Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Our 24 Hour Labor Day Getaway

This past Labor Day we had planned to head up to the lake with our friends and neighbors The Lennons.  After watching the weather all week long, we decided to reschedule the trip as it looked like it was going to rain the whole time.  Of course the forecasts all switched at the last minute, and it was apparently beautiful up in the Hill Country.  We still had a lot of fun back here in Katy with some swim parties and a couple days FULL of college football.



As I've mentioned our "Hill Country Bucket List" is long and getter longer every day.  But two of the top spots on our list are the Texas BBQ Trail and Jacobs Well.  After learning that a lot of Texas State Parks and swimming holes are now requiring reservations, Jordan decided to call and see if we could get in for Labor Day and hit up Jacobs Well on the way back to Katy.

It turned out to be a great thing that he decided to call when he did.  We got the last group of four reservation on Labor Day, which is the last day that they are open for swimmers until Memorial Day of the following year.

We were bummed when it looked like it was going to rain all weekend, but decided to keep an open mind and hope the weather would clear up.  In that case we would head up Sunday night so that we could still make our reservation Monday morning.  We were ecstatic when the weather cleared and we decided to make a whole 24 hour excursion out of it.

The plan was to head up to the lake via Lockhart - better known to some as "The Barbecue Capital of Texas.  This area is home to three very famous BBQ joints with a very infamous history.


Lockhart, TX - "The Barbecue Capital of Texas"

This Central Texas BBQ tradition started as a result of the arrival of German and Czech immigrants. These new Texans planted roots into the hill country with a simple method of smoking that would allow the true flavor of the meat to shine through.  The first BBQ restaurants in the area started as meat markets and groceries.  Owners cooked and sold the meat that didn't sell raw, and the evolution from the meat market and grocery stores to always-busy, no-frills, truly delicious BBQ joints was complete.

While a lot of restaurants in the area boast great BBQ, two are totally famous as a result of their history.  Kreuz and Smittys are separate restaurants as the result of a family feud.  In my mind Texas BBQ folklore doesn't get much better than that.

The full history can be read here, (Kreuz Markets version) and here, (Smittys Markets version).  Blacks BBQ is the other big restaurant in the area.  It's not included in the family feud, but believe me the competition between the three restaurants runs deep no matter what the ties.

For our first visit we decided to try Kreuz Market.  After reading a lot of blogs and reviews on the way up we made a tough call and stuck with it.  Truthfully, I don't think we would have been disappointed with any of the choices.

Kreuz is a huge building right off of Hwy 183.  Although the building might be new, the pits are still the same ones as when the Market first opened back in the early 1900's.




True to everything we'd read, this place was totally no frills.  All the focus was on producing a good piece of smoked meat.




There was a 20-30 minute wait to get to the pits, which is also where you ordered.  You're immediately hit with the smell and the heat from the BBQ.  The only AC in the building is in the actual dining room.  But the sweaty wait was all worth it.



Once it was our turn to order, it quickly became apparent that our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  The sights and smells were intoxicating and we just couldn't stop ordering.

The meat is weighed and then put onto 3-4 sheets of butcher paper.



They wrapped and then handed it to us, making us feel like even more of savages than we already did.  But again - doesn't matter, totally worth it.



The BBQ was amazing!  And true to the rules, we ate with our hands and with no sauce.  Well, okay - you know me.  I may have added some hot sauce.  But it was on the table, so it was clearly allowed.

The brisket was literally the best we'd ever had - it melted in your mouth, but still had the perfect bite to it.  However, it would have been a huge mistake to fill up on the brisket and not try anything else.  The beef spare rib was the size of my head and had amazing burnt ends, and the jalapeño cheddar sausage is a can't miss.  Its so hard to write this post knowing this BBQ is so far away right now - I'm actually salivating thinking about it.

We are looking forward to our next trips up to the lake when we can stop in Lockhart again.  We'll hit up Blacks and Smitty's and of course stop back by Kreuz Market.
Reviews from all to come!


