TEXAS HILL COUNTRY: WILDFLOWERS & CULTURE 30 MAR-7 APR, 2021

TEXAS HILL COUNTRY: WILDFLOWERS & CULTURE ROADTRIP
30 MAR-7 APR, & 7-15 APR, 2021

with Jeremy Woodhouse

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Often, when I show pictures of the Hill Country to people, their response is, "is that in Texas?" Yes, for a couple of months in the spring each year central Texas is carpeted with wildflowers, first with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush, progressing to more reds and yellows as spring soldiers on.

The proliferation of flowers is somewhat dependent on rains during the previous fall so we can never really know how it is going to be.

The best thing is that it is fun to find them.


Itinerary 

Pre-tour: Arrive in Austin

Make you way to the Best Western Plus Austin Airport. We will meet in the lobby at 6PM to talk about the next week’s travel plans.


Day 1: Austin | Marble Falls (65miles) 
After breakfast we leave the Best Western and head towards Marble Falls, our base for the next 4 nights. On the way we will stop off at the Texas Hill Country Olive Company where we will visit the olive orchards and participate in an olive oil tasting ($10pp). Following our tour we will then eat lunch at the Bistro.

After lunch we will head to Marble Falls and after checking in at the hotel, we will head out and photograph wildflowers on country roads until sunset.

Off Highway 281, next to the banks of the Colorado River. Falls on the Colorado Museum of the Arts, and Lake Marble Falls are within seven minutes. A 20-minute drive will take you to Highland Lakes Squadron-CAF and the Spicewood Vineyards. Start your day with our hot breakfast – it's free, just like our WiFi.

Day 2-4: Marble Falls
Using Marble Falls as our base we will explore the backroads in search of the best stands of wildflowers. As there is no way of predicting where they will be we will rely on local knowledge to find the best spots. 

Each morning we will be out for a sunrise shoot and we will explore backroads in the wildflower triangle between Marble Falls, Burnet and Llano during the day, always ending up somewhere for sunset.

During the middle of the day, if we are not up at Llano sampling the finest BBQ in the area at Cooper’s, we will return to the hotel where we will be able to download photos and have short critique sessions of your images.


Day 5: Marble Falls | Fredricksburg (105 miles)
After our sunrise shoot we depart for Fredricksburg. We will be taking backroads, eventually arriving at Willow City from where we will take the famous Willow City Loop. Following roads less travelled through Gillespie County, we will pass through Crabapple and Cherry Spring before arriving at the Hilltop Café for a late lunch. Once a derelict gas station, it is now an unpretentious roadhouse diner run by Brenda and Johnny Nicholas that is one of the hot spots in the Hill Country.

After checking in to the hotel at “Fredtown” we will rest a while and explore main street before heading north again to Enchanted Rock State Park. Here we will make the ascent (something practically any able-bodied person can do with relative ease) and be rewarded with one of the best panoramas there is of the Hill Country as the sun sets behind erratic boulders that rest upon this giant pink granite batholith.

Windcrest Inn and Suites is conveniently located near popular areas, attractions and events, including the National museum of the Pacific War. With your stay at Windcrest you will be perfectly situated to enjoy all the great activities and features of Fredericksburg, Texas.

Day 6: Fredricksburg | Comfort | Concan (106 miles)
This morning we will begin our day by taking a 20 minute walk up Cross Mountain which is on the north side of town. Reaching the sheet-metal cross at 1,915 ft above sea level you will be able to photograph a picture-perfect view of town nestled among emerald green pasture lands.

After breakfast we begin our “road trip” to Concan. Stopping first at Luckenback [in 1976, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson vaulted Luckenbach in the national spotlight with the #1 country and #25 Pop charting song "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)]. 

We carry on taking backroads to Comfort, a German town in the Hill Country whose main thoroughfare appears to have been frozen in time.

We pass through Kerrville and at Ingram we will stop off at “Stonehenge” and “Easter Island”. This 60% scale replica is built by, and on the farmland of, the late Alfred Shepperd. It represents what Stonehenge might have looked like before weather and erosion toppled some of the original in Salisbury, England. Two years after Stonehenge II was built, a pair of Easter Island moai figures were added to the site.

Heading south we will get on to one of the best drives in Texas—RR337 to Leakey on the edge of the Frio River.

A Hill Country oasis with crystal clear streams, rugged hillsides, abundant wildlife and activities for the whole family? Neal’s Lodges, which was founded in 1926, is a family owned and operated vacation hideaway on the beautiful spring-fed Frio River.

Day 7: Concan | Blanco (131 miles)
After checking out we head out towards Blanco. Passing through Utopia we head towards Vanderpool where we will be among fields of wildflowers. 

Once through Medina we will go through Bandera Pass which has twice played a role in Texas history. Spanish troops battled a band of Apaches here in 1732 and established the pass as a line of demarcation separating the two civilizations. One hundred ten years later, a small group of Texas Rangers reestablished the line by fighting off a Comanche war party twice its size at the same spot.

A brief photo-op detour to Waring to say that we have been halfway between Welfare and Comfort (both nearby Hill Country towns), and on to Sisterdale and lunch at the Sister Creek Vineyards.

Moving on to Blanco (formerly the county seat which it lost to Johnson City in 1891) we will have our last evening of photographing wildflowers in and around Blanco State Park. If time permits, we will do a blue hour shoot at the stately Courthouse on the square—Christmas lights now adorn the old abandoned building year-round.

The Best Western Plus Blanco Luxury Inn Hotel is conveniently close to a multitude of venues with 30 Wineries, 5 Distilleries and 5 Brewing Company's to choose from. We are extremely close to Vaaler Creek Golf Club and some incredible outdoor adventures at Blanco State Park as well as awesome biking routes with challenging hill climbs.

