by Robert "Trip" Hilliard

Every year, I try to plan and execute a trip to the Texas Hill Country. This year I was able to squeeze two trips in...two weeks apart. Life just doesn't get any better.

Hill Country Trip #1



Monday, September 22, 2008 - This year, I invited three of my friends from the Blue Knights to go with me to the Hill Country. Richard Cashell, Jim Holt and Kenny Ray. We met up at 7:45 a.m. just South of Tyler on Hwy. 155. We gassed up and took off. We traveled down to Palestine by way of Hwy. 315. Then once in Palestine, we hooked up with Hwy. 79 that took us all the way down to Round Rock, Texas. There, we stopped to eat lunch at the local Whataburger.

After getting back on the road, we traveled through Round Rock to Hwy 1431 where we kept going West. Hwy. 1431 is an excellent road to ride even though it can get crowded with traffic. At about 1:30 p.m., we arrived in Marble Falls where we stopped to eat some pie at the Bluebonnet Cafe.

After eating and fueling, we hit the road again. We traveled through Johnson City and stopped briefly in Luckenbach. Richard and Jim drank a Shiner Bock while I looked at the custom bricks lining the sidewalk by the store and found a brick in dedication to a friend of mine, Chuck Burt who died in a motorcycle accident earlier this year.

After a while we got back on the road and traveled through Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Medina and on to Leakey, Texas by way of RR 337. We arrived at the D'Rose Inn around 5:30 p.m. Unloaded our gear and went to eat supper. It had been a great day on the road. We put in about 400 miles. Tomorrow, we start riding the Hill Country.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008 - We got up and ate breakfast about 8:00 a.m. and started our trip for the day on several of the best roads the Hill Country has to offer. We left Leakey and traveled North on RR 336 until we got to Hwy 41. We then went West on 41 and then went South on RR 335. RR 335 is a colorful road, sporting water bridges and pecan trees as far as the eye can see. We went through a small town called Vance and then headed North on Hwy 55 to Rocksprings.

In Rocksprings, we stopped and gassed up and ate lunch at a local burger place. We then headed West and hooked up with Hwy 674 which took us South all the way to Bracketville. Before we got into Bracketville, we stopped and toured the Alamo Village. A little bit about Alamo Village: Alamo Village is Texas' most active and versatile movie set and is also one of the largest and most complete (no false fronts here) backlots in the world. Built for John Wayne's The Alamo, Alamo Village has played host to more than 200 major feature films, TV movies, mini-series,documentaries, commercials, and music videos.

Barbarosa with Willie Nelson, Lonesome Dove with Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, The Good Old Boys starring Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, and Matt Damon, Bad Girls with Andie MacDowell and Drew Barrymore and the modern day millennial comedy thriller, The Bullfighter with Willem Defoe have all been filmed here.

Why here? Because Kinney County rancher and businessman James T. "Happy" Shahan convinced John Wayne's Batjac Productions to film The Alamo here. Since, hundreds of other production companies have used our one-of-a-kind set located in the middle of a 30 square mile working ranch. Alamo Village is open to the public (except 5 days during Christmas). Folks may stroll through the Alamo compound plus there are over 18 walk-in buildings to see including the John Wayne Museum, wagon room, jail, bank, church, Indian store, Trading post, and Cantina (full service restaurant) where there is cold "root" beer on draught!

In the summer, there are four shows daily, kicking off with a music show inside the Cantina followed by a "fun for the whole family" gunfight depicting the Old West. There's something for the movie lover and the movie maker!

Once we left Alamo Village, we headed back to Camp Wood and then took RR 337 East to Leakey. After getting back, we ate dinner at the local Italian restaurant and then settled in for the evening playing dominoes under the pavilion at the D'Rose Inn. Tomorrow, we hit the Southeastern part of the Hill Country.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008 - We woke up and hit the road again to see more of the Hill Country. One thing we did notice while there was that the butterflies were migrating. They were beautiful, but were EVERYWHERE! Also, RR 337, considered to be the best road in the Hill Country was under construction, so we had to re-route all of our routes and go around 337. What a shame.

First stop for the day was Garner State Park. Garner sits on the Frio River, which is a spring fed river. The water is beautiful and cold. Garner personnel were gracious enough to allow us to view the park for 30 minutes without charging us. We rode through the park and stopped at the river, then proceeded through the park and out the exit. After leaving Garner, we headed to Utopia for breakfast.

After eating one of the best breakfasts we've ever had at the Lost Maples Cafe, we headed South on 187 until we got to Hwy 90. We then went East on 90 to Hondo. After gassing up, we headed North on hwy 462 to hwy 470. Then we went East into Bandera where we stopped to get something to drink and take a look at the courthouse. After leaving Bandera, we went back on 470 heading West all the way to 187 and back through Utopia and on hwy 1050 to hwy 83.

There we went North on 83 into Leakey. Once we arrived in Leakey, we decided to cook out for dinner instead of buying it. We went to the local mercantile store, bought steaks and potatoes and cooked out on the pavilion at the D'Rose Inn. After eating, we played 42 for a while, then hit the sack. Tomorrow, we ride the Northeastern part of the Hill Country.



Thursday, September 25, 2008 - After eating breakfast and watching the sun come up, we all headed out to see the Northern part of the Hill Country. We rode North on 83 until we got to hwy 39. We then went East on 39 and then South on 187 to the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum in Vanderpool. Once there, we found that the museum was closed. However, one of the owners came out and said she would open for us to view everything for the regular entrance fee. So, we obliged.

