En Route With Bekah: Seeing Stars in Texas Hill Country
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Tuesday, December 29, 2015
By Bekah Wright
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Photo by Kevin Vandivier Photography

 

It was late evening when I arrived at Canyon of the Eagles, A Calibre Resort in Burnet, Texas. Stars were shining brightly with a night sky unmuddied by ambient city lighting. Still, when I was escorted to my board-and-batten cabin, a flashlight was needed. Once settled in, the desire to stare at all those stars was postponed. Exhausted from travel, I snuggled under the down comforter with nothing on my mind other than sleep.

 

Photo by Bekah Wright

 

Sunlight greeted me in the morning. Plumping the pillows up for a stretch, I found myself staring out a set of windows straight onto Lake Buchanan. My yawn flipped into a sigh over the unexpected beauty. There’d been no clue the night before that such a vision was just steps away from where I slumbered. What other surprises might be right around the corner?

 

Image from Canyon of the Eagles Resort's Facebook page



A nature walk could best be described as my ramble to breakfast. There’s lots of ground to be covered, 940-acres to be exact, within this Calibre Resort/nature reserve. My inner compass was set for The Overlook Restaurant.

One thing I had spotted the night before was a helipad used by folks with reservations at this out-of-the-way dining venue. I soon discovered why, as dishes like eggs nestled in a spider web of potatoes erupted from the kitchen. Those at the table who had various food allergies also felt right at home. Vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian — the chef didn’t bat an eye, instead delivering gourmand cuisine rather than some on-the-fly substitute.

 


Image from Canyon of the Eagles Resort's Facebook page
 

Post-breakfast, there were myriad Canyon of the Eagles activities to partake in. Unfortunately, the drought had rendered water activities such as kayaking, sailing, fishing and paddle-boating off-limits. Reptiles not being my thing, I bypassed the midday Shake, Rattle & Coil presentation in lieu of geo-caching.

GPS in hand, I ventured onto the 14 miles of trails, scouting for treasures left behind by former guests. A mental note was made to catch other activities, like a seasonal Screech Owl program held in the amphitheater (yes, the idea of dissecting owl scat thrills me), movie screenings and live music before my stay concluded.


Photo by Bekah Wright

 

At the suggestion of the resort, several off-site activities ripe with Hill Country ambience were added to my list.

Saying howdy to the locals was done on Burnet’s Main Street.

A statue in the town square foretold of bluebonnets, something the landscape is lush with mid-March through April.

Lunch at Tea-Licious resulted in a bit of shopping. Who could resist handmade items from Burnet residents? Or gourmet sweet pickles, for that matter.

 


Photo by Bekah Wright
 

How best to follow up this Texas hospitality? There are several Premium Adventures on tap through Canyon of the Eagles. Highly recommended is the Vanishing Texas River Cruise on board the Texas Eagle II.

Two- and four-hour cruises are available via the 70-foot vessel, which follows a course encompassing Lake Buchanan and Texas Colorado River Canyon.

A veritable I-Spy game commenced, for catching sight of the 900 bird species that make the area their home. Passing through this time of year are a colony of migrating American Bald Eagles. My heart leapt all four times I spotted one of these magnificent creatures.

 

Photo by Bekah Wright

 

Going underground in Burnet was done with another Premium Adventure – caving at Longhorn Cavern State Park.

Fifty-two stairs lead down to the start of the 1 ¼-mile cave tour route, which takes approximately one hour and 20 minutes.

As the tour is in one direction only, and there are no bathrooms below ground, an abbreviated, special request, 45-minute tour may be a better bet for those with young children.

 

Photo by Bekah Wright

Along the temperate, well-lit, path, a guide relayed tales of the 1932-founded park’s history, including its former use as a honkytonk on Saturday nights, followed by a quick transformation in time for Sunday morning worship services.

While some tour participants marveled over the stalactites, the ghost hunter in me relished scouting for the spectres rumored to inhabit the caverns.

Emerging from the depths, I blinked at the brightness of the setting sun. A promise I’d made to myself to spend more time under the Texas stars was born anew.

The ideal opportunity awaited back at the resort with an evening devoted to stargazing at Eagle Eye Observatory. Managed by the Austin Astronomical Society, the observatory features two, high-powered telescopes – the 16-inch Ealing “Educator” Cassegrain and 12.5-inch Newtonian.

 

Image by Keith Hajovsky from Canyon of the Eagles Resort's Facebook page

 

Bundled up, hot chocolate in hand, I gazed upwards, emitting sighs over the starry sky.

And, as corny as it sounds, while standing there I singled out a twinkling star. One that looked just right for making wishes upon.

My request: more constellation-lit nights in my future at Canyon of the Eagles.

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