No alarms were needed this morning, as the crow of a rooster echoed across the farm. Putting on a pot of coffee, I stepped outside to watch the sunrise over the hills. The alpacas were very grateful to see that I’d saved a handful of treats from the night before.
However, we couldn’t stay long as our reservations for a cave tour in Longhorn Cavern State Park were for 10:00 AM. Pulling up to the site a bit earlier than expected, we began to explore the grounds.
A small castle-like building stood up front that had been made into a museum. After reading a few of the plaques, we climbed the spiral staircase to the top and as we went, I heard a shriek. I turned around to see a lizard, also spiraling, but through the air instead. He had climbed onto the hand of an unsuspecting guest, who instinctively flung her hand upon feeling another being touch it–poor little guy.
As the clocked neared 10:00AM, we got in line behind our tour guide, Hudson. He revealed to us that this was only his second week on the job, but, without that disclosure, I honestly never would have known! For the next ninety minutes, we explored the dark depths of the caverns, watching our step as moisture leaked in through the ceilings.
This place had a LOT of history; it was once a meeting room for Native Americans who believed that if they strayed from the natural-lit area of the cave, they’d be greeted by a demon. That was reassuring. After the Native Americans, the caves turned into an actual nightclub, hosting live concerts, drinks and even food that was hauled down from a hole in the cave’s ceiling equipped with a pulley system.
Though I would have loved to be a party goer here, I’m grateful to the park for claiming this land and preserving it as the natural artwork it is today. As the cool temperatures began to warm once we neared the entrance, I could tell our adventure was coming to a close. We thanked Hudson and routed our maps to a local Irish winery down the street called Torr La Nochs. I figured this had to be fate, as I was originally supposed to be in Ireland right now.
Crawling out of the car, two happy four-legged friends ran over to greet us to the property. Belonging to the owner, these guys probably didn’t even realize the paradise they were living in. We followed the COVID-19 sanitizing procedure and went to sit at a table on the patio overlooking the valley. I couldn’t tell which view was best: The valley, the wine, or the cheeseboard. It’s no wonder so many weddings get booked at Torr La Nochs; this place was breathtaking.
I didn’t want to leave, but our park reservation was only until 6:00PM and it was a two-hour drive to Guadalupe Falls, so we went on our way. Stepping out of the vehicle, the cicadas and bush crickets welcomed us with a chorus. I couldn’t believe how loud these guys were. I began to understand what the headlines meant when they said millions more cicadas than normal were expected to emerge this summer.
Embarking on the River Front Trail, we were shocked to see not a single person at any point along the trail. However, this certainly didn’t mean that we were alone. Looking down to follow possum footprints along the muddy trail, we were suddenly clotheslined, rebounding backward off of the rope slung across the trail.
Realizing what the rope actually was, I let out a horrified shriek, making eye contact eight different ways with the palm-sized behemoth spider swinging above the crown of my head.
“Okay Julie, you can go first now,” I graciously offered.
We reluctantly continued down the loop, being joined by a family of white-tailed deer. The hike itself was only a few miles long, however, we were clotheslined at least three more times. It seemed as if these beasts had made a group chat to make sure their traps were spaced just far enough away from each other to allow you to let your guard down. I could not wait to take a shower after this one…
We checked into Hotel Gibbs around 6:00PM to freshen up before exploring San Antonio. Little did we know, this building was absolutely flooded with history. Looking out of our bedroom window, we could see the Alamo right across the street. However, Hotel Gibbs itself was actually built right on the same grounds that the Battle of the Alamo infamously occurred on as well. Now-a-days, you can hear and sometimes even see the souls who’ve left history behind here.
Hotel Gibbs was about as close as we could get to staying the night in the haunted museum itself. However, our paranormal investigation would have to wait. Taking a walk downtown, we strolled along the San Antonio River Walk, watching the ducks fight over the few French fries left on the side walk. As the sun slipped away behind the skyscrapers, the lights strung along the river’s edge began to turn on. We sat down to grab a bite with a view before heading back to our haunted hotel.
I heard a few children shouting in the halls as I closed my eyes, but at this point I was way too tired to figure out which century they were coming from. Until tomorrow…..