Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
January 17, 2017 - Florida Keys

Thursday, March 28, 2013

McKinney Falls State Park Hiking

McKinney Falls State Park near Austin, Texas has some very nice hiking trails. Yesterday we hiked the three mile Onion Creek Trail. It meanders through some wooded areas and along Onion Creek. It reminded me of trails in Wisconsin except every once in a while you see prickly pear cactus growing along the trail. Definitely not Wisconsin.

There are lots of bluebonnets in this park. They really are so pretty.

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We came to a sign for the Upper Falls. Another mini falls, maybe due to the drought.

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P1140297There are already quite a few wildflowers blooming in Texas. I don’t know what they all are, but we saw yellow, pink, blue and purple flowers. I did some experimenting with the macro setting on my camera. I like how nicely this shot turned out.

 

 

Next, we hiked the one mile Rock Shelter Interpretive Trail. There is a brochure that describes the marked posts along the trail. At least half of the trees they were describing must have died. They weren’t there. Also, the trail was very poorly marked and we got lost a couple of times. Not a very good trail.

We did learn about one type of cactus on the trail. It’s called a pencil cactus because the spines look like pencils. There were red berries on the ones we saw. I like this picture because you can see the pencil cactus, but also some prickly pear cactus, bluebonnets and a yellow flower.

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Today we hiked the three mile Homestead Trail. The trail starts next to the Lower Falls. They say everything in Texas is bigger, but so far that has not applied to any waterfalls we have seen.

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These ruins are of the house built by the slaves of Thomas McKinney in the 1840s. The Civil War brought financial ruin to McKinney. He died in this house in 1873, and his wife sold the property.

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All together we hiked about five miles each day.  This park was booked for the Easter weekend, so tomorrow we head to Cleburne State Park, south of Dallas. We’re enjoying exploring just a few of the over 100 state parks in Texas.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A New TV

When we got up yesterday morning, we certainly weren’t planning on buying a new TV that afternoon. However, you know what they say about best laid plans.

We left Rio Raft RV Park for a short one hour drive to McKinney Falls State Park around 11:00 a.m. McKinney is located just outside of Austin. The lady in the office was very nice and registration was a breeze. She assigned us site #14, a large pull-through site with 50 amp electric and water. There are no sewer sites in this park, but we’re only here for four nights so no problem there.

The annual Texas State Park Pass we bought in Mission has been paying off. We thought it was a bit pricey at $70, but it saved us $60 just on our stay here. Without the pass, the state parks charge the daily fee per person for each day you camp in the park. That’s $6 per day, per person. Added to the $24 per night camping fee, it would just be way too expensive to camp in the state parks without the pass. You also get four 1/2 price nights at four different parks, so that saved us another $12.

We got set up and were looking forward to exploring the trails. This park looks like its very nice, and I was excited to get out and do some hiking.

Not so fast! I turned on the TV in the living room to set it up for our new location, and it wasn’t working correctly. It just kept turning itself on and off without touching any buttons. Kevin came in and took a look. We tried new batteries in the remote. Didn’t work. Kevin pulled out the manual and tried some reset suggestions. Nothing worked.

He called Toshiba’s 800 number and amazingly got a person pretty quickly. After explaining the problem, the service person told him it was an internal problem and would have to be repaired. What to do? We’re only here for four days, really not enough time to mess around with trying to get it fixed. Plus, it would probably cost more than it would be worth.

Luckily, we’re quite close to San Antonio so off to Best Buy we went. Our TV was a 42 inch. Most TVs are now 40 inch. We found a Sharp with all the features we wanted on sale for $379. In the truck it went. We did buy the 5 year extended warranty for $69 extra.

I am usually very anti extended warranty. But, since our Toshiba was only 4-1/2 years old before it died, and Best Buy will replace the TV rather than repair it if it dies, we bought the warranty.

Kevin got it all set up. For now it is sitting on its stand on the counter in front of the hole it goes into. Today Kevin will have to do a little modification to the brackets that attach it to the wall. We’ll also have to do a little work on the wood frame that goes around the TV, but that can wait until we’re back in Wisconsin.

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It’s amazing how these TVs keep improving and coming down in price. Even though the old one was a flat screen, this one is considerably thinner and lighter.

They say bad things come in threes, so we are now done!!! Since leaving Wisconsin in October, we’ve had the tire blow out, the roof damage and now a dead TV. Enough already!!

