This blog entry was written by Lisa
Since 1901, Texans have called the bluebonnet their official state flower. And “Texas, Our Texas” became the state song in 1929. But did you know Texas also has an official state flower song?
When the pastures are green in the springtime
And the birds are singing their sonnets,
You may look to the hills and the valleys
And they’re covered with lovely Bluebonnets.
One bright and warm sunny Monday morning, I woke up pretty stoked because of the day I had planned the night before. Ever since we got to Texas late last year, I was patiently waiting for springtime to see what the hoopla was about the Bluebonnets. Since Dan is not one for my ‘over emphatic’ photography (in other words, I like to stop often and takes tons of photos…of things…ok…EVERYthing!), he decided not to go. Don’t get me wrong, he likes flowers but well…he’s a guy…and flowers are just flowers to a guy…need I say more? He had to stay behind anyways to do some much needed maintenance done on Liberty as we had just returned from our month stay in the salty air of Galveston Island so it served both of our purposes that I go solo. Even AWOL, our mascot Eagle, got to go.
So, I packed lightly for the day and threw my leg over my Harley to ride my way up from Castroville, TX on some back roads, through Bandera, Kerrville and Fredericksburg. It was such a beautiful day; one good for the soul type day. Nobody bothered me which was a nice welcome after riding some of the busy thoroughfares and interstates. It was a welcome sight to see the farmers and ranchers have recently plowed under the earth. It meant spring was here. The fields were showing new corn plantings risen through the small mounded rows. There were patches of wildflowers along side the road, peppering the green spring grass with blues, purples, oranges, yellows and reds; wishing I could stop to take photos but there just wasn’t any safe place to pull off, so I will just have to hold that memory in my mind. Let’s just say, it was beautiful!
I made a pit stop in Bandera (Cowboy Capitol of the World) to fuel my steel horse and get some vittles for myself. I had lunch at Sid’s BBQ on RT 16; right on the main drag downtown near the shops and business district. Holy moly, talk about meat overload! I’ve come to expect that in Texas; they sure like their meat…and lots of it! It was nice to sit out on the picnic table with the warm sun on my back taking up a chat with some of the locals.
There were a couple local businessmen in their ‘cowboy business attire’ (cowboy hats, jeans, boots and shirt with tie) on their lunch hour as well as some other out of towners. Coincidentally, there was a couple of RVers from Ohio who were also fine dining with me at a neighboring picnic table. We exchanged travel cards, finished our lunches and they went on their way. It was time for me to get back on the road anyways.
I followed RT 16 North all the way through Kerrville and Fredericksburg, which were quite busy as any small city is on a weekday and of course, tourist season here has already begun. Once I got past Fredericksburg for about 10 miles, I turned right shortly after arriving in Eckert onto CR 1323. There was a small sign pointing the way to the Willow City Loop.
As I rode into Willow City (watch out if you sneeze, you’ll miss it!), I turned left onto the Willow City Loop. There was a courtesy sign telling motorists and visitors to please not trespass as these were private properties and livestock ranches. At first, I was the only one that stopped shortly past this large prestigious looking cattle ranch gate.
For one, I was so glad I chose to go on a Monday and not the weekend as I was told by a couple locals that the weekends are way too populated with tourists; of course, not admitting I was one of them too. Once I found myself a safe spot to park, I took my helmet off and removed my sunglasses to get a better picture. Literally, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I was getting to see ‘in person’ what 99.9% of the world’s population won’t or haven’t.
It didn’t take long for others to join me. The other posie-peepers probably thought I was out of my mind but hey, I’m an emotional tourist, what can I say? I truly enjoy the gifts God gives us; this being no exception. The Bluebonnets stretched as long as I could see along the fence of this ranch. THIS is what I had waited for; to see the Texas State Bluebonnets.
Bluebonnets, so gorgeous and stately,
In your mantle of blue and of green,
In the spring when you’re in your full glory,
You’re the loveliest sight ever seen.
You’re beautiful when you sway in the sunshine,
You look like waves of the sea,
Ah, Texas was wise in her choice of a flow’r,
So we offer our homage to thee.
It was mere perfection; not one deadhead or wilted flower to be seen. It looked like a blue carpet of flowers…and bees…lots of bees and for that I was grateful also…you know, the whole ‘bee thing’?
This ranch was unique as each fence post hosted an upside down old cowboy or cowgirl boot. It was pretty impressive. I’m sure every boot had its own story or who wore them and where they came from that we will never know. It was great that we all took turns taking our photos next to the fence posts and the Bluebonnets.
