TX Tourist on a Hillbilly Holiday

The biggest misconception about vagabonding is that it requires travel. To set the record straight once and for all — vagabonding is a mindset, not a destination. You can apply vagabonding principles like curiosity, being present in the moment, living light, and approaching new things with an open mind at home just as well as you can in the most remote corner of the world.

With that in mind, I’ve been spending time exploring my own backyard in Austin, Texas. The literal backyard is a work in progress as I’m attempting to become an urban farmer (more on that in a future post), but my more figurative backyard is proving rich in opportunity and adventure — Enchanted Rock, Fredericksburg and Luckenbach come highly recommended!

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I converted Josh Abbott Band’s “My Texas” song into a checklist of things to do in the Lonestar state. For reference, here’s the first paragraph:

If you haven’t climbed up to Enchanted Rock,

Drank a cold Shiner down in Luckenbach,

Taken your baby to the River Walk,

Then you ain’t met my Texas yet.

Should be easy enough! On your mark, get set…

Fritztown funtimes

For central Texans looking for a local escape, Fredericksburg is one of the most popular options — and for good reason! The historic town founded in 1846 by Baron Otfried Hans von Meusebach (the name was too good to leave out) maintains a strong tie to its German heritage. With fabulous German bakeries and schnitzel houses lining the main street, the charming town is always buzzing with tourists.

For a pescetarian, German fare doesn’t offer much more than refreshing beer in the Texas heat, so it’s worth mentioning that one of my favorite restaurants to visit is located in the heart of downtown. Vaudeville is a fabulous French design house and upscale restaurant that’s on the top of my local checklist. Nothing tastes better than a dry rosé on a humid day!

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As European as Fredericksburg may feel, I have to guess that a French visitor would frown on the local fashion and decor. Tassels, bedazzled fringes, and flamboyant colors are all the rage. Texas truly is over the top!

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I imagine the French would share the same reaction to Texas wine, but what can you do? C’est la vie. Venturing to the outskirts of Fredericksburg to sip some local vino is more about the experience than the tasting, but is a great excuse to get drunk with friends surrounded by gorgeous vineyards and a longhorn or two if you’re lucky.

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One of the unexpected show-stoppers in town is the National Museum of the Pacific War. Complete with Japanese gardens, memorial courtyards, and all of the Pacific War memorabilia you ever thought possible, the museum is worthy of a trip even if you’re not usually a history buff. I was particularly impressed with the outstanding curation and helpful staff. Be warned though: there is no natural light indoors and it’s a complete shock exiting back into civilization!

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Luckenbach, small but mighty

If you’re reading this post from outside of Texas and have heard of Luckenbach before, I would bet the farm that it’s from the Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson song by that name:

For those of you who have never heard of Luckenbach — the song or the locale — it’s quite forgivable. In fact, during the 1960’s the town was advertised for sale offering a “town, pop. 3, for sale”, and although over fifty years have passed there’s still a ‘population 3’ sign when you enter the town. Needless to say, if you blink you may miss this hidden gem!

Nestled in Texas hill country 10 miles southeast of Fredericksburg, surrounded by stunning swaths of live oak and a gorgeous rolling landscape, Luckenbach is an absolute must for anyone traveling around central Texas.

The tiny settlement boasts a post office, dance hall and general store — and not much else! It’s quite eerie during the day, but come evening turns into a hopping place! We’re not talking Burning Man in the desert, but people come from countless bordering municipalities to get in on some good ol’ fashioned country action!

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Luckenbach has become something of a pilgrimage destination for serious country music aficionados, attracting some of the biggest names in music. And get this: “Pickin’ for the Record” took place in 2009 shattering the existing record for most guitarists playing together at one time with a grand total of 1868 musicians!

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If you’re planning to swing by Luckenbach, I suggest packing a tent and staying at the rustic, outdated, and spooky-ass (yet perfectly located) Armadillo RV Park and Campground. No one is sober long around these parts, so you might as well be stumbling distance from the lone drinking establishment!

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Speaking of the local saloon, it’s a total treat. Packed with age-old memorabilia from days gone by, crazy stuffed critters and even weirder patrons, it’s an experience of its own.

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The best part of Luckenbach though is, you guessed it, the music! During my tour around, I caught the Powell Brothers who opened for the Bart Crow Band at the Luckenbach Dance Hall. What a blast!

I love that the venue is reflective of south Texas music culture with open air tables and seating, and some supervisory chickens in the trees keeping an eye on the place!

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Spot the chickens!
Spot the chickens!

One big-ass rock

What’s a trip to hill country without a stop by Enchanted Rock? The title sums up the attraction — it’s one strikingly huge, out of place, gargantuan pink granite dome that raises 130m above everything it surrounds. Everything really is bigger in Texas!

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Enchanted Rock, located 18 miles north of Fredericksburg, is a state natural area and a great place to explore for a day. There are a variety of trails around the monadnock appropriate for all fitness levels. On a nice day during shoulder season it gets busy with families and amateur naturalists, so I suggest going early to avoid the crowds.

The climb itself is less than a mile and takes 30 minutes of moderate effort. The slope is surprisingly steep, so outdoor footwear is necessary, particularly in poor conditions. If it’s wet I imagine you would experience quite a thrilling (and spooky) slide that doesn’t always end well.

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My favorite part of Enchanted Rock is the abundance of wildlife. I was 5-year-old schoolgirl excited to discover a pool of wriggly tadpoles in a wee low moistened pool at the top of the rock! Folks travel from all over Texas to birdwatch, and apparently there is a strong resident population of Texas Horned Lizards although I didn’t spot one.

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I’ll definitely be back to the area in search of some bouldering opportunities and perhaps a climb or two. I was a touch jealous watching groups of young hippy types disappear into the tree-lined rock periphery with crash pads and ropes!

Programming Update

As I mentioned in the last update email to BRBdoingstuff’s fantastic subscribers, I’m in the process of becoming more actively involved with this blog.

Over the past year I’ve learned that BRBdoingstuff provides a greater sense of pleasure, satisfaction and purpose than I’ve ever thought possible. By sharing stories of adventure, life and travel I’m working to encourage others to push the boundaries of their comfort, one adventure at a time.

You will notice over the coming weeks and months more site activity as I take my passion project to the next level. Stay tuned to learn more!

BRB just doing stuff for a bit k?

x V

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4 Comments

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