Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at at time.

Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at a time.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What constitutes the Texas Hill Country?

Awhile back I read a story about the Shiner Bock Brewery in Shiner. The brewery’s website touts it as being located in the Texas Hill Country. Shiner is in Lavaca County. Lavaca County is more Gulf Coast Plains than Hill Country. Folks, Shiner is NOT in the Texas Hill Country, even though many would disagree, saying that Shiner at least has “Hill Country” attitude, whatever that is.

So just where IS the Texas Hill Country?

Twenty-five counties, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, are considered officially “Texas Hill Country.” They are:

• Bandera

• Bell

• Blanco

• Burnet

• Comal

• Coryell

• Crockett

• Edwards

• Gillespie

• Hays

• Kendall

• Kerr

• Kimble

• Lampasas

• Llano

• Mason

• McCullouch

• Menard

• Real

• San Saba

• Schleicher

• Sutton

• Travis

• Val Verde

• Williamson

Good news, Salado. We are officially a part of the Texas Hill Country.

Yeah…I don’t feel like that’s true either, but the TPWD says so, and I’m not gonna argue.

What makes up Texas “Hill Country?”

Karst topography. Nope, I didn’t know what that was either so I looked it up. The official-sounding definition is a landscape shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite.

Due to subterranean drainage, there may be very limited surface water (got that right), even to the absence of all rivers and lakes (except for all the ones we Texans dug ourselves). Many karst regions display distinctive surface features, with sinkholes or dolines being the most common. However, distinctive karst surface features may be completely absent where the soluble rock is mantled (huh?), such as by glacial debris (oh for one of those glaciers now that summer is coming), or confined by a superimposed non-soluble rock strata. Some karst regions include thousands of caves, even though evidence of caves that are big enough for human exploration is not a required characteristic of karst. All continents have regions with karst topography except Antarctica. Well, okee dokee then. We meet all those criteria. We share geologic features with areas in the world such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, France and Ireland.

Cool. I can go to the Hill Country and see the world without ever leaving Texas.

What, then, is “Hill Country” attitude?

I don’t know. My best guess is that unpretentious, laid-back, easy going, friendly, come-as-you-are personality so many Texans have anyway. If that’s confined to the Hill Country, then we’re all from the Hill Country. The exceptions are the big city folks who usually are from some place else anyway. I’m not saying that’s bad; just different.

What is so special about the Texas Hill Country?

Everything.

No, really. Everything really is better in the Texas Hill Country. It’s not as humid. There is an abundance of wildlife. Life in the Hill Country is not nearly as hectic as in the big cities or even the small towns of other Texas regions. Every morning when you walk out your front door, the view is generally beautiful. Okay, look beyond your subdivision. Drive around our area and really look at the hills surrounding us. Copperas Cove has the Five Hills in its city seal, honoring the area in which it sits: the Five Hills Area. Look beyond the urban (folks, Killeen/Fort Hood and Temple/Belton are a larger municipality in this area) and really see what I’m writing about.

It’s beautiful.

I think our position in the Hill Country is why so many soldiers at Fort Hood decide to retire here. Besides the lower cost of living in Texas, this area has everything to offer, including proximity to Austin and the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Just take Highway 190 east and go north on Interstate Highway 35. In less than three hours, you’re in D/FW. Take Highway 195 south and you’re in Austin in under an hour. That’s pretty decent drive time to civilization…by Texas standards anyway.

If you want excellent examples of Texas Hill Country towns, the ones that come to my mind are Fredericksburg, Lampasas, Marble Falls, Dripping Springs, Boerne, Kerrville and little ol’ Ingram.

And then there is Luckenbach (www.luckenbachtexas.com/). The weather is perfect for a bike ride (and I don’t mean a Schwinn) over to Luckenbach for some live music and other amusements. Just be sure to wear your helmet, don’t imbibe before you drive and carry a toothbrush to get the bugs out of your teeth.

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