Saturday, January 28, 2012

About That Amazing Discovery in Fredericksburg (January 22 - 28)

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been a very quiet week at Buckhorn Lake Resort in Kerrville, Texas. We have really appreciated having the opportunity to relax and enjoy this beautiful area of Texas. Our temps have remained in the cooler sixties during the day but it can still freeze at night. Wednesday night provided a huge rain storm pelting the area around two in the morning. Roger sat storm alert that night.

One of the hazards of RV living is being able to take advantage of the wonderful local restaurants. We have been to three in the Kerrville/Fredericksburg area. All have been truly upscale with delicious wine and  cuisine. The hazardous part is working off the calorie intake. Cycling, working out on treadmills and the elliptical trainer in the workout room, and walks with Bear are our ways of tackling the problem. I know, everyone should have such problems.

Thursday was a trip to Fredericksburg and the National Museum of the Pacific War. This sprawling complex houses the Admiral Nimitz Museum and the Pacific War Museum. In addition, there are several courtyards and gardens making the journey to Fredericksburg an all day event. Chester Nimitz was a five star admiral and a U.S. commander in the Pacific during World War II. He, along with General Douglas MacArthur, received the surrender from the Japanese on the USS Missouri. Nimitz was a son of the Hill Country, spending his youth in Fredericksburg. The town honors him with the museum.

Imagine our surprise in finding memorabilia from Roger's father in the Pacific War Museum! Roger's father was involved in investigating the accuracy of the assignment of credit for shooting down Admiral  Yamamoto's plane in the South Pacific. Yamamoto was a major figure in WWII Japanese military command. Roger's father donated a piece of the plane that Yamamoto was in when he was shot down, together with pictures and documentation that it was the actual plane. As Roger and I were touring the museum, we happened to glance at a display showing a flight helmet of a friend of Roger's father. In the same display was the picture that hung in Roger's father's home. At the time of his father's death, Roger elected not to take that memorabilia with him and it was given to the same man whose flight cap was in the display. Bob would be so proud to know that this piece of history is in the museum. Don't you love those small world stories? What if we had not looked in that particular display? I think we were meant to see it.

Thank you for reading our blog. We look forward to leaving Kerrville on Wednesday and heading to Mission, Texas for a month.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

About That LBJ (January 15 - 21)

Dear Family and Friends,

Sunday was an overcast day so we decided to visit the Lyndon Baines Johnson ranch near Stonewall, Texas. LBJ is interesting to us because he was a Texan in the strongest sense of the word and we experienced his presidency as teenagers.

LBJ donated his ranch to the American people though Lady Bird lived there until her death in 2007. The The National Park Service runs the ranch with lots of help because it is still a working ranch with a herd of Hereford cattle descended from the President's original herd. LBJ did not want his ranch to become a "sterile relic of the past." The following pictures are some of the sights that we were able to see:

Bear and Roger are ready to tour the LBJ ranch.
The Sauer-Beckmann farm, on the LBJ property,  shows tourists how German immigrants in the area farmed. This newborn lamb was too cute to pass up.

The lamb's mother was not too happy with me being so close.

Those famous Texas Longhorns

Bison are raised on the property.

LBJ's parents convinced the local teacher to start him in school when he was only four years old. This precocious toddler could already read. As President, LBJ returned to this site to sign a famous educational bill into law.

This beautiful Hereford bull comes from LBJ's original stock.

When LBJ visited his ranch he would fly into Austin on a 707 and then take this Lockheed Jetstar to the ranch.

Looking at the back of the house, you can see Luci Johnson's corvette, given to her by her parents when she had her eighteenth birthday.

Looking across the ranch to the Pedernales River.

In front of the Texas White House. Notice the Austin Stone fence.

That Live Oak tree has been documented to be over 400 years old.

The tour of the home was outstanding! Our Park Service ranger has been at the ranch for over 21 years and knew Lady Bird as well as the daughters, Lynda and Luci. He had many humorous anecdotes to tell us.
LBJ and Lady Bird are buried in the Johnson Cemetery beneath huge Live Oak trees.

The rest of the week was spent cycling or working out at the resort facilities, walks and playing with Bear, drinks and dinners with new friends and touring the Hill Country. The following pictures are from our day trip to Medina and Bandera.

Oak Moss is evident in this Live Oak tree which is very common in the area.  This parasite has no cure and has killed many of the trees in the Hill country area.

This courthouse in Bandera is an example of the style of courthouses  found in many small town squares in Texas.

The 11th Street Bar found in Bandera is a famous country western saloon.
Next week is our last full week in Kerrville, before we head to Mission, Texas. In addition, we will have completed nine months of living in our Tour.  Thank you for checking in with us as we continue our journey through the United States.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

About That Captain Charles Schreiner (January 8 - 14)

Dear Family and Friends,

Before I get down to this week's activities, I must tell you a funny grandchild story that I have repeatedly forgotten to include in other blogs. Hopefully you will find this as funny as we think it was:

     It seems that our son Rob, and his family in Dallas, went to Christmas Eve services at First Methodist Church. This was granddaughter Abby's second year to appear in the Christmas pageant as an angel in the choir. Part of the service was communion. Rob took Jackson down to the altar where they received communion. On their way back to the pew, Rob noticed that Jackson's face was in a grimace. Rob asked Jackson what the matter was and this three year old said that he did not like baby Jesus's "snacks." I suppose grape juice and communion wafers do not compare to goldfish crackers.

