Summer Guide 2012
Daytrippin': Enchanted Rock and Fredericksburg
Published: June 20, 2012
I live in a German town, so the idea of vacationing to a place like Fredericksburg, which sells itself with Biergartens and chocolate shops, doesn't really appeal to the part of me that wants to get away. But then there is that Enchanted Rock (fifteen miles north of the town) — the closest natural physical phenomena Central Texans have to a Grand Canyon experience. It's not a canyon at all, of course, but the largest pink granite monadnock I've been to in the U.S.
I was really thinking it was something akin to the Blarney Stone. But no, it's huge and many people want to walk up its curve like there is some life lesson up there, or some satellite view-only celebrity wedding taking place. I gave it a shot, but I had my little boy, who is not yet a two-year-old, strapped onto me in one of those baby backpacks. About midpoint I realized this was some pretty bad parenting. Everything got slippery and I was searching for any available twig to secure my steps. I decided that was enough and walked down. And in the shade, looking at an abandoned hot dog cart by the restrooms, and at the perspiring aspirants marching up the dome, my Enchanted Rock experience hit me like some kind of low oxygen fortune cookie knowledge: In this part of Texas perhaps it's enough to simply look around ... and head back into town, which has a decidedly perma-brunch attitude.
Fredericksburg is a fine place to stay ground level and walk straight lines. So you might not be into wine tasting or jazz nights, and you may have no time for metal cowboy fixtures or rare olive oil dispensers, but there is a good chance all this marketable mirth might affect your mood. I've been here twice in the last year. One time I drank beer and hung out in a motor lodge reading a mildly offensive Frank Harris collection of short stories that I'd picked up for a buck at a great Fredericksburg book nook called Berkman Books (416 E. Main). The other time I abstained from drink and just took in the sweet night air in pleasant sobriety.
The thing is that, in my head, I felt like I was buzzed both times.
Aside from the downtown, there is also Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park (432 Lady Bird), which is gorgeous and great to photograph, and makes you feel — if no one is around for your hike — like some gardener in an Asimov story. A word of caution: avoid going there when that VW car show is happening, unless you just want to look at fuchsia-painted Fuscas and spend seven bucks on a German taco, which is red sausage on a white tortilla.
Price of Trip
$16 Park fee
$20 Dinner at Der Lindenbaum (312 E Main) or West End Pizza Place (232 W Main)
$20 Mad money. You'll feel like a dolt if you walk down the historic downtown shopping area and don't go in to buy something, like a sequined hat or a glass of wine or a pair of stone salt and pepper shakers.
What to pack
Proper shoes Wear something that you can scale stone with as well as saunter down sidewalks in.
A map of the area It seemed like no one knew where anything was and I had to stop at the tourist center to find a you-are-here plaque.
Sunscreen I don't use it because I am afraid of it getting it in my eyes. (Plus, I'm Mexican.) But everyone else lacking this phobia or appropriate melanin needs to rub it all in.
Miles round trip: 224
Threat Level: 3
Only because rock is hard (and sequins are flashy). Watch your step.