A DAY OF HISTORY AND WINE IN FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS

Blue Bonnet Café, Marble Falls, Texas

My trip to Fredericksburg began bright and early with a stop for breakfast at the Blue Bonnet Café in Marble Falls, Texas.  This café has been open since 1929.  The restaurant’s name came from the blue bonnet hat not the Texas wildflower.  In 1981, John and Belinda Kemper bought the Café and have been serving up some of the best food and pie in the country.  Be sure to stop by and have a slice.

http://www.bluebonnetcafe.net/home

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE PACIFIC WAR

National Musuem of the Pacific War

The National Museum of the Pacific War is an enormous museum dedicated to the story of the eight million who served in the war in the Pacific and the over hundred thousand that died there. In fact your ticket is good for two days here and you will need every minute to thoroughly review the artifacts and displays. Admiral Chester Nimitz is also honored at the museum.  In fact, he is the reason the museum is located in Fredericksburg. Nimitz’s boyhood home is located adjacent to the museum and his role in the Pacific theater is legendary.

Admiral Nimitz

The museum boasts many artifacts from the Pacific War; including a submarine that served in the Pearl Harbor attack and a door from the U.S.S. Arizona that was sunk during the Pearl Harbor air raid. There are many uniforms, rifles and items that have been donated to the museums by servicemen or their families.  The docents here are well versed about the war. They can relate details of each gallery should you have questions about any of the battles. 

WALK THROUGH TIME

You will learn about each battle in the Pacific Islands and the price paid by our troops.  The thirty-three thousand square foot space containing some of nine hundred artifacts takes some time to absorb.  Upon your entrance to the museum you walk through a timeline of the history of the war.  You begin with Japan’s massive increase in military power, the Pearl Harbor attack to the enormous challenge gearing up for war and the quick enlistment of troops who would do battle in the Pacific through each Pacific battle and the final solution of the use of two atomic bomb

MARINES IN THE PACIFIC

My father was a Marine who served in the battles of both Tarawa and Iwo Jima.  He never talked much about the war, as many of his generation did not.  Seeing actual footage of the battles and the toll of lives it took, I can understand why he didn’t want to discuss it. He did tell me about the shacks he stood guard over while stationed in Tinian.  Turns out, he was guarding the atomic bomb.

This is an impressive museum that tells the story of World War II Pacific Theatre like no other. While history buffs will be enthralled with what they can learn here, this is a place where everyone can learn more about their county’s history.

http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/

Fredericksburg is a prominent wine growing region. I was able to visit and sample a selection of wines from two of the areas vineyards.

GRAPE CREEK WINERY

I was looking forward to enjoying more Texas wines since I had discovered them when I was in Austin some year ago.  Grape Creek selections are known as well balanced wines.

My friend and I joined Jim Overman, our Tasting Ambassador, at the tasting table for a sample of seven of Grape Creek wines. Jim is retired and has lots of stories and knowledge to impart about the wines.  He explained that Texas was akin to Italy in is climate.

WINE TASTING

I was looking forward to enjoying more Texas wines since I had discovered them when I was in Austin some year ago.  Grape Creek selections are known as well balanced wines.

Grape Creek Tasting Room

My friend and I joined Jim Overman, our Tasting Ambassador, at the tasting table for a sample of seven of Grape Creek wines. Jim is retired and has lots of stories and knowledge to impart about the wines.  He explained that Texas was akin to Italy in is climate.

Jim Our wine Tasting Ambassador led us through the wide range of Grape Creek wines from the Viognier to the Mosaic. The good thing about Grape Creek Jim told us is that, “Every category of wine from dry whites to reds, to the sweets is a good wine.”

Grape Creek wine tasting

Grape Creek is a wine club vineyard, so you cannot buy their wines except though the wine club or at its locations in Fredericksburg or Georgetown. There are four wine clubs: The Black Label Club, The Mixed Club, The White Label Club and The Sweet Club.  They will ship or you can pick up at their two locations.  The clue ships five times year in 3, 6 or 12 bottle shipments.