We did see a deer in the site across from us. Today we will do some exploring.

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Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Chair

Yesterday we went to Camping World in New Braunfels. We were looking for Endurabond to better repair the tear in our roof. Camping World doesn’t sell Endurabond, they sell Dicor. It looks like the same stuff, but we weren’t sure if it would work as well. I’ve done some online research, and it seems they are pretty much the same stuff.

The duct tape Kevin put up there is holding up fine so far. However, we are concerned about the spring rains we know we’ll encounter further north. We ended up not buying it for now. We’ll be near another Camping World when we are in the Dallas area.

In the meantime, I am going to call the insurance company this week to check if they want to send someone to see the damage. We’ll be in Texas a few more weeks. It sure would be a waste to do the temporary repair, and then they want to see it and make us try to take it off.

I did buy a new chair though. Here’s a screen shot from Camping World’s website. I’ve been looking for a chair with a foot rest. This one actually has several reclining positions. You can have the foot rest in or out. And, it’s very comfortable.

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We drove through the town of New Braunfels. There didn’t appear to be anything we were interested in looking at, so we didn’t stop.

The last stop of the day was at Walmart for some odds and ends. We rarely shop on the weekend. Now I remember why!

We had thought about doing some hiking in this area, but yesterday was really hot and today is very windy. So, Kevin has been enjoying the NCAA tournament and I’ve got a few projects I’m working on.

P1140284I walked down to the river area yesterday afternoon. There were a few people enjoying the warm day. I saw this cute little guy on one of the railings. I was expecting him to start trying to sell me some Geico insurance at any moment :)

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

Yesterday we went back to Enchanted Rock. You may recall we tried to go there last week, but forgot it was spring break and couldn’t get in.

This week was much better. There were still some people around, but it wasn’t overcrowded. We stopped at the visitor center to get a map. The lady there recommended the hike to the summit of Enchanted Rock and the loop trail hike as well.

The summit trail is only .6 miles each way, but the elevation change in that short trip is 425 feet. Most of the way up is just walking on rock. Kevin suggested doing the summit trail first. Good thing, because after the 4.2 mile loop trail I don’t think I would have wanted to do it.

Here’s the view from the bottom. The little dots on the picture are people hiking up. Click on the picture for a better view.

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Enchanted Rock is just a very small part of a huge underground rock called a batholith. The underground rock spans over 100 square miles, four times the size of Manhattan!

The higher we went, the windier it got. Amazingly, there were several depressions at the top of the rock where plants were growing.

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The views from on top were amazing. You can really see all the hills. No wonder this area is called Hill Country. I was also surprised at how green it looked from the top.

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Here we are about half way down. Can you tell how windy it was!

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The 4.2 mile loop trail went around the base of Enchanted Rock. We saw a few patches of bluebonnets and some blooming cactus.

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Around the backside of Enchanted Rock it looked like sheets of rock were falling off. A sign explained that these are called exfoliation sheets. I guess nature is shedding the dead cells on the rock’s face :)

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It was 2:00 pm when we finished our hikes so we decided to check out Pedernales Falls State Park on our way home. We drove to the falls parking lot and walked the 1/4 mile trail to see the falls. I’m thinking the drought has caused the river to be low. This really wasn’t anything to get excited about. The trail was through a juniper forest, and it sure did smell good in there.

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There were warning signs explaining how quickly flash floods could develop. I can’t believe this picture is of the same place.

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Next we stopped at the bird blind in the park. I’ve been searching for a Painted Bunting, but no such luck today.

We did see a Ladder-backed Woodpecker.

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And a Black-chinned Hummingbird. That’s a new one for me. The only hummingbirds we see in Wisconsin are the Ruby-throated. Cool. The picture was taken through a dirty window, so its not that sharp.

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Our final stop was the swimming area. The map said there was a beach along this part of the river. There were about 100 stone steps leading down to the swim area. I guess you could call it a beach as there was sand. The water was very shallow. It would be pretty hard to swim in there. By the time we climbed back up the steps, we could have used a swim!

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We drove through the campground. There are electric and water sites at this park, however most of them were pretty tight. We probably wouldn’t attempt to stay here.

