Liberty Crew’s 2017 Holiday Ramblings

RV Life is what we call it.  Even though it may look like we’re tripping the light fantastic, we still endure LIFE just like everyone else. We still deal with the good, the bad and the ugly but we manage life just a tad bit differently as previous sticks and bricks homeowners because of our tiny living and travel.
Even though we don’t have sidewalks to shovel or lawns to mow, we still endure everyday trials of life….

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Life is like Bluebonnets in the Spring!

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”
– Aaron Watson

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;[2] however,Lupinus texensis 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.[3][4]
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.[5] Bluebonnet blooms are now a common sight along these highways in the springtime.[2] 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.

Going Coastal…Texas Cajun-style Seafood! Matagorda, Texas

The first day of March (2016), we rolled out of Alsation RV Resort in Castroville to make our way back to one of our favorite Texas destinations; Galveston Island and of course, we had reservations made back in October for the month of March which was coincidentally ‘Spring Break’ for Texas college kids, so we were golden.  We were promised good, spring-like weather.  On our drive, getting closer to “G.I”, we went through Bay City and above was a huge banner strung from both sides of the street “6th Annual Seafood Festival – March 12, 2016 – Matagorda”.  We each made mental notes but apparently Dan forgot.  How could he?  I mean, c’mon, over twenty-five years of living up in New England leaves a permanent appetite requirement on our palettes for good seafood.

So, we rose with the sun, discussed briefly our plans and decided to two-up on “Silver” (Lisa’s Harley) because trying to find decent parking for “Captain America” (our big blue dually) is almost nonexistent, especially in small towns and events.  You can always find a spot for a lone motorcycle.  Anyway, we got dressed for the ride, grabbed our water bottles, road map, phones and mounted up for the ride down the coast to Matagorda.  

Since we recently recovered from that 4-day nasty, ever-present storm that seemed to never want to leave Texas, we rode through the back end of what was left of it…lots of WIND.  When riding, plainly speaking, WIND SUCKS.  It makes riding more strenuous but we’re not complaining.  For one, when riding, some days are just better than others but never a ‘bad day’.  Secondly, our pot of gold at the end of the ride was some delicious Texas coastal seafood.  

Our seventy mile ride brought us through the rain drenched and flooded ranches and farm fields along the back roads.  It also brought us through some pretty dismal poverty-stricken areas as well.  Doing what we’re doing doesn’t bar us from seeing the poor side of America unfortunately.  It makes us grab our hearts and thank God for our own good fortunes.  Sometimes we need to see it to appreciate our lives a little bit more.

Matagorda isn’t by any means a large city or town but that’s what we are all about…small towns.  Its where we think America begins and ends…

Matagorda is a township in Matagorda County, located near the mouth of the Colorado River on the Upper Texascoast in the United States. In 2010, the population was 503.[2] Matagorda is primarily a tourist town with commercial and recreational fishing being the top industries. There are 23 miles (37 km) of beach accessible by vehicle and 35 additional miles accessible only by boat. Matagorda is at the end of State Highway 60 and beginning of Farm to Market Road 2031, which runs over the Intracoastal Waterway and south to the Gulf of Mexico.

…we thought because this was at the town’s Fire Hall, it meant it was going to be just a small fundraiser for a local organization.  When we entered the town of Matagorda, we were surprisingly wrong.  There were cars and pickups parked on both sides of the street about a half mile back.  We prepared ourselves mentally for the arduous task of trying to find even a small space for the motorcycle.  However, once we got to the entrance of the festival, a nice man in a neon orange vest directed us to a space right smack near the main gate.  Coincidentally, it was ‘motorcycle and golf cart parking’ for a local bar and grill.  We were ecstatic!  It usually doesn’t happen that way.  Nope! Not even!

After dismounting, we unclothed from our riding gear, covered our helmet hair with our ballcaps and walked the very short distance to the main gate booth to pay our $5 each event bracelets.  It was rather crowded.  We learned from reading the locals’ shirts and hats, folks traveled quite a ways to support this worthwhile festival.  There were folks of all ages; tots, teens, twenties and tea toters.

Once we got inside, there were a good handful of local vendors selling their crafts and wares.  We couldn’t really buy anything because, of course, we live in an RV with very limited space and weight.  But looking and appreciating them was equally satisfying.

There seemed to be a lot going on…a silent auction, raffles, organization support tables, arts & crafts, kids tattoos and face painting, a live ‘Texas Cajun’ band…

…and even their own….Texas Hula Belly Dancers! (No….REALLY…we got pictures!!)

Since it was nearing 11:00 a.m., we bee-lined to the food table.  We paid our $10 each for our tickets to get our platters.  We were so ready for this moment!  No really, again, we have saltwater souls and our appetites were to match.

  Whomever did the planning for this local event really paid attention; there was ample seating for attendees to enjoy their vittles.  Our only complaint was the only non-alcoholic beverage they offered was ‘sweet tea’.  We don’t do sweet tea…we don’t do sugar.  It does terrible things to our bodies and surely, didn’t want to ruin our seafood fest moments with that.  Luckily, we had our water bottles.  We copped a squat at one of the tables and dug right in! 

In each $10 platter was a half dozen fried oysters, a few jalapeno hush puppies, vinaigrette coleslaw, crispy seasoned fries and a half dozen blackened shrimp (Lisa somehow scored a platter with a whole dozen!!)…all pleasantly portioned.

…we scarfed!  There were few words exchanged during these delicious, savoring moments.  Tears of joy were rolling down our faces (well, not really but you get our jest).  We were in our glory.  THIS is what we came for!  

After filling our bellies, we gave up our seats up for others to enjoy their meals and walked around looking at the craft tables and others’ wares.  We also walked up the street to look at some souvenir shops; coming home with a cool shirt for Dan.

It was getting late, we had some places to stop on our way back to our wheeled home.  Incredibly breezy, we still enjoyed the day.  The sun blessed us with a beautiful coastal ride to remember…with full, happy, and grateful bellies.