Fredericksburg, Texas

Fredericksburg has been on my radar for quite some time and with a curiosity gnawing at me, I put a trip to this quaint Hill Country town high on my must see list before bidding Texas farewell.

Sauer-Beckmann Living History FarmFredericksburg is a small town in the heart of the Texas Hill Country with a population just under 11,000 and sporting a strong German heritage. The native German language, which was brought to the Texas Hill Country in the mid 1800’s, can still be heard and seen around town to this day.

As Al and I explore Fredericksburg, we notice how unusually wide the roads are including Main Street and many side streets.  From an RVer’s point of view this is pretty awesome as there’s no such thing as too much room or a road that’s too wide.  Turns out, the streets were designed to be wide enough to accommodate oxen carts that needed to be turned around.  So looks like there’s plenty of room for oxen or F250’s to haul their carts around town.

There’s lots to see and do in Fredericksburg….. more than Al and I imagined.  We barely scratched the surface during our one day excursion.

Living History FarmIt’s mid-afternoon with lunch behind us and a morning that flew by, we decide to head in the direction of the LBJ National Historical Park.   This was a stop hubby would have been quite content passing up.  Al, a former Naval Officer during the Vietnam War era, isn’t exactly a Lyndon B. Johnson fan.  That said, I insist we stop, and guess what…. of course we stop 🙂LBJ Ranch

There’s no charge for a self-guided auto tour but stopping at the visitor center is required.  We’re given a tour route map and suggestions as to the various stops along the way.  The ranger recommends we start at the Sauer-Beckmann farm.

LBJ Ranch
Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm

Next to the LBJ Ranch is the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm; our first stop.  This farm serves as an example of day-to-day life as it was in 1918.  The Sauer’s settled this land in 1869 and eventually had 10 children, one of whom served as midwife at the birth of President Johnson.LBJ State Park

Today the Sauer-Beckmann Farm continues on as an active farm by the help of volunteers and employees.  Inside the home were 3 ladies who help work the farm.  The cows need to be milked every morning, chicken’s fed, eggs retrieved, garden grown, and hogs slaughtered.  Yep, one of these handsome hog’s days were numbered as he was on the schedule to provide everyone with some bacon.  And we were invited by the ladies to come back for the event…. no thanks!Hogs BaconBye little fellow.  Hope you had a good life…..

LBJ RanchThe ladies are dressed in similar attire to that of the early 1900’s and are cooking stew, making cheese, and knitting.  They also tend to the garden, help care for the animals, and assist in the curing of meats.

FYI…. they use workampers around here and no you won’t see me volunteering.  This gal likes her conveniences!

LBJ state park ranchchicken coopBut that didn’t stop me from hanging around a couple of turkey’s or checking the chicken coop for eggs….well, Al did the checking – something he used to do when he was a little boy growing up in Illinois farm country.

I was fascinated by the barn structure, but the tools inside the barn and shed grabbed Al’s attention.  Do I hear a Tim Allen grunt?

Al and I literally had to tear ourselves away from the Sauer-Beckmann Farm. We literally felt like we stepped back in time.  We could’ve spent another hour just wandering around, but alas, we moved on to tour the Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch.

The drive took a lot longer than Al and I anticipated but we thoroughly enjoyed it.  The variety of animals on the ranch as well as the overall size of the ranch surprised both of us.

Here’s an excerpt from the brochure;
President Johnson drew strength and solace from his ranch.  His desire to leave a legacy of his accomplishments and to demonstrate the cultural conservation practices associated with ranching prompted President and Mrs. Johnson to donate a portion of the LBJ Ranch to the National Park Service in 1972.  Johnson stipulated that the LBJ Ranch remain a working ranch.LBJ State ParkLBJ State Park Ranch

The National Park Service maintains a herd of Hereford cattle descended from the President’s registered herd and manages the ranch lands as a living demonstration of ranching the LBJ way.

We would definitely recommend a visit to the LBJ State Park and Al is glad I insisted we stop.  The ranch is huge with a lot of things to see.  With the day getting late we weren’t able to stop at the various sites such as the school house, cemetery, or  Texas White House. We know we’ll return on a future visit and plan to spend a lot more time; possibly an entire day exploring at our leisure. Our tour was rushed as we had one more stop for the day planned and we were already running late.

