Day 28 – Sisterdale and Pecan Grove Brewpub

I sleep in till 11:30-it’s my baby granddaughter Agodji Lotus’ birthday and deathday today – she would have been seven years old- I’ll go plant flowers on her grave when I get back home

Duke and I go to Sisterdale and then Pecan Grove Brewpub in Johnson City to dance once again to The Lost Sounds of Honky Tonk

Behind the Sisterdale Dance Hall and Opera House (no longer has dances, just weddings and events):

Wake Eastman, a friend of Duke’s – open mic afternoon-he has a rich, gravelly voice and easy stage presence:

Pecan Street Brewpub in Johnson City : 

This is Sherry – she and her guy are from Colorado, on the road in their RV – she saw me dancing and grabbed my hand to join me! Duke and I devour some amazing  chicken wings -much good dancing, fun crowd – the dance hall is a big quonset hut-I call up Sheva and Blake – so good to hear their sweet voices – they have a new puppy- Sheva had left me a message saying “Nana! At softball I got 2 people out, I hit the ball, and….we won!” She says she likes “the little letters” I’ve  been sending her (otherwise known as post cards)

Day 27- The Mavericks

Duke kindly offers his home to hang out in today while he is on a tour, and I blog, drink coffee, and plan my  next few final days in Texas till it’s time to leave for The Mavericks concert tonight

Whitewater Amphitheater in New Braunfels is a beautiful, spacious outdoor concert stage on the banks of the Guadalupe River- the line to get in takes about a hour and a half but it’s a very pleasant wait, with a breeze, lots of happy people, woodsy setting full of bald cypress trees- the backdrop for the main stage is actually a forest of bald cypress, in front of which hang several 50 ft tall by 5 ft wide lengths of a screen netting fabric that blows in the breeze and reflects the various colors of stage lights- it seems like the cypress trunks are swaying, the way they absorb and reflect the lights! It’s a living thing, and shimmering-

The Last Bandoleros and Los Lonely Boys play long and excellent sets – not sure what that type of music this is called – Tejano country/rock? I love it! There is plenty of room to dance, although it is on dirt and I have very, very dusty feet by the end of the end of the night  – for Los Lonely Boys’ last tune, “Heaven,” all three invite their children up on stage with them, and it is a joyful, hand-clapping, funky dancin’ time

The temperature has dropped several degrees in the last few hours as the predicted storm front moves in – immense pink-tinged thunderheads hover above the concert site as the wind gusts pick up – at one point I see folks looking above us at something, and I gasp as I see a heron floating in the wind right above us, long legs dangling in the air – clearly a heron with outstanding musical taste

Amazing rhythms, talented musicians- Raul Malo, The Mavericks’ lead singer, has a rich, strong, soulful voice that he belts out with pure joy – he sings a Cuban tune that he remembers his dad sing- very,very moving  – it’s Willie Nelson’s 84th birthday today! They play “Crazy” in his honor

On the drive home I am treated to a Texas Hill Country lightning storm! The bolts, some vertical and some horizontal, light up the entire countryside with that surreal neon-white of electricity – I pass a lone bicyclist in the intermittent rain,  as well as several deer who thankfully  behave themselves –

Day 26 – Bandera – 11th St Cowboy Bar and Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar

My exhausting agenda for today is to blog, buy a good cowboy hat, and dance in Bandera tonight- I know, it’s almost overwhelming to think about – Duke is off to work early for an all-day tour; he picks up his clients in Austin –

I’m at the Pioneer Museum Library (or The Old Courthouse) in Fredericksburg, blogging away – it’s a strong, beautifully restored Romanesque Revival built in 1882, to replace the original 1855 courthouse (thank you, Wikipedia)

Oh for those just tuning in, you may want to go back to my earlier entries because I’m updating them on a daily basis; wouldn’t want to miss any juicy details now, would you?

