Thursday, February 21, 2008

Austin and Hippie Hollow

We decided to take a day and go for a drive to Austin and Lake Travis and the Hill Country. A nice drive that turned into a 300 mile round trip!
The first part was simple, right. Drive up 35 to Austin and then into Austin to see the Capitol and the University of Texas. I didn't realize that for all practical purposes the drive is simply through one continuous city. Yuk. Then entering Austin the traffic was heavy. We were glad we didn't have our house!
After running just one red light and scaring 2 people in a small car, we got back onto 35 and headed to Lake Travis. All city,(I must say people here are friendly as several beeped their horns and waved at me). As we reached the Lake the homes became mansions. As it was after noon we saw a sign for a county park, Hippie Hollow. We drove to it only to discover that it was a private park and cost ten bucks. The gate keeper informed us that it was a clothing optional beech and thats why it cost so much. I asked him if we could take images and videos and he said no...... so we left and went to another park that was closed. We were able to get in, walk the dog, use the facilities, eat and then continue. I tried to take a image from there of the nude people but it was too far away.
We continued driving and promptly missed a turn. Renita asked me if I wanted to go west and I said of course. 30 miles later I realized I was going west, hmmmmmm.
Backtracking our route we got on track and drove through a really pretty area. The Hill Country of Texas is like Northeast. Iowa. A little more relief and cactus, but the same. We got back to San Antonio just in time for a traffic jam! Clear skies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Mission Trail

We were told, by a fellow retire, that after seeing the Alamo and the Riverwalk, "There is nothing else to see in San Antonio". Right. Anyway we decided to go to the another landmark, the San Jose Mission, which is one of the five missions that make up the mission trail in San Antonio.
What a surprise! The Missions actually make up a national historical site. The park headquarters is at Mission San Jose and from the moment we drove near we knew that we were in for a treat.
A little history. The missions were built by the Fransicans around 1760 and were a way for Spain to lay claim to the vast desert southwest. The missions were also a way to convert the native people into christianity. All of the missions fell into disreapair after the missions were turned over to the local people(an order from Mexico), after the revolution), and were repaired during the 1930's by the WPA.
The Mission at San Jose, pictured above, and all the missions are active churches. It was delightful to walk the grounds, view the roman arches, the Rose Window, the elaborate front, the grainary, convent, and the entire ground. By far the neatest thing we had done here so far! We took the guided, and free, Ranger tour.
After the tour we decided to drive to Mission Concepion,(right image), as this one still has original frescos. Another treat! After that we had to drive and see Mission San Juan, Misson Espanda and the Espanda Aquaduct,(We were only able to glimpse the aqueduct as the park closed at 5 pm but we did make all the missions). These four Missions, along with the Alamo,(San Antonio MIssion), comprise the Missions on the Mission Trail. A full afternoon that reminded us of our time in Spain. A must see in San Antonio! Clear skies.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Riverwalk

There were at least two things we wanted to do in San Antonio, visit the Alamo and see the Riverwalk. We saw the Alamo on Sunday so yesterday we drove back to downtown San Antonio for the Riverwalk and for Renita to get a makeover.
Yup, a makeover. After 28 years of long hair she decided to be more modern and get her hair cut short, in a Katie Holmes bob,(whoever Katie Holmes is escapes me?)(Oh don't worry kids we won't become scientologists). Anyway she made an appointment with a hair stylist at the Riverview Mall and had it done. She loves it and so do I!
After the do, we went to eat at an Italian Resturant, Luciano's, and then bought tickets for the Riverwalk Tour Boat. We both really enjoyed it!
The Riverwalk is a channel built as a canal in the heart of the city. It's 2.5 miles long and lined with tress. flowers, cafes, and neat landscaping. The tour guide was a Che Che Chong wannabe and was funny as he ad libbed the script,(while it was in english, riding the boat and walking the Riverwalk, in fact all of San Antonio does make me wish my spanish is a whole lot better. There is not a lot of cultural divirity here as it's mostly hispanic. We were so isolated in Gillette! I watched an elementary school group walk by, one anglo and the rest hispanic, it reminds me of being in Spain!).Anyway, If you are ever in San Antonio do the Riverwalk! Clear skies.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Alamo

