The Texas Road Runners !!!!!
Road Trip Adventures, Roadside Attractions, Crazy DIY Projects, Texas Fishing, Rock Hounding and more......
Texas Hill Country 2003 Part II
Sites include visits to : Gorman Cave, Don's Rock Shop and Burnett, TX
Star Date : 10/03/2003 : The Drive down. (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for surprises.)
I couldn't take it anymore. I was already packed, so I left work early. I do not think anyone saw me leave. Besides, my job was starting to stink and I wore out my mouse again. I took the usual route, south on I-35E, then in Waco, took Hwy 6 to Hwy 84 straight to Evant. Obviously from the last trip, I knew better to stop and eat here. From Evant, I took Hwy 281 south.
I did make good time and hit Burnett with light to spare. This time, I was finally going to see that water tank pained like an Oatmeal box. So from Burnett, I took Hwy 29 east to Bertram. According to the sign, they have their Oatmeal Festival on the Labor day weekend. While in Bertram, I noticed that they too had a rock shop but, first the water tower. I finally found CR 243 and made my way to Oatmeal. The water tank was not hard to find in this big city of just a few houses.
So slightly disappointed with this roadside attraction, I made my way back to Bertram and hit the Balcones Rock Shop. There, I visited with the owners some, traded a few stories and picked up some Leopard Skin Jasper and a few agates to make cabochons out of. I finally left and returned back to Burnett. Unfortunately, I ran out of light to collect GPS coordinates for Granite around Inks Lake and also to visit Don's Rock Shop near Buchanan dam. Well, it will have to wait for tomorrow. So, I found my Holiday Inn Express, checked in and made my plans for tomorrow. Unfortunately, Monster Garage was not on TV that evening.
Star Date : 10/04/2003 : The Cave !!!!
Ok, I got up super early to head out to Bend, TX to look for fossils as described in the Gem Trails of Texas book by Brad Cross. So after breakfast and gassing up the truck again, I headed back north again on Hwy 281 to Lampasas and then took Hwy 580 west to Bend. Brad describes an area know as Flat Rock in which fossils can be found in the Smithwick Shale Formation. According to the map, this location is just off the Colorado river across from a property with a white wooden fence. Well, I found the white fence, but it was one made of pipe and I did find Flat Rock ,but it was also fenced in and gated with a no trespassing sign on it. I really did not feel like getting shot at that morning, so, I canceled my fossil hunting plans and went ahead and recorded the GPS data for the site at the gate. The coordinates are : 31° 05.390 North and 98° 31.223 West.
Time to head on in to Colorado Bend State Park, meet up with the DFW Outdoors group and check out the walking tour of Gorman cave. As I drove into the park, I noticed that the deer were once more quite prolific here and these deer aren't stupid either. Unfortunately, the gravel road is quite dangerous and this family found that out the hard way the night before.
We finally all hooked up and followed the ranger in her SUV to the trail head to the cave. It was a nice hike going down with a few areas to be careful of due to walking on broken up rocks. We stopped for a minute while our guide showed up an alternative entrance to the cave. We made it to the cave entrance and our guide began to explain some of the history of the cave and what to expect. We finally began our decent down into the cavern. Once in, I turned around and hoped I would find this spot again.
Bear in mind that Gorman cave is a wild cave. There are no concrete sidewalks, rails to hang on to or any fancy lighting shining of the formations. You are armed with only your flashlight and your boots. You will get wet, your boots will get muddy with dirt and guano. Thank God they did provide helmets, because you will be bumping your head! However, this cave provides the perfect experience of exploring a cave like a real spelunker. There is also a crawling cave tour where one wears elbow and knee pads and has to be able to fit through an 18 inch hole!
One of the first sights we saw was a small pool. Though it looked like it was only a few inches deep, it was actually 4 feet deep! We followed this tunnel while walking in the water to a cavern with some interesting graffiti. This piece of graffiti dated back to 1883! In addition to graffiti, this cave did have quite a few nice formations :
Cave Formation 1
Cave Formation 2
Cave Formation 3
Cave Formation 4
Cave Formation 5
Cave Formation 6
Cave Formation 7
Cave Formation 8
This cave had plenty of crystalline calcite which could radiate the light coming from a flashlight. This cave is also used by migrating bats from Mexico. The black spots are actually the oil deposited from the bats' feet. Oh yes, these black spots are bat guano!
Once the tour was completed, some of us found an alternate route back to experience what the crawling cave tour would be like. Yes! We found the way out. Now for the hike back up. But first, a group shot. On the bottom row is of coarse me, your host for these armchair adventures, then Borianna Ilieva. My fellow cavers on the top row are Mike Hammett, Paige Ehrlich, Holly McLlheran, Barb McLeod and Alex Howse.
I said my good-byes to the group and headed back out to Burnett again. I think some of the gang said they were going to do some fishing. The GPS coordinate data for the Granite collection areas off of Park Road 4 that I took during the Labor Day weekend were flawed. So I returned to Lampasas going east on Hwy 580, headed back south on Hwy 281, drove through Burnett and took Park Road 4 west. Oh no ! There's Longhorn Caverns. I was all caved out at this point and I had seen this cave about two years ago. Unfortunately, I never picked up a a longhorn Cavern's refrigerator magnet. Naturally, I stopped and picked one out for my growing collection. I left and finally recorded some good readings for the GPS coordinates for collecting the Granite and picked up some more pieces. The coordinates along Park Road 4 are :
(1) 30° 43.489 North and 098° 22.845 West
(2) 30° 43.566 North and 098° 22.931 West
(3) 30° 43.654 North and 098° 22.937 West
(4) 30° 43.916 North and 098° 22.056 West
As I continued west on Park Road 4, I came to Inks Lake State Park. I had hiked one of their trails two years ago, but illegally since we just parked off the road. This time, I entered the park and hiked a trail leading to the Devil's Watering Hole. This is one of the watering holes rating in the top 10 of watering holes to swim in for the state of Texas and Oklahoma! While at the park, I hit the park store for an Inks lake refrigerator magnet to add to my collection and then checked out the lake some. In the far background, one can see Inks Dam. I even saw an RV go into labor.
After leaving the park, I continued west on Park Road 4 until I hit Hwy 29. From there, I took Hwy 29 west towards Buchnan Dam and gave Don a visit at Don's rock shop. I picked up some more tumbling material of Mexican lace agates, Dalmatian and more leopard Skin jasper from Mexico. I also picked up this rock. I have a hunk of it already but I do not know what it is. Don didn't either? Does anybody know what this is?
I was now sunburned and tired. I was starting to see things. I had chores to complete the next day, so I headed for home.
So, until next time, take care and I'll See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!
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