Friday, March 24, 2017

Having Fun in Blanco Texas

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Although we mostly planned to take it easy hiding out in Fredericksburg for the duration of spring break, we actually had a lot of fun. We found a great place to survive Spring Break after all!

Next up for us was a short day of less than 25 miles a bit further east to Blanco State Park in Blanco Texas. We have stayed before and love this scenic little park. We also move very slowly once we are in the Texas hill country especially in the spring as it is the best time of year in our opinion so we want to enjoy it fully.

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We checked in with the ranger at Blanco State Park and were given a great site with a view of the river. We got set up, relaxed a bit then strolled into town. It is easy to walk into town from the state park and from there we thought we should continue on with the walk over to the Real Ale Brewery since it was near happy hour. Real Ale Brewery is my favorite brewery in all of Texas so we bellied up to the bar and enjoyed some of their fine craft brews.

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Another day we took a road trip on the back roads in the hill country over to Boerne, Texas and then on to San Antonio to shop at their Costco and Harbor Freight Tools. I needed a small torx set to repair our coffee maker that went on the fritz. I was sure glad our daughter Katie gifted us our Aeropress manual coffee maker because with the coffee maker broken it has provided some heavenly morning coffee. It is also so easy to use and to clean . We just love it!

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The drive to San Antonio through the hill country between Blanco and Boerne was really scenic. The wildflowers along the roadside made it pleasant to drive through this part of the state this time of year. We even saw quite a few deer and a special treat was we were able to stop to watch a couple of Tom Turkeys courting some hens. They were in full courting display with their feathers fluffed out and the their tail feathers fully fanned out so the ladies could check them out. Of course I forgot my camera but some things are best enjoyed live and remembered with brain cells rather than via pictures…

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On the way back from San Antonio we stopped in Boerne to walk along the banks of the Guadeloupe River at River Road Park. When we finished we walked across the street to the Dodging Duck Brewpub. We asked to taste a two beers each since we had never been there in order to choose the one we liked.  However we were told there was a two taste limit per table! Not good since we both like different styles of beer but we followed their rules and ended up drinking sub-par beer. We surely wont be back here ever again…

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Ending the day with a bad beer taste wasn’t very appealing so as we neared Blanco we saw a sign to Sisterdale, looked at each other and said let’s go have a beer at the Sisterdale Saloon. The saloon is a dive bar we both read about which appealed to us so we wanted to check it out. We each ordered a beer from a very friendly bar keeper and sat down to enjoy what turned out to be a great ending to our day… The Sisterdale Saloon is yet another Road Treat we have discovered during our travels On the Road of Retirement…

NOTE: We are now in Lake Pointe RV Resort in Canyon Lake, Texas.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Altstadt Brewery and Becker Vineyard in Fredericksburg Texas…

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Fredericksburg, Texas is an area we have often visited but we found some new interesting happenings this time around. We read there was an annual free event at Becker Vineyard called Bluegrass and Bluebonnets. John loves Bluegrass music so we decided to give it a go. The event had a huge turnout as it was a beautiful sunny day. The deal of the day was to purchase tickets for 6 tastings and keep the glass. It was so very crowded around both the indoor and outdoor tasting areas, we opted instead to buy a bottle of their Cabernet and open it to sip wine while listening to the music.

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After enjoying the music as well as a lot of people watching we corked the bottle to get up and stroll the grounds. At 3pm John let me know he had another surprise up his sleeve. I read that a new brewery was opening in town but sadly it would be open after we leave the area. Unbeknownst to me, John made a comment on the Altstadt Facebook page that we were sad to miss the opening as we love visiting breweries. The owner, William , private messaged John and invited us over for a private tour! How cool is that!

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A young man opened the gate for us and we walked to the brewery entrance which was locked but we saw a camera and a buzzer. We rang and soon were greeted by Peter, the Brew Master! Peter escorted us into the shiny, new brewery. For a startup this was a huge facility with state of the art equipment. Peter, who is very passionate about brewing proudly showed us all around explaining that they will brew strictly German beers. The yeast, malts and hops will be shipped from Germany. The facility uses reverse osmosis to purify the water from their well as every effort is made to ensure a great product.

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Peter was the most awesome host. His life as a Brew Master was also very interesting. After obtaining his degree in beer brewing in Germany he worked for Abita Brewing and later the the Gambrinus Company (at Shiner). The challenge in becoming the Brew Master for this large startup was too exciting to pass up. We could feel his excitement as he described future plans for a large tasting room and restaurant. If success could be measured on Peter's passion for the venture alone, it will be a huge success!

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Passion aside, the product has to deliver to truly be a success so we were so happy to say yes when Peter offered us a taste of two beers he has currently perfected. One was a Lager, the other a Kolsch. The Helles lager, he explained would be exactly the beer one would typically get in Munich Germany. It was light, clean and crisp. To us the star was the Kolsch. It is honestly the best we have ever tasted. It had both body and wonderful full flavor. We know one thing for sure, we will definitely hang out at this brewery the next time we roll through. We cannot thank William and Peter enough and would encourage anyone to try the beers from  Altstadt Brewery.

