Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Arkansas Adventures! (part 2)

Water.  That's what attracts people to Hot Springs.  Old documents show that American Indians knew about and bathed in the hot springs during the late 1700s and early 1800s.  Their ancestors may have also known about the hot springs.  People are still coming to the springs today...and so did we!  Some believe that the traces of minerals and an average temperature of 143 degrees give the waters whatever therapeutic properties they may have.  People also drink the waters from the cold springs, which have different chemical components and properties.

It's not everyday that you can visit "the smallest National Park" in the system!  It consists of the restored 23 room Fordyce Bathhouse in the middle of Bathhouse Row.  ;-You can tour the rooms furnished as they appeared during the heyday of the spa; tours are self-guided, but the signage is done well.  It was a great way to start our visit to the area and learn about the history.  The park maintains the cold springs fountains out front for the public to fill their own containers, and you see people coming to them all day long (us too)!

In the early 20th century eight European-style spas called Bathhouse Row home, with such grand amenities as stained glass windows and billiards rooms.  With magnificent magnolias lined up in front of the bathhouses and a sweeping, brick-lined Grand Promenade behind, the elegant spas evoke a leisurely time when people flocked here to take a 3-week 21-bath cure.  Now, there are only two open to the public, the rest are ether hotels, shops, museum (the Fordyce) or gone.  Also gone is the train that used to bring these folks here...to bad, what fun that would have been!

The two that are still operating are still very glamorous and though they no longer have the "billiards, beauty shops or gymnasiums" like they used to, I'll take the more modern style soaking and massage, thank you...and it was truly wonderful!


If you continue on past Bathhouse Row, and head out of the small town itself, you head up the Hot Springs Mountain.  It's not very far, and quite lovely.  They've built a 106' tower up there that you can take to the top, for a fee, that we opted not to do (I've seen the tops of trees & buildings before) and have a nice gift shop.  It was quite a nice drive.

I had read about an unusual church that was in a large garden, Anthony Chapel, at Garvan Woodland Gardens.  I really wanted to go see it.  The weather had turned on us, with a lot of rain, so we only had a small window, not enough to truly enjoy the gardens, but enough to go see the chapel.  So, we took a chance...wow, was I glad we did!  What a place!  Made you want to stay...want to get married there (again)!  Sure wish we would have had the time and better weather to enjoy the gardens...something to come back for, that's for sure!  Beautiful...

Hamilton House B&B (used to be a CEO's of Coke's Speak Easy), Toby Keith's, and the Hall's (Menthol) Family home

We also did something here we've never done before...we took a Duck Tour!  ;-We've said, more than once, that "someday, we'll do that"...well, the time was right, and the place was right...so, we hopped on!  The guide talked a bit fast, and garbled a bit here and there, but it was still fun...especially when we went into Lake Hamilton!  He pointed out a few "star's" homes and told some fun stories, which always adds to the tour...

We had planned on going to dig for diamonds the following day, as the Crater of Diamonds was only a little over an hour away, but the rain came...and we're wimps... The campground couldn't extend our stay, so off we went to Little Rock instead!

We ended up staying at a campground that's right downtown, on the river.  Not much to look at, but boy is it convenient!  It even has a pedestrian gate so that you can walk across the Arkansas River on the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge.  It puts you right next to his Library, the trolley, the River Walk, and lots of restaurants, and shops.  Pretty cool.  At night that bridge does a light show that's pretty too and we don't even have to go far to see it!

The first day we walked over the bridge, then took the trolley to tour around and see a little of the city.  They have over 100 art pieces spread throughout, it's really fun to see.  The drivers give a fun tour too.  On the way back we stopped at the Old State House, which was the 1st Capitol Building of Arkansas, from 1833-1911 when they started moving into the new Capitol Building even though it wasn't complete yet (& wouldn't be until 1915).

It had really fallen into disrepair until funds were raised to bring it back to it's glory and turn it into a museum.  It showcased it's history and also that of the Clinton's 92 Election Night which he held there.  They also had a couple of special exhibits, one of Governor's wives' dresses and another of bicycles through the years.


