Sunday, April 30, 2023


Tonight we're nestled in amongst the refineries just east of Houston,  in Baytown, TX.     It's been a hard drive, our usually successful strategy of trying to pass through big cities on a Sunday failed us today.    


Tonight will be our last night in Texas, tomorrow we move into Louisiana.    We entered  this huge state from the west, through El Paso, and stopped for the first night at Ft. Stockton.      We've stayed at the very windy Hilltop RV Park before.    It's a no frills, neat, clean and friendly gravel park that, in the past, was in the middle of a range of sheep.      They were protected by a huge and very sweet Great Pyrenees dog who would often come over for a little treat and scratch before returning to her herd.     Neither the sheep nor their beautiful bodyguard were there this year....sigh.    The scenery was....flat - nothing to stop the ferocious wind so we kept our slides pulled in all night and had a good sleep.      

Our next stop was in Junction TX.    Pecan Valley RV Park was set behind a huge, old Pecan grove and was, as touted, peaceful and very quiet.     Just birdsong, chickens are birds, right?    The park was virtually empty and the sites were large and grassy.   An arm of the North Llano River ran along one side and added to the parks bucolic feeling. 

 Beautiful free range chickens ( I mean, really free range chickens) roamed everywhere and, due to the Park's, suggestion that we toss them any non-meat scraps, they came running as fast as their little chicken legs could run when someone exited their rig! case.   Deer passed through casually and calmly.

 I hadn't been feeling well and there was no tv reception at the park, so it was an early night for us.

The next morning we continued on to our next Texas stop, Potters Creek COE campground at Canyon Lake.     The dammed lake is south of  Austin and a little north of San Antonio, the campground was spacious and relatively empty when we arrived on Wednesday (but filled up completely on Saturday!)     The lake level was low, our lakeside site was quite a distance from the actual shore line, but it was still a nice view.  

 Beautiful Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers visited us daily at second cup.    They kept the bugs away and we were mesmerized by their long and expressive tails and their precision flight.  

I picked Canyon Lake for it's proximity to a couple of nearby German settlements. Gruene (Green), Bourne (Burn-ee) and New Braunfels.        You guessed it, German Food!     In the end, we never did have a German meal (the restaurant I'd chosen was closed when we arrived) but did manage to eat very well indeed.        After being thwarted in our quest for  a German linner, I found a hidden Gem, Huisache Grill.   It was a really hidden gem......we drove the wrong way on a one way dirt alley to find it and then had to reverse down the alley to locate was very worth it.

 The food was wonderful, plentiful and the atmosphere was charming - filled with interesting original art pieces and a domed wooden ceiling.

all gone.....

After stopping at the Visitor's Center (yes, Pam - the visitor's center!) we decided to take an afternoon's drive on River Road, along the pretty, clear Guadalupe River.    The road was pretty, a canopy of live oaks overarched it and the river was maddeningly close - but not accessable at all.

Fencing (wood, wire and/or stone), "Toobing" rentals and Air bnb's abounded.   Signs warning not to park or stand, trespass or enjoy (unless your were staying there or renting there) were everywhere.    In one spot, on a small bridge, I managed to take a quick shot of the pretty river.  sigh.    We were disappointed.    

The gentleman in the VC suggested we try the Gristmill Riverside Restaurant in tiny Gruene.  

 We found large crowds of people strolling the little sidewalks, enoying the beautiful day and pretty flowers.   I held out little hope of getting a meal at this popular restaurant set in an old Cotton Gin (built in 1878, partially burned in 1922, and repurposed into a huge, multistory restaurant in 1977) but decided to give it a try.   We were pleasantly surprised to be led directly to a window table with shady, cool views of the River below. 

We enjoyed glasses of a nice Gruene Rose and only managed to eat half our enormous and delicous meals.   The restaurant was not at all what we expected, it was quiet and cool (very hot and muggy outside) and the service friendly and prompt.   And the food!    A real winner.     After we finally pushed away from the table we strolled around the rest of the place and marveled at the interesting stone and wood work left from the fire.    We're both so glad we decided to not let our preconceived notions (crowded, touristy, huge) hold us back.


The sky was beginning to cloud over in Gruene and the weather forecast was for strong thunder storms, wind, hail and possible tornadoes in the late afternoon/evening so we decided it was time to head back to Beluga and hunker down.    Before we did that, however, I may or may not have consumed a teeny tiny scoop of goat cheese/raspberry jam ice cream and made another grandma purchase......

