Monday, June 29, 2015

Gettin' Our Kicks: Judith’s Diary Entries #2

June 25 to June 27

Highlight for each State:
Cal.  Bluest sky
Ariz.  nicest clouds
New Mex.  pass with care
Texas  I can see for miles or bugs eat you


June 25, Abilene to Fredericksburg
Yesterday night we figured something out to get us over the boring stretches: whenever we see a sign for an historic landmark, we have to invent a story matching this landmark. This was pretty funny - we took turn inventing these stories and got quite some laughs out of them. In Brady, I saw my first Pecan tree, taking our lunch break at the town plaza. Later, I had to get gas and experienced my first German style gas station in the US: first pump, then pay. Finally, Fredericksburg greeted us with "WILLKOMMEN".


June 26, resting day in Fredericksburg
In the morning we watched humming birds at a blossoming Yucca, later we did a long walk through all of downtown and back (which was not so long because Fredericksburg's downtown is so big, but because the hotel was at the edge of town). We can watch the main road from this porch: you have to drive a Ram or at least another truck in Texas - everybody does this.

June 27, Fredericksburg to Austin
Rain was predicted for Fredericksburg and Austin for the afternoon. We got an early start, stopped in Luckenbach (a one dance hall town) and arrived in Austin before the rain. Spent a nice evening with Jerry and Kate.


Gettin' Our Kicks: Chapter 29 – Day 23 Fredericksburg to Austin

June 27, 2015

The weather radar and sky didn’t look too inviting this morning, so we decided to get an early start to Austin. It turned out this wasn’t necessary as the weather broke up and there was no rain at all. This was good, but it meant we missed out on some fine roads because we took a more direct route to Austin. Drat!

We did find a couple of  fabulous roads – no traffic with nice sweepers. There are plenty of  excellent roads in the Texas Hill Country, which we missed. Guess we’ll need to come back another time.

A short ways outside of Fredericksburg is the community of Luckenbach – famous for being the subject of the song "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)", sung by Waylon Jennings (written by Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons).

A bit about Luckenbach

Source: Wikipedia Luckenbach, Texas

Luckenbach’s oldest building is a combination General store and reputedly opened in 1849 (or maybe 1886). The community, first named Grape Creek, was later named after Carl Albert Luckenbach. Luckenbach's population increased to a high of 492 in 1904, but by the 1960s, it was almost a ghost town. A newspaper advertisement offering "town — pop. 3 — for sale" led Hondo Crouch, a rancher and Texas Folklorist, to buy Luckenbach for $30,000 in 1970, in partnership with Kathy Morgan and actor Guich Koock. Crouch used the town's rights as a municipality to govern the dance hall as he saw fit.

Today Luckenbach maintains a ghost-town feel with its small population and strong western aesthetic. One of its two main buildings houses the remnants of a post office, a working saloon, and a general store. The other is the dance hall. The post office was closed on April 30, 1971 and its zip code (78647) was retired. The general store remains active as a souvenir shop where visitors can purchase a variety of items, including merchandise featuring the town's motto "Everybody's Somebody in Luckenbach", include postcards, T-shirts, sarcastic and humorous signs, and the local newspaper, the 8-page monthly Luckenbach Moon.  

Today Luckenbach is mainly known for Country Music, hosting live music almost daily. We were too early for the day’s free live music, which was a darn shame. Rosie Flores, who sings alternative country music and has a beautiful voice, was going to play later in the afternoon for free. But alas we could not stay.

Post Office/General Store and Saloon. Please note the combo of ATM and Outhouse.
Judith taking a break in front of the Dance Hall
Dance Hall Saloon

We headed towards Austin on a couple of different two lane rural routes with 65 MPH speed limit. This was pretty easy to maintain!

We arrived at Jerry and Kate’s early and regrouped. Jerry is my oldest son and Kate is his fiancé. They both hold positions at the University of Texas in Austin, but are new to Texas, via Manhattan. Between them and prior to Austin, it was Columbia, Yale, Stanford and UCLA - somewhat different environments. I was anxiously awaiting to hear about their new cultural experiences.

They would be arriving from a conference in San Francisco later in the day, so we let ourselves in and proceeded to make a mess of their home.

It was good for us to catch up with them again. The last visit was in San Francisco over this past Christmas / New Years – just before their move to Austin.

So, next were dinner, Texas beer and Texas wine (we found some great Texas wine, which was a surprise for Judith and I) and a bunch of catching up. Good nights at about 1:30 - ugh!

Gettin' Our Kicks: Chapter 28 – Day 22 A Day in Fredericksburg

June 26, 2015

Fredericksburg - Willkommen

Right across the street from our motel was the Bavärian Inn Restaurant – a Bavarian style Inn (?). Fredericksburg has several Germany style restaurants and shops. We walked over and had dinner at the Bavärian Inn.