In the park while eating my delicious Mexican leftovers, I meet Larry, a striking-looking Creole gentleman who tells me he has relatives in Breaux Bridge -we talk about cultural diversity, DNA  and ancestry, dancing, the energy of serendipity and fate, the way the Creator has our lives planned out – very powerful encounter- he points out the statue grouping in the Marketplatz right behind where we’re sitting, symbolizing the interchange that occured here in 1847 between three Penateka Comanche Chiefs and Baron John Meusebach, founder of Fredericksburg, agreeing to live peacefully in this region – I also learn that this is the only treaty between white European settler-colonists and Native peoples that was never broken-the book I brought to read on this trip is Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the U.S.”- have barely started it but it’s going to be excellent, I know –

down the road from the Marketplatz, part of the National Museum of the Pacific War-

I got my hat!

The sweet clerk at Headquarters Hats and I start talking about my trip, and I mention hearing about the tragedy of Turner Dance Hall here in Fredericksburg having been burned down recently by an arsonist- she immediately turns and points to a photograph behind her of the man who did it -“Oh, yeah,he’s where he belongs now”  (he got arrested)- he had also damaged part of their storefront 
On my drive down to Bandera: how…ummm… comforting it would be to live in a town named:

There is a looming mountain range in the south, I wonder what that is – this Bandera Highway is stunningly pretty! 

Sign in Bandera: (maybe I should invest in a pair for the Peace Corps)

The vibes I get when I check out 11th St Cowboy Bar are just a little alarming but I figure I’ll give it a try and see how it feels when the dancing starts – the crowd seems nice enough, but a little rough -I’m about an hour early so I chill out and have a picnic in the shade -it’s 7:30pm and a muggy 89 degrees- there are a lot of motorcycles  coming through this town -the other dance hall I had planned to see tonight is Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar Saloon, but it appears to be closed – I learn that George Strait goes there once in a while, and his ranch is nearby – the saloon turns 45 years old in May! The musicians who have played there (as other places I’ve been) blow my mind: Ernest Tubb, Willie, Hank Williams, Jr, Lefty Frizzell – 

All is fine when I walk in, the band is great – it’s Craig the Cowboy’s 70th birthday! He gets up onstage and plays his washtub base-later on we talk, and dance -his style is smooth, a strong hand, improvisational, really feeling the music – we agree that “these young people just don’t know how to dance anymore”-  he does not look 70 at all – we share remedies for arthritis discomfort – he of course has numerous broken bones, no spleen,and struggles with chronic pain from his rodeo and cowboying- we share how dancing and staying active helps as we age-he tells me he notices that I’m “at that age when you don’t care who watches you dance,and if no one comes up to you, you just dance anyway!” Amen, brother! Wish I could upload videos to this blog-think I’ll add them once I can hook up to a laptop wben I get home

Realized I no longer feel the need to ask folks about the etiquette of getting a partner around here, I just start dancing discreetly near the dance floor -it’s working good enough-

Another gentleman dances several two-steps with me- a great style with fun multiple twirling- I’m learning a critical skill in dance halls: how to maneuver my head around a partner’s cowboy hat brim without getting a lobotomy-I am showing improvement!

The band plays a Mavericks tune and I am in heaven – I’m going to see them tomorrow night!!!

And then John Henry  and I dance several- he has an easy, ramblin’ kinda style, nothing fancy but very sweet -later in the night a woman holding a bouquet of different color roses comes up to me and says something which I can’t understand because the music’s so loud, till I finally get it that John Henry bought me a rose and I’m supposed to pick out which one I want! I pick a yellow one with pink blush- I am speechless and so very touched, and look around for him but don’t see him – we end up dancing again several times and I thank him profusely –

Day 25-San Antonio – The Riverwalk

I start my day’s wandering around the Hemisfair and the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio – so very beautifully designed! Water fountains and water-themed sculpures everywhere the sound of water itself is part of the landsape,it’s a soundscape as well – there is a campus of the University of Mexico here- I wander through the gigantic convention  center; the annual American Educational Researcher Association conference is being held, and it is bustling with that conference energy I know and love so well (and I in my tourist garb!)

I had heard of The Riverwalk but could not have imagined how beautiful and colorful it was! Thoroughly enjoyed myself – the effect of the water, visually and esthetically, so soothing and cooling – a fluid, living turquoise river flowing and curving around and with the energy and colors of the shops, restaurants, staircases, trees, strolling shoppers and tourists-each  bridge has its’ own architectural flavor and style –  a sunny, hot day but very pleasant in the shade, and that delicious breeze – the tour guide on the boat cruise tells us that many movies have been filmed in the Riverwalk beighborhood -had no idea San Antonio had hosted the World’s Fair in 1968-I chat quite a  while with a Mexican-American gentleman who asks me to take a picture of him- he has a brain tumor – we talk about the importance of staying healthy, and living each day as if it were our last – there is a strong  international presence among the pedestrians, and I catch many different languages-I spend some time inside St Joseph’s Cathedral –

I stroll around The Alamo -very interesting –  I learn later that current plans for expanding the site for more tourists include issues over there being a Native burial ground on the proposed construction – again I feel the essence of war, of conquering, of national pride, winners/losers, ethnic oppression, warriors, land and cultural ownership, savagery done by both sides- I want to respect the Texans that are so very proud of their history, I truly do- yet it is almost impossible for me to not to do so with a hesitation, I cannot ignore the original civilizations on a land, being conquered by settler-colonists who immigrated to this continent with a manifest destiny agenda-

Back to Fredericksburg for the night at Duke’s – he takes me on a fabulous late afternoon ride on his Ultra Classic out to the countryside (no helmet law in Texas; I’m a little freaked by that, not wanting to jeopardize my Peace Corps medical clearance, as well as  by currently being uninsured!)   I drink my first Lone Star beer at Pecan Grove Store- Duke shows me his parents’ gravesites in a sweet and live oak-filled cemetary, then we go to Mamacita’s for a fantastic Mexican dinner – and although it never seems to come true, I do plan to do some major blogging tomorrow morning! Then two more dance halls in Bandera tomorrow night-my last day in Texas is fast approaching- the night wind is refreshing and cool

Day 24 -San Antonio -Martinez Social Club

My campspot at  Colorado Bend State Park – hung my hammock in the most perfect hammock tree imagineable- didn’t want to pack it away this morning! When I got up to pee in the night, there was a little armadillo scuttling around near my tent-absolutely no dew on my fly or tent as I pack up to leave- the  continuous night wind kept things nice and dry-Why do gnats seem to seek out one’s eyeballs? Do they really want to suck out your eyeball juices? At the grocery store yesterday in San Saba, I believe the woman in front of me in the checkout line had a small holster on her belt –

Amazing stone structure in Fredericksburg!

Martinez Social Club, in the countryside of San Antonio

Sissy, who I met the other night Helotes, says they put this sign up at the front but no one really pays any attention to it

This is the Martinez Social Club dance hall just outside of downtown San Antonio – it gets the prize hands-down for the most beautifully-decorated! I shall remember this idea for future decorating needs
Update from Day 23: drove back down through F’burg and had a late lunch with Duke – what fun we have together-  (we plan to dance together tomorrow in Bandera) then down to San Antonio to the Martinez Social Club – the 5 piece band has a guy taking turns between fiddle, saxophone, and accordion , and vocals! Excellent music! This is the real thing, the quality of the dancers, the atmosphere- I dance several two-steps and a fast waltz with a gentleman I saw at Albert and also Helotes -he tells me his wife of 30-some years passed recently and he’s been finding it hard to find someone to date – he goes dancing three times a week – I leave early because a Spanish-language radio station announced there was live Tejano music downtown as part of the Fiesta San Antonio festivities, but the traffic is crazy and it’s a huge overwhelming, bustling downtown scene, so I return to my motel to blog- maybe will take a frightfully touristy bus tour of the Alamo/riverwalk, etc in the morning! I find a YouTube of the band “Texas Rebellion” singing “Ghost of Bandera-” it’s a haunting and powerful tune, and knowing I’m going to be dancing in Bandera on Friday makes it even cooler!

Day 23 – Colorado Bend SP again- Gorman Falls- San Saba

9:30 pm- drove up to the plateau above the riverside  campground to blog a bit, talk with Duke on the phone, and watch the stars –  photos not uploading so will do tomorrow when I hit the next hot spot- this thing we call a smart phone, picking up invisible meridians of electric energy bouncing off the nearest cell tower out there in the black Texas night, in turn receiving its energy from a satellite orbiting this ball of rock and water we call Earth- connecting my ears and eyes and my heart with images, with words, information, and with those that I love-my mind tries to visualize the raw materials that are in this amazing little tool, the cobalt, zinc, cadmium, copper, lithium- the microchips that make this magic happen – the whipporwills are singing again, their song floating around with the nightwind – there’s a new moon, so the heavens are shimmering with sparkling stars! When I got up last night to pee, the sky was stunningly full of them! The gal in the spot next to me behind the trees apparently enjoyed some good sex with her guy, based on the moaning that woke me up- 

A full, fantastic day- hiked to Gorman Falls, a 70 ft spring-fed travertine waterfall flowing into the Colorado River-the  calcite in the flowing water leaves behind deposits that over time build up and form fantastical hooded formations as in a cave, covered with lime green ferns and moss – although the rocks around it are roped off to protect the very fragile ecosystem, I joyfully find a trail down to the riverbank and swim at the mouth of the falls-the river water is very brown and muddy, very pleasant temperature , but where the falls flow into the Colorado it is gaspingly chilly, and crystal clear- I am very impressed with the design and layout of this park- the trails are well-marked and also well-explained on the maps, with level of difficulty on a 1-4 scale for both hiking and biking- 

Last night and this morning I  chatted with a sweet, gentle young couple from Austin, I loaned them $5.00 for firewood- she works in a juice shop and he in landscaping- loving, open spirits- 

Soon my hikes will be among wild boars and elephants and cheetahs-

I pass a pretty little wooden bench along the trail with this carving: ” if you drink from the spring, be thankful for the source”  -when I get back in the car the thermometer says 96°!

I decide to run into town and find a diner during the heat of the afternoon, blog a bit, then return for a cooler hike or bikeride later- San Saba is about 20 miles away, and the Pecan Capital of the World! (the photo I posted is a chocolate chip-pecan cheesecake) I find La Citta Pizzeria, and devour an outstanding spinach, mushroom, and tomato calzone-the owners, Kite(no typo) and her husband Rob, are super sweet – Rob is from England, and their beautiful little boy is running around- they live in the back of the restaurant -(note: I read later in a TripAdvisor testimony how “beautiful and well-behaved “the customer thought their children were- today, however, the little 4 -yr old must be in a mood because I see him give his mom the finger) 

there’s a customer hanging out in the booth beside mine, and soon we’re all talking like old friends- Rob shares some of his world-travelling stories- the customer reminds me of Tommy Lee Jones, one of my favorite actors of all time, who I find out was born in  San Saba and whose ranch I just drove past! So cool! The man asks me, (for the 3rd time on this trip) if I’m carrying a gun with me – all three begin offering names of dance halls they would recommend – they all agree that I should definitely see Coupland Dance Hall, 30 miles east of Austin-I also learn from Rob how pecans are harvested-  machinery shakes the trees when the nuts are ripe, they fall to the ground, and other machines rake them up like big fingers- people pick them up on their own, and a five-gallon bucket full of shelled pecan meats can bring $100.00!

