USA 2015
Tracking a trail of music & history

Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

Texas is a big state and two weeks of travelling still wasn't enough to cover it all. I came for Americana music, vintage planes and some history of 'the Old Frontier', a nice mix with plenty to keep me entertained.
For aviation I had planned several air museums and they are published on a different section of my website.
I hope you like my images from the road.


A Texas roadtrip (2015)
We had arrived at Houston Int'l Airport and drove into Galveston under darkness, on a november day.
That time of year one has short days, the sunset was a little before 18:00; but we enjoyed the balmy weather!
After we'd checked into our motel we drove out on the Seawall Blvd and had a nice dinner with drinks at the Miller's Grill.
On the left, in the far distance one can see one of the piers, the one that is brightly lit for evening entertainment.
But we did not go to the pier, it had been a long first day and plenty of things to enjoy ahead of us.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
In Galveston we stayed with La Quinta, a very nice extra-large room for a low-season price. Nice!

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
I broke a tradition here... If the motel serves a good breakfast included in the price I normally head for that buffet.
But usually my first morning in the US, I go for an nice diner and have a full breakfast with a western omelette and the works.
The fact that I had a toothache may have had something to do with it, but we also had a busy schedule, so no time to loose!

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
Enjoying a moment of comtemplation, taking in the Gulf of Mexico.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
The Seawall Boulevard. In the distance again that pier, but (much) less glamorous looking during the daytime.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
After we left the LaQuinta motel we visited the Lone Star Aviation Museum (they'll be moving soon). Afterwards I
had hoped to visit the sea aquarium, but found it closed due to renovations. So we had an early lunch (clam chowder!) at
this pier. A nice place to feast the eyes on an empty horizon, some pelicans sailing in the distance and buy our first souvenirs.


A Texas roadtrip (2015)
We drove the length of Galveston Island, but after we crossed the small bridge we either looked at dull flat land or
industrial installations like on the above image. I had hoped to drive a scenic route along the coastline, but it was uninspiring.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
I had hoped for a direct route from Freeport to Austin but all roads brought us back to Houston again. At first the
toll roads had cash lanes, but closer to Houston we were confronted with 'no cash' signs. I did not know how to tackle
that, did not want to get stuck and so we took the last exit possible and circumnavigated our route avoiding the toll roads.
But that meant our arrival into Austin was again done in darkness. Tiresome and it caused a few 'traffic anxieties'.

I like to hear the highway sounds
And I don't think that I'll ever settle down
I can't change and it's a sin
Hope St. Peter gonna let me in
Come on Pete won't you let me in

I wear this cowboy hat up on my head
And you can take it off me some time after I am dead
Gotta cowboy hat up on my head
Gotta little threadbare gypsy soul
I wear these crusty shoes down on my feet
I could…

Threadbare Gypsy Soul - Pat Green

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
After a morning spent with the dentist I was good to get on with things again; antibiotics and painkillers did the trick.
No better recovery for us than spending time in a serious bookshop. But it took a while, because the first mall (which I
picked from Google Maps), the Highland Mall, had closed and had been turned into a 'Community College'. Locally I was
advised to go to The Lakeline, a bit of a drive out of town, only to find it was an Outlet Center and nothing we cared for.
After some coffee and cakes with a Starbucks there, I programmed the satnav for the Half-Price bookshop: bliss!

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
Something I had included on my (extensive!) itinerary: The LBJ Library! I have an interest in libraries, large and
small - and this was a large one! Actually, it is the archive for the LBJ legislations but also a museum.
We spent a lot of time here, the 1960s had a lot happening and that is well documented here.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
This Texas vacation was also meant for exploring Americana music, on the trail of singersongwriters.
But I found november is not the best time to see a lot of gigs, though we got to see Two Tons of Steel here
at the Broken Spoke. We visited the Broken Spoke Saloon twice actually, listened to Ben Rodgers play here too.
Hope to return some day, what a place!

More images dedicated to our visit to


A Texas roadtrip (2015)
A short trip to Burnet, a little north of Austin, to visit the Commemorative Air Force there.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
The visit to the Highland Lakes Squadron (CAF) at Burnet's Kate Craddock Field resulted in some nice flightseeing!
The fact that some rain was approaching did not matter much, as our pilot just steered away from it: plenty to see.
The visit there is detailed on my page HERE...


A Texas roadtrip (2015)
We spent four nights in Austin. Initially I did not like it much, but when the toothache was solved and we found the music
and a lot of books, my mood changed for the better. Next was New Braunfels, which I only knew for the Americana
radio station I often tune in to: KNBT Radio New Braunfels (radionb.com/knbt). Our first stop, since we arrived by
lunchtime, was a visit to Rudy's! My name (Rudi, at home abbreviated to Ruud) is often misspelled to Rudy. And other versions.
Had to have lunch there!

