Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spokes N Spurs; Getting There

We have mentioned before that going early to a ride location allows us to explore and experience the flavor of the area. Getting to and arrival at Liberty Hill, Texas was a great experience.
First, just traveling to Liberty Hill was a delight. The wildflowers are plentiful this year, and we found ourselves stopping every few miles to take pictures of the countryside and flowers. And we were in good company. Half of the other motorists were doing the same thing.
 There were plenty of patches of bluebonnets along the highway, but this whole field was just too good to pass up.
 Note that a trucker had the same idea.
 Bluebonnets have a light, sweet fragrance.

Bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush


Prickly poppy
In between Llano and Burnett, Texas is a pair of bald eagles that people travel for miles to observe.
This is their current nest. A previous nest is about 100 yards down the road. The area is so popular that the Department of Transportation paved a parking place for the traffic. For some unknown reason, the eagles moved their nest to the current location in a pecan tree along side the Llano River. The new roadside area is well worn but yet to be paved.
We were lucky. The couple arrives in October and leaves mid-March depending upon the eaglet's maturity. As the youngster is still in the nest, we were able to watch the family in late March.
The big deal? West Texas is not known for bald eagles, so they are a rarity.

And, due to last year's drought and parched land, we were afraid that our wildflowers would become a rarity. However, with more rain in the first quarter than in all of last year, the flowers are thriving.


We just love bluebonnets...can you tell?


Arrival at Liberty Hill turned out to be a unique, delightful experience. We generally stay at a major chain hotel and thus have never stayed at a Bed and Breakfast.
We chose Liberty House (http://libertyhousebandb.com/index.html) run by Vinton and Michele Stanfield. We were ever so pleasantly greeted by their friendliness and hospitality. Even their Airedale terriers, Gus and Gabby, respectfully and politely introduced themselves. Gabby smiled--yes, smiled--when meeting us. Their website states "Come as a Guest and Leave as a Friend!" And it is NOT false advertising.

We were talking about the patches of wildflowers on the way and that we were going to scout out the ride location as it was on a ranch out in the country.

Vinton stated that there was a place nearby covering more than a patch. He suggested to Michele that they show us the blue bonnets, and since they know the area better, they would drive us to the ranch to make it easier for us the next morning. We piled into their car and set out.
As "advertised," the nearby field was just acre after acre of fragrant bluebonnets. Vinton and Michele then showed us the best way to get to Spirit Reins, the start/finish of the ride.

Returning to Liberty House, we sat in a living room listening to one great story after another of their interesting life. We will not reveal too much as all are encouraged to stay there and find out for themselves.

We were going to eat dinner in nearby Georgetown. Before we left, Vinton and Michele invited us to a "vinegar tasting" with them upon our return. Taste vinegar? This was going to be a new experience as I had never heard of such. World-wise Christine knew a bit of what they were talking about, but I, being a Texas country-boy, was only aware of vinegar being used in some foods and that was it, so I'll turn this over to Christine:

What I learned is that the ordinary balsamic vinegar and even that aged for 12 years which we can buy in our stores taste like vinegar. Then we tasted balsamic vinegar aged for 50 years! Hmmm. I think I'll lick the spoon clean. Then we were treated to balsamic vinegar aged 70 years. Seventy years. Three and a half generations of Italians lovingly caring for this brew. Usually this thick, dark, precious, mildly aromatic sauce is presented to dignitaries in small bottles finely boxed. What an experience. It was sweet, but not too sweet, traditionally served on fruit. Thank you, Michele and Vin, for sharing one of your many Italian adventures with us.
The above is an example of how the really special, aged balsamic vinegar would be presented to really special visitors.
Michele, Vinton, Gabby, and Gus. The Stanfield's website was correct, we felt as if we had left as friends. We look forward to next year's ride and more time with these delightful raconteurs.
But it was time to move on. The previous evening Christine prepared for the ride with her favorite power drink. So,
cheers to you, Jerry!
Sorry you couldn't make it. We looked at the Liberty House Italian room where you and Cindy would have stayed. You missed a treat at the B & B, but we will let you know in the next installment the grade of the hills you missed! 

3 comments:

  1. Aged Balsamic over strawberries and ice cream: You haven't lived until you've indulged in this delight!!! I've never seen so many BlueBonnets. Lovely. I was thinking of you guys the other day and realized that you most likely have a Texan accent, as I have a Canadian one. Reading your words is probably nothing at all like hearing them :)
    Rosemary

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  2. @Rosemary: We've an accent only when we say, "Aw shucks, y'all."

    50 plus year old Balsamic over strawberries and ice cream--Yum.

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