66th Texas Tour

by Vic Donnell
vic 3 - PNG

Over-all                                                                                                                            Go to Photos!

The tour was quite a success!  Despite the weather forecast, the sun shone and the tours were fully enjoyed!

The YO Ranch hotel complex was a terrific facility for our tour guests.  Notable features included spacious dining and tour hospitality gathering rooms.  The décor felt like a glimpse into a Hill Country ranch home – massive branding iron light fixtures, animal skin-covered furniture and a huge rock fireplace at the end of the lobby.

The YO staff was clearly committed to providing great customer service!  Most especially, they accommodated our request to feature a very special car in the ballroom … a stunning 1932 Duesenberg, Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton offered for display by James and Eileen Bartlett.  (As an  aside … it is gracious for the YO to allow us to display any antique vehicle in a hotel ballroom for fear of oil drips on the carpet!!) James provided a row of metal drip pans, just in case.

The tour was well attended.  A total of 93 registrations and 178 folks in attendance.  A good number of first timers included in the group!


Tour planners Robert Norberg and Juan Barraza arranged an afternoon tour for early bird  arrivals which included visiting the Neunhoffer ranch.  The family ranch was established in 1857, outside of Kerrville.  The rancher is an avid Model T collector.  Tour of the ranch featured an extensive and wide ranging collection of  motor vehicles – cars, trucks, campers, farm implements and all manner of selected treasures.  It was most generous of him to offer the tour access to his property and allow wandering through his various buildings and collections.  Truly quite remarkable.


Our tour planner, Wendell Bell, led us to Comfort, Luckenbach, the LBJ Ranch, then back to Kerrville via Fredericksburg.  Comfort was a lovely stop.  Nestled among the rock buildings lining the main street was a brass plaque which commemorated the history of the early German settlers.  The antique shop was open and seemed to be a popular destination for our guests.  The merchandise was wide ranging – including coins, trains, various collectible figurines, textiles, furniture and from what I understand a “really cool parts box” … who knew?

From Comfort, on to Luckenbach.  A moto-rally competition was underway at Luckenbach … kind of neat to watch.  Enjoyed a box picnic lunch … making room for the rooster beneath the picnic table!

Next, LBJ Ranch.  Lovely wildflowers (thank you Lady Bird), a spacious visitor center featuring a brief film documenting LBJ's sentiments for the Hill Country, and a driving tour of the ranch.  A very nice stop.  Lots of activity choices.


Another very fun tour day planned by Wayne Heikkila.  The route included the Hill Country version of Stonehenge Park, driving through the Guadalupe River Valley, BBQ lunch and safari tours at the YO Ranch and lastly, for the shoppers in the group, a visit to the original James Avery jewelry factory.

The YO Ranch was quite a treat!  BBQ lunch was prepared and served in the livestock arena and sale barn.  The initial planning had the location as the area around the swimming pool. The threat of rain caused relocation to the sale barn. Safari tours were offered in school buses painted with an “African camo motif”.  Caught glimpses of a wide variety of animals – zebras, various exotic sheep and most specially, a mama giraffe and baby.  I understand the giraffe approached one of the first tour buses allowing the driver to feed her cookies!  All (well, perhaps some of us) would have loved to feed the giraffe!  The height and width of the door of the giraffe barn was sort of neat sight.

Following YO Ranch, on to James Avery museum and store.  Very interesting displays of early retired designs, tools used in the trade, photos of the start-up facility, etc.  And of course, the staff was most accessible and willing to sell items to our guests!

Kudos to the Support Tour Planning Team Members/Committees

The Hospitality Ladies ensured our guests had healthy snack choices and beverages during the tour – Lynda Rankin, Sue Graner, Ronnie Burt, Sherry Potter ...and Leif Allred transported beverages so no one became “parched” while touring!  Another nice touch in the Hospitality Suite was the presence of a jigsaw puzzle … as the weekend unfolded, many of our members and guests enjoyed it!  And it was finished as the tour concluded.

Silent Auction Planner – Shirley Pearson

Our club members generously donated a wide range of items to the silent auction – weekend at a Wimberley vacation retreat, hand crafted items, signage, and even a margarita machine!  Roughly $3500 was raised and then matched.  The funds were donated to the San Antonio Fisher House which provides a “Home away from Home” for the Veterans and their families while receiving medical crisis care from San Antonio military medical facilities.

Daily Slide Shows – Juan Barraza and Robert Norberg

Candid photography of attendees, tour vehicles, notable landscape and features along the routes.  And all in time, for the enjoyment at the start of our evening programs.

Evening Jazz Entertainment Arrangements – Jay Rester

At the start of each evening, we were entertained by local jazz band entertainers.  Ages of the performers ranged from high school teens to adult.  The music spanned jazz, swing and Big Band arrangements.  A fabulous segue to our meal and finally, the Saturday awards ceremony.

Registration – Greg Herbert, with assistance from Jan Donnell and Barbara Baker. This hard working team tended to welcoming tour participants throughout the weekend of events, and maintained order in the dissemination of information to everyone present. Greg also prepared the tour book which is an important reference and keepsake among those who participated in the event. Greg also maintains the accounting records and  disbursements for tour expenses.

Saturday Evening Awards

In the “Best” category we have:

  • Owner Restored - Gary Potter, 1931 Chevrolet
  • Classic Car – Kyle Slaton, 1931 Touring Cadillac
  • Original Car – Bob Ross, 1984 Cadillac Convertible
  • Brass T – George Brunner, 1912 Ford Mother-in-law Model T
  • Steel T – Juan Barraza, 1927 Ford Model T
  • Orphan Car – David Fields, 1950 Desoto Woody
  • 60's car – Phyllis Davis, 1965 Pontiac GTO Coupe
  • Commercial Vehicle –  Robert Norberg, 1969 GMC Pickup

And to continue,

  • Most Popular Car, voted by attendees, Robert Pledger, 1970 Chevrolet Corvette
  • Chairman's Choice – James Bartlett, 1932 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton
  • Oldest Competing Car – George Brunner, 1912 Ford Mother-in-law Model T
  • Car Driven Farthest – Bobby Clark, 1941 Ford Coupe, from Raymondville, Texas
  • Car Trailed Farthest – David Fields, 1950 Desoto Woody, from El Paso, Texas
  • Oldest Driver on Tour – Wally Graner, 83 years young
  • Youngest Driver on Tour – Britney Husfeld, 35 years of age

And of note, two of our attendees are noteworthy ...

  • Youngest tour attendee – Charles “Charlie” Gambulos III, age 2-ish and
  • Bobby Warren, who has attended EVERY Texas Tour.

The Hard Luck Award concluded Saturday evening.  Contenders for the award follow:  Gary Potter, Dennis Husfield, Chester Toothman, Lisa Chaffin, Mike Murch, Moses Mendoza and Cole Clayton.  Some of the contenders were self-nominated and some were suggested by other members.  It seems that there was a common thread of the hard luck experiences on our 2019 tour … “fuel shortage” issues … oops!  Given the number of such situations, the Hard Luck Award was presented to Chester Toothman, who was both the Vulture Truck driver AND a first time attendee of a Texas Tour!  Welcome Chester!  And congratulations!


Many thanks to the chairmen and chairwomen of the 2019 Texas Tour …

  •            Vic and Jan Donnell
  •            Gary and Barbara Baker

Well done and thank you very much!