Today we left Blanco State Park and headed south about 30 miles. The state park was booked for the weekend so we are at Rio Raft and Resort near New Braunfels. It’s a Passport America park with FHU pull-through sites. At $16.50 per night, it’s a good deal. The park is on the Guadalupe River and has RV sites and cabins for rent. They also rent rafts and kayaks. It looks like it’s a pretty popular place in the summer. The wi-fi at our site does not work well at all.

We’re here so we can go to Camping World tomorrow to buy some Eternabond to patch our roof damage. The owner of Hill Country RV Park has filed a claim with his insurance company regarding the damage his tree did to our roof. I’ll give them a call next week and see what they’re going to do for us.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lyndon B. Johnson Historical Sites

Yesterday we spent about six hours touring the two Johnson historical sites in this part of Texas. Lyndon and Lady Bird’s ranch as well as Lyndon’s boyhood home have historic sites and tours.

The ranch dubbed the Texas White House by the media of that time is the busier of the two sites. We started our touring there. The visitor center issues you a car pass and a self-guided CD audio tour for free. You drive around the ranch and learn all about the Johnsons while listening to the CD. It’s a great way to do a tour.

This is a reconstruction of the house in which Lyndon Johnson was born. He lived here for five years.

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This is the Johnson family cemetery. Lady Bird and Lyndon are the two larger stones in the middle. This is probably one of the most unassuming presidential grave sites. A good trivia question would be what is Lady Bird’s real name. I never knew it was Claudia.

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The Johnsons donated a large portion of the ranch to the National Park Service in 1973 with the understanding that there would be an educational component to the tours. For that reason, it is still a working ranch. In the Show Barn we saw some of the Hereford cattle that are descendants of the cattle Johnson owned. It was one of only a few ranches that branded the horns of the cattle. I’ve never seen that before.

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Near the ranch house is a hanger building with exhibits including several of Johnson’s cars. A larger Air Force One was used to fly to Austin, and then this smaller plane flew them from Austin to the ranch. Johnson jokingly called it Air Force One-Half.

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To tour the inside of the ranch house, you have to buy a ticket for $3 per adult. A ranger takes you through the lower level of the house and tells stories of when the Johnson’s lived here. It is decorated in the 1968 style while Lyndon was president. No indoor pictures were allowed.

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The Johnsons came to the Texas White House frequently throughout his five years in office. They spent about 1/4 of that time at the ranch. Johnson would even have cabinet members and other officials flown down for meetings, holding them under the Live Oak tree on the left. He loved entertaining heads of state and other important people at the ranch. I’m thinking that cost the taxpayers a great deal of money.

This certainly is a beautiful and serene place along the Pedernales River. I can see how it recharged his batteries. This is the view from the front of the ranch house.

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After the ranch tour, we drove about 14 miles east to Johnson City. When Lyndon was five years old, the family moved to this home where he lived until he was 15 years old. At that time he took off and went to California for a few years. Eventually, he came back to Texas and went to college where he earned a teaching degree. There is a free ranger guided tour of this house.

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Our next stop was the visitor center in Johnson City. There are two movies available to view, one about Lyndon and one about Lady Bird. We watched the Lyndon movie and learned a lot about his presidency.

I was in first grade when Kennedy was shot. My only memory of Johnson as a president was the image of him being sworn into office with Jackie Kennedy at his side in her bloody pink suit. I really did not know very much about the man or his politics.

We learned that he was responsible for a revolutionary change in government funded public programs. He was interested in improving education, poverty, civil rights and the environment. I think his heart was in the right place, but unfortunately, many of the programs he initiated have become huge drains on public funds. I don’t know that what has happened was what he intended.

The ranger told us that normally the bluebonnets would be out in full force at this time. Due to the drought, there are very few to be seen. We did see a few patches of them along the highway. There was a flowerbed outside of the visitor center that was full of them. Too bad we’re not getting the full affect. They sure are pretty.

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A short walk from the visitor center is the Johnson Settlement. This area has restored buildings from the mid 1800s when Lyndon’s grandfather first came to Texas as a cattle driver.  This was the home he built.

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There were a few longhorn cattle in the pasture.

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We enjoyed our visit to the Johnson historical sites. We learned a lot about that period in the history of our country and would highly recommend a visit.

Today we stayed home. We did take a walk around Blanco State Park where we will be until Friday. The park is on the Blanco River where there is a swimming area. We saw some people swimming at the top of the wall yesterday. The area on the right looks like a swimming pool.

