We folded up camp, got ol' Trusty in travel mode and once more headed for the bluebonnet experience. We took two vehicles because Judy and Bob were headed back to Ft. Worth and we were headed to Montgomery after we left Fredericksburg. Not to worry, we stopped often enough that Judy and I got to discuss everything that we saw. It was just quieter between stops.
Our destination was the Willow City Loop. This is a narrow, county road that loops around a beautiful, rural area that is renowned for its wildflower displays. It's a great drive without the wildflowers, but during the springtime it is "car-stopping." The only difficult thing to remember is that you are not the only car on this narrow road especially during the season. On weekends it can be quite crowded; however, we were there in the middle of the week so it was not so difficult to find a place to pull over and take a picture, and that we did. It's not easy to paint a word picture of the Loop. It is just beautiful. There are fields and fields of wildflowers and in the middle of these fields are scattered homes where people actually live, bathed in the scented beauty of nature. Cattle and horses graze seemingly oblivious to the beauty that surrounds them. It makes you want to move to the Hill Country.
We spent most of our morning traveling the Willow City Loop. It's not really a long mileage drive, but it is a long stop, sigh and shoot drive. If it's possible, I have way too many pictures of bluebonnets.
We left Willow City and headed south on Hwy 16 to Fredericksburg. What a fun little town. Lots and lots of interesting shops, eating spots,art galleries, bed and breakfasts...its easy to spend an entire day just browsing and without a doubt you're sure to find something that pleases you. Not only is this a jewel for those who enjoy shopping, it is also loaded with Texas history. It is one of the original destinations for German immigrants coming to the United States. It began with 120 immigrants, each of whom received one town lot and ten acres near the town for farming. The farming immigrants were also a devoutly religious people. It was a long trip into town, maybe 20 miles or more with horse and wagon. Most of them who lived on the farms built "Sunday" houses in town for the use of their families on weekends and during religious holidays. Some of those houses still exist in Fredericksburg. They were a hard working people who built a strong, efficient community where their families could thrive. The families of Fredericksburg are still thriving today.
The town which began as an agricultural community has continued in that direction ever since. I think that once you have tasted peaches from this area you will never find another peach that tastes as good. Peaches are the number two cash crop in the county. They are delicious. Besides those wonderful peaches, you will find acres and acres of grape vineyards, and attached to those vineyards you will find wineries...good wineries. We checked out a couple.
We were only able to go to a couple of the wineries because of time constraints...we spent too much time in the tasting rooms! The first winery we visited was the Grape Creek Winery where we tasted as much as we could and left with as many bottles as we tasted. They had some good wines.
The second winery we "taste tested" was the Becker Winery. It really was the prettier of the two. It had a great little gift shop (I'm all about gift shops,) a super bar for tasting all of those wonderful concoctions, and a lovely, covered outside terrace for lounging and drinking. We took advantage of all of these ammenities, as well as a tour of their wine making facilities. Also on the grounds was a beautiful building that can be rented for special events. I thought it would be the perfect place for a family wedding that we had coming up, but she had different plans...oh, well. It would have been a lovely site. Adjacent to the winery is a lavender farm. We were there when the lavender was blooming. It was a most fragrant place to be.
Probably the most important person at the winery was the bar-tender... a bearded, Gaelic type who kept visitors laughing and tasting and buying. We fell right under his spell and left with more than we did at Grape Creek. I felt a bit guilty. We had promised Scrooge (Bobby) a cheap trip, but then we found the wine and Judy just cannot pass up a pretty wine bottle. Sorry about that, Bob.
We were about to part ways when we spied Wildseed Farms. Now that's a place you have to go. It has a huge wildflower garden plus plants and seeds to buy, a nursery stocked with beautiful plants, and gifts galore. You can spend a lot of time in this one place, and we did. I'm afraid that Bobby went home with much less money than he had planned, but what a delightful few days we had.
If you get a chance to visit Texas in the springtime, do it. You will leave with a smile on your face and if you are not careful, with boxes of wine in your trunk.
I understand that the wildflowers this year (2009) may not be as prolific as in the past couple of years because of the extremely dry conditions in central Texas. From what I have read, the best flowers will be to the east and south of Austin. Don't forget there is a Texas Wildflower hotline. You can google to get the number, or call the Texas State Tourism Dept. Enjoy.
I know, it's not a bluebonnet. It's pretty though, isn't it?