Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bluebonnets Blooming in December and January in the Highland Lakes Area?

Yes, some Bluebonnets are already blooming in the Highland Lakes of central Texas. There are blooms on 3 Bluebonnet plants near our home on Bluebonnet Hill in Kingsland, Texas and it is only January 1, 2009. We noticed the first 2 blooms on two plants on December 30, 2008 and now a third Bluebonnet is sending up 2 blooms.

In 2008 the first blooms that were noticed were on February 17th near our house, and that was about a month earlier than normal. KVUE news in Austin reported the first Bluebonnet sighting to be on February 19, 2008, 2 days after our blooms.

We are hoping that Bluebonnets blooming in December and January are a sign that we will have a nice mild winter. The last two winters were really nice.

Isn't it great living in central Texas?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Are we going to have another great winter in the Highland Lakes area of central Texas?

The 2005-2006 winter in the Highland Lakes area was the best winter I have ever experienced anywhere in my life, and I have seen a lot of winters. The weather was absolutely beautiful!

I would have to say that last winter in the Highland Lakes was better than all eleven winters that I spent in San Diego and the 3 winters I spent in Orange County, California, and this year is looking a lot like last year. The Highland Lakes area of central Texas is farther south than most people are aware of, even farther south than San Diego.

Winters in the Highland Lakes area of Texas are usually very nice. If it does get cold, it doesn't get too cold, and usually a south wind comes along a day or two later to warm the area back up again.

The weather all year long in the Highland Lakes area is controlled by the direction of the wind. The wind can come from any direction but it is usually a north or northwest wind that cools the area, and a south or southwest wind that warms the area. In the winter a southern breeze can turn the area almost into a paradise, and a northern wind can make things very chilly.

In the summer a southern breeze can put the temperature over 100 degrees, and it usually does about 10 days each summer. A northern breeze in the summer is very welcome and makes the area quite enjoyable.

Winter Texans are people who come from the north to spend the winter in Texas for the mild winter climate. They can play golf and go fishing in the winter in central Texas. There is no snow shoveling to be done in the Highland Lakes area, so they leave their shovels at home. The area gets a light snow about once every 4 to 6 years and then it quickly melts. In the 19 years I have been living in the area, I have only seen snow on the ground 3 or 4 times. It was only about 1/2 inch of snow each time, and it quickly melted.

My wife, who is a plant lover, has had roses even in December, and I have mowed the lawn in January. She loves the winter climate here as much as I do.

To see the climate information for the Highland Lakes area of central Texas, take a look at this web page:

For more information on the Highland Lakes area of Central Texas, look at this web page:

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Now is the perfect time to spend a weekend at a lake house in the Highland Lakes area.

Yes, now is one of the best times of the year to spend a weekend at a lake house in the Highland Lakes area.

The water is warm enough for swimming, and the climate is perfect for boating and fishing. Spring and fall are perfect times to enjoy the lakes. The lakes are not as crowded, and a lot of the lake houses have cheaper rent during the off season in the Highland Lakes area.

Think about spending the holidays at a lake house in the Highland Lakes area. Winter holidays can also be a lot of fun at a lake house. Lake houses are perfect for family reunions any time of the year. They are also a great place for friends to reconnect while enjoying the lake activities.

To see the availability of lake houses, go to one of these web pages:

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The drought hasn't affected Lake LBJ, Inks Lake, Lake Marble Falls or Lake Austin

There is a lot of talk about the drought that we have been going through the past 18 months and how that affects the lake levels.

As you probably know, Lake LBJ, Inks Lake, Lake Marble Falls and Lake Austin are normally constant level lakes. LCRA does not like to have us say that they are "Constant Level" lakes because during a flood, the levels temporarily rise. LCRA allows us to call them "Normally Constant Level" lakes for that reason.

Because the four lakes mentioned above are normally constant level lakes, there is almost always good boating, waterskiing and jet skiing unless there is a flood, which is rare.

The normally constant level lakes are safer because a sand bar or other obstuction under the water is less likely to appear out of nowhere if the lake level is always the same.

Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis have a fluctuating level of water, depending on the recent rainfalls. They are currently down right now and some hazards while boating need to be watched very closely.

People who live on the normally constant level lakes can have permanent boat docks and bulkheads along the shore line. The owners of homes on the lakes that have a fluctuating level need to have floating boat docks that can rise and fall with the level of the lake.

Lake Travis home owners who are in low lying areas can also have a flooding problem. Several years ago a lot of homes flooded on Lake Travis when a storm dropped a lot more rain than expected up in the watershed. The flood gates were opened on Buchanan Dam and the other dams down the Colorado River chain of lakes. They could not release the water quickly enough to stop the flooding of some of the low lying homes around Lake Travis.

