Don’t get me started on Dallas’ traffic. Don’t get me started on Austin’s. Actually, don’t get me started on a lot of things about Austin.
And… I could probably get going on San Antonio, and Houston, and, well, virtually every Texas city over 100,000 people… and probably 10,000 too.
However, before I continue, do know that if you’re happy in any of these places, good. Truly. It’s often not easy to find happiness. Finding it is wisdom. There are many people happier and wiser and holier than me in Houston or New York. Where you live is by no means the most defining aspect of your character. Not at all. So, please, don’t think I’m being contemptuous to you, your family, your life.
Now, I mention why I can get going on Texas cities – and other things about Texas for sure – to express that I’m not partial to Texas to the point where my words expressing genuine and warranted partiality should be discounted. Got that?
If not, let me say the Texas Hill Country – especially around Enchanted Rock State Park – is one heckuva beautiful place.
And I’ve seen some beautiful places. I’ve been in Northern Arizona the past almost-8 years. I’ve seen many National Parks, Monuments and Forests out West. The search for beauty has been a priority in my life. I’m not saying I’ve lived wisely for this. I’m not saying I’ve lived better than anyone else for this. I’m not saying anything other than I feel confident and qualified to say with conviction as to what I think a beautiful place is.
And I’m telling you Enchanted Rock State Park is a beautiful freakin’ place. Why?
Well, allow me to be nerdy and technical for a moment. Allow me to explain, first, that though most of the Hill Country consists of cedar-choked limestone hills (though they were not always cedar-choked), there’s another part with pink granite rising up from beneath the ground. This geologically unique area is called the Llano Uplift, and Enchanted Rock is the area’s most iconic upswelling of Texas’ pink granite. It’s a 425 foot-tall dome (1) rising above the headwaters of Big Sandy Creek in Texas’ Llano River basin, about 18 miles north of Fredericksburg.
Across the 5000-square miles of the Llano Uplift (2) there are many outcroppings of granite. They’re scattered amid prickly pears, cedars and oaks. Some outcroppings are flat. Some are small hills. Some are Colorado-Plateau-looking formations, though much smaller. Regardless, no place is better to see the swirl of colors and big sky of Texas granite country than atop Enchanted Rock – especially at sunset.
Now, of course, there are outcroppings of granite all across the United States. There are also prickly pears and oaks across the Southwest. There are actually more photogenic horizons in many places too. So what’s the big deal about this part of Texas really?
Good question. Maybe here my words will fail me. Maybe I am too partial. But I don’t think so. That beauty is more than a painting.
It’s the low population of the Hill Country allowing those hills to be seen in their more natural state for hundreds of highway miles.
It’s the Gulf of Mexico’s humidity saturating the sky white and adding a greenery to the land more permanent than Arizona wet seasons do. It’s the invigoration to the body that that humidity can render as well.
It’s also that Hill Country vibe of people being a little more real, laid-back and libertarian.
But, again, maybe my words fail me. Someone from California or New York could say, “What’s the big deal about this part of Texas really” They could argue their lands have better American beauty – and what could I say to such subjectivity?
Again, good question.
Nonetheless, hiking the other day, and wincing as the sun soaked my shirt with sweat, and feeling nothing but that invigoration to continue for hours, with pure and genuine gratitude in my heart, well, I’ll just say I’ve not felt so good under the sun out West in quite a while (though Texas, to me, is not really the West… it’s really its own thing).
And I just felt like sharing that.
Great hearing your voice, it has been way too long. The Enchanted Rock area is one of the many Hill Country gems. Keep writing, I enjoy living vicariously through your adventures.
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