Our last stop of the day;  Garrison Brothers Distillery.  Al and I aren’t bourbon drinkers, but a blog reader said it’s a must see.  After checking out their website and detecting the humorous undertone, I was really looking forward to the experience.  So off we headed into the back country in search of the distillery.  We were hoping to catch their last tour of the day.Texas BourbonUnfortunately, we were a tad too late for the distillery tour, but vowed to return another day.  Such is life… much to see, so little time.  Our stay in Texas has come to an end….a temporary end!

UPDATE:  We are currently sitting in Phoenix AZ.  I unfortunately contracted that nasty flu virus and have been incredibly ill.  I’m finally on the mends but it’ll take me a while to regain my strength.  This thing knocked the wind out of my sails pretty darn bad.  Please note, I’m keeping up with all your blog posts even though I may not be commenting.  Once I’m feeling better, I’ll bring y’all up to date.
hanks for stopping by 🙂

The Hill Country

My how plans can change!  I guess that’s one of the beauties of having one’s home in tow, the freedom to wonder on a whim; the freedom to change plans and directions as needed or rather as wanted; the freedom to move when you don’t like the weather.Fredericksburg

A.D.D.There are days I feel I have about as much attention span as the dog featured on the cartoon movie Up….. “squirrel”.  However, instead of returning to the conversation, I’m off and running.  I’ll admit, it’s kind of fun being distracted and so noncommittal.

After the month of January in Rockport, we thought we’d spend the month of February exploring parts of San Antonio, Austin, and Fredericksburg. We settled into a gorgeous campsite at the Cranes Mill Park campground at Canyon Lake allowing us to easily explore San Antonio and the surrounding area, but weather and an appointment had us rearranging our February schedule.Canyon Lake

We had a wonderful time exploring San Antonio’s downtown: The Alamo and River Walk are sights not to be missed.  We would’ve loved to have experienced even more of this great city but weather and time were not on our side.

Projected inclement weather and an appointment in Phoenix had us on the road sooner than planned.  We had to prioritize our must see list and seeing the town of Fredericksburg was high on that list. We originally had the intention of spending several days in Fredericksburg, but since Mother Nature was not in a kind mood we’ll settle for a day trip.

LuckenbachThank you to all who commented or sent emails to me on things to see and do in the area.  Your recommendations were wonderful and we tried to take in as many sights as possible. What we didn’t have time for on this trip, we will definitely make time for on a future visit.

It’s a Wednesday morning and we get an early morning start for our 65 mile (105 Km) trek through the Texas hill country.  We take a series of country roads with a side stop at the small town of Luckenback, Texas.

Fredericksburg TexasLuckenbach is an out-of-the-way hill country place preserving a small piece of Texas history.  We pull up to the post office / general store / saloon (talk about multi-tasking) and are greeted by free roaming chickens.  We step inside the building and it’s like stepping back in hall

10 acres of rolling hill country surrounded by large oak trees, a couple of creeks, a dance hall, store, and beer joint is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a festival; chili cook offs, a mud dauber festival, music fests, the annual Hug-in around Valentine’s Day are just a sampling of fun things to experience here in Luckenbach.

Waylan Jennings even wrote a song about going to Luckenbach to escape the rat race of city life and Willie Nelson has held a couple of 4th of July picnics here.  Since it’s a blustery winter morning, nothing much was happening except for a nice warm fire in the pot belly stove for Al, me and the 2 ladies working to stand near and chat while warming our hands.

Fun stop indeed, but Al and I were getting hungry.  We didn’t have any breakfast before heading out that morning and thus continued the trek to Fredricksburg.  It doesn’t take us long before we find the highly recommended “Old German Bakery” and indulge in some yummy pastries and coffee.  It did not disappoint and we left with a box filled with more delectable treats to take home and enjoy.Fredericksburg

We explore Main Street before heading over to the Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park checking out RV Parks along the way.  The municipal park offers RV parking as well as the Fredericksburg RV Resort and the Oakwood RV Resort.  All three look like they would work nicely for a future visit.  There is also a KOA Campground on the outskirts of town that I’m sure would also work.Fredericksburg

And then of course we have a little shopping to take in.  I’m always on the lookout for unique gifts for loved ones.  “Honey, do we have room……. ”

With that tidbit of business out of the way, we head on over to the Admiral Nimitz Museum and the National Museum of the Pacific War.  The museum honors the eight million Americans who served in World War II’s Pacific Rim against Japan.  Among those who served was a Fredericksburg native; Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.museums in FredericksburgWar museum

Der LindenbaumUnfortunately time was not our friend that day and our museum tour was somewhat abbreviated and cut short by our growling stomachs and a quest to take in as many sights as possible.

