Driving on Golden Highways

Thursday we left, headed east on I-10 and made it to Junction.  Another great RV park, maybe the best as we had 2 big pecan trees shading us, picnic table, BBQ grill and a large grassy area for the girls to just lay out and enjoy the breeze.  We were in spot #43, only downside was it was sorta near the main driveway so had a little dust when people came and went.  It was a KOA last year but no longer and the folks here work to keep it really clean.  It is the North Llano River Junction RV Park and right on the river by the bridge.

On Friday ate a quick breakfast at Issack’s on Main Street then we drove north towards Menard.  On the way we had another Ford message!  This time we had low tire pressure.  So we looked for a place to have a tire fixed.  Menard is such a small town they only have one store and a few filling stations but we lucked out and found a fellow who could remove the screw and patch it inside as he should.  Don’t you love it when your vehicle talks to you?

After the tire was repaired we headed out west on Hwy 190 toward Fort McKavett.  Just out of town we discovered a Historic site and turned in.  It is called Presidio de San Saba and is the recent archeological dig and restoration of a really neat presidio established April 1757 by Col. Ortiz Padilla.  Most of the soldiers, six missionaries, and others, a total of about 300, arrived at this destination on April 17. But no Apaches were there to greet them.  From available timber the friars built quarters for themselves and temporary church downstream 1½ leagues from the presidio on the opposite bank.  In mid June 3,000 Apaches did pass by on their way north to hunt buffalo and fight Comanche.  This restoration was only completed last year by many hard working volunteers and turned out to be actually next to the Menard Country Club and Golf Course.  The site discovery was one of two episodes that renewed interest in the San Sabá Mission in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The other was controversy surrounding the painting, The Destruction of Mission San Sabá, which was confiscated by United States customs agents and returned to Mexico after having been offered for sale in Texas.  The painting, done soon after the mission attack and evidently based on eyewitness accounts, is said to be “the earliest extant easel painting by a professional artist depicting an event in Texas history.”  We took some great pictures here  but it was very cool and windy so we did not stay very long.  It was all new and had clean bathrooms and a nice visitor pavilion with maps and details.

We then drove on to Fort McKavett.  This fort was part of the chain of forts built in 1852 to protect stagecoaches and mail runs between San Diego and San Antonio.  It is on top a limestone bluff and has a great view of the surrounding country.  When General William T. Sherman visited here about 1865 he said it was the prettiest post in Texas.  We agree!

Hospital building at Fort McKavett


The visitor center is managed by a neat lady called Nancy who actually lives on the fort property.  She is a national treasure as she knows so much detail about the fort and its past that she makes it come alive for you.  We used their golf cart and toured the entire restored area and got good pictures inside the buildings and of the grounds.  Seems as if most of the soldiers stationed here were the black troops known as Buffalo Soldiers and at one time there were over 500 here at a time with their families.  From 1868-1883, after the Civil War, the fort was used as a major supply depot for soldiers and goods.  After it was abandoned in 1883, the people who lived nearby in Scabtown moved into the buildings as they were better than their tents and shacks down the road.  People actually lived here until 1973 when the fort was again abandoned and the State of Texas came in and took it over as a Historic Site.  We actually were here for several hours and hated to go.

We drove back into Menard and ate at Ojedas on Hwy 377 north of town on the advice of Nancy.  Not a dining mecca but good food!   Then we drove into town and found the Historic Ditch Walk.

Historic Irrigation Ditch in Menard

Seems as if the Indians had used the springs in this area for irrigation and when people began to settle here they retained the “ditch” as it runs right thru the middle of town.  In many cases it actually runs beside their yards and the County Courthouse.  And it has stone retaining walls built of native rock.  Never know what you’ll find out and about.

Then we drove down FM 2291 toward Dove, TX and back into Junction.  All along these roads as we drove all day we saw so many yellow wildflowers it was as if the whole country side was littered with gold.  Later in the day after the wind calmed down we got some really good pictures.  We also saw a few historic German two story homes built in the late 1800s that are still occupied by families of the original settlers some of which were stationed at Fort McKavett.  It was a great day!

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