Westcave Nature Preserve [near Austin, Texas]

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Saturday January 2 we picked up our rental car in Dripping Springs, and headed right to Westcave just in time for the noon tour. I was worried that we might not get there in time (they cap tours at 30 people) but our whole group ended up only having about a dozen people.

Click here for more info about Westcave. 

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Tour Guide!

The Great: The falls were beautiful, the rain had stopped, and our tour guide was very informative. I loved learning about how all the caves and waterfalls were formed over time. After the tour, we did the Uplands trail loop (a little over a mile I think??) to finish up.

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See the small brown star-shaped thing? that’s a mushroom!

The Frustrating: (nothing to do with the tour) my camera shutter button has been so hard to press lately that especially in lower light settings like the caves, when I’m having to press so hard just to take the d@mn photo it moves the camera. Making it extra hard to get a crisp photo. Bleh.

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Overall: $10 per person for a 90-min tour + access to the Uplands trail was definitely worth it. I would love to visit again when it’s even greener, but I wish we wouldn’t have to have another tour to do so. Ah well.

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The cave! Different from the mossy cave.
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Entrance to the cave where stalagmites and stalactites have grown together to form new rock.

Recommendation: Westcave is only a couple miles away from Hamilton pool (see my post here), so combining these two attractions would make for a great afternoon!

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San Antonio [part II]

This was the best day that we never expected. We knew we wanted to visit the missions but we had no idea how epic of a day it would turn out to be!

On the taxi ride to San Juan Mission, our driver told us about the bike rental stations, and we decided that would be our best route to explore all of the missions (The 5 missions total, including the Alamo, span over 10 miles apart). Click here for info on the bikes. 

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Our Route: [See map below] We took a taxi to San Juan Mission, then biked south to Mission Espada, then headed north to visit the rest of the missions. While we did go to the Alamo (Mission Valero on the map), we skipped the tour to save on waiting in line. We dropped the bikes off downtown then continued north on the RiverWalk for another mile or so before turning around.

MAP

The Day: We spent all day- and I mean all day- either walking or riding bikes and we saw all of the missions! The only time we stopped to sit down was when we finally had lunch around 4 PM. I’m talking 14+ hours of activity here, people. As I write this over 2 days later, I’m still a little pooped from it.

The good: Gorgeous missions, no entrance fees, and the bikes were only $10/person/day. Score! Definitely one of the highlights of this Texas trip for me.

The downsides: For us it was a BLAST, but if you’re not up for such an active day, this is not for you. I don’t know how many miles we ended up covering over the entire day, but it was A LOT. And the bikes, while awesome, are HUGE and HEAVY and have only three gears so all of the slight hills were tough! Also I haven’t been on a bike in 2+ years so by the end of the day my potootie hurt so bad!

Recommendations: Pack layers, bring snacks or be prepared to buy them, and make sure you are up for a bit of a challenge!

The fun part, the PHOTOS!!!!!!: 

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Mission San Juan

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Mission Espada 
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That’s me in the red!

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Mission San Jose 

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*** I didn’t take any photos at the Alamo since there were so many people!!***

I’ll be back with more adventures and photos soon. Xoxo -halley

San Antonio [partI]

Jake and I took the Amtrak down to San Antonio where we spent 3 nights and 2 days (we got there late Tuesday and left early Friday) in a renovated Airstream near downtown. The walk from the Amtrak station to where we stayed was about 2 miles, and many downtown buildings were decorated for the season.

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We arrived late and STARVING so we investigated where to eat and our host recommended the Liberty Bar! They were having half-off personal pizzas so we were sold. Jake’s had mostly meat, and I went for a basil, tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto.

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When in doubt, pizza.

The next day we explored around downtown, the riverwalk, and the Mexican market.

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The San Antonio Riverwalk

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San Fernando Cathedral

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The Mexican Market

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Dinner at La Tierra

We ate lunch at Boudro’s on the Riverwalk, and dinner at La Tierra. Both were tasty!

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Hamilton Pool

Happy New Year!!! We celebrated in San Antonio, Texas and I will post photos and stories soon. We have been so busy exploring I haven’t had a second to blog or edit photos.

Tuesday Hannah, Jacob, and I ventured to Hamilton pool. I had read rave reviews and boy did it exceed expectations.

It was super busy- loads of international visitors (so cool!), but fortunately  we found parking after paying the $15/car entrance fee. The river trail was closed, but the main trail to the pool and cave was open.

We followed the short (0.25 mile) trail and were met with the gorgeous site of the falls and pool! Yes, the water really is that blue-green color. STUNNING.

