Merry Christmas from Pearsall, TX, December 15, 2018

Merry Christmas from Pearsall, TX, December 15, 2018
Merry Christmas from Pearsall, TX, December 15, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Llano: A "Deer" Little Town that Rocks - Sat., March 10, 2018

How Bob and I, in our travels around Texas Hill Country, missed this little gem of a town is beyond me. Today, Susan and I left her house at 7:00 a.m. to make it to Llano, Texas, by 9:00 a.m. She volunteered to work a checkpoint for the Llano Earth Arts Fest Volksmarch. I went along to do the Volksmarch. 

She would be at the checkpoint for two hours, so I decided to explore and take photos before we walked. That way, I wouldn't slow us down taking photos while we walked (although I did take a few on the walk).

The walk start point was on the north side of the Roy Inks Bridge by the Llano Visitor Center. What a pretty place Llano is, straddling the Llano River. 

Right away it was evident that Llano is the "Deer Capital of Texas." The density of the deer in the Llano Basin is the highest in the nation (per Wikipedia). Interestingly enough, we didn't see one deer during our six-mile walk. (It was midday and rather hot which may have kept the deer in deep shade.)

But I digress, back to the beginning of our day...

The Volkssportverein Friedrichsburg Volksmarch Club hosted the walk. Thank you so much for all the work you put into organizing this event!

We had time to register for the walk before Susan's checkpoint duties, and we used the facilities at the Visitor Center. From there, we drove to the Gazebo in front of the Llano County Courthouse where the first walk checkpoint would be. Susan, as Regional Director, comes to the Volkssport events fully stocked with anything that might be needed: bottled water, brochures for upcoming events, display board, tables and chairs, and a display stand. We unloaded all the needed essentials from her van and added them to the oranges, candy, water, paper towels, cups, and napkins that were already there.

The Gazebo turned out to be a great place for a checkpoint because it was in the shade and had nice breezes blowing through it all day. That kept the temperatures cool undercover on this 91-degree March day.

The "cool" checkpoint staffed by
Susan Medlin and Jim Tree
The first walker to the checkpoint
From the checkpoint, I wandered around historic downtown Llano, then across the bridge to take photos. 

Llano County Courthouse - north and east sides
Confederate monument
Metal art on the light poles
Downtown Llano
On my way to the bridge, I passed the sign for the Llano Earth Art Fest (L.E.A.F). Behind the sign, in a park on the Llano River, there were booths, music stages, a place to try your hand at rockstacking or making rock art, classes in belly dancing, hula hooping and yoga, and a rockstacking competition. Not just any rockstacking competition, mind you, it is the world rockstacking championship.

This town's theme song could be "We will, we will rock you!" The reason I say this is not only due to the rockstacking competition but because Llano County is the only place on earth where you will find the Llano Uplift, a place where granite pushed its way to the surface exposing rocks all over the Llano area. 

The most famous and impressive of the rocks is a pink granite batholith in Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. You can climb the massive pink granite dome for views of the Texas Hill Country. But the dome isn't all there is of the granite. You see, the granite extends for 62 square miles, most of it is underground. If you have not been to Enchanted Rock, you must go there! The rock is amazing, and you can climb to the top of it. It's like climbing an 18-20-story building. 

Also, if you go to Enchanted Rock in the next few weeks, you will be treated to masses of wildflowers: bluebonnets, red Indian paintbrush, Indian blankets, Pink Evening Primrose, White Prickly Poppy, and others. We were a little too early for the wildflower show. Looks like maybe 2-3 more weeks before they're at their prime.

Historic marker for the granite industry
Samples of different types of local granite
At this point, I crossed the Roy Inks Bridge across the Llano River. L.E.A.F. was taking place below. I was able to capture some good photos from the bridge.

Rock art
A large rock art work
L.E.A.F. venue
These may be judges
Roy Inks Bridge
Llano County Historical Museum
Beautiful, fragrant mountain laurel in bloom

1883 bell from the San Fernando Academy
in Pontotoc, 20 miles west of Llano
The cement structure below was the water tank for animals on the site of the Dabbs Central Wagon Yard (1897 to 1926).

The log cabin below is the oldest extant structure in Llano, built in 1860 on a land grant given in 1846. The logs are oak, with bark left on the upper and lower sides, and are fitted at the corners using the "V-notch," a method typical of German settlers of this region. Chinking consists of small stones, wood slats, mortar of lime, sand and deer hair.

Roy Inks Bridge over the Llano River
Dam on the Llano River
Roy Inks Bridge
Caboose at the Visitor Center
The Depot Garden, a project of Llano County Master Gardeners, is in front of the Visitor Center. The short path highlighted certain plants and showcased some local works of art.
Pink phlox
Four-nerve daisy
Lamb's Ear
Art in The Depot Garden
Because Llano is The Deer Capital of Texas, beautifully painted deer are located throughout town. I included a few photos of them. The first two photos below are at the Visitor's Center.

Outside Visitor's Center
Texas flag on deer's face, Roy Inks Bridge on
deer's side, bluebonnets down deer's back leg
Look closely...this deer is a barbecue!
A jail deer in front of the Old Jail
While I was taking photos at the start table, I heard two people talking about the bakery across the street. Never one to shy away from a good bakery, I braved crossing the main highway to see what goodies they had.

Chrissy's Homestyle Bakery
The bakery was small, but the turnovers were huge, and there was a good selection of other items as well. I bought three cherry turnovers to share with Susan and Jim to thank them for volunteering at the checkpoint. 

