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Harry and Judy's RV Trip
18th Apr 2015 - 25th Apr 2015 - San Antonio and Bandera, TX 20
Texas Hill Country-Bandera & San Antonio

Saturday, April 18, 2015-Getting there

We flew Delta from Tampa to Atlanta, an hour layover, then on to San Antonio.  Both flights were smooth, although the pilot apologized for the bumpy ride into San Antonio.  We had heard there were tornadoes looming in Texas this time of year but the whole week was overcast, some sunshine, around 75-85 during the day, cooler at night and more humid than they are used to. 

We stopped at the local grocery story, H.E.B., to stock up for the week.  We’re staying in a condo and while we’ll eat out a few times we like to have breakfast in and usually pack a lunch to take with us.

By the time we got to the condo the office was closed but they left the keys for us in a lockbox and had a welcoming committee of about 50 deer to meet us on the road leading in.  Deer to the right and left of us in people’s yards, munching on grass and low trees, deer in the middle of the road just standing around.  We’re not in the woods but this is Texas and there’s lots of wildlife here.

Unpacked and went into town for dinner.  The town is Bandera, TX, “The Cowboy Capital of the World”.  We ate a nice Tex-Mex dinner at Old Spanish Trail Café, where they had a counter but instead of stools there were saddles to sit on.  We opted for a table but I tried out a saddle and figured I’d do OK until the horse started to move.  Sitting at one of the tables was a “cowboy” with his six-shooters on both hips.  We learned he was the constable and ate there almost every night.  After dinner we walked around town enjoying some of the local bars and their music.  It’s Sat. night and bars like the Chicken Coop, Wild Horse Saloon and Blue Gene’s Dance Hall are swinging with bands and dancing.

Sunday, April 19, 2015-Medina, Kerrville and Ingram

Neither one of us slept well last night, there was a scratching in the wall like an animal was scurrying.  They offered to move us to another unit but we decided to tough it out.

The condo is really nice, four units to a building, six buildings in all, spaced out over a large grassy area, Jacuzzi, fireplace, nice porch off the back overlooking the Medina River.  Quiet area, not many people here, two pools, spa, game room, reading room, tennis courts, volleyball.  And in the back of our unit we saw three orange tabby cats who looked well fed, clean and happy.  Found out from Elvira, the manager, that they had been around for a while, there are actually four adults and two kittens.  My mission-to find the kittens.

We took a ride west to Medina, the apple capital of Texas, then north to Kerrville where we stopped for lunch at a park overlooking the Guadalupe River.  A little further west to Ingram and then came back through Camp Verde, a little town known for its camels.  Seems in 1856 the military brought over 100 camels from Egypt to replace mules and horses because the camels could carry heavier loads and travel longer distances.  It worked until the war ended and funds were needed for reconstruction.  There was no mention of what happened to the camels after that but the whole town is built around the camel experiment.  Lots of goat farms along the way and a bison farm.  Not much cattle.

Back to Bandera, we stopped in The 11th Street Cowboy Bar to see the local action. Yep, there were cowboys two-steppin’ to a nice band out in the back.  We had a drink and joined in for a while, then went back for a badly needed nap that never happened.  But I saw the two kittens playing in the back. And the other adults, too.  All six of them were in the back.  I refuse to feed them but the people upstairs from us left them some food and Elvira bought them some special kibbles and a few toys for the babies. 

Monday, April 20, 2015-San Antonio & Baseball

No much sleep again last night-still scurrying in the walls.

We went to the Bandera Visitor Center and got some info from Cindy who was really helpful and gave us some good ideas. Drove into San Antonio not realizing it was “Fiesta” and it would be crazy busy.

Fiesta in San Antonio goes back to 1890 and is celebrated every year around April 21st, the day Santa Anna, the baddie of the Alamo, was defeated.  There are over 100 events, parades, commemorations, parties, carnivals, balls and dinners during the 17 days of the festival.

We found a parking spot right near the Alamo and visited that first.  We had been here before but it’s always interesting.  Listened a bit to a speaker who re-enacted the battle which was 257 men, women and children defending the Alamo against Santa Anna’s army of over 3000.  The whole slaughter lasted less than a half hour.  There is a model of the battle in the Alamo that makes you realize just how out numbered they were. 

Went to find lunch on the Riverwalk, a walkway around the river on a level right below street level, only to find out the Riverwalk was closing in a half hour because they were decorating for the boat parade, one of the biggest events, later that day.  So we ate on the street level at Rio! Rio!, a great Mexican place with a wonderful view of the Riverwalk below where we watched all the restaurants and stores decorate with piñatas, colorful balloons, banners, tablecloths, flowers, etc. for the festivities later. They told us you had to have made reservations over a year ago for dinner there tonight.

