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ROADSIDE VENDOR: Looking for a farmer's market? Head for Luling. This is one of many such stands downtown on highways 183 and 90. You can't miss them unless you're colorblind.
                               

LULING TO PRAHA
HEADIN' OUT 
Story & Photos by IRA KENNEDY

Having neglected to take photos of the Blackland Prarie on our last trip, Ms. Intrepid relegated me to the passenger seat so I could concentrate on the job at hand. She should have known better...

Gruene Texas tourism, travel, lodging, restaurants, dining, shopping and historyo, I surrendered the driving part to Ms. Intrepid. Now you'd think I'd have some control over the trip since the map was now in my hands. But you'd be just as wrong as I was deluded. Seems she studied the map for weeks, deciding where we'd go, how we'd get there and so forth.   By the time we headed out she was like a force of nature. Might as well tell the wind which way to blow as debate the route with Ms. Intrepid.  So all I said, kinda quiet like was, "I hope there's an adult beverage in my future."  
       "Shiner," she said. "Spoetzl Brewery. Home of  Shiner Beer." (Seems she'd been researching this route -- and yours truly -- which left me at a decided disadvantage.)
       So Ms. Intrepid let me pretend to be the navigator as we turned toward Luling which was a long straight shot toward Interstate 10.
       Having nothing better to do I launched into my Luling stories which began with my watermelon buying trip with Uncle Bud Muse back in 1954, through my adventures in the Seed Spitting Contest during the Luling Watermelon Festival of 1973, clear through my ill-fated attempt to sell artsy stuff at the same festival in 1982.  By then we were there.
       Then we got lost.
       Naturally I started cussing the map which is useful if you want to go from one major town to another, but all the iddy-biddy roads, intersections and such are pure guesswork. However, I figured our way out before we piled up too much road behind us and soon we found our -- make that Ms. Intrepid's -- first site seeing detour.
      Palmetto State Park. (I camped there back in '82 and remember the event well.  Just as the sun set, the mosquitoes began to swarm like a flock of hummingbirds and the jillion or so frogs croaked loud and long all night.  As you might surmise that was a traumatic experience and returning to the park wasn't high on my must-do list.)
     After the open highway, the drive through the park pulls you into another world where thick stands of trees crowd the road and stretch out of swampland toward the sky. We pulled over to a wildlife viewing area and overlook  for a picture. 
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     I didn't spot any wildlife and this picture doesn't do justice to the wide expanse of Blackland Prarie stretched out before the viewer.  I had Ms. Intrepid stop one more time so I could take some swampy pictures. I reckon my brain hadn't kicked in good 'cause the picture I labored over didn't have a single palmetto anywhere. They're there, just not in the place I happened to stop.
       On our way out of the park we were headed to Gonzales. It looked like a simple drive from there to Hwy90 and Gonzales. Yea, right. We were on Parkroad 11 which turns into County Road 2091 after the intersection of CR 1586 in the wide spot called Ottine which is before six other intersections -- none of which were on the map. (I know this now because now I have a better map.)  Like I always say, "It's not the snake you see that bites you, but the one you don't see." 
       Anyway, I figured us for lost again but Ms. Intrepid, without even glancing at the map, said otherwise. To make good use of the time driving through more Blackland Prairie we pulled over so I could get a picture of one of the hundreds of wood-frame structures in an advanced state of decay that are scattered about the area. 
       Finally we saw the sign for Hwy 90 straight ahead.
       "See," she said. "I told you."
       "Turn left."
       "You sure?"
       You bet. I had the map! Besides it was either left or right so my odds were better than they had been for miles.

     PAGE 1: HEADIN' OUT  PAGE 2: GONZALES & SHINER 
PAGE 3: YOAKUM & SCHULENBURG  PAGE 4: PRAHA & HOME
LULING TO PRAHA: INTERACTIVE MAP
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Texas Hill Country Wine: Torrie de Pietra Vineyards and Winery near Fredericksburg Texas