Hiking Barton Creek Greenbelt – 12/2/17

We had a nice group of 7 women today that did a 6 mile hike on Barton Creek Greenbelt today: Emma, Allison, Nicole, Carol, Carolyn, Kim and Marsha. The weather was perfect and the trees showered us with leaves. Looking forward to more hike soon!


West Texas Camping Trip 11/9-11/21

Trip Report: West Texas Camping Trip, Fall 2017

The following campers participated in different segments of the outing:

Sandy S, Bev T, Jana W, Carrie L: Davis Mountains area (5 days)

Linda BW, Flo M, Davis Mts plus Big Bend (9 days)

Marilyn F and Judy L, Davis Mts., Big Bend, plus Big Bend Ranch State Park (12 days)

Susan W and Eola L joined us for 2 days at Cottonwood in BBSP.


This extensive camping outing had many activities, and photos are posted by each participant on Facebook as well as on the TOWN-Austin Facebook group and our MeetUp group. So this trip report will include a summary of each segment as well as suggestions for next time. It was all fun, we learned a whole lot, the weather was gorgeous.

Segment 1: Davis Mountains State Park was our campground, with excellent wildlife viewing, friendly volunteers, and long hikes through Fall’s yellow grasses. From there we had day trips to:

Alpine for a brief town tour and lunch at a famous restaurant, Reata Alpine.

Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute (CDRI), near Fort Davis, a nature center with several trails and a mining exhibit with interpretation.

Fort Davis, for the Veterans’ Day ceremony, the old drugstore, and an opportunity to order and buy handmade decorative brooms.

McDonald Observatory, a star party and entertaining talk, looking through telescopes and an indoor presentation.

Marfa, a brief town tour that included El Cosmico, a quirky trailer park (re: Amazon Prime TV series I Love Dick) and the no-show Marfa Lights in the windy cold.

Suggestions: Indian Lodge was closed for lodging at DMSP, call ahead if planning to stay there. The long hikes (Indian Lodge Trail or Scenic View Trail across the hilltops were both dicey—you’ll want two trekking poles. Reata Restaurant in Alpine was excellent, make reservations. Marfa Lights Viewing area does have a restroom. DMSP wildlife viewing areas are really neat, with indoor and outdoor seating; they are not fenced, so javelinas also come in and eat the goodies.

Segment 2: Big Bend National Park. From our campground at Cottonwood we ventured into Santa Elena Canyon, waited for the daily rounds of bobcat and javelina, watched a great-horned owl perch above us in the daytime and swoop off to hunt at night. We heard coyotes. We were camping without electricity, water, or campfires, so we mostly went to bed soon after dark and got up to toasted pink sunrises above the walls of stone nearby. Some took the 4WD River Road for a few hours, all hiked Santa Elena Canyon Trail (it goes about ½-mile into the canyon, we drove into Terlingua in the heat of the day (83º), showered in Study Butte, hiked to Cattail Falls (Judy can explain how it looks different from 2 years ago), hooked up with Susan and Eola for 2 days, stopped to walk at Tuff Canyon, Sotol Overlook, Chimneys Trail, and other pullouts along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. On our last day at Cottonwood a group of about a dozen javelinas paraded through the campground (Judy heard them crunching, probably on seed pods), and the littlest ones were like guinea pigs with hooves. Javelinas are not pigs, but are related to hippos! Everywhere we walked the tracks of a multitude of different animals preceded us, but wisely hid from view.

Suggestions: November is the best time of year to camp at BBNP, even though the nights are very cool, because the daytime highs remain tolerable. However, November is also a very busy month for the Park, so do not expect solitude. Photographers who can afford to stay at the lodge come in August, when there are few tourists, lots of wildlife, and glorious thunderheads. Don’t try to see the whole Park in just 5 days. We stayed on the west side.

Segment 3: Big Bend Ranch State Park. Our first stop that morning was at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center in Lajitas where we got further instructions on how to reach “The State Park.” We then drove Tx 170 along the Rio Grande River west from Lajitas; it is a memorable drive and has several State Park sights along the way, such as Closed Canyon, but we did not stop and enjoy the scenery. We arrived at Fort Leaton State Park, near Presidio, TX. This Park was never a military fort, but was designed to look like one for its occupants, in full adobe dressage. They have a lock-up area for the vehicles of visitors to BBRanchSP, and we left both trailers and one vehicle. From that point we backtracked east on Hwy 170 5 miles to the ranch road to Sauceda. The road was rocky, washboard in places, generally wide and not too steep. It’s Accessible to 2WD vehicles with high-clearance, and it took about 2 hours to reach the Sauceda center. We stayed in the Bunkhouse for two nights.