Lake Buchanan home owners have not had the flooding problem even though a lot of the homes are only a few feet above the water level on Lake Buchanan. Usually the only negative of the water fluctuating on Lake Buchanan is when the water level falls and their homes get farther from the water. A lot of the homes have sandy beaches and the beach just gets wider and wider as the water level drops.

We hope that soon this drought will be over and we will be back to normal. A good rain can fill up the Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis in a couple of days.

For more information on the Highland Lakes, go to this web page:

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Great Meals at the Local Restaurants in the Highland Lakes Area

Sometimes people wonder how the food will be in the local cafes when they are planning their vistit to the Highland Lakes area. They are usually very pleasantly surprised. There are actually award winning cafes in the area.

The Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls is the most famous restaurant in this area. Highways Magazine selected them for the best breakfast in Texas and in the top ten restaurants overall in Texas. They have also won other awards and have been written up in several magazines and newspapers.

Storm's Restaurant was selected for having the best hamburger in the Hill Country area by the Chronicle Newspaper in Austin. They also have great catfish dinners and other great meals.

Russo's Texitally Cafe has great Italian food with a twist, "Texas fare with and Italian Flair." They have a very creative menu and delicious meals. Diners there also get to enjoy a million-dollar view from the restaurant.

There are several good Mexican restaurants in the Highland Lakes area to choose from. Be sure to try the breakfast taco at Super Taco in Marble Falls. They serve their popular breakfast tacos all day.

The two Chinese restaurants in Marble Falls both have great Chinese meals.

And since this is Texas, we know there has to be several outstanding barbeque places. Cooper's BBQ in Llano has won awards and is the most famous BBQ restaurant in the area. Big John's BBQ and Steak House, at the intersection of Hwys 29 and 1431 near Lake Buchanan, is also very popular with locals and tourists alike.

A lot of other cafes in the area offer good old home cooked meals, too. You will want to try the chicken fried steaks and catfish dinners.

You will find a nice variety of meals and places to eat in the Highland Lakes area.

For more information on dining in the Highland Lakes area, go to this web page:

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Wildlife in the Highland Lakes Area

When people think of the wildlife in the Highland Lakes area, the first thing that usually comes to mind would be the deer. I have read that there are an estimated 5 million deer in Texas.

Llano County is the Deer Capital of Texas and we have plenty of deer here. On one evening drive through Llano County the four people in our car spotted over 120 deer during the 1 hour drive. That was an unusually high number of deer that evening.

We have a lot of other wildlife in our area. Some of the most interesting and unusual creatures are the armadillos. It seems like we used to have a lot more armadillos than we do now. I have spotted very few live armadillos in the past few years. About 10 years ago I counted 11 armadillos along side the road on a trip to Fredericksburg and back.

Another unusual animal is the ringtail. When I mention ringtails to people, they usually ask, "You mean raccoons?" No, they are not raccoons, but they do have a tail that is striped like a raccoon. They have a bodies similar to a squirrel but a little larger. Their heads look like miniature foxes' heads with pointed ears. Ringtails are nocturnal so they are seldom seen.

While watching TV about 9:00 one night we heard a bumping sound against the outside of the window, over and over. I went outside to discover a ringtail jumping against the window, catching bugs that were attracted to the light in the window. I did manage to get a picture of the ringtail one night. The picture is on the web site at

I also have spotted 3 different kinds of foxes in our area: red fox, grey fox and a kit fox. It seems that there are plenty of foxes in the Highland Lakes area.

There are also plenty of raccoons, opposums, 3 kinds of squirrels (red, grey and black), and even porcupines. I have never seen a live porcupine but have spotted a couple of porcupines on the roadside that had been hit by cars.

We even had a bear in the area several years ago. The Austin newspaper said that it probably came up from Mexico and was spotted as it went through our area.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Birdwatching in the Highland Lakes Area

We have plenty of birds in the Highland Lakes area of central Texas. A lot of birds also migrate through our area during the fall and spring months.

Members of the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society take part in the Annual Christmas Bird Count and identify 100 to 120 species each year. It is part of the National Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count.

One spring, I was taking a video tape of a flock of over 100 white birds circling overhead, thinking that they were a large flock of seagulls. When I looked at the movie on our TV, I was surprised to learn that they were actually white pelicans that were migrating to the north for the summer.

On another occassion, I saw 6 giant white birds with black wing tips taking off from the edge of Lake Buchanan. Their wing strokes were very slow and deliberate as they were slowly rising in circles, one behind the other, and slowly gaining altitude. I am sure they were Whooping Cranes migrating from the gulf through our area that spring.

We have also spotted flocks of snow geese, Canadian geese, cranes and lots of ducks as they migrate through the area. One spring we also saw some vacant lots that were full of hundreds of robins, waiting for it to warm up enough up north so they could make their trip.

