Sunday, December 20, 2015


Part 1

Viewing Texas from the outside, one may think the state is a gun slinging, take-no-prisoners, renegade outpost of far-right thoughtlessness.  Our December experience was far different. 

Folks were more than friendly and accommodating; drivers, unlike on I-80 through the Sacramento Valley, drove fast but were extremely forgiving and courteous; fuel was inexpensive; food was varied and enjoyable; and no civilian we saw was carrying openly.  Although that may be due to change come January 1st.

Here are a few photos and impressions of Austin, Fredericksburg and the Hill Country.

The Texas statehouse is a focal point of downtown Austin.

Built of red granite, its interior holds fascinating details in its hardware and woodwork.

Fifteen feet taller than our nation’s capitol in DC – we have trees taller in California.

Entering, we pass heavily armed members of the Texas Rangers whose automatic weaponry is not well concealed behind their uniform jackets.  Don’t mess with ‘em. 

Meanwhile, the Austin Philharmonic sets up for a noontime Christmas concert and I couldn’t escape the thought that the uniformed men were somehow packin’ for the Prince of Peace.

A larger-than-life Texan was the oft-misunderstood Lyndon Baines Johnson. 

Growing up in the hill country, LBJ was grounded in western sensibilities such as hard work and fairness…

…but the domestic accomplishments of his presidency were overshadowed by the tragedy that the Vietnam War would become.

Many stage stops and way stations in Texas have dried up and disappeared.  Not Luckenbach.  Perhaps we can thank Waylon and Willie.

The post off still stands and music is played daily out back.  Grab a beer and sit in the shade of the oaks and pecans…

Hye, Texas, isn’t entirely gone either.  A burgeoning wine industry spreads across the hill country, but in Hye, the Garrison Brothers have established a tasting room for something far more basic. 

Sadly, they don’t ship to California. 

[That’s okay, I said to the clerk who was serving a couple of huge, mean-lookin’ (but actually very kindly) biker dudes, I don’t live in California, anyway…]

It takes a long time for things to rust in Central Texas, or so it seems.

And they don’t seem to throw things out until their usefulness is completely exhausted.

Old cars, farm trucks and tractors from the fifties and sixties are frequently seen on the ranch roads…

…and classic cars that some folks out our way might wish to restore, are simply driven around until they can’t be driven around any more.

The batholith under the hill country, exposed where not covered in limestone, produces a lovely pink granite.  North of Fredericksburg is a dome called the Enchanted Rock.

The climb to the top is an easy one.

Vernal pools dot the dome and around each may grow a stand of seasonal grasses or a more permanent cactus.

The view, while not as spectacular as California’s Sierra, is none-the-less sublime rolling off for a full 360 degrees.

The low winter sun in the late afternoon suggests that “Enchantment” might be exactly the right word for this place.

The Hill Country of Central Texas offers a physical timeline of Texas’s past…

…and its present…

…inviting more visits to the area in the future.


LBJ National Historic Park:

Luckenbach, Texas official website:

…and its theme:  (Sorry about the ad…)

Garrison Brothers Distillery, Hye, TX:

Lodging in the area?  Check out his VRBO offered by niece Catherine and her husband James.  The evening stars shine brightly above their deck and the area’s cardinals and roadrunners will greet you in the morning.  (

© 2015
Church of the Open Road Press


  1. Great pictures. I've heard from folks that have moved to Oregon from Austin that it is like the Eugene (OR) of Texas, which makes me think it is a little more hipster/hippy than some of the rural areas of Texas.

    1. Yes, but given my druthers, I'druther be in Eugene...

  2. These are great pictures! Looks like a fun adventure, I'd like to travel to Texas soon. Thanks for the post!