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i love you so much

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Yesterday we went to church, out to a yummy lunch, then went to Wimberly to look around downtown. We got caught in a hail storm and it’s been so cold! Still warmer than Montana, but not as cold as I expected for Texas.

Today Jacob and I started the day with a great workout that we came up with together with moves that Faith recommended:

*I’m not a personal trainer! if you want to do the workout, make sure your doctor says you are safe to do so and please listen to your body- if it hurts (not muscle burning hurt- pain hurt) then stop.*

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Followed by stretching!

Phew! it only took about 20 minutes but we were both sweaty and I will definitely feel this tomorrow. It’s been a while since I’ve done some jumping lunges and squats.

Then our friend David took us to Torchy’s for tacos! YUMMY.

Then we went to South Congress to explore the shops there.

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Merry Christmas from Austin

Christmas day we spent the morning with our family then loaded up our bags and headed to Austin, Texas.

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Bye bye Portland

Our flights got switched so we ended up getting emergency exit rows (and extra legroom!) both flights. Score! We also met a great guy on his way to Portugal and he gave us all sorts of hiking/backpacking/travel tips and we played cribbage with him.

Our friends Faith and Steve picked us up at the airport late at night and then fed us Texas BBQ when we got to their home. YUM.

Today we slept in so late- eleven! Then Steve took us on an awesome hike through the green belt from the Hill of Life all the way (7.5+ miles) to Barton Springs and we ended up at CHUY’S! I wish all hikes ended up with amazing Tex-Mex food!

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At the beginning of our hike

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Climbers
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Downtown in the distance

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We were STARVING by the time we got to Chuy’s (4PM lunch) which made it taste even better! yum yum YUMMM.

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After lunch/dinner, Faith and Steve took us to a light show in Wimberly.

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Jake, Faith, and Steve! Oops I mean Frosty and his Elf buddies 😉

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And Faith brought a picnic of homemade chocolate cake to eat while we explored the light show.

Phew! What an awesome, exhausting, fantastic day.

Urban adventure and bath time

Today GM, Jacob, and I hiked (walked?) to the top of a residential mountain near my parents’ home. image

What a great time! It took about an hour, views were pretty, and I broke a little sweat. Perfect!

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Plus we saw some GORGEOUS trees!

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My wool socks and hiking boots bring all the boys to the yard. 

When we got home it was time to get to work. Bath time for Elsa! 

Elsa makes bath time easy. All we do is draw the bath, tell her to get in, then suds her up and rinse her down and she’s good to go! Water does get everywhere, though, hence the sports bras. 😀

Now she’s so soft and clean! Merry Christmas Eve!

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I’m so fresh so fresh so fresh so fresh so clean.

What are your plans for Christmas Eve? How do you bathe your pups?

Walking the babies

I have recently started referring to our dobermans as our “babies.” Which probably confuses some, but they are like our children!

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Elsa and Alice: the “babies”

So far most of break has involved walking the dogs, hanging out with them, and eating. Not bad, eh?? I would have liked to go hiking but it’s been so rainy and my rain gear isn’t 100% downpour proof (I will have to look into that).

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I can’t stop “oohing” and “ahhing” at how beautifully GREEN it is here.

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Also yesterday we saw STAR WARS: the Force Awakens. There were some annoyingly loud teens in line with us who were there for the third time, and they were talking SO LOUDLY about Star Wars and I swear, had I heard a spoiler while in line to see the new movie, I would have lost my shit. GAHHH. Fortunately I did not hear anything. Phew. Crisis avoided.

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The movie was so fun. I definitely recommend it. I can’t wait to see it not in 3D (kind of distracting, but they were the only tickets available).

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Husband walks adorable pups.

Next on the agenda:

  1. Pack for Texas!
  2. Start and finish Christmas shopping
  3. Continue snuggling and walking the babies 🙂

Two Kilts Brewery

We are home in Portland for the break, and it has been a lot of napping, puppy snuggling, puppy walking, and cookie eating.

Tonight we tried a brewery near my parents house, and it was wonderful!

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All the available brews! 8 beers + 1 cider

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Snacks!
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Jake and I always get a flight when we visit a new brewery- we need to know which beers are the absolute best.
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Dad + Jacob
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Mama + Me
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❤ ❤ ❤ Merry Christmas to ME!

Overall: I liked most of the beers we had, and was glad there were  only 2 IPAs (they’re not my fav). My favorites were the milk chocolate stout and the wheat wine. YUM!