Thirteen songs. We made it from South Austin to Krause Springs in thirteen songs. There were four of us cramped in our Scion hatchback, so I came up with a round-robin rideshare game for us to play. Share the stereo that is. Each of us would take turns playing three songs followed by a bluetooth refresh for the person up next. (The bluetooth system did not like that.) My son’s friend was with us for a sleepover, so I told him he was up first. I knew it made him squirm. He slipped his quarter into the jukebox and boom. It was fun hearing everyone’s selections, and I believed it passed the time. I wasn’t expecting the country song, “Beer Truck,” though, from a 14 year-old. It was only 99 outside.
I read some of the posts on Krause Springs before we left, and I was surprised. “It’s too muddy.” “I don’t know what all the fuss is about Krause Springs.” “The bottom feels gross.” What? Am I reading this right? This is my pet peeve: shopping for experiences as if we’re not responsible for BRINGING some of the fun, too.
Of course, I’ve been that way myself. Not gonna lie.
When I stepped past the paygate, I walked up to the stone balustrade and couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought I was at a narcotraficante estate. Luxurious. I was waiting to see white Arabian horses, prancing in place, led by the reins to the stables. Butlers with silver platters with grapes, cheese, and wine being delivered to a gazebo where the cartel leader scoffs at his men below, and crosses his legs on his Wicker chair throne while being handed a cell phone. “Make the shipment!” he shouts. “And I don’t want any mistakes this time, estupido!”
I was in love with the place as soon as I strolled through the gardens. I had already opened a snack-sized bag of Doritos, so I was feeling like hiker trash, but I didn’t care. I was in the lushest garden I’ve ever visited. Ever. The giant wind chimes and purl of fountain water all around me soothed me quietly inside. Crunch. I didn’t even lick off Dorito dust from my fingertips I was so awestruck by the garden. I wanted to run from fountain to fountain giggling with a British accent like Jane Eyre.
Everyone that worked there smiled at me. Were they just being nice or could they tell I was happy?
We walked by the upper pool. When we parked, we told the boys to leave the cooler to us and to grab their towels and go. And go they did. When we reached the picnic table they had left all of their valuables out in the open for anyone to steal. iPhones, expensive scuba goggles. Everything. But there’s no stealing in Neverland. I finished off the Dorito dust from my orange fingertips with a lick and a lip smack…We grabbed their 30lbs of gear and made our way down the stairs. I felt rich walking down, (whatever that feels like). The sound of waterfalls were all around us, the glorious Cypress trees blocked the tyrannical sun, and the gentle burble of a passing brook slowly soothed me quietly inside. That’s two aural massages and I haven’t even hit the water.
When we made it down, I could hear a little hollering. Nothing too bad. I mean, it’s Texas. It’s BYOB. (No glass, now.) I was looking for my son and his friend and that’s when I saw the other guy.
He might as well have been knockin’ his knees together, he was so fraught with fear. He was in his 20s. He even had a life vest on. FROZEN. Gripping the ledge of the limestone bluff with his toes. The dirt and debris sizzled as it crumbled, falling down the cliffside. In the water below were five or six people egging him on to jump. Sounded like the 9th inning of a heated baseball game.
I guess it was about a twenty foot drop. My son was standing behind him, whispering to him. He wouldn’t go. That’s when the local daredevil, already many, many beers deep, caught his scent. A scent of fear.
Like the TV wrestlers of old, he pulled back the ropes after he was tagged and jumped into the ring in tightey shorts and those shiny clown shoes, into the water. He actually had a mohawk mullet with short, curly hair. Just enough length to shake and bake glitterdust over his shoulders and back.
He and his friend, both holding silver tallboy cans in hand, spent the next fifteen minutes hollering like drunken Little Leaguers at a baseball game, heckling and demanding knock-knees to jump. “DO IT! COME ON! IT’S EASY! THERE’S A KID BEHIND YOU WAITIN’ TO GO! DON’T BE A…” There were eight people now yelling and hollering for him to go. My son, the cliff jump whisperer, couldn’t do his job. (My son is a recovering knee-knocker himself, and is as patient and understanding as can be with the other ‘icicles’ he meets who are struggling to jump from a rock ledge into water).
I could feel the two-headed Karen inside of me fighting to come out. They had been awakened. One was the good Karen (with good hair) that will take on anybody on behalf of those who can’t help themselves, and the other Karen, well…we all know how she acts. Where is security…
I yelled. “Let’s all be quiet and see if silence helps him out,” I said out loud. Very loud. Everyone in the creek went silent. Except for you know who. The two wrestlers in the Coors Light dugout.
As a matter of fact, he and another random guy were so perturbed, they swam to the riverbank to climb up to where old knock-knees was to go show him how it was done. The wrestler went first. His voice was going hoarse from self-promotion. He was workin’ the crowd…but guess what. He backed it up. And by back, I mean with a backflip into the water. I could hear him hold his breath when he leapt. I have to admit. I was impressed. And then he made us all laugh…As he swam over to his other friend, he was blinded by the sun…
“Damn, you got an aura around you, man,” he said seriously, with a Texan accent. You look like an L.E.D. Turn that sh*& off!”
A beer was already flying to him in the air.
Mohawk Mullet man raised up his hand while treading and caught it with ease. The top was popped before I could blink.
The next guy who had gone up to confront old knock-knees was not happy. He was berating him for not jumping and for holding up the line. He lunged for him trying to push knock-knees in and then…
He missed. He fell and landed right on his ribs. Splat! The white tee-shirt he was wearing gave it an extra spank of a splash.
The whole place got quiet. I was ready to leave this place and go back to the garden. To my Doritos Zen…
But I got in and swam away to the waterfall. The rocks underneath it looked like giant, oiled statues of bullfrogs half underwater. The moss and maiden fern captivated my gaze and I reached out to squish the green like they were sponges. I stood underneath the spray and realized there was a grotto inside. I walked in cautiously. I couldn’t hear the hollering anymore.
Just the soothing echo of waterdrops.
I felt the cool of the air and I smiled, as the two Karens inside me went back to sleep in there…
Krause Springs FAQs:
Distance: 13 songs
Hours: Everyday until 7:45. They ring a giant bell when it’s time to go. Sounds like a Kung Fu Temple
Camping: yes, $15
Fees for a day pass: 12 yrs of age & up : $9. Yes they take cards
Hiking: Yes, but more of a Zen walk. But you can make it a hike, easy. Don’t listen to the shoppers
Can I bring food and drinks: Yes! You can bring anything and everything except glass…
How do I get out if it’s after 8pm and the gate is locked: Park your car close to the gate, but park to your left (by the gate motor) and be ready to reverse because the gate swings open in reverse
Fun: There is a short cliff to jump from and a great rope swing tied to a Cypress tree, There is an upper pool filled with COLD spring water, and the lower area is the Creek pool, much warmer
By the way, the water is only murky because the swimmers kick up the silt. If you go in the morning and early in the week, I am told you can see to the bottom
Tip: If you get a chance, go meet and talk to Gary. He is the nicest security guard you will ever meet. Ask him about the history and generosity of the Krause family. We are blessed to have access to this Hill Country oasis. His nickname is the “DRAGON” and he has his own stickers that he passes out to people and kids. He is the nicest man. He made us feel welcome.