Blanco, Texas ReDux: RRBMWR Head For the Hills

In what may be the last of our annual treks to the tiny hamlet of Blanco, Texas, Red River BMW riders braved rain, ice that cost money!, and television stations that seemed to offer only documentaries on Ghenghis Khan... but managed to have big fun anyway.

18 brave souls from Shreveport, Henderson, Monroe and environs made the trek to the Hill Country the weekend of May 13-16, despite ominous-sounding television weathercasters promising DANGER (or at the very least a bad case of dampness) from rain, hail, wind and other meteorological nasties. Interestingly enough, no two media weather outlets could agree on the percentage of possible nastiness, leading the Red River BMW riders to do what we do best, which was to ignore them almost completely.

No, I joke. In truth we all did the very UNUSUAL thing of actually listening to the forecasts, which led several members including Steve and me and Dan and Patsy to drive down in our cages. That turned out to be a stroke of very good thinking on the Friday of the Blanco expedition, which turned out to be on and off rainy, mostly on. In fact, the area got so much rain that the tiny Blanco rivulet that runs behind the settlement turned river-ish.

The dreary skies did not dampen the enthusiasm of the gathered crowd, which included newbie-Blanco-ites Nancy (girlfriend of Drew) and Tanya (girlfriend of David).


Both ladies get thumbs-up and two double snaps for being fun to be around no matter what the conditions, and willing to sit and listen politely to big whopping motorcycle tales without making faces OR laughing out loud.

Sadly, there was a fatality on one of the nights of deluge. The club-purchased traveling circus tent was smote by a Wrath of God (or a highish wind... whichever) and was rendered severely broken. The combined skills of Captain Bob, Bruccini and Pipefitter David could not bring the tent frame back to life, so after several beers, they just quit trying.

That tent has traveled to at least one corner of the globe with the club, so parting was sweet sorrow. Capt. Bob and Lt. Bruce gave the tent a proud send-off to the Dumpster in the Sky.            

The rainy Friday gave club members the chance to go off on their own. Dan and Patsy took the car to Fredericksburg to check out possible accommodations for next year, Reggie and Rodney braved the threatening skies and went riding, still others hung out at the settlement and relaxed, and Steve and I went exploring, heading just north of Blanco to a little fork in the road called Johnson City.

Johnson City, much like Rock Ridge in the movie "Blazing Saddles", was initially inhabited by only people with the surname "Johnson."  Andrew Jackson Johnson located in the region as early as 1858, giving rise to a veritable smorgasbord of Johnsons, which eventually included our 36th President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Both the Johnson ranch and the Johnson National Historical Park are located in Johnson City, but that was not what piqued our interest. What did was a town landmark passed by anyone traveling from Johnson City to Fredericksburg on highway 290.

The giant E  D Mill  started off as a steam-powered cotton gin and gristmill, handling the corn and cotton grown in the area. In the early 1940’s the gin was sold and converted to a milling and grain operation, which did well until the late 1970’s. Several years ago it was sold again, to a consortium that took it in a completely different direction, subdividing it into restaurants, bars and art shacks. The Feed Mill was briefly listed on a website about the oddest American roadside locations because of "horrific" artwork that included giant clowns and paintings made of actual sets of dentures. It was into this danse of the macabre that Steve and I found ourselves on a gloomy and dark afternoon.

The feed mill is posted, though not well. If you enter from the side street, there are no signs at all...only  spooky paths into long-abandoned buildings that beckon you to enter, and perhaps, to stay.

After a few minutes of exploring, the area took on the feel of something out of "Silence of the Lambs". The shoes hanging from the tin shanties on the side screamed Buffalo Bill, moths and all. By then, the creeping chill that had started at our necks had spread and we spotted the warning.

It was time to leave---quickly--- and return to the peaceful normalcy of Blanco and its reallyreally big Live Oak, which holds the honor of being the co-owner of the title in Blanco County. Not just every tree can be almost larger than every other tree within several square miles! Blanco has REASON to brag.

After our disturbingly weird Friday, Saturday was a bright and welcome change. The morning broke with blazingly blue skies and temperate conditions, just perfect for drying off the bikes and riding! The Abrams bros. joined Bob and Bruce and headed to Austin for some java and BMW trinkets. Drew and Nancy took off for some serious miles and everyone else scattered to the compass.

Steve and I headed to Bandera for some pancakes as big as Steve's head and to marvel at the well-behaved dog who sat and stayed, quiet and proper, while her mistress ate breakfast inside. Had that dog owner gone to the bathroom, Poochie would be in Shreveport now, spirited away in an R1200GS BMW bike bag.

Sadly, the dognapping was not to be, so we took off sans dog, and hit the beautiful roads of southcentral Texas. The weekend in Blanco ended all too soon and Sunday morning, the travelers made their way back to hither and yon, pausing only for breakfast at the highly-rated but surprisingly average Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls. All in all, another wonderful outing filled with great roads, great stories and great friends.

Next year, Fredericksburg?

Some things learned on this years' outing:

  • A weather report of 30% chance of rain means that 30% of all rain on the planet will fall on you.

  • Whether you drink one Diet Coke or 500 beers, you still owe the same ante to the snack fund.

  • The satellite dish at Blanco Settlement is powered by a small monkey riding a bicycle...and he gets to choose the channels.

  • Steve won the award for strangest purchase, a 19-somethingsomething Mobylette motor-bicle, found at an antique shop near Fredericksburg.

  • What happens in Luckenbach stays in Luckenbach.

  • Get out your wallet, because Ice is not free!

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