ATO Visit to Homestead Heritage Village
With bittersweet emotions, the Austin Thunderbird Owners (ATO) greeted the weather report for Saturday September 20. Rain meant some relief from the drought gripping central Texas, but it also meant our planned excursion to Homestead Heritage Village in Elm Mott Texas would be postponed. The following Saturday, September 27 promised a lower chance of showers and a daring band of six TBirds, 4 little birds & 2 Retros who would not be denied a second time, met at the Premier Outlets Mall in nearby Round Rock to begin our 95 mile trip to Homestead Heritage Village just North of Waco.
The weather was damp and overcast, but our spirits were high as we began caravanning up Interstate 35 toward the town of Belton, where we planned to abandon the traffic and big trucks of the interstate for less congested and far more scenic back roads. Exiting on to State Highway 317 took us through the old part of Belton right through the center of town and past the Courthouse Square featuring one of Texas' beautiful old courthouses. It wasn’t long before our faith in the changeable Texas weather was rewarded as the sky began to clear and we were presented with a beautiful Texas Fall day.
Then our itinerary took us on North through Moody Texas, where there was a County Fair and Fete that slowed our progress somewhat. It was apparent that the locals assumed our little band of cars was part of the fair as we were greeted with cheers and waves from the spectators along the side of the road. Leaving Moody, we travelled on a "country road", bordered on both sides by farms and livestock, until McGregor Texas where we picked up State Highway 84. We were moving quickly on the highway until we encountered a State Highway patrolman directing traffic around a large pile of hay blocking one lane. These are the kinds of things you encounter traveling the back roads of Texas.
Finally arriving at our destination around 11AM, we were greeted by Leslie, one of the Heritage members, who gave us a little overview and history of this "Village". Homestead Heritage is a 500 acre farming community established by a religious order about 40 years ago. Not as conservative as the Amish or Mennonites, the group nevertheless wished to pursue a more traditional lifestyle while preserving many of the crafts and skills of earlier times. We were told that about 50 families built homesteads on the property and they maintain the fields and facilities. They also educate the public in weaving, blacksmithing, and woodworking techniques almost forgotten in our current mass producing world.
Following the overview, we began our tour of the village, starting with the "Barn", a compendium of crafts made and sold here in the Village. Next, we had lunch in the Homestead Cafe, prepared by the residents and comprising many of the foods grown on the property. After a most delicious repast, exercise was called for and we continued our walking tour of the facility, learning about the various craft making methods and techniques. Each and every type of item displayed excellent craftsmanship, workmanship, and care not seen in today’s manufactured products. It was difficult to keep the Ladies' pocketbooks closed.
Around 3:30 in the afternoon, it was time to restart our engines and begin the trip home. Most of the return trip was on the interstate, and everyone arrived safely with no car trouble. After a great day of driving our cars, great fellowship, and seeing and learning new things, there was no doubt this was another wonderful outing for our club.
ATO Birds Gather in Round Rock – A never-say-die group of ATO Members braves the weather and get ready for our trip to Homestead Heritage Village. One optimistic member even has his top down.
ATO Arrives at Homestead Heritage – From left to right: Merlin Hoiseth, Carole Mills, Brenda Shriver, Johanna Hoiseth, Michael Dion, Dar Dion, John Shriver, Bob Novit, Marshall Andrews.
ATO Members and Cars Homestead – Club Members and their cars at Homestead Heritage Village.