Ding Dong, Ding Dong!


Ding Dong! A city in Texas! Woo-hoo!

The story what happened to name the city: The town of Ding Dong was founded in the 1930s by a couple of settlers named Bert and Zulis Bell. The Bells ran a country store between Killeen and Florence. They hired a painter named C.C. Hoover to paint a sign for their store. Up the way a bit, in Florence, was a man by the name of Fred Foster. Fred had a bit of a sense of humor and when he saw Hoover walk into his hardware company, he urged Hoover to take a little creative license with the sign he was painting for the Bells. He told Hoover he should paint two bells on the sign and label them Bert and Zulis. Then, underneath the bells, Hoover should paint the words ‘Ding Dong’. Hoover took Fred’s advice and painted the sign. From then on the community was forever known as Ding Dong. Pretty funny, huh?

I drove through the seemingly invisible town during work hours to Killeen. Ding Dong is about 8 miles south of Killeen. That’s how I discovered the hilarious name.


*having a fit of giggles*

Posted in Southeast Texas, Texas Attractions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hey You, Creatures!

I just subscribed AllTrails once again.  The last time I subscribed it was like 5 years ago.  I was not really active in these Austin parks then.  Now I do.  Before I start my road tripping adventures in the Fall (hopefully).  When I was in Whole Foods to get my favorite soup, New England clam chowder that I couldn’t live without.  I will miss my soup when I leave Austin.  Anyway, I snooped to see where the parks were nearby on my iPhone.  Stephenson Preserve Trail is something that I never heard of.  The curiosity got to me.  It was about 9 minutes away from where I was  at.

I didn’t have any plans that afternoon so it was perfect for me to browse what’s in this small park.  There was a parking lot in front of the playground where parents enjoy their time while their kids play.

The park was at the Cherry Creek subdivision on William Cannon Drive and Westgate Blvd.  I decided to eat my soup there.  There were some picnic tables so I could sit and enjoy the nature as well.

After I was done with my lunch, I decided what the hell to take a hike….


The beginning.  Yes, the trail at the start here is paved and not particularly interesting. Where possible, head to the north onto the packed dirt paths to get to the preserve.


The long pathway but I cut my hike going to the different trail that were more rough and unpaved.


I noticed something from my left.


The sign.  I went ahead to check it out.  I am not sure what it was about.


After 20-25 minutes of hiking, I was surprised with the delight to see the wood sculpture.  It was in the middle of nowhere in the park.  I took my admiration of the thing. Someone must be in the neighborhood taking time to build this one like this.  I loved it.  I decided to see if there were any more of it.  I continued my hike..


Geez, I hated that.   I just randomly chose which way to go at the many trail intersections which I should continue my hike that can either lead to great adventure or confusing frustration, depending on your attitude.


Too many trails to pick out, look at this.  I bet mountain bikers are riding through them. It is extremely easy to get lost with all of the criss-crossing trails, so a GPS receiver with tracking enabled is a good idea.


A little pond…no alligators, sorry.


Charming, enchanting forest with magical mystical winding roads where you’ll meet some art pieces as well as a land nymph made of barbed wire. Often the colors and the terrain changes and there are many forks but beware of the forest trolls who live in the caves. Avoid the golden path into the ethereal space or you’ll be lost forever.


Stones balance.

IMG_5369 IMG_5373 IMG_5378 IMG_5380-Edit IMG_5385

These art pieces led me into the street of Eganhill and Harleyhill.  I noticed a lot of art pieces following to the house.


The bearded guy was working on his new art piece in his garage.  I was brave enough to come to him, looking at his amazing art inside the garage.  He realized that I couldn’t hear him. I had to make sure he understood that I was Deaf.  He introduced himself to me.  His name is Dale Wood.  He was very very friendly and excited to show me around what he did with his pieces.  I was totally in awe.  We talked some time.  I liked him a lot.  When I told him that I was going to write a blog about him and his art pieces, I asked him for the permission to acknowledge him and his talents.  He said YES!


I asked him if we could take a picture together.  He was more than obliged to come and say cheese to my iPhone. I feel honored to meet Dale Wood.  If you are interested to see his amazing art, contact Dale at  delvis@earthlink.net. You will LIKE him!

After I left to continue my hike, I found more art pieces on the way back.

IMG_5395 IMG_5396-Edit IMG_5399 IMG_5402 IMG_5403 IMG_5405 IMG_5411-Edit-EditIMG_5419-Edit-Edit-Edit

Stephenson Preserve Nature Park is awesome because of its show of art pieces that made me a happy hiker!!


