Sunday, January 15, 2006

Birds, barbecue and bottles of wine

Given that this was the last weekend before school starts, Doug and I were itching to do a day trip today. When we woke up, we decided that we would continue the barbecue quest we started a few weeks ago and head up to Cooper's in Llano. Our plan was to spend the day traversing the Highland Lakes area and see where we ended up. We loaded up the car with the dogs, maps and guidebooks and headed out.

We took Hwy. 29 from Georgetown and our first stop was to see the eagles' nest between Buchanan Dam and Llano. The area around Lake Buchanan is the winter home to some American Bald Eagles. The eagles, which are on the endangered species list, tend to return every year to the same nest. About three years ago a trio of eagles built a nest in a dead tree about a hundred yards off Hwy. 29. This has become quite the attraction with people coming from different parts of the state to see the birds. The Texas Game & Wildlife says this particular nest is the furthest west an eagle's nest has been built in Texas.

Because I lost my digital camera at the Cowboys game a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't get any good photos (camera phones don't do justice). You can, however, find some great photos on this site. While we were there, we were able to see two adults at the nest. One gentleman who is out there several days a week shooting photos said that the eaglettes have hatched, and we should be able to see them in a few weeks.

After the male flew off, Doug and I headed on our way to Coopers. On the way, we passed a lady with a flat tire, so karma demanded that we turn around and help. I'm glad we did. A truck had stopped, but he didn't have the tools Doug did. The spare was bolted in the trunk and the tire was shredded and had wrapped around the brake line. The lady was on the way to the hospital, where her granddaughter had been taken to the emergency room. Doug was able to get the lady back on the road in no time.

About 11:30 we arrived at Coopers. The thing about this place is that you go up to the pit and select your own meat. When we arrived, there were about 30 people in line. Once you get your food, you go inside to pay and eat. There are six long picnic tables inside and you just pick a spot and eat, usually sitting next to a stranger. The inside was packed, and that wasn't even counting all the folks who were getting to go orders. Coopers is definitely popular, especially with the hunters and motorcycle riders, both of whom were out in force today.

Today we had some of the best pork ribs I have ever had. However, our other meat didn't live up to our previous experience with Coopers. Both the sausage and the prime rib were luke warm at best, and I swear at least 1/2 pound of the prime rib was a hunk of fat -- and you pay by the pound. Oh well, the dogs got to eat some expensive table scrapes. Still, we do enjoy Coopers and will go back. Photos from Coopers are below. You first see the smoker and then the next photo is the rows of barbecue pits. You can see the guy getting our food off the pit, and Doug enjoying his lunch.




















After leaving Coopers, we decided to head a bit north and visit a couple of wineries we had never been to. These wineries are in a dry county and until a few years ago, could not have a tasting room. During the Wine Trail weekends, these wineries would hold tastings in a bed and breakfast near Stonewall. Now the law has changed and it was our first time to go visit.

We first stopped at Alamosa Wine Cellars, but if they had a tasting room, it didn't look open, so we didn't stop. We decided to head on to Lampasas and Pillar Bluff Vineyards. We got to sit and chat awhile, and of course, sample seven wines. We opted to purchase a bottle of their Muscat and a bottle of their White Merlot, both that will be good hot-weather wines.

After that, we decided to head home. As always, we enjoyed our trip exploring the hill country. Eagles, barbecue and wine -- what more could one want in a weekend?

1 comment:

James said...

Coopers and wineries. Wow, I love the hill country. Have you been to Becker near Fredricksburg? They have a great porch for sittin' and sippin on a beautiful day.