Texas roadside entrepreneurship

This cowboy has a unique side gig. This photo op was seen between Austin and Bastrop. (Before COVID-19)

Texas distillery now at 100% hand sanitizer production

Treaty Oak Distilling in Dripping Springs, Texas is one of the best whiskey distilleries in the Hill Country west of Austin. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has shut down their restaurant and their distillery. To at least keep some income coming in, Treaty Oak is now only producing hand sanitizer.

According to KXAN TV, the NBC affiliate in Austin,  on March 26th reported that the FDA is allowing distilleries to produce hand sanitizer. It must be at least 80% alcohol, have no other ingredients and be in a bottle with appropriate labeling. Starting next week Treaty oak will only produce the sanitizer, thus allowing some employees to remain working.

Last November we visited Treaty Oaks Distilling. Little could we guess back then that this distillery would be in the fight against a killer virus. You can read about our 2019 visit here. 

Remembering a distillery visit in Texas

I thought it was time for something different than a post about the COVID-19 pandemic. Allow us to share a few photos and text about a nice local distillery we visited during our winter residence in Texas a few short weeks ago.

Fast Eddy logo in neon

The Hill Country near Austin is home to several breweries, wineries and distilleries. Near Dripping Springs one will find the Fast Eddy Vodka distillery. We stopped there one day near the closing time. The place was absolutely packed as there were the normal amount of cars and two huge tour buses that had filled the place with folks.

 

 

 

The bar of course had samples of the many varieties of flavored vodkas bottled at the facility. There was a very large distillery room with lots of tables. We looked at the merchandise, but did not really find any shirts we liked. Our purchases were limited to a couple of glasses with the Deep Eddy logo.  We passed on samples as we had been out all day visiting breweries. I was not really in the mood for even a sample of vodka.

Here is the Deep Eddy website. Notice that now the place is closed due to, you guessed it, COVID-19 restrictions. When we go to Texas in the future, we do plan on visiting Deed Eddy again.

Solstice Outdoors is a fun Texas art gallery

Out side of Dripping Springs, Texas in the Hill Country near Austin is a thriving landscape design business that also doubles as a place to view and purchase unique outdoor artwork. Solstice Outdoors Ltd. is based in a former ranch home surrounded by 2 acres of what is now a whimsical display of outdoor works of art and decoration.

Solstice homestead

Outdoor fire pit complete with pyramid and butterfly seating!

 

 

 

 

 

Through an online mobile search Sher found this place while we were prowling about the Dripping Springs area. Thanks to google maps we soon found this surprising gallery of both indoor and outdoor craftsmanship. Each of the rooms in the house were used to display local artist’ works, including jewelry, tapestries and pictures.

Bull/man iron soldier

Another metal man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By far the most unique part of Solstice is the “backyard”. As soon as you go out into the yard you are greeted with a variety of ‘creatures” in all sizes and materials. The company offers landscaping design and construction. Walking through the grounds was like walking through an outdoor arts garden.

This face is kind of creepy, IMHO

A different medium for a longhorn!

 

 

 

 

 

Often we don’t have a set itinerary some days when we explore an area. It is always an adventure to find things by just driving around looking for signs, or hitting up the mobile search for “things near you”. The day we found Solstice Outdoor, Ltd. was one of those days.

Painting with a Twist, North Austin version

We decided to look for another opportunity to do a “sip and paint” type studio event. A quick google search revealed four different Panting with a Twist stores in Austin. With this franchise, you have to check to see what painting was on the agenda on what day. Sher and I both liked a Valentine’s Day themed picture that was actually designed for “his and hers” to be combined to make one piece of art.

Front desk with the instructor and assistant

Thus we were off to Painting with a Twist of North Austin. Fortunately there was very adequate parking for the RV and it was a fairly easy drive to the studio. We got there plenty early, met the staff and got our aprons on.

Our work station

Work in progress

 

 

 

 

 

There was one instructor and an assistant. The set up was pretty neat: The instructor stood by the double canvas on a small stage. There she could give step by step instructions on how to create our masterpieces. In addition to seeing the instructor on the stage, there were also two large screen TV’s that you could also see her and the canvas as she painted it. Great idea!

Grinning and painting

Our finished two canvas painting in our RV

 

 

 

 

 

There were about 20 couples who were in our session. The instructor kept a running patter going as she gave us specific instructions on what to paint, how and when. She was good at her job, and was able to add humor and levity to her discourse. There was more than one reference to Bob Ross and his painting techniques during the session which was very interesting. Try one of these fun projects sometime. It is a great way to spend an evening. Here is the corporate website so you can find one of the studios near you.

Bastrop Texas

Bastrop Texas is an interesting little town southeast of Austin. We headed there with our Austin family to check things out.  We found a place to park and found a nice map of the town on a large display board. This let us kind of make some plans for our adventure.

Great map allowing for planning the day

Cute gravel alley leading to some shops

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the visitor center that also had a museum as well. The history  of Bastrop is a tale of the old West that is fun to learn. The town is proud of its heritage and rightly so.

Some neat old stuff

A very unique raised flower bed

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoyed the 602 Brewery and Restaurant for a beer and a delicious meal. (read our review of the 602 Brewery here) After our meal we walked around the Main Street looking at the stores and shops. We also took a driving tour that led us to several historic homes in and around the downtown area.