Posted in All About Austin Snapshots, Austin, Texas City Parks | Leave a comment

Hill Country Science Mill | Johnson City, Texas

The Hill Country Science Mill is housed in a community landmark in the heart of Johnson City, Texas. The feed mill built in 1880 as a steam grist mill and cotton gin featured unique mechanical innovations that were used to process, sort and distribute grain to its rural community. The original steam mill was converted to a flour mill in 1901 and later was converted to electrical power and evolved into a feed mill in the 1930’s. The mill ceased operation in the 1980’s and was converted into a restaurant and entertainment complex. While a majority of the site and the mill have been dormant for the past 20 years, the mill has inspired photographers, muralists, and curious travelers who have been captivated by its romantic and iconic presence.

When I was en route to Enchanted Rock, the mill caught my eye.  I stopped by and took an inspection what was in store.  It looked promising so I would plan to come back after my camping nights at Enchanted Rock.  A couple of days later, sure enough I had to stop and get a sneak into some treasures waiting for….

What I saw….

a lot of shoes hanging on the building wall, old school houses, school bus in the shed, horse in the pool, ok, ahem, with the propeller along with,  a space cadet in the ceiling, weird, toilet seat, all right, no privacy, a kind of superman up one of the mills, a torn -down horse carousel and many more.

History of the Feed Mill: 

Johnson City truly is a step back in time, where neighbors share smiles and the warmth of a small town. A town full of dreams with the will to keep the history of Texas. you will find yourselves wanting more than a day in this setting, and on thing for sure you will never be the same. The Mill demonstrates the dynamic agricultural roots that are the heritage and the pride of Texas heartland. According to Blanco County History, the Crofts’ Mill was built as a steam grist mill and cotton gin in 1880 for James Polk Johnson.

In 1901, they used stones from a rock fence surrounding the Johnson Settlement (adjacent to the property) to build a flour mill. George Crofts, an acknowledged genius of mechanical gadgets, converted the Mill in the late 1930’s to produce agricultural feed. The Mill operated until the 1980’s and still contains the rather innovative and unique equipment designed by Crofts. Within the historic setting of the Old Crofts’ Mill a unique restaurant evolved. One that will delight the young and the old, a place full of fun, laughter, and down home hospitality. The Feed Mill Cafe was the brainchild of Tommy Thompson of Lubbock, TX and the first name was “Tommy’s Fried Green Tomatoes”.

Charles Trois, an artist, entrepreneur, inventor ad musician bought the abandoned Crofts’ Mill around 1992, with no real plans in mind for its development he just wanted to preserve the past. Trois got to work with a few friends, Tommy Thompson, Nancy Coplin, Linda Wiles and Joanie Thompson cleaning the complex, removing old equipment, salvaging what they could and rebuilding the rest. You just haven’t see anything like it before. From its “tail trompe” old tower with its faux workmanship, created by Austin artist Nathan Jenson, leaning out over traffic whizzing by on US Highway 290, to the restroom walls, painted by Joanie Thompson, that have given new meaning to the term “hand painted”. It is truly a must for memories to tell the family and friends about. In 1998 Mbandi Inc. of Branson, Missouri purchased the Feed Mill Complex.

On April 1, 2001 Jon & Sandi Seaux took over the management of the complex, and Fletcher Johnson returned to become General Manager/Chef of the Feed Mill Cafe.

(copied from http://www.hillcountryportal.com)

dsci0186 dsci0200 dsci0205 dsci0209 dsci0217 dsci0199dsci0236dsci0187dsci0271 dsci0204dsci0257 dsci0254 dsci0239 dsci0228 dsci0275dsci0272dsci0248 dsci0282

Two years passing by…I drove through the city several times but I hadn’t stopped to see how things were progressing for the restoration.

Until today, the Hill Country Science Mill recycles a historic community landmark into a gathering place for the community and a forum for science exploration. The design was conceived not as a contrast between new and old, but as the dynamic evolution of the mill from a place of industrial production to a place that can produce science leaders for the new generation. Unfortunately, it was closed when I re-visited the mill.  I was surprised how it turned out but I’m glad the new science center breathes new life into the old grist mill and cotton gin.

See how things are changin’…..


img_3873 img_3874 img_3875 img_3872 img_3871 img_3870

There are over 35 exhibits in which the entire family can participate, enjoy and learn. All signage is in English and Spanish, encouraging Spanish speakers, as well as English speakers, to feel welcomed to visit. And, if you have little ones, there’s a toddler area designated just for them to play and explore. You could easily spend an entire day at the Science Mill, especially with the Lady Bird Lane Cafe,  a small farm-to-table restaurant, on site. It’s the perfect place to grab a healthy lunch. Or, you can bring your own lunch to enjoy a picnic in the outdoor area.


I will be stopping for a short visit to see the inside of the center and be a little kid for a while.  🙂

It’s located at 101 South Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City, Texas, 78636. Stop by and visit. 

