Monday, May 2, 2016

Anniversary Trip, Graham TX

We just got back from a very nice three day trip to Graham, Texas, and exploring three frontier forts in that area.  It was such a nice few days, and the weather cooperated - thank goodness!

We arrived around 2pm on Friday, so our first stop was at Fort Belknap. The fort is maintained and supported by Young County.  We found that most of the items in the museum were more a collection of things from citizens of the time, although there were a few things representing the soldiers.  There were period clothing, shoes, books, tools, animal bones and artifacts and lots of pictures of early settlers of the area.
 They are still finding items buried in the dirt there.
It looks like they also have reconstructed several of the rock building. There is a very large covered pavilion area that is completely covered by ancient old grape vines. 
After finally checking in to our hotel, we went to the square in town (they boast the largest town square in America!) for dinner.  We ate at Neri's on the Square, which was really nice! 
 After dinner, we went to the old fashioned National theater to see a movie! I loved, loved, loved this place.  What a little gem - they have a few items in a room upstairs that we got to see - the old reel type movie projector, some old Coke racks and movie posters, etc.  There are three screens here and they show current movies, and they've kept the concession area pretty true to the period - they serve all the popcorn, sodas and candy that you'd expect to find from that era. We saw Huntsman Winters War, which was pretty good (actually better then the first one, to tell the truth.)

Saturday morning we were up early and our first stop was to Fort Griffin.  This is a State Historic Site and is very well maintained.  This park has a recreational area with tent sites and activities, and then the historic site across the road. They also are the keepers of the official Longhorn herd for the state. There's an almost brand new visitor's center - and WOW! They had loaner golf carts for us to drive around the site and explore the different buildings and areas.  So perfect for those of us over 65! (are you listening, State of Texas?! This is the way to go and made me a happy camper!) Otherwise, this would have been quite a hike.

 What I appreciate about this fort is that they have tried to keep it focused on the fort itself and its mission as a post-civil war protection for the settlers in the area.  The visitors center has a nice little film about the fort and there are some artifacts there as well.
You can see that they are still finding lots of items from the fort in the dirt around the buildings.  Visitors have been finding them and placing them on a rock.  John even found some pottery shards.
 I'm not sure if you've ever experienced this, but there are some places you can go in Texas and feel the history there, the feeling like you're walking in the footsteps of people who helped make our state what it is, and Fort Griffin is one of those places.  It's something in the air, the smell of the place, the sounds. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I've felt it. Of the three forts we visited this time, Fort Griffin was my favorite.

Next we traveled over to Fort Richardson which is also a State Park and Historic Site. It's a pretty big site, with lots of walking involved (whew!)  The fort hospital has been maintained very well and we had a interpretive guide for our tour there (thanks again, Daryl!)  Surprisingly there are many items still there and they are displayed throughout the large building.

Tired! We made it back to Graham and after taking a little rest we ventured out to Vetoni's Italian Restaurant for dinner.  Very good food and wine, and we finished off our anniversary celebration dinner with a couple of desserts.  John had Tiramisu and I had a Cannoli, but we traded about half way through so we could both sample them.  Delicious!
Sunday we were up and out early and on the way home.  We had a wonderful anniversary trip!

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