Luckenbach – The Pilgrimage

Luckenbach – It’s always strange to roll into a place that is known as a party town at about 0900 mid week.  But we needed to be there for something in our Texan DNA. And being just down the road, it was time.  And was it quiet, peaceful, enjoyable.  Only two other bikes this Tuesday am, both super bikes being ridden by men old enough to know that, well, to know that, a cruiser might increase their longevity.  The store took its toll on our wallets.  The bar had two patrons, one drinking beer the other coffee. The porch had two confident resident cats, and chickens that had just vacated the store.  Have to go back when the place is jumping.

Old Tunnel State Park – Ostensibly this was the reason to be in this part of the State, to see the daily bat flight.  The park is located “just a piece down the road” from Luckenbach, on the OSR (Old San Antonio Road).  But our timetable was backwards and I was not going to wait 7 hours.  Next trip, next trip, always leave something for the next trip. (Old Tunnel State Park)

LBJ Ranch – National Historical Park  (LBJ Link)  When you ride with Vets, LBJ is a name that gets a strong response.  Being 750 pages into the four part biography of President Johnson, by Robert A. Caro, I had to see the park.  It is worth the trip, the two dollar entrance fee, and the time to drive the ranch.  Even if we missed the party by one day (see photo).

LBJ’s early political career spans an incredible epoch in the history of the Texas hill country.  Caro, in The Path to Power, depicts life in this modern day Mecca for Texans, from the 1920’s forward.  He tells of the destruction of the land and the incredible poverty of the entire hill country region in the early 1900’s.  LBJ was instrumental, from his seat in Congress, for the coming of electric power to Johnson City in November 1939 – friends, that is only a generation ago.

Pedernales Falls State Park – Mid week is the time to see our state parks.  Wish someone had told me that years ago.  A picnic and rest stop, below the falls in the swimming area, provided cool shade and cool rushing water – on a day that had already reached 98 by noon.  Quiet and solitude.  Not willing to hike back up the hill to the parking lot for a swim suit, we made do.  A hint, riding ‘under gear’ should always look like swim wear, just in case you need to cover up in a hurry. Take Ranch Road 2766 east out of Johnson City, dodge the deer, and enjoy.  Five dollar entry fee, cool patches to buy, and even the parks roads are fun.

FM 1431 – Marble Falls to Lago Vista.  29 miles of a great road that runs through the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge.  On a lark, we grabbed 10th street in Marble Falls, which turns into FM 1431, and found a gem.

Hills, curves, sweepers and I found myself actually horsing the Venture just shy of scaring my passenger. It is one of those turn-around-and-do-it-again roads.

But at 29 miles, and 100 degree plus heat, we settled for a bottle of water and fuel.  A short and painful (compared to our wide open ride so far) route through suburban hell got us to The Oasis on Lake Travis for dinner.  There is bike parking up front, so ignore the parking garage!

Never tell if we stopped at Hippie Hollow first.

Day completed with a mundane run into Austin and a well air conditioned hotel room.

The Route:  Head east out of Fredericksburg on 290, stop and open your map and your eyes.  It is all within 60 miles of you!

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FM 965 and the Willow City Loop

It is our favorite part of the state, for reasons ranging from life friends that share their fabulous land with our family, to the raw geology of the area, and, then to the roads.  Three days, no schedule, and no fixed destination beyond this, the starting point.

FM 965  will run you right up to Enchanted Rock.  Having climbed it several times in the past, we elected a drive by, and dodging the cattle, headed straight to the Willow City Loop, south of the intersection of Hwy 16 and FM 965.

 

 

The Willow City Loop – The sign for the loop gives a rider notice of about 150 feet, and we knew what we were looking for, and still had to u-turn.  The miles of this loop are public road through all private land, largely unfenced.

 

 

 

Breathtaking, even for those that know the area.  Second gear all the way, simply to sense all you can.  It traverses all of the elevation that you see as you turn in.

 

 

 

The Boot Fence – We found this art near the south end of the Loop.

In the early morning sun, it screamed for a camera better capable of capturing the image.

All this, before breakfast in Fredericksburg, TX.

The Route:  Out of the metroplex west, to Highway 16; Hwy 16 south to Llano.  Hwy 16 south to FM 965, harass the cattle, then south to the Willow City Loop.  Hwy 16 south to Fredericksburg.

