We have left Safebare to some family business. We’re heading northwest on the Interstate toward Austin Texas. The plan is to stay a couple of weekend days at Star Ranch. The intranet tells us that it is their 65th year celebration, so we’re expecting quite a party. When we call to reserve, we are told that the celebration is a ‘members only” function. There is no way to get in. We are cast adrift.
The next stop was to be Hippie Hollow at Lake Travis near Austin. The Star Ranch reception is helpful for directions through Austin and we head straight to as they say, “Heppy Wholer.”
We look out across a Lake Travis vista as we head down a steep incline to the gate.
The girl at the gate asks “You do know that this is a nude beach?”
There is a large parking lot, which is not too full on a Friday. The sign explains the situation. Basically, nobody cares that there are naked people wandering around smiling, past the sign.
We don a sun blocking system that gets us from the car and then ten feet past the sign. We stuff away our things and becoming unencumbered in every way possible.
We take a route off to the left. My information tells me that this is a longer more level way and maybe a better hike for newcomers who need to shake the road out of their joints. Our drive has been longer than intended and stressful through the city traffic.
A paved promenade writhes around the lake for a while. It curves along a steep slope of terraced rock that leads down to the water. Lots of short scrub trees cover the terrain creating a thick, but shady forest. We take in the views.
I scout for a good beach scene, or a place to rest, as DF starts to feel the heat. It is 101F today.
A pink umbrella is produced from our pack. I think DF looks very cute. It’s a sort of an Easter Parade look, if you allow a great tan to compensate for a frilly dress. It’s not going to make the local newspaper’s rotogravure. It does block the sun’s intensity.
I share with her, or just walk nude in the breeze and tree shade, when it is available.
We take a longer than expected walk. It ends through some friendly groups of men, until we come to a gate. It’s impassible, locked and the other side looks generally unused.
The decision now, is where to go to rest. We decide to go to the main beach, the full distance back where we came from. The stroll is pleasant, we take in the sights. It reminds me of a Mediterranean Coast.
There is much more development than I remember. I last visited this area 40 years ago. Traffic was a mess back then, now even with improvements, it has become kinda scary.
The park is well developed with good public toilets and showers, which are a treasure to cool off with. After a break, a very queer man offers to take a picture of us with our cameras. Nice guy, he snaps a few, while we stand and pose. We suspect that somehow, we still look like tourists without our clothing?
On our way, we were “warned,” actually told to beware that the other end of the beach was a gay pickup zone and it was a dangerous idea to go down there. We just did. The guys were generally minding their own business and smiling. Our story through “that part” conflicts with other’s ideas.
We find the route down to the water at the main beach. It is a stone terracing, sometimes step stones, sometimes the ledges are bigger. We take care, but it isn’t dangerous to get to a spot where we can drop everything and slip into the water.
He water drops quickly today at this level. We find a perch and we sometimes tread. Away from 101F air, it feels spectacular.
Naked people seem to be the same all over the world, friendly. People do stop by here from all over the world, we’re told. Several people are happy to make our acquaintance, as we soak up to our neck and talk. Everyone can supply information to the foreigners from out of state, which is actually as if another country in scale. We’re here in the middle of Texas.
I remember Austin for its wonderful taste in music, on the radio, in the clubs, and the PBS series “Austin City Limits.” It seems to have survived the onslaught that commercial music pushes to this day. There have been a few music boxes playing and each has been a treat. Here, someone has a boat anchored just out from the beaches buoy markers, which is blasting old Elvis Presley. “Hound Dog” comes up.
We are told on the weekends that there is a different “party” atmosphere here. One guy tells us that he doesn’t even think to come on the obnoxious weekends. “Loud ‘nuts’ party beer atmosphere” doesn’t sound very attractive right now, as we float pleasantly in the peace of the water.
We tell him where we came from and he knows Somerville Lake. He tells of his brother being jerked into the water by a huge catfish that he had hooked near the dam. He assures us that there are many other good meals to catch out there. “Never saw an alligator.”
We have to find a place to sleep. There is some potential just over the hill.
We stop to pull a couple of wraps out of the bag just behind the sign and wear them to the car. There’s a couple changing there, so we dig out some actual clothing and do so, too. We can’t show up to a mom and pop campground naked. This is the only zone for that. Hippie Hollow may be roped off, but it is good down there.
Now, there is more. Although this is a legally nude, friendly and legally recognized to roam free, it is caged in, like a farm with fences. There is one more offensive sign that explains the attitude from the powers that be.
My body is not adult oriented, lude, nor unfit for “G” rated activity. Exposure of mere nudity around children is not legal and that is enforced in this place in Texas. Very strangely, it is illegal for a even a child to show her undeveloped breasts.
I’ll just say that it is plainly wrong, as I write today. I have addressed this topic elsewhere. There seems to be little presence of law enforcement at Hippie Hollow, maybe there is more on the weekends. So, it might be practical to just avoid the potential of a hassle in the minds of authority. It may be a compromise. I don’t know. I know when I feel offended by someone pushing on to me their pompous ignorance. I am offend by a civil servant imposing his or her made up unrepresented law upon everyone.
We have embarked on a trip across the state of Texas. The statutes are clear as mud here and it is a long drive the length of half way across the continental USA. We do know that it can be weird in Texas and also strangely liberated.
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