Another gorgeous discovery we made in the area in terms of natural parks and preserves, is the Longhorn Cavern, in Marble Falls, west of Austin.
Longhorn Cavern was acquired in 1932-1937 from private owners. It was dedicated as a state park in 1932, was opened in 1938, and was dedicated as a natural landmark in 1971.
During the last million years, the water deposited a thick layer of mud and debris in the cave. Early visitors were restricted to a small area due to this debris. Some of the earliest visitors were the area’s prehistoric peoples, who used the large room next to the main entrance for shelter. Anglo settlers discovered the cavern in the mid-1800s and began mining bat guano, which was used in manufacturing gun powder during the Civil War.
The cave has been used as a shelter since prehistoric times. Among legends about the cave is one that the outlaw Sam Bass hid a $2 million cache of stolen money inside. Confederates made gunpowder in the cave during the Civil War. Legend also says Texas Rangers rescued a kidnapped girl from Indians in the cave.
There is no evidence that Sam Bass ever visited the cave, but stories like this one drew tourists as early as the turn of the 20th century. By the 1920s, the main room served as a dance hall and concert venue.
The cavern is a marvel of nature and quite amazing to visit. We took one of the daily tours, and the guide was excellent. If you are in the Austin area and like caverns and caves, I highly recommend visiting it.
I did my best (which was not enough) with pictures. Flash, though allowed, most of the time gave very bad results, and tripods were not allowed. Silly me forgot my reflex, so I was left with my point & shoot and my iPhone. Surprisingly, my iPhone gave better results in some cases.
Hope it gives you a taste of this beautiful cavern!
[Click on any picture to enlarge and open the slideshow]
This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is “Habit:”
This week, show us something that’s a HABIT. It could be your daily walk to the bus stop, or your daily paper lying on the doorstep. Maybe it’s the guy behind the counter at the deli you always visit for lunch, the stuffed bunny your child must have at bedtime, or the view from your desk as you sit down to blog.
Capture a moment both constant and fleeting.
A habit I have taken since I moved to Texas is to take an almost-daily picture of the sunset. Here is one of the latest ones I took.
On Sunday, I posted the following picture to illustrate the theme of this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, “eerie.”
I chose this image among others though, that convey a less eerie vision of a Sunday morning on Lake Travis.
The fog actually gave me the impression of marshmallow or cotton candy being spread on the horizon. Not too eerie ;-) It was also the beginning of a beautiful, sunny November day.
At the time I am writing this (on Sunday), it is cloudy outside.
It has been raining all night and most of the morning. This is not a bad thing for Texas, that has been in a state of drought for a couple of years at least. The lake near where we live, Lake Travis, was, until recently, only about 30% full.
So I thought that instead of complaining, I would show you some pictures of a lovely place we visited twice in August. It is a natural pool preserve.
The first time we went, swimming was forbidden due to bacteria in the water (it was extremely hot).
The second time, swimming was allowed and many people took advantage of the pool.
The grotto was created after thousands of years of erosion due to water.
A unique natural area surrounds this pool, collapsed grotto and canyon, formed by thousands of years of water erosion. Lush plant communities, a variety of wildlife species and natural shelter attracted the area’s first inhabitants. Cultural remains date back over 8,000 years.
According to the Travis County Parks website, Apaches used to live in the area. By the mid 19th century, the area was owned by Morgan C. Hamilton, brother of Andrew Jake Hamilton (the 10th governor of Texas). It was later (late 19th century) bought by a German immigrant family, the Reimers, in order to raise cattle and sheep.
When the grotto was (re)discovered, they decided to open it to the public. While at the time, few people had the financial means to travel to the area for a recreational purpose, by the mid 20th century, more people came, making the area often overpopulated.
Part of the Reimers property was bought by Travis County in 1985 in order to rehabilitate the area.
Today, the preserve is open between 9 am and 6 pm daily, and there’s an entrance fee of $10 per vehicle.
There are many different species of animals in the park, as well as varied vegetation.
It is not easy to take pictures of the grotto, as very dark areas (under the grotto) stand alongside the outside, with bright Texas sun.
Here is a selection of pictures. You can click on any picture to enlarge and open the slideshow.
Because it is Friday, here is a light post.
I want to introduce you to my “nature” neighbors, some of the animals I have seen in our yard since we moved to Texas.
Something that I really like in America, is the proximity you can have with nature. Many of my fellow citizens who have never visited the U.S. tend to think that America is all buildings. But here you can live 30 miles from a big city (like Austin or New York) and see deers cross your back yard. In Westchester county, we had rabbits, deers, groundhogs, and of course, chipmunks.
Here are our new neighbors.
[Click on the pictures to enlarge]
The less fun that we have been given to see, was this guy, stuck between two Pyrex dishes.
For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram, below are some of the pics I posted in August. I am surprised I waited so long to open an Instagram account. I love taking “instant” pics: I always go out with some form of camera and there is always something funny, interesting or moving to immortalize!
Speaking of immortalizing, we have a view to the most gorgeous sunsets every night (or almost) from the house where we live. I thought I would share some of them. I am trying to take a picture almost every night and it is very interesting to see how different they always are. And the colors can change in a couple of minutes too! Beyond the level adjustments of Photoshop, I have not played with the colors of these pictures. Sometimes I zoomed on some details of the sunset, hence the blue/golden difference you can see at times.
These are just a few pictures. I hope you like them and they can inspire you for the week to come!
The theme of this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Unusual Point of View.
I chose those two birds to illustrate this theme. A bird’s view. The first picture was taken in Austin, TX. The second one was taken in Staten Island, NY.
As for most everything else, it seems that thunderstorms are bigger in Texas!
We had a gorgeous storm a few days after we arrived at our new place. We didn’t get rain but we seized the occasion to try and capture images.
I had never really thought about it before, but taking a picture of lightning is far from easy. You never know when or where exactly it is going to strike.
The two pics below are the only ones worth posting (although only the first really is) among a dozen.
If any one has any tip, I’d love to read you!
[Click on the pictures to enlarge]