When I get back to the park there is just enough light left to take a magical and oh so peaceful twilight bike ride down one of the many trails – the terrain is fun  to navigate, double track most of the way – when it gets too rough I just leave my bike and walk on – the solitude is palpable and comforting, the sunset clouds are changing hues of rose and orange – when I get back to the car I eat the piece of chocolate chip-pecan cheesecake I bought at La Citta earlier- it is most delicious, and hits the spot- back at the tent I fall asleep to the songs of trilling riverbank frogs and crickets – 

Day 22-Colorado Bend State Park

At the Fredericksburg Visitor Center this beautiful breezy,blue sky morning, planning out my next 3 or 4 days of state parks in the area – the dance last night in Helotes at the John T. Floore Country Store was absolutely excellent! Texas Rimshot, the 3 piece band (electric guitar, drums  and steel pedal) was a joy to dance to- the steel pedal player was Kenny Grohman, who won CMA of Texas Instrumentalist of the Year! Tons of fun having Duke as a partner – he also loves the sound of steel pedal (as do I) and requests they play more as we dance around, and they usually do! Michael, whom I met at Luckenbach Hall, is there, and I get to practice my triple two-step -we also fly around the floor to the often fast waltzes they seem to favor around here!   The floor is cement, and there are two poles on the dance floor to maneuver around,but neither detract from the lively and festive ambience (gosh I sound like a restaurant critic) We meet a super sweet couple from Ontario who are visiting their daughter who married a Texan- lots of friendly, happy, dancin’ folks!

Will catch up ASAP – better get on the road

Tonight: in my tent, crickets chirping, frogs croaking,  stars above – after five nights staying with Duke I really miss him- we’ve really hit it off, and in spite of our age difference and various different political perspectives, genuinely enjoy each other’s company and energy-it was fun running into him at the Visitor Center this morning when I was making plans and he was picking up his winery tour clients – he’s got the perfect personality, and also looks, for an excellent tour guide, and his clients love him-he’s a Korean War veteran, retired chemist, and a grandpa- I kid him that in our next lives he will come back as a liberal and I as a conservative –

Siri and I have driven 3,752 miles so far!

The road to Colorado Bend State Park is again a palate of multicolored wildflowers lining the roads like tapestries of dotted rainbow shades! It lifts my heart! Miles and miles of them! This time when I reach Llano, I park the car and walk out onto the pedestrian bridge walkway over the Llano River, inches from the rushing traffic- it makes me woozy but hey, I get my photograph! I hear a rushing water noise but can’t quite figure it out till I hike out on a trail below the bridge and see a big dam just upstream of the bridge, water cascading over-these roads around here are heavenly for bicycling! Must make plans for an extended Hill Country tour- I asked Duke why he thinks I haven’t seen hardly any bicyclists, and he replied “we try to keep them in Austin”- hmmm

I pick a primitive campspot in a mowed field bordered by cottonwoods and oaks, right on the bank of the Colorado river -the ground is nice and soft, and the tent stakes slide in effortlessly (one of the most satisfying things I know in life) I hang my hammock in the most perfect hammock tree I think I’ve ever seen, and nap- the breeze is very refreshing, buzzards are circling above the river, life is good -not crowded with people at all-I take a nice,leisurely bike trail ride downstream along one of the 35 miles of backcountry trails in the park – I almost step on an armadillo on the parking lot; I am told they have very poor vision and hearing- as I apologize, she or he pulls in its head into its body armor, makes a little squeak, and saunters back off into the woods- I’m looking forward to hiking all day tomorrow, specially to a big waterfall- as night falls I give in to electronics withdrawal, and drive back up the park road onto a plateau a mile or so to get reception, blog, and call up Duke-the map says there is another nearby state park with “the oldest outdoor dance floor in Texas with nightly summer dances to jukebox music”! Might have to check that out – looks like I shall sadly need to miss Big Bend State Park this time around, running out of time-