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Open Road Murals – Texas Barn

A February ride took the Wings and Things pair of bikes south of DFW to the Athens, TX area.  The grass will tell you all you need to know about the warm winter we had in 2012.  Located south of Athens proper, and south of the intersection of FM 1615 and CR 404, this photo was taken at speed on CR 404. I like the barn art for its simplicity, and the photo for its composition.  Put these two roads on your touring bucket-list.

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Open Road Murals – Lowbrows

Pilot Point, TX – again.  http://www.houseofjustine.com/  Artist Justine again (amazing).  Another open road ride that started with breakfast as the only destination, and wound up being a “let’s go that way” kind of day.

I have to like anything and any place this unpretentious.  If it had  been open, we would have spent the entire afternoon there.  We did look through the window.  We will be going back.

http://www.lowbrows.us/  I think you will like what you see.

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Open Road Murals – Eve

What a surprise to see this on a Sunday in downtown Pilot Point, TX.  What had me circle the block was simply the beauty of the woman, and right on the heels of that was the hand and apple – it was Sunday, after all.

From the road, it appeared to have been in place for many years, and unfortunately all the businesses were closed at the early morning hour.  With no way to ask about it, and no eatery to open in which to try to ask a local about the history of it, we settled for a pic.  The rest of the story, from a quick internet search, is pretty interesting.  I share the following summary, provided by others.

” For 28 years, Wes Miller has owned Farmers and Merchants Art Gallery in Pilot Point, Texas. In 2003, he commissioned local artist Justine Wollaston to design and paint a mural on the outside of the gallery. The finished work depicted a large hand pointing at an apple and a classical female nude on the other side contemplating the same apple. Wollaston said the mural depicted her interpretation of the Biblical narrative of Eve at the moment she made the choice to partake of the forbidden fruit.

Shortly after the mural was completed, Pilot Point police served Wes Miller with written notice that the mural violated a Texas law criminalizing the display of “harmful material” to minors.”

Go figure.  For additional information, you can search “pilot point murals” or “Dwight Wesley Miller v. City of Pilot Point”.  Or even better, go take a look!

http://www.houseofjustine.com/

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Open Road Murals

If you leave the interstate highways, and ride the FM (Farm to Market) roads in Texas, you beginto see a lot more of this great State.  Areas, people and events that just don’t make the Things-To-Do-This-Weekend-List in your local paper.  You also begin to see the truth behind the pictures and articles documenting many areas that were “left behind” when the interstate bypassed a community.  Route 66, the OSR, the Bankhead Highway – for that matter, even TX 66.

If you go one step further, such as turning off your favorite FM road, and riding through the downtown area or stopping at the local Feed Store, you can see yet another, deeper, level of the State.  If you could make the commute each day, you would gladly live in many of these areas.

And one last treasure awaits – murals.  Murals and advertisements, old and new.  The murals speak to me, and a desire to document those that we find through serendipity has added a new dimension to ride planning.  We leave enought time to photograph, and possibly ask about, those murals that cross our path.

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Dairy Palace 2012- Why We Ride

Dark and drizzly is not the best start to a 250 mile ride into east Texas.  No way were we cancelling – after me giving grief to those that cancel rides on “threat of rain” in the past.  The planned 6 bikes crowded under the canopy at the meet location, with smart phones open to local weather radar, and 5 of the 9 riders were already in rain gear (the rest were thinking about it). Since it is “all about the adventure”, we took off at 0800, rain and all.  After 5 miles, it turned out to be cloudy, cool(ish) and dry the rest of the day.  I was able to share some of my favorite roads: FM 779, FM 17, TX 110, FM 1255.

And we ate at THE Dairy Palace in Canton, after visiting THE bicycle fence in Golden, TX.

Why do you find and support a riding group, and why does it mean sooo much?  Some examples.  Our newest member (welcomed, HD and all!), brought his 10 year old daughter as his passenger and hand signal relay-person – for her first long ride with Dad.  It was the triumphant return ride for one of the ladies, after a 1-year hiatus due to surgery – on her own brand new Yamaha 950.  And the Lord blessed us with open roads, light traffic, and fellowship at each stop – on the way to a destination to which I have traveled, with my son on his own ride.

The Route:  PGBT; TX 66; FM 551; TX 276; US 69: FM 779; FN 17: TX 110; FM1255.  Home TX 64, FM 47, TX 276

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