Sauceda Bunkhouse has room for 12 women on one side and 12 men on the other. There are 2 or 3 single beds to a little room, and the rooms open onto a central hallway. A huge commercial kitchen has refrigerators, gas stoves, a big griddle, ovens, microwave, drip coffeepots, and plenty of counter space.

Sauceda Ranger Station has a gift shop and helpful staff.

The Big House will be rented within the next year after repairs and has several western-style bedrooms, a dining room, and kitchen.

Suggestions: Do not be frightened by the reservation clerk warning you to carry an extra spare tire and pick and shovel in case of rock falls. The road is bumpy and rocky, for sure; Just take your time. Taking water is a good idea in case you have to change a tire and get thirsty.

Don’t pack too much: There’s no room for it. You have no dresser or nightstand in your room, and all of your personal items are supposed to go under your beds. Windows are covered somewhat by vertical blinds. Beds are comfortable, and the bunkhouse has several window ACs and heaters.

The shower room has shelves for your toiletries. Bring an extra bathmat. Hooks keep your robe dry, but there are no hooks on the shower stall doors.

The Sauceda Ranger Station can provide information about road conditions and bunkhouse status. Call them at (432) 358-4444. To reserve space at the Sauceda Bunkhouse ($35 per person per night), call their special reservation line at (512) 389-8919.

The staff reports that the Bunkhouse renters are much more often men than women. Judy and I were the only 2 in the women’s quarters, and one young man was housed in the men’s quarters.

Kayaking Lady Bird Lake – 8/9

On this outing we welcomed two “strangers” who quickly became friends, Gigi T, who occasioned an international outpouring of welcome as we tried to get the outing information to her, and the brother of Suzanne R, pictured with her (below) in the double kayak.

No one stays a stranger long once exposed to the beautiful cliffs to the east of the Tom Miller Dam, the leisurely pace, calm atmosphere and the welcome drop in temperature on the water. We are grateful to the Rowing Dock for making our outings affordable for yet another year.

Gail P-C, Sheila R., Maria V, Debbie W, Gloria W., rounded out the group, each of us finding something to enjoy at our own pace, including the roots of the cypress trees intertwined at the base of Redbud Island.

Seven of us found a table at Shady Grove and were enthralled by Maria’s good news and her future plans.

The photos are from Gail, including one of Your Kayak Leaders, and the amazingly smooth water.

Hope to see you next time . . . the 22nd of August.

Kayaking Lady Bird Lake – 8/23

The cloudy skies, calm water, 7 TOWN-Austin women and another friend and a  periodic breeze made for a wonderful evening of kayaking!

We leisurely kayaked around Red Bud to catch the current on the way back.  We saw a beautiful Blue Heron along the way looking very stoic.  He didn’t move at all.  We had fun visiting with each other and enjoying the peacefulness

of the lovely evening. There was a lot of traffic on the roads, but not on Lady Bird Lake.  Afterwards, all but our new friend to TOWN-Austin went to Shady Grove for dinner and refreshments

Kayaking Lady Bird Lake – 9/13

Three of us, Maria V, Debbie W and me met at Lady Bird Lake to kayak. Although it was a small group we sure enjoyed our time on the lake. The water was like glass and the temperature was pleasant.

As we kayaked around Red Bud Island, we saw a crane posing patiently for us as we took several pictures. There were quite a few stand up boarders, scullers, and people fishing. It was really a peaceful evening.  We  spotted a raccoon coming out of the garbage can as we walked to our cars.  He was so darn cute.  So we did see some wildlife!

Afterwards we went to Chuy’s for a bite to eat. The food was good, enjoyed visiting but it was loud. Hope you can join us for our next kayaking on Lady Bird Lake Wed, Sept 27.

Camping & Kayaking at Guadalupe Rive SP – 9/28-10/2

These TOWNies enjoyed this rare and diverse Park:  June, Gloria, Marilyn, Carrie & Aaron, Judy L, Sandy O, Kay, Beverly, Marie, Darlene, and new members Donna and Jane!

Those of us who arrived on the Thursday found all the hiking trails closed and very wet conditions. As Gloria said, “We are Outdoor Women but we are also Indoor Women,” and we were TIWN for Thursday and Friday. Some short walks had to do.

