Luckenbach, Texas. Every day there is some sort of music going on whether it is a jam session out back or a concert in the dance hall.
May 15 – May 31, 2019.
It was mid-May by the time we left New Mexico for our long journey back to the southeast. We’d done this trip once before – a long drive through Texas, stop in Louisiana to see my niece, back to the Carolinas to see Greg’s family and visit with a few friends before landing in Cabbagetown for a summer of house sitting and painting. But the timing of this year’s trip was a little different than our previous one. This time our journey through Texas would coincide with our wedding anniversary. Now we aren’t big on celebrating things like holidays, birthdays (Although my friends usually talk me into doing something for my birthday over the summer and we did have a nice dinner out with friends for Greg’s 60th birthday this past June), or anniversaries – especially since we went nomad, became poor, and have no place to keep gifts that can’t be consumed. But this anniversary was a bit of a milestone (10 years) and I thought it should be commemorated – especially since if I kept us on track we would hit Austin, TX on our wedding date.
In case you hadn’t picked up on it, Greg and I are music lovers. And Austin, TX has an amazing music scene. Since Greg rarely asks where we are going and I do all the navigating I figured I could direct him to Austin and surprise him with a night in the city. Although it was a bit more money than we usually spend camping ($35) I found an RV park right near downtown and made a reservation.
But then I thought that I could make the surprise even bigger and plan a whole musical journey through Texas. What’s going on in Lubbock (home of Buddy Holly)?, I wondered. I looked at the map for other musical meccas. I pulled out traveling resources and searched music venues and musical historical sights. And then I saw this place named Luckenbach, TX. It seemed to ring a bell. Perhaps there’s a song about it? They had a dance hall with live bands and several jam sessions every day.
We didn’t have time for Lubbock but I thought I could squeeze this Luchenbach place in the day before our anniversary.
As we drove by the sign for Luckenbach Greg remarked on it. I was right there is a song about this place. Surprise, I said, turn here, we are going to Luckenbach, TX, happy 10th anniversary!
* Click on pics to enlarge and view in a slide show.
One of the oldest settlements in this part of Texas, Luckenbach was first established in 1849 as a trading post.
The general store, post office and beer joint were opened in 1886 by August Engel, an itinerant preacher from Germany. Named for August’s daughter’s fiance, Albert Luckenbach, the Trading post catered to both pioneer farmers and Comanche Indians. For a while, the community included a steam-powered cotton gin, a blacksmith shop, and a school.
But over time the thriving town of Luckenbach faded. In 1970, Benno Engel, descendent from the original owners, retired as postmaster and put the town up for sale. it was purchased by Hondo Crouch and his friends, Guich Koock and Kathy Morgan. With Hondo at the lead they turned it into an old Texas playground for adults with “hug-ins”, a Luckenbach World’s Fair, a Ladies State Chili Bust, the Mud Dauber Festival, musical pickin’ parties, domino playing, and beer drinking.
In 1973, Texas country-rocker, Jerry Jeff Walker came to Luckenbach to record an album. The album was a hit and made Luckenbach a destination point for other musicians that heard it. Four years after Walker’s success, Bobby Emmons and Chips Moman wrote an ode to the town —“Luckenbach Texas (Back to the Basics)”. The song became a huge hit for Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson, bringing the fame of Luckenbach to people around the globe.
When we first arrived in Luckenbach Rusty the Rooster had just had a scrape with a dog and was in the bar recovering.
Rusty recovered from his scrape and joined the fun outside.
There was a private party at the dance hall the night we were there so the jam session moved to a more intimate location inside the bar. Greg and other members of the audience joined the pickin’ inside with the host musicians. Greg had a big time.
Inside the bar. When in Texas drink Shiner Bock.
Relics on the wall.
I had thought we would spend the night at a rest stop near Luckenbach but after we arrived we found out that we could camp int the parking lot for $20. A bit pricey for us – especially when there was a free option available – but it meant we could stay as long as we wanted and not worry about drinking too much.
Our day in Austin started out on the riverwalk and a visit to this iconic Stevie Ray Vaughn statue.
Next, we were on to find some dive bars. Here Duwan rides a Jackalope at the Jackalope bar.
And then a stop at Valhalla. We were disappointed that it didn’t have much of a “great hall where Norse heroes who were slain in battle were received” feel to it. It was very quiet so we had a quick drink and moved on.
For dinner, we drank more Shiner Bock beer and ate at Arlo’s food truck – Vegan burgers and taco.
We closed out anniversary night with a concert. The amount of good music every night in Austin is a little overwhelming. When we arrived we scanned the local entertainment magazine to see if there were any acts we wanted to see. There were actually 3. Our top choice ended up being sold out, another choice started a little late and required a drive, so we ended up walking to the Paramount Theater to see Todd Snider – one of our faves and never a disappointment.
After our musical journey through Texas, we stopped in New Orleans to visit my niece, Ariadne. There is always something interesting going on in NoLa – like this festival, Bayou Boogaloo right on the bayou. This is the first festival I’ve ever kayaked to.
We put our kayaks in upstream and paddled about a mile down the bayou to the festival. Here is Ariadne and her boyfriend Ian.
Some of the floats were really fun.
Floats hanging out on shore ready to join the fun.
A scene from the shore.
View looking the other way.
Even dogs get to join the fun.
One of the cool things about visiting my niece in NoLa is that she is an amazing tour guide. This trip we did her cemetery tour. Here she is telling about how people are buried in the crypts. The first crypt resident is stored inside on the ground in a body bag. After a year, another person can be put into the crypt over the previous person. This continues. Some of the crypts have many residents.
Ariadne told us many tales about the people who were buried here like the voodoo queen Marie Laveau.
This cemetery is closed to the general public. The only way you can see it is to go on a tour. There are lots of different tour groups here every day. As we walked through the grounds we oftentimes had to wait for other groups ahead of us and could hear the spiel of the other guides. At the end of our tour, I think most people were in agreement that Ariadne gave the best tour.
South Carolina Friends & Family
Back in Greenville, SC we had dinner with our good friends David and Michelle. Earlier in the day Greg and I had had lunch with our good friend Kathy. She gave us some soup which we ate for dinner and then sent Kathy pictures of our clean bowls.
Long lost friends. Social media got us in touch with an old neighbor of Greg’s, Tracy and his wife Angie who live in Columbia, SC. It is so nice to find out you still connect with people after so many years.
One of our last stops before we headed to Cabbagetown was to see the grandson. Gabriel.
Have you ever surprised your significant other on your anniversary? What the most unusual way you’ve arrived at a festival?