As a matter of fact, the entire community has a strong German influence as Germans founded it in 1846. The original settlers had migrated to the area from New Braunfels, TX, which had been established the previous year.

The Adelsverein (German Noblemen’s Society) organized hundreds of people in Germany to settle in Texas. Immigrants from Germany began arriving at Galveston, TX in July, 1844.

So, back to dinner last night – the Bavärian Inn was not too bad, but the Bavarian style of food has transgressed to the tastes of us Americans.

We noticed that Bavärian Inn was spelled incorrect – they added an umlaut a (ä). Then later we realized a lot of the German words throughout the town had umlauts added that were incorrect. Not sure why, but maybe it was to give a more German look, or it was due to the Texas German that the early settlers developed.

At any rate Fritztown, as older residents sometimes call Fredericksburg, is a nice community and certainly worth the visit.

Our walkabout as pretty hot and long – from one end of town to the other and back – around 6 kilometers in length.

Der Daiwel is dialect for the devil.
Unfortunately the bar was closed when we passed by.

We had nice lite lunch at the Ausländer Biergarten and Restaurant, which served more traditional German food than the Bavärain Inn.

Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who played a major role in the naval history of WW II as Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, was a resident of Fredericksburg. His family goes back several generations as residents of Fredericksburg. There is a superb museum in his honor.

After a well-deserved rest and couple of beers we had dinner at Porky’s Hamburger and Onion Ring Co. Authentic good old hamburgers, fries and onion rings.

After Porky's we waddled back to the motel and sat on the porch, watching the traffic go by. Most of the vehicles were; 4 x 4, long wheel base, king cab pick-ups with loud mufflers - predominately Dodge Ram verity.

Pretty typical vehicle in and around Fredericksburg, and much of Texas.
Tomorrow we head to Austin to visit Jerry and Kate, with a brief stop in Luchenbach, TX

Friday, June 26, 2015

Gettin' Our Kicks: Chapter 27 – Day 21 Abilene to Fredericksburg

June 25, 2015

I slept in a little bit today. Judith was up at her usual 6:00 AM, but I stayed in bed until 8:00. After coffee, a shower and breakfast I got my act together and packed and loaded up my bike. Judith was way ahead of me.

We went to a gas station down the street to fill up. I checked the oil in both bikes and they both needed about a half a liter each. I had a full liter with me so that was now empty. Judith’s chain needed to be lubed and I pulled out the chain lube spray can – empty. Oh yeah, I said, I meant to buy some a few days ago.

Once again luck was on our side. There was a Harley-Davidson, Honda, Suzuki dealer a half a block away. Now this actually seemed mighty strange to me. It is not often you would see a Harley dealer with other brands as well. Got a spare liter of oil and some chain lube, and then lubed Judith’s chain. So, about 11:15 or so we were on the road.

Harley-Davidson, Honda and Suzuki - all under one roof.

And a shade tree.
 We stopped in this nice town of Brady for a lunch break. It looked like the town is at a cross roads for several highways and all the traffic goes through the center of town, and past a nice plaza with an old WWII (or WWI) cannon in front of the city hall, grass and a whole bunch of Pecan trees. There was a bench under a big Pecan tree with our name on it, so was just sat right down and had an apple, some cheese, chips and water and watched the traffic go by. It was down right pleasant.

This was our spot!
We knew it as our spot because right across the street was "D and J's"

Typical old town - surrounding the plaza were some old business'. In the Samuel Building, est. 1935, were law offices and insurance. Next door, to the left (right side in the picture) was the Taxidermy Store.
The cross roads at the city plaza.

After our lunch break we continued on to Fredericksburg.

Gettin' Our Kicks: Chapter 26 – Day 20 Plainview to Abilene

June 24, 2015

This was pretty much a get from point A to point B kind of day.

No Interstate at all. We were on U.S. 82, 83, 380 and Texas 70. All of them nice two or four lane secondary highways with little traffic and a 75 MPH speed limit.

The temperature got into the low 90’s, but was pretty bearable. Sometimes we had cross winds and some times we had head winds. It didn't seem to make any difference to the direction of travel.

I think it was in Spur, TX where we stopped for gas at an old independent gas station that from first glance I thought had seen better days. The owner, an older gentleman, came out to say hi and shoot the breeze about where were coming from and where we going, the big rain storms they had just had and so forth. Real nice man.

A car pulled into the full service pump (yeah FULL SERVICE), so he excused himself to go provide full service. He checked the tires, checked the oil and washed the windows. It was a step back in time to the mid 1960’s and when I worked for Standard Oil in their company owned gas stations. 

Checking the oil at the Full Service pump.
The service bay was neat as a pin
The Coke machine was pretty weathered by the sun.

A little later we stopped in Jayton, TX for a rest and water. We found a nice shady spot in front of the county transportation department building.

We finally rolled into Abilene around 5:00.

