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Pedernales Falls and a Beautiful Old Hotel

Pedernales Falls and a Beautiful Old Hotel

Rocks, Rocks, and Rocks

Pedernales Falls, a 60 minute drive west of Austin, is our third geology focused stop of the day. We first visited Enchanted Rock, the second largest batholith in the country, then ventured underground to visit the water-carved Longhorn Cavern, and now we arrive at the 300 million year old limestone formation at Pedernales Falls State Park. By any measure, Texas possesses an exceptional variety of unique destinations! 

A Short Visit

We arrive at the park toward the end of the day. Although I was originally intent on making our way down to the limestone flats during our visit, I’m having to adjust the plan. A long day in the sun and a wish to enjoy our evening at the old and quite extravagant Driskill Hotel in Austin conspire to cut our visit to Pedernales short. 

A view of the landscape as seen from park headquarters. Had this landscape still been in its pristine state, as it was prior to the arrival of settlers, you would have looked out over open grassland. The effect of human habitation was that the ecological balance was irrevocably altered, so that the area is now dominated by junipers. 

A view of the landscape as seen from park headquarters. Had this landscape still been in its pristine state, as it was prior to the arrival of settlers, you would have looked out over open grassland. The effect of human habitation was that the ecological balance was irrevocably altered, so that the area is now dominated by junipers. 

The Falls

After a short walk from the parking lot, we arrive at an overlook that opens onto a view of the falls. I’ve been here a few times before, but not often enough that I’m not surprised every time I see it. In the shade of trees, I take time to enjoy the view. I also manage to snap an enormous number of pictures. Rather than describing this beautiful place in words, I’ll just show you.

Hello? Are You Still There?

So, was that fun, or are you now convinced that I'm just trying to get out of writing? Nine full-size pictures may be a little over the top, but I like to look at all the details and I hoped that you might enjoy it as well. I'm always open to criticism... wait... let's make that well-meaning criticism.

We Arrive in Austin

At seven o’clock that evening, we pull up to the Driskill Hotel. After talking about it for many years, we are finally about to make the acquaintance of this grand historic hotel.

Driskill History

The Driskill Hotel opened in 1886 and is the oldest operating hotel in Austin. Built at enormous expense by cattleman Jesse Driskill, the hotel’s rates were so expensive that very few people could afford it. The hotel closed within a year of its opening. Since then, the hotel has been sold and bought a number of times, always vulnerable to the fluctuations of the local economy. Today, the hotel is owned by Hyatt Hotels Corporation but continues to use the name of its overly optimistic builder. 

I. Can't. Keep. Going.

The hotel’s location at the corner of 6th Street and Brazos Street places it very nearly at the center of Austin’s music scene. As much as it might have been fun to go exploring, we’re not able to find the energy for it and choose to seek out the Driskill bar instead. Like the rest of the hotel, the bar is beautifully decorated, but apparently also a very popular place. We’re fortunate to find a table, where we spend the rest of the evening. 

Assessments

The evening meal is quite satisfactory, although not as exceptional as I might have expected from a hotel of this caliber. The live music is very good, but so loud that it’s difficult to carry on a conversation. That really isn’t a criticism of the hotel, since loud music seems to be common everywhere you go. The hotel itself is absolutely stunning and everything I hoped for.

The next morning sees us arriving at the hotel’s stylish and colorful cafe early in the morning. We have a good breakfast and then set off. Before arriving at home, we have a garden to visit and a much anticipated visit to one more town.

 

Zilker Botanical Garden

Zilker Botanical Garden

Some History, Some Views, and Then It's Time to Go Underground

Some History, Some Views, and Then It's Time to Go Underground