After about 15 minutes of just taking it all in, I mounted up again only to ride not 100 yards to stop to take this photo; a donation of hats/caps on this fence. I kind of wished I had one to add but I certainly wasn’t giving up my $40 Harley Davidson blinged hat. *grin*
Well, it was time for me to get back on the road and move on. The best I could describe this road was ‘storybook’. When I say that, think back to your storybooks from your youth; illustrations of roads lined with perfect lawns and flowers of all colors. I felt like I was in a magical place. The flowers’ colors were so vivid and perfectly planted as like in their stories.
The Bluebonnets were EVERYWHERE! There were gazillions! Some appeared as mass seas of blue in the far distance while the closer, they were like thick carpets; occasionally with a few red and orange Texas Paintbrush to break up the blues, like small boats on the big blue ocean.
This loop was not a fast road; in fact, I barely even got out of 2nd gear most times which, even if I could, I didn’t because there was so much to see around every twist and turn. Every so often, I’d have to slow way down for cattle guards in the road; rows of heavy pipe lined and spaced horizontally to keep cattle from crossing.
I also was taking note of the many ranch gates; big iron clad poles suspending ornamentation with the names of ranches overhead. Some were quite elaborate while others took the more primitive and simple, but they all had wild Bluebonnets at every entrance.
What was only a few mile loop, I made into an all-day ride. I loved stopping every few hundred yards to take more photos. There was always something new around each bend.
I pulled off onto this small hill that overlooked the valley below. It was incredible. It was a sea of Bluebonnets.
I couldn’t help taking photos of some interesting native cactus’…
…and some other native Texas wildflowers.
Then I found perfectly shaped White Poppies…
…but still, the Bluebonnets took the cake!
Blue is the emblem of loyalty,
They’re as blue as the deep, deep sea,
Their smiling faces bring gladness,
For they bloom for you and for me.
After fooling with my camera, I looked at my watch and noticed I needed to make some headway to make it back to Liberty before dark; before big critters sought me out to try to ruin my day. As I rode only what seemed a few hundred yards, THIS happened! Speaking of ‘big critters’! This young lady ran right in front of me, then taking a quick right down into the creek bed. I had to giggle to myself and thought, ‘whew, those large critters start tormenting motorists early. Good thing loud pipes save lives!’ I must have spooked her. I had forgotten for a moment that I was riding on ranch land and the road was still their’s. I had to be more attentive.
After gathering my composure and making sure I got photo evidence for this story, I saddled up again and rode another few miles. I saw a motorcycle had parked in a pull-off below and noticed him taking photos up in the air to the right. As I neared him and looked to where he was pointing his camera, I was like ‘WOW!’. I had to stop and take some photos also. As I mentioned earlier, around each bend was different than the last.
They totally looked like castle spires.
As I rode on again, this was a few hundred yards on my left. One thing I learned about Texas, no two views are ever the same. Perhaps that’s why those who live in Texas call it ‘God’s Country’.
I neared the end of the loop back to Route 16. I had thought, NOW I REALLY needed to get moving but just a few last photos to finish my quest to see the Bluebonnets.
Bluebonnets, blue lovely
More beautiful than all the
Texas chose you for her flower,
And we love you best,
Finally, I turned left to head home back on Route 16. I left not even a footprint but took away with me a beautiful memory. I can now say, “I got to see the Texas Bluebonnets”. I didn’t know who’s smile was bigger; mine or the sun’s. It was such an awesome solo-ride. It was just myself, my bike, a map and the sun to steer me by. It was an AWESOME day!
“So pack light and love heavy,
Life is like Bluebonnets in the spring!”
We’re only here for a little while
Its beautiful and bittersweet”
Bluebonnet is a name given to any number of species of the genus Lupinus predominantly found in southwestern United States and is collectively the state flower of Texas. The shape of the petals on the flower resembles the bonnet worn by pioneer women to shield them from the sun.
On March 7, 1901, Lupinus subcarnosus
became the only species of bluebonnet recognized as the state flower of Texas;
emerged as the favorite of most Texans
. So, in 1971, the Texas Legislature
made any similar species of Lupinus
that could be found in Texas the state flower.
As an extension of Lady Bird Johnson
‘s efforts at highway beautification in the United States (see Highway Beautification Act
), she encouraged the planting of native plants along Texas highways after she left the White House.
Bluebonnet blooms are now a common sight along these highways in the springtime.
They serve as a popular backdrop for family photographs, and the Department of Public Safety issues safety recommendations with regard to drivers pulling off highways to take such pictures.