There are seven of them, pale blue jewels folded into the dark green hills, stretching from Austin almost halfway to Abilene. If you know them, you don’t think of them, you don’t think of them as the Highland Lakes; they have little in common but the water of the Colorado River. Town Lake, the lowermost of he chain, is as domesticated as the black swans that glide past the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin. It is a lake for lovers in rented canoes, for transplanted Yankees in slender racing sculls, and for earnest joggers along its shores.
Lake Buchanan, at the upper end of the chain, is vast and largely uninhabited. Its constituency is West Texas. People from Midland load up the kids and the dog after work on Friday and by midnight they are easing the boat off of the trailer into Lake Buchanan. It is a lake for 70-mile-per-hour bass boats, nesting bald eagles, and the largest striped bass in Texas. Folks talk plain and laugh loud on Lake Buchanan (that’s “Buck-cannon,” thank you, named for old Congressman Jim Buchanan, who got it built in 1937, the first of the chain). In between, going upriver, are lakes Austin, Travis, Marble Falls, LBJ, and Inks, each with its own personality.
My romance with the lakes began 28 years ago when I was a wire-service reporter covering President Lyndon Johnson as he sped about his beloved Lake LBJ, then called Granite Shoals. I learned to sail on lake Travis, and