Thursday – December 17, 2015
We enjoyed a beautiful sunny day, with the temperature in the middle sixties. We took advantage of the nice weather to take a walking tour on Main Street of Fredericksburg, Texas. Main Street is lined on both sides of the street, for about six blocks, with boutique shops and restaurants. It is such a pleasure to see this small town thriving with so many business establishments. Too often in our travels, we have passed through many small towns that have not survived the economic pressures of the modern era.
Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. As of the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 10,530. The town is also notable as the home of Texas German, a dialect spoken by the first generations of German settlers who initially refused to learn English. On October 14, 1970, the Fredericksburg Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in Texas.
There are many attractions within this region of Texas:
Several vineyards are located within the region and are popular with visitors. Many vineyards offer wine tastings.
LBJ National Historic Park
Visitors can experience more than 100 years of Hill Country history at this 718 acre National Park. This park honors a native Texan, Lyndon Baines Johnson, who achieved the nation's highest office: 36th President of the United States.
The park's location is historically significant since it is in the heart of the former president's home country. The area has been influenced by three major cultures: Native American, Spanish and German. Indians roamed the Hill Country first, leaving behind artifacts which tell of their nomadic life. The Spanish conquistadors followed, bringing a culture which was to endure to the present. German immigrants settled the Hill Country in the early 1800s and their descendants still call it home. Their culture has had a major impact on the development of the region and the park itself. All of these cultures are represented at the park. The facility was officially dedicated in August 1970 in a ceremony attended by the Johnson family and a host of dignitaries.
Old Tunnel State Park
This park is home to up to 3 million of Mexican free-tailed bats, every May through October. They inhabit an abandoned railroad tunnel located 12 miles east of Fredricksburg.
Watching a colony of bats emerge, as we did in August 2010, is truly a special experience! During emergence, the bats spiral upwards in a counter-clockwise direction in order to gain altitude. Their emergence from the tunnel, on our visit, lasted close to two hours.They filled the twilight sky with a narrow, dark cloud of fluttering wings, spiraling upwards, for as far as the eye can see.
Aerial predators, such as red-tailed hawks, are sometimes seen catching bats as they emerge, and terrestrial predators, such as racoons, feed on fallen bats. The large, serpentine column of bats can travel as high as 10,000 feet and 60 miles, one-way, each night to feed on agricultural pests such as the corn earworm, cutworm, and webworm moths. Each bat can eat its weight in insects nightly, and the Old Tunnel colony may devour over 25 tons of moths per night!
During our visit in 2010, we returned to the state park at 4:00 a.m. to observe the bats return to the tunnel. It was amazing! Also a bit intimating! It was pitch black outside when we arrived, alone, in a desolate area. As the night sky receded and dawn approached, about 5:30 a.m., we heard the bats before we could see them. We were standing outside, watching for them, as they flitted close overhead, in what appeared to us, a haphazard fashion as they quickly descended and disappeared into the tunnel. It is an experience we will never forget.
Fredericksburg is favored with several German restaurants. We just had to sample at least one of them, so we chose Der Lindenbain, based on its menu and delightful atmosphere.
Sharon ordered the Bratwurst Platte (two pan fried veal and pork sausages)
and I ordered the Zigeuner Platte (two pan fried veal and pork sausages topped with a mildly spicy bell pepper sauce).
Both entrees were served with sauerkraut and German potato salad. Everything was delicious and we congratulated ourselves on choosing this restaurant.
We finished off our walking tour in Fredericksburg with a visit to the Java Ranch.
We purchased two large Mocha’s and enjoyed them within the warm ambience of this wonderful local coffee shop.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.