Grape Creek Crew

My friend and I each chose a bottle based on our very different tastes. The Petit Sirah for me and the Muscat Canelli for him.  This was a welcoming and enjoyable tasting room. Seek it out when you’re in Fredericksburg.

https://www.grapecreek.com/

LOST DRAW WINERY

Lost Draw Winery

I visited Lost Draw’s tasting room at the invitation of the local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. I must say, it was a great choice for my all too brief visit to Fredericksburg. Texas wines are known for their unique flavor profiles. Lost Draw’s wine maker, Andy Timmons, is the second largest grape growers in the state and largest grape supplier to vineyards in state.

And Lost Draw serves up some fine vintages. They are the largest grower of Mourverde in the state.  Their Tempranillo is very popular in the tasting room.

WINE TASTING

Lost Draw Tasting Room

My friend and I were treated to taste of five selections of wine. My favorite among the five was the Rousanne, a Texas Chardonnay.  Lost Draw is a small batch winery meaning they create 100 to 150 cases of each wine.  They create some 25 wines per year.  A wine club winery, they offer four different levels of membership and ship 4, 6 or 12 bottles per shipment.  Lost Draw is the only Texas winery that offers free shipping to its members.

http://www.lostdrawcellars.com/

AVIATION HISTORY AND SPACE FLIGHT IN HOUSTON, TEXAS

1940 AIR TERMINAL MUSEUM

1940 Air Terminal Museum located adjacent to, Hobby Airport, is the original Houston Municipal Airport. It is a magnificent location to plane watch because you can safely walk onto the tarmac.  The art deco building was a Works Project Administration (WPA) project when Houston was an up and coming city mostly due to the oil and gas business.  In 1956, the last year the Terminal operated, it served over nine hundred thousand travelers. The building was left to decay in the 1960’s, however the tower remained active until the 1970’s to service Hobby Airport. A group of aviation and history enthusiasts gathered to keep and renovate the site and it reopened to the public in 2003. The Terminal was designed by Joseph Finger, who also designed Houston’s City Hall. The original marble floors, art deco style railings and the art deco chandler still hang in the Air Terminal.

Today, there is one paid staff member and many volunteers at the Terminal. One volunteer worked on the Lunar Lander for NASA and created a display about the Space Program.

Lunar Lander

My two guides for my visit, Jack and Russell are enthusiastic volunteers and related personal stories of the vintage building.

 

 

TODAY’S MISSION

Air Terminal Waiting Room

The main mission of the Air Terminal is “keeping the space alive,” Amy Rogers, the Executive Director told me. The Terminal hosts a number of functions throughout the year, from Kids camps, Women in Aviation, Plane Spotting, Wings on Wheels, as well as many private events, which include weddings.  While it is the goal of the Air Terminal to preserve its history, they also want to bring in new visitors and are focused on collaborations with other groups than just aviation.

Plane Spotting (akin to bird watching for aircraft) is big at that Air Terminal.  During the last Super Bowl held in Houston, seventy-five European men came to the Terminal to take pictures of the airplanes that were flown into Hobby Airport.

AIRLINE HISTORY

The Terminal served international flights to Mexico and South America via Braniff Airlines and Pam Am Airlines. Trans Texas Airways initially flew only throughout the State of Texas but would merge with Continental Airlines to begin service to the Mexico and South American routes.

CELEBRRTY CONNECTION

James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor made a stop at the Terminal when they were filming Giant.  The Elizabeth Taylor bathroom hasn’t changed much since she was there.  Humphrey Bogart also passed through the terminal on his travels.

EXHIBITS

Throughout the Terminal you will find artifacts on the aircraft and personnel that worked in the Terminal.  Individuals donate model aircraft to the museum continuously and many are on display. Both Braniff and Trans Texas Airways aviation history is well defined here.

Trans Texas Letter

An interesting artifact is a letter to one of the Trans Texas stewardesses regarding her weight. Back then the airlines had strict weight restrictions for stewardesses. The 60’s uniforms were colorful as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul Barnhart’s Lockheed Lodestar has a place of honor outside the Terminal on the tarmac. Barnhart was a fifth generation Texan, an Eagle Scout, engineer, oil tycoon and philanthropist. He purchased the plane in 1968 and it was donated to the Terminal in 2002.

Lockheed Lodestar

 

 

TERMINAL HANGER

The Terminal’s Hanger dates to 1928, and was originally used as an air mail hanger. Howard Hughes was a big influence on the Houston aviation and occupied the hanger next door.

