One of the reasons I don’t go to Wild Basin often is because gate access is a slot machine: Crank a lever with a drive all the way from South Austin and watch the three reels go round and round in my head, my bloodshot eyes hoping for a row of cherries, 7s, or stars to line up. What’s it gonna be? Ash from my imaginary cigarette hangs out like a withered twig, falling to the floor.
The entrance is a dangerous turn-in where you have to come in at a fast clip to avoid getting rear-ended by speeding traffic. You can’t see the gate. We made the high-speed turn, our tires crushing loose rocks, and drove up the hill. The tin sign hanging on the gate creaked, swaying back-and-forth like a sign in front of a secret Air Force Base. PRESERVE CLOSED. I looked up to the heavens like some Thor waiting for his hammer summoned in anger to land in his hand. Nothing on the website! Nothing on their facebook page said they were closed! I’m pretty sure we won’t be swept by floods from the two-hour rain yesterday…Oh well. Wild Basin is like that shut-in neighbor that closes the drapes and turns off the lights when someone knocks on the door. I know you’re home, I sang.
Vanessa asked me to show her the scenic overlook I always stop by on my motorcycle rides, so we drove just up the road for a skyline view. The wind was picking up and I stood on the stone wall to get the energy out and take some pictures.
We couldn’t make up our minds where to go. My wife’s fists were deep in her coat pockets and she hopped up and down to keep warm. We both stared at the satellite maps on our phones for any new green and blue. We couldn’t make up our minds, so we decided to go look for another view. I thought I hadn’t seen a particular section of Barton Creek, so we drove on 2244 to find the bridge by the Omni Resort. When we got there we enjoyed a stunning view from the car but found nowhere to park. All private property, of course.
Occasionally, when I’m prowling affluent neighborhoods like an ice cream truck for access to trails and can’t find any, I’ll look for a church. Sometimes they have a meditation trail, and sometimes they have backdoor access to the Rich Man’s woods. I thought we hit snake eyes on the slots again, but lo and behold, we found a nice Presbyterian church on the way out. Yes! Labyrinth, anyone? Meditation trail? Newly bloomed bluebonnets singing from the ground. We also found a hidden trail to the bridge over Barton Creek.
We crossed both sides of the bridge, dangerously, I might add. Our flashlights startled passing cars. I thought there were walkways. There were not. There were narrow ledges made for bungee jumps of death. But we had that stunning view, now in person, of a blade of water cutting below in the night.
We crossed the street like daredevil bike messengers and took the church trail back to the parking lot. I noticed a blockchain of wooden stairs. I hated to ask my wife, but asked anyways. It was getting late and we still had to cook dinner. We climbed to the top for any view we could find, and found one of a dark valley and lights, with pin drop stars in a slot machine sky.