A surprising thing we found, when we visited the new Arkansas State Capitol, was that other than a bride-to-be being photographed, there was no one else in the building!  It was a Saturday afternoon...and we had the place to ourselves!  Sure made it nice, I must say!


One of the things Little Rock is "known for" is their old cemeteries...after all, they have been here since before the Civil War.  Mount Holly is famous...so that's where I wanted to go  I love seeing all the old headstones, seeing history per Se.  Among their various Governors, Court Justices, Senators, Confederate Generals, etc, there were a couple of headstones I was actually interested in finding... David O Dodd (boy Martyr of the Confederacy, executed at age 17 as a spy), Elizabeth Ross Quatie (from the Trail of Tears), and Chester Cunningham (1st white child born in Little Rock).  Thank goodness they had a directory listing where people were!  The cemetery isn't large, but still...rows and rows of beautiful, old headstones, monuments and crypts.


As I've shared before, Jack is a WW II history buff, so whenever we are near a museum that covers that era, he's there!  Well, General Douglas MacArthur was from Little Rock, so...they turned an old 1837 arsenal building into a museum to him!  MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, did a nice job of covering the General's history as well as other of their favored sons. 

I'd read an article years ago about an "Old Mill" that was completely made out of concrete.  It had been constructed six years before the movie "Gone with the Wind" and used in their opening credits back in 1939.  I tore out the article and swore that if I ever made it to Little Rock, I had to go see this place!  ;-) 

Looking at it, you'd never know the hand railings, bridge, waterwheel, benches, tables, windowsills and downspouts were all created out of dyed concrete to emulate weather beaten wood.  Details of peeling bark, broken tree branches and bird-pecked holes shape the park's character.  All done by a Mexican artist, Dionicio Rodriquez.  77 years later and people are still coming and enjoying it...the park was full of people the day we visited.  Wedding pictures, children playing, families picnicking, etc.  Wonderful!


As we ended our stay in Little Rock, and in Arkansas in general, we drove the old neighborhoods and viewed the beautiful homes still in use.  Victorians, Queen Anne's, Neoclassical, Georgian Colonial, etc.  So nice to see so many being taken care of...some made into B & B's, some being used, like the Governor's Mansion, again, and others are still just private homes (nice to be rich!).

L-R: Arkansas Governor's Colonial Mansion (1950), The Villa Marre (c1881) used in the tv show "Designing Women", Rozelle-Murphy House (c1887), A private Historic Victorian home, The Hornsbrook House (c1888) Queen Anne style now a B&B, A private Historic home with an unusual domed cupola, Frederick Hanger House (c1889) Queen Anne style, The Trapnall Hall (c1843) one of the only remaining antebellum homes in the city

Arkansas was a surprise to me.  I'm not sure what I expected, but I know I liked it a lot more than I thought I would and that I would like to come back again and see more.  It has a lot more trees and a lot more lakes than I thought too.  We didn't get to the music in Mountain View and I'd like to do that...and those diamonds are still calling to me...



...Until then, we are on the road to Alabama, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Arkansas Adventures! (Part 1)

We've been "full-timing" it for over four years now...on the road the whole time...and how we missed Arkansas, zig-zagging the way we do all across the country, back and forth as many times as we have, I'll never know, but we did!  So, I made it our mission to see Arkansas this year, so off we went.  And I'm so glad we did.  What a lovely state it is too!

Our first stop was to stay at the Lake Fort Smith State Park.  What a beautiful campground that is.  It's been such a long time since we'd been to such a lovely park, we'd almost forgotten how nice it is to be at a place that had large open sites that were set far apart from each other, tucked into "nature" and with fire rings!  So great to be able to just sit back and listen to the birds, build a lovely fire, look at the trees all around...now if only the lake was within view as well (oh well, guess I just want "everything", huh?).