As we walked back to the car past the Alamo they were having a solemn commemoration of the defenders of the Alamo.  There was a silent procession from town into the Alamo by historic, civic, patriotic, military and school groups, all in uniform and costume.  As the names of all the people known to have died at the Alamo were read, including Davy Crockett and James Bowie, these groups would place flowers on a wreath at the entrance.  There was then a memorial service. This was something the see. The costumes were so colorful, especially “King Antonio” and his court, with their gold costumes and crown.  So glad we decided to come into town today and got to see this.

We then drove to Market Square, a huge Mexican market, but the parking was filling up with people arriving for the night and the traffic was crazy so we moved on.

We had tickets for the San Antonio Missions Minor League baseball game so we drove about fifteen minutes to Wolff Stadium and waited for the game to start.  They played the St. Louis Cardinals, a team we had seen last summer in Missouri.  Nice stadium, great seats right at first base, nice night, a bit chilly, glad we had our fleece jackets.  Bottom of the 9th, bases loaded, tie score 3-3.  New pitcher throws the ball right into the dirt at home plate, the catcher can’t get it, runner at 3rd scores to win the game for the Missions 4-3. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015-Route 209 Texas Wine Trail

We needed the heat last night, it was really chilly.  But there was no scurrying noises. We went north to Fredericksburg, a quaint German town that we had visited before but really liked.  Along the way we passed donkey farms, an armadillo farm (go figure), lots of goat farms, peach orchards, long horned cattle, jack rabbits (or hares)-long ears, long legs, really quick!  Beautiful hill country.  We stopped at Chisholm Trail Winery, way off the beaten path but on the original Chisholm Trail.  Two miniature donkeys grazed in the front yard.  From there we stopped at Fredericksburg Winery in the middle of town.  They trade bottles of wine from other areas and we saw some from wineries we had visited in other states.  They trade two bottles at a time, they keep one for their collection and drink the other on the 4th of July when the have a big party.  We walked around town, popped into a few shops, then continued on Route 209 to Grape Church Winery and then 4.0 Vineyards.  They all had nice dry red wines that we liked but we’re flying so we couldn’t buy any.  Passed Wild Seed Farms, the largest working wildflower farm in the country, over 200 acres of gorgeous flowers, all in bloom, blue, yellow, red, pink, white and purple.  Back home through some back roads where a couple of deer leaped in front of us-Oh boy!  The deer in the neighborhood of our condo greet us whenever we leave or come home, we’re getting used to them.  Oh, and the cats and kittens are still in the back of the condo.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Slept well-no noises in the walls.

Decided to stay fairly local today.  Stayed on the porch of the condo and watched the kittens play and read for a while, then went into Bandera.  Lots of little shops here, the Cowboy Store, Bandera General Store, where the biggest concern of the day was that they came and took away all the Blue Bell ice cream that had been recalled.  They sold about $300 a day of ice cream and now what were they to do???  Little stores with friendly owners trying to make a living off the tourists who came to see the cowboys.  And the cowboys are all around town, too.  Horses are tied in front of some of the watering holes.  We ate lunch down by the Medina River at a swimming hole complete with a rope swing used to jump into the river. All the rivers are the color of coffee, light with cream, maybe because of all the rain they’ve had lately. And deer all around.  Drove into Boerne (pronounced Burnee) and tried some wine at Boerne Winery and cigar bar.  Very different way to taste wine.  You bought a card, then used the money on the card to purchase one of three sizes of wine, 1-1/2oz, 3-1/2oz. or 5oz.  The wines were behind a glass dispenser, all different kinds and prices.  You slide the card in, put your glass under the spigot, push the button for the size and selection you want and it fills your glass.  I guess a nice idea, a bit too impersonal for me, although Pedro would check on us every now and then and make sure were OK.  A nice patio outside to enjoy a glass. 

Back to Bandera for The 11th Street Cowboy Bar bring your own meat dinner.  THIS IS THE THING TO DO IN BANDERA on Wednesday nights.  You bring your own meat, (this is Texas so most people brought steak), they supply the seasonings and utensils and you grill it yourself on three huge grills, about 4’ in diameter.  Lots of fun and conversation around the grills and around the bar and seating areas.  They supply huge baked potatoes and salad.  There’s a great band, sawdust on the crowded outdoor dance floor and cowboys and cowgirls all decked out in their finery.  A wonderful time, although one of us had a bit too much two-steppin’ and wine.

Thursday, April 23, 2015-Wild Flowers, Luckenback, Bourbon & LBJ

The noise in the wall has been replaced by the dead animal smell.  We’re going out for the day and won’t be back ‘til late so Elvira said they’d spray something to get rid of the odor and they’d leave the door to another unit open for us in case we wanted to move or just sleep in another unit that night.

We drove to Luckenbach, TX, basically a ghost town with a population of 3.  It consists a building with a post office, general store and beer joint.  The zip code has been retired, so the post office is only open because of tourists.  The general store has too many items to mention, all covered in layers of dust and in back there’s a bar/beer joint with a Willie Nelson wanna be strumming in the corner.  The only other building is a huge dance hall where entertainers still perform.  There were a few shows scheduled for this coming week-end.  A big parking lot because these shows are well attended.  We were the only ones there except for a rooster in the distance who wouldn’t shut up.  Quite an experience.

