I like Austin. When people think of Texas, they think flat dry Desert, ala Dallas. Austin is in the hill country of Texas. It gets year-around rainfall, and undeveloped land is covered with live oak and juniper trees. There are rivers, streams, and natural springs throughout the hill country. Austin is the state capital, and the home of the University of Texas. Austin has parks, the Colorado River, a real music scene, and good restaurants. In short, Austin is nothing like what most people think of Texas.

A really good source for information about Austin is Austin 360.

Enchanted Rock

I've visited Austin a number of times, and on one flight back to Chicago I struck up a conversation with Stefanie, formerly of Fredericksburg Texas, currently of Naperville, IL. Stefanie liked Fredericksburg better, a sentiment I can empathize with. Naperville is full of people who drive around in their minivan's and SUV's and think that Naperville is the center of the known world, when in fact it's a suburban wasteland an hour west of Chicago. In any event, Stefanie recommended Enchanted Rock, and on my next visit to Austin, I made it a point to visit.

Stream by Enchanted Rock Enchanted Rock is about 100 miles west of Austin, 17 miles north of the town of Fredericksburg. You can certainly visit it from Austin on a day trip. It was hot the day I visited. Not dry hot. Hot hot. I unfortunately didn't have much time to spend there since I had to drive back to catch a flight, but in a little over an hour, I drank a liter of water, and I probably should have brought more water. It was, however, literally 105 degress (41 degrees Celsius) and if you're smart, you'll visit on a cooler day. Hot as it was, if you look at the pictures you can see that there was a running stream at the base of Enchanted Rock, and pools of water on top as well.

From the Enchanted Rock visitors brochure: "Enchanted Rock is a well-known geological feature of the Central Mineral Region of Texas. The pink granite which makes up Enchanted Rock has a measured age of one billion years and is among the oldest exposed rock in Orth America. Through the eons, overlying ancient rocks have been stripped away by erosion, thus exposing an extensive igneious feature known as the Enchanted Rock Batholith. Enchanted Rock proper is but one small part of the Enchanted Rock Batholith, which covers about 90 square miles. Geologists also call Enchanted Rock an "inselberg"--an island mountain.

Large areas of apparently bare rock belie the variety and abundance of plant life at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, including a tropical fern, Blechnum occidentale, which is found only at Enchanted Rock and isolated areas in tropical Florida in the United States.

The "islands" of vegetation on the bare granite summit of Enchanted Rock are some of the most ecologically significant and severely threatened feature of this State Natural Area. Known as soil island, weather pits, gnammas, or vernal pools, these patches of vegetation on bare rock develop in depressions formed by weathering over thousands of years."

All images Copyright © 1998 by Stephen Gunn & Bich-Thuy Le. All rights reserved.

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