Saturday, November 25, 2023

During The Holidays, Spend Time Not Money

Spend time and not money with those that you value. Don’t go into debt buying things this holiday season. According to credit monitor Experian, the average American adult held $6,365 in credit card debt and the average auto loan debt per consumer was $23,479. Instead of accumulating more debt, try some of these outdoor activities that will, instead of creating more debt, hopefully create long lasting memories.

  • Hiking Adventures: Explore local trails and nature reserves – a refreshing hike costs nothing but promises stunning views and a connection with the great outdoors. Find hiking trails using the AllTrails app.
  • Picnic in the Park: Pack a homemade lunch, gather your friends or family, and head to a nearby park for a delightful picnic. It's a simple yet enjoyable way to spend quality time together.
  • Geocaching Quests: Join the global treasure hunt! Geocaching involves using GPS coordinates to find hidden containers. It's an adventurous and free activity that adds an element of mystery to your outdoor experience. 
  • Stargazing Evenings: Lay out a blanket, gaze at the night sky, and identify constellations. Stargazing is a serene and cost-free activity that encourages appreciation for the vastness of the universe. Download an app like Planets to help you identify constellations.
  • Photography Excursions: Grab your camera or smartphone and set out on a photography adventure. Capture the beauty of your surroundings, whether it's a scenic sunset, wildlife, or architectural details.
  • Botanical Garden Visits: Many botanical gardens offer free admission on certain days. Explore the diverse flora, learn about plant species, and enjoy a peaceful day surrounded by nature's wonders.
  • Spruce up the yard: Rake up leaves, plant a garden or decorate your house. Don’t think of these common house chores as work, think of them as opportunities to spend time together to accomplish a common goal.
  • Community Volunteering: Contribute to your community by participating in outdoor volunteer activities. This not only benefits others but also provides a sense of fulfillment without any financial burden. Find opportunities with VolunteerMatch.
  • Park Cleanups: Spend a day at a local park making a positive impact. Organize or join a park cleanup initiative to contribute to beautifying your neighborhood while enjoying the soothing sounds of fall.
  • Nature Journaling: Engage your creative side by starting a nature journal. Document your outdoor experiences, sketches, and thoughts. It's a meaningful and introspective way to connect with the environment. Here are some useful tips.

Spend time and not money with those that you value during the holiday season. Enjoying these experiences together fosters a sense of togetherness without creating a financial strainThese budget-friendly activities not only provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the season but also promote a deeper connection and might just create long lasting memories with the people that you love.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Top 5 Waterfall Hikes in Austin, Texas

Autumn is generally marked by cooler temperatures and the transformation of colors. In Texas, this season is often accompanied by an increase in rainfall. While the prospect of cold and rainy weather might not immediately sound attractive, it does unveil some hidden gems that are often overlooked. More rain results in more water in the creeks which in turn results in more water flowing over waterfalls. One of the most exhilarating ways to experience the beauty of Texas in the Fall is by embarking on waterfall hikes. 

This is my list of the top 5 waterfall hikes near Austin, Texas that promise stunning views, refreshing cascades, and a memorable experience. Lace-up those hiking boots, pack some snacks, and get ready to hit the trails!

  1. Three Falls Hike on the Barton Creek Greenbelt: Our first stop is the Barton Creek Greenbelt, a local favorite that offers the Three Falls Hike. This 7.3 mile out and back trail is a delightful mix of rocky terrain and serene beauty. As you navigate the rocky paths, you'll encounter three stunning waterfalls, each with its own unique charm. The sound of water rushing over limestone formations is a symphony for the senses. Explore the trail with this AllTrails map.

  2. Homestead Trail at McKinney Falls State Park: Next on our list is the Homestead Trail at McKinney Falls State Park, just a short drive from downtown Austin. This 3.4 mile loop trail takes you on a journey through lush greenery, leading to the majestic Upper and Lower McKinney Falls. The falls are surrounded by ancient limestone formations, creating a picturesque setting for a peaceful hike. The park's diverse flora and fauna add to the overall enchantment of this hidden oasis. Explore the trail with this AllTrails map.

  3. St Edwards Green at St Edwards Park: For those seeking a short hike and with a view of a waterfall, the St Edwards Green and Red Loop at St Edwards Park is a true gem. This 1.9 mile loop hike offers a mix of shaded trails and open spaces, leading you to a hidden waterfall that feels like a secret paradise. The tranquil surroundings make it an ideal spot for a contemplative hike or a peaceful picnic by the cascading waters. Explore the trail with this AllTrails map.

  4. Brushy Creek Trail at Brushy Creek Parkway: Venturing a bit north of Austin, the Brushy Creek Trail at Brushy Creek Parkway offers a family-friendly waterfall hike. This 6.4 mile out and back paved trail meanders along the scenic Brushy Creek, providing easy access to the refreshing beauty of Twin Lakes Falls. The waterfall is a perfect spot to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings, making it an excellent choice for hikers of all skill levels. Explore the trail with this AllTrails map.

  5. Infinity Loop at Bull Creek Metro Park: Our final destination is the Infinity Loop at Bull Creek Metro Park, offering a diverse landscape and, of course, a breathtaking waterfall. This 4 mile double loop moderately challenging hike takes you through woodlands and alongside the clear waters of Bull Creek, culminating in the mesmerizing Bull Creek Waterfall. The layered rock formations and lush greenery create a visual spectacle that's worth the hike. Explore the trail with this AllTrails map.

There you have it – the top 5 waterfall hikes near Austin, Texas. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a nature-loving novice, these trails promise a rewarding experience. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and immerse yourself in the natural wonders that the Austin area has to offer. Happy hiking!

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