SITES UNSEEN

Hill Country river cruises explore a vanishing Texas, from ghost towns to bald eagles

Set sail on Lake Buchanan and uncover sites previously unseen. Courtesy photo

This article originally appeared on CultureMap and was written by Cindy Brzostowski.

Eagle season is in full swing, and a trip around Lake Buchanan in the Hill Country with Vanishing Texas River Cruises offers an opportunity to catch sight of one of these majestic birds in their natural habitat.

Situated a little less than an hour-and-a-half drive west of Austin, the 22,000-acre lake, and surrounding Highland Lakes region, serves as a feeding and breeding ground for migrating bald eagles from mid-November through the end of February. VTRC runs three- and four-hour cruises for eager eagle-spotting adventurers, with the last of the season being offered on February 23.

While it may not necessarily have been the norm, Shawn Devaney, owner and captain of VTRC, fondly recalls a spectacular eagle sighting. "We cruised by Burrows Bluff, and at one time we had 37 eagles flying over the boat," he says. "It was unbelievable."

Don't worry if you can't make one of their eagle trips. The varied wildlife and the beautiful scenic vistas of the area make their other cruises just as worthwhile. Herons, egrets, cormorants, hawks, vultures, kestrels, ospreys, and owls all frequent the area, a picturesque landscape of waterfalls and cliffs.

Continue reading on CultureMap to find out about VTRC's most popular trip.

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Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images.

NASCAR makes its inaugural trip to the Daytona Roval for the Go Bowling 235. This will be one of the most anticipated races in recent memory considering that for many years, it was considered that NASCAR would run here in this configuration and now it's finally has come. It will be extremely hard to predict what will go on and to add on there will be no practice and qualifying. This should be one of the most insane races in recent memory and I have no idea who will win this one. This will be a race you don't want to miss

Kevin Harvick dominated the doubleheader last week as he won both races on Saturday and Sunday. He led a combined 182 laps in both races and was easily the best car. The main headline of the race was NASCAR's new choice box rule. This was implemented last week for the first time in a points paying event as NASCAR tried it out in the all-star race at Bristol in June. This rule allows each driver to go to either the outside or the inside of the orange painted box after the start finish line. This allows them to line-up in either lane they chose. It paid dividends for a lot of drivers including Bubba Wallace and Joey Logano as they both picked up a number of spots on Saturday on the final restart. Overall, I really like this new rule but NASCAR once again decides to change everything up in the middle of the season. I echo the sentiments of what Clint Bowyer's spotter Brett Griffin was saying on his door bumper and how NASCAR needs to stop making such massive changes in the middle of the season. Regardless, I look forward to seeing how this works going forward.

As the silly-season continues, one of the big dominoes to fall was Christopher Bell as it was announced (as expected) that he will drive the #20 Toyota next season for Joe Gibbs. This was bound to happen the moment Bell moved up to the Cup Series this year for Leavine family racing. This was very similar to the trajectory of how Erik Jones got his ride back in 2017 when he replaced Matt Kenseth in the same car. While I hate to see Erik out of a ride, I have a feeling he will land on his feet and have a career resurgence wherever he goes. Besides, more than likely he'll be at the top of the list for Rick Hendrick to take over the #48 ride. This silly season continues to twist and turn as there were also rumors that a driver that isn't currently in the sport also was interviewed by Rick Hendrick for the ride. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks.

As we get closer and closer to the playoffs, the battle for the 16th and final spot in the standings is heating up. Currently, 7-time champion Jimmie Johnson and Erik Jones both sit 17th and 18th in the standings. This has been a season of such promise for both of these drivers and as everyone knows this is Jimmie's last season. It would be a shame to see both of them miss the playoffs as both have a lot to race for. In the next few weeks, don't be surprised to see these guys get desperate. In fact, Johnson has changed his paint scheme to white as he believes the black and purple look has given him bad luck. Both of these drivers have the speed to get in and it will be crucial for them to pick up as many stage points as possible, something they have struggled with all year. It will be interesting to see who falls over the next few races.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. Like I said earlier, this will be very difficult to predict considering this has never been done before and that there will be no practice. But if there is anyone who can get it done on a Roval, it has to be Ryan Blaney. Back in 2018, he won the first race at the Charlotte Roval and while both are extremely different, it would only make sense to see him win here. This year has been tough on the second generation driver and while he is solidly in the playoffs and has led the points at one point, he still has yet to capture that elusive first win. I expect all that to change come Sunday. Look for Ryan Blaney to take the checkered flag.

Tune in this Sunday, this is definitely going to be one for the books. There will be a lot of beating and banging and a lot of things that we aren't used to seeing. With the chance of rain as well, we could also see history as NASCAR has the rain tires at the ready for this occasion. This will be one you won't want to miss.

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