SITES UNSEEN

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

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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Justin Verlander will start for the Astros on Friday night. Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros (22-28, third in the AL West) vs. Oakland Athletics (21-31, fourth in the AL West)

Oakland, California; Friday, 9:40 p.m. EDT

PITCHING PROBABLES: Astros: Justin Verlander (2-2, 3.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 26 strikeouts); Athletics: Ross Stripling (1-8, 5.19 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 32 strikeouts)

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Astros -170, Athletics +142; over/under is 8 1/2 runs

BOTTOM LINE: The Oakland Athletics begin a three-game series at home against the Houston Astros on Friday.

Oakland has a 21-31 record overall and a 12-14 record in home games. The Athletics have hit 65 total home runs to rank third in the AL.

Houston is 22-28 overall and 8-13 in road games. The Astros have a 13-4 record in games when they did not allow a home run.

The teams match up Friday for the fifth time this season. The Astros lead the season series 4-0.

TOP PERFORMERS: Brent Rooker has 11 home runs, 17 walks and 32 RBI while hitting .286 for the Athletics. Max Schuemann is 12-for-35 with a double and two RBI over the past 10 games.

Kyle Tucker leads Houston with 17 home runs while slugging .638. Alex Bregman is 9-for-38 with three home runs and six RBI over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Athletics: 2-8, .225 batting average, 5.25 ERA, outscored by 27 runs

Astros: 7-3, .272 batting average, 3.13 ERA, outscored opponents by 20 runs

INJURIES: Athletics: Esteury Ruiz: 10-Day IL (wrist), Darell Hernaiz: 60-Day IL (ankle), Alex Wood: 15-Day IL (rotator cuff), Paul Blackburn: 15-Day IL (foot), Joseph Boyle: 15-Day IL (back), Freddy Tarnok: 60-Day IL (hip), Luis Medina: 60-Day IL (knee), Sean Newcomb: 60-Day IL (knee), Aledmys Diaz: 60-Day IL (calf), Miguel Andujar: 10-Day IL (knee), Ken Waldichuk: 60-Day IL (elbow), Trevor Gott: 60-Day IL (elbow)

Astros: Oliver Ortega: 60-Day IL (elbow), Bennett Sousa: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Penn Murfee: 60-Day IL (elbow), Luis Garcia: 60-Day IL (elbow), Lance McCullers Jr.: 60-Day IL (elbow), Jose Urquidy: 15-Day IL (forearm), Kendall Graveman: 60-Day IL (elbow)

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