I have to brag on myself a bit and say that I made it through the 5K! Maybe there is still hope of me becoming a real runner. Participating in the 5K also gave me a chance to explore the Hill Country town of Blanco, where the race I ran in was held.
Blanco, which is also home to the Real Ale Brewing Company that makes my favorite Fireman’s #4, is well known for its lavender farms, so we couldn’t have picked a better weekend to get a taste of the town than its annual Lavender Festival. First off, Blanco is so easy to get to from Austin. Take Hwy. 290 west toward Fredericksburg, and when you get to Hwy. 281, turn left (south toward San Antonio) and in six miles, you’ll be on Blanco’s Main Street. The trip takes about 45 minutes from Austin.
Because the Lavender Festival is such a big deal, lodging options were pretty picked over, but we did find a place to hang our hats for a very reasonable price at the family-owned Swiss Lodge, which was simple, clean and convenient (and had the E! Network so this Chickster without cable got to see a bit of her beloved “The Soup”). After we checked in, we drove around town, only to find out that Blanco really is small. There’s a quaint historic downtown square and the beautiful Blanco River, and that’s pretty much it. We ate fish tacos and burgers at the charming Redbud Cafe, right on the town square. Because no small town visit is complete without a piece of pie, we asked around and were told that we should check out the Blanco Bowling Club and Cafe. That’s right – a cafe that has a bowling alley (mostly for league play) attached.
We got there minutes before closing, but the wait staff couldn’t have been nicer about obliging our pie penchant with the last two slices of chocolate cream pie, which you can see in the top photo. I’m usually not crazy about meringue, but this had the perfect flavor and texture. The crust was all buttery goodness, and the chocolate filling epitomized the word rich. Yum. This is the only chocolate pie I’ve ever had that could at all rival my grandmother-in-law’s (although hers still comes out on top…I think. Maybe a side-by-side taste test is in order!). The pie was beyond decadent, but we figured we could do with a little pre-race carb loading.
Early the next morning, we drove out to Heron’s Nest Herb Farm, where our 5K was held. As soon as you walked on the grounds of the farm, you could smell the lavender even before you could see it. The fields were full of the stuff.
I think we picked the perfect 5K for our first race, because after we completed our 3.1 miles (in 34 minutes!), we were rewarded with mimosas and a yummy breakfast of goat cheese and roasted vegetable tart and a salad with the best lemon vinaigrette dressing I’ve ever had. Yum. After the race, we got all cleaned up and headed to the Lavender Festival market in downtown Blanco. There we sipped on lavender margaritas (delish) and checked out the lavender products for home and beauty and the many jewelry, craft and art booths.
After we’d picked up some jewelry and some sauces and salsas from Fredericksburg Farms, we took a break for lunch at the Sunset Cafe, which had been recommended to me. The reviews on TripAdvisor were mixed, with the consensus being that the food was good but the service was not. Our server couldn’t have been nicer, but after we waited more than an hour for our chicken salad sandwiches, we understood the service gripe. The slow kitchen may have just been a consequence of the busy festival, but be warned if you decide to check it out. And I’m not sure if it’s because I’d worked up an appetite through running and then waiting forever for my food, but that chicken salad sandwich was amazing.
Because I like mimosas and pie, I think I’ll be returning to the lavender festival next year to go for a run. And who knows, maybe I’ll make it a 10K.