A Bear Cub in Wimberley

This is Moose.

OK, he is not actually a bear, but it took me a minute to make sense of his size when I first encountered him. This was not my first time meeting a Bouvier de Flanders (a very formal name for the very bearish moose to be sure). I have loved them since I first laid eyes on one…years and years ago.

As Tina finished getting ready to go to breakfast that first morning in Wimberley, I took my camera outside to see what worked in my baby photographer’s eye. I thought that surely this place would make me feel like a brilliant photographer. Surely here I could just swing the camera around and capture magic in every image. Ha.

Magic was there, though. Only not in my lens. As I stepped off the front porch I saw the movement of something large and black behind the car. I froze…not in fear, but curiosity. How was it possible that a bear cub was here? A black bear cub, no less. In Wimberley? Then a very timid Moose peeked out from behind and I fell in love.

Clearly unaware of his impressive size, Moose timidly approached me as if it were me that was all muscle, teeth and black eyes peering from behind mounds of hair. When I reached out to pet him, he backed up as if I would strike him. In my eagerness I had forgotten the dog-approach rules. No eye contact…let them smell you first…no smiling (showing teeth)…raise hand, palm up, to nose for approval. When he approached again, I was ready. We became fast friends.

In fairness to Moose, who is a gentle soul, the picture above was taken as Moose played by the creek. He followed me and Tina down as we strolled down to sit in chairs and listen to the wind. Moose played in the water and ran around and around like a wild thing. I took many pictures. This is one of my faves because it is so out of character. The dog in this picture would scare the hell out of Moose. My skills at photography were quite challenged by moose. He is so dark that many pictures ended up looking like a mass of fur. The best pictures I got were with him playing with Tina.

Tina said at one point that, in order to get into my pictures that weekend, she had to be standing next to Moose. And, while it is true that I was just a little obsessed with this gorgeous dog, I took lots of pictures of her as well.




Four Hours to Drive to Nap

Tina slept in the seat next to me as we hit the outer limits of Katy, Texas. We were on our way out, not in, and I was already beginning to feel the muscles around my jaw loosen…my breathing become deeper. I propped my left foot up against the dashboard defiantly…I was raised by a southern belle, this is just not the way a lady sits. Today, I am more than just a lady. I am a fugitive from the city.

Miles and miles of billboards and exits for small towns. I try to find things to take pictures of, but there is no reason to stop along I-10. Not right now anyway. We are almost to San Antonio when we pull off the freeway (I never call it freeway when I am in town), and onto to the road that will pull us toward Luling and slingshot us to Wimberley.

The road to Wimberley appeals to my newly forming photographer’s eye…but I don’t stop. I don’t stop for the huge dark hawk circling close to an infinite field of perfectly yellow tall grass. I don’t stop for tall, beige willowy reeds, at least twice my height, lining the side of the road…poised to be shot from below into a perfectly blue clouded sky. I don’t stop for the abandoned house with old tin signs that mark it as a business from long ago. I will catch these shots on our way back. I am not stopping before I have pulled off onto that gravel road that leads to our “middle of nowhere.”

When we arrive, the now familiar little cabin on the river seems impossibly welcoming. I always expect it to disappoint the wildly high expectations I have of it…and it never does. I pile my arms full of everything we need to bring inside, because I know I am not walking back out to the car now. I know what happens when I walk through that door.

And it does. Just as it does every time. My body feels the exhaustion of a thousand days of sleep that feels carved out of something else I should be doing. There is nothing waiting to be done here, and I fall helplessly into the bed, barely able to remove my earrings so that the pinch of them will not wake me from my perfect nap. I never realize how tired I am until I get here.

My eyes close on the dark wood walls and now shuttered windows (thank you, Tina), and I drift off slowly…savoring the feel of arms around me and the walk to the little creek waiting for me to have rested enough.


Vegas in a Cow Field

Space Center Drive is one of four streets that border NASA, but it is a very long road. If you drive past NASA and keep going until you are flat in the middle of what, until very recently, was a cow field in the middle of nowhere, you will see something you will not believe. Stranger still if you have seen the promotional ads for this place as they make it out to be a regular steak house…which it decidedly is not. Tina and I went for dinner there two weekends ago, not our first time, and I decided to blog it as my “Off Topic” weekend post.

Cullens is the restaurant and I hope I can do it justice.

The first thing you will note is that it is HUGE. Like Las Vegas over-the-top huge. 38,000 feet, seating for 700 people. Remember, this is in the middle of nowhere. Seriously.

The main dining room has 56 projection screens displaying rotating fine art. There is an impossible room hovering above the main dining room called “Macy’s room” which can be reserved for parties of 12 or less. You must spend at least $1,500 in food and beverages and your choice of china patterns and your own personalized menu comes with the room.

Stunning service, brilliant wine list, billiard room, live music club with concert lighting and an upper deck with a not-quite-finished fire pit and waterfall that will provide the over-the-top theme to the upper patio.

And then they get you with the environmental consciousness. Carpet is recycled tires. Lighting is all LED. I wish I could remember all the guy told us about the environmental features. It is stunning that someone that built this place even cares about that. Gives me hope.

And then there is the food. And this is the real reason I adore this place, despite all the glam. The chef is Paul Lewis and he is incredible. I do not say that lightly. I could not care less how gorgeous a plate is laid out or how innovatively someone uses raspberries. If it is not delicious, I am not impressed. This guy freaks me out he is so good. He does not over fancy up the straightforward dishes (simply the best fish and chips I have ever eaten anywhere. Period.) and things that he does something bizarre with (chamomile infused scallops) are divine. I have been several times now and tried sampled from others at the table and have yet to feel even neutral about anything. OK, maybe Grant’s pizza that one time, but kids food is supposed to be basic.

This is a destination spot. It is worth the drive to a Clear Lake cow field.