Rodeo, Cowboys, and BBQ were what we expected from Texas, what we didn’t expect were Germanic settlements, stargazing and one huge Enchanted rock.
Texans are a little different to other Americans, well at least in our opinion. To Texans, Texas is the single best place in America, Texas is the best of what America has to offer, Texas is the best of what the World has to offer. “It’s the best goddamn state in America,” a hairdresser told Jake as he asked her what she thought of the Lone Star State. “And what do you suppose the rest of America think about Texas” Jake enquired. “Well they also think Texas is the best goddamn place in America, everyone knows that!”
To a certain degree, it’s true. To date, Texas has been a standout state. Everything from the history, the infrastructure, the food to the countryside has been up there with some of the best that we have experienced in the States, particularly in the South. With a state full of people who are wax lyrical about where they live it’s not hard to see why everything here seems to tick along so nicely.
With our trusty tent still in tow, we decided to detour Houston in favour of the Texan Hill country where we could camp and explore. We jumped on highway 16 with the Germanic town of Fredericksburg set as our destination. Renowned for its endless twists and turns highway 16 climbs its way through the Hill Country for 30 miles between Kerrville and Medina. Driving along that road we were transported back to
Renowned for its endless twists and turns highway 16 climbs its way through the Hill Country for 30 miles between Kerrville and Medina. Driving along that road we were transported back to South America. For the first time in a long time, there were hillsides, rolling green fields, wild flowers, and villages. Not a McDonalds or Wendy’s in view. Cruising along highway 16 with Blake Shelton on the radio and beef jerky in our hands we were living the Texan dream.
After a long day of driving, we decided to pitch up at the base of Texas’ famed Enchanted Rock. With the enviable title of being America’s second largest granite dome, the Enchanted Rock sits half buried in the hills just outside Fredericksburg. Arriving after dark we broke out into our now militant tent pitching routine under the watchful and moonlit eyes of racoons and wild cats. Surrounded by nothing but the imposing shadow of the rock there was no light to be found for miles around. With not even a hint of a moon in the sky, we were about to experience the best night sky of our lives. We have been fortunate to sleep under some of the best stargazing spots in the World over the past five months, from the Atacama desert to southern
Surrounded by nothing but the imposing shadow of the rock there was no light to be found for miles around. With not even a hint of a moon in the sky, we were about to experience the best night sky of our lives. We have been fortunate to sleep under some of the best stargazing spots in the World over the past five months, from the Atacama desert to southern Patagonia but Texas truly beat them all. That night we added two more shooting stars to our tally.
As we slept under the stars I awoke in the middle of the night to the strangest of sounds. Cocooned in my sleeping bag, I poked one ear out into the freezing night air to try and recognise the eerie sound that surrounded the tent. Was it a pack of wild dogs, coyote’s, wolves maybe? I still to this day have no idea. Apparently it’s not uncommon to hear weird and eery sounds when sleeping under the rock (Something I wish I had known before pitching up there). Apparently the Tonkawa and other Native American tribes believed that the rock would speak to them in the depths of the night. Scientists have another less interesting theory that it’s the rock contracting after a warm day. I think I’ll stick with the wolves.
After a gentle morning hike to the top of the rock, we rewarded ourselves with the only thing to reward yourself with whilst in Texas, BBQ. We headed to famed Cranky Franks for a mouth-watering meal of brisket, mash and gravy. Walking into Cranky Franks you would be excused for thinking it more of a trucker cafe than a famed culinary destination, but one waft of that BBQ and you won’t care where you are. This BBQ is to die for, just be sure to get there early as it sells out fast.
The next couple of days were spent lazily exploring perhaps our favourite town yet, Fredericksburg. Founded by Prince Frederick of Prussia, Fredericksburg is home to Texas German, a dialect spoken by the first wave of German settlers who refused to speak English. Today Fredericksburg is a cheerful combination of germanic and cowboy chintz. The high street is completely owned by independent stores offering up everything from custom made cowboy boots to sauerkraut, home brews and chocolatiers.
With our boot stocked to the brim with German sausage, fudge and bourbon we packed up our tent and headed back on highway 16 to Austin. Although we only had a day in Austin we were there long enough to be charmed by the proudly weird city of Austin. This beautiful city has something to delight on every corner, whether it be culinary, musical or architecturally. There is no doubt that Austin has a gritty undertone, especially at night, but its wealth of riches makes it a city you want to return to if not just for the Pizza at Hoboken Pie.