Although the town of Fort Smith was small, it had a few interesting "historic" figures they were proud to share with folks...As you enter into the town, the grand statue of General William D Darby (c1911-1945) on his wonderful motorcycle greets you. The plaque shares that the General was the original commander of the US Army Rangers, an elite force patterned after, and trained by, the legendary British Commandos.  Darby's Rangers were the first American soldiers to actively engage the German Army in combat at a desperate time when America had few resources to counter Nazi aggression in Europe.
Another proud statue fronts a small park, for a whole other kind of "leader".  The first black man to be a US Deputy Marshall.  Bass Reeves served from 1907 to 1910 in the western frontier.  He arrested thousands of felons, including his son and a minister.  He died at the age of 71. 
Probably the most "notable" was  Judge Isaac Parker (c1893), also known as "The Hanging Judge".  Judge Parker had the largest criminal jurisdiction of any federal court at that time, the Western District of Arkansas, and so handled an extraordinary number of murder and rape cases.  When a jury found defendants guilty in these capital cases, federal law mandated the death penalty.  In Fort Smith, that meant an execution by hanging on a crude and unsightly gallows. Judge Parked sentenced 160 people (4 women) to hang.  Of these, 79 men were hanged.

The most fun one was Miss Laura!  Miss Laura ran one of (the best) brothels in town!  It's now the Visitor Information Center (don't you just love it?).  They give tours and the ladies get a health certificate & the gentlemen get a sheriff's badge at the end!  ;-)  In 1903 Laura Zeigler opened a new brothel with money she borrowed from a respectable local banker.  Business was good from the start, and she paid off the loan in 17 months!  Originally named the River Front Hotel, Miss Laura's soon became one of the most celebrated bordellos in the Southwest.  Her ladies were known to be the most refined and the healthiest of Fort Smith's "daughters of joy".

In 1973 the building was selected for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.  Restoration began in 1983 and Miss Laura's Restaurant and Social Club opened one year later.  Miss Laura's had finally become respectable!

The architecture of the house is unique.  The clapboard structure is a simple, yet elegant, example of baroque Victorian architecture.  The furnishings are Victorian and much the same as was used when Miss Laura owned it.

In the fall of 1992, Miss Laura's reopened as the Fort Smith Visitor Center. 






On our last day in Fort Smith, we decided to see the countryside by train!  It's our favorite way to travel when we can.  The Arkansas & Missouri Railroad offers a two and a half hour ride through the Ozark Boston Mountains on their 1950's California Zephyr.  It was a lovely spring day and full of sunshine, just perfect for a train ride!  The train wove it's way through lots of tall green trees, crisscrossed back and forth over the Clear Creek dozens of times (or as locals call it "Frog Bayou"), over three tall trestles and one very long tunnel, past sunny meadows, farms, and small towns.  We sat back and enjoyed a light lunch and listened to the conductor share tidbits of information and funny stories in his Arkansas accent, and I snapped as many pictures as I could...  Such a wonderful way to spend the day.


From there we moved camp, and traveled north to stay a few days in Fayetteville.  We chose this town because it seemed "central" to several small towns in the area.  I had pulled my back out a few days earlier, and was having some difficulty walking much, so this turned out to be an okay place for a couple of days, as there really wasn't much to see in Fayetteville itself.

Our real interest was going to see where Sam Walton opened his 5 & 10 in Bentonville back in 1950, which is now a museum.  I had read his biography and thought it would be fun to see "The birthplace of Walmart".  Why not, right?  ;-)   As timing would have it, that weekend (we came on Friday afternoon) was the "2nd Annual Bentonville Film Festival hosted by Genna Davis.  Luckily, most of the festivities were not really going on until Sat & Sun, so it wasn't to crowded yet.  They still had some things happening, film crews walking around, booths set up, a farmer's market happening, and other fun stuff going on, but not to bad, just kind of fun, not crazy...yet.

The Walmart Museum was cute, pretty much what I expected.  You first enter through a very small 5 & 10 cent store, with some of the "old time" merchandise for sale (fun!), then you go on through to exhibits showing his history, his office, his truck, a model of his plane, etc.  Then you exit through the Soda Fountain where you can order 50's style sodas, ice cream, etc.  We had a soda and took it outside and wandered around the quaint town square and watched the various activities of the day.  It is a darling town, you almost felt like it was 1950 again...