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Here’s our site, #6 FHU 50 amp. The park has free wi-fi, but its quite slow and sketchy. The sites are large, but not all that deep for big rigs. There are also some trees to be careful around. There is a nice covered picnic table and a fire pit.

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Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another Volksmarch

We had such a good time meeting Susan and Bob last Sunday that we planned another Volksmarch hike with them for yesterday. This time they came to our home for brunch. It sure was nice of them to drive over an hour from San Antonio to visit.

After we ate, we headed to the starting point of the hike. The hike was entitled “Bridges” so we were expecting a path along the river in Kerrville. Instead we started at a park and then walked through some residential areas. A lot of the route was in the open with a hot sun beating down on us. Highs yesterday were near 90 degrees.

We did finally make it to a large bridge across one of the main roads. We spent a little time looking over the side. The river was pretty and looked cool.

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There were lots of turtles swimming in the water. I was about ready to join them.

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There were quite a few tree stumps right under the surface. This one was especially large. I’m thinking the boaters need to be very careful not to damage their motors.

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By the time we finished the 10K (6.2) hike, we were ready for some refreshments and dinner. We went to Mamacita’s Mexican Restaurant. Dinner was very good. After dinner we headed back to our home for dessert. Susan and Bob had brought a cheesecake sampler, so we each enjoyed a delicious piece of cake.

Susan and Bob headed home, and we did some chores to prepare for our departure today. We look forward to meeting up with Susan and Bob again some day!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bandera, Texas

We stayed home on Thursday and Friday. There really wasn’t anywhere we wanted to go. I had read online that Bandera claims to be the Cowboy Capital of the World, and that they have a Farmer’s Market and an event called Cowboys on Main on Saturdays.

As we entered town, we were behind this truck. I’ve never seen a suicide sign on a truck before. I’m taking it he doesn’t want anyone passing him on the right!

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The Farmer’s Market was listed on their website for today from 8 to 11 a.m. They also have the Cowboys on Main event every Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. The plan was to arrive around 10 to check out the Farmer’s Market and then hang around for the cowboys.

We went to the market spot and there was nothing there! What the heck. We saw signs for an event called Wild Hog Explosion being held at a park outside of town so we drove over to that. There were some craft and food booths set up and they were going to have a cook-off and competitions for catching live hogs. It was a fundraising event for the Bandera library and had an admission of $7 per person. We weren’t that interested, so we left.

We wasted some time exploring the two blocks of shops on Main Street. I’m collecting fabric from the states we visit for an eventual quilt. They had a very nice quilt shop, and I found a piece of fabric representing Texas. Since today is National Quilting Day, the purchase was absolutely necessary!

One of the shops was selling this grill. That would certainly be a novelty item for the patio.

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We had lunch on the patio of the chikin coop bar and restaurant. A cold beverage and a plate of King Ranch Chicken Quesadillas hit the spot.

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Finally it was time for the Cowboys on Main event to begin. There was a gunslinger event at a small park. A group of older guys and one young lady did a few skits with lots of shooting. I’m sure the kids in the audience enjoyed it. We thought it was pretty hokey. I did learn that Bandera was a stop for cowboys that were taking cattle from Texas to Dodge City, Kansas to sell them.

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In this skit the dentist was going to remove a rotten tooth using dynamite.

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The only other evidence we saw of any cowboys was this wagon offering rides and one other chuck wagon parked in front of the County Courthouse. Certainly not what I was expecting from the Cowboy Capital of the World.

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What we did see a lot of was motorcycles. There was a ride this weekend and there were plenty of motorcycles all over the place.

I read a sign that explained some history of Bandera. It was established in the mid 1850s as a mill town due to its proximity to the Medina River. Several mills were established for sawing wood and making shingles.

We drove home along Hwy. 16. It’s quite scenic between Kerrville and Bandera with some hairpin turns and steep inclines. Lots of hills, ranches and rivers along the route. That water in the creeks is crystal clear. Because of the two year draught, everything is very brown and dry. I’m sure it would be prettier if they had more rain. Still no wildflowers anywhere :(

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Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fredericksburg and Luckenbach

The plan for yesterday was to start out hiking at Enchanted Rock State Park, then check out Fredericksburg, and if there was time stop in Luckenbach at the end of the day.