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
Well, we certainly appreciated the Texas BBQ-style food here!
Truly amazing and what a great place, what atmosphere!
See more images on My Visit to New Braunfels page.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
Next we went underground! I had expected cool temperatures down in the Natural Bridge Caverns but it was warm & humid!
We walked through a half-mile of a most spectacular cavern; it brought us 180 feet below the ground, while listening to our knowledgeable tour guide, Liza. Awe-inspiring, ancient formations centuries in the making and still growing today, imagine!
Taking in the amazing stalagmites, stalactites, flowstones, chandeliers and soda straws, realizing it took thooousands of years..!

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
Also more images on My Visit to New Braunfels page.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
One of the names often mentioned on KNBT Radio New Braunfels, for live music, is the River Road Ice House.
But I found it closed and not a sign in place for any music soon. Aaarggh!! But I will be back, some day..

Alas, we were not finished with New Braunfels disappointments...
A Texas roadtrip (2015)
Another name often mentioned on KNBT: Tavern on the Gruene, a place for live music ('music and spirits') and
recording KNBT broadcasts. I had hoped to witness Ray Wylie Hubbard's 'Roots & Branches of Americana'-show
here (calendar), but as I was told inside "...Mr Hubbard is touring so the radio shows have temporarily stopped and
besides, there is a Wurst Fest going on, there's never much music while that is on". Bummer. But my luck would turn!!!


Gruene Hall
Gruene Hall is also often mentioned for live music and shows being broadcast from (even the day I am typing this
in March 2016 a show is announced there while I listen to KNBT), but not during our visit (stayed here three days).
It is however, hallowed grounds for music lovers!

Gruene Hall
We returned during the daytime and looked at all the portraits displayed here, artists who've come performing.
More images on My Visit to New Braunfels page.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
On the evening of 13 November 2015, a series of coördinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, France
and in its northern suburb, Saint-Denis. It kept us glued to the tv for a while.
On the evening of 13 November 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, France
I came across this mural somewhere during this trip and somehow it
brought back that terrorist attack in France with me: people bowing their
heads in sadness and a raised arm in despair. Lest we forget.

The next morning we had yet another fine breakfast at the Best Western Inn & Suites (New Braunfels) and
I noticed they had their waffles shaped as the Texas State! Texan pride knows no bounds!
After checking out we headed for San Antonio, which is only a short drive from New Braunfels.


After we visited a nice aviation museum on Stinson Field, detailing aviation history in the San Antonio area, we drove to the center of town for the inevitable Alamo Memorial.

The Alamo
I love history and was fascinated how the Battle of the Alamo, a defeat celebrated as a victory, was
pivotal for the history of Texas. But when I found I was not allowed to take pictures inside the museum, I left.

The Alamo, San Antonio
This gent explained a lot of customs 'in those days', such as products used by the pioneers taken
from cacti - alas, I forgot what it was used for. Should have stayed a little longer.

San Antonio visit
While trying to find 'The Riverwalk' we had so much heard about, we stumbled into this nice place: The Buckhorn Saloon.
Since it was hot outside we decided to step in, have some drinks and a light lunch. What a place, huh?!

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
I also found a tv-studio was part of the Buckhorn Saloon! Short items are done here in the
studio and every now and then the reporter/presenter steps outside and does street interviews.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
I found I had been looking for a 'different' sort river, with obvious river banks and of
a size that could not be missed. Near the Buckhorn Saloon we found steps going down and finally..
we had arrived at The River Walk!

San Antonio River Walk
The restaurants at the river may have a somewhat European appearance, but the perfection is American!

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio Riverwalk
I hate it when that happens, musicians crowding you with no chance to escape; but perhaps these visitors like it.
We changed our plans and only stayed one night in San Antonio, for I found we had more pressing engagements.


A Texas Roadtrip (2015)
Time to hit the road again!

A Texas Roadtrip (2015)
A quick stop to stretch the legs; we'd left San Antonio in a northerly direction.
Yet again a long day ahead of us, but the weather was fantastic.

A Texas Roadtrip (2015)
'On the trail of Americana music' brought us to Luckenbach,Texas. Made famous by the Waylon Jennings song!
Read more of Our visit to Luckenbach,TX


A Texas Roadtrip (2015)
I wasn't much impressed with the socalled High Country here. But what Texas may lack in height it makes up in size!

A Texas Roadtrip (2015)
As usual I sought out vintage planes as well; this one got stranded at Frederickburg's airport and after
years was restored and painted so it could sit outside as a nice decoration. Interested? See my Texas for Planes, 2015

We were heading for Abilene, but first we stopped at Fredericksburg - for lunch and a museum.
A Texas Roadtrip (2015)
Fredericksburg is a very charming, historic town

A Texas Roadtrip (2015)

A Texas Roadtrip (2015)

A Texas Roadtrip (2015)
Good food and kind service! We avoided the wine bars and more expensive restaurants we saw plenty of on the main drag.

We visited the Admiral Nimitz and Pacific War Museum, which had come highly recommended and we spent several hours.

