If you live in Texas, you know that when spring comes, so do bluebonnets. If you don’t live in Texas, you probably think Texans are crazy for plopping their kids in a big patch of blue flowers. Taking pictures in the Texas bluebonnets is definitely a tradition in my state, since it is the state flower of Texas! I have no idea if that is a “thing” anywhere else, but it is one of the many things I love about my state.
Oh yeah… a lot of kids don’t really like being stuck in a field of flowers – for example, my nephew Logan! In this picture, he had just turned one and was not having it. At all. This was taken in Dallas in 2008.
Fast forward a few years – 6, to be exact – and he only took the picture with me so I would shut up. There may or may not have been bribery involved. This was taken in 2014, on a very sunny day (obviously).
Last Friday, I got a bee in my (blue)bonnet and decided that I needed to go see the flowers in the Texas Hill Country. I recruited my dad (it was not difficult) and we made a day of it! We started at 8:00 am and I got home around 8:30 pm. As you may know, I’m a planner. Big time. However, with just hours notice, there wasn’t much time to do any planning. I knew where the bluebonnets were, and that’s about it. I did have a little time to do some googling and realized that a BBQ place I’ve heard about was in the same city – so we decided that’s where we would eat lunch!
In Texas, we have a show called Texas Country Reporter. I grew up watching this on weekends, because I feel like my dad wanted to BE the host, Bob Phillips. I also grew up taking lots of fairly impromptu road trips with my family – Dad has wanderlust just like I do. TCR is still on, but there is another show that I love even more, and it is called The Daytripper. It is on PBS, and it is one of my favorite shows on TV! Chet Garner is the host, and he is so goofy and funny – but also super smart and nice. He basically goes to one city per episode and explores it, talks to the locals, eats the food, acts a fool – you know, stuff I love. Last year, the day before we left on our Colorado vacation, Chet was speaking in Arlington – so my husband and I had to go! I had a killer migraine headache, nothing was packed for our 10 day vacation – but we were going to meet him no matter what.
We did it.
That atlas you see me holding is very special to us. Kevin and I dated long distance for four years before he moved to Fort Worth (he lived in Lubbock, TX), so when he would come visit for a long weekend we would take small trips instead of staying in Fort Worth. Austin was (and still is) our favorite. Back then, GPS didn’t really exist. We had a Texas atlas spiral bound, and we have marked it up so much. We both like to just drive and explore, so there are so many little notes in there from the past 19 years – it is one of my most treasured possessions! I took it with us to meet Chet, and asked him if he would sign it for us on the Austin page. He did, and he also wrote down and circled his favorite BBQ spots in the area for us. It was so awesome! Anyway, Opie’s in Spicewood was exactly where I was headed on our Texas bluebonnet adventure.
Now, my dad HATES highway driving. HATES. I pretty much feel the same way, but you know, when you’re in a hurry they just make sense. We weren’t in a rush yesterday, so we drove through several small towns to get to our destination. If you are interested in how we got there, we took Highway 67 through Cleburne and Glen Rose, then 220 to Hico, then 281 through Hamilton, Lampasas, Burnet (small detour here*), Marble Falls, and finally Spicewood. Highway 281 is not a major highway – it is usually 2-4 lanes and goes through several small towns. It is a really pretty drive and I highly recommend it if you are going between Fort Worth and San Antonio – definitely my favorite way to go! There are wildflowers all along the highways and roads the whole way down there! All of the little towns have some cute shops and restaurants too.
*In Burnet, we took Park Road 4 out to Inks Lake and came back through Kingsland to end up in Marble Falls. It was beautiful! A little out of the way, but nothing crazy. Maybe an extra 30 minutes – totally worth it.
On our way down, we called some of our family friends that live in Austin to see if they wanted to meet us for BBQ and Texas bluebonnets. They happened to be free, so they made the hour drive and we had a great day!
Spicewood is a tiny, tiny town. Opie’s BBQ was CROWDED. We waited in line for about 15 minutes before getting inside – that is pretty normal/fast for Texas!
(Please excuse that dude’s head. He would not get out of the way, and I’m short – so there you go.) Their menu is hung right above the giant smoker. It smelled like heaven. We decided on brisket, baby back ribs, and sausage (with AND without jalapenos). For our sides, we got tater tot casserole and spicy corn.
Look at all that meat. Don’t come here if you’re a vegetarian.
Between the 4 of us, we had a little bit of everything. Sharing is caring, guys. Also? EVERYTHING WAS SO GOOD. I dreamed about the tater tot casserole and the brisket last night. No lie. If you are ever in the vicinity of Spicewood, TX, this is a must stop. We even got to meet and talk to Opie. Nice guy!
Bluebonnet Central happened to be in Muleshoe Bend Recreational Area, right on the Colorado River, very close to Lake Travis, in Spicewood. Spicewood is about an hour from Austin, so it’s kind of “out there”, but as you are about to see – totally worth it. Unfortunately, bluebonnets don’t live for too long (maybe 6 weeks?) for the most part so you have a fairly short window for viewing. Some years are better than others for bluebonnets – this happened to be a very, very good year for the Muleshoe Bend area!
Next up: Bluebonnets. Now, I was expecting it to be pretty, from the pictures I’d seen online – but this took my breath away. Fields and fields covered with bluebonnets. It was insane! Until yesterday, I didn’t know that bluebonnets had a smell. They do – when you’re surrounded by them, it smells a little like honeysuckle. I miss it already! Here come all the pictures 🙂
#bluebonnetselfie is much better than #poopingonbluebonnets (it’s a thing. Google it.)
This is the best father/daughter picture we got. After 3.5 hours in the car and a heavy BBQ lunch, I wasn’t feeling too photogenic!
I am so glad that we went – it made for a long day, but I love spending time with my Dad doing fun stuff like this. My brother and sister don’t have the same love of road trips that Dad and I share! Lots of memories were made, jokes were told, and good conversation on our 13 hour, 460 mile road trip. I try to soak up as much of that stuff as I can, while I can.
During our trip, I kept saying how glad I was that we made the drive and how I wanted to do more things like that, so I decided to make a Texas wish list and start checking them off one by one. Texas is huge, so day trips are great – but not always possible. Some will have to be longer trips, and I’m okay with that. Have map, will travel. Keep checking back, I’ve got the travel bug now!
Have you read my post about our day trip to Waco to stalk Chip and Joanna Gaines, the Fixer Uppers on HGTV? You should!