Cindy, at the Bandera Visitor Center told us about the Willow City Loop, north just a bit.  I had wanted to come to the Texas Hill Country in the spring to see the bluebonnets in bloom but this was incredible.  It’s a 28-mile drive through some windy, narrow roads through farms and cattle ranches, over creeks, some flowing, some dried up with antelope in the fields, long horn cattle, jack rabbits, quail, turkeys, goats, up hills, down ravines all the while with magnificent wild flowers all around us.  Blue, purple, yellow, red, orange, while, gold, I couldn’t get enough.  And just when you thought this view was the best, you’d round a corner to something better.  The road went through cattle farms so we went over a lot of cattle guards and saw cattle on the side of the road.  Lots of creek beds, both dry and running, also.  The sun came out and it was a wonderful drive. 

We then drove a bit east to Hye and the Garrison Brothers Distillery for a bourbon tour.  If you arrive on horseback the tour is free.  We got there too late for the tour but sipped some bourbon outside in a beautiful setting.  This didn’t compare to the bourbon trail in KY but it was interesting.

We found ourselves going past Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Stonewall, so why not visit that?  It was a self guided drive through his boyhood home, school, birth place, homestead, through the still working cattle ranch with beautiful Hereford cattle, to the Texas White House Complex and plane hangar and museum.

Back to the condo late, the smell wasn’t too bad, we only have two more nights so we decided to tough it out in the same unit.

Friday, April 24, 2015-Our Last Day

OK, we’re not that tough…we’re moving to another unit!  Didn’t take long to move and we had to start packing up to go home anyway.  This unit’s just as nice as the last one but no smell.  Went to Medina, where we stopped in at the Apple Store.  They sell everything apples, including trees.  They were in the middle of baking pies with golden delicious apples and I’ve never seen pies piled so high.  I would never think of using golden delicious for pies thinking they would be too sweet but they said they were quite tart.  Back to Bandera to Mulberry’s Wine Bar for a drink then to Busbees’s BBQ, which was featured on the History Channel, for some TX BBQ.  We had brisket slow cooked for 16 hours and it was great. 

Back to the condo to try one last time to try to pet the kittens but no luck. Watched a movie we had brought

Saturday, April 25, 2015-Back Home

Elvira said they have to close our previous room for a few weeks and maybe break into the wall to find the problem.  She tried to get me to take the kittens back home, although I know she would miss them. 

Our flight doesn’t leave ‘til 2:40.  We thought about trying to go back to San Antonio Market Square but there’s another parade this morning and traffic is crazy.  Went to another H.E.B. Plus store just to waste some time, then brought the rental car back and got to the airport about an hour before take off.  Both flights were good, layover in Atlanta was just long enough for us to get a nice dinner and then board the last leg.  Love Tampa Airport, our luggage was on the carousel when we got to it, just picked up our suitcases, got on the shuttle to long term parking and we were home by 11:30.  There’s no place like home!!!!



Next: Days 1 & 2-June 1-2, 2015-to Chattanooga, TN
Previous: Day 58-September 1, 2014-Labor Day-SPLAT!


Diary Photos

Deer Welcoming Committee

Guadalupe River

Camp Verde Camel sculpture

Camp Verde General Store

11th St. Cowboy Bar Front

11th St. Cowboy Bar Rear

Horses in front of bar

Our Condo outside

Two feline friends

Us at Alamo

Riverwalk decorated for parade

Alamo commemoration

King Antonio

Leaving the commemoration

San Antonio Missions Baseball game

Chisholm Trail Winery

Downtown Fredericksburg

Wild Farm seed farm

More wild flower seed farm

Pink wild flowers

Texas hills

Rear porch at condo

Main St., Bandera, TX

Friends at lunch

Lunch down by the river

Moose the dog guarding the bar

Bourne Winery interior

11th St. Cowboy Bar interior

Chef at work

Harry and friend

Harry blends right in

Locals

Luckenbach, TX PO, general store and bar

Luckenbach beer bar

Welcome to Luckenbach

More wildflowers

Wildflowers on Willow City Loop

Long horn cattle

Bluebonnets

Even more wildflowers

Cows on Willow loop

Cattle guard on Willow City Loop

Harry tasting bourbon

LBJ Ranch

Hereford on LBJ ranch

LBJ's Air Force One

LBJ's Texas White House

The whole cat family

Second condo room

Muddy Medina River

Ready to bake

Harry'd much rather have a cookie

Wildlife crossing

Cowboy Capital of the World

Busbee's BBQ

Pools at condo

Fiesta sign

Diary Movies

11th St. Cowboy bar video

11th St. Cowboy Bar video 2


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