Natural Bridge Caverns

Over the Easter weekend (I know… this post is LONG overdue…), Brian and I went to San Antonio to visit his family. Together, we took a day trip out to Natural Bridge Caverns. The area gets its name from the bridge that exits in nature.

I’ve never been to any sort of cavern before, so I was very impressed. The cave trail is .75 miles of underground beauty. Being the weekend, it was very crowded. We were basically shoulder to shoulder with people walking through the tunnels (which made me stopping to take photos every 2 feet very awkward…). I’m definitely looking forward to going back on a weekday when we can really take out time meandering along.

My favorite room in the cave was the Emerald Lake. The water was so clear and the reflections were simply beautiful.


Because this was our first time, we opted for the basic Discovery Tour. Natural Bridge Caverns also offers a Hidden Passages Tour, and Adventure Tour, and an early morning/night time Lantern Tour, where you explore the dark caves by lantern light only. If underground isn’t your thing, there’s a large ropes course outside ending with a zip line.

Brian bought some souvenirs, along with a beautiful necklace for me!

Texas Antiques Week

Want to do something completely overwhelming? Visit Texas Antiques Week. Twice a year, a collection of cities near Round Top, Texas, put on the largest antiques fair you’ve ever seen. The next one runs from September 18th- October 4th.

I was a little confused about how it all worked, but now I hope you can benefit from my first-hand experience. Basically, there are 50+ antique fairs happening simultaneously (some only operate on certain days, but luckily there’s a handy schedule for that!) throughout the cities of Round Top and Warrenton. There is no one place it’s happening – it’s happening everywhere. Look at one show for a bit, then drive down the road to the next show that looks interesting. So to start, just set your GPS for either Round Top or Warrenton and as you get closer, you’ll start to see the antique shops lining the streets. This was a little difficult for our family, because we like to know exactly where we are going, but we made it just fine. Here is a little map that might help you, from the Texas Antiques Week website. We stumbled upon the Blue Hills at Round Top show and spent the majority of our time there, eventually heading over to the County Line shows. Most of the shows are free, with free parking, but a few are paid. See my comments below, but I’d suggest sticking to the free shows. There is PLENTY to look at. As you can see, I was so overwhelmed, I only took a few photos.

Based on my experience, I have a few tips I’d like to share. Please remember, these are my tips – it’s what I’d say to a friend. I’m sure everyone has a different way of doing Texas Antiques Week, but these are my suggestions:

1. Unless you have some pressing reason to, avoid the paid fairs. After talking to a few people who run the smaller* antique booths, I learned a lot of the people come and buy from the free places, then take the items (marked up, of course) and resell them at the larger paid fairs. Based on the chatter I heard, the paid fairs just aren’t worth it. *This is the TEXAS Antiques Fair, even the ‘small’ booths are overwhelmingly huge)

2. Have a list of things you’d like to purchase in hand. Otherwise, you’ll be like me – wandering wide-eyed at all the items for sale – and you won’t buy anything. If you say, “I need a unique coffee table for my living room,” you’ll have a much more successful day.

3. Similar to #2, set a budget. If I’d said, “I’ll spend $50,” I could have found something I liked and purchased it. Basically, you need a game plan. Whether you become a deer in the headlights when faced with the sheer amount of antiques, or you become a shopaholic, a game plan will make for a smoother, more enjoyable day.

4. Don’t worry about parking, you’ll find some. Most of it is just in dirt lots, but its there. Everyone has a car (or trailer), so there are places to park at each show.

5. Be ready for a long day. If you’re doing it right, you’ll be there all from sun up to sun down (maybe even several days). Plan accordingly. Bring lots of water, comfortable clothes and shoes, and food/snacks. The larger shows sell food (Blue Hills did), but the problem is that EVERYONE wants to eat there. We had to wait in line for about 45 minutes to get our food. Round Top and Warrenton are little towns, so you’re not going to stop at the local Denny’s or anything like that. I would suggest bringing a picnic style lunch to eat at your car. OR just keep an eye on the food lines. Eating lunch at 12:30pm probably wasn’t the smartest idea on our part.