The eagle family that nests through the winter on Hwy 29 east of Llano is starting to become famous now. This is their second hatching in that nest. Birdwatchers gather along the highway taking photos of the eagle family about 100 yards off of the highway.

The rare painted buntings are also an interesting and beautiful bird. They remind us of small parrots with their bright colors.

Birds that are common to our area year-round are: wild turkeys, great blue herons, several types of ducks, seagulls, scissor-tail flycatchers, bobwhite quail, kingfisher, hawks, doves, painted buntings, cardinals, blue jays, turkey buzzards, roadrunners, sparrows, chicadees, titmouse, mocking birds, and more.

To see more information on birds in the Highland Lakes area, you can go to this web site:


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Live at the lakes and drive to work in Austin?

Every once in a while I receive an email from someone who would like to live in our area and asks what the job situation here is. It is difficult finding a job that pays as well here as in Austin, and good jobs here are scarce.

A few years ago I was living and working in Austin. One of my friends at work lived in Llano and drove to work at the office in Austin each day. One day I asked him how he liked the drive to and from work each day. His comment was that he really enjoyed the drive. That response really surprised me. I had expected him to say that he really hated the drive.

I started thinking about my 18 mile drive to work through all the heavy traffic and stop lights, and decided that maybe his drive was longer but far more pleasant than mine was. I had been wanting to move back to Horseshoe Bay, and I decided that I would look for a home in Horseshoe Bay and drive to Austin to work each day.

We did find a place in Horseshoe Bay, and I started driving to Austin to work. I saw what my friend meant about the drive being enjoyable. I really did enjoy the drive. It took exactly an hour to drive the 53 miles each way, but it was a very pretty drive through the hills. I drove to work in Austin for 3 1/2 years. From time to time I miss that pretty drive that I took daily. It is one of the prettiest drives in Texas.

If you would like to find out about living out at the lakes and driving to work in Austin, contact one of the realtors on this web site:

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Internet Access in the Highland Lakes Area

People ask from time to time if we have Internet access in our area of the Highland Lakes area.

When it comes to Internet access, we are well covered. There are four local companies that provide dialup service using the phone lines and four companies that provide high speed service.

The local cable TV company provides high speed Internet access throught their cable lines in some areas, and the other three companies provide line-of-sight high speed with the use of antennas in some areas. You would need to be in an area where your antenna would be able to see one of their antennas.

If you have a telelphone at your location, you can get 56K dialup service from one of the four local dialup companies without paying long distance phone bills for the service.

Usually AOL and the other nationwide companies require a long distance phone call to connect to their service from our area.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Lake Rental Cabins and Lakes Houses are a lot of fun!

Have you ever stayed in a lake rental cabin or a lake house? One of the most relaxing ways to get away from the rat race and the problems of the city is to come out to the lakes, and unwind in your own private lake rental cabin or lake house rental. For a few days you can own a piece of this wonderful way of life, and then go back home completely renewed, taking some beautiful memories with you.

Lake rental houses are perfect for small family reunions or groups of friends. Some of the lake houses sleep up to 10 to 18 people, which is perfect for getting back together with brothers and sisters and other family members. The lake houses are also perfect for 2 or three couples who are friends who want to spend some quality, fun time together.

The lake rental cabins can be the perfect place to put romance back into your marriage. Being surrounded by nature, taking moonlit walks by the lake, and having your own getaway cabin creates memorable, romantic moments.

For sports lovers, both the lake houses and cabins can provide you with plenty of activity. You can have plenty of boating, fishing, waterskiing, jet skiing, swimming and more. You can have an exciting, action packed weekend or vacation that you will fondly remember for many years to come.

Staying in the cabins and lake houses also provides the closeness that allows bonding opportunities with children and grandchildren. You will spend a lot of quality time together. The children will grow up remembering the great times they had at the lake with their parents and grandparents. It will be one vacation the children will remember the rest of their lives.

Go to these web pages for pictures and information on cabin rentals and lake houses:

Go to the web page below for pictures of Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake and Lake LBJ:


Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Baby Fawns are Coming Out to Play

This is the time of year in the Highland Lakes area when the new, young fawns are coming out into the open for the first time. Their mothers keep the fawns hidden for the first couple of months, then the fawns start coming out where we can see them. Young, spotted fawns are so cute when they are first exploring the world around them. They love to run, jump and play; and they can run really fast!

One of the nice things about living in the Highland Lakes area is the wildlife, and in particular the deer. Deer are such pretty creatures with their big, innocent eyes, and their longs ears and white tails. They are so much fun to watch.

Some neighborhoods in the Highland Lakes area have tame deer wandering around the neighbors' yards and napping on the lawns. Having deer in the neighborhood adds so much enjoyment to living in the Highland Lakes area.

To see a slide show of deer photos, go to this web page:

For photos of wildlife in the Highland Lakes area, go to this web page:


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Upcoming Events in the Highland Lakes Area

If you are thinking of a vacation or weekend in the Highland Lakes area, June is a perfect month for it. The weather is pretty good and there are a lot of things to do.

