Wednesday, May 28, 2014


We are coming up on our 39th wedding anniversary and, since I can't think of a single gift my hubby might want or need and, since I am much more into experiences than "stuff" these days, I decided to whisk him away for a mini-vacay instead. We had such a great time on our two urban get-aways last fall. We love exploring downtown areas in search of the hidden gems, be it local food specialties, art, architecture, gee-gaws, or just general quirkiness. Oh, and people! Always the people! However, when I asked my hubby whether he'd rather go back to stay in downtown Austin, San Antonio, or somewhere different his time, he said "What about the Hill Country Hyatt? We haven't been there in years."

Suddenly I was remembering the wonderful adventures we had there with our kids when they were in elementary school, when the place first opened -- floating on the lazy river, making s'mores 'round the fire pit each evening, checking out bicycles to ride around the humongous property, eating lunch wearing swimsuits at the poolside cafe, choosing from the hundred or so options on the ginormous breakfast buffet, fun activities scheduled throughout the day for the kids, poolside waiters bearing icy beverages for dad, and gardens filled with native plants for mom to explore. We'd never experienced anything quite like it before! So, of course, I told my hubby "Yes! Let's do it!"

My only concern was that, last time we went, the place had become so popular one could hardly squeeze into the lazy river for all the rambunctious kiddos. So, genius that I am, I came up with the brilliant plan of arriving on a Sunday, rather than Friday. I figured since school hadn't let out yet, we'd probably have the place to ourselves, right? Well, not exactly.

Luau Night
You see, one of the biggest problems with being retired is that you tend to lose track of the days, and sometimes forget about things like Memorial Day Weekend! So, that first afternoon we mostly just explored the grounds to see what was new, and did our best to avoid the mobs in all the water features.

A Tempting Hammock in a Secluded Alcove
The New Flow Rider Feature
The Flow Rider and the water slide are both new since we were last here...

but I was ever so happy to see that some things are still the same!

Samoan Fire-Eater
Samoan Fire-Dancers
Anywho, we still had most of Monday, after everyone else checked out, and half of Tuesday to do the water stuff, right? Again, not exactly. You see, it started raining that night. Thunder and lightening all night long. And it kept raining right through lunchtime. So what happens when a thousand disgruntled kids and their frantic parents are forced to stay indoors?

You get creative, that's what!

The rain eventually stopped -- though it was still chilly enough to light the huge fireplaces in the lobby -- and the hordes cleared out not long after. We started to feel a bit smug again. At least for a few moments. Then we tried to make dinner reservations at their luxurious Antlers Lodge restaurant, only to discover that it's closed on Mondays! So we thought "Ah well, we still haven't had one of those char-grilled burgers out by the pool yet. We'll just do that tonight." We finally donned our swimsuits, and I did a couple of laps around the lazy river while hubby sat reading, wrapped up in a warm beach towel. (It was actually warmer in the water than out!) A few minutes later the waiter comes up to us and says "Last call! The cafe closes at 5:00 today, I'm afraid." Noooooo!!! We were left with no choice but to eat dinner in the Springhouse Cafe. Though it does a lovely breakfast buffet, I'm sad to say that ordering dinner from its menu is on a par with dining at Applebees or Denny's. Soooo, not high on our list. Fortunately, a craft beer and peanuts in the Long Bar helped to cheer hubby right up afterwards, though it didn't do much for me.

On our last morning there, I spent the lengthy hike from our room down to the restaurant plotting out just which items from the huge buffet were my best options, and which were just "fillers". When the hostess tried to hand us menus, I cut her off, saying "No thanks, we're having the...", only to discover I am pointing to empty space where the buffet should have been -- yet another thing that seems to disappear on low-occupancy days.

So, yeah, it was that kind of get-away. But you know what? Even if everything had gone exactly according to plan, and the sun had shone down on us throughout? Well, there still would have been a vital ingredient missing. You see, I finally realized that it wasn't the place itself that made us so happy. The magical part had ever been seeing it all through the eyes of our giddy little kiddos! I guess it's true -- you can never go back.


Corrine at said...

Looks like a hopping place and fun too, but better without all the families. At least some of them, that's a pretty big group. xox

Hill Country Hippie said...

Yeah, it was crazy that first day, but we still managed to have a good time!