Sunday, April 21, 2013

Texas Hill Country, Day 2: My ancestry, inspiration and amazing beauty!

Well, tonight we're parked right on the bank of the Guadalupe River, in New Braunfels, TX, in a campground that is virtually empty.   I guess since it's Sunday night and school is not yet out for the summer, it's no surprise, but we're the only RV in this whole row by the river.  There are some semi-permanent big rigs in another section, but no one really near us--it's like we have the whole campground to ourselves.  It's just beautiful!  Hear Bobwhites and whipowills calling!

Anyway, before I start about another amazing day, I forgot a couple of things from yesterday.  As we were driving to Mo Ranch, up ahead on the left I saw a deer running full tilt down a hill, heading straight for the highway.  Even though there was a fence on either side of the road, I knew instantly that this deer was not going to stop.  Fortunately it was far enough ahead of us, so I slowed down and that deer took that 4' tall fence like it was nothing!  Dashed across the highway and took the fence on the other side in stride and off it went.  Luckily, there were no vehicles coming the opposite way, so no harm no foul.  Then, when we were driving back from Mo Ranch along the same highway saw another runaway.  We had passed this field on the earlier drive, where there was a horseback game under way that I thought initially was polo, but on closer look, realized that the sticks the players were using were not polo mallets but had small nets on them, similar to lacrosse sticks.  Later came to learn that this game is polo lacrosse, a combination of the two games.  Anyway, as we were approaching the field, we saw a horse suddenly break away from where a group of players had dismounted after the match, and began a dead heat gallop on the road leading from the field to the highway.  It appeared that the horse had been tied to some sort of gate, but had pulled that loose, as a small grate was on the end of a rope connected to the horse's bridle, and it was bouncing wildly along as he galloped toward the highway.  Again, we were lucky to have spotted this before the horse got to the highway, and also lucky that there was no traffic behind us, so I just stopped well before the road entrance--the horse came flying out onto the highway, dragging the grate, turned our way, but fortunately stayed on the other side of the road and flew past us.  As a couple of guys jumped in a 4 wheeler and came after the horse, I could see in the rearview mirror that the horse was slowing down to socialize with some other horses in another paddock who were coming up to the fence--at least one horse anyway.  Trisha speculated that it was the horse's girlfriend!!  Anyway, a little excitement to spice up the day.

Today we spent the morning driving up to Lampasas County, on an isolated road out in the middle of nowhere, eventually ending up between the small towns of Lometa and Bend.  We had researched our destination, and as we drew closer and closer, I could feel myself getting strangely nervous.  I had long known that my father's family had come originally from Germany, and that while my grandfather grew up in Florida, another branch of the family had settled in Texas.  My older brother filled in some details for me, and it turns out that our great grandfather moved to Florida in the early 1800's while his brother Reuben went to Texas.  Reuben was something of a pioneer, settled in Lampasas County, was a successful rancher, and a town grew up around him that eventually was named Senterfitt, TX.  Apparently it became a bit of a bustling little burg, a regular stop on the Chisolm Trail, until the railroad came in the 1890's, bypassing Senterfitt, and the town eventually dried up.  Now what's left is a cemetery that still bears his name, plus some foundations from a couple of the original buildings in the town.  The cemetery is located between Lometa and Bend, and, while we were beginning to think we had missed it, there was the sign.  We parked and walked up the road to the cemetery, saw that there were a number of gravestones from the 1800's, but soon saw that it was still active and had many gravestones dated quite recently.  We had read online that Reuben, for some reason, was not buried here, but in a cemetery in the town of Lampasas, but that many of the town's original settlers were buried here.  We did indeed find the ruins of the foundations, located just outside the cemetery fence, and located a gravestone of Eva Senterfitt Jackson, who was born in 1861 and died 8 days shy of her 100th birthday.  Her grave was beside that of her husband--there was a flower holder with a lone magnolia blossom in front of her husbands, but nothing in front of her stone.  So I picked some wildflowers and left a small bouquet by her marker as best I could.  It's hard to describe the feelings I had as I walked through this place, saw the old foundations, and thought about all that ancestral history.  Also learned online last night that Reuben had a grandson who was the editor of the law review at UT, served seven terms in the Texas legislature and was Speaker of the House twice.  His first term he was the cosponsor of the bill that established MD Anderson Cancer Hospital--pretty cool stuff!  As we were walking down the road back to the highway, a car came up and I flagged it down, asking the woman driving if she had relatives buried here.  She said her great grandfather, named McMahon, was, and that he had lived to the age of 104.  Her grandfather is still living, and when I explained my family connection, she took down my contact info, as well as my grandfather's name, and said she would ask her grandfather if he had any recollection of any of the Senterfitts, and would let me know.  So hopefully that will lead to something.