The Highland Lakes area is well known for its boating, fishing, water skiing, jetskiing, swimming and sunbathing. Visitors also enjoy shopping at the local towns for antiques, gifts, artwork, clothing and jewelry. They also enjoy visiting the museums in the local towns. Scenic drives around the lakes and nature photography are always fun, too.

Eating some good old home cooked meals in the local restaurants seems to be another favorite with visitors to our area. You can see more about the restaurants at:

You can do most of that year-round here. But this time of year we still have wildflowers, too.

Here are some events coming up in June:

June 9 - 11.....Burnet.....Texas Indian Hobbyists Association Powwow
June 11.....Llano.....Llano County Opry: Fiddlin Frenchie
June 24 & 25.....Marble Falls.....Music Festival

You can see more upcoming events throughout the year at this web page:


Monday, June 06, 2005

We sure can't complain about the weather lately....

It looks like summer is just around the corner in the Highland Lakes area. Even though summer is officially two weeks away, we are having more days in the 90s, and we actually may have hit 100 one day already.

We had a great fall season. Winter was very mild, and spring was pretty good, so we can hope that this spell of good weather continues throughout the summer. We really have been having pleasant weather, with an occassional rain and enough clouds to keep the temperatures down quite a bit.

The Highland Lakes area has better weather than most parts of the country year-round. Our winters are mild and very short, and our springs and falls are beautiful. Summers can be hot! But it is usually hot in most of the rest of the country during those months, too.

For a look at what the climate is like in the Highland Lakes area, go to

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Wildflowers are still blooming in the Highland Lakes Area

The bluebonnets are long gone but there are still plenty of wildflowers in the Texas Hill Country to enjoy. There are still fields of several types of beautiful yellow flowers. This year there are far more yellow flowers of several types than there were bluebonnets and Texas paint brush. Last year the wildflowers were pretty up to mid July in the Highland Lakes area.

It was a below average year for the bluebonnets this year, but the yellow flowers seem to be as good as ever.

If you get out of your car and closely explore the roadside, you can see very pretty smaller flowers that you would miss by just driving by. Be sure to bring your camera.

On the wildflower page of the Highland Lakes Web page there are photos of over 45 types of wildflowers that were taken in the Highland Lakes area the past couple of years.

If you have wildflower photos you would like to share, you can contact the Highland Lakes Web Page at

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The hills are alive with the sounds!

The Texas Hill Country has come alive with over 20,000 motorcycles touring the area this weekend. The annual Republic of Texas Biker Rally is being held in Austin and the bikers are taking advantage of the beautiful scenery of the Texas Hill Country by touring the winding roads around the Highland Lakes.

One of their favorite stops is the "World Famous" Blue Bonnet Cafe in Marble Falls ( ). This restaurant has been written up in several magazines, and has been rated as having the best breakfast in Texas, and is rated in the top 10 restaurants in Texas overall. They have been serving up their delicious home-cooked meals for over 75 years now. Many famous people have eaten there including; President Bush, Governor Perry, Willie Nelson, etc. This weekend you will see a lot of beautiful motorcycles parked in their parking lot.

The wildflowers are still in bloom along the backroads of the Highland Lakes which will make the touring for the bikers even more enjoyable.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Are California's Houses Worth So Much More than Ours?

Prices of houses are soaring in California and a few other parts of the country while our houses here in Texas have shown only moderate increases. Are the houses in California really worth 2 to 3 times what Texas houses are worth?

A couple from Sacramento, California came to Horseshoe Bay last year. They could not believe the bargain prices on homes here compared to their prices. They had bought their home for about $35,000 25 years ago, and they said last May that it was worth about $330,000.

Then a few months later they emailed and said the value had gone up to $375,000. A while later they said the house was increasing $275 a day, according to the housing sales in their area. Today the value on the home is about $425,000, and is still rising $275 a day. Their home is a 3/2/2 home with a nice swimming pool. It is comparable to a $165,000 to $180,000 home in Austin.

The climate in Sacramento is very similar to ours, temperature wise. It is usually 2 or 3 degrees warmer here in both summer and winter. They get no rain for about 5 months in the summer, and have cooler nights in the summer. They have more windy and rainy days in the winter than we do.

What does Sacramento have that we don't have? Right now, they have more people speculating in houses, and maybe more greed and panic buying there.

These Californians are now in the process of buying a home in Horseshoe Bay. They will probably sell their home for more than 2 1/2 times what they are paying for their home in Horseshoe Bay. They will enjoy Horseshoe Bay much more than Sacramento. They will love it here in the Highland Lakes area with the lakes, golf courses and the deer wandering around the neighborhood!

To see real estate prices in the Highland Lakes area, go to: