Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Texas Hill Country Charm in Fredericksburg

The last two days were spent exploring the popular Hill Country town of Fredericksburg, a small town with Texas charm and German heritage – a place where the sign into town reads, “Willkommen.”  We elected to spend the night there in a B & B because our new windshield was being installed and there couldn’t be any movement to the coach.   

Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 and was bestowed the name in honor of King Frederick of Prussia. It has long standing German roots that are still woven into the fabric of the town and once you drive into the town, you understand why tourists flock here.  The town loves to celebrate with over 200 festivals and events a year and they love their wine with more wineries on the Texas Wine Trail than any other town.  Nature enthusiasts will love the spring wildflowers and history buffs will be enthralled with pioneering and presidential history.

Our 80-mile trip from southern Austin was through some other famed Hill Country towns of Johnson City and Stonewall – towns that were put on the map because of their link to presidential history.  Johnson City was the birthplace of President Lyndon B. Johnson and Stonewall is home to the “Texas White House,” which he occupied during his presidency.  (Sorry pictures inside the house are not allowed.)

The original entrance to the LBJ Ranch over looking the Pedernales River.
The "Texas White House" doesn't look that large but it measures in at over 8,000 square feet.  Just enough room to raise two daughters and meet with some of the most prominent leaders (many of which happened under the large oak tree).
Gravesite of the Johnson family, including Lyndon and Lady Bird.  
A trip to the “Texas White House,” or (locally known as the LBJ Ranch) is well worth the trip.  The 36th President spent 25% of his time in office running the country from his beloved ranch.  Once you arrive at the site, stop in the visitor center for a 20-minute orientation film, pick up brochures, and get an audio CD that will guide you through the property.  The CD is wonderfully narrated and keeps you informed and entertained as you drive through the more than 700 acres of the ranchland.  We felt a complete awe of the many world leaders, politicians, dignitaries, and celebrities that visited the property during LBJ’s presidency.  All the while this was a working ranch.    

The Sauer-Bechmann Farm gives visitors a look into rural life.  Walk around the grounds and talk to the living history volunteers to learn more about life in the early 1900's.
Johnson's boyhood schoolhouse is part of the tour.
Johnson used a hangar for press conferences
while at the ranch.
Air Force One flew Johnson into Austin
but a small plane was needed to get
him to the ranch. It was called
"Air Force One-half" and is on exhibit
at the ranch.

After touring the ranch, we continued moseying (just have to use that word cause we are in Texas) westward just in time to make it to Fredericksburg for lunch.  Our stomachs were begging us to be filled with the German food that the area is so well-known for.  Quickly, we found Der Lindenbaum which offered just what our stomachs wanted – plates of bratwurst, knockwurst, sauerkraut, and warm German potato salad.  And to drink, what else but a frosty mug of Bitburger pilsner…a perfect way to enhance and authenticate our meal. 

So with full bellies and open minds, we ventured over to the National Museum of the War in the Pacific.  Wow, is this museum GREAT!  The museum offers visitors a comprehensive explanation of the battles fought in the Pacific Rim and their importance in the theater of World War II.  The museum is a complex of three buildings situated within a few blocks of each other with the largest being the George Bush Gallery.  Tickets are good for 48 hours and we recommend planning on spending a good half day to full day exploring the museum and utilize the opportunity to leave and come back.  After two hours, we were less than half way through the museum but saturated with facts, maps, war strategies, and the ghastly awesomeness that is war.  We had to take a break.
The grand entrance to the George Bush Gallery is enhanced with a submarine breaking through the ground.
The museum has a diversity of exhibits, with text, artifacts, interactive media, and an audio wand (which we highly recommend - especially since it is free).
Some of the best exhibits are those
that have animated maps and explanations
of the battles and geography.

Replicas of "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" - the atom bombs dropped
over Japan that led to the Japanese surrender.

We decided to stroll around the historic district and peruse some of the nearly 150 boutiques, art galleries, and creative shops that fill the historic buildings. A definite “don’t miss” is Texas Gourmet where they sell Texas-made products ranging from salsa, to hot sauce, to barbeque sauce and everywhere you look is a sample for you to taste.   After that, we recommend taking in a wine tasting to sample some of the regions pride.

Downtown Fredericksburg has a little bit of everything...
...including cute boutiques in historic buildings.

Our room with a private entrance, patio, and glider.  
Enough activity for the day, we were ready to kick off our shoes and retire to our B&B for a glass of wine.  We stayed at the Hoffman Haus, an inn with private suites located a few blocks off Main Street.  Our suite was rustically cute with the amenities and charm of a fancy boutique hotel.  We were greeted with a warm welcome from Annabelle and felt at home right away.  The suite immediately won us over with the wood beams, high ceilings, private front porch, and comfortable sleigh bed.  An hour of relaxing in the comfortable sitting area and a glass of wine and we were starting to think about dinner.  The Navajo Grill caught our eyes and we were not disappointed.  The cool outside patio was a perfect location for Betsy to savor her double cut pork chop with cherry demi-glace and ancho buttermilk mashed potatoes and I to relish in home-made pasta tossed in chili oil with sweet roasted butternut squash and cauliflower.  And the chocolate martini for dessert did not disappoint either. 
Breakfast was seasonal mixed berry stuffed French toast,
fresh fruit, sausage, and fluffy scrambled eggs.   Loved it!
We loved the inside decor, especially the exposed beam walls.

After a wonderfully restful night we were greeted at 9 a.m. with a knock on the door and a basket of scrumptious and plentiful breakfast.  The delicious breakfast gave us the fuel we needed to head back to the war museum and continue learning about the tiresome conquest of the brave young men (and women) that fought perilously for our country.  After finishing the Bush Gallery, we ventured over to the Admiral Chester Nimitz museum.  This illustrious sailor called Fredericksburg home.  As a young boy Nimitz worked at his grandfather’s hotel which instilled in him the ethics of hard work.  Nimitz was drawn to the military and was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy at 15.  His hard work ethic and fascination with the military propelled him through the ranks of the U.S. Navy and eventually into a position commanding fleets of Navy ships instrumental in America’s war victory.    

On our way back home we stopped at the Wildseed Farm.  This 200-acre facility is the largest working wildflower farm in the nation and offers a first-hand look at their products and the flowers that have brought fame to this beautiful part of Texas in springtime.  The last and final stop on our way back to Austin was a stop at Whittingon’s for a sample of their famous jerky.  I was in heaven and couldn’t resist leaving with a bagful of this delicious dried meat treat.

Wildseed Farms beautiful array of colorful flowers.
A visit to the Texas Hill Country is a definite must if you ever find yourself in this area.  We visited so many of these great towns and found so much to do (and eat).  See the previous posts for more information on the other towns we visited.

1 comment:

  1. I got a funny feeling i want to move there. Simple and clean place.


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