I spent most of my time during a recent trip to the Junction area gawking at birds and hiking through the woods at South Llano River State Park.
But a trip to downtown Junction turns up treasures such as a picturesque courthouse, a sprawling city park, a metal bridge that looks like it was made with a giant Erector set, a new winery, some fantastic barbecue and a country store with an entire wall devoted to chocolate-covered pecans.
The Kimble County Courthouse anchors the small city. In surrounding blocks, hunters can drop by a deer processing shop, shoppers can buy art or longhorn beef at Rafter R Ranches Saddlery, and visitors can pick up a bottle at the Junction River Winery.
You can play a round of disc golf, picnic or jump in the river at Schreiner City Park, at the east side of the truss bridge that spans the South Llano River. Locals love to talk about how much money was spent to repaint that bridge, built in 1937, with lead-free paint so downstream folks like the residents of Austin could have clean drinking water. (Thank you!)
Looking for lunch? We love Lum’s, 2031 N. Main St., a few blocks south of Interstate 10. Pay no attention to the exterior. Just walk past the gas pumps, line up at the food counter and ask for brisket, sausage and coleslaw.
The Kimble County Historical Museum, 101 N. Fourth St., includes memorabilia from World War I and World War II, American Indian relics, antique tools and old photographs. The woman who operates the museum leads a history-packed tour to 700 Springs, at the headwaters of the South Llano River, each spring.
A room inside the public library, 208 N. 10th St., is dedicated to hometown boy O.C. Fisher, who served in Congress from 1943 to 1974. Look for a photo of Fisher posing with Miss Mohair, a copy of his book “The Speaker of Nubbin Ridge: The Story of the Modern Angora Goat,” a giant fly swatter and his well-worn desk, straight from the Capitol. Fisher died in 1994.
Like pecans? Pull into Plumley’s Country Store to pick up containers of chocolate-covered pecans (milk, dark, flavored or sugar-free), gifts, sandwiches, an ice cream parlor and canned food. I’m hooked on their pickled beets and stop for a jar every time I pass through town.