Sunday was Roger's birthday and our first mission was a bike ride in the Hill Country. We passed a fenced in pasture filled with buffalo. What a thrill to see these creatures!

We enjoyed the afternoon and finished the day at new friends' for cocktails. Roger loved his birthday.

Much needed rain started Sunday night and was with us all day on Monday. We have a wonderful workout facility and were able to use the treadmills and elliptical trainer, as well as the weights. What a great day for reading and a trip into town. We went to see the James Avery studio and grounds located in Kerrville. James Avery is widely known in Texas for his beautiful jewelry with much of it devoted to Christian symbolism. This man is now in his nineties and works everyday. In fact my parents gave me a James Avery ring over 40 years ago and I still love to wear it.

Tuesday was museum and art gallery day in Kerrville. We learned that Kerrville was named after James Kerr by fellow Kentuckian, Joshua Brown around 1846. Brown started the shingle business because of the abundance of cypress trees in the area. James Kerr never saw the town or county (Kerr County) that was named after him.

Captain Charles Schreiner was a main benefactor to the town in the late 1880's. He was a Confederate soldier, Texas Ranger and a self made man in the areas of business, ranching (he owned a ranch that numbered over 500,000 acres), banking and philanthropy. At one time he was the largest broker of wool and mohair in the world. He also established Schreiner University, a small liberal arts college located in Kerrville.

The Museum of Western Art in the hill country lived up to our expectations with a collection of beautiful oils, bronzes, sculptures in marble and quite a collection of saddles. Though not on the same level as the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art in Ft. Worth, we truly enjoyed our visit.

On Thursday we returned to the Charles Schreiner home. It was gifted to the Schreiner University by the great granddaughter of Charles Schreiner. What a treasure! It was the first home in Kerrville to have electricity. Captain Schreiner had tunnels built from his home to the bank and to the general store that he owned. Both buildings were located close to the house, but the tunnels made easy access to his home. What a great commute! We learned that Charles Schreiner arrived in the area with $5.00. At his death he was worth over $6,000,000. He had donated over $5,000,000 in his lifetime to the town of Kerrville. 

Roger at the entrance of the Charles Schreiner home.
 Kerrville is located on the Guadalupe River. It runs from Kerr County to the San Antonio Bay, in the Gulf of Mexico. As a student at Trinity University ( a long time ago), it was lots of fun to float down the Guadalupe in tire tubes. Apparently it is still done but not at this very chilly time of year. Below are pictures of the Guadalupe River.

Cold, windy weather has kept us off the bikes this week. However, we did get a 30 miler in on Saturday afternoon. We stayed busy with the workout room and lots of walks with Bear. In addition to the workouts, I enjoyed a ladies lunch at a local tea room. Roger and I dined with three other couples at a new restaurant called The Antler Grill. The cuisine was outstanding and companionship, even better.

Thank you for your interest in our travels. We feel very lucky to have this opportunity. It is hard to believe that we are approaching nine months on the road. The time is going quickly. Next week we are hoping to tour the LBJ ranch and go back to Fredericksburg, for a tour of the Nimitz Museum.

Friday, January 6, 2012

About That Austin Stone (January 1 - 7)

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy New Year from Kerrville, Texas! Roger and I trust all of you had a great holiday season and are off to a wonderful start in 2012. The beginning of a new year holds such promise for me. Hopefully this will be a great year for the Radcliffs.

We spent New Year's Eve in Fredericksburg, at the home of a country western singer whom we truly enjoy. We were thrilled to be included in Thomas Riley's small dinner for his friends and family. After a delicious meal, he entertained us, accompanied by his friend, Kenny Grimes. What talent! This was the first time in many years that we stayed up past the ball dropping in New York.

It is official, Roger has ended his employment with Merrill Lynch. Though he has been on the road for awhile, his true retirement started January 1st.

You may be wondering about the title of this blog. Austin Stone is the whitish stone quarried around the city of Austin and in the hill country of Texas. On our travels in the area, we have seen it everywhere. It is used in office buildings, churches, homes, fences and entrance gates. It has iron in it that sometimes seeps through causing a reddish tone to appear on the rock. On our bike rides this week, we were able to capture a few pictures of the stone  as well as the hill country where we are riding.

Roger checking the route.

Hill Country

An example of a home made of Austin Stone. Notice the red from the iron content in the wall.

Yes, we are about to climb that hill. You can see Roger in the distance.

This entrance to a ranch is decorated with hoops of barbed wire.

Austin Stone entrance with the Texas flag flying proudly.

This area has lots of goat farms. Could someone please tell me why all of the flocks have donkeys with them? I am thinking that the donkeys discourage the coyotes.

Roger loading up the bikes for a return drive to Buckhorn Lake Resort.

Bear's new best buddy, Belle, playing in the park.

We have had a great week recovering from the holidays. Bear loves the long walks and playing in the resorts parks with his new friends. We realize that we had better get busy with sightseeing as our time in Kerrville is going much too quickly. Until next week, thank you for reading the blog.