Best Wurstfest in Texas
Trip Start Oct 31, 2008
50Trip End Ongoing
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I have been blessed with a job that gives me opportunities to witness a multitude of firsts on a variety of levels. On a geographical level, my work requires that I travel to different locations. Obviously, this gives me the chance to see new areas for the first time. For the past four months, I have been in the San Antonio area and the hill country of Texas. It's been so much fun to visit many of the small, unique towns in the area. Of course, with my love of music, how could I not visit Luckenbach. Unfortunately, I did not see Waylon, Willie, or the boys. People looking for something grand or some kind of man-made wonder are sure to be disappointed, but for those looking for a mood, a way of life to better understand the song, it is music brought to life. No pretense. Firsts on a human level are the best. What better than a handful of people sitting around visiting, telling stories, drinking beer and listening to musicians sing about everyday life. We were surrounded by huge trees, a rolling river, picnic tables, an old general store, a small wooden stage, a longhorn steer, and a few wandering roosters. I watched in danceaphobic amazement as a inspired young man and his girl stood up and began dancing around the people and tables. I couldn't help but think of how easily and naturally they moved to the music without a thought about anyone around them and there was not a second glance from anyone whose presence impacted their choreographic path. To me, it was an act of courage that I could never muster - maybe some day Ronda - keep the faith. And though, this scene has probably been repeated many times over the years, it was definitely a first for me.
Then there are firsts on the participation level. The Hill Country is steeped in German tradition and in keeping with that tradition, I participated for the first time, in a Volksmarch in the town of New Braunfels. It was a wonderful walk through the community. Walking through the cemetery, I was surprised to find several deer walking through the cemetery as well. The first thing that came to mind were the native Alaskans who embrace the belief that the spirit of an animal dwells within each of us. After the walk, I enjoyed the town's famous Wurstfest - a German celebration of sausage. What better way is there to recuperate from a long walk than to listen to German polkas, drink German beer, and eat German sausage. Well, in my case being ever conscious of good health, I chose not to eat sausage and instead enjoyed a porkchop on a stick, what a tasty first.
Another community on my way back to San Antonio is Gruene (pronounced Green by most people). I stopped in to visit the many shops and the famous Gruene Hall, Texas' oldest dance hall. Gruene Hall was the launching pad for many Texas musicians, most notably George Strait back in his early days with, Ace in the Hole. Most of you would recognize Gruene hall from the movie, Michael, starring John Travolta as an angel. Gruene Hall was the location where they filmed the famous dance scene - chain chain chain, chain of fools... I enjoyed walking around and talking to the people, but I must admit, I came across no one who smelled like cookie dough.
You can't discuss German influenced Texas communities without mentioning Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg is a wonderful town to visit. It has a strong German influence with a Texas twang. I met a wonderfully talented artist/cowboy named, Bub Vickers. Currently working with bronze sculpture, he also creates very unique, colorful pottery. Always keeping an eye out for unique pitchers or as he quickly noted, water vessels, I noticed Bub's work and found a couple of unique "vessels" to add to my collection. Just walking through town, you can hear polka music and smell the aromas of authentic German food. German traditional Christmas markets will be opening soon and will provide great fun for visitors.
No romp through the Texas hill country is complete without a visit to Austin, the state capitol. Ronda and I had a great weekend in Austin enjoying the food, the night life, and the architecture. Whether it was the famous eating at the Magnolia Cafe, touring the state capitol building, watching improv performances through a storefront window, or enjoying the music of a musician on a street corner playing Texas blues with the companionship of his trusty dog, there were many firsts to enjoy walking down sixth street. As they used to say in my hometown, we "took a sport down sixth."
By the end of the weekend, I was feeling very Texan so nothing could be better than to cap off the weekend with a "coke" (the Texas word for all soda pop) and of course watching my weight, just one doughnut. So off we went to the famous Round Rock Donuts for a Texas-sized donut. Afterall, as all y'all know, "Everything is ..."
Watching a Thanksgiving parade at the San Antonio Riverwalk was definitely a first. For once in my many years, I came to understand why they called the parade vehicles, floats. The pageantry and colorful lights along the riverwalk were stunning.
I have been privileged to work at two military installations in the San Antonio area over the past nearly four months. What a wonderful city. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas holiday. I also hope that each of you take a moment to appreciate the many firsts you enjoy on a daily basis. One of my greatest firsts is the honor of being a witness to military personnel and their families display a different kind of courage as many of them outwardly tell their stories for the first time. Trust me, what we are blessed to enjoy in this country doesn't come freely. Enjoy your families and I look forward to writing to you again down the road.