Saturday, March 27, 2010


Well - Thursday, March 25 we were headed to ‘historic’ Fredericksburg, TX in the Hill Country. What we were looking forward to the most was some greenery - grass, trees, flowers, anything other than DIRT and DUST! It was a long travel day (7 hours) with only a quick lunch stop at a roadside rest area where we quickly downed a GREAT pasta and chicken salad that Gary made.

We settled into our new RV park, spent about 2 hours trying to get the 2” layer of dust from Big Bend out of Magic and then headed to Main Street to get a glimpse of Fredericksburg. As Gary said, it is really strange to see all these long German names in the middle of Texas. So - why is Fredericksburg historical? The town was settled by immigrant families from Germany in 1846 and has more than 700 historical structures in the historic district and many on the National Register of Historic Places (you need to use ‘historic’ lots of times to describe this town - that’s why it is so historic:-)!)

Approximately 40% of all Texas peaches are grown in Fredericksburg and the surrounding county. Unfortunately, we are a little early as peach season typically runs mid to late May thru early August:-(

Perhaps the real import of the town is that it is the birthplace (we were in the house) of Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet during World War II. As such, it is also the home of the National Museum of the Pacific War operated by the Admiral Nimitz Foundation, the only institution in the continental US dedicated exclusively to telling the story of the Pacific Theater battles of WW II. This museum walks one chronologically through the various battles in the Pacific beginning with the lead-up to Pearl Harbor (including the reasons for the animosity of Japan to China and therefore the US who was supporting China) to dropping the bombs on Japan. This is done with various forms including combinations of audio and visual displays. The museum also includes displays of both Allied and Japanese aircraft, tanks, guns and other large artifacts made famous during the Pacific War campaigns. This is a fabulous exhibit and we were only sorry we did not allow more time to go thru it. When we come back, at least a full day will be devoted to this Museum.

The National Museum of the Pacific War

The other important site just outside of Fredericksburg in Stonewall, TX is the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, which includes LBJ’s birthplace (complete with out house - see Gary below), the one-room schoolhouse where the President began his schooling at the age of 4, the family cemetery and final resting place of the President and First Lady and the Texas White House. The Texas White House was the sight of many important meetings with the President, Secretary of State and Joint Chiefs during the Viet Nam war - many on the front lawn under the old oak trees. Even so - the house was modest and homey with personal touches. One of those touches are pillows given as gifts - including a pillow particularly liked by LBJ on a chair in his office which says “It is my ranch and I do as I damn please”. His daughter, Luci, joked, “If the house had caught fire one possession Daddy would have tried to save was this pillow”.

We both had a feeling similar to when we visited Graceland - although this house in Texas was the sight of much history and the home of a President of the United States it was relatively simple. Again - a sign of how much more simple things were back in the 50’s and 60’s.

Lyndon Johnson's Birthplace

The LBJ Loo

The Johnson Family Cemetery on the Ranch Property

The small stone portion of the Texas White House in the right of the picture is the original house built in the 1800's

We wished we could buy our diesel on the ranch at the metered price of 35 1/2 cents per gallon.

Visiting these two museums/historical parks - it amazed both of us how little we recall of our own American history. Neither of us - even though we were both young adults - remember LBJ’s death or the fact that he was only 64 when he died - and only in his 50’s when in office (he just always seemed OLD). We were also surprised to see a bust of Eisenhower on the bookshelves behind LBJ’s desk! While Eisenhower was President, LBJ was Majority Leader of the Senate and Sam Rayburn (D) was Speaker of the House - which means we had a Republican President and a Democratic Congress. BUT, they actually worked together!! So much so, that LBJ had a great admiration for Eisenhower. Where is this civility today??????

Anyway - we have enjoyed this part of our trip immensely and are now looking for a couple of good (audio) books on these eras in history to listen to on the rest of our trip. If any one has any suggestions - please let us know?!?!

While in this area we also took a side trip to Gruene (pronounced ‘green’), Texas to take in more history and dance a spell. Gruene was also settled by German farmers in 1840 - these planting cotton. Cotton became the number one cash crop and Gruene grew - adding a cotton gin and a dance hall and saloon - Gruene Hall - which became the center of the community’s social life. In the early 1900’s the boll weevil and the Depression were too much for the town and most of the businesses went under - except for Gruene Hall which never closed - and is still open today! And, in fact, has helped to revive the town. AND, of course, that is why Gary and I went to check out Gruene - with our boots on and ready to do a little scootin’ - we danced a little two step (and waltz) and listened to Reckless Kelly. This morning was a little rough - as we aren’t made for 1AM nights any more. But, we were glad to have spun around such an old dance floor:-)

The longest continuously operating dance hall in Texas.

Things were sort of quiet in Gruene Hall during our afternoon visit. That certainly changed by the evening reopening.

Shod and ready to scoot.

It is now Saturday, March 27, and we are moving on to the Austin area - still in the Hill Country - AND still appreciating the green and lack of dust!! Today will be a very slow day - as we are still recovering from our VERY late night.

Back soon - E & G

1 comment:

  1. We are up to date on your wanderings! Lovely morning here in PC. Going up to 51 degrees today. Not much snow the past three weeks so the grass is starting to appear. All is well in the neighborhood. We watch your house as we drive by. All is well there too from outside appearances. Ski season ends two weeks from today. Watched the pond-skimming at The Canyons yesterday. Funniest was two guys, one dressed as as an SUV being chased by a blonde wigged guy hitting the SUV with a golf club, all on skis and no, they didn't make it across the pond!