For the last 10 or so years it has been the tradition at SSW to take the Junior class to Mo Ranch just outside Hunt TX for a 2 day retreat; in the Texas Hill Country. The Hill Country is spectacularly beautiful, put it on your must-see list. Head west of Austin on 290 and the countryside begins to change to hills, sheer rock face cuts, open land with lots of horses, trees and some Longhorns.
Another tradition is to stop at the historic spot where Bishop John Hines (founder of SSW) is said to have been ordained to greatness-the Dairy Queen in Fredericksburg. 28 of us descended on the Dairy Queen and I'm not sure they have figured out yet what happened that afternoon! Fredericksberg is a lovely community with deep German and Czech roots and it is also the heart of Texas wine country. For you history buffs, we went through Johnson City, home to LBJ and past the LBJ Ranch.
When you take the Southwest turn at Kerrvile toward Mo Ranch you begin to travel along side the Guadalupe River. There is little to no river bank, many properties have stone/concrete patios built out into the river for diving and sunbathing. The river is a crystal green (think Gulf blue only green) and so clear you can see to the bottom at 15'. No muddy water and river grasses in this river! You go across low water crossings that have the 5' flood markers at the crossing; I think these are the places where horses ford the river. During the flash flood season (anytime it rains as they only get 15"-30" rain/year) it is recommended that you travel the long way from the north so you don't get washed away!
There is something magical about the region. One friend remarked, "I now understand why my friends from the Hill Country speak of missing and and loving it so much, it is beautiful here, it draws you in" . Unfortunately, I did not take my own pictures and can not figure out how to upload those that are posted on our SSW website. I will get someone to help me with that tomorrow and get some pictures up for you to see a little of what I am talking about. I will be writing about the retreat and getting that up within the next day, classes start on Wednesday. Liturgy I and History & Hermeneutics, light day for classes.