSCN0557DSCN0559Our respecct for Texas Hill Country trail runners has been magnified! We especially enjoyed running in Lost Maples SP. It has challenging terrain so much so we had to hike some parts. The veiws were spectacular and running on the flat canyon rock a treat. Driving West of Bandera the rugged natural beauty of Texas just gets better and better.

Woofing at Sage Gardens is like being invited into the Gibson Family. We will no longer feel like strangers and this made it a bit harder to leave. Our last night we enjoyed a delicious cajun meal cooked by Lulu, Debby’s mom. The whole extended family gathered to share in the food, conversation, and goodbyes. We have been blessed with luck on our first sojourn/van voyage.

Heading home we stopped in Austin to enjoy one last run on the river loop and take a dip in Barton Springs pool. We stayed a night at Atlanta SP. and caught the tail end of a sunset high above a lake on a quiet,desserted campsite. We woke to rain and rapidly dropping temperatures. We decided to run 8 miles anyways through the wet, wooded trails. Many of the paths were flooded by the expanding lake water. it was still a visually cool experience.

DSCN0580 The next night we stayed in Arkansas at my Uncle Jim’s house. He welcomed us with a nice home cooked meal even though we announced that we were arriving that day.We felt nutured by food, conversation, and love. It was nice to see cousin Mike and Marnie.

The rest of the journey home is somewhat bittersweet. A spicy Thai food dinner in Indianapolis, sleeping well in a Flying J truck stop (thanks to our heater – it was 18F/-7C), snow flurries along the way and some sunshine to brighten our spirits. We are going home.

Sushi Time

I was invited to assist in a workshop Debby and Eileen were having in the Sage Garden kitchen. Anyone who knows me well, knows that Paul is the main chef in our family. Still, the workshop was on making sushi rolls and this I knew very little about. I could however greet people, help with cleaning, and serving tea and saki. This is the second workshop that Eileen and Debby have done together and it seemed that all the participants learned a lot and were able to make delicious looking rolls. We set the tables, put on our kimonos, heated up the saki and invited everyone back inside to feast. There were few leftovers but I now have recipes for all including the miso soup and cucumber salad.


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Eileen Rogers is a close friend of Debby’s and is also a gardener. After viewing her plants at the local Bandera farmer’s market, Paul and I decided to visit her and her husband Bill’s farm. We enjoyed looking at all the garden beds and plants that they started.     Eileen also does a wide variety of succulents and had some on display in a green house. Besides gardening and cooking, Eileen has many talents including clothing design. She sells many items on-line and you can buy them at I am starting to get an itch to return home and get going on some of my own projects.

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Bandera continues to surprise us with its friendly people, beautiful hills to run in and variety of lifestyles. Paul and I ran in Government Canyon Natural Area last weekend to take advantage of our Texas Park pass. We were not blown away by the views this time but the trails are diverse and there are many. We felt both challenged and relaxed by the subtle beauty of fields, rocky trails, canyons, and trees. It made 22 plus miles a bit easier.


Sage Gardens

Paul and I have found that time does fly but in a relaxed sort of way here at Sage gardens. When we arrived last Wednesday we were greeted with 4 generations of open arms. Can a family really be this friendly and welcoming? The answer is yes, we have felt less like wwoofers and more like guests here. Debby and Sid have a very comfortable homestead with a vegetable garden, chickens for eggs, and a plethora of dogs (including Sam the collie, who has so far run about 15 miles with us).


Debby is involved with many projects and at the moment one is getting her kitchen certified as a commercial kitchen. She can then cook and sell food products and also rent out space to other people. The garden and home have a nurturing feeling which brings both sustenance and love to this family.

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Debby has recently become aware of the benefits of eating whole foods in a plant based context, and has gone beyond that to a vegan diet for herself. The family is supportive and the food Paul and I have eaten has been tasty. We enjoyed a gathering of friends last night that share her interest of healthy foods and living. It was a potluck dinner and Paul contributed his West African peanut soup from a Moosewood cookbook. I really loved the variety of people that have found their way to the Texas hill country of Bandera. Ceramic artists, woodworkers, gardeners, entrepeneurs, beer makers, restaurant owners, beauticians, and of course cowboys and gals.

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There is beauty in these wide open spaces and hills. We have been mostly enjoying our runs and the weather looks like it will continue to brighten. We spent last Saturday running 20 miles in Hill Country SNA on the rugged trails that they have for hikers and equestrian use. The views were outstanding and the trails although challenging had enough of a variety to be forgiving. This landscape is what drew Paul and I here to begin with.

Today I spent the morning weeding and clearing the garden of debris. It is a pleasure to be outdoors and in such a tranquil space. I don’t know what other wwoofers will think about this place but I have a feeling they may not want to go home.

Texas State Parks

Paul and I have been very impressed on our previous visit to Texas with the state parks here so we thought we would take a break from WWOOF-ing and visit some of the closest ones. We purchased a State park pass earlier when we were doing trail runs at Bastrop State Park. For $70 its a deal if you will be traveling in the state for awhile and either camping or visiting the parks for day use.

We headed first to McKinney Falls State Park in Austin. Being so close to the city this park fills up on the weekends so book ahead of time. We arrived on a Wednesday so it was still pretty quiet and the weather warm enough to check out the trails. We slept peacefully and did a Thursday day/night exploring Austin.

