In 1967 the Beatles released a song called “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Written by John Lennon, one of four members of the group; the song was inspired from his childhood memories of playing in the garden of a Salvation Army House named “Strawberry Field.”
IN April, those in-the-know go down to the bluebonnet fields in Ennis and with or without getting out of a vehicle enjoy the trails, Lake Bardell and other attractions. No matter how you prefer to enjoy the area, the beauty of the bluebonnets will beckon you out of the vehicle at least once; maybe twice to take a photo or frolic in the bluish fields of resilient buds.
So spectacular are the fields, a trip to see the bluebonnets was added to the bucket list of Linda Dunn, who has been fighting a cancer scare. When it went on her bucket list, it went on mine as well as on the list of her cousin Janice Cameron and we chose last weekend to see if the fields were in bloom.
It was cold and windy, but the trip was worthwhile to all of us, starting first with the Firehouse Grill which was definitely an old firehouse turned restaurant with firemen gear and patches hanging in alcoves around the dining area. Just a few good things to say about it – the chicken fried steak was Texas size; served with outstanding country gravy, the staff was friendly and accustomed to photos being snapped and the Visitor’s Center was nearby.
If you have already been and dig out old maps to the trails, they will not get you to additional sites recently added, we quickly learned, so make the visitor’s center your first stop to get directions and pick up new maps.
Like most visitors, we did take advantage of photo stops at the Veterans Memorial Park and other designated areas, but it wasn’t until we were heading on a trail that was highly recommended in the area of the winery that we saw the Texas flag waving beautifully above field after field of bluebonnets. I left the vehicle to stand at the gate to try to snap a photo of that glorious view when Jim Anderson, manager of the Sugar Ridge Ranch pulled up on his “mule” and whisked me away – to the awe of the others with me – to get a closer view of the flag.
They were still laughing when I returned, but on that ride I learned the family also owns the largest Belgian horse in the United States. Yes, we all got photos of the 14.5 hands tall horse and others while the ranch manager explained to us about the horses and recent wins. Jim’s kindness and tour just added the final touch to a good day for us and a smart addition to our bucket lists!
This weekend (third weekend of April) is dedicated to their Bluebonnet festival and carnival rides. It is not too late to head out if you want to partake of all of the festivities. The drive from Kilgore was a little over two hours.
ROLLIN DOWN THE ROAD in a big rig last weekend was C.J. Fertitta and his brother Terry Fertitta. Yes, C.J. left the Print Centre and wife Lori long enough to head to El Paso to see his oldest grandson, John Christopher Dent. The trip was planned by his brother who owns the truck and company and hauls printed boxes from Virginia through Chicago, Illinois down the south coast and on through El Paso.
“He gave me a call and said he had a couple of extra days of down time in El Paso and convinced me to climb in,” laughed C.J. “So, I did and we had a great time. We went to the El Paso museum and we helped my grandson out with his building a swimming pool, but more importantly, I learned my great grandson had done the unforgivable as he was trying to join the Marines.”
“I had to tell them my story of how they were trying to draft me when I was in school and decided to go into the Naval Reserves,” continued C.J.
“My buddies gave me a hard time when I told them I wanted to ride instead of walk during wartime. And when I heard from them how they were writing and sleeping in rice paddies; picking off leeches and wading in mud, I informed them I was eating steak three times a day and getting two baths a day and felt very satisfied with my choice. Now I have a grandson that joined the National Guard and a great grandson going in to the Marines…unforgivable,” he laughed.
“One of the best things about our trip to El Paso was our motel room,” said C.J. “We stayed at the Whitten Inn. I know that is hard to believe, but the rate was economical and they offer a discount for veterans. When you get such a deal, I get a little concerned, but it was unnecessary. The place was especially clean and the people were fantastic. There is a wonderful story about the owner who quit school at the age of seven, later served as a Marine and how he got started in the hotel business. The hotel has parking for truckers, too. I highly recommend the place.”
“And we took lots of photos of bluebonnets off I-20 south of Dallas and Hwy 10 towards El Paso. Since Lori didn’t get to go with us, I may need to take her to Ennis,” he added.
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