Blanco, Luckinbach, Fredericksburg, Johnson City — Texas Hill Country


Finally got back here about 10 years after my first visit on a tour bus, visiting farms (a peach farm, lavender farm, winery) with some Iowa farmers. This time I had a rental car so I could zip off to fairly out of the way places on roads with names like Farm to Market, although not as many places as I wanted to hit. Need more than one day for that. Next trip I’d like to go to: Gruene, Comfort, Welfare, llano.

Blanco was almost my favorite because it seemed like a normal place almost, with more ranchers than tourists. I did stop at the gift shop next to the Rosebud Cafe where I found good local pottery to buy as gifts and expensive Mexican embroidery. The town square reminded me of Winterset, Iowa, with its limestone courthouse, but the Texas courthouse is smaller… It too has been a movie set (True Grit) as has the Winterset courthouse (Bridges of Madison County).

I kept making wrong turns to get to “downtown” Luckinbach but finally realized it was on “the Luckinbach Loop” and looked like a western movie set with a big parking lot and an old (authentic) post office. Inside the post office is a rustic gift shop and cozy bar in the back where two old guys with a hearty sense of humor were playing a mean guitar and banjo. Very versatile, they played “hillbilly disco” and even some bluegrass-ish Motown. They happily entertained a handful of people who had wandered in and sat on wooden benches in the little bar. The dance hall and beer garden, adjacent, looked like they’d be great fun for hearing live music. Love that there’s music all over Austin and environs (Austin bills itself as the live music capital…I guess Nashville and Memphis have other billing.) Also was live music at the airport now where we are sitting on mock bleachers in a mock food truck courtyard listening to a four piece band ( not the real Asleep at the Wheel, as the sign above them says.) (p.s. our flight ended up being cancelled just as we were boarding: mechanical issue. Now we have to stay overnight in Dallas. And leave for Dsm early. Hoping we get there tonight.)

Fredericksburg was too touristed and German for me, but there were lots of shops and German restaurants in old stone buildings along the long flat main drag. I ate a brat loaded with sauerkraut at the old German Bakery. I prefer the more grilled brats in Madison, Wisconsin.

I made a quick drive though the LBJ ranch in Stonewall and visited his reconstructed birthplace. His gravestone is across the road. The place is vast — 2000 acres. Unfortunately the Texas White House, LBJ’s House, is closed due to structural issues. That would have been cool. I really liked visiting Truman’s Winter White House in Key West.

I also drove past Johnson’s boyhood home in Johnson City, so named for generations of his ancestors that lived and ranched there.

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