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.

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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

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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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.