Saturday was mine and J’s 7th anniversary. We’re both a little poor at the moment, so rather than getting each other fancy gifts and going to a fancy dinner etc., Val got the day off, and we spent the day on experiences instead. It was a pretty low-key anniversary, but it was lovely all the same.
Friday night, we wined and painted the clay dinosaur magnets I had made and surprised him with the night before. We’re always low on magnets, and Joseph is a big dinosaur fan, so it was a win-win!
It was a pretty easy evening and after a long week it was a fun way to decompress. Even if they sort of look like children painted them.
Saturday, J made pancakes while I actually got to drink all of my coffee in my pjs, and then we headed out to the Hill Country for some adventuring.
It’s been pretty toasty around here (think mid to upper 90s during the day) but the heat has made for some beautiful skies, and once we got out of town, even just the driving was amazing.
Our first stop on our mini-road trip was an olive orchard–Texas Hill Country Olive Company, that offered tours, olive oil tasting, and a cute little bistro. The day was on its way to being toasty, but it was still breezy and on the cool side when we arrived. Texas fall weather at it’s best for sure.
We learned all kinds of fun facts (did you know that the oldest living olive trees are 6,000 years old??), and the orchard itself was so beautiful. Maybe I just love organization too much, but there’s something about rows and rows of similar trees all perfectly aligned that soothes my soul.
Not only did we get to see the orchard and learn about the growing process and different olive types, but we also got a tour of the building where the oil is made. Turns out, my life is a lie and most grocery store olive oil isn’t actually extra virgin. Maybe lots of people knew that, but I’ve been buying cheap olive oil for basic cooking in clear plastic containers for years. Even the “nice” oil I get is at least part vegetable oil, so that was fun to learn. If that was just a marketing tactic it worked because we came home with new olive oil…
Lunch was simple but so good, with some of the best goat cheese I’ve ever had in my life. I forgot to save room for the olive oil gelato, but next time I’ll get it before lunch, just to be sure I can squeeze it in.
Our main destination for the day was Pedernales Falls State Park. These aren’t quite “real” waterfalls, but there is some water falling down rocks, and the area is gorgeous. I’d never been, but this has been on my list of places to take my camera for quite some time, and I was floored to finally be going, especially on a day with so much vibrant blue sky.
I haven’t been hiking in a few years, but I assumed most of the park would be fairly easy hiking. And it probably was when you actually followed the right paths. Unfortunately for all of the nice things about this park, the trail markers are distinctly lacking.
In general though, the park is lovely. There’s a lot of wooded area so that even when the sun was strong, most of the paths were cool and breezy, and felt so secluded and apart from the normal Austin bustle.
I was pretty blown away by the Pedernales Falls. Swimming wasn’t allowed because of how quickly the place flash floods, but the way the water pools between each set of falls, it’s practically begging you to jump in.
We hiked along the main falls for a while in both directions from the main entrance, checking out all of the waterfalls and coves. There were not as many people as I’d expected, and for the most part it wasn’t too hard to get good photos, which definitely made my day.
As we hiked, we chatted about nothing in particular, or simply took in the views and enjoyed each other’s company. Because J is a doll, he carried my tripod, and the water, and my phone, and my chapstick, plus his own things in a backpack, and never once complained as we trucked up and down the falls. Even when I asked for the tripod over and over only to stuff it back in the bag.
The map also boasted about the hidden Twin Falls on another trail, so once I’d had my fill of the main falls, we went off in search of what looked to be real waterfalls that fell straight down into a quiet pool.
Finding the trail was relatively easy, but finding the falls was not. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this in the past, but I have an absolutely abysmal sense of direction. And knowing this well, J let me lead. So of course I managed to take us off the main path to what was essentially a deer trail.
But even as the trail narrowed and got hard to keep traction on, we soldiered on. Only to step off onto a wide trail again, which turned out to be an entirely different trail that went to one of the swimming spots, but not the falls in any capacity. The only way back to the right trail was to back track, or take the other trail all the way back to parking so we could find the start to the right trail again.
Obviously we took the shorter route, which probably actually required more effort.
The path was so steep going back up that the only option was to basic march up it without stopping, or you’d lose traction and start sliding down. I like to consider myself a fairly fit person, but I was basically dying when we reached the top, and I thought J might have an asthma attack right there in the woods.
We finally found our way back to the right trail, and wound our way around to the falls. On the map, the trail is a big circle with the falls right on the halfway point on the other side of the trail head. In reality, they’re about 3/4 of the way if you take a left when you start. So we walked, and walked, and started to wonder if we’d taken a wrong turn again.
When we did locate the falls, we were disappointed to find that the only access was an over look that was so far away you could barely see the water that was falling only a few feet at a time. From the ground, I’m sure they’re gorgeous even if they’re small, but sadly there was no way to get photos from where we stood.
The spot was very quiet and serene though, and it was nice to just enjoy the warm sun for a moment, and the sounds of the water falling below us.
Continuing around the loop from the falls put us out on a different entrance than the one we used to get to the trail, and we had to awkwardly march through an occupied campsite. It was weird enough already, and then one of the little boys at the site asked his dad “Why are they walking through our camp?” I blushed and walked faster, but J just told them we’d gotten a little lost and laughed it off.
Our trip home took us right past Lake Travis, and we decided to drive up to a spot called The Oasis that looks out over the water for a perfect view at sunset and has a bunch of restaurants and bars.
We popped into a new-to-us bar on the end of the whole complex, and grabbed a couple of drinks (we had to rehydrate!) plus some chips and queso because obviously we needed snacks too. This particular place had pulled pork on top of their queso, and served it with a soft pretzel as well as the chips, and really if that’s how all queso was served the world would be a better place.
Watching the sun set over the water and listening to the jazz band play was a pretty perfect ending to what was a wonderful day. To wrap it all up, J even got me pumpkin cheesecake on the way home.
It wasn’t a big, huge day, and we dressed more casually than we ever have for an anniversary, but it was a fabulous way to celebrate us. It’s been a big year with a lot of change for us, but it’s absolutely been a good year over all. I really couldn’t ask for a better partner in life, and I probably don’t say it enough, but I’m so grateful to him for everything he does and everything he is. Here’s to years of adventures to come.