We make note that the museum admittance is good for 48 hours, allowing guests to take their time visiting this special tribute.  We contemplate returning after lunch.

Fredericksburg has a strong German heritage and therefore German food is usually the popular choice with visitors.  Al and I consider lunch at Der Lindenbaum, another highly recommended restaurant, but for some reason we just weren’t in the mood for German food.

That morning while driving up and down Main Street getting a feel for this quaint hill country town, Al noticed a place at the far west end of Fredericksburg called Catfish Haven.FredericksburgIt appears Catfish Haven is a restaurant frequented by locals.  As patrons entered, the staff would routinely welcome guests by name as well as most of the diners all knew each other…..typical small town joint that we always get a kick out of.  And the food was delicious.  Yes, we had good ole fashioned fried catfish with a side of tater totes and hush puppies…..yum-mee!  We’ll start that cleanse next week….LOL.

Next up, we visit the LBJ Ranch…..Fredericksburg

Strolling the River Walk

From The Alamo we walk over to San Antonio’s River Walk.  San Antonio, Texas, offers a vibrant downtown that’s beautiful, active, and full of history.River Walk

San Antonio Texas

Al and I find ourselves strolling the paths that meander along the river passing stone archways, fountains, and lush vegetation.  I can’t help but wonder about its history.  When was it built and why?  During lunch, I scoured through all the booklets and info on the area that I picked up at the visitor center and I found just the information I was looking for.

San Antonio River WalkRobert H. H. Hugman, an architect and a native of San Antonio, first conceived the river project in 1929 after a series of floods prompted the city to consider paving over the river, thus creating a concrete storm sewer system.

Can you imagine what a travesty that would have been?  Thank goodness Mr. Hugman had the vision to create such a beautiful masterpiece.

Hugman came up with a plan that detailed everything, including unique staircases, walkways, bridges, lush landscaping, restaurants, hotels, shops, all complete with Venetian-style boat rides.Venitian

Initial construction began in 1939 and due to disagreements with the city Hugman was fired a year later.  It wasn’t until 1961 when the city brought in some designers from Disneyland to determine the commercial potential of the river.  Hugman’s original details were used and the river was slowly transformed into the River Walk we know today.  Improvements and expansion continue to this day.

This is probably one of the cleanest, well-maintained downtowns I have ever visited.  Its beautiful, tranquil, and fun.  Al and I enjoy lunch at Casa Rio, a restaurant serving Mexican food along the River Walk since 1946.  We choose to dine inside as do most of the other guests.  At 45 degrees, it was just a tad too chilly to enjoy a meal outside along the river.  Outdoor seating at Casa Rio shown in the photos below.Casa Rio River Walk

Casa Rio

We thoroughly enjoyed our day in downtown San Antonio exploring The Alamo and the River Walk.  We wanted to take in some of the Missions and had a list of other things we wanted to see and do as well, but Mother Nature had other plans.  During our week-long stay, the weather was a roller coaster of breaking record low temperatures with on and off rain, occasionally freezing.

However, we did manage to take full advantage of those short breaks in the weather to get out and about and explore.River Walk

Next stop Fredericksburg……

Comfort at Canyon Lake

As Al and I travel around, we occasionally stumble across a location that embodies comfort.  We find ourselves in such a location at a Corps of Engineer campground at Canyon Lake in Texas, just 45 minutes north of San Antonio’s River Walk.Canyon Lake

In spite of inclement weather with record low temperatures and persistent overcast skies, we thoroughly enjoyed our week long stay.  The view out my rear window is the kind of view I relish and routinely search for.

