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Luckenbach, Texas

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

“Let’s get out tonight, do somethin’ different.” Whoever said it, who knows, but the reaction was universal.

I am camped with a bunch of RVers who usually fade at this hour of the afternoon for naps or whatever. But with this crowd, nothing trumps an adventure. Everybody wanted in. So we brought chairs and collected under an RV awning, as if it were a revival tent, to get some inspiration.

Most of us have been in this RV park for a few days. We have done the conventional: visited the LBJ Ranch and Johnson City, a half hour from here, and the National Museum of the Pacific War that’s here in Fredericksburg. Some of us
made the trek up the pink granite monolith known as Enchanted Rock, north of town. Elevated 425 feet above the surrounding terrain, it’s a great way to see the expanse of this semi-arid Texas Hill Country.

Today a few of us went out to get fresh peaches. Starting in June, this area around Fredericksburg is big peach country. At some places you can pick them off the tree, or you can stop at roadside stands and pick from a basket.

Under the awning, warm bags of microwave popcorn were circulating. A pitcher of iced mystery drink was making its second round by the time we reached a consensus: What we do has to be outside, live music would be nice … but beer is a must.

Tim, our country-music connoisseur – he wears nothing but Willie Nelson T-shirts from Farm Aid concerts – stood up and announced that we were within 10 miles of just that place. “It’s world famous,” he insisted, incredulous at our blank stares. “Luckenbach, Texas … Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson both did the song and have brought the world to its door.”

“I wouldn’t go THAT far.” One of our history buffs spoke up. He used to be a school teacher. “Luckenbach started as a
trading post, catering to the Comanche Indians and immigrant farmers from Germany. In the 1800s, Luckenbach got a post office, a general store, eventually a school and became a regular town. In the 1970s, it went kaput.”

We hung on his every word. “It was sold to some local characters. One was named Hondo Crouch, hard to forget that one. He appointed himself mayor and a lady friend sheriff. Then he started appointing his buddies as foreign ambassadors. You get the drift.”

Tim continued: “The general store is still there with a beer joint attached. Few years ago they put up a dance hall. And they started having the Luckenbach World’s Fair and the Mud Dauber Festival.

“What makes the place,” Tim said, “are these huge oak trees … for playing dominos under, making music under, drinking beer and all that.”

At 7 o’clock, packed into three pickups, we headed down Ranch Road following Tim. “Don’t look for road signs,” he told us, “they’ve all been stolen.”

The signs still attached to the general store have lost their messages – seriously aged and scrawled on with initials by those wanting immortality. The U.S Post Office sign, perched on the tin roof over the porch, survives untouched. The same can’t be said, however, for the post office – it disappeared with the town.

But who needs the town when you have a warm summer breeze and country music. Out back of the store, under the spreading oaks, local musicians sit in for awhile, wander off and then come back again – like it were an all-night poker game.

Welcome to America’s Outback.

 Bill’s e-mail address: [email protected]

 Next month Bill will be in Minnesota.

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