Monday, May 14, 2012

All--Aboard! Riding the Rails with the BSW DayTrippers

All--Aboard!  Posing with the Train Conductor
Hill Country Flyer at the Cedar Park Depot

Along the Train Tracks

Depot Time at Cedar Park
Excursion Coach on the Buckeye Trail
Souvenir and Snack Car
Thumbs up to our Train Ride!
All Smiles on the Hill Country Flyer
Arriving in Burnet

Betty and Jean



Sherry and Steve

Marilyn, Kevin, and Paul

Teresa and Bill

Wildflowers along the Tracks

Round the Bend on the Way to Burnet
Landscape from the Train
Giant Bluebonnets in Burnet

Colorful Burnet Shop

Downtown Burnet, Texas
Duck Trio at Hamilton Creek

Blue Bench at the Park

Duck Friends at the Park

Reflections along the Creek in Burnet
Cruising the Creek

Hamilton Creek Park

Two Turtles

Big Sky on the Return Trip
Marilyn and Floyd at Cedar Park


Blue Skies for Everyone!

Riding the Rails~~Past and Present
by Cindy Morawski

Wearing my Sunday best, I remember boarding the train to Pittsburgh with my Mom and brother when I was a child.  We caught the train from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and then rode into downtown Pittsburgh's commuter's depot.  Every year at Christmas time, we'd go on this excursion so we could do some Christmas shopping and enjoy the wonderful holiday window displays, complete with animation, lights, and winter and holiday themes.  Christmas music filled the air along the department stores' sidewalks to get you in just the right mood.  The crisp, cold northern air helped redden our cheeks and brighten our spirits.  

Childhood memories of riding the rails also came in a train trip to Penn State to visit my cousins, Warren and David, when school was officially out for the summer.   Eating in the dining car with white tablecloths and shiny dinnerware made it seem so grown-up to a girl of ten.  I remember the food tasting delicious and meeting people from all over the place.  Settling down into my coach seat and watching out the window as the landscape whizzed by placed me into a happy trance-like space.  Farms, fields, and small towns waltzed by my window.  This seemed way better than TV!

Riding along in the family car as a kid, I also remember getting stopped at our small town's railroad crossing when the red lights came flashing on and the white gates lowered.  I'd wonder where all those passengers were going to.  The coach cars' lights illuminated the people as they rocked on by as the engine's whistle filled my ears.  The engineer in the red caboose would wave back at me as my mother would sigh in relief at the long wait and delay for our trip along the way.   The magic of train travel was never lost on me.  

Switching to adulthood, I had a chance at traveling by train one July with my summer vacation and time-off as a teacher.  I took an Amtrak trip from Denver to Seattle.  The scenery, fellow travelers, and reminders of childhood train trips helped put me into a full-circle moment.   During that particular train ride, I woke up and it was jet-black in the middle of the night.  The gentle swaying and rocking motion of the train had stopped.  We were sitting still.  The railroad crew was removing something from the tracks so that we could continue safely on down the ties.   Train travel is not meant for folks in a hurry.  Although, the restful nature of being passenger instead of driver, getting to walk around when restless, and seeing the sights of endless landscapes offers a round of rewards to those who prefer a journey of a different travel nature.  

This past Saturday, I listened for an "all aboard" at the Cedar Park depot outside Austin, Texas.  With my DayTripper friends in tow, I stepped right back into the past as I climbed the steps of the Hill Country Flyer to Burnet.  The conductor greeted us as we prepared to ride the train.  We rode on the excursion coach of the Buckeye Trail.  It had air conditioning, a restroom, and a nearby souvenir and snack car.  Comfortable royal blue seats with upper storage racks sat  on both sides of the aisle.  Paul and I sat facing our friends Marilyn and Floyd.  The seating arrangement encouraged friendliness and fun conversation.  A quick announcement was made over the PA system and then we were off.  The train chugged and slowly pulled out of the station.  And, I watched out the window, feeling like a girl again.  The magic had just begun.  

When we arrived in Burnet about an hour later, we had time for lunch, shopping, or a walk in the park.  Our group had reservations at Jardin Corona on South West Street.  Our table overlooked Hamilton Creek, a beautiful city park, complete with ducks floating by our view.  The Mexican food was especially delicious.  I had vegetarian enchiladas, and they were some of the best I've ever eaten.  Overall, our restaurant choice had a relaxing atmosphere with excellent service.  Everyone split up after lunch to pursue their own interests.  Paul and I took a leisurely stroll through the park then headed back for our return trip home.  Some of our fellow passengers also witnessed a staged western gun fight at the depot at 1:30 p.m.  This western battle included the good guy sheriff, the bad guy robbers, and of course, some colorful saloon girls.  One of the saloon gals was recruited from the train passenger list.  I remember the sheriff asking for volunteers when we arrived in Burnet earlier.  

The trip back went quickly.  Before I knew it, we were back in Cedar Park.  The day went by so fast.  I regretted that it hadn't been a longer train ride.  Oh well, Paul and I will just have to plan for another ride on the rails in the future.  Maybe a journey across Canada . . . 


PS:  If you're looking for more information about this train trip, please check it out online at  Here's the address:  401 E. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park, TX  78613.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Raining Possibilities~~ Painting Sunflowers and a Sunrise

Sunflower Field of New Beginnings
by Cindy Morawski

Spring Rains, Painting, and Storms

I've celebrated spring of 2012 with flower paintings.  It's been ages since I painted sunflowers so I wanted this time to paint them with a sunrise and a colorful skyscape.   I photographed and sketched this sunflower scene in Castroville outside San Antonio. 

Today it rained almost all day where I live in San Antonio.  What a great day!  The crepe myrtles in our yard are blooming, and they have really perked up with the rain showers.  We have white, purple, and red blooms on our various crepe myrtles.  Last year, none of them bloomed because of the drought.  The other night it stormed, and the thunder woke me up.  Lightning flashed into the bedroom window and kept me awake.  I heard the storm, but no rain.  Later, the rain came too.  What a relief.  San Antonio recently moved into stage 2 of water restrictions.  I hope the rainfall this week will not only help out the aquifer, but that it will benefit the entire community.  

In my painting, Sunflower Field of New Beginnings, I'm pairing the cheerful sunflower with the freshness of the sunrise.  To me, they are metaphors for better days and new starts.  The optimism of both can lighten one's burden.   I wish I could start all my mornings with a colorful horizon and a field of flowers saluting me with their friendly charm.  Imagine that.
Mockingbird Studio, 210.522.0706

Monday, May 7, 2012

LaVillita's FIRST FRIDAY~~A Photo Journal by Cindy Morawski

LaVillita on the San Antonio Riverwalk

All Chrome and Metal

LaVillita Art Gallery

Selling my Paintings at First Friday

Artist Irena Bowren

First Friday of May 2012


  a Celebration of Art, Music,
  Classic Cars, and Food
  at LaVillita in San Antonio
May 4, 2012, from 3 to 9 p.m.

   * Photography
    by Cindy Morawski