Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lost Pines: Day I

We were eager to explore the hotel. As soon as we had our bags all settled in the room we made our way back down to the lobby and headed out onto the back lawn. We followed the droves of people in swimsuits both coming and going to the pool. Or should I say pools.

There was a splash pad for the kids, a small pool for toddlers, and a big sandy beach with direct access to a pool equipped with volleyball nets and even a basketball goal. The first pool was connected next to a beautiful series of waterfalls to the lazy river that circled the entire area and connected each of the pools - an adults only pool with hot tub, and another smaller pool with a giant water slide.

From the pool we wandered through a pavilion and down a steep grassy embankment to the river area below. We saw a small dock and a large grassy area with a disc golf course and more basketball goals.

With map in hand we trekked back up the main lawn past the fire pits and meandered our way over to the hummingbird garden.

Though we only took a quick peek at the hummingbird garden and headed on around the building past the livestock pens where 2 longhorns and 2 horses were kept.

We later learned that the longhorns were 3 year old steers named T-bone and Ribeye. They shared the same father, but different mothers. Each taking after their respective mothers.

As we rounded the building we saw the meeting point for the tractor pulled hay rides. We arrived just in time to see a wagon-load of folks pulling away.

According to the schedule the next ride would depart in 30 minutes. So we headed back to our room and changed into our swim suits thinking we would have plenty of time to change and still make it back in time to catch the next ride. However, in an almost deja-vu like moment we rounded the corner towards the starting point to once again see the tractor lurching out of its resting spot 10 minutes before its scheduled departure time. Practically fuming I vowed that we would make that next ride or else. :) As Kevin took up watch at the meeting spot I borrowed his camera and made my way to the nearby butterfly garden.

Unfortunately the garden was mostly bloomed out and what was likely an area filled with blooms earlier this spring had only a handful of purple flowers and a few sunflowers. And, though not unexpected, not a butterfly in sight.

The brown starkness of the surroundings made the green stalks and bright yellow flowers of the sunflowers stand out all the more. As I wandered out the other end of the garden I took the opportunity to take a few more pictures of the longhorns. Like typical toddlers they weren't terribly cooperative and proved to be most unphotogenic refusing to pose together or look at the camera reminiscent of two other children I know.

I wended my way back to the meeting point and after a short wait saw the tractor return. Two other families had joined us by that point and once we were loaded up the wagon departed once again. 10 minutes early, again. The wagon ride took us down a steep path to the river area again and off onto a dirt track following alongside the Colorado river. We followed along the bumpy rutted path until it came to a turn around at a gate to the LCRA property of McKinney Roughs.

Once our ride was over we made our way to the pool and bee-lined for the nearest tubes and entry into the lazy river. Parts of the river had jets that sped you on your way while other sections moved along at a sedate pace. Trees lining the banks provided welcome overhead shade throughout the meandering path. We made several circuits around the pool before finally deciding to find some dinner before the regularly scheduled evenings activities. We decided on the Firewheel Cafe - one of a handful of restaurants located on the property.

As we entered the hostess took us by the Mexican Buffet - the speciality of the night. After a quick look at the buffet and a glance at the dessert buffet there wasn't much question of what we would be having. The salad bar was filled with fresh ingredients with a home-grown flavor, and the beef fajitas were delicious. And the dessert buffet?

To die for. Loaded with fresh strawberries, marshmallows, along with an enticing variety of other cakes, pies, cobblers and other desserts. And did I mention the chocolate and which chocolate fountains? And the lemon bars? I think I ate at least half a dozen. Thank goodness I had been saving some room... :)

Though what I had really been saving some room for were the smores. As we were wrapping up our dinner the campfires had been lit and a smores station had materialized. As had a large projection screen on the rear lawn.

The smores area was pure madness. Dozens of young children running around with long sticks with flaming or burnt marshmallows waving them wildly here and there. It is amazing no one was set on fire, eyes poked out or any of the other things overprotective parents might worry about. Despite the chaos every was having a great time. Kids and adults alike. We picked up preloaded marshmallow roasting sticks and sat around one of the fires toasting our marshmallows to a light golden brown. Once they were just right we took them back to a prep station where brave employees were taking the marshmallows off your stick with two graham crackers - one side already loaded with hershey's chocolate bars. After which they would trade you a delicious smore for the return of their stick which they would quickly reload and add back to the line of available sticks for folks to pick up. I can't even remember the last time I had a smore, but I don't remember them tasting quite this good...

We grabbed towels and picked out a spot on the lawn to pitch them in front of the projection screen already 20 or 30 minutes into the movie. After a short while Kevin was snoring through the movie. I woke him up a few times before finally losing interest in the movie and deciding it was time to call it a night.

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