Sunday, April 12, 2020

Fredericksburg, TX: The Windshield Tour

Our extended stay in Fredericksburg was a lesson in making lemonade out of Covid-19 lemons.  When we weren't sheltering in place, and with this charming town completely shut down, we nevertheless scratched our wanderlust itch with brief sightseeing outings, photo safaris, and visits TO (but not THROUGH) many of the beautiful sights here.  Presenting:  The Windshield Tour of the 'Burg!



The Chamber of Commerce touts:  "Bluebonnets, peaches, and wine ... nature, nectar and romance."  During the spring, blankets of bluebonnets and other wildflowers coat the hillsides.


The 13-mile Willow City Loop is the place to head for heavenly wildflowers.  Ahhhhh!
My allergies are flaring up just looking at this photo!


F'burg was founded by German immigrants in the mid-1800's, and they still "willkommen" over 1.5 million visitors a year.  (Though, not this year.  Lookin' at you, Covid-19.)



 

The "Marktplatz" and its gorgeous gardens and outdoor spaces is (normally) the site of festivals, music, a weekly farmers market, and more, including outdoor ice skating in the winter.   



The sculpture "Lasting Friendship" is not about Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi.  It shows the German founder of F'burg and the Chief of the Comanche Tribe sharing a peace pipe in 1847.  More than 20 Chiefs participated in the treaty, thought to be the only known peace treaty with Native Americans in US history never to be broken.



A maibaum (maypole) displays the history of Fredericksburg along its branches.



Even today, Fredericksburg is full of beautiful and historic buildings, including this former hospital that is now a hotel.



Local wineries come in every size, specialty and theme, including state-of-the-art tasting rooms.  A large fleet of mini-busses are (normally) ready to take you and your friends safely trippin' and tastin' up and down the 30-mile "Wine Road 290," but alas they were all closed, so we remain sober, and thirsty.







Luckenbach, Texas is a historic dive bar and dancehall that was established in 1849. It is here that Jerry Jeff Lewis recorded live his epic Viva Terlingua outlaw country music album in 1973.  Remember, "everybody is somebody in Luckenback."



It is also the subject of the (terrific) song, Luckenback Texas (Let's Get Back to the Basics) by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.


Of course, Luckenback was closed.  We contented ourselves by listening to the Luckenback song sitting in the Jeep while sitting in Luckenback, our consolation prize.



Let's go to Luckenbach, Texas

With Willie and Waylon and the boys
This successful life we're living's
Got us feuding like the Hatfields and McCoys
Between the Hank Williams' pain songs and
Newbury's train songs and "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain"
Out in Luckenbach, Texas, there ain't nobody feelin' no pain
So baby, let's sell your diamond rings 
And buy some boots and faded jeans and go away
This coat and tie is choking me
In your high society, you cry all night
We've been so busy keepin' up with the Jones
A four car garage and we're still building on
Maybe it's time we got back to the basics of love



Luckenback's "Pop. 3" of course referred to me, Philip and Sprinkles, the only current residents.  Hence, we got the kissin' booth all to ourselves!




(Normally), this place is overrun with hundreds of tourists and country music afficianados, especially during their many music festivals and motorcycle rallies, and live music shows 7 days a week.



Trump recently recommended face coverings for everyone.  Even the statues.

 

Fun-seekers of all varieties (normally) gather under the live oaks and in the surrounding fields to soak up the atmosphere.  This (would have been) our kind of place, but we had to settle for ordering Luckenback t-shirts online instead.



Of course, all the stores are closed but many of the facades are fascinating and charming anyway.  Philip is thrilled that I can't whip out my trusty ole Visa at any of them ... think of all the $$ we are saving!  Thanks, coronavirus! 




In different times, we would have loved to visit The National Museum of the Pacific War and Admiral Nimitz State Historic Site, the only museum in the continental US focused on WWII's Pacific campaign.


Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz is larger than life!  Literally! He played a major role in the success of our naval campaign as Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas during WWII.


A day trip 20 miles outside Fredericksburg took us to the 1,643-acre Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and its pink dome of granite.  


We took the only dog-friendly trail, the aptly-named Loop Trail, which went fully around the outskirts of the park encircling the rock.  Being out in nature and fresh air refreshed our spirits.



This state park is (normally) so popular that they issue timed permits to control the crowds, but during the 4.5 hours we were there, we saw exactly 6 other people, and all of them on top of the rock dome, so social distancing at its finest.  


Stretching up 1,825 feet in elevation, it is hard to adequately describe the scale of the rock!


Since we had to skip the big egg rock, we instead settled for the little mushroom rock.


In nearby Johnson City, the LBJ National Historic Park  is the site of the former President's birthplace and preserves his home and expansive ranch, including the airstrip where many world leaders flew in to meet with him. 


Here, he was born ... lived ... died ... and was buried!  How many can say that about a place?


Johnson's grandparents and family members drove huge herds of longhorn cattle from the Johnson settlement homestead to Abilene, Kansas, where a longhorn that would go for $10 in Texas could be sold for $30 or more.


(Normally) we would have loved learning more about LBJ's ranch (whahhh, whahhh), but at least we had previously visited the excellent LBJ Presidential Library and Museum in nearby Austin last year-- highly recommend!


Not to be confused with LBJ National Historic Park, the LBJ State Historic Park just down the road includes the darling Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, an actual working farm.



(Normally), constumed intepreters are there working the land and imitating the life of 1900's farm families, in actual (not reconstructed) buildings.  Not now, but the animals were still willing to recreate their roles for us.  
  

Hunters and ranchers began arriving in Fredericksburg & the surrounding Hill Country in the 1930's, and the cowboy culture and attendant Americana runs deep here.



If you're missing one of your boots, it might be here! The posts had at least 100!


Ranches and bed-and-breakfasts display lots of front-yard eye candy.  There are more than 1,100 B&B's here!



Some of the front yard "decorations" are a little threatening!


Covid-19 may be ugly, but nature is still beautiful!  Especially in Hill Country in spring.





Our sightseeing was mostly of the windshield variety, unless nobody was around (which was frequent) in which case we could get out at places and poke around the exteriors. But in this city of 10,000, all the precautions being undertaken in bigger cities were in full display.




We can't think of anyplace where we'd rather be isolated from friends and family than in Elsie.  The Fredericksburg RV Park was lovely, with an idyllic lily-pad pond and fat frogs slipping below the surface of the water as we approached.


We have continued to modify our upcoming plans and are now making our way toward Lexington, South Carolina, where Philip's entire family lives and where we will ride out the rest of April while we wait to see what happens in May.  Philip's momma, God rest her soul, always wanted Philip to return to live in South Carolina.  Looks like she'll get her wish, for a while anyway!

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Sending love and hoping you are finding ways to continue feeling joy, even as life is not what we would wish for right now.  Happy Easter, Hill Country Style, y'all!!