We left Bentonville and drove on to Eureka Springs to spend the rest of the day.  What a great town!  I wished my back had been in better shape, and we had had more time, because this little town sure could take a whole weekend to enjoy!  So many cute shops and pretty buildings to explore and take pictures of, but lots of walking up and down brick walks & hills.  At one time this area was known for it's "healing waters" and had natural springs flowing just about everywhere, now they are gone.  What's left is a tourist mecca of B&B's in beautiful old Victorian homes, gorgeous scenery, lots of quaint shops and eateries and probably some nice hikes in those lovely woods too.  A place worth visiting again someday...

From here, we're heading on to more "healing waters", Hot Springs AR!  Those are still happening tho.  We'll spend a few days there, then on to the Capitol, maybe even stop and dig for diamonds along the way...we'll see, you never know about us!  I'll save all that for "part two", as this seems to be getting pretty long and we have days and days yet of our "Arkansas Adventures" left to enjoy!

...kicking back in Arkansas, Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Lakeside living...

One of my sons lives in Texas, and up until now has been renting a home in Plano, just outside of Dallas.  For years he's had a dream of owning a home that over looks a lake.  He's always been a "water baby", swimming, all kinds of fishing, boating...if it involves water, he loves it!  So, having a home next to the water, one filled with fish, was bound to be in his future..."some day".   As we all know, homes "along the water" don't come cheap, so one's "dream home" usually takes awhile, and a lot of hard work.

Well, that "long while, and hard work" has finally paid off, and this past week my son's dream finally came true!  We arrived just in time to help him and his young family move into his wonderful new (to them) lake home! This lovely home sits right beside Lake Lavon in Princeton Texas with their back yard going right down to the water's edge.


Each evening we all sit outside on their patio and just take in that beautiful view, smiling at how wonderful it is and talking about all the plans they already have.  An added bonus (for us) is that he has enough land around the house that we can park our RV on the property too!

It was so fun the first weekend.  We had gotten a storm the night before, which left some nice puddles out on the front lawn.  The family came over to the RV to join us in the morning, and as we sat there talking, we saw out our window a mallard duck and it's mate come waddling up and make themselves comfortable in the puddles!  My young grandson and I had quite the joy watching the two of them just swimming around in his new front yard!  Later that morning, as we were all working in their kitchen, we watched as a handful of rabbits played in the side yard.

Each morning and evening we are serenaded by the frogs and birds.  Country nature at it's best!  Its truly wonderful here.

North American Cardinal
Every parent's wish is for their children to own their own home, hopefully the "home of their dreams".  With this last move, I can now rest that my three children are all now "in their own homes" happily paying mortgages", albeit all in different states, and in all different types of homes, but hey, they are all happy!  Yea!

Living the "RV lifestyle" certainly helps with "commuting" from west coast, central, and east coast just to see my three kids!

We couldn't leave Texas without one last "tornado watch!"  So, just a couple of days before we were to leave, sure enough, true to form, the weather folks told us to "button down and get ourselves ready, because it was coming our way!"  So, we did.  Pulled in the sides and moved the rig close into the house, and waited.  And waited.  Well, 'round about 9 O'clock the lightening and thunder started and then came the rain.  Well, that lasted on and off until about 4 am and then that was it!  Some wind, but not much.  Fine by me!
Next day, the sun came out as if there had never been a storm!  Gotta love Texas!

We've had a nice long visit here.  Helped some.  Enjoyed seeing my kid's dream come true, seeing my littlest grandson getting bigger, celebrated a couple of birthdays, and seen some new areas around Dallas we haven't seen before, so it must be time to leave.


As we leave them to get settled in (which we know will take "forever") we will finally leave this great state of Texas for now and head "our sweet home" to a new state for us, one we've not ventured into before...Arkansas!  I'm excited!

...on the road again,  Marie

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Great Week in Galveston!

When we decided to head to Galveston for a week, all I knew was that it was along the Gulf of Mexico, so that meant "sunshine and beach"!  Good enough for me!  We couldn't get a campsite at our first two choices because they were booked over the weekend, but were able to find a place along the bayou, still close to town, and that's what we wanted, so good enough!