On the way home we took a little detour to check out the huge earthen dam that keeps Canyon Lake where it belongs.    Some wildflowers are still dotting the meadows nearby.

The sky was filled with oddly lit mammatus clouds as we arrived and we expected trouble.   We pulled in the slides and waited, but the event, at least over us, turned out to be just strong winds and heavy rain.   No hail or funnel clouds - phew!

Yesterday dawned beautiful and sunny.    We hung around and enjoyed our campsite for the morning and then decided to try some Texas BBQ for our last meal out.     We chose Coopers BBQ in New Braunfels.     

Stay tuned for the next leg of the Food, Friends and Family Tour, Louisiana and Florida!    Nightie Night.

(As I was getting washed up and ready for bed (it's been a long day), the Flower Filcher struck again.......)

They smell divine!

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Friends, Family and Food tour begins

Friends - We had a delightful outdoor Easter Dinner at MonaLiza and Steve' home.  Later that week we met them for an outdoor lunch at Nicols West, before we hit the road for our 5-6 month summer trip.    

wonderful grilled salmon

my flourless Easter bunny cake

First stop was one of our favorite places - Catalina State Park, north of Tucson.    It's a difficult park to get reservations at and I was able to score three mid week nights so we were happy campers.

still some color along the roadside near Picacho Peak

campsite view at Catalina

Friends?    We had an unusual visitor at second cup one morning.     He stayed for about 10 minutes before continuing on his way.

 It was a curious guy, stopping to check things out along the way.....not us, just "things" that evidently interest a snake.

He (in the effort to not discriminate - it may have been a she) checked out Beluga's headlight and finding nothing interesting there, he (it) continued along beneath and out alongside the Jeep, stopping to check out a rear tire.

Dave let his coffee get cold so he could watch it pass by under Beluga

It was surprisingly (to me) beautiful and very non-threatening.    I guess as long as a snake doesn't startle me, touch me or rattle at me I'm ok with them.       So much for our morning entertainment.

Since we were so busy preparing for a 5 or 6 month Motorhome trip, we're taking it easy (in the exploration department) for these first few stops.      One of our reasons to stop in the Tucson area was for Food.     

Food - Vivace's Fish Soup was calling Dave.    And a sweet little baby boutique across the street enticed me to make a first grandma purchase.....

happy man with Fish Soup

can you say "cowgirl"?

We missed having a Sonoran Hot Dog in Wickenburg this year, so we headed to one of the best places to have one in north Tucson.....El Guero Canelo.

out of focus because I had to be quick....someone was tapping his fingers.

nom nom nom

In the interest of taking it easy in the beginning of this trip (and possibly walking off those Sonoran dogs...) we drove to Madera Canyon and took a little stroll along the stream.    

We were on alert for birds but only saw Acorn Woodpeckers, Mexican Jays, Turkeys, Nuthatch, and some Broad billed hummingbirds at the Santa Rita Lodge feeder stations.     My little camera couldn't capture any photos and heaven forbid we step in front of one of the big honking cameras wielded by several gentlemen.   Instead, we just enjoyed watching them flit from feeder to flower to feeder.    Later on we noticed a single Coatimundi walking around under the feeders, it was limping and didn't look well.

Mostly, we just strolled and enjoyed the sounds of the stream and birds overhead.    Can your body get too much trytophan from a hot dog ????

my favorite lizard

Friday morning we continued on to Las Cruces, NM where we have a beautiful sight at the KOA.

From Beluga's windshield we look out over the city and the distant Organ Mountains.   Stunning, day or night.

Food - Last night we were planning on going into the old town of Mesilla to visit a favorite restaurant, La Posta (in a national historic landmark building) I was feeling a bit under the weather.   Instead we drove in and got take out so Dave could still enjoy a wonderful New Mexican burrito and sopaipilla for desert.   No photos were taken, take out containers are not photogenic.    Note to self, sopaipilla lose their appeal when "taken out".....

Today I was feeling a bit better so we drove around a bit and enjoyed the area.


 We enjoyed brunch/linner at A Bite of Belgium.  We sat outside in the warm sun until a table opened on the small outdoor patio.  

Oh Dave.....he couldn't resist

 Food and service were exceptional, including the Mimosas!    Dave enjoyed a Southwestern Florentine Benedict and I had a Liege Waffle, Bacon and Fresh Fruit (pretty prickly pear mimosa too!)   

Tomorrow morning we head out again, into the wide state of Texas.    Stay tuned.