By Morgan Robertson
Competing with the wind, currents, and occasionally each other, the LEAP Ambassadors spent the morning kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. Jessica and Yvette were partnered in one kayak, while Quinn and I were in the other.
We set off upstream with skills ranging from novice to Eagle Scout and everywhere in between.
Initially, finding a paddling rhythm was difficult, but after a few minutes of trial and error, we figured things out.
Naturally, kayaking became a competition. In general, Quinn and I held the lead, followed closely by Professor Yawn and Stephanie (who, in addition to rowing, handled all photography responsibilities)…
and finally, Jessica and Yvette in the back (who did their own version of photography).
We enjoyed racing across the water, trying new paddling techniques, and observing the local landscape and architecture lining the reservoir.
After kayaking left us hungry, the Ambassadors turned to a local burger spot called P. Terry’s, whose menu consisted of hamburgers, cheeseburgers…
chicken-burgers, fries and shakes.
Settling at Treaty Oak for lunch…
…the group learned about the 700-year-old tree and its history. We found out that Treaty Oak had served as a meeting site for the Comanche tribe and Steven F. Austin, as well as a place for Sam Houston to visit during his time as governor. We wrapped up lunch with quick selfies…
…and LEAPing photo by an ATX sculpture.
“What Lies Beneath”: Meeting Daniel Arredondo
By Jessica Cuevas
After lunch, the LEAP Ambassadors embarked on a trip to Daniel Arredondo’s beautiful art studio. Mr. Arredondo is known for his tree and landscape artwork with acrylic paint that comes in a variety of different mediums. He has a unique and creative art style in which he depicts not only what the eye can see but what may be found on the other side or under the landscape.
Arredondo has always painted landscapes, and has a particular affinity for trees. It was not until he sat down with his wife to watch the movie, What Lies Beneath, that he got the inspiration to include things beyond what the eye can see into his paintings. He shared with us that he enjoys drawings trees because they are beings of nature that are not that unlike humans; just like us, they come in different sizes and kinds.
Every single one of his paintings is unique in the sense that they each tell their own personal stories or deliver a unique message. Even those that appear to be similar have a different origin and story to tell.
In every art piece Arredondo creates, a piece of his heart is left behind. He loves his paintings so much that he treats them as the treasure they are. In fact, he lives by the motto that he hopes to catch the viewer’s attention and hold on to it for every possible second.
We walked away from his studio pleased not only with new pieces of art (some purchased, some given as a gift), but also with the advice of starting a collection of something we truly find fascinating or interesting. I am unsure of what I will start collecting, but I am looking forward to the process.
We greatly appreciate Mr. Arredondo for coming out to his art gallery and giving us a personal tour of his studio. We will never forget his kindness and generosity.
Dinner in Salado
By Yvette Mendoza
In the evening we arrived in Salado, Texas, and ventured into various local stores. Each store had its own unique handcrafted art, which ranged from handmade jewelry to blown glass. In Benton’s jewelry store, we met the owner, Bob Hargrove, who made all the pearl necklaces, diamond encrusted earrings, and sterling silver rings that are sold. Salado’s Glasswork shop had handmade blown glass, which was blown in a separate, colossal room at the shop. Walking alongside the shopping center, we encountered the ruins of the Salado College, which was founded in 1860.
While observing the bluebonnet-filled remains of the building, we learned intriguing facts about how much tuition was in the 1800’s (certainly not as much as today) and what the school’s rules consisted of, which also probably are unenforceable today.
Continuing our journey through Salado, LEAP Ambassadors met with the Edwards (Rocky and Lauren) at their lovely ranch. Lauren’s father was the founder of the Friends of the Old Town Theatre nonprofit in Huntsville, which Lauren now presides over as president.
Shortly after we arrived, Lauren showed us how to feed a baby calf, which was both exciting and nerve wracking.
She also provided a fascinating tour of her greenhouse and other outdoor areas. Inside her greenhouse she showed us the fascinating secondhand stained glass and doors she had saved and repurposed from her parents’ and grandparents’ homes.
After petting their horse (Barbie), watching Rocky call in the heifers with his voice alone, and petting the cows…
…we got to eat delectable grilled burgers.
Lastly, Lauren gave us Native American arrowheads that were from the Salado creek, where various tribes had resided, which was greatly appreciated. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for their graciousness and hospitality, and we look forward to visiting again soon! This was definitely a great end to our day.