It was about a 45 minute drive to Enchanted Rock. I had seen a show on TV where they polled Texans as to the best hiking in the state. Enchanted Rock was number one. About 15 miles before the park, I happened to see a roadside sign that said if it was flashing the park was closed. It wasn’t flashing, and I thought closings would be weather related.

This is the closest we got. A picture through the truck window.

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About 3 miles from the entrance, traffic came to a standstill. We waited for about 20 minutes and saw many cars turn around. Most cars had children in them. I had forgotten that it is spring break for all Texas public schools this week. We decided to turn around and check out Fredericksburg first and come back to the park in the afternoon. As we passed the road sign heading back, it was blinking. I guess this park is very popular!

Fredericksburg is a quaint town that was established by German settlers in the mid 1800s. We stopped at the Pioneer Museum for information. The museum had re-enactors giving demonstrations throughout the grounds. Many families were enjoying the event. We visited many of these types of museums when our children were young, and we didn’t want to deal with the crowds, so we moved on.

We walked to the Market Square area and visited the Vereins Kirche (Society Church) Museum. This building is a replica of the first church built in the town.

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Inside there was a map of Germany showing where the German settlers came from. My birth town near Hanover, Germany was included on the map. Maybe I have descendants that lived here.

P1140166There was also a Maibaum (Maypole) in the square. My mom always got excited on May 1st because it was May Day, a day for celebration in Germany. This one was kind of like a totem pole with the history of the town depicted on it.

 

 

 

 

We walked up and down several blocks of Main Street. One of the shops we enjoyed visiting was Rustlin’ Rob’s Texas Trail Supplies. They had all kinds of samples of jams, butters, salsas, sauces and dips to taste with crackers or pretzels. We tried all kinds of the samples, free lunch :)  

There was a room dedicated to the hottest sauces. An employee was on hand to supervise. No children were allowed to sample those sauces. No thanks!! We are lightweights when it comes to spicy sauces.

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I enjoyed window shopping all along our stroll. Many of the items for sale were German and reminded me of things my mom has, or I saw on my trips to Germany.

We saw several of these Texas style signs. Hmm.

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By this time we were thirsty so a stop at the Fredericksburg Brewery was in order. I am not a beer drinker, but Kevin enjoys samples from local microbreweries. He had a sample of each of their brews and declared they were all good. Can you tell he didn’t want to cooperate in having his picture taken?

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I enjoyed our stroll through Fredericksburg. On our travels, I’ve noticed that so many of the small tourist towns are mostly shopping and restaurants. Neither one of those things interests us that much anymore, but we did enjoy our stop in Fredericksburg.

Around 2 p.m. I tried calling Enchanted Rock to see if they had re-opened. I tried about 15 times and just kept getting a busy signal. We’re going to be staying in Blanco next week. Upon checking with the GPS, we found out that its not much further to come back from Blanco, so we’ll be back next week when the kiddies are back in school.

Our next stop was Luckenbach, made famous by a Waylon Jennings’ song.

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It’s not a town anymore, pretty much just a tourist attraction. There is a small general store and a cowboy hat shop. I always thought cowboy hats were made of a felt material. Most of the ones I’ve seen are actually straw. The felt ones are very expensive, around $150 and up. The straw ones are from $20 to $60.

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There is also a bar, a walk-up food stand, a barn dance hall, and an outdoor stage area.

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Two musicians were playing outside under some trees. They were Bo Porter and Jimmie Lee Jones. The little guy in front was dancing and enjoying himself.

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We are not country music fans and have never heard of either one of the performers today. It was fun to sit and listen for a while. Their song topics included being in bed with a woman and dreaming about a different woman, stinky feet, and passing gas. Yup, country music :)

We all have our stereotypes of places we’ve never been to. When I thought of Texas, what came to mind was longhorn steer, cowboys and oil wells. We’ve seen very little of any of these. There was the opportunity to have your picture taken with a longhorn at Luckenbach for a price.

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One of the main reasons I wanted to stay in the Hill Country was because I had read about all of the beautiful wildflowers that bloom in March and April. So far, no flowers. I overheard a lady at the museum yesterday saying that due to the drought in Texas, the flowers are about two weeks behind in blooming. Hopefully, we’ll see some before we leave in early April.

The weather this week has been fantastic with highs in the mid 70s and sunny. Can’t ask for more than that!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!