We love parking near water and Canyon Lake provided the perfect backdrop to a beautiful campsite.  The cold dreary weather kept us indoors the majority of our stay but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the area on the couple of somewhat nice weather days we did have.Canyon Lake

Canyon Lake

Our first excursion was a visit to The Alamo and San Antonio’s River Walk.  It’s a Tuesday morning.  We hop in the truck and head into the city around 9 in the morning hoping any rush hour traffic has long past.  It turns out to be a relatively easy drive taking us about 45 minutes from the time we leave Canyon Lake until the time we’re parked in a nice parking lot…..St. Mary’s east lot.

City parking isn’t always easy when driving a pick-up truck with an extended bed.  Fortunately, we have no trouble fitting into a parking spot near Broadway and Pecan and find the $5 for the entire day to be quite a bargain.  Score!The Alamo

It’s a short and easy walk over to The Alamo where I quickly start snapping away.  It’s a brisk overcast morning with few other visitors.Alamo

The battle of the Alamo was a pivotal event in the Texas revolution.  This epic battle for Texas independence took place in 1836.  There is no fee to tour this 300 year old structure, but there are a set of unique rules befitting The Alamos status as the Shrine of Texas Liberty.Alamo

Rules of Reverence –  Help Honor Their Memory

  • Gentlemen, please remove your hats inside the Shrine.
  • No open containers are allowed inside the buildings.
  • No food or drinks are allowed inside the buildings.
  • Photography is not allowed inside the buildings.
  • No camera or cell phone use is permitted inside the buildings.
  • Please do not touch the walls or display cases inside the Shrine.
  • No pets are allowed on Alamo Grounds (service animals allowed).
  • No restrooms inside the Shrine. Public restrooms located at back of grounds.
  • No obscene or offensive clothing is allowed.
  • No bikes or skateboards are allowed on the grounds.
  • Please lower your voice when speaking.
  • No unauthorized weapons are allowed. CHL allowed with permit.
  • Ice chests are allowed but must not be left unattended at any time.The Alamo

Al and I spend about an hour touring this historical landmark before venturing over to the River Walk……..

We are currently located in Benson, Arizona, making our way back to Phoenix.  The warmth of the desert is welcome but the lure of Texas is strong.  I see more Texas explorations in our future.  For now, we look forward to visiting our son in Phoenix.

Happy Hour (s)

I’m sitting in a new location looking out my rear window enjoying a great view, and although I’m looking forward to exploring my new surroundings, there’s a part of me that’s sad.  Normally I’m ready to move on to a new location after a 2 to 4 week stay in any one spot, but not in this case.Rockport Fulton Texas

Ok, maybe I was ready to change the location of the RV, but I wasn’t ready to leave the area.  Perhaps its my newfound infatuation with the endangered whooping cranes.  Maybe its the serene sunrises or sunsets.RVingHappy hourOr maybe it was a culmination of things that lead to one heck of a good time.

The beauty of staying in one location for a month offers us the ability to scope out local shops, local eateries, and make connections with fellow RVer’s and bloggers.

Al and I found ourselves returning to Moon Dog Seaside Eatery several times during our stay and enjoyed introducing new friends to this fine establishment.  Great food, $2.50 margaritas during happy hour, a table near the water watching dolphins swim by, and Fido is welcome…..worth at least one visit.

So speaking of happy hour and fellow bloggers, when Donna and I realized we were camped just down the road from each other, it didn’t take long for us to set up a time to meet at Moon Dogs.  It was fun meeting Donna and her husband Dennis for drinks at my favorite hole in the wall joint.  Small world sometimes…..turns out, not only did Al and Donna grow up in neighboring small towns in Illinois, they actually dated in high school.  Unfortunately, Donna didn’t dish any dirt from those high school years….perhaps more alcohol was needed 😆Moondog Seaside Eatery

Fun times and the fun continued…. The next day, Al and I were out riding our bikes around the neighborhood.  Another couple were riding their bikes in the opposite direction (with the ladies in the lead of course).  As we approached each other, our pedaling slowed, glances were met….. “Are you Faye?”  “Yes, are you Ingrid?”  Sounds like it’s time for happy hour at Moon Dogs again.  The four of us had a great time sitting outside watching the fishing boats, the birds, exchanging tales, and enjoying good food and drinks.  I know our paths are bound to cross again as we’ll be traveling around to similar locations.