Posted in Southeast Texas, Texas Attractions | Leave a comment

Brenham Ghost Town


I stopped by before heading out to Austin. I had been passing over too many times.  I always wanted to check it out and I haven’t had an opportunity until last night.  It indeed is an abandoned building.  The sign said “no trespassing” and well, you know me, I trespassed anyway.  I was careful, not stepping on anything or rattlesnakes. I brought my headlights on.  It has never been mowed at all.  I saw the huge spider on the web hanging on the limb without disturbance from me.  I realized I was too close to try a picture.  I went out of the front yard, back on the street.  I found a perfect spot on the corner.  It’s creepy though.

I stopped at the gas station, asking the cashier if she knew anything about this ghost town. All I learned a little what it was about.

Mr. Winkelman moved the buildings on to the property from different areas around Texas. He wanted to make it a town for  bed and breakfast and little cafes. The area never took off due to family issues. It is inhabited by squatters now and the land is owned by a person in California.

When I got home, I googled to get more information and there were so little.  That’s all I know as I mentioned above.

Approximately 5 miles East of Brenham, on eastbound side of US 290. At the intersection of US 290 and Indian Paint Brush Road.

d Chapel Hill, TX.


Posted in Southeast Texas, Texas Attractions | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Gas Station – 2003 Remake

IMG_0036This is the original building from the scenes in the 2003 production of Texas Chainsaw Massacre featuring the creepy gas station. It is still just as creepy, especially at night. During the day it is an operating general store/country diner called Cele Store.  The building was originally built in 1891, as the Richland Saloon. It’s a little out in the country but only about 35-40 minutes from downtown Austin.

I drove here from Houston to check the building that was used in the movie.  I admired the building and its history from what I learned.  I was glad I was there to see it at 1:30 AM.  Yes it was during twilight hours that I was hoping to catch the Milky Way.  No it didn’t happen because the clouds were hovering over.

I reached the two lane country road meanders through picturesque farmland. If you’re not careful, you may miss the dilapidated structure that looks like a place history forgot to demolish. The warped, ruffled and rusty tin roof doesn’t hide its age, nor does the weathered and beaten gray wood siding.

Since 1951, it’s been owned by the same family, who built a BBQ pit that churns out delicious ribs, brisket and sausage. You won’t find glassware (other than beer bottles) and the dishware is low maintenance, plastic. Don’t expect a menu, either. They like to keep things simple. In addition to meat and tangy, homemade BBQ sauces, you can order pickles, onions and cheddar cheese. Because they don’t offer traditional sides, you’re welcome to bring your own. The table next to mine had bowls filled with potato salad and green beans, along with a birthday cake. And while Cele Store does serve bottles of beer and soda in cans, if you want hard liquor or wine, you’re welcome to bring them, too.

Another 21st century item you won’t find here: credit cards. Leave them at home because this old-fashioned establishment only accepts two forms of payment: cash and check.

Check their website: http://www.celestore.com/

The location is at 18726 Cameron Rd, Manor, TX 78653


Posted in Southeast Texas, Texas Attractions | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Torchy’s Tacos in South Congress Ave. | Austin, Texas

Torchy’s Tacos in South Congress Ave. The latest new development of the popular franchise.

Who says you need a business plan to start a taco joint? With a head full of ideas and a slight ache from partying all summer, Michael Rypka left his fancy executive chef job to chase his dreams. He soon found them in Austin with a newly acquired food trailer and a red Vespa scooter. A house was mortgaged. Credit cards were maxed out. And in 2006, Torchy’s Tacos opened on Bouldin Creek at South 1st.

Watching cars drive by, Mike realized he had bet his life savings on green chili pork and fajitas mixed with his own desire for some great street food. With no customers in sight, Mike hopped on his scooter and handed out free chips and his award-winning salsa to personally invite everyone to stop by the trailer for some tacos. It worked.

The first menu was filled more with experiments than meals. So whenever Mike heard his customers holler “damn these tacos are good!” they were added to the menu. Soon “Damn Good” became a rally cry at the trailer. The Taco Dream grew and took on a life of its own with long lines and happy customers.

Today Torchy’s Tacos operate over 30 stores and a trailer park.

Rest is history! 

I just found out that there is another Torchy’s Tacos in Colorado! I was surprised to learn that when my friend, Ralena, posted a few of this restaurant yesterday.
2016-02-12 19.26.58
The entrance.
2016-02-12 19.27.08-1
The beautiful front.
2016-02-12 19.42.17-1
I’m glad the restaurant is giving their respects for Fran’s Hamburgers, the popular landmark for so many years. Fran’s Hamburgers gave up their lease about two years ago. We miss them.
2016-02-12 21.05.15
The sideways.
Posted in All About Austin Snapshots | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Yarn Bomb!

I took a hike at the Cooperfield Nature Trail that led me into the street. I went down on the street and saw the crochet-covered tree. It was awesome to see the art in front of me. I couldn’t resist getting close and took a look on the front yard. No one saw me. At least I didn’t knock down any flower pot. 😁

It’s not too far from Dessau Lane and Braker Lane.

12017 Rotherham Drive
Austin, Texas


Posted in All About Austin Snapshots | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment