Wednesday, February 27, 2019

#LeapFrogs: Covering a lot of Miles

At this point in our trip, I expected us to be settling in a little more, but instead, we found ourselves speeding along and covering a lot of miles.

As we travel, I check several different websites regularly so we can visit some of the "must sees" wherever we are. I check RoadsideAmerica.com - sometimes for really wacky things, and other times, I'm surprised with something very special, like our visit to the Empty Cross in Kerrville. I also check TripAdvisor and do a general search for towns we're visiting.

Somewhere along the way, I learned that Bandera, TX was supposedly home to some of the best ranches in the world, and although our budget doesn't allow for a visit to a dude ranch, we decided to drive that direction to see the land. Then we saw Hondo on the map, and Tim said we had to go to Hondo, just because of the movie. But I discovered on Roadside America that there were some church ruins in Hondo, so we headed that direction.


The gorgeous courthouse in Bandera seemed larger than the town itself.


The ruins of St. Dominic's Church near Hondo.


When I took this second photo of the church ruins in Hondo, I noticed something odd.


Cactus growing on top of the wall.

I learned this was also the original site of the town of D'Hanis.




We continued westward and landed at a library in Uvalde so I could do some work.

Beautiful library, and the day was comfortably warm, but apparently they thought it to be hot, so they cranked the a/c down so much we froze while I worked.



By mid-afternoon, we were famished and went hunting for some local food. On TripAdvisor, we found a local joint that specialized in tortilla soup and homemade gorditas. After freezing in the library, soup sounded great.

When we arrived at Live Oak Drive-Thru (I never saw the drive-thru, so I parked and went in to order), I ordered two soups and two gorditas. The gentleman told me, in broken English, "No Soup, it's Summer." I nodded - I understood his words. He was so convincing, it took me a minute to remember that it was FEBRUARY, and while it was a fairly warm day (60s, maybe), the cold was coming back the next day, so summer hadn't quite arrived. But no soup. 

The gorditas, however, were divine! I should have taken a photo of the insides, but we dug in before I thought about it. Tim had the brisket and I had the chicken fajita - both "with the works." They were loaded with lettuce, tomato, onion, and avocado. While I was waiting on the food, a diner told me he loved the gorditas here because they're loaded but don't fall apart. He was right - they held together, and it was the homemade outer "bun" that made all the difference. I could eat those by themselves they were so good. Very different from the version of gorditas we normally eat.



The diner alerted me to some action taking place not far from town that was leading to some heavy tension in the area, due to the caravan and the border crossing issues. He said things were probably going to get worse before they got better.

Tim and I talked about all he told us, and decided it might be wise for us to go ahead and begin our trek north.

Recent Posts:

#LeapFrogs: Holy Ground in Kerrville
#LeapFrogs: History Comes Alive
#LeapFrogs: Johnson City and the LBJ Ranch
#LeapFrogs: From One Pioneer Town to the Next
Finally Heading West and a Glimpse of the Old West
San Marcos and Lonesome Dove
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Austin, Texas
#LeapFrogs on the Move: San Antonio!
#LeapFrogs on the Move: On the Way to San Antonio
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Rockport and Mathis
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Kemah, Houston, Wharton
#LeapFrogs on the Road: Fort Anahuac Texas
Technology on the Road
Crossing Louisiana
From Alabama through Mississippi
First Leg of our #LeapFrog Journey
Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip
The Beginning of a Dream Realized

Recent Posts from TMP Books:








Get your #LeapFrogs Merchandise here:



Monday, February 25, 2019

#LeapFrogs: Holy Ground in Kerrville Texas

So many towns are surprising us with their offerings - towns we'd never heard of or even seen on a map before this trip. Our next stop offered a us a time of worship and rest that we never saw coming.

Kerrville, Texas is home to the Empty Cross, as it is commonly known, or officially "The Coming King Sculpture Prayer Garden." I'd heard about the cross only a few days prior and made it our first stop when we arrived into town. Some "attractions" like this end up being cheesy or have other intentions, so I had no expectations when we got there. The drive up the mountain almost caused us to turn away (have I mentioned I tend to fear mountain roads and high bridges - but usually force myself through?) but my desire to see the cross was greater than my fear so I kept driving upward.

The moment I stepped into the garden, I knew I was indeed standing on Holy Ground, and I removed my sandals. (Grateful for the sunshine and warmth that day, too!)

A concrete path leads visitors to the cross. Inserted in the concrete are engraved plaques with Scripture on them, offered in Spanish, English, and German.





The walkway leads to a statue, and then to the Empty Cross.




Lining the walkways are rock gardens - flat stones with prayers written on them. In various places throughout the area, they've placed piles of empty rocks for anyone to take and write prayers on to place along the way. I spent time praying over some of the requests - so many prayers for families as a whole, and for individual family members, too. Prayers for homes, jobs, healing. Wayward children, aging parents. Prayers for addictions. Prayers for finances. Someone placed a marriage proposal in the midst of the prayers. 




Our time there was precious and unexpected. Peaceful. We were indeed standing on Holy Ground.


Recent Posts:

#LeapFrogs: Holy Ground in Kerrville#LeapFrogs: History Comes Alive
#LeapFrogs: Johnson City and the LBJ Ranch
#LeapFrogs: From One Pioneer Town to the Next
Finally Heading West and a Glimpse of the Old West
San Marcos and Lonesome Dove
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Austin, Texas
#LeapFrogs on the Move: San Antonio!
#LeapFrogs on the Move: On the Way to San Antonio
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Rockport and Mathis
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Kemah, Houston, Wharton
#LeapFrogs on the Road: Fort Anahuac Texas
Technology on the Road
Crossing Louisiana
From Alabama through Mississippi
First Leg of our #LeapFrog Journey
Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip
The Beginning of a Dream Realized

Recent Posts from TMP Books:








Get your #LeapFrogs Merchandise here:






Friday, February 15, 2019

#LeapFrogs: From the Old West to the German Influence

I had work waiting for me after all our play time in Stonewall, Blanco, and Wimberly, so when we got to Fredricksburg, our first stop was the public library.

The minute I walked in the door, I wanted to move in there! When we asked the librarian the best place for us to work for a few hours, she told us to head upstairs where it was quiet. Upstairs, we found large work tables with charging stations and a quiet nook with two armchairs, two ottomans, and electrical outlets - just want we needed. I set up shop in one of the chairs while Tim napped in the other. He said at one point all we needed was a fireplace, but I was perfectly content.



Fredericksburg turned out to be a touristy town, but it took us a couple of days to discover that fact. The town held a lot of contrasts - young and old (people and culture), new and old (architecture and attractions), Old West and German, past and present. 

We are still car camping, so one night, we decided to go hang out at the local Whataburger and discovered that this particular location served as the town's diner. Locals of many generations hung out there, and apparently, our presence created quite a stir.

First, the woman who brought us coffee asked where we were from. (Tim's Bama hat still giving us away.) When she learned we were from Georgia and Alabama, she told us about her relatives who lived back east. She went back to work, but soon, we heard her tell someone else that we were from Alabama. Another employee came over and said her brother was from Huntsville. She talked for a while, then brought us a really great map of Fredericksburg that we hadn't found elsewhere. We sat studying the map after she went back to work, but soon, a couple came up and asked where we were from. They said they'd noticed we were looking at the map and wanted to give us a few pointers about town. We invited them to sit down with us, and the wife perched beside me, but the husband remained standing.

We learned all about the National Museum of the Pacific War and about LBJ's power and influence in the area (and how he got it). The conversation was lively, although a bit one-sided, but we learned a lot. His wife was precious (although she never uttered a word.)

The downtown area is lively on Saturdays, with shops and many restaurants. Our Whataburger friend told us to try the ice cream shop downtown, so that's how we ended up there the next night. 

My favorite part of Fredericksburg was the Lady Bird Johnson city park. We spent a few hours there (over a couple of days) because it was peaceful and spacious - and greeted us with this fun surprise on our first visit.








Fredericksburg is a nice town that proved much more interesting than I expected.

Recent Posts:

#LeapFrogs: History Comes Alive
#LeapFrogs: Johnson City and the LBJ Ranch
#LeapFrogs: From One Pioneer Town to the Next
Finally Heading West and a Glimpse of the Old West
San Marcos and Lonesome Dove
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Austin, Texas
#LeapFrogs on the Move: San Antonio!
#LeapFrogs on the Move: On the Way to San Antonio
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Rockport and Mathis
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Kemah, Houston, Wharton
#LeapFrogs on the Road: Fort Anahuac Texas
Technology on the Road
Crossing Louisiana
From Alabama through Mississippi
First Leg of our #LeapFrog Journey
Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip
The Beginning of a Dream Realized

Recent Posts from TMP Books:








Get your #LeapFrogs Merchandise here:




















Wednesday, February 13, 2019

#LeapFrogs: History Comes Alive

The first stop after we left the LBJ State Park facility was at the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm, and what a delight it was!

From the minute we walked through the gate, we knew we were on some very special property. Volunteers and employees are dressed in period costumes, and the farm is in full operation - an operation set in 1915, said one of the docents.

Animals roam freely around the property - some are in pens, others not. This day, the sheep were roaming, and the ram caught my eye - and apparently, I caught his, too.



As we walked around, we smelled food cooking, and soon found a lovely lady cooking onions on a wood stove. She told us about the three houses sitting side by side on the property - one the original, then an add-on (the one we were in), and then the new one, built in 1915 from materials bought through the Sears catalog. It was fun to compare the differences.

We asked about the milk sitting around in bowls, and she explained the cheese making process - all of it quite fascinating. 





Ranch hands popped in and out for coffee and invited us to come watch the butchering of a steer that would take place shortly. 



The garden was beautiful too - the cabbages were near perfection, along with broccoli, carrots, turnips, and more.


This was a great stop, and one I was reluctant to leave. As sappy as this sounds, all felt right in the world as we stepped back in time. 

Recent Posts:

#LeapFrogs: Johnson City and the LBJ Ranch
#LeapFrogs: From One Pioneer Town to the Next
Finally Heading West and a Glimpse of the Old West
San Marcos and Lonesome Dove
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Austin, Texas
#LeapFrogs on the Move: San Antonio!
#LeapFrogs on the Move: On the Way to San Antonio
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Rockport and Mathis
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Kemah, Houston, Wharton
#LeapFrogs on the Road: Fort Anahuac Texas
Technology on the Road
Crossing Louisiana
From Alabama through Mississippi
First Leg of our #LeapFrog Journey
Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip
The Beginning of a Dream Realized

Recent Posts from TMP Books:








Get your #LeapFrogs Merchandise here:












Tuesday, February 12, 2019

#LeapFrogs: Johnson City and the LBJ Ranch

I was never much of a history student in my early school years. Then I began homeschooling my kids, and I determined to make history come alive for them, and then, when I took history as I sought my bachelor's degree, my professor made history come alive for us, too. But through it all, we never studied Lyndon Baines Johnson or Lady Bird Johnson, except in passing. When I saw we were going to be near their ranch, I knew I wanted to visit and get acquainted with their legacy.

We arrived in Johnson City late in the day, after our visits at Pioneer Town and The Buggy Barn Museum, so we sought out our overnight stop first - the Gillespie County Rest Stop right in front of the LBJ ranch. It was beautiful, and reminded me of travel during my childhood.



As you can see, our dreary weather continues!

This beautiful church sits behind the welcome center and can be seen across the river from the Johnson family cemetery.



The next morning, we went to the historic site, just a mile down the road. Visitors are sent first to the state park site, where we picked up a free permit to drive the self-guided seven-mile route through the ranch. Before we left the building, we were invited to view a short film (25 minutes) about LBJ. It was a TV special by NBC that aired while Johnson was President - he gave a tour of the ranch. He came across so laid-back and more like a farm hand than leader of the free world. (And nothing like politicians of today, although I learned from a local a few days later that the TV persona did not reflect who he was to the locals. More on that in a later post.)



Unfortunately, the Texas White House (the Johnson's home on their ranch) is closed to the public indefinitely, so we were unable to see it. Building surrounded it, including the hangar that is now the National Park Visitor's Center and gift shop, and the communication buildings that I found interesting.


My favorite part of the LBJ Ranch was another farm within the property. I'll write a separate post about it tomorrow.

Recent Posts:

#LeapFrogs: Johnson City and the LBJ Ranch
#LeapFrogs: From One Pioneer Town to the Next
Finally Heading West and a Glimpse of the Old West
San Marcos and Lonesome Dove
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Austin, Texas
#LeapFrogs on the Move: San Antonio!
#LeapFrogs on the Move: On the Way to San Antonio
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Rockport and Mathis
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Kemah, Houston, Wharton
#LeapFrogs on the Road: Fort Anahuac Texas
Technology on the Road
Crossing Louisiana
From Alabama through Mississippi
First Leg of our #LeapFrog Journey
Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip
The Beginning of a Dream Realized

Recent Posts from TMP Books:








Get your #LeapFrogs Merchandise here:










Monday, February 11, 2019

From one Pioneer Town to the Next

From Pioneer Town in Wimberly, Texas, we drove to The Buggy Barn Museum in Blanco. I'd read online that they had some wagons used in John Wayne movies, so I knew Tim would love that. But, like so many things on the internet, that wasn't quite true. They did have several wagons and buggies that were used in the new version of True Grit (2010, with Jeff Bridges), but only one of them was marked.

The "barn keeper" was friendly, and turned us loose to look through the buildings on our own, but kept popping up here and there to give us different facts about some of the artifacts. After we'd been all over the barn looking at the wagons, buggies, stage coaches, and more, he told us to keep walking toward the back, where they had their own pioneer town set up.




  






From Pioneer Town and The Buggy Barn Museum of the 1800s, we leaped forward to the 1960s with our next stop.

Recent Posts:

Finally Heading West and a Glimpse of the Old West
San Marcos and Lonesome Dove
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Austin, Texas
#LeapFrogs on the Move: San Antonio!
#LeapFrogs on the Move: On the Way to San Antonio
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Rockport and Mathis
#LeapFrogs on the Move: Kemah, Houston, Wharton
#LeapFrogs on the Road: Fort Anahuac Texas
Technology on the Road
Crossing Louisiana
From Alabama through Mississippi
First Leg of our #LeapFrog Journey
Preparing for Camping on a Long Road Trip
The Beginning of a Dream Realized

Recent Posts from TMP Books:








Get your #LeapFrogs Merchandise here: