One last weekend

Finally we seem to be catching up to current events. This past weekend was our last weekend before we take off to Gatlinburg, TN for a Johnson reunion. On Saturday we spent the evening with my parents, as my moms sister Mary was in town. My uncle Dick and aunt Vicki, along with my cousin Dan and his wife Jen, and their new baby Jacob. I made my parents make some hamburgers since I’ve been craving them since Memorial Day. They turned out pretty good. I think mine were better though. 😉 We had a nice night of chatting and catching up.

IMG_7182.JPGOn Sunday we caught back up with Cory and Annie. We said we’d continue our Geocaching this weekend so that’s what we did. We meet at 10, and went for some breakfast. This time I was much more prepared. My gps already loaded with all coordinates, and I had laptop as a backup. We went over the plan at breakfast, and afterwards we went on the hunt. There were two caches I really wanted to try to grab. Each one had a travel bug that I would like to take to TN. We found both fairly easily, but neither one had the travel bugs in them that I wanted. One did have a Navy Travel Bug, which was a navy jet, that wanted to travel more miles than the Air force jet. Since my dad and most my family had been in the Navy I had to take it with us. It didn’t want to be held for more than 24hrs so we stashed it in the last cache of the day. I think we did pretty good for still being new at this. We tried for 13-14, and we found 9 of them. Gwendolyn actually found her first nano cache! I couldn’t believe how small it was, no bigger than a half an inch! Unscrew the top though, and find a rolled up sheet of paper of all the past finders. We finished the day with a stop at Carvel ice cream. Then we were amazed as Cory at two large cones. And I thought I loved ice cream.

Like I mentioned earlier, next week we’ll be in TN. We are going to head out on Saturday and try to make it to Memphis. Then Sunday morning we will visit Graceland. I’m not much of an Elvis fan, but Gwendolyn would like to see it, and it does have some sort of draw to it. It must be because I used to listen to Paul Simons Graceland over and over as a child. 🙂 After Graceland we’ll head up to Pigeon Forge, where our cabin actually is. Pigeon Forge is just a few miles away from Gatlinburg, but is more of a shopping strip, where as Gatlinburg feels more of a small town. Don’t get me wrong though, Gatlinburg is 90% shopping also, but much nicer. 🙂

While there, we plan to partake in all the usual tourist stuff. Shopping during the day, and mini-golf every night, along with ice cream. We’ll also visit the Aquarium and Ripleys Believe it or Not museum. What I won’t be partaking in, is Dolly Wood. I’ve managed to not go the past 3-4 times in Gatlinburg, and I don’t plan to go now. What I’m really looking forward to though, is a ride through the Smokey Mountains. We are taking our motorcycles, so we can enjoy one of the best roads in the US. Its known as the Tail of the Dragon, or Deals Gap. It has 318 curves in 11miles. It borders the Smokey Mountains on the South West side and crosses over North Carolina and Tennessee. It will be one hell of a ride.

Also while we are there, we’ll be a an hour or two away from Patrick, so we’ll go visit him in his new house. We should have internet access at the cabin, so hopefully I’ll make a post or two while there. As for the rest of this week and weekend, don’t expect much else, we gotta get packing.

Texas Ranger Museum Tour

Texas Ranger Museum Tour

The Texas Ranger Museum Tour is a ride to Waco to visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. The group departs from Round Rock and travels to Waco on the secondary highways east of I-35. The group has lunch in Waco at Cricket’s Grill, followed by visiting the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum. Afterwards, the group returns to Round Rock, using the same highways used to get to Waco, with a small side trip on some back roads west of Granger.

Vital Statistics

Approximate distance: 209 miles
Approximate time required: 8 hours
Date we rode this route: 2/21/04

Cautionary Notes

After Temple, you head NE on 438 to Belfalls, where you turn right onto 935. Immediately after turning onto 935, there is a 20 mph curve, which requires extra caution.
On the return route, you turn left in Weir and travel on County Road 120. There are several 90-degree turns with no shoulders. Use caution when negotiating these curves.

The Route

Meet at the McDonald’s at I-35 and 3406 (Old Settler’s Blvd), in north Round Rock.
North on the I-35 access road.
Right on Chandler Road (114 / 1431).
Left on 1460.
Right on the Georgetown Inner Loop.
Right on 29.
Left on 95, to Temple.
After crossing under 190, 95 becomes Loop 363.
Break and refuel at the Shell/Wendy’s at Loop 363 and I-35.
Backtrack on Loop 363, 2 miles to 438.
Left on 438, to Belfalls.
Right on 935.

Caution: watch for the 20 mph curve immediately after getting on to 935.

