The last several months have been hard on me. I had a disagreeable demi-boss (middle-middle management, dontcha love it); plus we got a pile of emergency deadlines, one right after the other; then said demi-boss took another job and left us shorthanded during all this crazy shit; and in the middle of all that, the new learning management system (LMS) we’d been pushing deadlines for was sidelined because the new student information system (SIS) that was supposed to handle it still hasn’t come up to scratch after three years of investment in trying to get the thing to work, so we had to return to the old LMS, thereby wasting a good deal of our “emergency” work. And deadlines, and deadlines, and deadlines….
Even though there’s been stuff going on in my life--my sister moving out, refurnishing some of the rooms in what is now my sole house, signing on to take care of the Friends of the Library membership list, then resigning when I couldn’t hack it along with my frickin’ deadlines--I’ve had neither time nor energy to blog or, really, do anything but work, eat, sleep, and work some more.
After about nine months without a break (except for a day off sick now & then), I was burning out fast. And I can’t afford to do that, because I’ve got a big fat mortgage now and I don’t qualify for retirement for another year.
Anyway, I was in desperately need of vacation, and as soon as the last deadline was met, I took it. Just a week, but better’n a poke in the eye.
I wanted to go somewhere out of town, where I’d be away from computers. But since my last vacation trip (Ruidoso) was a bit of a bust, I didn’t want to commit too much time to an out-of-town trip, lest it suck and my vac time be wasted. So after poking around online a bit, looking at places fairly close, I decided on Fredericksburg, TX, for just two days. I’d been wanting to see it for a while now and I found some nice-looking cottages, even if they were country-cutesy. As long as the bed frame wasn’t broken at one corner, sloped at a weird angle, and covered with a rubber sheet (as in the Ruidoso cabin), I’d be OK. Even if I slept badly away from home (as I usually do), it would only be for two nights.
So I scheduled my cat-sitter, packed my hat, walking stick, and little camera, and took off on the Monday of vac week. I came back on Wednesday, and it was a very nice trip, even though I didn’t sleep just terribly well. (Definitely couldn’t blame the bed for my insomnia this time!) I had a nice long drive, saw pretty things (including elk up close!), walked in the woods, took a lot of pictures, read, and rested. And when I got back home, I still had four days to kick around, sleeping late and doing whatever I wanted.
My drive to Fredericksburg took me through Ballinger right around lunch o’clock, by my tummy, so I stopped at the Main Street Soda Fountain/Sandwich Shop (not sure what it’s officially called). The building was originally a bank when it was built in 1905, and went through a lot of changes over the years (see http://www.reporternews.com/news/big-country/big-country-journal-whatever-you-call-ballinger-sandwich-shop-locals-know-who-to-write-the-checks--e-349420501.html). I sat in a booth by this stained-glass window and had to post a shot of it to Facebook (taken with my smartphone, so it’s a bit shaky).
Ballinger is possibly the whitest town in Texas. According to the waitress (who told me her entire life story while I was eating my hamburger), her adopted son, who is black (she & hubby are white), just started elementary school, making him the first black student there in 16 years. Holy cow! And they’re from Dallas, so that was a massive culture shock.
I didn’t see much of the town, but what I saw was nice-looking. This statue of Charles H. Noyes was right across the street from the sandwich shop. Here’s some info about it--rather a sad story: http://www.texasescapes.com/FEATURES/Coppini_statue_ballinger/statue_ballinger_tx.htm.
A little way down the road from Ballinger is Paint Rock, the Concho County seat, where I saw this gorgeous courthouse, built in 1886. According to TexasEscapes.com (http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasPanhandleTowns/Paint-Rock-Texas-Concho-County-Courthouse.htm), the style of architecture is French Second Empire (I would’ve said Victorian, but what do I know) and it was constructed using “rusticated” stone from a nearby quarry.
The pink granite marker in front of the courthouse is part of a string of markers erected during the 1936 Texas Centennial. For y’all non-Texans, that was the 100-year anniversary of Texas independence (from Mexico) as the Republic of Texas (a sovereign nation that lasted all of 10 years, but my god, Texans never let you forget it). The marker reads, “CONCHO COUNTY. Created February 1, 1858, organized March 11, 1879. Named for the river which the Spaniards called the Concho because of the many shells that they found in it.” I know you were dying to learn that.
On the bottom of the circle, it says “Restored 1964”; I think that refers to the marker, not the courthouse. Googling turns up references to other Texas Centennial markers being restored after having been chipped, shot at, and otherwise damaged over the years since their installation.
Right across the street from the courthouse is this old bank building. The faded white lettering is pure turn-of-the-century (the previous one, I mean!). I imagine it’s been a long ol’ time since this place operated as a bank.
Fredericksburg, Country Inn & Cottages
I got to Fredericksburg around 4pm, I think. The cottage (one room & a bath) was quite nice, with a BIG bed (in good repair, thankfully). It was part of a dog-trot; here’s the explanation of that from their website (http://www.mycountryinn.com/cottages-rooms.html):
Our cottages #7-17 are "dogtrot" cabins and do not “stand alone”. “Dogtrots” (also called a dog run) originated in the early 1800’s. Early settlers to the area brought with them Southern customs, to include how their homes were constructed. Made either of logs or rough-sawn lumber, it consisted of two separate areas under one roof, but separated by a wide gallery that divided the two areas. This area, also called a “breezeway”, provided the family with cool breezes in the summer, and was used by the family as a porch of sorts.
This was my roommate for two nights: a rather ratty-looking stuffed boar. Definitely had to put a shot of that on Facebook, too. My mother said, “I think I’d throw a towel over it.” LOL!
Before I had all my gear stowed, I heard an elk bugle behind the cottage! It’s a strange sound for such a big critter--very high pitched. Here’s an example (not from Fredericksburg) on YouTube: https://youtu.be/pYzWmKlZtrU. I ran out with my camera, and there they were behind a game fence, right behind the dog-trot cottages!
Here’s one of my fellow vacationers trying to lose an eyeball to that big elk’s sharp antlers. He jabbed them at her with definite intent. The sign nearby clearly says that elk are dangerous; literature from Country Inn & Cottages says to stay five feet away from the fence, which is good advice. These are wild elk, not little fawns in a petting zoo.
Here’s a female; she looks like she has something to say, but I didn’t hear anything. Maybe she had a mouthful of grass.
The bull elk bugled some more while I was taking pictures.
Then he tossed his antlers around in the tall weeds.
These photos were taken with my phone--yep, for Facebook, again. I swear that’s the only “computering” on this trip.
I went back to Fredericksburg proper and had dinner at the Auslander Biergarten and Restaurant--just a salad, so I can’t really report on its cuisine, and I don’t drink “bier”.
When I came back from dinner, these guys were strolling around the grounds: spotted deer, axis deer, or chital (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chital). An icky hunting site says, “The state of Texas has more Axis Deer than India which is the country of origin for these magnificent deer.” They were very skittish, staying well away from humans and their cars, which is why my photos aren’t too good--they were taken from a very long distance with the sun going down as the deer foraged in the meadow.
I went back behind the dot-trot again to visit the elk. All you can see of this fellow are his antlers, bathed in gold by the early evening light.
Meanwhile, my cat Minnie was having her every need catered to by our excellent cat-sitter, who took these photos. I edited out some of the background in the close-up because it’s Minnie’s best portrait yet.