Sunday, March 27, 2011

Road Trips

During Spring Break we went on one of my favorite things -- a road trip.  Texas is full of interesting nooks and crannies and Austin is right in the middle of a diverse geographical area.  Lots of small towns with odd histories and little facts.  Normally we head out into the Hill Country but this time we chose to wander east towards Shiner.  Shiner is where they make Shiner Bock and all it's relatives.  I'm not a big beer drinker but Shiner Bock is a pretty good dark "chewy" beer. 

I always bring my camera but I never just get around to taking photos.  This time I actually took some on the way home.  We meandered down a dirt road to the Sam Houston Oak. The oak tree is famous because in 1836, Sam Houston and his army camped out under it after they set fire to Gonzales (the then capital of the Region of Texas) .  They were in rebellion from Mexico and following the Fight at Goliad and the Battle of the Alamo, the Separatists (as the Texians were called) fled.  They first torched their capital Gonzales and fled to stay at their first camp under this tree.  Eventually they were cornered by Santa Ana and the resulting Battle of San Jacinto occured... establishing The Republic of Texas.  (apologies to the shortened form of history here.) 
The tree is atill alive.  It's a southern live oak, Quercus virginia,  and they tend to be long lived trees.  After live oaks get large enough their branches tend to drop and run along the ground.  They also keep their leaves during the winter making them what's considered an evergreen oak. 
   The oak is on the grounds of what used to be the Braches Plantation.  The two story house is still standing and is quite nice.  Since it's on private property and you were supposed to call ahead to see it we looked across the fence.  The home was built in the 1840's or '50's and was a cultural mecca in teas during that time.  It's actually the McClure-Braches House.  I told my friend Hal, who I consider my big historian and he said the house was also used for the filming of True Women, which was about Texas women. 
You can't help but learn about things when you go driving.  Our history bit bible, so to speak, is a guide book called Hill Country by Richard Zelade.  I've worn out two other earlier copies of it.  I have another book on order and am curious to see what they have in them.
  We saw a ton of buzzards, hawks and a wild turkey this trip. The wild turkey was a bonus.