Of course the Alamo has been a must see spot, ever since I saw Fess Parker portray Davey Crockett. So when we got to San Antonio there were two must sees, the Alamo and the River Walk.
We took a cicuritous route to the Alamo so I could see how we would travrl when we left, and turned a 10 mile drive into a 30 mile drive. But sight seeing is good. When we got there we found a paid parking lot, 12 bucks, parked, and started walking to the Alamo.
Winding our way through stores we got in line. The first thing is the church, which has names of the defenders, some displays and is composed of four or so rooms. I was surprised that the area was roofed as only one section was actually done at the time of the battle. The historical society wanted a roof so.... The best part of the chruch was the small room where the women and children hid. A tour guide explained a lot there, about the end of the battle and the construction of the church. No mention of the controversy about whether anyone survived and then was excuted. I am surprised that there are no written records of the women?
Leaving the church, you then enter a courtyard which has been filled with plants and trees. A very nice place. However for some reason Texas decided they needed a gift shop so one was built in 1936(?).
We both enjoyed the Alamo, I guess I was somewhat disappointed as I expected a typical National Park Historical site and instead got what it is. A small site that is overwhelmed by people and surrounded by malls and stores.
Still worth seeing. (The church pictured ,on the right, is St Joesphs, built in 1868 and the oldest functioning church in the city.) Clear skies.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

San Antonio

After 4 months on the coast it seemed kind of sad to leave the dolphins, beaches and fishing behind, but there are too many adventures ahead. So with a promise, and reservations already made, we drove 160 miles to Branig Lake RV park which is 10 miles south of San Antonio.
The drive was very easy, a good highway with not much traffic. I tried to make an easy drive challenging by printing the directions for the state park instead of the RV park so of course I ended up going the wrong way and backing up a long way and driving on a road not meant for rvs......... Anyway it ended ok.
The rv park is ok for a visit, cement pads, full hookups, and cheap. Its an older park, kind of reminds me of Vicksburg's River View Campground.
Today is supposed to e stormy so it's a rest day, before we head for the Alamo and the river walk. I am working on my spanish as there are more spansh channels than english on the free tv. Also more free than on the cable hookup. What's with that? I spent a little time looking up places further down the road, and I am excited with the adventures to come! Clear skies.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Port Aransas

We are enjoying our stay here, Mustang Island State Park, and decided to stay another three days. Among other things, We decided to check out Port Aransas.
Port Aransas is the place where you cross on the ferry to go to Mustang Island.
We drove there and instead of going to the ferry we took a left and went to the beach. What a neat place! We discovered a whole bunch of things that make a return trip a must. Lots of stores, a huge jetty, and a county park with camping.
The stores, of course intrigued Renita. There is a tackle shop that interests me.
I have to laugh as just about every place gives away hermit crabs. There are so many on the beach that free crabs from a store seems like a joke but we met a couple that didn't know that the shells they were picking up may contain the crabs. We were like that too, one time, so it was funny watching them watch the crab crawling for the ocen.
The county park also contains a fishing pier and a huge jetty. The pier had a few fisherman on it but the jetty was covered with fisherman, some of whom were catching nice redfish. The jetty is actually a huge rock wall that protects the pass through which the boats reach the gulf. The water is clear and the tides are strong. As we were walking out I found out that the jetty is slippery as ice as I fell and almost slid into the water. Luckily I wasn't hurt but I am still sore two days later. We saw dolphins, of course, and talked with some of the fisherman.
After carefully walking back we went in search of the restrooms and saw campers, so we checked that out. Now there were campers on the beach and in the parking lot, but these other campers were at campsites with hook ups. We stopped at the park headquaters and it turns out they charge 10 bucks a night for primitive camping and 18 a night for electricity and water hookups. There was also lots of room, as you would expect as the state park and national shoreline are a lot cheaper. Still it was nice to know that there are campsites available, if all others are full.
Anyway we plan on returning there today to do a little shopping and some fishing. It's either that or go see Hillary in Rodsville. Easy choice. Clear skies.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Whiting, Ghost Shrimp, Beach Driving, Oh My!

