Our first trip to Austin as tourists was in the spring of 2010. My wife and I were planning to move from our hometown of Shelbyville, IN to start a new adventure.
Having grown up in rural Indiana, I was excited to see the fabled Southwestern landscape. Our children had left the nest and it was time for Act II. As we were making plans to visit Austin, my wife Sharon suggested we rent a motorcycle and tour the Hill Country. Knowing about my love for riding, she knew she didn’t have to ask me twice.
I had flown into Austin several times and heard of the Hill Country, but had not seen it. As a pilot, one often gets to see some amazing sites from up high, but rarely gets the chance to examine them up close.
So we rented a BMW RT bike and carefully mapped out a fantastic route through the Hill Country. We rode over 230 miles that day, riding past state parks and natural areas, and through numerous small German towns that were established in the mid 1800’s.
The roads are smooth pavement for the most part with several of them paralleling the creeks and rivers of the Hill Country. Some of the roads take you right to the edge of some stunning canyons. There is very little traffic, especially during week, so you can ride at a spirited pace. Scenic vistas abound. Just pull off and you can see for 50-60 miles.
For someone who spent most of his life living in the middle of a flat cornfield this is quite special.
The vegetation was especially surprising as I thought most of Texas was arid and flat. Live Oaks are one of the most important native trees to the area. Sharon commented on how spooky they looked and compared them to the trees one would see in a ghost story. I personally enjoy them and find their spidery limbs to be quite interesting and exotic. It is illegal to chop them down and so one will notice that many restaurants have Live Oaks shooting right up through the patios.
Having spent most of the morning taking in the sights of the Hill Country, it was now time to exercise our taste buds. We ended up having some of the best BBQ at one of the more interesting authentic pit barbeque restaurants. Texas BBQ is different from Memphis and St. Louis in that the BBQ is mostly rub and not a lot of sauce. Mesquite is big here and so are jalapenos. The taste was complex and totally foreign. I loved it!
There’s a wide variety of wildlife and domestic animals in the area. Sharon and I saw Longhorn cattle, horses, whitetail deer and goats. The Longhorns were especially impressive. The rivers were all quite scenic with peaceful tree-lined banks.
As we returned to the motorcycle rental place around 6 o’clock, we were exhausted by the day’s ride but elated by all the things we’d seen that day. That evening I decided that the Texas Hill Country was one of the more beautiful places that we had ever explored on a motorcycle.