happy hour
Al, Faye, Ingrid, Dave

Between the birding, the exploring, the socializing, the eating, and the drinking we had a fabulous month in Rockport, Texas.  I think I’ll let my photos do the rest of the talking…..don't mess with Texas

whooping crane

I loved tracking down the endangered whooping crane and found myself observing these beauties at every opportunity that presented itself.  To hear their unique sound click on this short you tube video; Bellied Whistling Duck

Snapping a photo of the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks in flight was a treat.  The Pintail ducks are especially pretty.

pintail ducks
pintail ducks

And then

Heron & Egrets
Great Blue Heron & Great Egret

there were the various Herons and Egrets…….

great egret
great egret

The Long Billed Curlew and Cormorant were a treat…….

As were the Seagulls and Pelicans…..

Turkeys, Vultures, and Spoonbills….oh my!

But my favorite were the cranes.  I was duly entertained by the sandhill cranes and whooping cranes and can’t wait to return to this part of Texas next winter to revisit these magnificent birds.  Farewell Gulf Coast – until we meet again!

Sandhill crane
Sandhill Cranes
whooping cranes
whooping cranes – mother, father, child

whooping crane
whooping crane
Bushnell Powerview 16×32 Compact Folding Roof Prism BinocularNational Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Sixth Edition

Corpus Christi, Texas

It’s time to pull up stakes and roll out-of-town as our stay in Rockport, Texas has come to an end, rather reluctantly I might add.  The month of January seems to have flown by.  As I scroll through all my photos, I realize I still have more to share about the Texas Gulf Coast.Corpus Christi

ChristiAlthough the majority of my time was spent in the Rockport area, I did venture into the city of Corpus Christi and over to Mustang Island.  Al and I are somewhat familiar with the area and it doesn’t take long for us to easily reacquaint ourselves.

Years ago, long before moi, Al was stationed at the Naval Base in Corpus Christi and learned how to fly on and off the USS Lexington.  The Lex has since been taken out of commission and turned into a museum.  Hmm, wonder if that makes Al feel old?  I have to admit, I was surprised to see how small the USS Lexington is in comparison to other aircraft carriers I’ve personally seen.USS Lexington

In my humble opinion, it either takes a large set of cojones or stupidity to land an airplane on such small square footage.  Hubby insists I note; “he is not stupid” 😉

Moving on…..I cross the bridge and find myself in downtown Corpus Christi.  All along the shore is a park like setting complete with a wide concrete walkway. Further down Ocean Drive are parks and beaches that I’m sure are crowded during warmer weather months.Christi

I’m drawn to all the boats docked in the Corpus Christi Marina.  I’m a huge fan of boating, although partial to fresh water, but never the less it’s always fun to check out the various watercraft……almost as much fun as checking out RV’s.Christi

The city of Corpus Christi offers several museums as well as a state aquarium.  Even though we did spend an entire month in this part of Texas, I kept very busy and therefore did not have the opportunity to visit any of the museums myself.  Busy doing what you ask…….well posing…..naked in Corpus.nude sculptureI’d say a rather nude likeness of myself, wouldn’t you agree?  Yay, yay, yay… my dreams, but hey, that could be my long tresses blowing in the wind. Mustang IslandFrom downtown Corpus Christi, I head over to Mustang Island where a friend and I share lunch on the beach.  This is the beach my mom and dad fell in love with years ago.  After traveling around the country in their motorhome, they settled in at the Pioneer RV Resort near Port Aransas.  It’s easy to understand why they spent 6 months in northern Illinois and six months in Port A, quickly becoming ‘winter Texans’.  Well, maybe I don’t understand the 6 months in Illinois, but I won’t go beach in TexasThe beach is gorgeous on Mustang Island and just doesn’t end, not that you’d want it to.  Did you know you can even boondock on the beach?  Yep, park your RV on some packed down sand and set up house.  Just be forewarned, it doesn’t take long for the corrosive effects of salt spray to take hold on your equipment.  Our bikes are sporting a fair amount of that lovely rust color that we’ll need to tackle as soon as we return to the desert.Mustang IslandAfter a great lunch of fried shrimp and fish and a nice long walk on the beach, it’s time to return to Rockport and experience another first for me.  I take Highway 361 toward Aransas Pass and although the map looks like I’ll be crossing via a bridge…. NOT.  I get to take a ferry.  It’s a very short ferry ride and actually takes longer to load or unload than the ferry ride itself.taking a ferry

ferry a RV

I’m the first vehicle on the right with no vehicles behind me.  Vehicles and RV’s of all sizes take the ferry.  You can see an Airstream trailer on the ferry next to me.