On Saturday, Judy, Darlene, Marie, Beverly and Kay took a fabulous tube float down the river.  We put in upstream, floated for 1/3 mile and walked up the trail to do it again.  Judy was our real adventurer by floating the rapids as we watched with our fingers crossed.

Saturday evening we had some delicious soups made for the pot luck souper. In fact, Darlene’s chili was so good we asked for her

recipe, which is below.

At 7:30 on Sunday morning, Carrie, Beverly and Kay joined about 12 individuals and the park ranger on a 3 hour birding hike.  It was a beautiful morning to see 38 different species of birds, some of which were very rare in the park.  Since all of the trails had been closed due to rain, it was especially exciting to get to go to parts of the park that had been inaccessible. A favorite part of the hike was to go to the canyon and watch two types of kingfishers diving for minnows.

On Sunday Judy, Carrie, Beverly, and Aaron went upriver to an outfitter and got kayaks and gear, then paddled 3 miles down just past the Park. They reported that it was a beautiful paddle.

Sunday evening we chilled by the fire on a beautiful night.
There was this cat that had come around, starving, and Marilyn fed it and now both she and Judy are engaged in seeing that it goes into the rescue pipeline. That part of the story is still unfolding.

Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake – 10/11

The Rowing Dock is now closing an hour earlier, and still, on the 11th,  six of us, JudyA., AnnaE., LindaF., PegG., Gai P-C and DebbieW took off from the dock, eager to not miss another outing on the water.  And on the dot of 6:30, we all turned around to head back. So for a short time, the slowest looked like the fastest . .  VERY unusual.

In that one hour we managed to gather most of the things that bring us such enjoyment on these trips;  beautiful and graceful birds (big egret and a blue heron), sights (the water was lovely and smooth, no breeze, we went toward Redbird Island with the cliffs and trees, views of downtown on the way back), and the relaxation of a slow paddle and time with friends.

There was nothing! slow about supper, though.  After an heroic trip from Round Rock, Maria met us at Shady Grove.  When we handed in our orders the chit-chat began.  Who would imagine tech maven Anna A would engage with Debbie W in deep discussion of quilting?  Maria mentioned where she was on her current development project, that she was going to Washington and Tennessee to visit similar places, and found Peg to be almost finishing her sentences, very knowledgeable. And of course, with Gail present, there was discussion about the Songwriters’ Festival which will be held in “downtown” Dripping Springs October 20th through the 22nd.   And the appearance of the Kerrville Folk Festival Winners at the Sycamore Creek Listening Room on November 4th.

A good time was had by all.

The last paddle of the season will be the 25th of October, so mark you calendars for either 5:30 at the Rowing Dock if you would like to paddle with us for an hour, or meet us at Shady Grove at 7:15.

Final Kayaking for 2017 on Lady Bird Lake 10/25

Our final kayak for the season, on Lady Bird Lake was Wed, Oct 25. Nine TOWN-Austin women joined to kayak toward Red Bud Island, DebbieW, LoisK, PegG, JudyA, AnnaE, MariaV, LindaF, Bonnie and me.

It was a cool evening, calm water and many rowers on the water.   Although we only had an hour, due to the time change and early closing at the Rowing Dock, a good time was had by all.   We had time to enjoy being out on on a beautiful night, unwind from the day and visit along the way.

We spotted an Osprey dive down toward the water making a loud noise. He sure caught our attention.

Afterwards we met up with DianeN and SusanW at  Shady Grove our favorite place. Glad they were able to join us.We had a good time visiting and eating.   Anna suggested we continue to meet for dinner.

That is a thought we can consider, maybe on a monthly basis?

LindaF brought a card for  LIndsay Rohler, manager of the Rowing Dock, for us to sign . Lindsay and her staff have been so helpful and friendly to work with.

We have had a fun season of kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. There are regulars that come every time and others come when they can. We have had friends of TOWN-Austin join us and some have become  members.  Kayaking on Lady Bird Lake is a peaceful way to end the day, connect with one another and have time to paddle alone and quietly to enjoy the serenity of the area.

Thank you LindaF for co leading. We have had a good time working together! Until next season…

Gail P-C

TOWN-Austin 20th Anniversary 10/29/17

Yes, we were at the LCRA McKinney Roughs Nature Park to attend the 20th anniversary of TOWN-Austin!  The park has been upgraded with blooming flowers and as a result lots butterflies were in attendance too.

