Lampasas, Texas?

That was our answer to our daughter, Katie, when she was wondering how we might like a day trip to Lampasas. Cal and I were both stationed at Ft. Hood, TX eons ago. The town is only about 25 miles from there but we drew a total blank when it came to any memories about it. She is expert at putting together various odd things to see that make for a fun day, though, so we totally put ourselves in her hands. What to do in Lampasas? Lots of things, as it turned out!

We are currently staying about 30 minutes drive from Katie, just west of Austin. She picked us up and we enjoyed an hour’s drive through the Texas hills and wildflowers to Lampasas. First stop: a charming little town park named Cooper Spring Nature Park. Katie had mentioned that we would be visiting a garden and I suppose I am too fresh out of the city: I was expecting manicured lawns and and concrete paths. These paths were narrow gravel mixed with generous helpings of dirt, but there were more wildflowers in abundance, a small woods, and a meandering little creek with tiny fish. The whole thing had a natural air about it, like they were just letting the park be Texas all on its own. It made for a beautiful walk.

Texas bluebonnets below a little pond
A woman walking her dog was the only other person we encountered in the park
A cactus that looks to me like a turtle
I think we surprised this herd of deer as much as they surprised us!

Across a country road from Cooper Spring was a sculpture park.

A colorful tractor painted by the artist’s children
This butterfly garden was in the shape of a butterfly, and aerial butterfly sculptures danced in the wind

We were getting hungry, and lunch was part of the fun too: we went to Storm’s Drive-In for burgers and fries. The first Storm’s opened up back in 1873 as a stagecoach stop. Times change, and in 1950 it was operating as The Dairy Cue. When Elvis Presley was stationed at Ft. Hood, it was a favorite stop of his. So why didn’t we hear about this when we were there? And wasn’t Lampasas a bit of a distance from Ft. Hood to go, back then, for a burger? The story goes that he would ride up in his Cadillac, and his favorites were a hamburger with a strawberry shake. Anyway, the restaurant went back to its family name of Storm’s, and you can still drive on up and be waited on. They are so busy they have added a covered patio in case you don’t want to eat in your car. Because of their busy-ness, the service was slow, but the hamburgers were delicious and so were the fries. They had sweet potato fries, which earned them points with me just for having them.

Katie had one more Lampasas trick up her sleeve. Lampasas is also home to the world’s largest spur. I thought maybe at one time it might have had a home in front of a country western dance bar in the middle of Texas, owing to the fish-net stockinged leg up at the top, but no. It was put there in 2017 to encourage tourism for the town. It is 33 feet 10.75 inches tall.

By this time we had pretty much exhausted the Lampasas possibilities. Since it was Sunday, the stores in their picturesque courthouse square were closed and so was their museum, which may have also been because of COVID. We had passed a state park on the way to town and she wanted to explore that, so off we went in a new direction.

It was a bit of a drive through more wildflowers, buttes, cattle and cactus, but we finally arrived at Colorado Bend State Park. Another long drive through the park took us down to the river. Cal took this picture of Katie and I on his phone. I’m not sure what the big reed is that is in front of our miniscule selves, but I love this picture for the comparison with the towering bluffs on the opposite shore. There didn’t seem to be much here besides the river and a boat launch, at first glance. Katie saw people with small children and beach gear taking off down a trail that paralleled the river. Her curiosity got the better of her, so we left Cal in a lawn chair to watch the boats while we went to investigate. Of course, I love any excuse for a hike.

Our impromptu hike took us to some nice river views:

I was admiring a big old pecan tree, and then noticed this sleepy owl on a branch. His feathers resemble the bark he is sitting on.

Another tree, this one a large black willow, with amazing bark

It was hot and Katie wasn’t as enthralled with the natural wonders as I was, but she pressed on. We thought we might find a beach along the river, but finally arrived at something more fun – a spring-fed swimming hole just up from the river. It felt great to dip our tired feet in the waterfall!

At the top of this picture you can see the path we had been on, and that’s where it ended.

It was pretty deep on this end of the swimming hole, which is how I was able to get a shot with no one in it. Most everyone was sitting on all the rocks to my right. This ended up being a 2.5 mile round trip hike.

One more stop: we had passed an ostrich farm on the way to the state park, so we thought we’d say hello to the residents behind the fence. They were intensely curious and sashayed right up to us in all their feathery finery. The ostriches were a perfect ending to a beautiful spring day.

Well, hello there! Fancy seeing you here!
Say, did you hear about the race between the giraffe and the ostrich? It was neck and neck the whole way.
A bird’s eye view

Ostrich meat would be a market I could get into to make some good money…but it probably wouldn’t take off. If ostrich my budget, I could maybe afford it.

Till next time! There will be more about the Austin area.

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