Last week, we and our good friends, Tom and Judy took a seven hour road trip to Fredericksburg, Texas. We enjoy traveling together because we get along great, have about the same likes and dislikes and our bladders are on the same schedule.
The last time Dick and I were in that part of Texas was in the early 80's and our friends had never been but had always wanted to go. That gave us the perfect reason to plan a trip.
When we went through "Fixer Upper" stars Chip and Joanna Gaines home town of Waco, we thought we may as well stop by the Magnolia Store and Silos and see what all the fuss is about.
However, after seeing all the bus loads of people milling around and the long line to just get into the bakery, we decided to keep going.
Tom and Judy had friends tell them we had to take a side trip to Luckenbach Texas, where “Everybody’s Somebody.” It was only four miles from the main highway and worth the detour because we can now say there really is such a place.
Established as a trading post in 1849 there is not much there now other than a Post Office converted into a General Store and a bar with live music daily, and an old dance hall still in use every weekend.
This is a regular stop for tourists and especially bikers, where they can sit back under the old 500-year-old oak trees, relax and listen to live music.
If you are a country music lover, you may recognize this place as the name and theme of a Waylon Jennings song.
I am not a country music lover but even I have heard of Luckenbach Texas!
This colorful rooster and a couple chickens make up the population of 3 in this out-of-the-way place.
After this little stop, we made our way on west a few miles to Fredericksburg.
Fredericksburg was founded on May 8, 1846 by German immigrants under the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas.
The first few years the town saw great growth. Within two years of establishing the town, the Nimitz family opened their hotel, which quickly became the most famous hotel in Central Texas. The original building no longer exists but a replica resembling a ship has been built and now houses the Nimitz Museum.
It is the history of this place and its World War II naval significance that makes this such an interesting place to visit.
Rear Admiral Chester Nimitz, the grandson of the hotel owner, was made Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Ocean Areas following the attack on Pearl Harbor, giving him control of all Allied forces in the central Pacific. Later, he shared this post with Commander MacArthur.
We spent hours here and in the adjoining National Museum of the Pacific War. The history recorded here is amazing.
There are several other museums and one could spend days exploring them. A casual stroll down any street reveals historic German homes and stores of limestone and fachwerk.
There are interesting stores on both sides of the main street.
Phil Jackson's had some of the largest and most beautiful pieces of granite counter/table tops I have ever seen. There are three ice cream parlors on this side of the street alone and I can testify to one of them.
Both we and our friends had a cousin living in Fredericksburg so Friday night was spent visiting and catching up with family. We had a delightful time visiting with Dick's first cousin, Joyce and her husband, Noel and seeing their Fredericksburg home.
On Saturday morning we headed back east toward New Braunfels, which is another German town located between Waco and San Antonio.
Our main objective for going there was to see the small German village of Gruene (pronounced Greene) and have dinner at the historic Gristmill River Restaurant overlooking the Guadalupe River.
We realized that this particular weekend was the first Trade Days weekend of the year, so there were hundreds of other folks milling around all the tents and stores in the little village.
This is the village dance hall with live bands playing so loudly they can be heard down the street and plenty of two-stepping couples moving across the floor.
Landscaping Southwest Texas style.
Before dinner, we found a winery, Winery on the Gruene, near the restaurant and enjoyed a time of tasting some of the local products. We found three Zinfandel that we liked well enough to bring home.
The historic Gristmill is set in an authentic century-old cotton gin from the 1870's and beneath the Gruene water tower on the Guadalupe River. There are five levels to this expanse of dining space and we were told they could seat 1,400.
After a delicious meal, we returned to our hotel where we spent a couple hours playing a game of Mexican Train. This was a great way to end our most enjoyable road trip with dear friends.