Day 8: Blanco | Austin (53 miles)
After a sunrise shoot we will check out by mid-morning when we head back to Austin Bergstrom Airport. We should be there by 12:00.

END OF TOUR


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The Sullivan's Backyard


Arrival, Departure

​Arrival & Meeting Place 
We will meet at the Best Western Plus Austin Airport on 29 March, 2021 at 6PM to discuss the upcoming week's travel.

Transport
I will be providing group transport. We will use a 12-seater van which will give you plenty of room for camera equipment and luggage. You will be required to wear a mask in the van.
If you prefer, you may follow along in your own car.

Everyone will be required to show a Negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before the trip starts. Also, see Covid-19 precautions in the right column.

Departure
You will be dropped off at the Austin Bergstrom International Airport

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    Weather 

    The annual BestPlaces Comfort Index for Marble Falls is 7.3 (10=best), which means it is more comfortable than most places in Texas. March, April & October are the most pleasant months in Marble Falls.

    • Daily high temperatures increase by 6°F, from 77°F to 83°F, rarely falling below 66°F or exceeding 90°F.
    • Daily low temperatures increase by 8°F, from 56°F to 64°F, rarely falling below 44°F or exceeding 72°F.

    TRIP 1 & 2: FULL
    WAITING LIST

    TOUR COST: $1,800
    DEPOSIT: $500
    Only 6 participants*

    If you would like to share a room I will try and match you up with another participant

    *Everyone will be required to show a Negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before arriving in Austin.


    Tour Price Includes

    • Ground Transportation in a 12-seater van  with local photographer/guide for 8 days
    • Transfer back to Austin Bergstrom Airport at the end of the tour
    • Parks entry fees

    Tour Price Excludes

    • Tour accommodation
      (you will need to make your own reservations once the tour is full—see the contacts for the properties below)
    • Meals & Alcohol
    • Travel insurance
    • Arrival/departure flights

    Hotels for
    Texas Hill Country: Wildflowers & Culture Roadtrip

    You are responsible for booking your own hotel room. The links to each hotel, along with the dates is below. The process is quick and easy.

    Each room can accommodate 2 people so if you would like to share a room, please make arrangements with your roommate.

    Tour 1, 30 Mar-7 Apr, 2021

    30 Mar-31 Mar (1 night)
    Best Western Plus Austin Airport
    (512) 386-5455

    31 Mar- 4 Apr (4 nights)
    Hampton Inn Marble Falls on the Lake
    (830) 798-1895 (press "0" to speak to staff)

    4 Apr-5 Apr (1 night)
    Windcrest Inn & Suites, Fredricksburg
    (830) 997-9811

    5 Apr-6 Apr (1 night)
    Neal’s Lodges, Concan
    (830) 232-6118

    6 Apr-7 Apr (1 night)
    Best Western Plus Blanco Luxury Inn & Suites
    (830) 833-5697

    Tour 2, Apr 7-15, 2021

    7 Apr-8 Apr (1 night)
    Best Western Plus Austin Airport
    (512) 386-5455

    8 Apr- 12 Apr (4 nights)
    Hampton Inn Marble Falls on the Lake
    (830) 798-1895 (press "0" to speak to staff)

    12 Apr-13 Apr (1 night)
    Windcrest Inn & Suites, Fredricksburg
    (830) 997-9811

    13 Apr-14 Apr (1 night)
    Neal’s Lodges, Concan
    (830) 232-6118

    14 Apr-15 Apr (1 night)
    Best Western Plus Blanco Luxury Inn & Suites
    (830) 833-5697


    Paying by check

    If you would like to pay your deposit and/or balance with a check, please make the check payable to: Pixelchrome, Inc and mail it to:

    Nicole Woodhouse
    Pixelchrome, Inc, 
    605 Rouen Drive, 
    McKinney TX 75072

    Paying by Wire Transfer

    If you would like to pay by Wire Transfer please contact nicole@pixelchrome.com for bank account details.


    Dress for the Weather

    Cool mornings may require a fleece and long pants. As the day progresses temperatures will warm up and be very pleasant.

    Bring a waterproof shell—you don't want to be caught in one of our famous thunderstorms.


    Equipment Checklist

    • Bring you own laptop computer and storage media
    • Camera body(s)
    • Tripod
    • Lenses, 16-35mm, 24-70mm zoom and 70-200mm zoom or similar lenses are very good
    • A macro lens (100mm or 180mm if you have one). If not bring a set of extension tubes which will help you take macro images
    • Good quality polarizing filter
    • Light bag for easy hiking with camera bodies and accessories
    • Cleaning kit for cameras and lenses
    • Rain/dust covers for cameras and lenses
    • Charger for batteries
    • Spare batteries
    • Spare Memory cards
    • Memory card reader
    • USB key to exchange images

    Covid-19 Precautions

    • Instructors will wear masks while teaching at close range
    • Clients are encouraged to wear masks whenever they are at close range
    • Where possible, we will practice social distancing. Tripods 6ft apart.
    • You are encouraged to wash hands frequently and use hand sanitiser. Bring a cloth to wipe down your tripod each day. This will serve 2 purposes. Get rid of any nasty bacteria and remove salt from the ocean spray.

    Covid-19 Travel Hacks from Kayak.com

    Tips for Flying during Covid-19
    https://www.kayak.com/news/flying-during-covid-19/

    Tips for staying in a hotel during Covid-19
    https://www.kayak.com/news/covid-19-hotel-tips/

    What to know about COVID-19 and rental cars
    https://www.kayak.com/c/coronavirus-travel/cars/


    1593663 Orig

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