Saturday, April 12, 2003

MTF Lunch - Bastrop, TX

I wanted to make a wildflower run sometime this spring and when Steve mentioned having lunch in Bastrop at The Yacht Club I decided that weekend was as good as any. I planned to ride down to Austin a day early to take care of some business and stay the night at my sister's.

I left around 9am Friday morning. The weather forecast called for absolutely gorgeous and cooperative weather the entire weekend. Every once in a while the weatherguessers are right, but I could have predicted the weather that weekend myself. High pressure over the entire Texas region in April means sunny skies and moderate temperatures. I decided to make a b-line to Austin so I'd have enough time to take care of what little business I needed to attend to during regular business hours. But that didn't mean I had to pass up any picture opportunities along the way.

These pictures were taken just off of I-35E two miles north of Carl's Corner.

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I almost didn't stop since I was so close to home. I thought for sure I would see bigger and better flower patches in the hill country. In retrospect, I'm glad I stopped because the wildflowers and picture opportunities weren't as plentiful as I had hoped.

I'm giving up my apartment when I hit the road in May for a spell, but I still need an address and decided that a PO Box in Austin is the right thing to do. I'll ask my sister to check it every now and then, but I don't think I'll tell her it's practically at floor level.

I decided to run FM 1431 on the north shore of Lake Travis. 1431 starts a little north of Austin on US 183 in Cedar Park and heads west all the way through Marble Falls. Austin has grown quite a bit and 1431 is relatively crowded until after Jonestown. There's also quite a bit of construction on 183 north of Oak Knoll. Somewhere after Lago Vista 1431 becomes a spectacular twisty two-lane farm road through the Texas hill country. It's important to note that even in the midday sun I saw a couple of deer along the way. As I was coming up a hill and rounding a corner I saw a deer to my left juking to the right, then the left in an effort to fake out the wind. Simply amazing. These damn things are totally unpredictable.

Once in Marble Falls I took a few minutes to look over the map. I wanted to head out toward Fredericksburg and the Enchanted Rock area. Just a little south of Marble Falls on US 281 is FM 1323 which turned out to be a really nice road that goes all the way to Willow City and the Willow City Loop. I heard about the abundance of wildflowers along the Willow City Loop last year and thought I should head in that direction. Finding the loop wasn't difficult at all. It begins in Willow City along 1323 and runs in a northerly direction to FM 16 just a couple of miles south of Ranch Road 965.

There was quite a bit of road traffic on the loop for a Friday afternoon. The road itself is a typical one and half lane tar road that winds up, down and through the hills and valleys of the hill country around Willow City. There were some nice fields of flowers and areas along the road, but just too damn many people for me to care to stop. I found a ridge that looked down on the valley and took a few pics.

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When traveling north, the loop ends on FM 16. I headed north to Ranch Road 965 which takes me directly to Enchanted Rock. The rock is a magical place and hiking the rocks is an awesome experience. Try it at night with a buzz and a flashlight. There aren't too many places from the road to take a good pic and I didn't have time to hike up the rock so paying to get in the park didn't seem worth the coinage.

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After the rock I continued south on 965 into Fredericksburg where I hooked up with US 290 east all the way into Austin. On the east side of Fredericksburg I had some intense hunger pangs. I wasn't going to stop unless I saw a BBQ place. Yes. I chose BBQ for a reason. As luck would have it, I saw Grapevine BBQ. You pick the meat from the pit, then get your fixins... I had some baby back ribs and apple cobbler and it was all damn good grub.

I woke up early the next morning and headed out in a south easterly direction. I found some good county roads between Elgin and Bastrop, but still got to Bastrop a little earlier than I planned. As luck would have it though, I spotted two other riders, Mike and Rick, doing the same thing I was doing - traveling around in circles trying to find the damn Yacht Club! We hooked up, drove around for a spell and finally found the place after asking a local where the place was located.

We hanged around for a while as people showed up, regularly flagging another rider down and preventing another futile search. Quite a few familiar faces showed up as well as some pleasant, new faces. As usual, I'm always pleasantly surprised when I meet new folks from the MTF because it's a real crap shoot when you're just out meeting new folks. The MTF seems to draw a well-diversed crowd of folks who like to laugh, talk and chat about the road and anything motorcycles.

The Yacht Club serves up some really good grub. I had the bacon double charburger and it was nice, big and tasty. These are the only two pics from the lunch itself. I was a real slacker with the camera at lunch.

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After lunch a few of us followed Ron through some really nice roads in his neck of the woods. One such road was FM 390 from Burton to Independence which is the birthplace of Baylor University. I didn't realize that until we stopped for a break at the original site of Baylor University. There are still some old buildings there as well as some good wildflowers. George insisted he take a picture of me in the wildflowers. I told him the camera has worked flawlessly for over a year and I'd rather not take that kind of chance. I eventually relented, but decided if the camera was going to break, I may as well take a picture of the person who broke it so I took a quick snap of him too.

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After this stop, folks started peeling off and heading for home. I went through Navasota and rode FM 3090 north to FM 39. 3090 is a nice road in the region and 39 has few towns and a 70 MPH speed limit which makes it a nice alternative to I-45.

Thanks to Steve for suggesting the Yacht Club in Bastrop and thanks to Ron for dragging a few of us down some of his roads. All in all, it was a day filled with good roads, good food and good friends.

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