Smitty's Market

Black's BBQ

After our lunch we decided it would be better for our digestion to walk around downtown instead of getting straight back into the car.  Of course being September in Texas it was super hot, but the town was charming and we had a good time exploring



Lockhart is actually becoming a popular place to film movies and shows.  Fans of the HBO show "The Leftovers" will recognize this clock tower from Season 2 as Lockhart is where they did the majority of the filming.



Isla even let me take photos of her.



Okay... there may have been some bribing involved...





Jacobs Well // Wimberly, TX

The next morning we woke up early and headed towards Wimberly, Texas for our 10AM reservation at Jacobs Well.



Jacobs Well is an artesian spring that is the largest continually flowing spring in the Hill Country.  Because of the Trinity aquifer below,  the constant year round temperature of Jacobs Well is 68 degrees.

Many scuba divers have explored Jacobs Well over the years, and have charted the well to be 140 feet at its deepest, with caves jutting out from the well coming in at almost a mile long.

Unfortunately, there have been a lot of casualties over the years as a result of inexperienced divers exploring the vast caves and getting disoriented.  As a result the state has banned divers from certain areas of the cave, encountering signs like these.

Luckily, we had no interest in scuba diving, and were just looking to jump in and cool off.

We were one of the first people in line to get into the park, and Jordan gallantly offered to make the trek with both kids and most of our gear so that I could hike forward and get some shots with no one else in them.



Holden was ready to jump in from the word "go", but Isla took a little more convincing...



Untitled Project from Kelly Fife on Vimeo.
It was such a cool place, and totally crazy to experience first-hand all our state has to offer.  This is definitely a MUST DO on your Texas bucket list.  And let us know if you go, we'll tag along!

We drove through Wimberly on the way back home to Katy but didn't stop as we were concerned about getting home with Labor Day traffic.  This proved to be a valid concern as it took us 2 hours longer to get home than it normally does.


famous Wimberly cedars


Its such a cute town, and somewhere we will definitely be back to spend more time in.

I'm so glad we were able to salvage some of our Labor Day trip.  It was a great 24 hour getaway, and we are definitely looking forward to our rescheduled trip with the Lennons!


Our 24 Hour Labor Day Getaway

This past Labor Day we had planned to head up to the lake with our friends and neighbors The Lennons.  After watching the weather all week long, we decided to reschedule the trip as it looked like it was going to rain the whole time.  Of course the forecasts all switched at the last minute, and it was apparently beautiful up in the Hill Country.  We still had a lot of fun back here in Katy with some swim parties and a couple days FULL of college football.



As I've mentioned our "Hill Country Bucket List" is long and getter longer every day.  But two of the top spots on our list are the Texas BBQ Trail and Jacobs Well.  After learning that a lot of Texas State Parks and swimming holes are now requiring reservations, Jordan decided to call and see if we could get in for Labor Day and hit up Jacobs Well on the way back to Katy.

It turned out to be a great thing that he decided to call when he did.  We got the last group of four reservation on Labor Day, which is the last day that they are open for swimmers until Memorial Day of the following year.

We were bummed when it looked like it was going to rain all weekend, but decided to keep an open mind and hope the weather would clear up.  In that case we would head up Sunday night so that we could still make our reservation Monday morning.  We were ecstatic when the weather cleared and we decided to make a whole 24 hour excursion out of it.

The plan was to head up to the lake via Lockhart - better known to some as "The Barbecue Capital of Texas.  This area is home to three very famous BBQ joints with a very infamous history.


Lockhart, TX - "The Barbecue Capital of Texas"

This Central Texas BBQ tradition started as a result of the arrival of German and Czech immigrants. These new Texans planted roots into the hill country with a simple method of smoking that would allow the true flavor of the meat to shine through.  The first BBQ restaurants in the area started as meat markets and groceries.  Owners cooked and sold the meat that didn't sell raw, and the evolution from the meat market and grocery stores to always-busy, no-frills, truly delicious BBQ joints was complete.

While a lot of restaurants in the area boast great BBQ, two are totally famous as a result of their history.  Kreuz and Smittys are separate restaurants as the result of a family feud.  In my mind Texas BBQ folklore doesn't get much better than that.