Day 21- Sisterdale and Helotes

I must admit this time I am spending getting to know Duke makes me feel somewhat like an incognito undercover spy – although the attraction and respect we have toward one another is genuine, I simply have never spent so much time with anyone who happens to be an NRA member, has an autographed Christmas card from George W and Laura Bush, and is Republican – were I  not so repulsed by the mere fact that someone like Donald Trump is our country’s leader, maybe I would be taking all this in differently – but what I am most aware of, I think, is of this opportunity that has presented itself to me to honestly converse and question and yes, respect, this intelligent, handsome, kind, energetic, fun-loving gentleman who appears to value beliefs which I have held at times in contempt and even ridicule- this beautiful country of ours has perhaps never been more divided politically – I hate that with a passion- the slogans, the rhetoric, the sound bytes, which all parties partake in, I’m feeling on a gut level the power of civil conversation and taking that moment to formulate your own beliefs in the face of those different than mine – to listen for the commonalities, allow for debate, and be reminded of what democracy in its’ essence really looks and feels like – so easy to always stay in our own tribe, preach to the choir, etc – once  before in my life  can I recall having had a long and sweet friendship with one of our neighbors in Florida while going to nursing school -the mom of my daughter’s  best friend -we held different political and religious values yet we enjoyed one another’s company and had enough in common regarding our personalities and parenting that we were good friends-I also remember my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bill, who, as I understood as a child, loved each other in spite of the fact that Ruth was a liberal Democrat and Bill a more conservative Republican – one approach I am trying to follow is to simply make a connection of a fear behind a belief that usually shows up as a value – and Lord knows we all have fears -some more based on reality than others – but above all avoid taking the easy way out and merely parroting the so-often biased headlines that are  clearly  created  by media agencies to up their ratings, stir up energy-draining drama  and avoid the hard work of thoughtful debate and conversation

Our day begins with a bang: an overflowing toilet! We mop it up and laugh a lot- I blog and look at maps, play guitar, plan which dance halls are open which nights, trying to schedule in as many as I can-

We drive out to Sisterdale to listen to some friends of Duke play at open mic – his friend Robert plays a haunting style of accordion, a version of “Poor Wayfaring Stranger” that gives me chills – there are a lot of folks on motorcycles at this bar, and I am learning quite a bit about this kind of culture – what the pins and badges on their vests mean, helmet law issues – it’s a community not unlike bicyclists, eyeing one another’s bikes and equipment, sharing road stories – the open-air, outdoor deck feel here is super-relaxed and I’m chillin’, man- it’s fun being with Duke, he seems to know everyone here, and they all like him- and they dance to gospel tunes!!!

Then down the highway to Helotes, to the John T. Floore Country Store, a dance hall/barbeque cafe/bar – the minute we walk in you can tell this is the real thing, and we’re in for  treat- Mr Floore opened it up in 1942 – so many amazing musicians have played here: Willie (it’s called “the musical birthplace of Willie Nelson”), Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline  Hank Williams, Elvis, Bob Dylan, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle,  Waylon, George Jones, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, BB King, Little Richard – please see tomorrow’s text for more on this dance

Day 19- back to Luckenbach

Stayed again last night at Duke’s pretty  new home – very sweet, intelligent, friendly guy – getting to know him and really enjoying his company – 

The dance last  night at Mercer Hall in Dripping Springs was different than the others I have been to, in the  band style and in the ambience – a 4 piece  band, nice, nice country/honky tonk – classics and originals, more waltzes than any other hall so far (yipee!)  the lead singer was tall and lanky and sang with a folky ain’t -this-fun style – the couples dancing seemed to be kinda citified and very much into dancing just with the partner they came with – so not one single dang man asked me to dance, the whole hour and a half they played before the break!  I must admit to feelings of rejection and insecurity, but it truly was alright  because there was plenty of room on the dance floor and I truly did enjoy dancing by myself, improvising and feeling the rhythms – although the most common rhythms I’ve  been hearing is Texas swing and two-steps, once in a while they’ll play something fast  (like a polka) I can flatfoot to, and man does it feel good to cut loose and let my Appalachian roots show! at one point two women (who had been free dancing on the floor and had invited me to join them) got up on stage and sang “You Are My Sunshine” – they are an act  called “Pearl and the Polka Dots” and they are very cute-