See my report dedicated to my visit to Pacific War Museum


Choices of going West - East, South - North: we went north!


A Texas roadtrip (2015)
A long drive, trying to get to Abilene before full blown sunset, but no use in speeding as 'smokey' is alive and kicking!

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
We continued on the 87, 283 and 84 and I got in the co-driver seat for some picture taking.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
Some interesting dereliction, but no time to stop to investigate.

A Texas roadtrip (2015)

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
'The road goes on forever..'

A Texas roadtrip (2015)
The sun was getting lower and lower. This road has a reputation for deer and other wildlife crossing the street in
darkness. I did not feel much for such a confrontation. But while we saw plenty of roadkill, none were harmed by us.


Abilene,TX Frontier Texas
Top of the list for things to visit in Abilene was the 'Frontier Texas!'- Museum.
And rightly so, we very much enjoyed that visit.

Abilene,TX Frontier Texas
'Blood & Treasure on the frontier'. This fantastic museum has a very detailed exhibition on the Indian culture &
history here in Texas, detailing the buffalo hunt, the pioneers & immigrants, law & order, cattle drives, etc.
The information is displayed in dioramas but also in hi-tec fashion, using state-of-the-art projections.
One can spend hours here, easily. Both instructive and hugely entertaining!
See my report on My Visit to the Frontier Texas-museum



Nathan Hamilton is a singersongwriter, originating from Abilene but now living in Austin. We met up with him over
coffee and when I enthused about his music, I realized the first album by him I'd bought was the one titled 'Tuscola';
we talked a bit about that (and a zillion other things) and it made me determined to go to Tuscola and check it out!
It isn't far from Abilene. I like those small communities.

A Texas Roadtrip -2015
Tuscola, is a friendly, sleepy town. People wave to strangers, nice!



Tuscola, Texas



The Lumberyard, Roscoe,TX
From Abilene we drove an hour westward. I had some trouble finding Roscoe,TX in the darkness, missed an exit but
the satnav brought me back. Pitchblack darkness until we got to the edge of town. I was here for The Lumberyard!

The Lumberyard, Roscoe,TX
Earlier on in the trip, checking on 'what to do' in Abilene, I stumbled on the internet of a Ray Wylie Hubbard gig
here at The Lumberyard. I had to cut my stay in San Antonio to a single night, but I so desperately wanted to see
this gig! When Mr Hubbard played in Scotland a few years ago I got my leg in plaster and was unable to travel. He
did not return Europe since and I missed him in New Braunfels. But this time it was going to work out!

The Lumberyard, Roscoe,TX
Modest digs, a hamburger diner (with a surprisingly good IPA selection available!), but offering 'fine dining live music!'

Ray Wylie Hubbard - The Lumberyard
It was a double act, with Reckless Kelly, but Ray Wylie played first. I so enjoyed that!!!
See my special page of photos taken at The Lumberyard


A Texas roadtrip - 2015
Yep, back on the road again, driving east now (I-20)
The weather had turned cold, freezing air blowing in from the north, but the sun was still out and we drove a comfy car.

A Texas roadtrip - 2015
The scenery from the I-20 wasn't impressive, though I have to admit industries such as these are impressive of sorts.

A Texas roadtrip - 2015
At the speeds Americans drive (max 70-75 mph), one can ask how you get yourself into trouble like this?!

A Texas roadtrip - 2015
After a peek over the fence for a plane parked under repairs at Gainesville we took lunch here at Rümpy's.
All these German words, they keep surprising me.


A Texas roadtrip - 2015
LaQuinta at Addison,TX . The lounge and breakfast buffet. During these 14 days we stayed at
eight different motels, of which four were LaQuinta motels (one was the cheapest & the worst).
I love the easy way of travelling in North America and love the price/quality that is offered to consumers.

Ft Worth the Stockyards

Ft Worth the Stockyards
I knew The Stockyards would be a bit 'Disney'-like, but I really enjoyed the visit here.
I did not find any rodeo activity here, which I regretted, perhaps I missed it. Maybe another day.

Ft Worth the Stockyards
See also my page dedicated to My visit to the Stockyards


We are winding down this trip. Visited two more aviation museum: Vintage Flying Museum and Frontiers of Flight Museum

A Texas Roadtrip - 2015
This is America too: the public area can be a real eyesore!

A Texas Roadtrip - 2015
Winding down, but seen a lot and put 3.300 kms behind us.

A Texas Roadtrip - 2015
The Country Inn & Suites in Fort Worth was the only motel which offered us real china to eat from and real cutlery.
This two weeks we managed to stay below US$100,- a night for a double room, well below sometimes. I was
pleased with that too, as the euro had lost a lot against the dollar compared to four of five years ago.
All in all it had been a very satisfying and rewarding trip.


A few locations adressed with a few more images:

Posted in March 2016 on Facebook:
Texas, happy 180!
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