My Favorite Photos of 2023

A look-back at the visual wonders of last year
Photo: Highly localized fog bank resting over Lake Marble Falls (TX) and viewed from the parking lot of First Baptist Church, Marble Falls
A highly localized fog bank blanketing Lake Marble Falls (TX)

Before we get started, please note and express your approval of the fact that I didn’t stoop to a more obvious alliteration of the post title by referring to “favorite fotos.” I’m fancy that way.

Now, I realize that I was completely foolish and self-unaware when I committed to following in Berry Simpson’s footsteps to create a list of “100 Things That Made 2023.” I should have known better, even though in 2022 I managed to come up with 75 “things” in my first attempt at that exercise. This year, I documented about a dozen “things” and realized that if they bored me, they would likely be the death of anyone else. I abandoned the effort, and switched to Plan B (which admittedly didn’t exist until Plan A fizzled out).

I’ve scrolled through more than 800 photos in my 2023 archives and picked out 38* images that I’m particularly fond of, and I hope for your sake that this doesn’t become the equivalent of your elderly uncle’s vacation slides from when he drove his 1987 Class C motorhome from London, Texas, to see the world’s largest rocking chair with stops along the way in Gurdon, Arkansas (home of the Hoo-Hoo International Office and Museum), and Branson, Missouri, to catch a matinee performance by the Famous Baldknobbers. OTOH, perhaps that would be a pretty cool show to sit through. Different strokes, as they say.

Anyway, following are some pictures I took (or created) in 2023 that I like looking at. I could have presented them chronologically, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I’ve grouped them into some sort of semi-logical categories, to better realize my artistic vision. Or something. I probably will never do that again because it was hard.


A drone is a great way to capture dramatic scenes in the early morning hours, particularly on a foggy morning.

Photo: Drone capture of sunrise over a foggy Horseshoe Bay, TX
The view from 400′ in altitude was spectacular.

Occasionally, the clouds are the main characters.

This is another amazing view from 400′.

Sunrises aren’t always colorful…or even noticeable at ground level. This was a view of a foggy sunrise over Lake LBJ, taken from the path leading to the lighthouse.

Black and White photo of an obscured sunrise over Lake LBJ
The morning wasn’t quite as dreary as this photo suggests.

We don’t have a good view of sunsets from our house, but we traveled to places in Texas in 2023 that more than made up for that lack, including Marathon.

Photo: Striking sunset in Marathon, TX
This is a pretty typical sunset view looking down US Highway 90 (aka NW 1st Street).


I’ve often expressed my pleasure at foggy weather because it does heighten the drama of certain scenes. Plus, I rarely have to drive in it. That doesn’t mean that we stay indoors to escape it.

Photo: My wife walking along a neighborhood street on a very foggy morning in Horseshoe Bay, TX
Debbie is not fazed by fog.

Relatively warm lake water and colder air sometimes combine in ways that capture one’s imagination. The next two photos show highly localized “eruptions” of steam fog arising from the surface of Lake LBJ on an otherwise clear, bright mornings.

Photo: Steam fog rising from the surface of Lake LBJ, Horseshoe Bay, TX
I picture Iceland as looking like this, not Llano County, TX.
Photo: Steam fog at sunrise,  obscuring the dam on Lake LBJ, Texas
This was the sunrise view from the Lake LBJ lighthouse, as the fog obscured the Wirtz Dam.

Weather conditions are not always kind to us. Last May a windstorm took down some significant limbs from a cedar elm in our front yard (and those limbs tore off additional limbs from an adjacent pecan tree). The cleanup was quite a chore, but also a good excuse to get the chainsaw out.

Photo: Debbie stands in front of a huge pile of downed limbs, courtesy of an overnight wind storm.
This wasn’t even all of the downed limbs.

Flora (aka Flowers and Plants and stuff)

We spent a week in Coronado and San Diego, California in July (more about that later), and we’re always a bit envious of how beautiful everyone’s landscape is. The dahlia below was showing off in a residential neighborhood a block or two away from Orange Avenue.

Photo: Dahlia bloom on Coronado Island, CA
Such beautiful symmetry

Closer to home — well, in our home, to be accurate — Debbie planted a number of amaryllis bulbs, at least one of which was supposed to have dark red blooms. This is the closest any of them came to being red. She was a little disappointed, but pretty is pretty, and these are…

Photo: Pink amaryllis blooms
The Greek word amarus means to sparkle or twinkle.

The Texas Hill Country received beneficial rainfall just in time for bluebonnet season, and the flowers were pretty spectacular, especially when they weren’t all blue…

Photo: Two white bluebonnets in the midst of the more traditionally colored bluebonnets in a field in Horseshoe Bay, TX
White bluebonnets are particularly striking when mixed in with their blue siblings.

The Horseshoe Bay Nature Park is home to wide swaths of the Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum) as its “official” flower.

Photo: Caterpillar on a Texas thistle flower in the Horseshoe Bay Nature Park, TX
I’m unsure of the identity of the caterpillar on this Texas Thistle, but it appears to be feasting on the petals.

We’ve been coming to or living in Horseshoe Bay for a decade, but I don’t recall ever seeing a squash blossom. That changed just a few weeks ago when we spotted this one in a field during a morning run.

Photo: A bright yellow squash blossom set against the wide green leaves of the plant
Did you know that squash blooms are edible? I didn’t.


Coming from the wild barrens of West Texas, we never get tired of seeing live water throughout the Hill Country. This summer we hiked around Inks Lake State Park with friends and enjoyed views like this one.

