Longing for the bluebells

They cover roadside meadows like a carpet from late March to mid-April, these wildflowers that are Texas’ official state flower. Bluebells are a welcome temporary break from the cold, wind and slush still clinging to life back home on the Plains. And the locals in and around Fredericksburg, Texas, know it. You can buy towels, sweatshirts, Christmas ornaments, note cards—well, just about anything, really—with bluebells on them.

For me, it’s enough to drive with the windows rolled down and drink in the colors. And driving in the comfort of your own car is a big MS equalizer.

It’s a rite of spring for Texans to hit the highway in hopes of spending just a few hours among the fragrant fields. But for those of us who live a little farther away, Fredericksburg has more than flowers to round out a sojourn south. U.S. 290 teems with 15 upscale, accessible wineries. The Lyndon B. Johnson Historical Park reveals a nuanced look at the president who became known for his Civil Rights successes and Vietnam war failures. The National Museum of the Pacific War unspools a stunning, heartbreaking story of the people and battles that led to the end of World War II. Art galleries and restaurants with alfresco dining line the main street of this German-settled town of 10,530. Wildseed Farms boasts the biggest variety of wildflower seeds the country.

    

All of it is wheelchair and scooter accessible. It would be easy to spend a few days here and feel like you’ve seen it exactly as able-bodied travelers do: sipping wine, learning history, dining at the excellent Cabernet Grill, where they pair wine with native cuisines; and, of course, snapping pictures of the bluebells. Hiking trails await out in the hills; I skipped them because they are pretty strenuous, and I just can’t make my feet go where I want them to these days.

    

“Sunday houses,” refurbished cabins that German settlers used years ago, have become posh places to stay in Fredericksburg. But for an easy, accessible option that you won’t find anywhere else, stay at the Hangar Hotel out by the airport. Its classy common areas and rooms reflect the 1940s glamorous era of airline travel, and it’s a treat to imagine what flying was like back when. But this trip itself won’t make you yearn for what your abilities were before MS. It’ll just make you grateful that you get to see this all for yourself. 

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Kendra L.

Kendra L. Williams

Kendra L. Williams is a longtime writer and editor and the founder of MStravels.org, a blog about the ups and downs of handicapped accessible travel. She lives in West Des Moines, Iowa.

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    5 Comments

  • marsha   Mar 26, 2015 10:59 AM
    What saves me throughout the slow progression throughout the years is to only pay attention to what one can still do. My husband and I just returned from a drive to see Death Valley, CA in bloom. Returning to my beloved SanFrancisco makes me appreciate what I tend to take for granted. Scooting allows you to see what most miss.
  • CATHERINE   Mar 27, 2015 7:49 PM
    PLEASE SEND ME A COMMENT. I MAY BE AN OLDER LADY BUT HAVING MS FOR 55YRS I DO REMEMBER WHEN I WORKED AND MY LEGS WERE SO HEAVY AND SORE. HAVE YOU TRIED ICE IT REALY HELPSKEEP IN TOUCH. I AM NEW TO THIS TWEETING ETC.I HAVE A LOT OF EXPERIENCE TO OFFER. KEEP THE FAITH. THERE IS LIFE AFTER MS. DIFFERENT BUT GOODAND INTERESTING I HAD INVISIBLE MS BUT NOW USE A CANE, WALKER,SCOOTER WHATEVER GETS ME WHERE I WANT TO GO.
  • Diane   Mar 28, 2015 8:09 PM
    I really appreciate the nice article about Fredericksburg, Texas because it truly is a beautiful town and a wonderful place to visit and I love living here. However, the state flower of Texas is the bluebonnet, not bluebells. I also travel with MS and the businesses you mentioned in your article are accessible, but not a lot of Main Street is unfortunately due to the old restored buildings. So yes you can have a great time in Fredericksburg but some of it is not as accessible as your article would lead people to believe.
  • Jonny Gruhn   Apr 3, 2015 3:40 PM
    My garden has lots of Bluebells and I really love to see them when they're in bloom, and the fact that their leaves have made an appearance does it for me! Spring will be here in Ireland soon! Very Soon!!
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    evestarr1  Apr 27, 2015 1:59 AM
    Bluebonnets are a miracle, carpeting wild Texas hillsides and nestling among old rail fences and prickly pear cactus plants! The bluest of cobalt, indigo, violet and even periwinkle, they provide an irresistible backdrop for family photos (while watching out for bees!).