Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turn, Turn Turn

Central Texas where I make my home is no mecca for fall foliage colors. We do have some gorgeous cypress trees along our hill country rivers that put on a spectacular show each fall, but they are monochromatic when compared to the multi-hues of reds, yellows, and ambers of other trees.

 For one who used to live in the Smoky Mountains, where the ridges explode with autumn color, Texas in the fall took some getting used to when I moved here years decades ago.

There is one place in the hill country you can get your fall foliage fix without booking a flight to Vermont; Lost Maples State Natural Area. 

I have been aware of this park for years but only recently were my bride and I able to visit during the peak season.

Planning was last minute, but we were fortunate to find a great bed and breakfast in the little town of Comfort that lies fast on the banks of Cypress Creek. This inn was founded in the 1850s, and has the rustic charm we love.

We arrived Sunday evening and after checking in walked to the historic district just a couple blocks away. Acting on a tip from a local shopkeeper, we dined that evening at The Plaid Goat, which specializes in lighter portions, but they are big on taste and creativity. I selected the rustica flatbread, and my bride chose the Havarti nachos. Both were excellent, but I think we both preferred my selection because of its rich flavors.

Photo from Plaid Goat's website...

Since our dinner portions were reasonable, we had to try their deserts. One of us happens to be a creme brulee fanatic, and the maple pumpkin version with cranberry compote demanded we try it. I opted for an apricot bread pudding. Both were wonderful, but  creme brulee was clearly the star.

Following our meal, we toured the historic district, which was mainly closed for business at this hour. We were able to walk down the middle of main street, and joked that we could have lain down ala The Notebook , since 5 or more minutes elapsed between passing cars.

Christmas lights were already up, but it felt less like a retail offensive and more like Christmas of my youth.

We broke our fast the next morning in the big house, where our meal was served buffet style. We took our coffee in the corner of the enclosed porch overlooking the creek and watched deer come to the feeder. Breakfast we quiet and unhurried. We were able to relax and linger, perhaps one of life's greatest luxuries.

Soon the morning warmed and we checked out to drive the road to Vanderpool; a lovely way to spend a fall hill country morning. Sightings of elk, wild turkey, and exotic African plans game kept our eyes scanning the ranches on both side of the highway.

After about an hour of pleasant driving, we arrived at Lost Maples. We were surprised that the parking area for the check in station was completely full. A park policeman directed us to a just-vacated space, and we got in what turned out to be a line thirty minutes long to pay our entry fees. Apparently we weren't the only ones who were hoping for a fall display.

Once though the line and on into the parking area inside the park, it felt much less crowded.

Unfortunately for us, a strong north wind the day before had blown many of the leaves off the trees, but it was beautiful none the less. Many leaves we beginning to turn...

After a picnic lunch at one of the shelters, we drove on to Utopia, where the movie "Seven Days in Utopia" was filmed. How cool is it to say at least once in your life you slept in Comfort then found Utopia the next day?

With a nod to the title of this post, here is your trip back to the 60's...

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