Another Texas Road Trip

We took Wee Jamie on another road trip, this last weekend. My daughter and I have decided that we should dedicate one day a week to “Not Doing Work Stuff” – and have an outing of at least half a day, doing something … something diverting. This long weekend demanded a whole day of ‘Not Doing Work Stuff.’ My daughter suggested a road trip to Fredericksburg, and I thought that we should check out the Museum of the Pacific War, as it has been at least five years since I visited it. It was indisputably the last war which we won, after all. The first time I went to the War Museum was maybe in 1995 – when it was all still contained in the old Nimitz Hotel on Main Street, and an annex down the road – IIRC, a side-less pole barn. (And Fredericksburg was still a sleepy little town with an attractive Main Street, with local-oriented business situated in profitable commercial real estate, where they tended to close shop and roll up the sidewalks at about 5 PM. Well, that has come to a screeching halt, I assure you.)

We took the back way, to Fredericksburg, after stopping at a local restaurant for a breakfast which turned out to be more substantial than expected – a local outlet for the Maple Biscuit Company. The fresh-squeeze orange juice was fantastic, and yes, I would know about all that, having grown up with orange trees in the back yard. The biscuits and sausage gravy were so generous and so good that we were resolved to split an order next time. (This was the last place I saw anyone wearing a mask, BTW. The staff were all masked-up.) The back way to Fredericksburg meant driving up 281 to Johnson City, passing memories all the way; Blanco, where we had done market events at the Old Courthouse, and where once we scored some amazing deals at an estate sale at an old house just off the highway. Johnson City, where we had a wonderfully fun three-day long market one year, for the lighting of the Courthouse, the weekend after Thanksgiving. (We had to stay two nights for that in a cabin at the Miller Creek RV resort, which meant that we barely broke even.)

Johnson City, when I first went through in the late 1990s, was sad and depressing in comparison to Fredericksburg. It seemed to be hanging on based on the relation to LBJ, the Johnson ranch and various residences where LBJ’s family had lived. Now it is the beginning of the Texas Wine Road and has a new lease on tourist life. Some years ago, I had suggested that the Hill Country had all the components save castles, villas, and quaint hilltop towns to become the New Provence, since they produce such Frenchified specialty items as lavender, wine, olive oil, goat milk cheeses … and wine. Oh my gosh, have they gone into producing wine. Someone has even built a castle! The usual maps of the Texas Wine Road usually include only the top twelve or fifteen of the biggest and most well-established of the wineries along 290 – or at least, those with the flashiest central building. As we discovered, just about every commercial or retail business along that road was posted as a winery, and even a couple of places, like Wildseed Farms, which initially specialized in some other commodity – like peaches or wildflower seeds – had added on a wine tasting room. If you started at the two wineries just outside Johnson City to the south and stopped at every single winery or tasting room and had a single glass … your liver would be screaming for mercy when you got to Stonewall, and you’d be on the list for a liver transplant once you got beyond Fredericksburg itself.

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A Farrago of Fail

It was hard enough to wrap the mind around the shortage of infant formula, and how a recall and recall-caused shortage which began months ago, only blew up in our National Establishment Media, and by extension, the current administration in the last week or so. I suppose that if you aren’t living in a household with a baby present, it was easy enough to miss out on the whole tense business of – will there be formula on the shelves – how many cans can we get – and what on earth do we do if we run out? It didn’t help that sanctimonious cows like Bette Midler and divers others began smugly suggesting that mothers breast-feed, once the matter bubbled to the surface of the national conscience. Why thank you for that heaping helping of the screamingly obvious – it had somehow managed to escape our notice. Now that the National Establishment Media is belatedly interested in the matter, we discover that the contamination in question which kicked off closure of the manufacturing location likely originated elsewhere than the factory. We also discover that the FDA dragged their feet on approval to re-open. Huh. Imagine that. A low priority for the inspectors, or a deliberate attempt to add just that much more of a ration of misery to our lives, now that gas is over $4 a gallon in Texas where it comes straight from the cow, and higher yet in other less fortunate localities.

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Our Culture, What There Is of It

This last weekend, I actually went out of my house/neighborhood and did something different. Something interesting and out in the real world, or something that resembled the real world, out there, beyond the keyboard and computer screen. I had a table for my books at a cultural event, the Folkfest in New Braunfels. Historically, New Braunfels was one of the German Verein-founded towns in the Texas Hill Country, one of those that I have written about in my historical series; the main reason that I was invited to the bash under the oak trees at the Heritage Society’s campus on the northern edge of town. The Adelsverein Trilogy touches on the circumstances and reason why more than eight thousand German immigrants ended up on the wild and unsettled Texas frontier in the 1840s. A consortium of German noblemen and princes hoped to make a tidy profit – and to do a good deed for their struggling countrymen – by taking up an entrepreneur grant in the independent Republic of Texas. They were honest in their hope to make the venture advantageous economically for them, which distinguishes them from many other ostensibly charitable enterprises of late. That the Adelsverein went broke within two years had more to do with the princely gentlemen overselling their program to eager potential immigrants and badly underestimating the costs in transporting them to Texas. That it resulted in a godly number of able, educated, independent-minded and patriotic new citizens turned out to be a bonus. It also resulted in Kendal, Gillespie and Comal counties being almost completely German-speaking for better than a hundred years, which explained the prevalence of dirndls and lederhosen worn with cowboy boots at the Folkfest.

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Duly Noted

A marked increase in the number of rude, rotten, and outright dangerous drivers is a local thing that my daughter and I, and a scattering of friends have noticed over the last several months. It has been, as my daughter noted, an increased number of Third World drivers, on our local roads. A lot of near-misses, carelessness in lane-changing, ignorance of use of the turn indicators, and a fair amount of road rage… including a shooting on a stretch of the IH-35 on the South Side of the city. While the South Side is largely and traditionally Hispanic, and has neighborhoods in it which have a reputation for being violent, especially after dark, I used to drive clear across town on my daily commute, from the largely Anglo, or white north-east side of town, to the Southside, and I often noticed that the drivers on the South side were a hell of a lot more courteous about allowing merges and lane changes on the IH-35.

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