Return to Hardberger Park
by Celia Hayes
So it has been a good many months since last we ventured into Hardberger Park, on Blanco just a titch north of where the Wurzbach Parkway runs between Blanco and IH-10. Our hopes are high, incidentally, that soon, very soon indeed, the link in the parkway between Wetmore and Blanco will be completed and we will be able to waft swiftly and without traffic lights halfway across the north side of town.
Our first clue that the main part of the park is finished and consequently enormously popular is that we had to circle the parking lot three times before finding a parking place. Yes, the park – the dog park, the play-ground and the hiking and biking trails are very, very popular on weekend mornings, especially as the weather has turned coolish, and it is smack in the middle of a number of upscale neighborhoods of condos, townhouses and apartments, along with the usual single-family houses. We snagged a parking place as my exasperated daughter was about to give up and drive back to McAllister Park, and the dogs were about to turn themselves inside out with impatience. Well, that, and the urge to pee. This was Nemo's first trip to a dog park, now that he has been neutered, vaccinated and more or less socialized. He is an odd but appealing little dog, intelligent and fearless, barely fifteen-pound mix of wirehaired terrier, possibly Chihuahua and who knows what else. We called him Nemo because we found him. We think someone moved out of the neighborhood and left him behind. He followed us home one day, and has stayed ever since. The vet said he is about a year old – still very much a puppy and inclined to be playful. He will try and get the cats to play with him, which they will do, up to a point.
We turned the dogs loose inside the enclosure, and let the two little ones romp in the big-dog section, which Nemo enjoyed very much at first, until he realized that in the resulting multi-dog grand chase which developed, he was the rabbit – that is, the chasee, not the chaser. So, off to the small-dog area, which I think he enjoyed rather more, since there were dogs even smaller than him. When they all had run off some of their energy, we went for a walk as far as the old Voelcker Farm, where the path crosses the Salado and meanders north for a good few miles. The pavilion at the park, with bathrooms and water fountains and some kind of office in it – is now entirely finished, and the trail-head for that section of the Salado Creek Greenway goes straight through it.
We did not much farther than the old farm, noting that another parking lot is under construction adjacent to it. The scenic overlook, jutting out from the steep bank a good way over the dry creek-bed, is also finished. The margins of the concrete trails are lined with heavy timber benches. We did not spot any cows, out behind the old farm – but we did see some deer at a relatively close distance. Yes, deer are well-adapted to the tangle of the light woods and rather hard to spot. If they hadn't been moving, I don't think that anyone on the path would have seen them at all.
And that was my weekend – the first day of autumn. And yours?