A Trip To Texas

In March of 2017 I made a spur of the moment trip to San Angelo, Texas. This trip ended up being one of the worst memories, and the best, of my life! I went to Texas to visit an at-the-time Air force boyfriend (I can already hear your judgement, yeah yeah, I know). Although I found out I was one of his many, many, girlfriends, I still had an incredible experience and would love to visit Texas again.

This is not what this post is about. Texas is filled with a certain hospitality you just don’t witness everyday. The people, the food, and my goodness, the views!

San Angelo is a small town about 4 hours away from Austin, Texas. Not to be confused with the very popular San Antonio, TX. I flew by myself, and arrived in a 2 terminal tiny airport, off of a tiny plane. Once I felt the warm wind on my skin and hair, I was in love. When you’re raised in the PNW, you appreciate warmth like that a little differently.

I woke up the next morning and we decided to drive 4 hours to Austin for 2 reasons;

BBQ & The Hamilton Pool Preserve. We got to Austin early, about 7AM, and immediately set up our camp chairs outside of Franklin BBQ. Camp chairs? You may ask why those were necessary, let me tell you a story about this unique joint.

Franklin BBQ was created by Aaron & Stacy Franklin. It all started with backyard BBQ cookouts, then turned into Aaron & Stacy deciding to buy a food cart and finding passion in the food they were making and selling. They started selling their BBQ on the side of a highway in Austin, and their success escalated quickly! Today, crowds stand in line for hours for a taste of his mouth-watering brisket. Franklin Barbecue has been celebrated by everyone from Jimmy Kimmel to President Obama.

When I say that crowds stand in line for hours, I’m not kidding. We arrived at 7AM and there were over 120 people in line already! We set up camp, and waited until 11 (when they open). They let people in 10 at a time. Man, we were getting hungry, and clearly this place was worth it! Once it was our turn, we were not disappointed! There is a reason these guys are as successful as they are. I’d wait in line everyday for food like that.

We were both in a food coma by the end of this, so we headed to our hotel and took a 4 hour cat-nap. We woke up around dinner time, and we were hungry once again.

We decided to look up famous restaurants to the Austin area, and heard about The Oasis on Lake Travis. They are best known as The Sunset Capital of Texas because most days of every year, hundreds of guests from all over the world come to see the breathtaking views and quite possibly one of the most spectacular sunsets they will ever lay eyes on.

And boy, it did not dissapoint!

Not only do they have incredible views, they also had fantastic food. Their margaritas were amazing, and dangerously strong. I got the shrimp tacos, fried avocado, and of course, chips & salsa. The whole atmosphere is truly unique and absolutely breathtaking. I would highly recommend you stop here if you plan on visiting Austin.

After enjoying dinner, and a little bit of a buzz, we walked over to a few gift shops and browsed, then we decided we weren’t ready for the evening to end, and went to hike the River Place Nature Trail, about 2 minutes away.

After our wonderful dinner and hike up the trail, we hitched a ride in an Uber to downtown Austin! It was St.Patrick’s day and we were in the mood to have some fun, so we set off exploring. Our first stop was the Jackalope Bar. Yep, you read that right. My dad used to tell me stories about Jackalopes when I was a teenager, it became an inside joke of ours, so I snapped some photos and shared them with him! It was hilarious to witness a bar that literally has a statue of a rabbit-deer as their centerpiece. This thing was ginormous!

I went to order an Irish Trashcan, to celebrate St. Patty’s day, and the waitress stared at me in bewilderment. They’d never heard of one! So instead, we shared a slice of pizza that was bigger than both of our heads combined, and a mixed drink that was so large it was meant for 4 people. (See the straws?) The food and atmosphere was great, and the wait staff was very friendly. I would highly recommend visiting the Jackalope! After we finished up at this quirky bar, our next stop was Voodoo doughnuts, because what better food to enjoy when you are stumbling around the streets of Austin than doughnuts?

I am an Oregon native, so Voodoo is something I am familiar with and of course, a huge fan of. If you haven’t been to a Voodoo before, you gotta go! Voodoo features inexpensive crazy doughnut creations, some of their wildest ones are cheeto doughnuts, the classic “voodoo” doll doughnut, complete with raspberry jelly filling and a pretzel stake through the heart, and cereal loaded doughnuts!

My favorite is the “Reeses” doughnut, deliciously simple peanut butter & chocolate.

After finally finding our way home and a long night of adventures, we went to sleep, my head full of anticipation for tomorrow’s plans.

The next morning, I woke up and got dressed immediately. Anticipation about visiting one of the most beautiful natural creations in Texas, the Hamilton Pool Preserve. I had spent hours researching it before this trip. Hamilton Pool Preserve is a historic swimming hole which was designated a preserve by the Travis County Commissioner’s Court in 1990. Hamilton Creek spills out over limestone outcroppings to create a 50 foot waterfall as it plunges into the head of a steep box canyon. The waterfall never completely dries up, but in dry times it does slow to a trickle. It was beautiful! I couldn’t believe my eyes when we finally saw it. If you plan on visiting the Austin area, this is a MUST-see.

The last thing on our itinerary was Jacob’s Well located on the outside of Wimberly, Texas. After a 4 mile hike through the desert, we arrived. When I say that Texas is beautiful, I mean it. I never would have expected to be as blown away as I was the entire time visiting this incredible place.

Jacob’s Well is a 12-foot diameter mouth of a spring, and serves as a popular local swimming spot. From the opening in the creek bed, Jacob’s Well cave descends vertically for about 30 feet, then continues downward at an angle through a series of silted chambers separated by narrow restrictions, finally reaching an average depth of 120 feet. Jacob’s Well might be beautiful, but it is also extremely dangerous to swimmers.

What’s considered serious fun for some — lounging around on the lip of the well, escaping the heat, spending time with friends — is a lifestyle to others. And it can be a deadly lifestyle. At least eight or nine people have died at Jacob’s Well — the exact number is hard to come by — which has prompted some people to call it one of the most dangerous diving spots in the world. Two young Texas men were caught in one of the well’s caves and drowned in 1979.

If you plan on visiting, do yourself a favor and stay on the safe-shores above!

We ended our day and made the trip back to San Angelo, and in the morning, I caught my flight back home to the lush tree-filled PNW. I missed my home. Texas was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, and I am so happy I got to experience it. Although it ended on a sour note, I enjoyed my time and the new things and places I got to experience whilst there. Someday I will go back, and that is a day I definitely look forward to. Signing off, Adventure Awaits! -Taylor

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