Monday, December 3, 2007

The famous "Hill Country"

Winnies 2 and 3 - Nov. 23 through 28; Goliad State Park Nov. 29 and 30

Winnie 1 - Nov. 23 through 26; then San Antonio Nov. 27 through 29; Goliad State Park Nov. 30

Friday, Nov. 23, the three Winnies drove to Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country. This was a very pleasant 200 mile drive – the longest drive so far – through rolling ranch country between Del Rio and San Antonio. We turned north at Hondo and the grades gradually got steeper as we drove into the heart of the “Hill Country”. We saw quite a lot of wildlife on the drive and some rather exotic animals, which we haven’t yet identified, on some of the ranches along the way.

It is deer hunting season in west Texas so we saw a lot of deer stands set among the scrub oak in the pastures and many modified jeeps, “Mules”, and other assorted 4-wheelers being towed or hauled on the road. Hunting is BIG here!

Upon our arrival in Fredericksburg, we pulled into Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, where we have full hook-ups at a very reasonable price in a park setting. Other facilities available at the large city park include a golf course, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, picnic areas, a swimming pool, and a stream flowing through. The two Carols are parked at the end of one row and can look out their windows at a nice rose garden complete with blooming roses. This is definitely a good place to park for a few days or a few weeks! Winnie 3 is nearby.

Fredericksburg was established in the mid-1800s by German immigrants sent by the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas. This was the second settlement in a series of similar settlements planned to reach out to a land grant in which the society had purchased an interest. The town is located in the Pedernales River valley which provided water to the settlers. Wood and stone were, and are, abundant for use in building structures and the climate is mild. Limestone quarried locally has been widely used in building construction and there are many shops and homes being used that are over 100 years old.

Much of the German culture has been retained through the years with two choirs in town that present concerts in German, some church services are in German, and good German food is readily available. The town has many shops – including local wineries’ tasting rooms – that cater to tourists that visit the area on weekends.

Winnie 2: Shops are upscale—in some respects several remind me of shops in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

One style of home that is unique to Fredericksburg is known as a “Sunday House”. These were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s as town homes to be used by area farmers on weekends when they came to do their shopping, attend church, etc. They were built of wood or stone and consisted of two rooms, one above the other. An outside staircase provided access to the upper room. Several Sunday Houses are still standing and some are being used as shops and as bed and breakfast establishments.

The weather turned cold while we were in Fredericksburg as a front came out of the north. We had cold rain and wind the first couple of days.

Winnie 1: Yea! Finally I get to wear the turtle-neck sweaters that I brought. The weather did not keep us from getting out and about in the downtown area.

Visiting the Lyndon B. Johnson homes and Luckenbach

Finally the third day dawned clear (the 26th). It was time to visit “out doors” sites, so we drove to the Johnson City
area to tour the LBJ boyhood home and the LBJ Ranch. The guided tour included LBJ’s ‘western White House.”

And, of course, no visit to this part of Texas would be complete without a visit to Luckenbach. This quaint wide spot in the road was made famous by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings in their country hit “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)”. The town is a favorite motorcyclist destination on weekends and consists of an unpainted general store that also serves as a beer tavern and a dance hall. Large live oaks are on the grounds providing a wonderful area to listen to the impromptu music performed by locals and visiting musicians or to “people-watch”.

And the Luckenbach bar was the site of our daily Happy Hour

The Winnies split up, temporarily

Tuesday, Nov. 27

Today Winnie 1 left to spend a few days in San Antonio with her friend Maria; and then she met up with the others at Goliad.

Winnies 2 and 3 stayed on in Fredericksburg for two more nights. They visited with friends Jane and Barbara from Illinois who were camped at Kerrville the first day. The second day was spent in San Antonio where they toured the Alamo and spent time on the River Walk. Then they moved to Goliad State Park.

And finally Winnie 4 (Roberta Cox) joined us. Now the Four Adventurous Winnies were together.

And with Winnie 4’s arrival – plus the nearness to the brewery that makes Shiner Beer – a tour was in order. Since you’ve missed out hearing from her so far, she agreed to write about this.

Winnie 4 (Roberta): I finally got my motorhome out of hock and joined up with Winnie 2 and 3 in Goliad, TX. What a great little town! The State Park where we stayed was great, but that's another story. Friday morning, Winnie 3 and I started out for the Spoetzl Brewery in the town of Shiner, makers of Shiner Beer. Winnie 2 stayed behind, recuperating from a flu thing and a twisted back....or perhaps there was just a good football game on!

Liz and I got to Shiner a little early...we were meeting Winnie 1 there....and decided breakfast was needed. Just as we were getting the meal, saw Carol's Aspect motorhome go by! We finally
all met and went on the brewery tour. The brewery was started in the early 1900's by a good German man, Mr. Spoetzl. There were a lot of German farmers settled in the area and they wanted a taste of their homeland. The brewery thrived, even through prohibition, creating "near-beer" to keep things going. The brewery is a 24-hour operation and very clean. In the gift shop, they passed out were "limited" to four glasses! They also had lots of goodies to purchase.

We went to the local grocery store and my gal pals bought three cases, plus a six-pack of the Shiner stuff.....should last them a week or so. HA! Winnie 1 had been visiting a friend in
San Antonio, so followed us back to Goliad, about 60 miles away. We saw some beautiful little towns along the way. You really feel the "Texas-downhome" friendliness in this area.

Goliad State Park, just a hop-skip-and jump to the historic town of Goliad.

While our time at Goliad was short, we’ve all expressed interest in returning some day – perhaps on our drives back to New Mexico. The state park is home to the restored “Mission EspĂ­ritu Santo” and the nearby Presidio. We had convenient RV parking, with electric and water hookups, for $13 a night.

Our timing couldn’t have been better. Friday night’s big event was the annual Christmas Comes to Goliad celebration. After walking the decked out Mission grounds, we went to downtown Goliad for dinner. By 7 p.m. we had finished and then found a good place to watch the annual Christmas parade, complete with brightly lit floats and marchers.

Saturday morning was the annual Pony Express event, and there was a mail exchange at the entrance to Goliad State Park. With the bribery of having a hearty country breakfast after the mail exchange about 7:30 a.m., we donned our matching t-shirts and headed to town.

Then back at the park, we prepared to travel the final 80 miles to our winter roost in Fulton, Texas.

But before we drove off, the Winnebago motorhomes were lined up and through the magic of remote photo-taking, we had our first complete group, complete with motorhomes, shot. Check out our lovely color-changing shirts (we found them in Langtry, Texas)