Saturday, April 9, 2016

Texas - 1st and 2nd stop

Big Spring

The Lone Star State was home for two weeks and three stops. February 21, 2016 was the day we arrived in Big Spring, TX. This was a two night stop to break up the trip. The drive into Texas took us from rolling hills to flat land, dotted with oil rigs and field after field of cotton.

Looks like snow but it is cotton - we have seen
a lot of hay bales - these were our first cotton bales
We stayed at the Whip In RV Park. It is right off of I-10 and there was a lot of traffic noise. The sites were very close together, but once again long enough for us to fit. They had a small dog park and the laundry room and rest rooms were very clean. Nancy forgot to get pictures of the site, and we never took the car off of the tow-dolly so no sightseeing was done. 


February 23, 2016 we moved on to Comfort, TX. Another fairly boring drive through flat scrub land and more cotton fields and oil rigs, until you get closer to Comfort, which is in Hill Country. Then you actually start seeing the color green again. Trees and grass popping up every where, so nice to see after all the brown. 
We stayed at the RV Park USA, it is also right off of the highway but very little road noise. Really friendly place, from Penny the owner to all of the guests. Most of them are here either permanently or for extended stays. The park is very well maintained and the sites are average size. There is a really nice laundromat but unfortunately none of the machines were working. One was still up and running but the load I did didn't spin out so the towels were dripping wet. Ended up at the laundromat in town. 

Comfort is about midway between San Antonio and Austin. It is a small town that is known for all of its antique stores. San Antonio was our first exploration.
We went to the Alamo, which is right downtown. A really interesting place. In what was once barracks you watch a video that was very informative and then you can wander through display rooms that are well laid out and interactive, all of it is handicap accessible. The grounds are beautiful, there is a 100 year old tree and lots of flowers, as well as a water channel that has giant gold fish in it. The church, which is quite pretty is filled with displays. You are not allowed to take any pictures inside the church.  
Gift shop on the left
The buildings are very well preserved, the gift shop looks like it was part of the original buildings, but was built in 1937 as a museum. 

In front of the Alamo is a large Cenotaph, or "empty tomb". This monument pays tribute to the men who died defending the ancient mission in 1836 rather than surrender to overwhelming odds. It is titled "The Spirit of Sacrifice" and was created by sculptor, Pompeo Coppini. Work on it began in 1937 and took two years to complete. According to local lore it marks the spot where the slain defenders were piled after the battle and burned in giant funeral pyres. The figures on the side are some of the defenders, including Davy Crockett. 
It was dark as we were leaving the city which gave us a beautiful night view of the Alamo. 

The River Walk was everything we expected and more. You leave the busy streets behind as you walk down a flight of stairs and enter another world. It's hard to believe that just above you is a concrete jungle.

The river twists and turns through downtown and is bordered on both sides with sidewalks. There is no lack of places to eat, drink or shop. Everything from a dollar type store (a nice one) to very high end clothes and art galleries. 

There are lush plants, waterfalls, flowers and tress that provide pops of color and welcomed shade. We wandered up and down, crossing the river on the foot bridges provided. Each major street has a stairway and elevator so access is easy. 

Beautiful at night
We stopped to talk to a guy handing out maps, we should know better than to make eye contact! Turns out Mason works for Wyndham Properties, we really liked him so we agreed to go and listen to a sales pitch, in exchange for a $75.00 gift card. We listened to the pitch, didn't buy into it, although it is an interesting vacation package and then enjoyed a great steak dinner at Salt Grass Steak House. Some place we wouldn't have gone to on our own. You need to add San Antonio to your bucket list of places to go. We can't wait to go back again.
Fariytale carriages

Our quest to visit all of the Presidential Libraries and Museums took us to Austin. Asheville is often compared to Austin so we were anxious to see what it was like. It is much bigger than Asheville, with more high-rise buildings. We did see some similarities as far as out of the ordinary stores and liberal political signs. There are some very interesting apartment/condo buildings. 
The LBJ Memorial Library and Museum is on the campus of Texas A & M Austin. The building itself is pretty plain compared to some of the others we have been to. It is laid out fairly similar to the others, connected rooms with pictures, artifacts and videos detailing his presidency and life. 

So much happened during his time, that there was a lot to look at. 

One of the first displays is long rows of pens, they are the ones used to sign the Civil Rights Act. 

Throughout the museum were red boxes with a phone on them. You could pick up the phone and listen to actual phone conversations that he had with other people. 

The library section covers four floors and holds 45 million pages of documents.  
R: FDR by Emil Seletz L: Sunning by Gary A Yarrington 

There is a sculpture garden on an outside patio. A number of his quotes are on the walls throughout the museum. 
They use pictures of rock n roll
stars as your food number

Once again we found ourselves leaving just as rush hour started and what better way to spend rush hour then at a brewery. We had dinner at the ABGB Brewery (Austin Beer Garden Brewing Company) It is in an old warehouse, with rows of picnic tables, bar seating and a raised counter at the windows. The outside patio is huge, with three different levels. Food was great and the bear was good.

Corpus Christi and San Padre Island were a little over 2 hours away but so worth the drive. 
We didn't explore much of Corpus Christi as we wanted to get to the beach but we were able to find a few roadside oddities. 
The Demon of Corpus Christi guards a recycling center, and once was an amusement park attraction. In drastic contrast the other oddity we found was Jesus in a Boat. He stands watch over the shore line in front of the First United Methodist Church. 

The Padre Island National Seashore protects the worlds longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island. The 70 miles of sand and shell beaches, share space with windswept dunes, grasslands, and tidal flats full of life. It is a beautiful and peaceful place that has made the list of places we would like to go back to one day and spend more time exploring. 
They have a large visitor/ranger station, with a gift shop and information on the island. There is a beach at the visitor center, so there is also showers and changing rooms. Driving out on to the beach was so cool. We passed a few RV's and trailers set up on the beach and a number of people surf fishing as we headed to mile marker 15. One girl had a large crowd gathered while she was pulling in a very large sand shark. Once it was weighed and measured they released it back into the water.

While exploring the beach and the dunes we came across a large tortoise shell, that seemed to have been there for quite some time. Mielikki had a blast running in and out of the water, which was so warm we could hardly believe it. 

There were birds everywhere. Seagulls, sandpipers, herons, and pelicans to name a few. 

Houston here we come!

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way.
~ That Swiffer® comes in handy. 
In our blog post from Elma, WA we shared how we used our Swiffer® to clean the wall behind our couch. 
We found another use for it. Our slide outs have a protective awing over the top of them. Great for keeping rain out, but difficult to clean under. The top of the slide out was covered in dirt and pollen. The length of the slides and the awing make it hard to reach all the way across. Swiffer® to the rescue. Made clean up swift and easy. 

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