Roger here.... We are nearly back to our home in Mission, Texas. However, before that last leg through south Texas, we spent a week in Fredericksburg with our long-time friends, Jay and Nancy. They flew into Austin and stayed at the Hoffman Haus in Fredericksburg. Dianne and I set up stakes at the nearby Fredericksburg RV Park.
It was an action-packed week of museums, shopping, driving, eating, music and wine. We did not take pictures of every place we visited. Dianne and I have been in the Texas Hill Country many times, so picture taking seemed redundent. Also, we were too busy enjoying ourselves. However, we did take a few photos.
LBJ RANCH --- TEXAS WHITE HOUSE
We spent half a day at the LBJ Ranch and Texas White House near Johnson City. The ranch is both a Texas State Park and a National Park. Dianne and I have been there three times, but always discover new bits of interesting information.
Dianne took this photo inside Air Force 1/2, the air liner that transported LBJ to and from the LBJ Ranch from larger military facilities in Texas.
In my humble opinion, you cannot experience the Texas Hill Country without a visit to
We timed our visit for a time when there would be music.
On this early evening the music consisted of two performers doing their acoustic thing. The guy in the middle was quite good. Notice the roosters in the picture below. There were probably ten of them (all very colorful). They added a great deal of humor to the performance as they actually walked up the live oak trees in the performance area. They flew over our heads from branch to branch and frequently performed with the musicians adding a hearty cock-a-doodle-doo. After about 30 minutes, they flapped their way back to the ground.
Eating German food is a requirement when visiting Fredericksburg. We typically reserve that experience for Auslanders. However, a local employee at a wine-tasting venue recommended Otto's. The food was good, but pricey. We shared desserts that were excellent. The menu was limited. Jay and Nancy treated us to the meal. Thanks! We will probably return to Auslanders in the future.
COOPER'S OLD TIME PIT BARBECUE...
Since we are already talking about food, let's continue that theme. The four of us jokingly referred to our week as a consummatory tour of the Hill Country. No day was more emblematic of that statement than the day we drove to Llano for authentic Texas barbecue (followed by pie in Marble Falls and wine tasting in Stonewall). Cooper's Old Time Pit Barbecue is our favorite barbecue place in all of Texas. We have written about it before, but as a recap... you pick out your meat as it comes out of the pit outside; it is wrapped; then weighed; payment is made after picking up a beverage; beans are carried to the table; everything is dumped on butcher paper for consumption. The meat actually melts in your mouth. Among the four of us we ate brisket, ribs, and pork chop.
On a different day we experienced another iconic barbecue restaurant near Driftwood. Salt Lick Barbecue (in the middle of nowhere) is different kind of experience. Also delicious.
BLUE BONNET CAFE...
The eating did not end on the day we ate at Cooper's. We decided to drive to Marble Falls for pie! Dianne and I had never been there before. Our stomachs were full, but the draw of some of the best known pie in the Hill Country at the Blue
Bonnet Cafe guided the car. The picture below is of Dianne's cherry a la mode. We also had chocolate cream and coconut cream --- so very, very good. At that point I did not want to eat again for days.
BLUE HOLE REGIONAL PARK...
If I had grown up near the Blue Hole, I would have gone swimming there on every summer day (as I did in Fall Creek in my hometown in Pendleton, IN).
The clear water of Cypress Creek, surrounded by Cyress and Live Oak Trees is an idyllic place to swim. It is still open for swimming during the summer months.
We took several drives around the Texas Hill Country outside the city of Fredericksburg. A highlight was a quiet trip through the hillside ranches along the Willow Loop. We crossed small bridges over quiet streams and saw an abundance of wildlife --- lots of deer, a fox, and lots of cattle.
We tried to offer Jay and Nancy a wide perspective of the Texas Hill Country. We spent half a day at the exceptional Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War. We strolled and shopped down the wide, wide streets of Fredericksburg, we sampled wine at several wineries (on four different days) --- Grape Creek, Becker, Messina Hoff, Terre de Pietra, and Hye. We visited the iconic Wildseed Farm (where we always spend some money).
On our last evening together, we drove to Old Tunnel State Park at dusk to watch three million Mexican Free Tail bats burst from an old railroad tunnel. We have done this before from further away, but on a clearer day. It was pretty dark before the bats emerged, so the views were not all that clear, but suffice it to say, they flew all around us as they flapped their way into the sky. It is always an amazing and unique experience.
Here's a link to the video Dianne shot at the bat tunnel in September 2012 when we were there before. It's an awesome sight.
September 2012 bat footage
Unfortunately, after the bat flight, we stopped by the local What-a-Burger for a quick bite to eat. These fast food restaurants seem to be around every corner in the state of Texas. We caught them at a bad time. The restaurant was filled with loud and misbehaving young children whose parents sat on the other side of the restaurant ignoring the chaos --- not the best impression.
After our days together, Jay and Nancy moved on to Austin for dinner with friends before their flight back to Indianapolis. Dianne and I are staying two additional days before a one-day drive back to our home at Retama Village.