Sunday, August 31, 2008

Heading Home from Laredo...the Long Way

In Blanco, TX for the night, we decided to walk back into town the next morning for breakfast. That Bowling Club Cafe looked promising, having lots of pickup trucks parked in front, so we ate there with the locals. Some riding friends from Bay City TX were camped at Blanco State Park so I convinced Keith that it wouldn't be much more of a walk to continue on down to the park and join them for a little visit.

Blanco State Park is a beautiful little park straddling the Blanco River. A dam across the river creates a swimming hole for the park, and the camping areas are beautiful and spacious with nice amenities and facilities. We stayed for about an hour then hitched a ride back with a couple who were making a run for ice. Keith and I loaded our bikes, checked out, and headed north toward Johnson City, TX to visit the LBJ national historical park. I'd been to LBJ Ranch but not the Johnson compound in the center of town. After talking to the park rangers, and learning that vehicles are now permitted onto the LBJ Ranch tour, we decided to also head west 14 miles to the ranch and take the self-guided tour.

Riding through the LBJ Ranch, along the live-oak shaded Pernales River, past exotic wildlife grazing in the pastures, down the runway of LBJ's private airport, and stopping to see his hangar, old car collection, and "Texas Whitehouse" was wonderful! So much better to be able to do it at our own pace and to see it from the seat of a motorcycle, not through the window of a tour shuttle.

We exited the park after taking the tour and headed north and east to pick up a couple more AMA Grand Tour points. One of them was in Oatmeal, TX, a non-town northeast of Marble Falls. Really, it was mostly an excuse to ride FM 1431 for a while. But FM 1174 proved to be at least its equal!

Our next stop was in Florence TX for another AMA photo op and to get a cold drink and snack, since we didn't get lunch. It was a nice break, as it was getting quite hot. From here we rode east to Bartlett, which proved to be an amazing little town, with red brick-paved roads and a really cool downtown. I need to get back there when I have more time, to do some photography!

We turned south to get to Hutto, TX where I wanted to get a photo of the hippopotamus in town. I parked my bike strategically so that I could include it in the photo, and then proceeded to take my helmet and jacket off. Keith stood there watching, not sure why I was undressing, since all my other stops for AMA photos are quick grabs. He just didn't understand!! LOL!

We had just 18 miles to our stop for the night, a really excellent little motor court in Rockdale, TX called Rainbow Courts. This has been family-owned since 1913, and the rooms were very plush, luxurious and comfortable, with beautifully landscaped grounds. Definitely a place to return to some day. The only downside was that we had to get back on the bikes to get dinner, so we headed out for an early meal, really not a problem, since we hadn't eaten lunch, so that we could get back to the motel, change into shorts and sandals and relax on the front lawn.

Tomorrow: Dime Box and home.

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