Cessna

Inside you will find several pieces of vintage navigational equipment that were used in the tower as well as two King Air Flight Simulators. There are several aircraft on display, including the Cessna that the Terminal will raffle off this year for its yearly fundraising event.  As you walk outside the hanger you will see many aircraft getting ready for takeoff on the runway.  The Southwest jets were pretty close as they prepared for takeoff.

Southwest

If you want to have an up close look at aircraft, this is the place to do it.  The 1940 Air Terminal holds more than the aviation history of Houston and an indelible spot in many locals’ memories.

http://www.1940airterminal.org/

LONE STAR FLIGHT MUSEUM

Lone Star Flight Museum

Lone Star Flight Museum has recently relocated from Galveston to Ellington Air Field in Houston.  The massive facility houses vintage aircraft that fly. With some 24 aircraft on display, you can view vintage aircraft including the Stearman; War birds including the B-17 and B-25 to the passenger plane DC-3 in the enormous easily accessible hangers.

DC-3

 

 

 

A special exhibition is Wood and Canvas of World War1 Aviation Art of Jim Dietz which pays tribute to aviations’ coming of age in World War 1. These reproductions of Dietz artwork commemorate the combat aviators that sowed the seed of combat aviation today.

Combat Aviation Artwork

 

 

 

 

 

AVIATION HERITAGE GALLERY

Walk through Texas Aviation Heritage Gallery, a chronological history of aviation in Texas. With its interactive screens and displays, here you can learn the history of Texas aviation endeavors and the men and women who made it happen.

In the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame you can pay homage to Texans that were and are the movers and shakers of the aviation world.  Some may surprise you.

Be sure to add The Lone Star Flight Museum to your list to visit. Take a ride in a vintage Stearman or B-17 bomber.  You will surely not be disappointed.

https://www.lonestarflight.org/

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER

Johnson Space Center is the integral part of NASA.  Houston is where the astronauts do most of their training and where the space flights are controlled through Mission Control.

 

TRAM TOUR

The tram tour is an open tram ride through the Johnson Space Center.  In just under two hours you will visit Mission Control, the Space Vehicle Mock Up Center where men and machines are being prepared for future missions. You will also visit a Saturn 5 rocket that was flight ready back in the 1970’s.  The massive rocket lies on its side in a hanger created for it.  You can get up close to the colossus.  The Apollo Space Program is recounted here in displays of the crews and their flight missions.

SPACE VEHCLE MOCK UP CENTER

Here you will view what’s next for the space program. From the new space station designs to the robots that will assist the astronauts, to the vehicles they will use to explore, and the space craft that will make the voyage, this massive facility is at the forefront of new technology.

Mars

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SPACE SHUTTLE

Space Shuttel and 747

Just outside the Space Center, you can walk through the Space Shuttle and the 747 that carried her.  You will discover just how small the shuttle was and the engineering it took to get it off the ground.

 

 

MARS

The next great mission of NASA will be a mission to Mars.  How will we get there? What will take us there?  How will we survive?  These are some of the questions they seek to answer at Johnson.

Travel to Mars

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASTRONAUNT GALLERY AND EXHIBITS

The Astronaut Gallery pays tribute to all the crews that have flown in space.  Next to the Gallery you will a number of spacesuits worn by astronauts from the Apollo program through and the Space Shuttle.  Also on display are many spacesuits that will be used on the journey to Mars.

 

You may also want to enjoy one of the several IMAX films that are featured during the day. In the central area do the Center you can see how NASA will get to Mars and live there and participate in numerous demonstrations about Mars. Inside another gallery, you can touch a moon rock and you will see space suits and artifacts from various missions.

 

Gloves used by Scott Kelly

There is plenty to keep the children entertained at Johnson from flight simulators to a play area. Many adults can relive their memories of the space program and be just as engrossed as the kids in the anticipated Mars journey.  One my visit, I even came across some vintage TV memorabilia in the Food Court.