Then we came back along the Texas Hill Country Trail to Canyon Lake--a good bit of driving, but it was well worth it when we experienced another special treat.  Trisha had read about and seen pictures for years of a labyrinth overlooking Canyon Lake, and when we realized we would be close enough to make a trek to see it, she contacted the owner of the house who built it.  She was more than happy for us to come and we got directions from the house sitter.  She was not at home when we arrived late afternoon, but she had told us to make ourselves at home.  As we walked along the small courtyard beside the house to the back, we could tell that the owner was a very spiritual person, with the various angels, crystals and other beautiful artistic objects along the way.  Then we rounded the back of the house and WHAM--the sight just took our breath away!  Coming down the terraced path, terra cotta stones with brightly colored stones set into the mortar, there was this wooden deck, just hanging out over the side of the cliff, overlooking the lake.  The wood was beautifully weathered brown, with the labyrinth painted in turquoise and gold, an 11 circuit Chartres style labyrinth, with little clusters of objects around the edges, antlers, stones with inspirational engravings, beads, and a beautiful pink crystalline rock in the center.  And two cats came out to greet us and then led us onto the labyrinth, making sure we knew what we were doing, and then they lay down along the outside edge to watch us on our walk!  The turquoise paint matched the color of the lake below; it was a bright, sunshine filled afternoon, and it was just something else to walk this path.  As we sat on the ledge afterwards, reflecting, Trisha said: "Jack, you'll never know how special this has been for me.  I've looked at pictures of this labyrinth for years, but never dreamed I'd get the chance to walk it."  When the owner had answered our email that she was living for a while out of town and we had not heard from the house sitter, we thought we were going to miss out, but then Trisha called and made the connection and here we were--incredible!  I think even Fred B. Craddock might have to agree that this was not just mere coincidence!!

And the day started out with a visit to Wildseed Farms, near Fredericksburg--billed as the largest working wildflower farm in the world.  Field after field of wildflowers in full bloom, and many more on the way.  There were numerous shades of red, pink, fucia, rose and peach colored poppies, bluebells, many other varieties, just spectacular.  We walked through the nursery part of the farm and it was hard to pass these beautiful flowers without buying any to plant--we usually plant quite a colorful array of annuals each spring back home, but didn't this year since we were leaving on this trip, so it was tough.  Then, as we drove the highways today, all along the sides were tons and tons of wildflowers, of every color imaginable.  There simply is no way any still photo can convey what it's like to see nonstop blankets of blossoms, usually for 20-40 feet at least on the shoulder of the road, in the median, and suddenly you'd round a a curve and see a whole field of color, for as far as the eye could see.  Trisha described it best when she said it was like driving all day through the middle of a garden.  Just an awesome day!

Bear with me folks, there are probably more pics to follow than anyone wants to see, so I'll try to keep my comments to a minimum and let you just enjoy:

Wildseed Farms

The Pink Pig Restaurant in Fredericksburg, TX--and the manager had heard of Sam Callihan's Pink Pig in Cherry Log!  How cool is that!!!

 We met the manager in the parking lot as she was taking this wooden pink pig into the restaurant; we approached her and asked if we could take her picture, but she declined, insisting on taking ours; but she had indeed heard of the Cherry Log Pink Pig!

Senterfitt Cemetery, on the site of the former town of Senterfitt, TX
 Along the road from the highway into the cemetery
 Gravestone of Eva Senterfitt Jackson
 Eva's husband's gravestone
 After leaving a proper flower tribute to Eva

 Marker at the entrance to the cemetery, giving a bit of the history
What remains of the foundation of one of the buildings in Senterfitt, Texas

 As we were walking back to the RV, Trisha looked down and realized that her toed shoes had picked up a couple of souvenirs!
Two shots in the courtyard leading to the labyrinth

The labyrinth at Canyon Lake

 One of our hosts, walking the labyrinth with Trisha

 Our other host, having concluded that we knew what we were doing, and she no longer had to supervise us minute by minute!

 Beautiful pink crystalline rock in the center

 Self photo on the edge of the labyrinth
 Our campsite on the banks of the Guadalupe River


  1. Wonderful reading today. Enjoyed the family history.

    I told folks at our church dinner last night about your trip. Everyone was interested and mentioned you should write a book.


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  3. I'm Reuben Senterfitt's granddaughter, live in Lampasas. He passed away November just after you visited in 2013. He's buried in San Saba. If you have questions about the Senterfitts, feel free to email me: