June 14-17, 2001: My Sister Visits Dallas
April 28, 2001: My Mom Moves to the Bentley
Return to the Index for 2001


June 8-10, 2001
A Visit to San Antonio


The reason for our visit this weekend is to meet up with Frank and Joe and their performance partner Linda Hamilton. For a long time, the three of them have performed together at Garner State Park and at various Texas culture and other events around Texas, sponsored by the Texas State Parks. This weekend, they will be performing at the Texas Folklife Festival held down in Hemisfair Park. While they won't be staying with Ron and Prudence, we will all be getting together both at their house and at the Festival.

I might mention that one of the decisions that the Ruckmans have made is as regards the name of their bed and breakfast. After some thought, they have decided to call it "Ruckman Haus," spelling the second word in the German fashion, reflecting Ron's family's country of origin. I am going to try to repay the Ruckmans for all their hospitality by doing a web site for their B&B, and I have already helped them register the domains "ruckmanhaus.com" and "ruckmanhouse.com" (both of which will direct the visitor to the same set of pages). I have started coding the site, but since the house really isn't ready for pictures, I am leaving lots of placeholders.


Our Group at Ruckman Haus

On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, Frank, Joe and Linda joined Ron, Prudence, Fred and I at Ruckman house, their nascent bed and breakfast. The renovations are still ongoing, although the first phase needed to actually begin having guests is nearing completion.

Our Group (minus Fred) in the Dining Room

On Saturday morning, Frank, Joe and Linda came over to Ruckman Haus and while Ron practiced with some of the recipes he is developing for his guests, we sat in the breakfast area and had coffee. The area where we are sitting is between the kitchen and the back door of the house; eventually, Prudence plans to move the small breakfast table over to the left side of the area and repurpose it for her desk. But since she doesn't need it yet, that hasn't been done.

The three of them were performing on both Saturday and Sunday, and so they returned to Ruckman Haus for breakfast on Sunday morning as well. Just before they left for the festival, I got a nice picture of Joe, Linda and Frank on the front steps of Ruckman Haus, and you can see that picture here.


At the Texas Folklife Festival

On Saturday, Frank, Joe and Linda left to get set up at the Festival while we cleaned up the breakfast stuff at the house. The recipes that Ron is developing as his "signature" dishes for guest are really fantastic, and when he gets four or five of them finalized, I will have to create a page on the web site for them.

Hemisfair Park is just southeast of downtown San Antonio; it is the permanent park and exhibition space left over from the San Antonio Hemisfair that was held in 1968. Unlike the World's Fairs you've heard about, this one concentrated on North and South America- hence the name. The most visible structure left is one of San Antonio's city symbols- Hemisfair Tower.

The Texas Folklife Festival is held in the exhibition area southeast of the Institute for Texan Culture, which was built in the southeast corner of Hemisfair Park. It is a museum-like affair, but with lots of exhibits and the stories of the various ethnic groups and cultures that make up the state.

A little after noontime, the four of us headed over to Hemisfair Park. Ron knew of a place he could park for free south of downtown, and so we walked into Hemisfair Park on its northwest side, and went down to the avenue towards the Institute. When we got there, and were crossing the bridge to go through the Institute building, I had Ron, Prudence and Fred stop so I could get a photo.

Then we walked through the building, which was open for the occasion, and out its back side to the area where the actual Festival was being held. Normally, this area has some authentic old buildings and some other permanent structures. Today, the entire area was full of performance stages, exhibits, food vendors and other participants in the Festival. It was pretty crowded and quite warm. We followed our little map to the performance stage where we found Frank, Joe and Linda.

We found the three of them on stage #2, where Frank was in the middle of a song. We sat down and watched for a while, as first Joe and then Linda joined him to do their cowboy and cowgirl poetry (they recite poems and stories written by great western authors and humorists). Their performances are always entertaining; this is perhaps the third or fourth time that I have heard Frank and Joe, but only the second time I've heard Linda. All were outstanding, and the audience enjoyed them a great deal. We took just a few pictures of them performing; there are clickable thumbnails for them below:

Fred's new digital camera has the ability to record movies, and he made a couple during their performance. You can watch them with the players below (the three of them began on stage #2 but later in the afternoon moved to a different stage, which is why the locales seem to be different):

On the Outdoor Stage

"Geronimo's Cadillac"


San Pedro Park

On Sunday, right after Frank, Joe and Linda left for the Festival, Ron put their dog, Cassie, on a leash and the four of us went over to San Pedro Park to let her run around for a while. I took the frisbee with us so if the occasion arose, Fred and I could toss it around.

San Pedro Park is the oldest public park in the United States, being granted at the time the Missions were active. Today, there is a large, shallow pool fed by natural springs, and in the summer it is full of people- mostly kids. There are also some active springs, one of which is inside the structure behind us in the picture at left. The park is also full of large old live oak trees- particularly right around the pool. The spring is at the north end of the pool, and there are walkways and stairs so you can get down to it. Fred had the three of us sit down by the north wall of the San Pedro Pool to get the photo you can see here.


Road Trip!

When we got back from the park, Ron suggested that we get out of Dodge for a while and drive up towards Kerrville on I-10. Soon enough they'll be tied down at the B&B most times, so we were happy to take the afternoon trip with them.

Before we headed out, Ron needed a few things from the store, so we drove up through Monte Vista to get to it and do his shopping. On the way back, he drove us by some of the beautiful large homes that the area is full of, and Fred took a few pictures of some of them as we drove past. There are clickable thumbnails below for these:

Then we put Cassie and Max in the back of the Yukon and headed out for the afternoon. We traveled up I-10 to Kerrville, and then went over to Texas 39 which follows the Guadalupe River all the way into the Hill Country. We were just going a short ways past Hunt, Texas, before turning around to head home.

When we got out of Ingram, the road went quite close to the river, and it was a pretty drive over to Hunt. It wasn't long before we found what Ron had driven out here to see: Stonehenge.

Neolithic Britons (or nature-worshiping Druids or space aliens, depending on who you listen to) began assembling Stonehenge on the plains of Salisbury, England more than 5000 years ago. Its original purpose is still being debated, but there is no mystery (or purpose, really) behind the Texas Hill Country’s version.

Stonehenge II was created as an art project by Al Shepperd, a rancher who owned land along the river, and his neighbor, Doug Hill, more than 20 years ago on Shepperd’s land. It took nine months to build and is 90 percent as tall and 60 percent as wide as the original. Giving free range to his whimsy, Shepperd added two 13-foot Easter Island head replicas for good measure.

You can see from our pictures that the replica and the heads were simply out in a large, open field, which was between the highway and the river.

There is some additional history that you might be interested in, though. Sheppherd died in 2010, his land was put up for sale, and so the megalithic circle along with its Easter Island sidekicks needed a new home. In an effort to preserve this true Texas landmark, the sculptures were relocated stone-by-stone to their final resting place beside the Guadalupe River on the campus of the Hill Country Arts Foundation- an organization that Sheppherd had supported for many years.

Future plans for Stonehenge II include sidewalks and benches, none of which were available at the site we visited. Stonehenge II has been visited by thousands of tourists since its inception in Hunt, Texas over 20 years ago, and it was interesting to see it today.

I wanted to include an aerial view of the replica, but since Google's aerial views didn't go back quite to 2001 for this area, I'll have to settle for an aerial view of the replica at its new home in Ingram:

To finish our little outing, we continued west for a ways until the highway dipped down to cross the Guadalupe, and there we stopped to take the dogs out and let them run off the leash for a while. They are both well-behaved and come when called, so letting them run free for a while was fine, and I am sure they enjoyed it.

Fred took a couple of pictures while we were stopped there. One has Prudence sitting on the riverbank holding Cassie and Max on their leashes, and you can see that picture here. In the other photo, Prudence has let the dogs go, and they and I have waded out into the middle of the shallow river; have a look at that picture here.

Along about three-thirty we headed back to Ruckman Haus so Fred and I could gather our things and head home. Ruckman Haus is really coming along, although we didn't take many pictures of it on this trip. I am sure that by the next time we are down here, they'll either be open for business or very close to it. I will have to get that website ready!

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

June 14-17, 2001: My Sister Visits Dallas
April 28, 2001: My Mom Moves to the Bentley
Return to the Index for 2001