Tag Archives: Texas

2017 Year in Review – Part I

I was sitting around thinking today about the places that I was fortunate enough to see this year, a sort of 2017 year in review. I was fortunate enough to see some great places this year with the hopes of seeing even more in the coming years.

So let’s look back through some of the images of 2017. The first one is the barn you see, better known as the Aggie Barn. It is out east of where I live sitting just off highway 6. Let me start by saying I am not an Aggie fan. In fact, I root for their arch enemy the University of Texas. But besides that, I love the barn. I love the passion to keep it going year after year; it was even moved once.

One of the coolest places I got to see this summer was former President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Ranch in central Texas. This is a cool place and one I recommend anyone in the area to tour. You get to see the whole ranch including old guest houses, the Johnson’s grave site, his old hanger with airplane and old cars, plus his old house which they call the Texas White House (seen in the picture).

Touring the house was the best part. You can’t go in every room and you can’t touch anything (it is a museum after all), but it was worth the drive. To see some of the old technology built into the house was really neat, especially all of the different phones around strategically placed. His wife, Lady Bird, outlived him by decades and some of the things she did and where she lived is still in place as well. Our tour guide was wonderful and it is a beautiful ranch.

There were a few spots in Austin that I hit up this year as well. Several times I went to the state capitol and while it was not my first time there, it was my first time to photograph it. I love the capitol. It is a beautiful building with gorgeous grounds that surround it. I tried a few times at sunrise but only wound up with a couple decent photos. You never know what you are going to get, and I know I will be back again to try more.

Texas State Capitol

Back of the Texas State Capitol

Texas State Capitol

Front of the Texas State Capitol

Also in Austin is the 360 Bridge or the Pennybacker Bridge. There is a trial that leads up to an overlook of the bridge that I went up one day. My photos did not come out as good as I had hoped, so I plan on going back one day in the near future, but it is a gorgeous spot with some great views of the Colorado River and downtown Austin.

 

Turns out I had a spot on my lens or sensor, and not having really checked my camera since it was a long day it is visible in my photos. That is why I want to go back. Plus it is just a really good view of the city.

Pennybacker Bridge - Austin, Texas

Pennybacker Bridge – Austin, Texas

The last place I will cover in part I of our 2017 Year in Review is The Grove, Texas. This is the local “museum ghost town”. While the town has fallen on hard times over the years with stores closing and people moving away, it is still a strong small town in Texas with a wonderful church and a near little “ghost town” to visit.

The Grove, TexasI loved going and stepping back in time for a moment. Seeing the old Saloon and Sheriff’s office was quite interesting. I could almost feel myself walking down the dirt road as horses pass by and people stumble out of the saloon. I, like many, are fascinated with the old west. And to have a chance so close to home to step back in time, even if for just a moment, is a pretty cool thing to be able to do.

Eiffel Tower – Paris, Texas

Eiffel Tower - Paris, TexasI’ve always dreamed of going to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe. While my first planned trip to Europe is next summer, I will not be making my way to Paris, just yet.

So to fend of my urge to just say screw it and go to Paris, I had the chance to see another Eiffel Tower over the Thanksgiving holiday. On my way back from Tennessee I decided to go about an hour out of my way to Paris, Texas that is.

Located northeast of Dallas, Paris is a small town that in 1993 built its second Eiffel Tower. The first was made of wood and destroyed by a tornado. So the town commissioned the second. This time it would be 20m (65 ft) tall and a 1/16th scale of the one in France.

In 1998, the town added some Texas flair. That year the tower in Tennessee was moved to Paris, Tennessee and the height was raised to 70 feet, outdoing the one in Texas. So in response, Texas added a red cowboy hat giving it a height greater than that of the replica in Tennessee.

The structure in it self was quite interesting, even if it sat in a sleepy little northeast Texas town. The cowboy hat really makes it unique to Texas. But it makes me really want to see more of them. There are quite a few replicas all over the world. However, none of them will quite make up for seeing the real one, which I hope to do one day soon.

I’ve recently found out that there is a replica in Austin and even in North Carolina. Austin is a short drive for me and I hope to make it soon to see it. The one in Tennessee is not too far out of the way for me when visiting family, so that will be on the to-do list as well. I’ve seen the one in Vegas, but for some reason I do not find the ones at amusement parks as interesting.

