Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Austin TX to Fredericksburg TX

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We packed up and were away from camp by 8:30. Twice as we came into or left camp we passed a bakery that said Croissants, Donuts, and Kolaches – so we were going to stop first thing and get something to go with our coffee….well it was an interesting experience. When we walked in the first thing Ben saw was a Thai Buddha Shrine with 5 donut holes in front of it – like an offering. In the case were the baked goods with a very nice young Thai lady asking to help us. Since we have always enjoyed the kolaches (Czech Baked Goodies) Glenda made for Christmas I asked what flavors they had. When she said jalapeno or sausage, I guess my mouth dropped open! Then they had croissants egg, ham, and sausage with or without jalapeno. The donuts were a little more traditional – bear claws, apple fritters, etc. Well I guess I should have been adventurous and tried the jalapeno kolache but I settled for an apple fritter! It certainly was an example of the blending of cultures. The baked goods were fine – just not what we had been expecting!

We stopped at an HEB store – this is a Texas only store like a Wal-Mart. HEB stands for “Here, Everything is Better” – just looked it up on the internet. We had been seeing them all along our trip but had not visited one. Jane went in to take care of our short list and Ben washed all the windows that were very dirty from being under live oaks for two days – the little leaves were everywhere.

Our shopping completed, we headed west on 290 towards Fredericksburg. The first place of interest was Dripping Springs – it was the home of ED Hill that we used to watch of Fox and Friends. It was primarily a rural suburban area about 15 miles from Austin.

Our first stop of the day was in Johnson City TX at the Visitor Center for the Lyndon Johnson National Historic Park. The visitor station was not much – showed us where in Johnson City you could watch a film, and then view boyhood home, a general store, grandparents home etc. We passed on this walking tour but got the passport stamp. About 15 miles further west was the LBJ Ranch which was also a part of this National Historic Park. We got ourselves registered at the TX State park and began the driving tour.

The first part of the park was the State Park portion and was a living history farm of the early 1900’s. The folks there lived without electricity, water brought from the well, cooking over a wood stove…they grew veggies, used the chickens and farm animals for their food. They had canned lots of veggies and preserved some meats. They milked the cows each day and made cottage cheese, milk, etc. The people lived there 8 AM until 5 PM each day and kept the farm going. The facility was interesting and the people seemed to truly enjoy what they were doing. We stopped in a parking area and had a picnic lunch. There were lots of squirrels running around in the trees – they were very large brown squirrels with large brown tails – largest squirrels we have seen in some time.

Then we began the tour of the LBJ Ranch. We saw the school house where LBJ attended school at age 4; the home of his grandparents, the grave yard where LBJ and Lady Bird are buried. The drive continued through the farmland, along the airstrip, past the Show Barn which the Park Service uses to manage their part of the LBJ Ranch. When LBJ died he gave 600 acres of the over 2000 in his ranch to the Park Service. The Park Service manages their portion of the Ranch and pours income back into the ranch. The remainder of the acreage is managed by a Johnson Family trust. The Park Ranger that gave our tour told a son of Lucy Johnson comes at least once a month to oversee the work on that part of the ranch.

The tour ended at LBJ’s Texas Whitehouse. We saw his office, the living room, dining room, and kitchen. The other rooms are slowly being refurbished and opened to the public. Lady Bird lived in this home until her death in 2007. The tour of this park was interesting. During some parts of the year the Park Service offers a bus tour but they gave us a CD to play in the van that directed us through the entire tour except the part at the Texas White House. That was done in groups of people as they accumulated. There was just the two of us on our tour. The one right after us was a bus load of people. The Texas Whitehouse sits on the banks of the Pedernales River with huge live oaks along the banks. It is a lovely site. One interesting point was LBJ used to love to play a joke on his guests – he had an amphibious car and has a gate to his ranch on the other side of the river – he would take off driving through the gate and down into the river with the car – giving many folks on their first Texas trip a real scare.

View at LBJ Texas Whitehouse

After the LBJ tour we headed on towards Fredericksburg with only one more stop – Luckenbach TX – this is a bar, general store, dance hall and that is it…but because of the ties to songs and the music industry it is well known and a Texas Legend. We bought a couple things and took the obligatory photos!

Ben and Jane at Luckenbach TX

It was only about 10 miles into Fredericksburg and we found our RV Park easily. We checked email and rested for about an hour and headed out to find one of the German Restaurants for dinner. This area was originally settled by Germans and still maintains a German flavor. Our first pick restaurant was closed for some reason so we settled on our second pick – it was OK – not as good as food from a good restaurant in Germany but not bad. The whole town is decorated for Christmas and we will explore it a bit more tomorrow night.

We wanted to be back to our RV park which has cable TV to watch NCIS. We have the TV but no ability to tape a show. A quiet evening is in store. Jane’s knee is better from less walking today, some ibuprofen and ice 3 times. Pretty sure it is arthritis in the left knee; guess I will agree to the tests when we get back home.

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