Wildflowers of Fredericksburg, TX

When we visited the Texas Hill Country last year, just prior to the start of the pandemic, we fell in love with the area. The time was February, so it was still chilly and things weren’t blooming. We’d heard wildflower season was a good time to visit, so we put it on our 2021 schedule. Those flowers did not disappoint!

We spent a week based in Fredericksburg at the Oakwood RV Resort. The central location allowed us to explore this cute German town, as well as a variety of sights that were new to us. 

One day we visited the National Museum of the Pacific War which featured an in-depth treatment of the events leading to the U.S. involvement in the Pacific theater through the end of WWII.  Admiral Nimitz, the leader of the Pacific fleet, was born in Fredericksburg and the museum sits in and around his family property. Since Dad was a Navy man in the Pacific, in Leyte Gulf, we were particularly interested in those details.  

Over several days we explored Fredericksburg’s cute downtown area and enjoyed the fabulous German pastries which abound in this town.

We also had fun poking around the many varied shops that line Main Street in Fredericksburg. We bought a few t-shirts, hats, and Bob even tried a few things on!

There are more than 50 wineries and tasting rooms located in and around Fredericksburg — not to mention dozens more wineries located within an hour or two drive of Fredericksburg. We visited just one but it was a good one. 

Das Peach Haus sits on a large orchard and features seating around a beautiful lake. It was a nice place to relax with a glass of wine and finish up a busy day of shopping.

A highlight of our return visit to the Hill Country was the Burnet Bluebonnet Festival. The cute little town of Burnet really turns out to celebrate the iconic flowers which dot the roadsides. We wandered the large vendor area, listened to some real Texas music, and soaked in the festivities. 

For some reason, bluebonnets make everyone want to have a photo shoot. We saw people pulled to the side of the road everywhere to get an iconic shot with the blooms. We had to join in on the fun!

One of our favorite activities in the Hill Country is to drop in to Luckenbach for a Lone Star. The old west ghost town was made famous by Waylon Jennings in his song, “Luckenbach, Texas – Back to the Basics of Love.” Every afternoon at 5:00 p.m. local artists gather with their guitars for a picker’s circle. The unplugged, acoustic, informal concert is always different and always fun. 

While we were in Fredericksburg we were able to snag appointments to get our COVID-19 vaccine. We opted for the one shot Johnson & Johnson shot and we are both feeling fine.

The big draw to this area was, of course, the flowers. Several times we drove the Willow City Loop, one of the famous country roads that feature abundant wildflowers. Each trip around the 13-mile loop was different, depending on what was blooming most that day. Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrush, Primrose, Daisy, and so many more could be found in the meadows and roadsides throughout the countryside. 

We also visited the nation’s largest working wildflower farm, Wildseed Farms, which is right outside of Fredericksburg. The poppy fields were stunning, planted to commemorate World War I and to honor the service and sacrifices of our military. 

Just across the street from Wildseed is the Jenschke Orchards, which features u-pick fruit throughout the year. We were lucky to be here at peak strawberry season and took advantage of the ruby red berries that were growing in abundance. 

A week is not nearly enough time to fully explore the Texas Hill Country, and we still have a list of things to do on our next visit. For now, we are heading west towards Arizona and are looking forward to a warm reunion with family and friend

Harvest Hosting our Way West

After five months of eastward movement we turned back towards the West with the ultimate goal of reaching home in Arizona by the end of April. We’re taking our time. And we are using this part of the journey to explore new places using our Harvest Host membership. We’ve mentioned Harvest Host in the past, and this post will highlight three very cool locations.

Harvest Host is a membership program that provides overnight locations for self-contained RVers at wineries, breweries, farms, museum, and other sites. Harvest Host now has over 2000 hosts in the network, and they are adding more every day. We’d never be able to enjoy them all, but we’ve found a few good ones!

For example, after leaving Georgia we stopped for a night at Golden Acres Ranch in Monticello, Florida. At the ranch we were introduced to their friendly herd of Tennessee Fainting Goats and a number of other farm animals including sheep, chickens, guinea hens, and the sweetest pregnant dog, Honey.

We shopped the cute country store, checked out the garden, fed the goats, and chatted with fellow RVers who were also parked in the large pastures. 