Left on US 77, to Waco.
Right on TX 6 / Loop 340.
Left on University Parks.
Cross under I-35.
Continue for a few blocks to Franklin Avenue.
Left on Franklin.
Travel south on Franklin to 2nd Street.
Immediately after crossing 2nd Street, turn left into the parking lot.
Lunch at Cricket’s Grill.
After lunch, backtrack on University Parks to I-35.
Go under I-35, and turn left onto the north bound access road.
Immediately after you turn left on the access road, turn right into the Texas Ranger Museum driveway.
Visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.
Exit the south side of the parking lot, turning left on the First Street Cemetary drive.
Work your way over to the traffic light at University Parks (you can see the traffic light as you head in that direction).
Left on University Parks.
Right on Texas 6 / Loop 340.
Left on US 77.
Right on 935.
Left on 438, to Temple.
Right on Loop 363, to I-35.
Break and refuel at the Shell/Wendy’s at Loop 363 and I-35.

(Riders who are short on time can head home on I-35 from here.)

Backtrack south/east on Loop 363.
After crossing under 190, Loop 363 becomes 95.
Continue south on 95, to Granger.
Right on 971, to Weir.
Left on 120 (same intersection as 1105).

Caution: watch for the 90-degree, low speed curves.

Right on 29.
Left on the Georgetown Inner Loop.
Left on 1460, to Round Rock.
Right on Old Settler’s Blvd (same intersection as 113).
West on Old Settler’s Blvd to the McDonald’s at I-35 (starting point of this route.

Tour Notes

Go to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum Web page for more information about the museum.
Go to the Cricket’s Grille Web page for more information about the lunch location, including the menu.

Fredericksburg Bed & Breakfast

Fredericksburg Bed & Breakfast

The Fredericksburg Bed & Breakfast ride is a trip through the Hill Country to Fredericksburg. The afternoon consists of shopping and sightseeing, followed by the group splitting up tp go to their respective inns. Sunday morning the people regroup, ride to Sister Creek Vineyards in Sisterdale, and make a leisurely trip back through the Hill Country to Austin.

Vital Statistics

Approximate distance: 244 miles
Approximate time required: 2 days
Date we rode this route: 2/22/03

Cautionary Notes

Willow City Loop, and the small roads on day two, have a lot of gravel and road defects. Observe posted speed limits, and use caution when turning at intersections.
Be sure to get gas in Marble Falls on day one, as there are no more facilities until you reach Fredericksburg.

The Route

Day One (128 miles)
Meet at the Cedar Park McDonalds at 183 and 1431.
West on 1431.
Right on Bagdad Road to Liberty Hill.
Left on 1869.
Left on 1174.
Right on 1431 to Marble Falls.
Break and refuel in Marble Falls.
South on 281.
Right on 1323.
When 1323 turns left in Willow City, go straight ahead to enter the Willow City Loop.
Loop around to 16.
Right on 16.
Left on 965 to Fredericksburg.
Left on Main Street (290).
Right on Llano Street.
Travel 1 block and park in the bank parking lot on the right side of the street.
Walk back to Main Street, turn right, to The Brewery (Fredericksburg Brewing), at the end of the block.
Shopping and dinner on your own, followed by making your way to your Bed & Breakfast inn.
Day Two (116 miles)
Meet at the bank parking lot (Llano Street).
East on 290.
Right on 1376 through Luckenbach.
Continue south on 1376 to Sisterdale.
Vist the Sister Creek Vineyards.
Continue south on 1376.
Left on 473.
Left (north) on 281.
In Blanco, immediately after crossing the river, stop at the Texaco at 281 and State Park Rd 23 for fuel and a break.
Continue north on 281 several blocks to 4th Street (165).
Right on 4th Street (165).
A few blocks after crossing the river, 165 turns left.
Left on 165, to Henly.
Right on 290.
Left on 188 (Martin Rd).
When it appears that Martin Road has a “Y”, bear right.
Left on 187 (McGregor Lane).
Right on 101 (Fitzhugh Rd).
Left on 12.
Right on 3238.
Right on 71 to Bee Cave.
Left on 620.
In the Lakeline Mall area, stop at the McDonalds at 620 and Pecan Parkway (end of ride).

Tour Notes

Willow City Loop has some of the most spectacular scenery in Central Texas. Take time to stop and look at the view, and to get some memorable photgraphs.
Brewery Restaurant – 245 East Main Street in Fredericksburg, (830) 997-1646.
Sister Creek Vineyards – 1142 Sisterdale Road (FM 1376) in Sisterdale, (830) 324 – 6704.

Gruene Grist Mill

Gruene Grist Mill

Gruene (pronounced “green”) is on the northwest side of New Braunfels, and is a popular destination for shoppers because of its many quaint shops and great eateries. One of their best known restaurants is the Grist Mill, which is a large place with a comprehensive menu. This route begins in Oak Hill, and follows true back roads which provide terrific views of the Hill Country. After shopping and lunch at the Grist Mill Restaurant, the route returns to Oak Hill along the same scenic roads we followed on the way to Gruene.

Vital Statistics

Approximate distance: 102 miles
Approximate time required: TBD
Date we rode this route: 4/23/05

Cautionary Notes

Some of the roads have some rough areas and deterioration on the ride side of the lane.
TX 150 in particular has a number of rough edges and several low water crossings.

