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To Wimberley

Okay, Everyone. I’ve finally gotten us back from New England (whew). You thought I’d never finish, didn’t you? (Honestly, there were times when I sorta doubted it myself.)


But...anyway...


After that, we took a longish break from traveling. We endured the remainder of the summer in Texas (whoa! hot!) and then eased gratefully into Fall. Though, honestly, Autumn wasn’t that much cooler than early summer...and it did make us long for New England’s foliage and sea breezes. But, you take what you’re given...


Then we were in winter, and, about January of 2023, we decided it was time to travel again. After some deliberation, we settled on a destination -- Wimberley, Texas.



About the photos: First, I wanted to run here a map of the route from Georgetown to Wimberley, but I couldn’t find one that was public domain or otherwise reproducible. So, instead, first, here is a picture of my favorite subject, Martha, during our 2021 trip to Wimberley. We were having lunch at the Creekhouse restaurant, more about which later.




Where’s that, you ask? Good question. Got a map handy? Or can you bring one up on your browser? If so, look for Texas. Then find Austin. You can’t miss it. Sorta on the middle right. If you look north of the city, and have a magnifying glass, you’ll see Georgetown, which is where we live.


You’ll also notice that Georgetown is on the route of a large highway, Interstate 35. Follow 35 south and you’ll come to Austin, the state capital and the town in which our kids live.


Thirty-five is, by the way, a story in its own right. In its larger, national incarnation, it runs all the way (almost) from the Mexican border to the Canadian. According to its Wikipedia entry, it isn’t considered a “border to border” road because it doesn’t “directly connect to either international border,” though that seems a bit quibbling.(1) In Texas, 35 is one of the major North-South routes and serves to link several of the region’s most important population centers -- Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and South all the way to Laredo. (2)




Second, here’s another little video experiment. I tried to get Runway ML to produce a colorful animated image “in the style of Van Gogh’s Starry Night,” of a small Texas town by a river. This was what I was finally able to get, after much fiddling and prompting and editing. It doesn’t look much like Wimberley, but I thought it was kind of cool.



Also, locally, here in our little corner of the world, 35 is generally considered a disaster, best avoided if at all possible. Austin’s economy is booming, its population is expanding exponentially, the various towns around it (like Georgetown) are growing with fearsome speed as Austinites seek some sort of affordable housing, and, of course, there is a constant flow of heavy trucks going in both directions. The result is that 35 is pretty much always overcrowded, traffic jams are the norm, and, highway accidents are way, waaay, waaaaay too common.


There is also the little factor that the open carry of firearms is rather common in the great state of Texas. That means things can get ....complicated...when you have a road rage incident.(3)


But, getting back to my story, on your map, trace 35 to Austin. Then follow it down to the little city of Buda.(4) Keep on going. Look neither right nor left. Avoid the temptation to visit the mysterious towns with evocative names along the way...poetic names that will haunt your imagination and populate your dreams with dragons and cowboys-- Mustang Ridge, Pilot Knob, Niederwald, St. John’s Colony, Uhland, the proudly unincorporated community of Zorn...


At long last, you will come finally to Ranch To Market Road 150. Take that and then take out your cellphone and follow the directions from Google maps or Apple maps, but for God’s sake, don’t trust me. I’ve been lost on a one way street in a one horse town. Anyway, you’ll eventually find yourself on Old Kyle Road. (Is there a young Kyle?) And, finally, in due time, and God willing, you’ll be in Wimberley.


(Or, as a more direct alternative, you can just go back to Austin and take 35 to Texas State Highway Loop 1 and then go straight down. But then I wouldn’t have been able to get in all that stuff about Mustang Ridge and Zorn. Which would have been tragic, really.)


So, if you’re still looking at the map, you’ll see Wimberley. The area, itself, is a farming community. Or, more precisely, it is a place of ranches and cattle. The town, meanwhile, came into existence the way that most small towns did in America at the time. It was there to provide supplies and services to the farmers and ranchers. And, for long years, it did that rather well.


But, then, more recently, Wimberley underwent the transformations that seem to be the fate of small, rural communities in America today. That is, it ceased to have an economic purpose. Better roads, better cars, better trucks meant that farmers and ranchers could go into the city for their needs and their markets. It was as easy, and probably cheaper, to go to Austin than Wimberley to buy and to sell.


For many American towns, that’s meant a lingering death. Or, in some cases, not so lingering.


But for Wimberley...there was another fate in store.


More to come.





The third photo is a shot I got of a sign at the end of one of the trails along the creek itself, which I thought was kind of amusing. Good to know that I was headed in the right direction.



Footnotes:



1. “Interstate 35,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_35


2. “Interstate 35 in Texas,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_35_in_Texas


3. This is actually a story for another day and perhaps another place. But, when you have a moment, glance at this article here: “Gun-loving Texas, where most households own a firearm, has become an epicenter of mass shootings,” by By Emma Tucker, CNN, Updated 11:51 PM EDT, Wed May 17, 2023. https://www.cnn.com/2023/05/17/us/texas-gun-ownership-mass-shootings/index.html


4. Buda is like Georgetown. It is a “commuter city” for Austin. Before that, it was a prosperous small town and farming community. Why it is called “Buda” is something of a mystery. Some say the name is the corruption of an old Spanish word, viuda, meaning “widow,” and referred to widows who worked in a local hotel. The other theory is that the name was bestowed by some of the many immigrants who came to Texas from Central Europe, and who missed their old haunts in the twin cities of Buda and Pest.




Copyright©2023 Michael Jay Tucker



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~mjt



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