On Friday the weather was getting cold and we headed North to Inks Lake State Park. We found a nice spot to park the van on a inlet where deer, ducks, and various wildlife felt comfortable milling about. We woke in the morning and waited awhile until it warmed up a bit. We bundled up in our winter running gear (it was that cold) and headed out to the trails. Inks lake is one in a chain of “Highland Lakes” created in the 1930’s through a series of impoundments on the Colorado river. It has beautiful granite-like rock called gneiss that the trail traverses that makes running slow and tricky but you then had time to enjoy some veiws. We managed to get in 10 miles but my hands and toes were numb by the end. The hot showers afterwards felt sublime. This park would be fabulous in the warmer weather with its many water play options.

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Colorado Bend State Park is a very remote, rugged park we visited and decided to trail run. The park has over 30 miles of hike and bike trails so we thought this would be a perfect place to get some miles in. We arrived a bit late in the afternoon but thought we would only run a few hours. We headed first to Gorman Falls to check out a waterfall and then continued on a steep and winding trail along bluffs and canyons on the Colorado River. The trails were definitely runnable but it took concentration and careful footing as there were a lot of rocks, roots and places you could trip. We were really enjoying the run but we messed up a bit on the distances and ended up out a lot longer than we expected. It was getting late and I was really getting cold and tired. By the time we got back it was more like 4 hours and over 17 miles of trails with no one in sight. We were both spent!

Deserving a day off we took some time to relax and then move on to another park. Because of our pass we decided to stop at Enchanted Rock for lunch. It was still misty and wet outside so the main trail to to top of the rock was closed due to being slick. We just wanted to eat our lunch in the van and stare at this unique pink granite dome which rises 425 feet above the surrounding area. It is the largest batholith, or exposed underground rock formation, in the US.

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Our last park to stay at was Gualalupe River State Park. Here again the weather was offputting so we pretty much had a whole section of the camp to ourselves. The park had limited trails and the wet weather had made them so muddy that it would collect on your shoes and make them super heavy. Paul especially liked a short loop called the Oak Savannah Loop which felt like a prarie run.

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My favorite place in the park is where they have set up bird feeders with a blind so you can watch them. I have never been a birder but I can see why people want to sit and watch these beauties. I was mesmorized by their movements and captivated by their songs.

DSCN0458I would have sat alone there for hours but a creepy camper dude made me want to move on. This park would also be a wonderful place to enjoy a hot summer day floating on the river.

HOPE Outdoor Gallery (Graffiti Art) Photo-essay

The HOPE outdoor gallery on Baylor Street in Austin is an amazing set of concrete walls covered by everchanging graffiti. Paul took these photographs, documenting some of the art present there on February 26th, 2015. You are encouraged to view the full resolution images to get the full sense of the artwork.

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Art in Austin

After being parked outside Austin on the farm for almost a month, I could take it no longer…I need art! Paul and I decided to head into Austin and stay at McKinney Falls State park which is 13 miles from the capital. We settled in and did a surprisingly challenging trail run that combines crossing the falls, passing historical sites (former homestead of 19th century racehorse breeder Thomas McKinney), ponds, Onion Creek, and well maintained wooden bridges.

The next day we drove to a spot on Ladybird Lake. Paul really wanted to run the Ann and Roy Butler hike and bike trail to get a feel for where the locals exercise. It was really cold, damp, and windy but I agreed. The 10 mile loop is a classic city running (and walking) location, similar to the Schuylkill River or Charles River loops in Philadelphia and Boston, that offers city views, river side scenery and widespread popularity with a large variety of runners and walkers.

We tried to warm back up in the van but I really didn’t feel better until we got into the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas. You are greeted there by a cool large foyer that is covered with watery looking tiles in varying shades of blue. The tiles reflect the light and shadows of the day and even of your own silhouette. Paul and I enjoyed the main exhibit at the museum was called “Witness” which was an interesting collage of numerous artists and their personal impressions of the civil rights movement and the general zeitgeist that surrounded it. The museum has a large permanent collection that is definitely worth visit (free on Thursdays). It is also across the street from the Texas State history museum which we skipped but it highly recommended, and a few blocks from the capitol building, as Paul demonstrates here:


Down the street we checked out the gallery and shop, Women and Their Work (1710 Lavaca St). Intimate gallery with rotating artists and some nice gift items.

Next up was a must do stop for artists visiting Austin, The Hope Outdoor Gallery and/or Castle Hill Graffiti (11th and Baylor). The art on this abandoned construction site is ever changing.


Many famous artists have painted here only to be covered over the next week, day or hour by another artist. Nothing is permanent. We enjoyed climbing around and snapping photos of all the different styles. In order to paint on the site you are supposed to apply, sign a waiver etc… etc…but even while we were there plenty of people just walked up with paint cans in hand to put up a tag or a design.

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The trash bins overfowed with used paint cans. I am in love with the freedom this place exudes but hope that no irresponsible actions will shut it down. It is prime Austin real estate and the veiw is fantastic so only time will tell. Paul posted a larger set of photos of the outdoor gallery over here.
Feeling hungry Paul and I headed to Whip In. The vibe was just right with the kind of grooves Paul digs and even star trek videos playing on a single screen. Indian food and really good beer with a wine and beer shop connected to purchase more. The weather was still cold so no one was sitting outside but we were able to score a cozy booth indoors. Highly recommend.

Austin Art Garage (2200 S. Lamar), an almost hidden gallery needs a mention. Here is a placewhere many talented emerging artists show and sell their work. So many affordable pieces but not enough room in our van to display. Bummer.

Torchy’s Tacos was a treat, and is expanding locally and hopefully nationally. Tasty unique taco combinations that are affordable and delicious. Relaxed atmosphere, wi-fi, happy hour.
If you are a Dr. Seuss fan, stop by Art on 5th fine art gallery. We enjoyed looking at the drawings and design sketches most of all. The other art was not as memorable.
We put a dent in my list of art to see in Austin and may stop back on our return from the wilderness.