A pretty laid back day yesterday –  blogged a bit in town under a shade tree, drove down Old San Antonio Rd to see Old Tunnel State Park – there is a Mexican free-tailed bat colony of 3 million that lives inside the old abandoned train tunnel-a platform has been built on a little bluff to gather at dusk when they emerge to feed – this bat-viewing is quite the thing to do here in Texas! The colony under the Congress Ave Bridge in dowtown Austin was 1 million, and in San Antonio they say there is a 30 million large colony!  I may arrange to return some evening  before leaving hill country – as I return to Hwy 290, I spot what I do believe must be an abandoned dance hall, covered by bushes and weeds! Duke tells me later it was actually built fairly recently, to look  like an old hall, and the owner unfortunately went out of business – the old German- style stone houses I pass by are simply beautiful, some falling down and some restored – 

Have been finding such great radio stations around here – blues, Americana, Texas swing, classic country, rockabilly, honky tonk- been repeating track 19  over and over on  “Dance Halls and Last Calls,” which I bought at the Luckenbach store – it’s by Pat Green,  called “Take Me Out to a Dance Hall”-sweet, simple, great two-step with a contagious and inviting backbeat-

I break down and take my bike to a shop to have a slow tube leak taken care of – Lisa the owner talks me into getting some slime put it, for the Texas thorns! She is from Massachussetes and her husband is from California, I would call her liberal in her politics and worldview, and we start discussing local politics and Texas gun laws, and more broadly ideas on single women carrying firearms as protection- love it that in the span of a half hour I have gotten to know someone like Duke (who  does describe his worldview as conservative) and now Lisa, in the same town – more than one of my friends cautioned me about coming to Texas, as well as promoting negative stereotypes of Texas – one even said that this was “the last place they’d ever want to go” – issues that can (and should) incite strong emotions, and the value (and need) to be able to explain our opinions both respectfully and civilly – to have an opinion, be prepared to support it with facts as best we can,  and to at least try and see the opposing sides- for what it’s worth, I constantly try not to promote nor believe in stereotypes -why must we eternally label and divide-

A tour bus full of German people is in the parking lot of the Fredericksburg Visitor Center – several come over to share the shade of the picnic table I am blogging at -wish I knew more German- Fredericksburg is also home of the Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War (Admiral Nimitz was born and raised here) – I may go see it, I hear it is excellent – the Luckenbach dance starts at 8 and I’m waiting to hear back from the bike shop –

I arrive at Luckenbach with the late afternoon sun setting this picturesque community aglow with warm golden light- the dance hall, an outdoor stage, a couple of gift stores (with freakishly relaxed cats) a snackshop, a bar, restrooms, a creek, open grass fields for parking and strolling – the talent and sheer number of musicians that have played here is staggering -the famous slogan is: “everybody is somebody in Luckenbach Texas”

Day 18 – Breakfast with Duke, and Mercer Hall

Duke’s new home is very comfortable and clean, in a quiet Fredericksburg neighborhood – we get along really well and enjoy each other’s  company – he invites me to join him for  breakfast at Andy’s Diner- he tells me his parents used to eat there – I order migas (scrambled eggs with salsa, home fries, tortillas, and refried beans) and lots of yummy coffee- I give him a ride to go pick up his Harley (Ultra  Classic) from the little house on the banks of the Pedernales River where he’d  been staying there a while until his new home was being built -he tells me there are so many wineries in the region that his tour agency alone often books over 400 clients day!  And to lodge all these happy people, Fredericksburg has around over 400 B&Bs!