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Despite revisiting an old favorite, the town of Fredericksburg had a few new gems for us to enjoy. Thanks, Fredericksburg...we will look forward to seeing you again next year!

NOTE: We are now in Blanco State Park in Blanco Texas.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Willow Loop Trail and Luckenbach TX…

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One morning we woke up here in Fredericksburg to an overcast and cool morning with a bit a early mist. What a great day to take off and drive the Willow City Loop. This is a scenic loop drive about 15 minutes northeast of town. It is known for its scenic beauty and as a great place to see spring wildflowers. Even though we are early in the wildflower season we still  expected to see some as they seem to be blooming earlier this year.

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Sure enough no sooner  had we entered the loop we spotted some bluebonnets alongside the road. Of course we had to stop to take pictures… A bit further up the road we saw two Tom turkeys crossing the road and I wasn’t quick enough to capture them with my camera but Sharon was able to capture some quick shots with her phone so excuse the blurriness.

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We saw quite a few wildflowers on the 13 mile loop. As the flowers really come out in the next week or two the traffic on this loop drive will certainly pick up. We saw several cars but surely not as many as will be here in the coming weeks.

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We had hoped to go to Enchanted Rock again on this trip but with Spring Break the park is at capacity by 8:30 am and closes for the rest of the day. Instead we decided to go check out the Wildseed Farm. We hoped to see more wildflowers since they plant them there but we were disappointed in how few there were. Good thing we saw plenty of them on Willow Loop.

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Near the Wildseed Farm is a must stop spot for us – Luckenbach Texas. As the saying goes “Everybody is somebody in Luckenbach” and we love the ambiance of this true road treat. Lucky for us this day along with the normal musicians jamming on the back porch we were treated to a band playing on the back stage.

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We never caught the name of the band but they played some really good tunes. We loved the fellow playing the mandolin and violin as he was not only a great strings player but he really got into his music. Always a great time in Luckenbach…

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We have one day left before we leave for Blanco State Park and we found what looks like a fun festival to attend on our last day here. Until then we hope you enjoy the pictures in today’s blog mostly taken on the Willow Loop drive.

NOTE: We leave this morning for Blanco State Park in Blanco Texas where we will stay four nights.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Enjoying Fredericksburg, TX

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We pulled out of our park in Sonora Texas to continue our trek eastward. We sure were happy to locate a site at the fairgrounds in Fredericksburg and really appreciate our reader’s suggestions about places to stay. Luckily we didn't need them but have saved them in a list for places to stay in this area for the next time we roll through.

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As we pulled into the fairgrounds we found that there were only three full hookup sites available and they were each in between other rigs that looked more permanent in nature. Since the sites are very narrow (unusual for a fairgrounds RV park, we opted for a space with only water and electric since we are only in town six nights. If we conserve water we should be fine for our stay.

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We decided to stroll through the town of Fredericksburg on Monday and man was it crowded. We are apparently fortunate to have landed a place to stay with all the Spring Breakers in town especially considering there is also a huge bike ride going on called Hell Week. During our stroll we were certainly surprised by all the children around town as we never really considered Fredericksburg a spring break destination!

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Our walk around town didn’t  reveal any differences since the last time we were here but we did discover an open and free exhibit to visit behind the museum. Inside a nice courtyard were informative plaques from the era of the Pacific Wars. Also there was a nice Zen garden adjacent to the courtyard for taking a moment of contemplation. A good way to end our day was to visit the Perdernales Brewing Company and although they have a few good beers their IPA’s and Pales aren’t on that list in our opinion.

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The next day we headed over to the Lady Bird Johnson Park. It is just on the other side of the Gillespie County Municipal Airport from us. There is an RV park there too but the price is double what we are paying. The trails were fairly crowded and again we supposed it was because of spring break. We even happened upon a large group of about 20 6-7 year olds out on a boys and girls club outing.

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Back at the fairground we wanted to walk a bit more so we ventured over to the airport since there was a vintage war plane out front we wanted to check out. What we also discovered was a gem we knew nothing about. We found a hotel there called the Hangar Hotel and it continues the vintage 1940’s and 1950’s theme throughout it.

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They even have a old Caddy that is available for hire. That would make a nice ride for going into town in style. Someone sure did tis place right and paid attention to detail. It really is a cool little hotel along with a neat bar called the “officer’s club” which is only open Thursday through Sunday. We will certainly check out this road treat later.

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Beside the hotel is 50’s style diner which also has limited hours as does the club. Maybe we will have our last night’s dinner there so we won’t have to cook before our travel day to Blanco State Park after the weekend.

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NOTE: We are still in Fredericksburg, TX waiting for the end of spring break.