We were greeted with a beautiful day full of sun and a light breeze to keep the humidity away, so who could ask for anything more?  Once camped, we headed to town and as our usual manner, straight to the Visitor's Center.  We met a super nice lady who gave us a mini history lesson about Galveston, tons of brochures, shared about the crazy pay parking situation, but showed us how to avoid it by parking in their lot or other off streets, told us about the great senior discount day at Moody Gardens and other discounts, then suggested we start with the Tree Sculpture Tour as it would give us a good overview of the town itself as well as seeing some of the beautiful homes too.  So, arms full, off we went!

She was right!  What fun we had, driving all over town, seeing over 17 different sculptured trees that had once been beautiful 100+ year old Live Oak trees, then nearly destroyed in 2008 by hurricane Ike.  Then, various area artists decided to turn a "bad situation into something good" and instead of just chopping down all those trees, began carving them into beautiful pieces of art.  Of course they couldn't save every tree, and the Galveston Island Tree Committee along with hundreds of locals used much of the wood in recycling projects and more than 100 tons of the former trees were selected for the restoration of America's only remaining whaling ship, as well as other large projects.  They have also planted more than 8000 new trees since Hurricane Ike.  Good going!

Looking around, except for the signs telling you about it, you would never know that a hurricane had been here.  The homes here are so beautiful, so majestic and well cared for.  Each one different from the other, you can easily tell that this was a port that brought so many different ethnic groups of people in, Spanish, Germans, Mexicans, and freed African slaves.


Homes that withstood both the devastating hurricane in 1900 and Hurricane Ike in 2008 were mostly built out of brick and stone, like that of the Moody Mansion and Bishop's Palace.  However, there are still a lot of Victorian-style homes, but I think they came after the 1900 hurricane.  All, different, all beautiful.  We enjoyed going through the Moody Mansion, built in 1895 in the Romanesque style.


As the days passed, we visited such attractions as the Galveston Railroad Museum which showed off the Golden Age of rail travel!  They have the most marvelous collection of Renfert Dining china & silver I've ever seen!  They also decorated their original Gulf, Colorado, and Sante Fe Union Depot in the 1930's art-deco style with "Ghosts of Travelers' Past" with imagined conversations while they wait to board the train....we had fun joining in on them!



We made a quick stop to check out the 1943 USS Cavalla Submarine too, pretty impressive.  Jack quickly decided that at 6', he never would have made it aboard such a vessel!  Me, I had no problem getting around it!  ;-)


On Tuesday, as suggested by our trusty Visitor's Center lady, we promptly went to the Moody Gardens.  It's quite a complex, 3 large pyramids, each with different experiences.  We chose the Rainforest.  Three floors filled with lush gardens of orchids & trees of all kinds, lots of endangered plants and animals from the Giant Amazon River Otters and Komodo Dragons to free-roaming birds and Saki Monkeys, what's not to like?


Afterward, we went on their 1800's replica Paddlewheel Boat, the "Colonel", for a leisurely hour-long cruise along the Offats Bayou.  We even passed by where our campsite was and saw our RV!  Now that was different!  


 No trip (for us) would be complete without a bit of antique shopping, and Galveston has some fun shops to explore, from nautical to restoration, as you can well imagine with it's history!  Traveling like we do, we've seen all kinds of things...and there are things we've looked for in particular, that we very rarely, if at all, never seem to see.  One of those things is "floral frogs".  For most people, it's just that round glass thing with holes that you put in the bottom of a vase to put your flower stems in to hold the flowers up right.  Well, that's the "common" variety.  But...many years ago, they used to make beautiful ones, in all shapes and sizes that you would put in your clear vases, that would hide the stems, and be pretty as well.  These floral frogs are hard to find, and over the years, I've seen very few, if any in my many, many searches.  Until the other day.  We came upon an antique store here that had about twenty different ones!  I could hardly believe my eyes, such a find!  It was so much fun just to look at each one...lucky me, I bought two, albeit, small...but yea for me!  I love those sweet things...


Sandy beaches with sea shells for my collection, sea gulls serenading us each day, cooling breezes to blow away the humidity, sun shinning most the days...Galveston treated us nicely...thank you, we'll be back someday!

...on the road in Texas,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sand, Sea, Birds and a Big Tree...