A few days later, while continuing our traverse westward, we stopped for the night at Gulf Coast Gator Ranch in Moss Point, MS. Yes, we parked right next to Boudreaux’s enclosure, home of the 13 foot alligator. It was a bit disconcerting until we learned he was “friendly” and blind.

Because we were there after-hours, we were given private access to the property and strolled the gator grounds on our own. The ranch holds 60 adult gators in the main pond and another 20-30 juveniles in tanks.

At one time they had several hundred but many were washed away during Hurricane Katrina. The goal now is to build the population to about 100. Once a true farm for alligators, the facility now focuses on conservation and education. 

The next morning we joined Captain Tim (aka In-Tim-i-Gator) for a tour of the property via airboat. We spotted a few alligators and drew them closer with marshmallows.

Tim also took us on a fast, wild ride in the swamp on the airboat. What a thrill! This Harvest Host location was probably the most unique one to date. 

But then we stopped at the International Petroleum Museum, aka The Rig Museum in Morgan City, LA. The facility is a tribute to the offshore oil and gas industry and its impact on the world.

“Mr. Charlie” is the first offshore drilling rig that was transportable, submersible, and self-sufficient, allowing it to drill more than 200 oil wells along the Gulf Coast between 1954 and 1986. Mr. Charlie was the first moveable rig and has been preserved for training and educational purposes. 

We were lucky enough to get a personal tour of Mr. Charlie by Virgil Allen, the museum’s founder. While telling us about the history of the museum it was apparent that Mr. Allen was a visionary when he lobbied to save the rig when it was slated for scrap. Now The Rig Museum is an educational place where Harvest Hosters like us can expand our horizons. 

We’re headed for Lafayette, LA, the heart of Cajun country and can’t wait to share our experiences in the next post.

Georgia’s Golden Isles

Here on the southeast Georgia coast there’s a way of life that was new to us and utterly enchanting. We spent the week based at Blythe Island Regional Park in Brunswick, which is the gateway to the fabled Golden Isles. Consisting of barrier islands, pristine marshland, miles of beaches, and historic landmarks, the Golden Isles provided us plenty to explore.

The campground was conveniently located and had everything we needed to explore the area. Not only can you access the intercostal waterway from the park, but you can play with bunnies which are everywhere! Apparently the park is also a refuge for domestic-looking rabbits of all colors. 

We met our RV-ing friends Bill and Sandy on Jekyll Island and hit the over 20 miles of bike trails to explore the historic isle on two wheels. Bill and Sandy just happened to be staying nearby so it was a perfect opportunity to reunite after meeting at the Tampa RV Show in January. And they like to bike too!

Jekyll Island’s history goes back over 3500 years.  Most notably the Jekyll Island Club, built in the late 1890s, had membership which included the Rockefellers, Morgans, Pulitzers, Goodyears, and Vanderbilts. Jekyll Island was purchased by the State of Georgia in 1947 and is now a popular area for vacationers.

Of course we visited a number of other historic sites on the island, including the historic Jekyll Island Club. We just pedaled past but it was fun to see the “other half” playing croquet in their traditional whites. 

Driftwood Beach, on the north side of Jekyll, is a highlight for many. We marveled at the gnarled and weathered trees that have been sculpted by the sea. Not surprisingly, it’s a popular place for photo shoots.

We also checked out the 1740s Horton House, one of the original structures built by the British out of tabby. Amazingly it’s still standing. 

We loved Jekyll so much that we’ve booked a week at the Jekyll Island Campground for next spring. One day was just not enough time to soak this place in.

We also visited St. Simon Island while in the Brunswick area. The largest of the barrier islands, St. Simon features beautiful live oak lanes, Spanish moss, plenty of shopping, dining, and more history. When you visit you have to search for the 20 tree spirits, carved trees located around the island.

After a stroll along the waterfront, we drove out to Fort Frederica National Monument. Here lies the ruins of the 1733 town built to defend the Georiga, a fledgling colony, against Spanish attack from Florida.  They are still excavating the site, finding artifacts beneath the soil that tell the story of the fort’s history. 

Georgia’s Golden Isles hold a fascination for many, us included. We can’t wait to return. In the meantime, we are finally heading west, after five months on the road. We’ve got some fun stops ahead of us before we land back in Arizona in late April.