Here are a few shots of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas.

The Grove, Texas – a “Museum Ghost Town”

Not far from my home is a little “ghost town” called The Grove, Texas. It gets its name from a grove of live oak trees that sit nearby. The town was once a bustling small country town that had two general stores, a mill, and a cotton gin. However, as the years went by, the small town’s population slowly declined.

The Grove, Texas

The Grove, Texas

At its height there were about 400 people living in The Grove.  A post office was established in 1874, but eventually closed. As the town slowly got bypassed by a new highway (Hwy 36) and the construction of Fort Hood, the public school was closed (1948) and the population fell to around 65.

The construction of Fort Hood (1942) and the the building of Belton dam in 1953 forced farmers to move as they lost their land. Today a church is the main part of the town, but many of the buildings were redone in their former glory. And today it sits more as a museum than anything else.

Bought in 1972 by Moody Anderson, the town was turned into a museum of sorts with many antiques. Anderson, an antiques dealer, filled the town with antiques. He even loaned many of them to production companies for use in films, including Lonesome Dove. But don’t be fooled, Lonesome Dove was not filmed here like many of my friends believe. There have been a few short films and a drama filmed in part here in 2014.

The town was sold again in 2010 to a family from San Jose, California. The new owner has no plans for the town, except to preserve it. It has been designated a historical town by the Smithsonian Institute and is a really cool little slice of live in the late 1800s.

I took a trip out to the town not long ago and brought my camera. This is what I wound up with.

The Grove, Texas

Let’s Go to Luckenbach, Texas

With some time off from work, I took off and headed down to the hill country. After taking in one of Texas best BBQ joints in Llano, I headed down to Fredericksburg. The goal was to hit Luckenbach in the morning as the sun came up to take some photos and try a new technique I learned last week.

The new technique I learned about was multiplicity. That is where you take multiple pictures of someone in different poses/spots and then combine them. The results were good for a first attempt. I’m still playing around with some of the photos I took in Photoshop to see if I can come up with a few more, but this is the one that I liked the most so far.

I love shooting in Luckenbach. I even had a nice conversation with one of the workers today. He was an old man who was telling me some good tips on taking photos here, and said he took a lot of them of people in front of the building. He was kind and it was nice talking to him.

I took a few other photos there as well that turned out okay. It is easily one of my favorite places in Texas. The drive is nice as well as you head through the hill country.

There are still a few places I want to see in the area, including a few more BBQ places. Speaking of BBQ places, on this trip I tried out Cooper’s Old Time Pit BBQ in Llano, Texas. It was rated as one of the top 50 BBQ places in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine.

In short, this place was awesome. I had some brisket and some jalepeno sausage. Both were amazing, but the brisket was melt in your mouth good. I also took in some blackberry cobbler which wasn’t bad.

The brisket was by far the best. They sell everything by the pound, and it is definitely worth the drive. The BBQ sauce was okay. It could have been better but overall it was decent. They have a big thing of beans near the soda machines and onions that you can fill up on, and they were pretty good. On the table is bread and pickles.

You can find out more about Cooper’s at https://www.coopersbbq.com/. Give it a try. Later this week or next I plan on heading out to another of Texas Monthly’s favorite BBQ places.

Until then.

Stonehenge II – Ingram, Texas

Texas is known for a lot of things, but many people who live here do not know there is a replica of Stonehenge in their own state. It is located in the hill country just outside of Kerrville, Texas in a little town called Ingram.

It is not a full size replica, but it is about 2/3 the size of the original. According to the Hill County Arts Foundation it is 90% of the height and 60% of the width of the original in England. And not all of the stones are actual stones. Some are plaster covering a mix of steel and metal.

Originally it set on creator Al Sheppard’s land in Hunt, Texas. Years after he passed and the family land was sold, the entire thing was going to be knocked down, until the town of Ingram came along and partnered with the Hill County Arts Foundation to move the exhibit to Ingram.

In addition to the replica of Stonehenge, there are two Moai statutes like that found on Easter Island which stand 13 feet high.

You can see all of my Stonehenge II photos by going to the Galleries Page.