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Oct 18, 19 - Fredericksburg

Brewery excellence, wineries, historical town. white pick-up trucks

overcast 26 °C

We've decided to forgo San Antonio and Austin, both large cities, and, while there are things we would like to see and do there, we can take a pass. Our trip is nearing an end and our eagerness for more time in the car is fading. Instead we will hang out here for two days before moving on to Mission TX and a visit with our friends George and Karmen.

Over the past week or so we have noticed that the many of the thousands of pick-up trucks we were seeing along the roads were white. Over a few days we became convinced that this was the predominant colour of trucks in Texas. So, the other day, when we were cruising along I-10 we decided to count all pick-up trucks for 50 miles and see what the percentage of white ones really was. We saw 160 pick-ups, and 57 of them were white, or 40% of all the trucks we spotted. The things we do to keep ourselves entertained while driving!

Fredericksburg is a lovely small city of about 11,000, roughly in the centre of Texas. We are staying at the KOA here and while the services, such as showers and so on are pretty good, the wi-fi sucks. So this morning I spend two hours in the town library using their wi-fi to get the blog up to date and do some surfing for a cover for TaJ.

Winter is coming back in Nova Scotia and TaJ does not fit in the garage so we will have to cover her. Camping World seems to think all R-pods are the same size and it is difficult to get any information from them on-line, so we will have to stop in and see if we can cut through the crap and get the right model cover for our R-pod. San Antonio has a Camping World and we will stop there on our way south to Mission. The price is right though, $185, with a further 20% discount for Good Sam members, so for around $150 US we should be able to get a custom fit cover.

A couple of weeks ago a propane dealer told me our 8 pound propane tank valve was not working properly and refused to fill it. I was looking for a second opinion and found it today at a local propane equipment dealer. Valve is fine, tank has been refilled and is back in use with our Coleman stove. We like using this instead of those throw-away 1 pound tanks.

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After getting these little chores out of the way, Jenny and I headed off to the oldest craft brewery in all of Texas...the Fredericksburg Brewery right in the centre of town. This place is excellent. We shared meatloaf for lunch; I had an Octoberfest Beer and Jenny a Red Ale. Very good and the meatloaf was pretty good as well.

We walked the very nice downtown streets for a couple of hours, avoiding the wine shops, as we planned on doing a winery tour out on Highway 290 after our in-town walkabout. We did buy a jalapeno jelly to go with an appetizer supper back at the trailer this evening.

The winery tour was a bust. We have a problem paying for a tasting if the winery won't then discount the price of wine purchased. The two wineries we stopped at wanted between $12 and $18 for a tasting, and that cost was not deducted from purchases unless you bought a minimum of 6 bottles. Wow! And the wine was way overpriced. We are not wine experts, although we do like wine and know quite a bit about it. Most of these wineries are changing way over $20 a bottle. Now, our drop dead price for a bottle of wine is $20 and we prefer to pay less than that. So, we passed on all wine tastings and can only conclude that Texas wine is either so very good that we can't afford it, or it is overpriced.

We did buy a bottle of wine for supper at the grocery store, a Pinot Grigio, from Italy, already chilled, for $13. So there, take that, you pretentious, over-priced Texas wines!

Oct 19 - With our propane tank now back in service, we made oatmeal for breakfast. The oatmeal we eat is the kind that takes 10 minutes to cook and we add extra oat bran and raisins to make it a real filing breakfast.

We then did a walking tour of Fredericksburg, where, in the Marketplatz (downtown open market) a volunteer crew was making potato salad for this weekends "BestFest" Today they were boiling 600 pounds of potatoes, and chopping 150 pounds of onions to make German potato salad tomorrow. What an industrious crew.

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The square around the Marketplatz also has a lovely statue of the 1846 signing of a peace treaty between the Germans who founded the town and the local Comanchee tribe. They are proud to announce that this is the only treaty with Indians in the United States that has never been broken.

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This is the second morning in a row where we have put our heater on to take the chill off. It was 48 F when we got up this morning. First time since we were up in the mountains of California that we have needed heat.

Pecans grow in this area, and we bought some shelled new crop pecans to try. Much better than the ones we get back home in Canada. Here is a look at them on the tree, and the husks when they fall.

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Our afternoon included getting the laundry up to date once again before heading off for a tour of the pioneer village in town. Fredericksburg was a targeted move for a group of Germans in the mid 1840's. The pioneer village has several buildings from the early days of the community with a self guided tour. Each building, when you enter, has a pre recorded message explaining the significance of the artifacts in the building as well as a history of each family.