Photo: Spring Creek feeds into Inks Lake, Burnet County, Texas
Despite the summer’s drought, Spring Creek was still flowing.

I’ve already mentioned our vacation in the San Diego area. We prefer to stay in Coronado when we visit, and one of our favorite activities is to run or bike from downtown Coronado, past the Coronado Municipal Golf Course, and then under the San Diego/Coronado Bridge to where we get the following view of San Diego Bay. It’s about a four mile round trip, and we seem to find beauty in every step.

Photo: San Diego Bay as viewed from Coronado, California
The San Diego skyline is in the distance.

Not all water needs to be wild and alive to be attractive and soothing. The dual-level Cap Rock swimming pool is a short golf cart ride from our house, and this is one of the views we enjoyed early in the summer (before it actually got too hot to enjoy the pool; kinda hard to imagine, right?).

Photo: Lounging poolside at Cap Rock, Horseshoe Bay, Texas
Our lives are sooooo tough.

Even closer to home…our back yard is only a few feet from Pecan Creek, which bisects our neighborhood. In the late afternoon, on a calm sunny day, the interchange between the light, the water, and the fall leaves provide ample photo fodder.

Photo: A section of Pecan Creek where the water reflects the trees on the bank.
Photo: A highly processed image of a section of Pecan Creek where the water reflects the trees on the bank.
The first photo is relatively untouched out of the camera; the second photo is “enhanced for dramatic effect.”

Fauna (aka critters, including some snakes)

I wasn’t sure whether to include the next photo in the categories of Weather or Sunrises or…here. It’s one of my all-time favorites, an image of a flock of wild turkeys we came across early one foggy morning in Luckenback, Texas.

Black & white photo of wild turkeys on a misty morning in Luckenbach, TX
Wild turkeys wandering through Luckenbach is a pretty Texas thing, y’know?
Photo: Closeup of a snail inching across a cement pad in Horseshoe Bay, TX
I didn’t need a particularly fast shutter for this photo.
Photo: Green anole clinging to a wet deck railing in Horseshoe Bay, TX
There’s no side eye like an anole side eye.
Photo: tiny river cooter (turtle) in the palm of my hand, Horseshoe Bay, TX
It’s not easy being green, especially when you’re the size of a half dollar.
Photo: a tree frog glares at the camera
“I toad you to leave me alone” (this is actually a tree frog, but work with me here).
Photo: A gulf coast toad grinning at the camera in Horseshoe Bay, TX
He’s up to something, I just know it.
Photo: A tree frog peeks over the edge of a flower pot
“Yaass…can I help you?”
Photo: Large whitetail buck captured on a trail camera
This big guy strolled into view and my trail camera was duly impressed.
Photo: 2 tree squirrels are stretched out on a concrete patio in an attempt to escape the brutal heat
Splooting squirrels
Photo: 3 tree squirrels stretched out on a concrete patio in an attempt to avoid the heat
Even more splooting squirrels
Photo: Cody the Dog watches a splooting squirrel through a window
Cody, the mini-Aussie, is not amused by the sheer nerve of these squirrels.

This is the snake photo I mentioned above. These two plain-bellied water snakes rendezvoused and mated in the bushes of our front courtyard. The head of the female is on the top in this photo.

Photo: Closeup of two mating plain-bellied water snakes in our courtyard
The derpy-looking guy on the bottom looks pretty satisfied with himself.

People and Events

I don’t take a lot of photos of people. I’m not sure why, and I may come to regret it years from now when most of my photographic memories are of frogs and fog, but I do make the occasional exception. Here are a few of those that happened in 2023.

I described the context for this photo of the Albert Dance Hall recently in another blog post.

Photo: Black and white image of Albert Dance Hall prior to a dance
The Bob Appel Band would soon pack the dance floor.

We headed to College Station in February for a scholarship luncheon at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center on the campus of Texas A&M University, and posed for a selfie in front of the world’s largest Aggie ring.

Photo: My wife & I in front of the giant Aggie ring at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center on the campus of Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
The annual scholarship luncheons are always a treat.

Each Wednesday in June, the Horseshoe Bay POA sponsors an outdoor concert series entitled Boogie At The Bay. Debbie and I try not to miss the concerts, and we typically paddle board from the Resort marina over to the venue, and listen to the music while floating on Lake LBJ.

Photo: Two paddle boards facing the bandstand at Quail Point on Lake LBJ, Horseshoe Bay, TX
The venue is called Quail Point; I’ve never seen a quail anywhere near it.

Of course, the most significant event of 2023 was our 50th wedding anniversary, and we celebrated with a wonderful meal at a San Diego restaurant.

Photo: My wife & I celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary at Eddy V's in San Diego, CA
Eddie V’s (San Diego) knows how to make you feel special.

In closing, here’s a rare and potentially collectible photo of yours truly, as viewed through the lens of a trail camera. I’m either tracking down an elusive large feline that’s been stalking the neighborhood’s dogs, or I’ve forgotten where I parked the car.

Photo: Me, wearing a cowboy hat, in the woods
“Does Yellowstone still have an open casting call? How about South Park?”

Many of these images have appeared through the year in various other Gazette posts, so I hope you didn’t find a recap too boring.

Here’s to a terrific 2024!

*Why 38? It should be obvious that 39 would have been overkill, and 37 wouldn’t have done justice to my artistic vision. [return]


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