Posing with a tortoise outside Visitor’s Center and Museum

Main Street, Bastrop

 

 

 

 

 

All in all we really enjoyed seeing Bastrop. There seem to be a lot of activities planned during the spring and summer months. There are over 30 festivals planned each year.  The 900 acre Lake Bastrop has a plethora of recreational opportunities. This town is proud of its heritage and is most welcoming to visitors. Put Bastrop on your list of Central Texas places to visit.

Austin’s La Hacienda RV Resort activity

We were pleasantly surprised to see an announcement that the RV resort where we were staying was offering a “Paint and sip” type activity. For $20 each, the park offered to provide all the materials needed to create your own masterpiece.  Sher and I had enjoyed a similar type event last year in Seattle, so we decided to sign up.

Sher getting her design layout on the canvas

Paint that RV’s door!

 

 

 

 

 

The technique for this event was different from what we had done before. Instead of an instructor doing a step by step, we were given a line drawing and carbon paper. That resulted in a rough sketch transfer onto the canvas.

The finished products!

The final results came out pretty well, I’d say. Sher and I enjoyed  the chance to drink some wine, interact with fellow RV park patrons, and create a couple of “masterpieces”.

Austin’s Jack Allen Kitchens utilize locally sourced foods

Our son and his family introduced us to Jack Allen Kitchens restaurants. This local chain of 4 establishments in the Austin area has really set a very high standard for reasons beyond high quality menu items. We went to the Anderson Lane version of the restaurant.

A portion of the interior of the Anderson Lane location

The base concept behind this eatery is a combination of local sourcing and local involvement. By utilizing local sources nearly entirely, you can be assured of fresh ingredients in every dish served. The company is very much involved in local charities as well.

The menu? Folks, you can’t get any better than the culinary delights found at Jack Allen Kitchens. The atmosphere is one of the most relaxed that you will ever find. You never feel rushed. The service is 5 star provided by truly professional wait staff.

Wedgies Salad

All of the cocktails are superb. The appetizers are great. (Try the house made pimento cheese and flat crackers. Yummy) But let’s talk the entrees! Sher had the “Wedgies salad”. It was huge, and as she said, the best ever. Garnished with onions, grape tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles, this salad was topped with green goddess dressing.

Chicken fried chicken, mashed ‘taters and veggies

I fell in love with the menu listing the “Chicken Fried Anything”. I went with the chicken breast, instead of the pork chop, ribs or meatloaf. (Yes, meatloaf.) The chicken fried chicken breast came smothered in gravy, resting on a portion of the large helping of mashed potatoes and accompanied by a squash medley veggie. Our son had the chicken fried meatloaf. He let me have a taste, and it was good too.

The dessert

And at the end of our meal, we were tempted with the dessert offerings. Biff (our waiter) offered to bring us 5 spoons and plates so we could share the decadent chocolate/pecan/ala mode you see in the picture. It was twice as good as it looks.

In or near Austin? Go to the Jack Allen Kitchen website here. Find the facility handy to you, and by all means go and enjoy a unique and memorable dining experience.

Great craft beer at Twisted X Brewing Company

Dripping Springs , Texas is in the Hill Country near Austin. A bit south of this eclectic town is the Twisted X Brewing Company. Sher and I put it on our agenda one Thursday afternoon, and were glad we did!

The tasting room

The tasting room at Twisted X is open air and very comfortable. The Thursday afternoon we were there also had a fella playing guitar and singing which was a nice touch. We ordered a flight of four to sample. The bartender picked out the samples for us, and he did a good job. Some of the beers are available only at the tasting room.

Bar and brew list board

The brewery logo

 

 

 

 

 

I really liked the Austin Lager, and even bought a couple of cans to take with us. By the way, it is an advantage to travel in our RV, as the fridge is right there, and you don’t have to ever worry about your brews getting too warm before you get home. You have your home with you!

Our flight of great craft beers

Anyway, the Twisted X Brewing Company is another fine brewery in the Dripping Springs area. They have brewery tours on Saturdays and Sundays. Private events are also hosted. Check the Twisted X website here for details. Put a visit to this brewery on your agenda, folks. You will be glad you did!

Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

We had just finished checking out the town of Dripping Springs in the Hill Country outside of Austin and were waiting for another brewery to open. I spotted a sign for an olive company the opposite direction from the brewery, so off we went.

Striking architecture of the Olive Company

About five miles later we saw what looked like some kind of Italian mountain villa. Yep, that turned out to be the Texas Hill Country  Olive Company. We had no idea what to expect, except that it would involve olives. Well, what a nice surprise when the hostess showed us to the free tasting stations. Yes, we were invited to taste different olive oils. I sure got an education.

Olive oils on the left, balsamic vinegars on the right

Fun signage

 

 

 

 

 

I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of olive oils, all of which were made by this family owned and operated business. Sher and I both enjoyed tasting the different olive oils. You taste them by putting a few drops in a small cup and either tasting it directly by mouth or dipped on a small piece of bread.

In the showroom in front of one of the tasting stations.

In addition to the oils, there were several varieties of balsamic vinegar as well set out for tasting. These were all imported from Italy, and there was an amazing range of flavors. The balsamic vinegar we bought was a blackberry flavor, which will be perfect to mix with the olive oil we bought to make a great salad dressing. Yum! The showroom also has a wide variety of gift boxes and other goodies.

Olive trees at the Olive Company

Olive tree beginning to flower

 

 

 

 

 

This place should be on everyone’s list of must visit places in the Hill Country. The site has lots of olive trees in their on site orchard. Our hostess explained that the company also has many more orchards in south Texas as well. Yes, olive trees grow in places other than Southern Europe and the Mid East. You can experience them at the Texas Hill Country Olive Co.