Star Trek Galileo 7

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.nasa.gov/centers/johnson/home/index.html

Buffalo Soldiers Museum, Houston, Texas

Entrance to Buffalo Soldiers Museum

The Buffalo Soldiers Museum in Houston, Texas serves to remember all African American soldiers who have served in each American War from 1783 through the present day. Although the Buffalo Soldiers fought in the Revolutionary War, it was not until 1866 that Congress created the 9th and 10th Calvary units. The nickname, Buffalo Soldiers, was given to these fierce fighting men by the Cheyenne Indians. The term has been synonymous with all African American Soldiers. I was privileged to tour this inspiring museum with board member, Sam Davis. 

 

Founder, Paul Williams

Paul J. Matthews, founder of the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, researched military history and collected military artifacts and memorabilia about the Buffalo Soldiers for more than thirty years before creating the museum. Today, nearly half of the museum’s collection and exhibits have been donated from Matthews’s private collection.  The bust of the Buffalo Soldier, donated from a doctor in East Texas, is the centerpiece of the museums’ collection.

Buffalo Soldiers Bust

The mission of the BSNM is to educate and to perpetuate the history, traditions and contributions of the American Buffalo Soldier from the Revolutionary War through the present. The museum provides reenactments of a day in the life of the Buffalo Soldier and a talk from abolitionist Harriet Tubman for school groups.  These talented reenactor volunteers bring history alive for the students.  

Harriet Tubman. reenated

STORIES OF THE BUFFALO SOLDIERS

Cathey Wiliams

You find many stories as you walk the halls of the museum.  One that stood out was that of Cathay Williams, the first woman Buffalo Soldier.  She was a 22 year old African American woman, born a slave, who served as a cook for General Sheridan during the Civil War.  Inspired to join Buffalo Soldiers, she changed her name to protect her identity to William Cathay and enlisted in Missouri. She also attained the distinction as a sharpshooter. She served in 38th infantry and marched as a Buffalo Soldier to New Mexico in 1868.  After the long troop march to New Mexico, she became ill and her true identity was discovered.  She was discharged and lived in Colorado in 1892 where she most likely died before the turn of the century. Williams was the first woman to enlist in the military some eighty years before women would be admitted to military.

The Houston Riot in August, 1917 was the largest court martial in the history of the military where sixty-four soldiers faced charges. The soldiers were there for construction of new military installations in and around Houston, Texas. One evening a solider saw a policeman assaulting a black female.  Soon the soldiers massed and attacked the police. The riot involved 156 soldiers in the racial charged Texas town. The riot left seventeen people dead.  The twenty-two day court marital was held in San Antonio and the sentences were implemented on December 10.  Nineteen soldiers were hanged and forty-one served life sentences.

EXHIIBTS

Buffalo Soldiers Wooley Coat

The Paul Matthews Collection of artifacts is exemplary: The Buffalo Soldiers’ Woolly coat, Solders’ Saddle, and Uniforms from the Revolutionary War through Vietnam are displayed. The artwork that adorns the walls is remarkable. 

Buffalo Soldier Uniform House and Saddle

Don’t miss this impressive tribute to the Buffalo Soldiers when you are in Houston.  You will not be disappointed.

http://www.buffalosoldiermuseum.com/

 

 

WALKING IN THE STEPS OF HISTORY IN DALLAS, TEXAS

In January I visited several cities in Texas to explore some of the state’s history and it’s aviation past.  While I could only scratch the surface during my short visit to Dallas, I found three unique museums that celebrate history in Dallas, Texas. 

Sixth Street Museum

SIXTH FLOOR MUSEUM AT DEALEY PLAZA

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza follows the events of a black day in U.S. history, November 22, 1963 and the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy.  As Kennedy’s procession passed the Texas School Book Depository building, shots rang out striking the President and Governor John Connally who was seated in front of the President. Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots from an open window from the sixth floor of the Depository building.  Chaos ensued as Kennedy’s car was rushed to Parkland Hospital where the President was declared dead.  Oswald would escape the Depository lockdown then later shoot policeman, J.D. Tippit before being arrested at the Texas Theater. Once in police custody, Oswald would be shot and killed by Jack Ruby during his transfer while in police hands. 

Sixth Floor Window

HISTORY REVEALED

The Sixth Floor Museum preserved the area where Oswald fired the fatal shots.  Here visitors walk through the event from Kennedy’s arrival in Dallas to the investigation of the incident through the findings of the Warren Commission report.  On the Sixth Floor, you can view the window and the street below where Oswald’s shots changed the world.  

