U.S. TravelWining/Dining


When the opportunity arose to spend my birthday weekend with long-time Houston-based friends Kay & Fred Zeidman, the decision didn’t require much thought.  Spending time with them is always a blast (Cancun, Colorado Springs, Palm Beach, Austin and DC among past destinations), but going to their home base allowed for time spent with their kids and grandkids as well.  The suggestion of the weekend in the country was particularly enticing with new areas to experience — at least for us.

How about that Texas Hill Country (THC), y’all?  The drive time is less than four hours from Houston — southwest of Austin and northwest of San Antonio.  We stayed in Fredericksburg, which is “deep in the heart” of the THC.  In addition to local agriculture specialties of peaches and pecans, you might be surprised as I was that there are over 400 wineries in the area!

As for accommodations, I found the Fredericksburg Herb Farm offering individual cottages.  Small and quaint, the location is minutes from all the action on Main Street.  While the cottages do not come equipped with a telephone(!), there is a flatscreen T.V., large room and bath, and friendly cats belonging to the property that are only too eager to come on in.  Each cottage has its own porch swing.  Clearly it would be optimal to visit when the garden is in full swing (what place isn’t?), but there was something lovely about the winter setting.
we had some outstanding meals along the way, most of which were suggested, so for me that was a win-win!  First was Navajo Grill in Fredericksburg for an incredible burger but all-around delicious food.  The BBQ enjoyed along with excellent music (played by Austin studio musicians) and dancing (we watched) made for a fun Saturday night at Hondo’s on Main, not to mention a trip to the DQ for the perfect dessert.  Watching the planes land while dining next to the runway at the Hangar Hotel Diner was too cool, although you’d never get me up in that wind!  The pancakes were to die for …
Breakfast crowd at the Hangar Hotel Diner
Saturday night at Hondo’s
A high point of the trip was visiting the National Museum of the Pacific War aka Admiral Nimitz Museum.  The Admiral was a Fredericksburg native so it is only fitting that this museum is located in his hometown.  The replica of his eponymous battleship (SS Nimitz – still in service) is a sight to behold, providing context for just how massive the actual ship is (nearly 1,100 feet long, just shy of four football fields).  Fredericksburg may be a small town, but this museum is world class.
A small section of the incredible replica on display at the museum.

If I lived in Texas, I would take road trips just for a stop at Buc-ee’s.  To call these behemoths “convenience stores” is like calling Lake Michigan a “water feature.”  Maybe a slight overstatement, but you get my drift.  Endless gas pumps (cheap!); ridiculously clean and plentiful bathrooms; and everything else from used tires to $1,500 smokers.  We sampled a chopped bbq brisket sandwich, fresh-made chips and a drink for under $8 and it was delicious — cooked on the spot.
Everything’s bigger in Texas:  jerky (above);
gas pumps and packaged ice below
                           And then a small portion of the gift area!


Love my surprise Buc-ee’s t-shirt which required major subterfuge on Kay’s part! She pulled it off!


The not-so-wonderful find on the highway was the automobile “graveyard,” site of countless cars destroyed in Hurricane Harvey.
We also toured the devastation, largely in the Meyerland area of Houston, where home after home is abandoned and/or under construction.  Never have I counted my blessings on my birthday as I did that day.  It was stunning.
Homes are elevated to avoid a repeat of the past; endless For Sale signs; new front steps; the bayou now


We finished the stay with a fun dinner at Relish back in Houston (amazing fried chicken) and watched the exciting BCS game before heading out the next morning.  Great friends, great fun, great food … thankful for this great start to 2018!