I was ready for some sand between my toes and the smell of sea air, so we headed for the coast!  The closest one from were we were coming from, was Corpus Christi, so that's the direction we headed.  We found a really nice campground in Aransas Pass, just outside Corpus Christi, so that's where we settled down for a week's stay.  The sun came out and greeted us with open arms!  What a glorious week it was going to be!

Our first day out we headed into Rockport to talk with the Visitor's Center folks, as we had been in the area four years ago, and I remembered a beach with a lot of shells, but I couldn't remember where...they would know!  Well...it turned out, they didn't have a clue...said, to their knowledge, "no beach anywhere around here has any shells to speak of".  However, they did make some other suggestions of things to go see, such as "the Big Tree", which we had never seen, or even heard of before.  Also, they pointed out where a few Whooping Cranes are still hanging around at, and the story of why Live Oak trees look the way they do (they are "windswept"= moist ocean air pushing the trees in a constant direction). 

So, with maps in hand, off we went on our first excursion, to see the "Big Tree"!  Little did we know, it would be quite a drive...but well worth it!  As we drove, and drove, and drove I started to wonder if (1) were we lost?  (2) was this a wild goose chase? (3) was it going to be a dud?  But, finally, we came to a clearing, and there, it was, bigger than we both had imagined, was this beautiful, grand, lovely, 1000+ year old Live Oak Tree!  It stands over 44' tall, 89' across the crown, 11' across the trunk and 35' around.  It was worth the drive!  Surrounded, were "her offspring", almost as large and as lovely...  Truly, a lovely little forest.  We were so glad we were told about this gem.


Back in town, we visited the area where the Whooping Cranes are still wintering on top of the "windswept" Live Oak trees, and checked out the Big Blue Crab sculpture that started out on the Del Mar Grill back in 1957.  It's had to be redone since then, but it's an icon now in Rockport, and pretty impressive, I must say! 


Rockport preserves some of their beach area for bird nesting.  It's pretty cool.  They just rope it off, and put signs out asking you not to disturb the birds.  You can get up pretty close, the birds are used to the people, so don't really mind you watching, etc.  They have several acres of sand and grass.  All kinds just fly in and out as the seasons change.  While we were there it was mostly Franklin's Gulls and Black Skimmers in one area and  in another. 


The beach itself is really pretty too.  It was clear, warm and washed up these tiny, round stones of various shades of brown.  We scooped up a bunch to take home.  I'm going to add them to my drift wood pieces as accents. 


Later in the week we headed into Corpus Christi for sight seeing.  Stopped and saw the Selena Memorial.  It was quite nice.  They have a recording playing in English and in Spanish explaining it and one short song. People constantly come and play homage to her and bring flowers, etc.  It's right along the harbor's edge.  

Great harbor, with a lot of wonderful Brown Pelicans! 


From there, we drove out to Padre Island (not "South" Padre Island...just because I wanted to see what was there...not much.  A very  l o n g  drive.  Once we finally got to the Ranger Station, we listened to a nice talk about what you could find along the beach (interesting!) and about the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles.  I had hoped they would be hatching and ready to be released into the sea...but, actually they are just now starting to lay their eggs and it won't be time for them to hatch for another 45 days!  Oh well, bad timing once again...
Anyway, we took a walk along the beach, enjoyed watching the cute little Sanderlings, then turned around and headed back for the very  l o n g  drive back out again! 


The rest of the week...we just enjoyed the sun, propping our feet up, relaxing and reading!  Life is good...

...On the road in Texas

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/


Sunday, April 3, 2016

A few days in Fredericksburg

After visiting Austin, we decided to backtrack a bit and spend a few days in the small town of Fredericksburg Texas.  We had passed through it on our way to Austin, and craned our necks as we drove through this charming town.  It has a very  l o n g  Main Street chock full of quaint shops, eateries, galleries, etc. that just looked to good not to explore.  Checking our AAA Book, we learned that it was first settled by German farmers who began arriving in 1846.  The town borrowed its layout from villages found along the Rhine, as it also parallels a creek.  Modern-day residents carry on many other old country traditions serving "bier, bratwurst and everything in between".  It sounded to fun not to check it out!