The full history can be read here, (Kreuz Markets version) and here, (Smittys Markets version).  Blacks BBQ is the other big restaurant in the area.  It's not included in the family feud, but believe me the competition between the three restaurants runs deep no matter what the ties.

For our first visit we decided to try Kreuz Market.  After reading a lot of blogs and reviews on the way up we made a tough call and stuck with it.  Truthfully, I don't think we would have been disappointed with any of the choices.

Kreuz is a huge building right off of Hwy 183.  Although the building might be new, the pits are still the same ones as when the Market first opened back in the early 1900's.




True to everything we'd read, this place was totally no frills.  All the focus was on producing a good piece of smoked meat.




There was a 20-30 minute wait to get to the pits, which is also where you ordered.  You're immediately hit with the smell and the heat from the BBQ.  The only AC in the building is in the actual dining room.  But the sweaty wait was all worth it.



Once it was our turn to order, it quickly became apparent that our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  The sights and smells were intoxicating and we just couldn't stop ordering.

The meat is weighed and then put onto 3-4 sheets of butcher paper.



They wrapped and then handed it to us, making us feel like even more of savages than we already did.  But again - doesn't matter, totally worth it.



The BBQ was amazing!  And true to the rules, we ate with our hands and with no sauce.  Well, okay - you know me.  I may have added some hot sauce.  But it was on the table, so it was clearly allowed.

The brisket was literally the best we'd ever had - it melted in your mouth, but still had the perfect bite to it.  However, it would have been a huge mistake to fill up on the brisket and not try anything else.  The beef spare rib was the size of my head and had amazing burnt ends, and the jalapeño cheddar sausage is a can't miss.  Its so hard to write this post knowing this BBQ is so far away right now - I'm actually salivating thinking about it.

We are looking forward to our next trips up to the lake when we can stop in Lockhart again.  We'll hit up Blacks and Smitty's and of course stop back by Kreuz Market.
Reviews from all to come!


Smitty's Market

Black's BBQ

After our lunch we decided it would be better for our digestion to walk around downtown instead of getting straight back into the car.  Of course being September in Texas it was super hot, but the town was charming and we had a good time exploring



Lockhart is actually becoming a popular place to film movies and shows.  Fans of the HBO show "The Leftovers" will recognize this clock tower from Season 2 as Lockhart is where they did the majority of the filming.



Isla even let me take photos of her.



Okay... there may have been some bribing involved...





Jacobs Well // Wimberly, TX

The next morning we woke up early and headed towards Wimberly, Texas for our 10AM reservation at Jacobs Well.



Jacobs Well is an artesian spring that is the largest continually flowing spring in the Hill Country.  Because of the Trinity aquifer below,  the constant year round temperature of Jacobs Well is 68 degrees.

Many scuba divers have explored Jacobs Well over the years, and have charted the well to be 140 feet at its deepest, with caves jutting out from the well coming in at almost a mile long.

Unfortunately, there have been a lot of casualties over the years as a result of inexperienced divers exploring the vast caves and getting disoriented.  As a result the state has banned divers from certain areas of the cave, encountering signs like these.

Luckily, we had no interest in scuba diving, and were just looking to jump in and cool off.

We were one of the first people in line to get into the park, and Jordan gallantly offered to make the trek with both kids and most of our gear so that I could hike forward and get some shots with no one else in them.



Holden was ready to jump in from the word "go", but Isla took a little more convincing...



Untitled Project from Kelly Fife on Vimeo.
It was such a cool place, and totally crazy to experience first-hand all our state has to offer.  This is definitely a MUST DO on your Texas bucket list.  And let us know if you go, we'll tag along!

We drove through Wimberly on the way back home to Katy but didn't stop as we were concerned about getting home with Labor Day traffic.  This proved to be a valid concern as it took us 2 hours longer to get home than it normally does.


famous Wimberly cedars


Its such a cute town, and somewhere we will definitely be back to spend more time in.

I'm so glad we were able to salvage some of our Labor Day trip.  It was a great 24 hour getaway, and we are definitely looking forward to our rescheduled trip with the Lennons!


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