Every year since I have lived in Austin, I have attended ACL music festival. I have braved dust storms incited by Hurricane Rita, temperatures that essentially turned everyone’s clothes into towels and even beer that costs way more than it should. All of this I braved gladly, in order to hear awesome music and be with my wonderful friends for three days. But for some reason this year Chris and I calculated the cost and it turns out we spend somewhere in the $500 range on that weekend. And we just could not part with this sum. Plus the line-up was not as good as it had been in the past.
Getting out of Dodge
Knowing we would be tempted to spend money on after shows or even at the last minute buy an over-priced ticket from scalpers, I decided we should just leave town. And so that’s what we did. My aunt bought us an awesome tent for our wedding, so we decided to go camping. After some research we settled on Garner State Park, about two and a half hours away from Austin, on the Frio River.
Despite a dire weather report, indicating rain showers ahead, we got into my stuffed Santa Fe and headed south on I-35 toward our destination. We decided to make it an adventure and eat at a recommended German restaurant in New Braunfels called Friesenhaus. For people who do not know much about the Hill Country of Texas, it’s full of German and Czech restaurants and bakeries. And it’s usually very authentic and tasty. Friesenhaus was no different. The family, who owns the restaurant, actually moved to Texas from Germany in 2005. Near the hostess stand is a shop full of German food goods as well as traditional German clothes. It was very interesting to see this in the middle of Texas.
But How is the Food?
So we established the surrounding were interesting, but you are probably asking, how was the grub? Well, the meal started off on a bad foot. We arrived five minutes past 11 a.m. and they would not serve us breakfast. I was completely bummed. I had scoped out the menu online and wanted the German apple pancakes. So it was kind of a weird taste bud switch I had to do when I ordered split pea soup and cheese and vegetables plate. Chris ordered the gulasch soup and the potato pancakes.
While Chris and I were sad we did not get to order breakfast, we came away from our meal satisfied. The food was very authentic and there were even a few people drinking beers in the a.m. So it really did feel like we were in Europe.
Next Stop: Mexico
Ok, well not really. But Garner State Park is only a few hours from the Mexican border, so we were kind of close. What a day – Austin in the morning, Germany in the afternoon and Mexico at night.
Anyway, we arrived at Garner in the late afternoon, and it was indeed a little drizzly. But no downpour. We put together our tent and campsite. We grabbed our doggie Olive and set out to do some hiking. Garner has a number of great trails offering wonderful scenic views. The first trail we tried was the Foshee trail going by the Painted Rock. This trail was marked as pretty easy and I have to tell you, I was sweating and it felt like I was walking straight up. So a word of warning, it was pretty hard.
I might have also been sweating profusely because of the dense humidity up on the trails. It was markedly wetter and heavier up on the trails. There was dew on all the plants, it reminded me a bit of a cloud forest type of environment.
The Frio River
One of the biggest bonuses to Garner is that it’s right on the Frio River. Most of the people we chatted with before going raved about the tubing and kayaking on the crystal clear body of water. Well, unfortunately for us, we had been in a drought and the water was not deep enough for much of anything – except for Olive to play fetch in.
Hiking Day 2
I know many of you are used to this blog being about food and this is not a food-heavy entry. I hope that’s ok. Because we basically did not cook anything exciting while camping and I did not feel the need to photograph beanie weanies and smore’s. Both were awesome though!
But we did do a lot of hiking. The second day we hiked on the Old Horse Trail. Which was definitely not as hard as the Foshee. It was a pretty easy trail that ran near the highway.
After hiking a couple more hours Chris, Olive and I got back into our stuffed car and headed back to Austin. Just to find out that rain had flowed in Austin while we were gone. The pictures from ACL looked like a muddy, horrible mess. I think this was a good year to sit it out.