I was perusing the New York Times Best Seller list last weekend hoping to find a good book when Texas Outlaw by James Patterson and Andrew Bourelle caught my eye. Maybe it was the silhouette of a man wearing a cowboy hat with a pistol drawn juxtaposed against a bright yellow and orange sunset or maybe it was just the word TEXAS imposed across that image on the book’s cover that grabbed my attention. The fact that grammi and I have now been in Texas the past six weeks probably influenced my decision to buy the book. But as I learned, Texas Outlaw is a sequel to Texas Ranger and you can’t read Book 2 without first reading Book 1. So I downloaded both books to my Kindle account and started reading Book 1 that same day. I soon found myself immersed in the story of the protagonist, Rory Yates, and found it hard to put down my I-pad. I stayed awake until the wee early morning hours turning page after page. I finished both books before the end of the week.
Many a mornings, I take the old blue enamel coffee pot outside to the camp stove. That coffee pot and camp stove are one of the first things we bought when we started tent camping more than thirty-five years ago. I am glad we still have them. I love being outside in the mornings as the sun emerges and pierces through the trees. As the nocturnal predators slip back into their dens, the forests awakens. The squirrels start stirring in the trees, the birds begin to sing, and the deer start to stretch their legs. The aroma and rhythmic sound of percolating coffee brings calm and comfort to my soul. I can’t think of a better way to start the day.
The Prickly Pear cactus started blooming this week. We’ve been waiting for them to bloom. Each day we would hike past the cactus to see if they opened up yet. The buds just seemed to multiply. Finally they started showing theirselves. The vibrant colors are so deep and rich. It is a stunning flower.
Relaxing around the campsite reading and watching nature was not the only thing we did this week. We went on another road trip adventure. We drove north on TX-16 to see and explore Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg, from what we’ve been reading, is one of the most popular destinations in Texas. Its springtime wildflowers, summer water sports, showy autumn colors, and winter christmas displays attract thousands of visitors all year long. It has a plethora of hotels and bed & breakfast locations and is home to many of the 50 or more unique wineries scattered throughout the hill country.
Traveling out of Fredericksburg on Main Street, aka US-290, aka Texas Wine Trail, we passed one winery after another: Safari Winery, Baron Creek Vineyards, Wedding Oak Winery, Six Shooter Cellars, Grape Creek Vineyards and on and on and on. I learned that Texas was renowned for its wine last fall. It was during our trip to the hilltop town of Cortona in Tuscany, Italy that we stopped at a nearby winery for a tasting. Our host and tour guide was a lovely young Italian woman who spoke excellent English and whose in-laws own the family vineyard. She explained that her husband and her work in the family business and will one day take it over. After the grand tour of the facility we were led to a charmingly decorated tasting room which was attached to the main house. It was during our chat while sampling the wines that she told us her husband and her travel to Texas to enter their wines in a prestiges international competition. She said that Texas is emerging as one of the best wine producing areas in the United States.
We stopped at Wildseed Farms. Their website says they are the “nations largest working wildflower farm” and have been producing seeds for over 35 years. Grammi wants to buy some seed packets to take back home. Additionally, they have trails going around the gardens and flower beds showcasing a rainbow of floral colors. It was a beautiful stroll where we saw bees, butterflies and hummingbirds dancing between the blossoms. Also taking advantage of the area’s booming wine industry, in 2015 Wildseed Farms started planting grape vines on their farm and opened a tasting room. As was the case with all the other winery tasting rooms in the area, they were closed due to COVID-19, but it gives us a good reason to come back through this area again.
We started craving for pizza weeks ago but because of our commitment to “social distancing” and “stay at home” we have not had the opportunity to satisfy the craving. That is until now. We located a top rated pizzeria in Fredericksburg and called in an ordered to go for our typical vegetable pizza with no cheese. Just a couple of blocks away we found a covered picnic table at Market Square Park where we sat and ate as we watch the locale people move about. I’m not sure how this pizza would compare to some of our all time favorites but on this day I can honestly say we savored every bite.
After lunch we continued our adventure by driving the Willow City Loop. It’s an iconic and picturesque 13 mile drive criss-crossing rolling hills, craggy cliffs and creeks with fields of springtime wild flowers bursting with reds, yellows, blues and whites. Native live oaks, mesquite and pecan trees enhance the landscape. There is one fence line in particular featuring cowboy boots atop all the fence post emphasizing that we are in Texas and adding to the enchantment of the drive. I have to admit that at first I was not too thrilled about going on this drive. After learning that we’d probably be too late for the blue bonnet bloom I almost used my veto power to skip it. I am sure glad I didn’t. There was still a few blue bonnets scattered around. But regardless, it was an awesome drive and the highlight of the day.
We made it back to camp before sunset. As I’ve said before, we cherish the sunsets. Experiencing that moment together when the light wanes and the last kiss of sunlight vanishes behind the hills is our time to exhale as the day ends. It reminds us to count our blessings and inspires us to prepare for the days ahead.
We celebrated our wedding anniversary this week. After all these years I cannot imagine sharing this adventure with anyone else. When a man is lucky enough to find a woman that loves him unequivocally through thick and thin he is truly blessed. Undoubtably I am truly blessed and I am thankful.
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