Swim lessons are fun.
Hamilton Pool Preserve ~ Near Austin, Texas
A few weeks ago the family made the trip a few hours south to the Austin area to stay with some good friends. We stayed in Spicewood, at their retreat on Lake Travis, which was awesome. The west side of Austin is gorgeous, and one of the highlights was a visit to the Hamilton Pool Preserve.
I had no idea this type of thing existed in Texas (Wiki says it’s been there “thousands of years ago”), but very glad we made the short drive to check it out. It actually reminded me a bit of the types of treasures often discovered all over Maui. Obviously it’s not quite as dramatic or tropical, but beautiful none the less. I imagine in Summer it is pretty trafficked as a swimming destination but on this day there were less than two handfuls of people present, making it a nice and quiet adventure. Our son had a blast hiking the trail, which was the perfect challenge for his little legs. It didn’t take us much more than an hour to hike down and around and back up, so it’s a quick exploration that you can easily squeeze into an afternoon. Highly recommended.
On a side note, this was the first time driving from Dallas to Austin where I avoided I-35 all together. I can confidently say I’ll never take the I-35 route again. Highway 281 was an absolute breeze to drive, and at times I was the only one on the road. There are some excellent views of central Texas hills that put 35 to shame. Especially coming from up near Denton it makes way more sense to head through Fort Worth and further West to get to the Lake Travis area. It honestly only took about 3.5 hours even though Google will tell you it adds an additional hour to the trip.
Last one is the best.
Great stuff, had to reblog this one
My Top Albums of 2012
10 // The Avett Brothers The Carpenter
Not near as good as their last album (I and Love and You) but still a solid effort from start to finish. They’re great song writers and have really honed in our their style at this point.
9 // Citizen Cope One Lovely Day
Cope doesn’t release anything sub-par. His voice is as unique as they come, and One Lovely Day showcases it perfectly.
8 // Michael Kiwanuka Home Again
From the first listen of “I’m Getting Ready” I knew I’d love this record. It’s beautifully subtle and touches all of the write notes to sound like it was released in the early 70’s.
7 // Norah Jones Little Broken Hearts
A great progression from her previous album, she continues to stretch out past the stereo type her first record created. The voice is still the same (that being incredible), but her song writing has evolved tenfold.
6 // Chris Robinson Brotherhood The Magic Door
I’m not a big fan of jam bands, but Chris wins me over with his Brotherhood records. He channels the Dead and Pink Floyd with 3+ hour shows and pulls it off flawlessly on this 6 song (50+ minute) EP.
5 // Sarah Jaffe The Body Wins
Much like Norah Jones, Sara started with simple songs, arrangements, and style but has already taken a huge leap forward creatively with The Body Wins. She’s arguably the biggest talent to come out of Dallas/Denton in many years.
4 // Alabama Shakes Boys & Girls
Much hyped, it took me a while to come around and give Alabama Shakes and fair shake. But, once I did it didn’t take long for it to take hold. Straight forward, 60’s laden rock n roll at it’s best. No frills, just great songs and stripped down production.
3 // Soundgarden King Animal
I was very fearful of this record. Being a huge fan of the band since their existence I cringed at a “reunion” album. I absolutely hate it when bands that have a great legacy regroup to relive the good ole days and release a bunch of crap (see: Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, to a name few). Soundgarden, however, pulls it off beyond even my wildest expectations. It feels as if they haven’t missed a beat, King Animal sounding like it could have been released in 1998 as an immediate follow up to 1996’s Down on the Upside. It’s incredibly dense, highly textured, and Cornell’s voice (while obviously toned down from the days of Louder Than Love) stands on its own quite well. The one thing that really differentiates Soundgarden from the majority of their contemporaries (ie; all of the other ”grunge” era bands) is the collective nature of the song writing. All four members are highly active and contribute full songs and lyrics. Which makes it even more impressive that they can pull off such a masterfully executed album after nearly 15 years apart.
2 // Jack White Blunderbuss
There’s not much Jack White touches that isn’t good. In the case of Blunderbuss, his first solo album after years leading The White Stripes and The Raconteurs, it’s not just good…it’s great. If you’re a fan of either of his previous bands you know what to expect. But even for those not already convinced it won’t take long to be converted. Jack is as talented of a musician that exists these days, bringing a multitude of styles (blues, rock, jazz, funk) one song after another.
1 // The Lumineers Self Titled
This one caught me off guard. I heard the lead single “Ho Hey” and dug it, but didn’t really expect much more from the band. I tentatively took a deeper listen, and I’m very thankful I did. The album shines way beyond “Ho Hey”, so much that I listened to it more than any other this year. The band evokes the vibe of early classics like CSNY and Cat Stevens right along side contemporaries like Wilco and Band of Horses. There are no frills, just great hooks and well played songs. Looking forward to many more albums from them, although topping this one will be tough.