Of course, our first mission was to check out that "Main Street"!  We managed to do half of it, anyway.  When I say it was l o n g, I mean it!  Plus, they have a few side streets that I'm not even counting!  Phew, that's a lot  of buildings to go in and out of!  Of course, it didn't help that it was on "Good Friday" and extremely crowed!  Oh well, so much for timing...once again! 

So, Saturday, we decided that instead, we would avoid downtown and go to the Wildseed Farms.  Fields of Texas Bluebonnets and Red Corn Poppies as far as the eye could see!  Lovely!!  My kind of place, yea!  It was so much fun, walking around, seeing such pretty flowers, families taking pictures of their little ones tucked in among the blooms, photographers with their tripods, birds building nests, shoppers deciding on what and how many bags of seeds to buy (including me!) I loved it!  So much fun!  I was in my element...


After we left there, we decided to make "a quick stop" just down the road at the Texas Ranger Memorial.  It's in it's first phase, so I didn't think it would take but a few minutes, but then we were greeted by Duke...  Duke is a retired Texas Ranger who takes pride in presenting not only what the Memorial is, but what it's going to be, and the full history of the Texas Rangers themselves.  We learned a lot from Duke, and look forward to seeing their Memorial complete in the coming years, they certainly deserve it.


Next door is the restoration of Fort Martin Scott, so, of course, we had to make a quick stop to see it as well!  Ft Martin Scott was the first U.S. military post to be established on the western frontier of Texas.  It was part of a line of frontier forts established to protect travelers and settlers within Texas.  They were only there 5 years.  In 1870 the Braeutigam family of 11 moved into the abandoned fort and began operating a "biergarten".  In 1884 The Braeutigam's Biergarten was robbed and he was murdered.  The city of Fredericksburg bought the property from the family.  The guardhouse, made of cut limestone is the only surviving building from the original fort, having been restored to its original design in the early 1990s. It was the Braeutigam’s homestead.


Finally...it was time for lunch!  Jack located a wonderful restaurant that was "off the Main Street" of downtown so that we could still find a parking spot (quite a feat on Easter weekend in this town!) and still be a nice place.  The Peach Tree Restaurant was wonderful!  Can you imagine a charming southern house, with all kinds of lovely choices for lunch?  They were nice enough to have a "sampler" sandwich plate for those of us "who couldn't quite choose"!  Yum!  And in true Southern style, 3 little sandwiches aren't enough, it came with a cup of soup (another choice, so I chose a cold avocado).

That night my body decided to revolt, and for the next three days I was sick to my stomach, keeping nothing inside for very long.  So, to say the very least, I didn't  go anywhere.  I did send Jack out one day, rather than have him sit here watching me suffer all day.  He loves anything having to do with WWII history, so I sent him to the National Museum of the Pacific War.  Admiral Nimitz and his family are from here and a great deal of the complex is dedicated to him.  Jack thought it would be small, and he would be back in a couple of hours.  Five plus hours later, he finally made it back!  "Wow!" he said, that was quite a place!  "And I didn't even see it all!"  It turned out to be deceiving from the front, the building going deeper and deeper into the back, then down the whole block.  There was even more you could go see further down the street.  He was quite impressed.  I'm glad he enjoyed himself.  I rested.

 The last day of our stay, feeling better, but the weather cool and windy, we decided to see a bit of the town we never really got to see with all the crowds that first day (holiday being over, they were gone now).  I also wanted to see the two historical cemeteries that are at either end of the town.  Both date back to 1846, one is Catholic and the other is German.

I wasn't disappointed.  Der Stadt Friedhof Cemetery really showed it's age, going back to the 1800's, with all the headstones written in German, something I hadn't seen before.

St Mary's Catholic Cemetery, in contrast, even though just as old, was filled with wildflowers!  Now that was different to see, and actually quite pretty!


Needless to say, we didn't get to see all the things "on my list" that I had wanted (like the LBJ Ranch), so, I guess that just means we will have to come back again some day!

We've enjoyed our "Hill Country" visit, but it's time this gal got some sand between her toes, and the smell of salt air, so goodbye Fredericksburg, we are headed to the coast (of Texas, of course)!












...on the road in Texas,  Marie
  
If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/