Thursday, January 29, 2009

Enchanted Rocking

We're finishing up our stay in Blanco, in the heart of the hill country. We never seem able to visit all of the places we want to, but we keep trying, and this week visited a new park, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, just outside of Fredericksburg. This is real hill country, with winding roads, up and down grades, and lots of mountain cedar with it's pollen-laden branches. The "rock" is really that - a huge pink granite 640-acre dome that rises 425 feet above the surrounding countryside. It's a very popular place; the web site advises that on summer weekends they often close to visitors as early as 11:00 due to the crowds that flock here. Why? Well, to climb the rock, of course. Even on the winter weekday we visited, lines of people were headed for the summit. What in the world, you may ask, is so special about climbing to the top of a big rock? Beats me. It must be some kind of Texan thing, after all, they're mountain-deprived around here. Maybe they can see the Alamo in the distance from the top. In any case, we declined the opportunity to join the climbers and instead explored the trails around the base of the rock. It's a pretty place, with lots of huge boulders strewn around the smooth granite slopes. While it's an unusual place for Texas, it's not anything we haven't seen in our travels in the mountain states, so we opted to return to Fredericksburg for German pastry and coffee.
We've mentioned Fredericksburg in previous posts; it's a historic German town with a main street full of shops and restaurants. It's especially popular during the Christmas holidays; many of the shops specialize in German ornaments, nut crackers, and other unusual gifts. After a sharing a German apple donut (imagine a cross between an apple pie and donut), we strolled over to the public library where we marveled at this chain-saw carving made from what we suppose was a single dead tree. If you click on the picture and look close you can see that it's a large eagle with small eagles on each wing. At the edge of town, I took this picture of the home of Admiral Chester Nimitz, who served as the US Navy Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet during WWII. The family home, once a hotel, is now the centerpiece of the surprisingly large and interesting National Museum of the Pacific War. Leaving Fredericsburg, we headed back towards Blanco, but after a grueling day of exploring, decided to stop at the Silver K Cafe in Johnson City, one of our favorite restaurants in the area. Housed in an old lumberyard, the restaurant is decorated with original art and has menu offering Texas comfort food (chicken fried steak, of course), and a variey of interesting "fine dining" dishes. A great end to another day of exploring and learning! Come back soon and see where we're visiting next!

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