Model of route

INVESTIGATION and ARTIFACTS FROM THE SHOOTNG

Artifacts surround the exhibit space including, a replica of the rifle Oswald used, Oswald’s wedding ring and the Zapruder film of the assassination as well as many others. 

Rifle
Photographers

At the Sixth Street Museum, you will walk in the footsteps of history. 

FRONTIERS OF FLIGHT

Frontiers of Flight

For thirty years the Frontiers of Flight Museum has delighted visitors with its aviation displays as well as the massive collection of George Haddaway’s of some thirty-five thousand aviation artifacts. The museum began at Love Field on the mezzanine then relocated in 2004 to an enormous 100,000 square foot facility near Love Field. I had the pleasure of a tour with Dan Steelman, VP of Collections and Exhibits.

Here you will delight in viewing over 30 aircraft, some suspended from above, from the Wright Flyer to Apollo 7 capsule. 

Apollo 7

MODEL SHOP

The model shop is a large draw for adults and kids alike. The talented craftsmen have outdone themselves with the detailed aircraft on display.  One volunteer and modeler, Hal Schneider, who is 90 years old, is working on a Vietnam era plane as a gift for a fellow member. One of my favorite planes, the Gee Bee Model R, is featured prominently in the Air Racing display of the Golden Age of Aviation.

Gee Bee

Another stand out model display is that of Master Modeler Al Duval’s 350 1/48 scale aircraft models. The craftsmanship of these planes is a testament to his 40 years in producing the models.

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

Southwest Airlines makes a landmark contribution to the museum with its cockpit simulator and static exhibit of a Southwest 737.  Southwest’s signature plane serves as a unique display of the creation, and evolution of the airline. Herb Kelleher, the founder of Southwest, passed away on January 3, 2019 and Southwest is his legacy to the airline industry.

SouthwestAirlines

BRANIFF

A large Braniff display is featured on the upper level of the main exhibit floor which was arranged by former employees of the airline. Braniff was unique in that it blended fashion, art and transportation in one.

Braniff

THE WORLD WARS

Visitors can walk through the aviation of both World War I and World War II.  Here you will find aviation artifacts from both sides of the conflicts. The Vietnam and Korean Wars displays are presently under renovation.

German WW1 Uniform

DIRIGIBLE FLIGHT

One of the notable exhibits was that of Dirigible flight and the artifacts from the Hindenburg disaster of 1937. On display was the radioman’s chair from the Hindenburg which survived the disaster because the radio room was insulated. The silver cigarette case of Hindenburg Capitan Max Pruss is also part of the display.   

Hindenburg Radio Chair

ONE OF A KIND PLANES

Another aviation marvel on display and is on loan from the Smithsonian is the Chance Vought V-173, “Flying Pancake”. The all wing experimental plane has a similar design to the present day Osprey.  It was powered by a small 4 cylinder 80 hp engine.  Charles Lindbergh flew the aircraft and was impressed with its design.  The plans to continue the plane were scrapped after the war. 

Frontier also plays host to some three hundred events each year and is one of most popular venues in Dallas. This remarkable and vast collection of aviation history is well worth your time when in Dallas and is easily accessible from Love Field.  

https://www.flightmuseum.com/

CAVANUGH FLIGHT MUSEUM

Cavanaugh Flight Museum in Addison, Texas is a true flying aviation museum.  The meticulously restored aircraft from World War One through the Vietnam era are actively flown and visitors can purchase flights in these most treasured aircraft.

WAR BIRDS

This is a bucket list destination for some aviation enthusiasts.  At Cavanaugh, you don’t have to imagine flying in the aircraft; here you can ride in a P-51 Mustang, T6 Texan, B-25 bomber, Stearman Biplane or a Korean War era helicopter.  Flights in the vintage aircraft range from $300-$2000.00 depending on the plane. 

AVIATION ARTWORK

Also featured at Cavanaugh is a stunning gallery of aviation artwork.  Some of the pieces are signed by the artist as well as the pilots in the piece.

Embrace your inner pilot and take flight at Cavanaugh.

https://cavflight.org/

The Three Texas Presidential Libraries

A posting I did for Dave’s Travel Corner on the Texas Presidential Libraries.

http://www.davestravelcorner.com/journals/destination-north-america/larger-life-texas-presidential-libraries/