Saturday morning April 25th we drove back west on Hwy 29 to return to Fort McKavett. On the way we drove through the small town of Menard and let the “kids” see the Historic Ditch walk where there are many properties that still access the water that runs through this stone aqueduct used for irrigation since 1876. Then out to the Presidio de San Saba which was originally built in 1757 by the Spanish to protect them next to the San Saba River from the Comanche. Some of the stone remains are still here and a nice archeological site has been completed showing some of the old walls and buildings. The old Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad station built in 1911 was donated to the city in 1972 and is used as a county museum now.
After we left there we drove out west 3 miles to the Fort where they were having a special demonstration day. There were people in historic costumes showing how to build wooden trunks, a blacksmith, a tailor making frock coats, and a group of Boy Scouts who were there to stay in one of the old barracks and do projects to earn some badges. This fort is a well preserved example of the Texas Forts built around 1852 to protect settlers from the Indians. It was actually occupied by residents for many years after the fort was decommissioned in June 1883. One of the docents there actually attended school in the little schoolhouse still standing. This is probably one of the finest restorations of a frontier fort available today. The kids were impressed!
Leaving there we returned to Llano where the Annual Crawfish Festival and Golf Tournament was in full swing with thousands there to golf, listen to the many western bands and eat lots of “bugs” (as they are called in Louisiana).
On Friday, April 24th we drove on Hwy. 29 west into Mason for a good lunch at the Willow Creek Café. Great burgers and homemade pie for all then a quick look around the square to see what is know as one of the prettiest small towns in the Hill Country. Also the only place in North America where you can pick up Texas Topaz off the ground. Took them up the hill to see the only building left of Fort Mason which was on the Texas Historic Forts trail. Robert E. Lee was actually stationed here before the Civil War.
Then we drove south to cross the James River and see some of the historic sites such as the marker that relates the kidnapping of settlers told in John Wayne’s movie “The Searchers” and then some of the sites where Mason County Wars were fought over cattle and sheepherding rights back in the 1800s. We drove on dirt roads to cross the James River. The “kids” had never seen a low water crossing so the Leader decided to get out and walk about 70 feet across to show them it was safe. Water only came to his ankles and almost made it across then his feet found a slippery place and down he went – on his butt in the river. So we drove out to rescue him and onto the other side. Had to strip off the wet clothes and hang them on a barbed wire fence to dry! Luck would have it as we were at the gate of the Star S Exotic Game Ranch. They have trophy whitetail deer and African species such as zebra, sable, gemsbok, kudu and Oryx. And this is a large, fancy ranch. About then two guys come along in a pickup and offer help and tell us to go up to their ranch called the Bar None and use their dryer for his clothes. The “kids” couldn’t believe we went and actually used the dryer. One of the other guys there was nice enough to let us look around and actually squeezed fresh oranges for screwdrivers to sip on the big front porch. Then they drove around to show a spring that supplies their water and the area where they host “survival” camps. They’d even had a wedding there two weeks before. Neat people and great afternoon!
April 23, 2014 the Traveling Basenjis were ready to roll. They watched every move as we loaded for the first trip of the year. The trip will be a bit different as we are retracing some of our steps to allow some of our grown kids to see what RVing is all about. So we planned a trip to see the famous Texas Hill Country wildflowers. We drove back to Riverway RV Park in Llano for our base camp. A long, cold winter without much rain has left flowers few and far between. But we have plans! Our first night is off to Cooper’s for their famous Texas BBQ. Pick your meat, take inside to get weighed, get some beans and a drink and find a seat, if you can, at a long picnic table to enjoy a real tradition. This place is always packed! Then back to camp and relaxing after a long drive!