Gettin' Our Kicks: Chapter 25 – Day 19 Tucumcari to Plainview, TX

June 23, 2015

Today was full of excitement…

We did manage to get a little earlier start today and the temperature was in the mid 70’s. This seemed like a Fall day compared to the previous week.

Here's some parting shots of the Blue Swallow...

Our room, #11, with the old pink double rocker
Our private garage

Billy, Wyatt and George

 The Old Mother Road led us out of Tucumcari for a few miles and then back on to I40.

After a while we were able to get back on to the Old Mother Road and parallel I40. But then…

End of the pavement on Old Route 66
The pavement stopped and the road turned to hard packed gravel. Now I knew if we stayed on this section for 5 or 6 miles it would bring us back into I40 right around the Texas border.

Judith was not so sure about continuing on and made a suggestion of turning around and going back several miles to I40. I managed to convince her that this would not be hard for her to ride and off we went – slow – but albeit off we went. After a couple of miles there is a dirt road that leads over to I40, so we did not need to do the full 5 or 6 miles. Judith did just fine and I was proud of her for persevering.

Really? You want to ride down this road?

Midpoint Café

We crossed the Texas border and shortly afterwards made a stop at the Midpoint Café. This is located at the exact midpoint of Route 66, and is a wonderful spot to stop. There are always lots of travelers of Route 66 making a stop at the Café. We had an early lunch.

Cadillac Ranch

Next on down the road was the Cadillac Ranch. If you have not heard about this place you probably won’t believe what I am about to tell you.

A number of years ago a guy decided to make an art piece out of ten old mid 60’s Cadillac’s. So he buried them nose down, at a 45 degree angle and in a straight line. His first location ran into some sort of trouble, so he dug them up and moved them to another location and they have been there for years. The location is on a frontage road that parallels I40, just to the West of Amarillo. Access is wide open to the public. Just park on the side of the road, walk through a gate and hike about 150 yards out to the Stonehenge of Texas.

It gets even more bizarre. The tradition is to take a can, or 3 or 4, of spray paint with you and spray whatever you like on the Caddies. The paint is – I kid you not – at least one inch thick or more on these icons.

What the heck??
All in a nice straight line - nosed in at 45 degrees

We found one with Digger painted on it. The wind was really blowing this day, as noted by Judith's hair.

Layers and layers and layers of paint cover the cars

This is a chunk of paint that had cracked and fallen off a car. Note the many, many layers of paint.
Another chunk of broken off paint. This is about 2-1/2 inches thick

Another tradition, I guess, is to leave your empty spray can behind. There were hundreds of them laying around.
From the Cadillac Ranch we turned south and headed to Plainview, TX for the night. This was pretty uneventful, with the only change being instead of fighting the strong cross winds we now got to ride into the strong head wind.

Dinner was a take out salad form a local grocery store and a bottle of wine in plastic cups. No proper wine glasses here in Plainview.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gettin' Our Kicks: Chapter 24 – Day 18 Santa Fe to Tucumcari

June 22, 2015

The morning started rather pleasant as far as the temperature – mid 70’s. This did not last long and soon it was high 80’s with the mid 90’s to come.

The pre-1937 alignment of Route 66 followed the Santa Fe Trail, a pretty old route that started in the 1820’s in Franklin, Missouri and ended in Santa Fe. The Santa Fe Trail served as a vital commercial highway until the introduction of the railroad to Santa Fe in 1880. After 1937 Route 66 was realigned to run through Albuquerque.

Other than the history attached to the route, it is boring at best. Long, straight and today seriously hot.

We connected with I40 after a couple of hours – more long straight and boring – and oh yes hot.

Route 66 Auto Museum

Santa Rosa, NM has a small, but interesting Auto Museum and we stopped in for a visit. The museum houses about 30 cars, mostly hot rods and mid 60’s Mussel Cars – opps, make that Muscle Cars. Some of the cars are for sale, but most are not.

This is an original and unmolested '57 Chevy Bel Air - for sale - $19,000

Basket Case Harley-Davidson

'57 Chevy Nomad - very few made. This one is a hot rod with a big block 454 engine. For sale for only $47,000

I remember using these

A very rare front loader / back hoe Edsel

From Santa Rosa, it is a one-hour ride to Tucumcari and another iconic motel – the Blue Swallow Motel. I had stayed at the Blue Swallow five years ago. There are new owners now – Kevin and Nancy – and they are doing a splendid job of preserving the old tradition of 1930’s motels. They also have a rule that is very significant – in wine in plastic cups. They will supply you with proper wine glasses if you do not have your own.

The neon sign is just great

Dinner was at the Pow Wow Restaurant & Lizard Lounge – a fantastic Mexican Restaurant – plus they run a shuttle service from the motels.The booths all have murals that look like someone is already sitting in the booth. The people in the murals are all local people and are very life like. It's very strange to share a booth with people you don't know.

Our booth mates are the local Judge and his wife

The Lizard Lounge Boss and us

The plan is to get an earlier start tomorrow and try to beat some of the heat.