I really enjoyed my day of explorations and would highly recommend this scenic loop.  I barely touched the surface of all the things to see and do in the Corpus Christi area.  I think it’s a safe assumption to say, “I’ll be back”.
Moon Texas (Moon Handbooks)Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket (Bridwell Texas History Series)

51 Things to Do

Last Tuesday…..

As another ‘polar’ vortex makes its way south to the Texas Gulf Coast, hubby and I stay nestled inside our 250 square foot home on wheels.  With plenty of propane, electric, and a couple of layers of clothing, we stay toasty warm as the high winds rustle the trees and rock the rig.Rockport Texas

As much as the swaying trees and limbs would occasionally make me nervous, I was glad to be surrounded by the mature grove of oak trees breaking the wind.  This is when I got to thinking more about these unusual oak trees.whoopers1,000 year old tree

I don’t know about you, but when I envision a coastal town I see beaches, palm trees, multi-colored houses, high rise condos, and quaint shops in a beach town setting.  Rockport, Texas, is a combination of all that……well not exactly; no high rise condos, very little beach, and instead of palm trees the area boasts an abundance of wind swept oak trees.  Oh, there’s the occasional palm tree here and there, but it’s all about the oak trees.

When we turned off Highway 35 to get to our RV Park I was surprised by the trees.  The above photo is the road that leads to Goose Island State Park as well as Hidden Oaks RV Park….. pretty, but a little nerve wracking when driving or pulling a high clearance vehicle.

sandhill cranes

Usually when folks talk about Rockport they’re quite often referring to the area which is technically more than one town; the town of Rockport, Texas, with a population slightly under 9,000 and the town of Fulton hovering around 1,600.  The dividing line between these two communities is somewhat blurred as one town blends into the other.  Therefore, it’s common for one to refer to the area as Rockport – Fulton or just Rockport, but to confuse you even further Goose Island State Park is actually located in the town of Lamar which is just across the Copano Bay with a population of around 600 but still referred to as ‘Rockport’.Hidden Oaks RV

I never tire of riding my bike or walking around this neighborhood in the town of Lamar, Texas.  The trees and vegetation are dense. The only evidence of the presence of any homes are the driveways leading into the grove of trees. It isn’t uncommon for me to startle deer, birds, or other wildlife as I meander down the roads. The occasional clearings give the cranes room to land.boondocking This particular road (12th Street) ends near the shore of the St. Charles Bay, and also takes you to an oak tree reportedly over 1,000 years old.  Aptly titled the “Big Tree”, this mature oak tree measures 11 feet (3.41 meters) across the trunk, 44 feet tall (13.4 meters), 35 feet around (10.71 meters), and 89 feet across the crown (27.1 meters).

oldest oak tree

wind swept oak trees

The fence was put around the tree to keep people from walking near the base of the tree thus compacting the roots which makes it hard for the tree to get water.  Visiting the Big Tree is listed among one of 51 things to do in Rockport.Lamar cemetary

Visiting the Lamar cemetery is also listed as a ‘thing to do’ especially for history buffs; burials from Confederate Army soldiers, WWI soldiers, as well as other’s dating back 150 years. Even in the cemetery the oak trees are a feature adding a sense of mystery and character.whooping cranes

whooping crane

During storms and high winds, the trees act as shelter for a sorts of wildlife perhaps even the whooping cranes.whooping cranes

So let’s see…… we’ve visited the Big Tree, stopped at the Lamar Cemetery, and saw the whooping cranes; 3 down, 48 left of the 51 Things to do in Rockport.  Hmm, doubt I’ll whittle down that list since our time in Rockport is coming to an end.Rockport

We’ll be hitting the road and one of our stops will be Fredericksburg, Texas.  Any recommendations on places to camp or things to do in the area would be welcome.  Either comment here or email me at   Thanks and I can’t wait to be in better Verizon territory.  This intermittent connectivity is driving me crazy!