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Fredericksburg is a really with-it town. They have festivals at all times of the year, and the downtown is very well done. For example they have the Best Fest this weekend, with food and drink in an Oktoberfest atmosphere. This ties in with a weekend swap and shop market that takes place on the third weekend of each month and to top it off they have a motorcycle rally here as well. All RV parks in the town are full this weekend.

Our supper tonight will be sushi and salad. We are already packed up and ready to move on to Mission TX tomorrow

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 09:05 Archived in USA Tagged fredericksburg Comments (2)

Oct 16, 17 - Carlsbad Caverns NP, on to Fredericksburg

Marvelous walk down into the Caverns, driving through oil exploration Texas, Walmart overnight, Fredericksburg

sunny 24 °C

Oct 16 - We booted out of El Paso about 9:00am with a planned very quick 1/2 day visit to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, before heading deep into the heart of Texas.

The 150 mile drive up to Carlsbad was through lovely west Texas desert, climbing up into the Guadalupe Mountains. Beautiful scenery along the way. We arrived at Carlsbad just after noon, which gave us almost exactly enough time to do the walk down into the Caverns through the Natural Gate.

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The entrance to the canyon warns of steep grades ahead. They were not kidding:

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You descend 750 feet in just over a mile of downhill walking. The early part of the trail is dimly lit, as a precaution against animals venturing into the caverns and becoming trapped. So, it is cautious walking for the first half mile, as you cannot see the trail at your feet, There are hand rails and they advise you to hold on. Good advice!

Eventually, as you get deeper the lighting improves and your eyes adjust to the minimum lighting. It is a good thing Jenny has a good camera as my little point and shoot was useless down here in the dim lighting. We did the full walk through of the caverns, a full three hours of walking through magnificent chamber after chamber. After the 750 foot descent you arrive at the service area, with an elevator to the surface.

In total we walked about 5 miles in our time here. Good exercise. Other than that, we'll let the photos give you an idea of the beauty to behold down here.

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This is our 4th cavern experience. We did Wind Cave NP in South Dakota, Mammoth Cave NP in Kentucky, as well as Mulu Cave in Sarawak, Borneo. All are spectacular, but none have the ease of access of Carlsbad. Here you can walk a paved path through miles of the caverns. This is well worth the visit. If you have more time, there are hikes on the surface and you can take the guided King's Palace Tour, which takes you even deeper into the caverns.

We left Carlsbad at 4:00pm expecting to spend the night at the Walmart in Pecos Texas. And here is where our day got a bit crazy!

We drove over to US Highway 285, which runs from Carlsbad, NM through to Pecos TX and on south. As soon as we hit this highway we knew we were into something. In every direction there was oil exploration and production facilities. Pipeline construction in every direction, small feeder pipelines, into bigger and bigger pipelines criss-crossing the area. Trucks carrying fluids for fracking in seemingly endless lines along the highway. Oil drill rigs to the left and the right, as far as the eye could see. Salt water treatment centers for used water and fresh water centers for those about to frack. Amazing! Crazy!

The speed limit along the road was 75 mph and everyone was going at that flat out pace. Several facilities were in shift change and cars and pick-up trucks were swarming onto the highway in both directions. Crazy traffic and we pretty well had to pull TaJ along at 70 mph just to keep from being a traffic impediment. Our gas mileage on this run was a terrible 12 mpg.

We got to Pecos at 7:00pm and it was obvious from the moment we turned into the Walmart parking lot that we would have to find somewhere else to stay for the night. Not a space in the entire parking lot, it was full to the brim with shoppers. No RV's at all.

We added another hour to our travels and drove on Fort Stockton, where we arrived at a much emptier parking lot. We grabbed a pizza from the Dominos next door and crashed for the night. Remarkably quiet for a 24 hour Walmart. We awoke refreshed.

Oct 17 - Our destination for the day...Fredicksburg TX, right in the center of the state, over by Austin. We plan a 3 night stop here to tour the town called the best small town in Texas. It was a 250 mile drive, mostly on I-10, through miles and miles of wind turbine farms, as well as the obligatory oil fields.

The KOA in Fredericksburg is just OK, a bit aged and the internet is crappy. We arrived mid afternoon, did some shopping and had a supper of fresh Gulf of Mexico shrimp and a salad. This place has wineries, breweries and lots of history. We will find plenty to do here for two days.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 08:48 Archived in USA Tagged oil carlsbad_caverns fredericksburg highway_285_traffic Comments (2)

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