What a fun time the past couple of days have been! Yesterday was spent fishing and running to the bait dealers, and today was fishing, shelling, and beach driving. More of the same.
Yesterday, I was excited to go fishing off the jetty,(in the park), and got out there early. I cast out and promptly caught a hardhead catfish. As I sat there a dolphin and sea turtle swam nearby. Then something neat happened. A guy from Missouri, Rick, was catching bait in the rocks and came over and talked with me about what he was doing. He was using a knife to cut sea annomea's from the rocks for bait! He had a jar full and told me they were one of the best baits you could catch!(He also warned me to wear a rubber glove as they sting and you lose feeling in your hand for a couple of days. Anyway he gave me one and then showed me what a ghost shrimp looked like and told me how to catch them.
So after catching some whiting,(4), meeting Renita and checking out her shells and starfish,(3), I had to rush to Corpus Christi to buy a shrimp sucker upper.Of course when i went into the tackle shop a female employee asked if she could help me? How do you ask a member of the opposite sex for a device that sucks shrimp? Anyway I got one.
The next morning we drove down to the National Seashore and drove 19 miles south to Big Shell Beach. I went to the waters edge and started using the creature catcher. It worked! I had fresh bait! I caught another whiting! Life is good. While I was doing this Renita filled her shell sack! What a day.
I was so excited that Renita had to drive the truck, 20 miles back on the beach! We were both tired when we got home. Fresh Whiting for dinner. Clear skies

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Mustang Island State Park

We arrived safely at Mustang Island Sate Park, after traveling 63 miles and driving in high winds. We stopped and registered and parked our house in campsite number 14. We spent the rest of the day waiting for the front to come through. The winds were even worse that evening.
The next day we needed to resupply so we went into Corpus Christi, shopped, and then tried to find Our Lady of Perpetual Hope for Ash Wednesday services, but no luck. So we returned to our home.
That evening, after setting up the bikes,(we went for a ride), we went to church at St Andrews By the Sea and it was wild! The church had no walls! It was packed with people who sat on cement benches and it had wood kneelers. They had carpet remants for your seats. It was really nice and the priest used an abbreviated service so no one died from hypothermia:) It was kind of like going to a football game. We enjoyed it and after Mass we went to the Nights of Columbus fish fry.
While the fish wasn't great we did meet a nice couple from Maple Grove, Minnestota, who are camping at Malquite beach at the National shoreline, ten miles south. We had a nice visit and got thrown out as we talked too long. We hope to see them on Friday as we are going there shelling. Clear skies.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Goodbye Rockport

Well the day has finally arrived and it's time to head on down the road, but I did want to say a few things about Rockport. In a nutshell, we really like it here.
One of our fears of going fulltime was the worry of missing friends and the dificulty of making new ones. One of the things that helped us was something my sister, Connie said, "When I meet new people, "I always think, will she be a friend"?
So we have met a lot of people here, all nice, and we have made some new friends. Bud and Chris, from Perryton Tx, Roy and Mary Lou, from sw Minnesota, and MIke and Rose from Wisconsin,(but now fulltiming).
We have been blessed. Everyone is friendly,(to paraphrase Mike, we are all in the same boat with common interests), and so we have booked a return here for next year. This time for three months as we have barely scratched things to do here.
As to the park, it's difficult to judge as it's the first one we have stayed at for a month. The weekly buffets and ice cream socials have been a great way to meet people. The internet connect at this spot is iffy but it was good up the hill.
We also did see some dolphins here as we are on the waters edge.
So it's time to move on. Today we are only traveling on to Mustang Island,(a week there), ad then San Antonio and then Big Bend and then................
Clear skies

Sunday, February 3, 2008


We couldn't believe all the beads we brought home from the town of Lamars, Madregras.
The parade was suprisingly long, it lasted about an hour, and I was also surprised that all the floats still had beads to give by the time they reached us.
The trip to Lamar was only about five miles. It was the rebuilt town that was destroyed by union warships in the Civil War, and so we were not really sure where it was,(the site of the Big Tree). We did the simple thing, we followed the cars.
Once we got to the route we parked in the right of way and only had to walk a little to the route.
The parade reminded us of our town's parades, every firetruck, law enforcement vehicle, and politician took part, along with a classic car club, the local bikers, cheerleaders, and loose wonmen took part. All in all a fun time.
Luckily no fires broke out as the towns of Lamar, Fulton, and Rockport all sent their fire trucks!
After enjoying the parade we went home and decorated the house in beads. Clear skies.