6. Leave the pets at home. There are so many people and the shows are packed with antiques. It’d be pretty difficult to walk a dog through the narrow aisles.

7. Serious about antiques? Bring a trailer or U-Haul. Pretty much everyone had a large car or truck at the very least. People don’t mess around at Texas Antiques Week. If you plan on doing some serious shopping, bring the U-Haul. Don’t be embarrassed – plenty of people do it!

All that being said, I’m really looking forward to this fall’s show. Now that we know what to expect, I know my family and I will have a much less stressful, more enjoyable day. If this will be your first visit to Texas Antiques Week, I hope this little guide helps you! Just take slow, deep breaths, drink your water, eat your snacks, and admire all the beautiful things you can buy. Let me know how it goes!

Georgetown

Last weekend, my mom and I went to Georgetown, TX. Our main plan was to see the Women Painting Women exhibit at the Georgetown Art Center. It’s free and the show is made up of all local Texas painters. The volunteer working was very nice and knowledgeable. It’s a wonderful show – worth a look if you’re in the area.

After the WPW, we walked around Georgetown’s town square, “The most beautiful town square in Texas!” I’ll admit, it’s a pretty cute town square. Their courthouse sits in the middle. Surrounding it are rows of cute little craft shops, thrift stores, and antique shops. Some of the buildings are shockingly old. It makes me so happy to see them being preserved and utilized. Georgetown definitely has an, “Aw, isn’t this adorable” kind of vibe. My mom and I loved it.

One of the shops, Handcrafts Unlimited, had lots of crafts made by local seniors. It was pretty neat to see a shop just for them. The most impressive thing in the shop was a quilt that was under construction. Every Thursday, women (and men?) volunteer time to work on the quilt. When it’s finished, the quilt is raffled off to help fund the nonprofit craft shop. I definitely want to revisit the shop on a Thursday so I can watch them work.

We also stopped in at Galaxy Bakery. It’s a family run bakery just off the main town square drag. We went in looking for some Father’s Day treats – boy, did we find some! We decided on a small cupcake sampler set and a SUPER BROWNIE. If you visit Galaxy Bakery, you have to get a Super Brownie. It will be best $6 you’ve spent in a long time. My dad said it was was the best brownie he’d ever eaten. Basically, it’s two brownies glued together with frosting to create this mega brownie cube. Incredible. I don’t have any photos if it, unfortunately. I was too excited about it when we unpackaged it at home that we ate into it before I could get my camera out.

Other places of note…
If you’re craving breakfast, visit Monument Cafe. I wrote about my fantastic experience there on my Austin blog. There is also a candy shop in the main town square of shops called Sweet Serendipity Inc. I bought some truffles and other candies from there and OH MY GOSH they were delicious. Again, no photos because I did not have the patience! They also have ice cream and various home decorations. After eating everything in sight, hit the San Gabriel River Park trails. It’s very park-y, so bring the kids and the strollers. The trail goes along the river, eventually ending at Georgetown Lake (if you can make it that far!) Again, I blogged about those trails on my Austin blog.

What are your favorite places to visit in Georgetown? Let me know!

Zoo Animals

This Thursday, I wanted to feature some older photos of animals. I took these photos at the LA Zoo and the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park several years ago. Looking at photos like these remind me how important it is to carry my DSLR… You just can’t get photos like this with an iPhone!

Backyard Beauty

Played around with my Photojojo macro lens while checking on our raised garden bed.

Corner

While walking around downtown a few weeks ago. The JW Marriott is in full swing and there’s a new restaurant in the lobby – Corner! True to its name, it sits on the corner of 2nd and Congress with an amazing wrap around patio.

We had some margaritas, tacos, and chicken sandwiches. All the food was excellent. As is expected of a hotel restaurant, it was a little pricey. However, everyone was satisfied with the food (the chicken sandwich was SO good) and no one complained when the bill arrived. I’d certainly go back!

Athletics and Dance

It’s been a while since I photographed a sports event. I don’t plan on going back to this sort of thing, but it’s allays fun to look back on my Athletics and Dance portfolio.