Next door to Chrissy's Homestyle Bakery was an art gallery. The "trees" adorning the veranda have "leaves" made of fabric. The cloud in the background looks like a diving bald eagle. Speaking of bald eagles, there are bald eagles that make Llano County their winter home.

Art Gallery
As I was walking back across the Inks Bridge to the checkpoint, I saw Volksmarchers starting out on their walk. 

Walkers heading into the park along the river
The Llano River behind the dam
The checkpoint was a hopping place when I returned with the turnovers. Once the crowd died down, I hauled out the turnovers and the three of us swooned over the flaky, cherry pastries. They didn't last long!

Checkpoint at the Gazebo
Susan was still on her shift, so I walked around the Courthouse to take more photos.
Historic downtown Llano, Texas
Hey, Curt Kipp, if you're reading this, the photo below reminds me of the good times we had working at The Wilsonville Spokesman. This looks like another small-town newspaper.

Old Southern Hotel Building (see history below)
Stackable rock art in a small "park"
Want to know more about the
Llano Uplift? Go to
Enchanted Rocks & Jewelry
In memory of those who served in 1917-1918
Llano County WW II veteran's memorial

Beautiful day!
The public restroom was back across the bridge in a park. I made the trek back and forth before we started our 10k walk. Below the bridge, I saw a young man trying his luck at stacking rocks by the dam.

A rockstacker
By the time I got done taking photos and roaming around, I had put three miles on my feet. Susan had finished her shift so we were free to do our 10k walk. Lunch came first, though. 

Martin in front of the courthouse
We tried to have lunch at Stonewall's Pizza, but we were stonewalled. After we walked in and sat down, we waited ten minutes and no waitress ever came to take our drink order. Our waitress took the order from the table next to us and I made eye contact with her and tried to get her to come over, but she looked away. She brought back the other table's drinks and took their order, but never said anything to us. We got up and went to lunch at Joe's Grill & Bar a few doors down. 

They, too, were busy, but they acknowledged us and said to give them a minute. We did and they took our drink order and food order at the same time. We had excellent sliders for lunch. Two of their Angus Beef sliders equaled one very satisfying burger-sized lunch. Their potato salad was terrible, however. Then we were off on the walk.

Artist working in front of a gallery
Murals in the alley (a band was playing at the other end)
We walked through neighborhoods, the Llano City Cemetery, and past the two-story O'Henry School Building. Yes, that O'Henry, writer of stories, who also spent time in San Antonio and Austin. The school served all grades, but was known as "the college building" because of its stately style. We had walked on College Street but didn't know of any college in Llano, so we figured College Street must be named in honor of this school.

Llano City Cemetery
Dramatic clouds put on a show for us
O'Henry School Building history
Llano Yellow Jackets water tower
Those points of interest were followed by more neighborhood streets. My feet were killing me. My Samsung mileage tracker in my phone showed I had done seven miles so far, well over our 10k amount. I opted to sit in the Gazebo while Susan did more of the neighborhood walk. When she returned to the Gazebo, I continued the walk with her. 

We headed back north across the Inks Bridge, walked through the park along the river, past the Visitor Center and Railroad Museum, and got our books stamped at the finish point. 

Solid line of traffic crossing the bridge in Llano
Overlooking the Llano Earth Art Festival (L.E.A.F.)
Booths at the Festival
Relief from 90-degree heat in the Llano River
Festival-goers cooling off
Looking over the entire festival venue
The historic Dabbs Hotel - last standing
railroad hotel of the Victorian era
Another pass past the caboose
From the Visitor Center, we crossed under the bridge and into the park along the Llano River. The pink granite exposed along the path is, in my guess-timation, part of the Enchanted Rock batholith that has become exposed within the 62-square miles.

Looks like pink granite
Two teen-age girls kayaking the Llano River
The path we took along the river
"RV Parking" (a small campground maybe?)
Susan with the prettiest painted deer
we saw today
We finished our walk shortly after the park and made our way to the Llano Earth Art Festival. When we showed our Volksmarch record books at the entrance to the Festival, we received 50% off our admission. The admission was normally $10. 

The temperature was 91 degrees and we were hot! However, the festival looked so interesting we had to explore and check out the rockstacking and rock art. Here are our photos from the festival...

Perfect rock balancing
A master at sandsculpting!
His creation

How do they get those rocks to stay like that??
Somehow they're all balanced just so!
Rock art
Rock sculpture
This grouping looked like birds or people
sitting by the river
Another fascinating balancing act
Being in the water is popular today!
So interesting how they don't fall down
Elaborate rock art
Turtle made of rocks and shells
Why is this not falling down?
So, this is a worldwide rockstacking championship. We were a few minutes late to watch them measure the tower below, but it is the winner. 

2018 rockstacking champions
The winners were three men local to the area. There were competitors from all over the world.  We don't know if they won a prize or just bragging rights.

The winners - 3 guys but you can only see 2.
Cute one
Another stack with a window
The one small pedestrian bridge at river level
More in the river
An elaborate array with Captain America
We were hot, tired, and looking for ice cream. No ice cream booth. Someone is missing out on making money on a hot day! 

We got in the car and headed for home. Dairy Queen in Comfort, Texas, was on the way and we each had a Blizzard.

My total miles for today: 10.25. "Ouch!" say my feet.

At one point, Bob thought we might go to Six Flags Fiesta Texas tonight. Nope, I could not do any more walking. We'll have to save it for another day.

When we returned to Susan's house, we watched two episodes of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that she had recorded. We sat in recliners with our feet up! Then I headed home. 

I certainly hope they make this walk a yearly event! Good job on choosing and routing this walk. 

Good night. 


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