Chalk and Cheese ……..

As I said at the end of the last post we were moving onto to San Angelo, but we arrived only to find most of it closed!!

On the Monday we went to visit Fort Concho on of the best preserved Frontier Forts only to find we could only see the overall site and a small museum on the Visitor Centre. To be fair they had held a large Christmas function over the weekend in which all the main buildings hosted a particular theme, and they were busy returning all the buildings to their normal function ready for the following weekend, so they were all closed.

So we abandoned that went and got a coffee and a sandwich and looked at some shops. While doing that we noticed that Miss Hattie’s Bordello had tours the next day at 2pm, so we planned to go to an Art Museum in the morning and Miss Hattie’s in the afternoon.

Well we got back into San Angelo the next morning booked on the Miss Hattie’s tour at 2pm, and went to the Art Museum, only to find that closed until December 15th!! Is anything in San Angelo open?

So we mooched around various shops etc. until 2pm and then went to our Tour. As it turned out we were the only one’s on it, but this is another tour you should not miss if you get the chance.

Miss Hattie and her husband bought a premises in San Angelo that was a two storey building which they planned to open as a Saloon. They duly opened it but Miss Hattie soon found out running a Saloon and dealing with drunks was not to her taste and the couple ended up divorcing. In the settlement the husband got the salon on the ground floor and Miss Hattie got the accommodation on the 2nd floor (we would call it the first floor). It had 12 rooms so Miss decided to run it as a Bordello (brothel to you and me), and a very up market one. It was open from 1902 to 1952 when it was closed by the Texas Rangers.

It is a very interesting place with each of the “hostesses” being named after colours or first names, as some of the relations of the “ladies” still live and work in San Angelo.

The tour doesn’t pull any punches with descriptions of what was used as contraception in the day, plus how much was charged, the most expensive was $2 ( a month’s wages for an average worker in those days).

Miss Hattie kept 50% of a hostesses “earnings”, but she fed and watered them and kept the Bordello clean and pristine.

The Front Parlour, looking out onto the street.
The Dining Room
Think this was Miss Blue’s room, notice the oil cloth at the foot of the bed to stop boots spoiling the bedding. Apparently they didn’t remove their boots!!
Miss Hattie’s ledger and booking room.
A dolls house with a twist, it is modelled on a Bordello.
Another room, but I forget which colour this was!!
A public coffin made out of the best mahogany that was re-used. You were laid out in it but buried in a plain pine box. They were much shorter then, average male height 5’7″
The gambling and drinking room. Clients waited here for their “hostess” of choice to become free.
Beautiful patchwork quilt on Miss Kittie’s bed.
And another on Miss Red’s bed.
The Parlour where clients waited for Miss Blondie (the most expensive lady) to become free. She was “entertaining” in the room through the door.


Miss Blondie’s room.

And that was it for San Angelo and the chalk, so we moved on to Abilene and the cheese!!

On the first day we decided to visit Frontier Texas which tells the story of the Texas Frontier, from Texas gaining its independence and the settlement of Texas, frontier towns, gunfighters and the eventual end of the lawlessness.

Included in this is the battles with the various Indian tribes including the Comanche’s, the slaughter of the bison herds for their hides, which caused the end of the Comanche’s and their move to the reservations. There is a section on how Pat Garrett killed Billy the Kid, and tales of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. There are some very good video theatres and leading you around the exhibits are “spirit guides” who tell you in their own words how they were affected.

It is a very, very good museum, one of the best we have seen, made all the more interesting by the holograms of the “spirit guides” telling you their story.

A huge Bison skull outside the museum.
Comanche Indians, the horse warriors.
North American Bison defending itself against wolves, but it could not defend itself against the buffalo hunters after it’s skin.
A Comanche Indian Chief hologram telling you his story.
The exploits of Sun Boy a famous Comanche Chief on a hide.
Typical Indian Tepee.
A pile of Bison skulls killed for their hides. It is estimated that 20-25 million were killed. Later their bones were sent for use in corsets, bone china, buttons etc.
A longhorn stampede on a cattle drive.
The Butterfield Stage.
Pat Garrett hologram telling how he shot Billy the Kid.

