By TOMIE PARKS
Deemable Staff Writer
WIMBERLEY, Texas – I ain’t never run across a man, woman or dog who’s seen all of Texas. The state is that big, even if you call it home.
So it wasn’t that much of a surprise when I stumbled across a never-before-seen Lone Star city. It was Wimberley, a holiday haven for everyone from nostalgic lovers and amateur artists to athletes and motorcycle gangs.With rocks for climbing and gourmet wines for tasting, Wimberley was not what I’d call a two-light town. It deserved some proper attention, so I suggested to my husband that we spend our first anniversary weekend there.
It didn’t take much convincing for him to agree, as his buddy from work happened to own a cabin there – a cabin we could stay at for free. Enough said, the trip was on.
Packed for three days in the woods, we left for Wimberley on Saturday, March 12. From Austin, it took about an hour and a half of driving time to get there.
The town square, located at the intersection of 290 West and Ranch Road 12, is a definite must-see for any road-trip guru. It’s full of unique art shops, eateries and bakeries. There’s even a visitor’s center where knowledgeable staff members will tell you all about the town’s treasures. We based our itinerary on what they had to say.
Our first stop Saturday afternoon was the Central Texas Bonsai Exhibit. Free and open to the public, the exhibit was a literal wonderland of tiny trees. Some grew in ceramic pots and wooden crates, others from the type of rock native to the area.
The exhibit contains a bonsai garden of six acres, four greenhouses and more than 100 types of trees. Owner Chuck Ware has maintained it all for almost three decades. All of it, he said, is in effort educate the public about the beauty and discipline of bonsai.
While talking to me and my husband, Ware offered some tips for the novice bonsai enthusiast.
“It takes time,” Ware said. “The bonsai does not happen overnight, so it is important not to get discouraged.”
His most important piece of advice, though, regarded the tree’s pot.
“When beginning a bonsai, the pot is not important – it is just the frame for the overall painting,” Ware said. “You do not want to choose one until the overall tree – the painting – is finished.”
After chatting with him for a few more minutes and walking through his lovely gardens, we retired to our cabin for the evening.
Sunday brought the task of hiking to the top of Prayer Mountain – or Old Baldy as the locals call it. The venture requires a good bit of physical stamina, as it is 248 stair-like steps to the top. If you try it, I’d suggest taking a walking stick, for the provided railing is made of wire and not too sturdy for anybody who weighs more than a cotton ball – cough, I mean that ever-sought-after ideal number on the BMI chart.
But the climb is worth the effort and sweat. The view is breathtaking, and the clouds seem close enough to touch.
Once you get to the top, you can see why it’s called Old Baldy. The entirety of Prayer Mountain, except for the cemented viewing area on the tip, is covered with trees, bushes and stone escarpments. So you really do get the sensation of standing on a giant’s bald head.
After that, a bottle of water and some food, we were off to Wimberley Glassworks. The store’s entire business focuses on creating and selling fire-blown glassware – everything from dinnerware to wall art.
Though the prices were well beyond what we could afford, I still recommend stopping there because the factory offers free glass-making exhibits to the public. It’s interesting to see how the different colors of glass come to exist with the application of heat. And the shaping of the glass, that’s a work of art, just as magical as any painting or sculpture.
My only word of warning is that picture-taking is tricky in the glassworks studio. The lighting is poor, so you need a good camera with a flash.
Then on Monday, the last day of our holiday, we visited the Hill Country Wine Shoppe and the Wimberley Brewing Company and Brew Pub.
We found the wine shop while roaming through town square. Its sign said it offered nothing but locally produced wines, from Texas vineyards in Fredericksburg, Salado and Wimberley.
But it’s not just a wine store. It has a nice bar for tourists to come visit and taste wines, five sips for five dollars. I opted for the sweet wines, and my husband the reds. The $5 deal let us take home the wine glasses we used. With the Wimberley logo on them, they made for nice souvenirs.
The brewery was just as neat. We got a free, private tour of the science behind the local pub’s beer. Then we got to taste some of their most popular flavors.
The pub’s not rowdy by any means, so don’t be afraid to bring your mom or your kids. The establishment is family run with Grandpa watching sports TV from a recliner and the kids serving as wait staff at the pizza counter.
And then the clock struck 4, and it was time to go home. So we did, and we were happy – for the trip and for our first year as man and wife.