After seeing all we could see at the museum, we then went back up North to 39 and went East to Hunt and Ingram, Texas. There we stopped for something to drink and take some pictures along the Guadalupe River. Some of the best riding can be done along 39 and 27 in Hunt and Ingram. As you ride, the river lazily wanders right next to you as if to beg you to come in.

Eventually, we traveled up hwy 1340 and stopped to view Stonehenge II, Texas' version of Stonehenge. After viewing Stonehenge, we then continued up 1340 to hwy 41 and west to hwy 83 and South to Leakey. Once we arrived in Leakey, we stopped at the mercantile store again and bought some skirt steak and all the fixin's for fajitas.

We cooked out again in the pavilion and played 42 until we couldn't stay awake anymore. Tomorrow, we pack up and head for home. We had ridden almost all of the best roads that Texas can offer on a motorcycle.



Friday, September 26, 2008 - Well, as much as we hated it, time had come for us to go. We ate breakfast at a German Cafe, watched the sun come up, then hit the road at about 7:45 a.m. We basically went back home the same way we came, but with a little twist to the North. All four of us enjoyed the Hill Country greatly. We got home safe and sound about 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. that afternoon. We traveled almost 1,400 miles for this trip and we loved every minute of it.








Hill Country Trip #2


When Dale McCorkle asked me if I wanted to ride to Cedar Park, Texas and ride the Hill Country Flyer...I said, why of course!



Friday, October 10, 2008 - I got on the road this Friday morning about 7:30 a.m. hoping to get from Lindale to Hillsboro by 9:30 a.m. Didn't miss it by much. When I rode into the McDonald's at hwy 22 and I-35 in Hillsboro, Dale McCorkle and his friend Randy Self were already waiting on me. Our plan for the day was to ride down to Marble Falls where we had reservations at the Hill Country Inn. But before we got to Marble Falls, we decided we would ride the Willow City Loop, which Dale and I have always planned on doing, but never got to. After we left Hillsboro, we traveled along hwy 22 going West.

We took hwy 219 through Cranfills Gap and on Westward to Hamilton, Texas. There we took hwy 2005 down to Goldthwaite, then we proceeded South on hwy 16 through Lampasas. We continued on to Llano were we stopped and ate lunch at Cooper's BBQ. Dale and I had always wanted to eat at Cooper's also, so eating at Coopers and riding the Willow City Loop was going to be a milestone for he and I. One of our good friends, Chris Happ also met us at Cooper's and we all ate BBQ until we could hardly walk out of there.

After eating, we all rode down hwy 16 to the Willow City Loop. We made our way through the loop and on hwy 1323 going East to hwy 281. We stopped on hwy 281 and said goodbye to Chris and his brother-in-law and then it was on to Marble Falls. We checked in our hotel and then went to the Bluebonnet Cafe for some of the best pie in this part of the country. Tomorrow, we ride to Cedar Park, Texas to ride the Hill Country Flyer.

Saturday, October 11, 2008 - We had to be at the train depot by 9:30 a.m. and board the train by 10:00 a.m. So, we ate breakfast at the Bluebonnet and headed East to Cedar Park on hwy 1431. It was a little hard to find the depot even though Dale and I both had our GPS's. But we finally found it and loaded ourselves onto the train.

A little bit about the train...The six P70 coach cars were constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad in the 1920s, and saw use in commuter service until the 1960s. The cars were acquired by Mr. Arthur Boone in 1990, refurbished by ASTA volunteers, and released for service in 1992. One of the coaches, 1726, was converted into a concession car. Snacks and souvenirs are offered for sale in the concession car.

Previously equipped with steam heat and rudimentary air conditioning, these features have been removed. The coaches do, however, have windows that open and close. The cars seat 72 passengers on upholstered roll-over seats. The coaches are handicap accessible by way of a wheelchair lift available at all stops and an on board transfer chair. The generosity of the Lower Colorado River Authority has allowed ASTA to continue to maintain and operate these historic cars, and in honor of that, they have named each of the day coaches after one of the lakes in the LCRA's chain of Highland Lakes.

We had an excellent day riding the train from Cedar Park through Leander and Bertram to Burnet and back. While we stopped in Burnet, we ate lunch at a burger place, took a stroll through a park where several old western stagecoaches and cooking demonstrations were taking place. Then, before boarding the train to come back to Cedar Park, we watched a gun fight put on by the local Gun Fighter's Club. We boarded the train and got back to Cedar Park by 4:00 p.m. I would recommend the ride to anyone.

   


Sunday, October 12, 2008 - Well, it was time for all of us to head home. Dale had to be back home early for an event he had to attend that afternoon, so he and Randy headed North up 281 toward Dallas. I, on the other hand, decided to go to Enchanted Rock Park which is something I had always wanted to see, but never had the time. So, after saying our goodbyes, I headed down South to the Enchanted Rock park by way of Willow City.

The park was beautiful. The biggest dome of granite I've ever seen. I understand that there are two domes of granite in the U.S. One is in Georgia and the other in Texas.

After spending about 30 minutes in the park and viewing the rock, I started my long trek home. I traveled just over 400 miles this day. Pulled into my driveway at 5:30 p.m. For the three day trip, I traveled about 900 miles. Loved every minute of it.



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