Fifty-three women gathered to hike, talk, eat, play games, and renew friendships; those fortunate past and current members who attended were:  Amelia Greene, Barbara Swift, Beverly Travis, Carol Castlebury, Carol Pennington, Carolyn Doolittle, Carolyn Hanschen, Carrie Lasseter, Cheryl Cantwell, Cindy Frey, Darlene Young, Diane Nunez, Eden Bryant, Eola Lewis, Flo Madsen, Gail Penney-Chapmond, Gail Worthen, Gloria Blagg, Inge Hunka, Jacque Austin, Jan Brownell, Janet Fitzsimon-Barr, Janice Bittner, Jen LaGrange, Jenny Falkenberg, Joan Balash, Judie Tasch, Judy Allen, Judy Loving, Judy Dunavant, Judy Shaw, June Apprill, Kay Smith, Kim Wicheta, Linda Foss, Linda B. Williams, Lisa Davis, Lisa Sands, Margot Mendez, Marie Wilson, Marilyn Fowler, Marsha Karrass, Mary Zeitler, Milli Stecker, Nicole Flowers, Patricia Shaw, Peg Gavin, Sallie Novinger, Sandy Ostiguy, Sharon D. Richards, Shelia McCracken, Susan Walters, and Susie Aguirre.

We started gathering about 8 am.  The Dining Hall was set up for us by the LCRA staff.  JoanB  set up the indoor gas fireplace to reduce the chill.  She also started the outdoor fireplace; lots of women enjoyed sitting around the fireplace and just visiting.  SandyO culled through over 800 photos to display a continual photo show of about 740 shots.  She had also recreated some little Jib Jab videos which made for lots of fun.  We saw familiar faces and kept trying to come up with names!  Lots of fruit was available for an early snack.

JennyF and JanB led the first hike which began about 9:30.  Thirteen women joined them.  And from the way the hikers looked upon their return, it was a fun time with lots of talking and laughing.

About 11:30 our catered lunch from Baxter’s arrived.  We had choices of roast beef and turkey sandwiches, vegetarian wraps, chips, pasta salad, fruit, cookies, cakes, and ice tea.  No one should have gone home hungry.  In fact, so much food remained, many members took home snacks for their next meal.

During the lunch we did lots of talking.  LisaS started the event by welcoming the past and current members.  She introduced the current Board members and mentioned that between them were 55 years of experience on the Board.  Jacque continued by introducing attendees who were past Board members.  Following that Jacque talked about the history of TOWN-Austin beginning with Constance Whiston who started our group in 1997.

This was followed by the giveaway of fun gifts by MarilynF, SusanW, and JanetFB.  JuneA, LisaD, SusieA, CherylC, CarolynD, and GailW each won a prize.  EdenB won the big door prize of the afternoon, an antiqued cedar chest created by MarshaK.  And the final surprise was to honor the woman with the longest consecutive membership in our organization.  Well, it was a tie with both Amelia Greene and Susie Aguirre both joining in 2002 and maintaining their memberships through 2017!  Both were presented with a paid membership for 2018.  And both were surprised!

The afternoon hike departed about 1:30 with CarolC leading a group of 20.  Some of us got our exercise by sitting on the front porch and rocking.

We really had a super day!  Thank you to all who attended, led hikes, helped with clean up, and just had a fun time!


Camping at Bastrop SP & Goliad Flotilla 10/26 – 10/29

Even with only 3 kayakers from our group the Canoe Goliad Flotilla was a success. The water flow was great, the water level was up and (as always) the volunteers were outstanding!  As Gloria B stated…the best and fastest float we have done on that part of the San Antonio river.

We had 14 TOWN members and 2 guests who camped, visited the brewery, biked, played card games, toured the many historical sites and missions and engaged in a slightly illegal self-guided nighttime tour.

This group always comes together and provides support and entertainment for all. The meals were delicious! Thanks to all who kept us fed and hydrated!

Attending were JudyJ, SharonR, GailW, and JudyS who drove straight down from our Bastrop area campout and 20th Reunion.  On Wednesday DonnaB arrived to keep them in line.  Thursday brought LisaD and Eden, SandyS, Marie , Kay, and LindaB with guest Tom.  On Friday VIPs Susan W, GloriaB and PeggyP with guest Al arrived.

If you have not done this yearly adventure plan to go next year. Hopefully Adela will lead us once again!  LindaBW

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