Where the Good Times Never End…
It’s our last day to spend with John and Olivia…
We start out at Mueller Lake Park, 30 acres off Airport Blvd. and Aldrich St., home to 6.5-acre lake, open air amphitheater and stage, interactive playscape, picnic peninsula, loop trail, jogger stretching area, and public art. (austintexas.org)
The Sunday Farmers’ Market is just winding down.
We head to the food trucks.
While we wait for our tacos, Olivia and I munch on chips, salsa, and guac with Hugo. Next to us, 2 ladies choose organic salads from a different food truck. Their salads look delicious and so healthy but we opt for decadence and calories today. And we are not disappointed!
After devouring the deliciousness of our tasty tacos, we saunter back to our car, parked in the garage.
As we walk back to the parking garage, this cow makes me smile…
Next we head to Mount Bonnell. At 775 feet, it is the highest point within the Austin City Limits, offering scenic views of the city skyline, Lake Austin, and the surrounding hills.
We climb the 106 flagstone steps to reach the shade arbor and historical monument at the top of the promontory.
This area was once referred to as Covert Park because Frank M. Covert Sr., an Austin businessman, donated the land Mount Bonnell sits on to Travis County in the early 1900s. Some years later the county gave the land to the city of Austin. A stone monument was placed at the summit in honor of Frank Covert. In 2015 the historical monument underwent repair and conservation. (austinot.com)
This is what the summit and shade arbor look like from down below on Lake Austin.
According to info from a kiosk on the trail…
The first documented mention of this high ground was made by Albert Sydney Johnston on April 21, 1839. At that time Johnston was the Secretary of War of the Republic of Texas. He wrote to George Hancock of Louisville, Kentucky stating, “My agent will set off in a few days to commence the building of the City of Austin at the foot of the mountain on the Colorado (River). His escorts will be sufficient to protect the workmen and materials.”
Mount Bonnell was an integral military defense of Austin for about a year until the city’s population increased and the threat of invasions by Indians and the Mexican Army decreased.
After the Civil War, General George Armstrong Custer established his Sixth United States Cavalry Regiment in Austin. He and his wife Libby enjoyed picnics atop Mount Bonnell, climbing on foot as the trail was too steep for horses.
Mount Bonnell overlooks Lake Austin, one of the 7 man-made lakes formed by area dams along the Colorado River. Collectively these 7 reservoirs are referred to as the Highland Lakes. Lake Austin stretches for 22 miles between the Tom Miller Dam, named after the mayor of Austin in 1940, and the Mansfield Dam, completed in 1941 and named after a congressman of the time, J. J. Mansfield. (austin.culturemap.com and texasescapes.com)
The arch spanning the banks of Lake Austin is the Pennybacker Bridge, known locally as the “Loop 360 Bridge.” This rust-colored, curved, through-arch steel bridge stretches 1,150 feet across Lake Austin/the Colorado River without ever touching the water. Dedicated and opened to traffic at the end of 1982, the bridge was named for its architect, Percy V. Pennybacker, a pioneer in the technology of welded bridges. (austin.culturemap.com)
From atop Mount Bonnell you get a beautiful view of the Texas hills and the upscale private waterfront properties along Lake Austin.
But who or what is the Bonnell in Mount Bonnell?
According to austinot.com, “historical records show the first recorded thoughts about Mount Bonnell were written by soldier George W. Bonnell, who climbed to the top and wrote about his ecological findings.” (Kim McKnight from City of Austin Parks and Recreation)
But according to an abstract from a thesis or dissertation written by John Melton Wallace in 1966 (repositories.lib.utexas.edu), George W. Bonnell was a frontier journalist in the Republic of Texas, yet so much more. He was also an Indian fighter, an author, a public official, an adventurer, and a participant. Though not a native Texan, he gained notoriety for becoming an enthusiastic spokesperson for the Republic.
The Texas State Historical Association refers to Bonnell as a journalist and soldier from New York who later moved to Texas and became Commissioner of Indian Affairs under Sam Houston’s first term as President of the Republic of Texas. Advocating a harsh policy against the Indians, he campaigned against them. In 1839 he moved to Austin and began publishing the Austin Texas Sentinel in January of 1840. In December of 1840 he sold the Sentinel and printed his Topographical Description of Texas which also included an account of the Indian Tribes.
Some sources credit George Bonnell as the namesake for Mount Bonnell on the Colorado River. However, other historians have speculated that the Travis County landmark may have been named for the army officer Joseph Bonnell. (tshaonline.org)
Instead of pursuing this info further by going down a rabbit hole of research, I leave you with this picture framed by a “hole” in the trees that says it all… Is nature nurtured by prosperity?
We stop at Draught House Pub & Brewery to enjoy our late afternoon partaking ritual of imbibing on adult beverages.
The inside resembles a cozy English pub while the outside can best be described as a German beer garden. An on-site food truck, Little House, is owned by Draught House and offers classic pub food such as buffalo wings, double-fried fries, homemade hummus and falafel.
According to draughthouse.com, Wayne and Gay Overton built the existing Tudor/Bavarian structure by demolishing a house and digging a beer cellar. A hand-built bar, tables and chairs, exposed cedar beams, and wainscoting completed the rustic “Texas meets the Old Country” pub. Wayne placed 18 beer towers on top of the bar and opened the establishment on June 30, 1969. For 25 years the Overtons ran what was likely the best place in Texas to drink draught beer.
In 1995 Dr. Glenda Smith purchased the building, opened a dental practice on the second floor, and renamed the pub Draught Horse because the name Draught House still belonged to Gay Overton upon Wayne’s passing. A slightly different version, however, is told on another website:
According to communityimpact.com, Josh Wilson came on board as part of an ownership group in 1995 but when the partnership dissolved in 1999, Dr. Glenda Smith bought the bar and retained him as brewer and manager, overseeing its day-to-day operations.
Whatever the story, Josh Wilson, pictured above, continues to operate Draught House, personally brewing hundreds of barrels of beer per year. He describes his philosophy toward brewing beer with one word, “unprocessed”. All of his beers are unfiltered and no clarifying agents are used ensuring that the beers are all fresh, clean, and hoppy. (draughthouse.com)
This background shot from the website summarizes the pub and brewery perfectly:
I am not much of a beer drinker, but give me a pint of hoppy beer in a pub-like setting and I am a happy beer drinker. Hoppy makes me happy.
So, you can fill in the blanks. We share a happy hoppy hour, or two…
Buck, buck chickens…
A book and a brewski…
John and Olivia…
An enterprising Girl Scout and her Dad come around with cookies to sell. I am so impressed. I ask permission from her father to take this pic…
We all buy boxes of cookies!
Finally, we end our fabulous weekend with a last supper at Titaya’s Thai Cuisine on North Lamar Boulevard…
Did I forget to mention we are having a great time?
Thank you, John and Olivia for an absolutely perfect weekend visiting you in Austin! You are loved and you will be missed.