Go and see this museum if you get the chance you will not be disappointed.

On our second day we planned to visit the 12th Armoured Division Memorial Museum. But on the way we stopped into Abilene US Post Office to post a parcel, and got interviewed by FOX15 about posting Christmas mail!! It was screened that night on the 6pm and 10pm News. Fox15 Abilene does seem to have the video on their site but Anne recorded it from the TV, but the sound quality is not the best. I should also mention it had got quite cold overnight (-3C very cold for Texas) and was still cold when we were interviewed, hence the coats.

We then went onto the 12th Armoured Division Museum.  The 12th Armoured was a division formed during the Second World War that saw action in Europe and also in the Pacific War, which was then disbanded at the end of the war, but their commanding officer and many enlisted men kept a lot of memorabilia and artefacts from the Division. It is a very interesting museum that plots the divisions history from its inception and training to its its eventual end.

One area of the museum is especially poignant, as the 12th Armour liberated many of the Dachau satellite concentration camps. The exhibit about the Holocaust and the eventual liberation of the camps in the words of the men who liberated them is hard reading, but is an excellent presentation of a subject that is hard to tell. Some of the actual photographs are not for the squeamish, so be warned.

American & German vehicles used in the World War II
US Sherman Tank, the main battle tank of the 12th Division.
Half track armoured personnel carrier.
German Dachau camp flag liberated by the 12th Armoured.

After visiting this museum we tried to follow a sculpture trail setup for Christmas some years ago and extended each year since. We found one or two of the early sculptures, and finally the sculpture garden where 2016 and 2017s sculptures were displayed. The sculptures we all based on children’s stories.

Not sure what children’s story features a dinosaur and VW Beatle!!
2016 featured another Dinosaur.
Three little Kittens who lost their mittens.
Stuart Little.
“I will huff and puff and blow your house down”
Wilbur the pig.
Goldilocks fleeing from the three bears (you can just see them in the doorway).
One of the kittens lost mittens.
Overall view of the sculpture garden.

We then found a coffee shop and retired back to the RV.

We are now on our way now back to Dallas and Shady Creek RV to prepare to put the RV and Spark back into storage while we return to the UK for Christmas and New Year and the birth of 4th grandchild due on February 6th.

So my next update will be from the UK.





Two contrasting destinations.

Talk about two places that are complete contrasts. San Antonio and Fredericksburg, one a bustling city with plenty of history and the second, what the English would call a market town in the Texas hill country, also with plenty of history, but also an incredible main street with lots of interesting things to look at. Who won, I pronounce it a tie.

First San Antonio, home of that iconic place, The Alamo. I have always wanted to visit it and it did not disappoint.

The Alamo

What I didn’t realise was the mix of nationalities that died defending the Alamo, 11 of which were English, 3 from Scotland, 11 from Ireland and 1 from Wales. So of the 212 people who died 26 were from the UK and Ireland with the largest group (31) being the group from Tennessee led by David (Davey) Crockett. We walked around the many exhibits in the Long Barrack Museum which is in the Alamo grounds and learnt a lot about the history that led to the defence of the Alamo. In the grounds also were volunteers who manned the Living History Encampment who explained about the average living conditions at the time of the siege, the type of medical help you may get if wounded, and the weapons and armament used during the siege. We had to queue to enter Alamo chapel building the following day as the queue on the first day (Friday after Thanksgiving) was huge, but it was well worth the wait.

If you ever visit Texas, visit the Alamo you will not be disappointed.

San Antonio as a city is also a very interesting place to visit. Winding though the city is the San Antonio river and on its banks is a “river walk”. This consists of pathways built alongside the river, next to which are restaurants, shops, malls and almost anything you can imagine. We kicked off our tour by taking a tour of the river complex on an electric tour boat, and it had a funny and very informative guide piloting it.

It has been called the Venice of America and I can see what they mean, but it has a very American taste.

An electric tour boat – not quite a gondola!!

We have been very lucky on our trip around the US and we did it again. On the Friday after Thanksgiving San Antonio switched on the Christmas lights hung from all the trees along the river walk and there was also a parade of lit floats on the river. We watched that  on TV as the river walk seating to watch the parade was already sold out, but we came back in on the Saturday to walk around San Antonio and have a meal in a restaurant under the lights.

You can get married on a tour boat – Bride & Groom at front.
View from our restaurant table
More lights
And more…
Even the tour boats are lit up.
Tower of America’s viewing rower was also lit.

San Antonio is also famous for it’s Missions. In fact they are combined in a UNESCO World Heritage Site that looks after the five remaining missions (including the Alamo).

We visited one of them from a Hop on Hop off trolley bus that dropped us there – the Mission San Jose. The missions were originally built by the Spanish as part of their grand plan to civilise Texas and were communities in their own right. They were used as fortified villages, each containing a church, a farm and a ranch. The Franciscan friars who ran them brought in a local population, converted them to Catholicism and taught them to live as Spaniards, which helped them maintain Spanish control over Texas. All this came to halt when Mexico was given its independence, as the new state did not have the money to maintain the missions and the friars, and became even worse after the battle for Texas independence was won at San Jacinto. They fell into disrepair but have been gradually restored.

Mission San Jose was the biggest and is now run jointly by the National Parks and the Catholic Church, with the National Parks being responsible for the Missions grounds and out buildings and the church being run and looked after by the Catholic Church.

The grounds of the Mission
The Church – Bell Tower Left – Dome over the altar right.
Rose window where the Friars gave mass to people not converted.
Young couple in traditional Mexican dress.
Front façade and door of the Church.
Panels in Church over the altar.

After this we visited a Mexican Market in San Antonio called El Mercado. Lots of Mexican food and all sorts of shops selling everything from guitars to artwork.

El Mercado

We also saw some Mexican Dancing.

On our last day in San Antonio we visited the Institute of Texan Cultures. It sounds a bit dry, but it is actually a very good museum with details of all the cultures that make up Texas today, from the original Indian populations to the immigrants who came in the middle of the 19th Century when Texas was offering cheap land and freedom to practice any religion.

The Institute
Indian Tribal village
Many exhibits and the mandatory Christmas tree.
One of John Wayne’s longhorn cows, preserved as an exhibit.

From San Antonio we went to Fredericksburg, a town in the Hill country founded by German immigrants in the 1846. We were in a campground aptly named Quiet Creek RV, as it was very quiet and because it was out of town slightly, very dark at night so you could see lots of stars in that “big old Texas sky”.

I have already mentioned the main street. It is actually called Main St and what you have to imagine is a straight dual carriageway with parking on either side going through the centre of town with interesting shops and buildings for about 3-4 miles. It is apparently that wide because the founding German settlers wanted to be able to do a U-turn with an Ox wagon pulled by 4 oxen!!

It is also the birthplace of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz who was Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet (CinCPac) and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas (CinCPOA) during World War II.  Because of this association Fredericksburg is home to the National Museum of the Pacific War, which is a huge museum dedicated to telling the story of the Pacific War from Pearl Harbour to the surrender in 1945. It also details the events leading up to Japan’s rise as a military power and has several memorials to those who gave their lives. An old hotel (the Nimitz family hotel where the admiral was brought up ) is also part of the museum and contains the life story of Admiral Nimitz. Very detailed museum, with lots of exhibits, and is wide ranging as it details British and Australian involvement as well.

Worth a visit if you are in Fredericksburg but give it a day as you take at least that long to see everything.

Japanese Mini Sub used in the raid of Pearl Harbour.

And would you believe it our luck held out again as on the Friday night Fredericksburg held the Light the Night Christmas Parade where all the lights in the main park were switched on and there was a lit Christmas parade. The place was packed (we luckily parked early in the day) and the parade contained 130 LED lit floats (not quite on the scale of the Somerset carnival floats) and the local High School marching band. Below are two videos one of the marching band and the other of the lit up Marketplatz.

A wind blown wooden tower containing figures at every level.

Very interesting evening and we also spoke to many interesting people who had come from all over Texas to see the parade.

The following day we visited the Pioneer Museum which contained examples of the various houses used by the settlers in Fredericksburg.

Log Cabin
Well to do Shopkeepers house.

I will leave you to decide which is the most interesting place!! We have now moved on and are in San Angelo, more later.