The Route

Meet at the Jim’s Restuarant in Oak Hill (SW Austin), at the US 290 / TX 71 “Y” intersection.
West on 290, only approx. 1 mile.
Left on 1826.
When 1826 ends, left on 150.
When 150 ends, right on 3237, to Wimberley.
Left on 12.
When 12 ends at TX 32, break and refuel at the Diamond Shamrock.
West on 32.
Left on CR 215.
Left on 306, to New Braunfels.
Right on Hunter Road.
Park near Hunter Road and Gruene Road, and have lunch at the Grist Mill Restaurant.
After lunch and shopping, backtrack on Hunter to 306.
Refuel as needed at Hunter and 306.
Left on 306.
Right on Purgatory Road / CR 215.
Right on 32.
Left on 12, to Wimberley.
Right on 3237.
Left on 150.
Right on 1826.
Right on 290, To Oak Hill.
Head for home by your preferred route.
Those who are looking for the shortest way home can head north on I-35 from Gruene. To get to I-35 from Gruene, backtrack on Hunter to 306, then turn right (east) to I-35.

Tour Notes

The Grist Mill’s menu can be viewed at http://www.gristmillrestaurant.com/.
This route is relatively short, but plan this as a full day, to allow plenty of time for shopping.

Stonehenge in the Hill Country

Stonehenge in the Hill Country

The Stonehenge in the Hill Country tour is a ride to Fredericksburg and Kerrville, followed by stopping in Hunt to visit Stonehenge II, a replica of the original Stonehenge. Stonehenge II is the same diameter as the original Stonehenge, but is only half as tall. There are also replicas of Easter Island statues. Following the Stonehenge visit, riders get to experience the great roads in the TX Highway 337 area (long option) or TX Highway 187 area (short option). Riders stay overnight in Kerrville, followed by riding more Hill Country Roads to Cedar Park.

Vital Statistics

Approximate distance: TX 337 option: 424 miles, TX 187 option: 341 miles
Approximate time required: 2 days
Date we rode this route: 5/3/03

Cautionary Notes

All of the roads SW of Kerrville have significant curves and elevation changes. That’s why it’s a mecca for motorcyclists. It’s also why it’s critical to watch the warning signs and to not overdrive your line of sight. The roads are challenging, and filled with riders pushing the limits.

The Route

NW Austin to Stonehenge II (128 miles)
Meet at the Jack in the Box restaurant on McNeil Road at 183 (Jollyville area).
South on 183.
South on MoPac (Loop 1).
West on 290.
Stop for a break and fuel in Dripping Springs, at 290 and 12.
Continue west on 290.
After Henly, turn right on 3232, to Pedernales Falls State Park.
At the state park entrance, turn left on 2766.
Turn right on 290, and continue west on 290.
Stop in Fredericksburg for lunch at the Fredericksburg Brewing Company.
South on 16 to Kerrville.
Right on 27 (Main Street).
Bear left onto 39.
Right on 1340.
Stop for a break at the gas station at 39 and 1340 (last break stop for a while – take advantage of it).
Continue on 1340, follow the bend, and stop at Stonehenge on the left.
Stonehenge to TX 337 Option (167 miles)
From Stonehenge, continue west on 1340.
Left on 41.
Left on 335.
Merge left onto 55.
Continue south on 55, to Camp Wood.
Left on 337, to Leakey.
Stop in Leakey at the Frio Motorcycle Stop for fuel and a break.
Continue east on 337 to Medina.
Left on 16 to Kerrville.
Stonehenge to TX 187 Option (84 miles)
From Stonehenge, backtrack to 39.
Right on 39.
Left on 187.
3 miles north of Vanderpool, stop at the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum.
Continue south on 187 to Vanderpool.
Left on 337.
Left on 16 to Kerrville.
Kerrville to Cedar Park (129 miles)
North on 16 to Fredericksburg
Left on 290.
Go west a few blocks, and turn right on 965.
North on 965 through Crabapple.
Cross over 16.
Left on 71.
Right on 3404.
Right on 1431.
Stop in Marble Falls for fuel and a break.
Continue east on 1431 to Cedar Park.

Tour Notes

The roads SW of Kerrville draw riders from near and far. When we rode this route, the ratio of bikes to cars on these roads was about 5:1. Expect fast sport riders to aggressively pass you, but also expect to see a lot of touring riders.
TX 337 is not a road for the faint of heart. It’s the ultimate road for experienced riders who want to experience significant elevation changes, tight switchbacks, high speed sweepers…. It’s a road for riders who are bored by the roads they normally ride.
This area is a mecca for riders, and also offers a variety of cultural events. If you plan to stay overnight in Kerrville, make your reservations well in advance to ensure you can get a room.
Fredericksburg Brewing Company: (830) 997-1646. Note that while this actually is a brewing company, they offer a full menu for family dining, and can accommodate groups.
Lone Star Motorcycle Museum: (830) 966-6103.