|The Ausländer Restaurant and Biergarten|
Thursday, August 18th
Chet and I got back to his place after noon, and he had to head to work, so our goodbyes were short and sweet, and before you knew it, we were going on our separate ways. I was excited for my next stop, but reluctant to leave behind all the fun we'd been having. "Parting IS such sweet sorrow." Well, one thing I know is, Chet will be added to the list of friends to revisit one day!
|The Oh-So German Interior of The Ausländer|
Just after getting off the phone with my dad on the 260-mile journey to the "Lonestar Bavaria of Fredericksburg," and telling him there's no way my couchsurf request would be successful on such short notice (I quickly sent two requests from Chet's house before leaving), I received a call from Tonya in Fredericksburg, who saved the day! She wouldn't be getting back home 'til very late, so I would have to find something to do with my time until she got back into town, but that was no problem for me; I had plenty to do!
|German Deliciousness at The Ausländer|
The first thing I did when I got into Fredericksburg was get the lay of the land, driving up and down the charming streets of Downtown. "The village of Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 and named after Prince Frederick of Prussia. Old-time German residents often referred to Fredericksburg as Fritztown, a nickname that is still used in some businesses. It is the sister city of Montabaur, Germany. On October 14, 1970, the Fredericksburg Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in Texas."
|My New Favorite Brew!|
|A Very Cozy Camper :)|
After a pleasant chat with my server about life in a small, tourist town and how bad the drought affected the local peach industry this year (usually a big draw), I moseyed across the street to Silver Creek Bar & Grill for a Chimay Blue (recommended by a guy I briefly chatted with at Meers Country Store back in Oklahoma) and wonderful conversation with the bartender about travel. He's lived all over the U.S. He's from Fredericksburg, but catching him working and living back here was an anomaly, and he doesn't plan to stay for long. It seems he always moves before he gets too comfortable. He's lived on Hawaii's Big Island, California, and Austin, just to name a few places, and when he's ready to go he leaves without telling a soul. I think he likes being mysterious and going with the flow, wherever his dreams take him.
|Enchanted Rock State Natural Area|
Oh, and he was very generous - everyone in town seemed lovely - when I was tossing around the idea of staying another night in Fredericksburg to hear the band (lots of live music in town) he recommended, he said he'd be able to arrange a place for me to crash, and he gave me the Chimay Blue, Paulaner Hefeweizen, Franzishoner (Franziskaner?) and Shiner 102 (don't worry, those include one or two taster shots only, lol) for only $10 total, since I'm traveling on such a tight budget! I gave him my info, but I doubt I'll hear from a guy that's such a drifter. Who knows, maybe it'll be a pleasant surprise many months or years from now :)
|Pretty Cacti at Enchanted Rock|
Tonya came and met me outside Silver Creek, and we briefly greeted each other (and her and the bartender knew each other and said hello!) before I followed her to her house about 12 miles north of town. When we reached her place she must've been very tired after her drive from Austin about 75 miles away, but she thoughtfully showed me to the camper where I'd be sleeping (her son's old room), placed clean sheets on the bed and showed me the bathroom and shower, before she turned in for the night. That's all I needed, and while we didn't really interact much, that made it all the more generous for her to go out of her way to help a stranger. I was so happy as I got comfortable on the bed (I hadn't slept on one in months), thinking about how fortunate I am to be doing all this, meeting new people, seeing new places, experiencing new things, and such. I've said it before, doing this trip was one of the best decisions I've ever made :)
|Welcome to Fredericksburg!|
Friday, August 19th
This morning I woke up to the alarm I had set on my phone for 8am, getting a shower in before Tonya was ready to go to work at 9. I said my grateful goodbye, she opened the gate, gave me some directions, and I was off to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area just 8 miles or so up the road. Highly regarded as one of the top things to see by the locals, Enchanted Rock is a nice little draw for outdoor enthusiasts, and had I known there was cheap camping, I might have saved Tonya the trouble, though I think I wasn't much of an inconvenience on her.
|Friedhelm's Restaurant & Inn|
"The state acquired the property in 1984, added facilities, and reopened the park in March 1984, but humans have visited here for over 11,000 years. Enchanted Rock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1970 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. The Rock is a huge, pink granite exfoliation dome, that rises 425 feet above ground, 1825 feet above sea level, and covers 640 acres. It is one of the largest batholiths (underground rock formation uncovered by erosion) in the United States! Visitors can enjoy primitive backpacking, camping, hiking, technical and rock climbing, picnicking, geological study, bird watching, and star gazing."
|Some German-Style Architecture|
It was a hot hike up to the top via the Summit Trail, even at only about 9:30 in the morning, but it was great to get a little exercise after a few weeks of laziness, and the 360 degree view was beautiful :) I wandered around, my binoculars really came in handy, I took a photo a group of friends that hiked up after me, then I was on my merry way back down the face of the rock. Back at the bottom, I was delighted to find a working electric outlet in the bathroom for a shave, and running drinking water pumps to fill up my empty bottles :)
|A Little Peek at Quaint Main Street|
When I got back into Downtown Fredericksburg, I popped into the Visitor's Center for some maps and stuff, and walked all over town, taking in the sights of the beautiful, historic architecture that lines the streets, commercial and residential. I tried spatzl and fresh, dark wheat bread at Friedhelm's Bavarian Inn. The spatzl was bland (not their fault, it's the lack of flavorful ingredients is all), but the service and ambiance was worth it. Then I continued my culinary curiosity at Old German Restaurant & Bakery. Lacking the interior flair of Friedhelm's, but serving great food, big portions and delicious German sweets, I'm glad I stopped in. The dill-flavored German potato salad was good, but the pastries were fantastic! I had a poppyseed danish and berliner streusel. I made sure to grab a couple to go for my cousin and her fiance I would see later this evening.
|Cheddar Ale Soup at Fredericksburg Brewery!|
The fun didn't stop there! After escaping the desperate grips of old widows at the Welcome Center (I felt bad not indulging them longer, but had things to see!), I explored some of the shops along Main Street, and at the General Store I even bought stuff for once: a pack of Cry Babies (haven't seen em anywhere pretty much since middle school!), a pack of cherry-flavored Wonka Kazoozles (sounded enticing, lol) and a bottle of Sprecher Gourmet Root Beer, "rated #1 Root Beer by the New York Times" (tasted like regular, old root beer to me!).
|A Reminder I'm Still in Texas :/|