With the Texas Hill Country being one of our primary destinations on this trip, we decided to make Fredericksburg our home base and stay three nights there. Normally, we plan our accomodations only a day or two ahead of time, but with the bluebonnets at their height we discovered that rooms were booking up quickly, particularly over the weekend. Rich nabbed reservations in one of the few remaining motels with space. While that could have been a risky proposition, luck was with us and the very new managers at the modest Miller Inn put us in the newly renovated “Lone Star Suite.” It felt good to unpack our panniers and settle in for a spell.
The weather forecast for our stay was not the greatest. Clouds and thunderstorms dominated the days, and it made planning a bit iffy, but fortunately the worst we got was some heavy mist. And we even saw a bit of sun. Evenings were mostly delightful, with comfortable temperatures and good opportunities to sit outside and enjoy some local music.
Mornings found us at the Java Ranch. It was a treat to be able to take the time for a leisurely coffee and breakfast before starting our days. It seemed to be popular with cyclists, as we met a group of folks from Minnesota and an itinerant biking enthusiast there both mornings. I rather liked the local cowboy.
In between we did our day trips with the luxury of leaving our gear behind. Our first adventure was to visit Luckenback. Little more than a collection of old time cowboy buildings and the site of many an informal music gathering, it is normally a quiet sleepy place. Not so when we visited! It was the day of their annual half-marathon. Not only did we cycle alongside the stream of runners heading for Luckenbach, but the place was overrun with fit, sweaty people and the paraphernalia that comes with a major sporting event. It wasn't your typical Luckenbach, but did make for a fun atmosphere. It also meant that there was a band playing in the Dance Hall at 10 in the morning, and we marveled at plenty of runners with enough energy left to do the Texas Two Step!
It was no big surprise that on day 2 Rich wanted a rest day, but I didn't. So we each pursued our own desires. Rich indulged his love of history by going to the National Museum of the Pacific War.
I headed out on a route recommended by the local bike shop, which turned out to be a real gem. And it taught me a lot about the Hill Country. Prior to arriving, I wasn't sure just what to expect. All I knew was that it was where the wildflowers were at their best. With the term “hill” in the name, I didn't know whether we'd be scaling big peaks or rolling over gentle slopes. As it turns out, the area has moderate hills and some respectable climbs. It can definitely deliver a challenge for cyclists, but it's all very doable – especially when not laden with gear. Today's ride was all on small roads with no lines or markings, and no traffic. The only group of cars I saw was about a dozen little sport cars out for a collective spin. I wound through ranch grazing land with loads of trees and vistas that displayed more of the same. It was distinctly quiet and the only interruptions in my ride were the frequent cattle grates I had to cross. Interestingly, wildflowers were not much in evidence. There was a blanket of bluebonnets just where I'd been told I would find them. But otherwise, the blooms seemed to be concentrated more north and east of my route. I'll admit I enjoyed cycling at my own speed and the freedom to pile up the miles as I chose. And I was relieved to complete my 40-mile circuit with no flat tires or rain storms.
We've done well by Fredericksburg. It's been nice to be in a larger town where we could utilize the excellent Bicycle Works shop and enjoy some nicer restaurants. Now it's time to move on from day tripping to daily trips again.