Bluebonnets in the Snow in the Texas Hill Country
Ok, so it is not what I usually blog about, but I had an interesting adventure this last weekend, and I want to share it.
My wife, my 80 year old Mother, and myself, all decided on the spur of the moment to head for the Texas hill country for a couple of spring days of wildflower viewing. We had been in this area before, on about the same time of year, and found beautiful diplays of our native State Flower, the Bluebonnet.
Our plan was to stay out at Joan Myers PhoenixNest Cabin (http://www.phoenixnest.com/interior.htm ) about half-way between Llano and Mason and just north of Castell, and tour the area for wildflower views. I love the area around Bend, Pontotoc, Cherokee and also Mason, especially south on the back roads along the Eckert James River.
My wife and I, left the D/FW metroplex around three on Friday afternoon (04/06/07), and were able to see a nice display of bluebonnets and other assorted wildflowers from the Dam at Lake Whitney all the way into Clifton, just before sunset.
Then upon leaving Clifton on Saturday morning, just as we turned off the main highway toward Turnersville we ran into heavy snow. This was a real surprise. We often have an Easter “cold snap” but we were looking at big flakes of the white soft stuff….SNOW. Eventually the snow became a mixture of snow, sleet and rain. Any views of wildflowers were pretty well wiped out for the day by the mix. The precipitation continued most of the day, and got somewhat heavier after lunch around Llano and Mason. Just before Noon, we lunched at Cooper’s B-b-que in Llano, and it was very cold and rainy, but there was a lull in the precip, and we were hopeful, that it might go ahead and dry out.
After the wonderful lunch, we drove on out to Joan’s Phoenixnest Cabin
and checked in, and got a short breifing from Joan about the ranch we were on (continously in operation by her family for over 100 years) and her views on wildflowers and weather.
We then drove on to Mason. By now, it was already snowing steadily and was beginning to mix with sleet. By 4:00 PM, the road surfaces had a pretty good slurry of sleet and snow on them. Some of the sidewalks in Mason had ice. We made a couple of stops on the square, in particular, Hinckley’s Country Store (It’s an old time five and dime type store with a great collection of toys – I’m always on the lookout for a great toy for my Grandson – and it’s run by the mayor, Ray Hinckley, who also runs The Red Door Bed and Breakfast, a bed and breakfast up over the store), and Willow Creek Cafe, for an early lite supper.
The weather had continued to deteriorate as we ate, so after the meal, we headed back to Phoenixnest and got into a fairly driving and blinding sleet storm which was already accumulating pretty heavily on bridges. The hunter’s type cabin was roomy and warm on this cold, cold night, and the addition of satelite TV connected us with the rest of the world, while we bunked down for our rest. As far as I know, most of the sleet and snow ended around 9:00 PM that night. I don’t know the official night time temp for the area, but I suspect that the overcast sky and the coating of sleet, kept most ground temps above freezing. The plants above the ground were probably not so lucky.
On Sunday morning, Easter Sunday, we took the old road back to Llano via Castel. There was still a pretty good covering of white on the ground, but already the bluebonnets were poking their heads up above that. By 8:30 the ice was mostly gone from bridges in Llano and it was already warming up..
We then travelled back out toward Mason via Hwy 71 and encountered icy sludge on several bridges. We turned north at Pontotoc and headed for Bend. The coverage appeared heavier here, and the bluebonnets had not raised their heads yet. At Bend, it was still pretty white.
Snow in Trees at Bend
More Snow in Trees at Bend
I took a number of photos here and at the Colorado Bend State Park. Things appear to have survived the storm and will continue to bloom. I am not sure what effect the cold weather will have on other plants and trees in the area (I hope they didnt lose their peaches).
Snow in the State Park (Above and Below)
Claret Cup Cactus bloomin in the snow.
Close-up of Claret Cup Cactus
Bluebonnets poking their heads above the snow!
More defiant Bluebonnets
Texas Verbenna in the snow.
From Bend back to Clifton, the bluebonnet coverage was slight but none-the-less for wear. I left out of Clifton going North to Iredale where I turned and went to Walnut Hill. This drive was very nice with big fields of bluebonnets around Iredale. Finally, at Glen Rose, we hit the Easter Traffic and the bluebonnets faded into the background scenery of the whizzing autos that were beginning to clog the artieries of the metromess.
It was a very interesting weekend. I really missed the enjoyment of the bluebonnet bloom, but I figure a chance to see it white in the Hill Country was a pretty good trade, ans as you can see from my photos, I still got to see some interesting displays of mother nature. Good luck to those of you who come after me.