Gee, has it been a month since that last post? Yes it has. Wow, time does fly. So lets play catch up
After Sante Fe, we dropped down into Texas. We went through west Texas pretty fast, stopping only at a winery for the night (see previous post about Harvest Hosts). We saw wild turkeys on the way out of Lubbock, so that was cool.
Then to another winery in the Texas Hill Country, which Karin found stunning in full spring bloom of wild flowers…and we mean everywhere. So this whole trip has been eye opening for Karin. As we passed through Arizona, New Mexico, and now Texas, she continually exclaimed, “This is so beautiful, and not at all what I was expecting.” I finally turned to her and asked, “What did you think that the entire US Southwest was an unending parade of brown dirt, sand and scrubby bush?”
“Yes. I thought it was all like Southwest Idaho.”
OK, it’s not. Especially in the spring when all these areas are to some degree putting on their magic flower shows.
We dropped down in the San Antonio and had the chance to see niece Sarah, her hubby Ryan (Congrats again on the new Masters Degree), and the kids; Brooklyn, Jaxon and Ryder. What a hoot it was to hang with these kids. And a reminder of how much work toddlers are. Sarah, you are amazing.
It was also nice to see how Ryan’s Mom Kathy, Boppi and the girls are settling in after the move to Texas. (Sorry about the Unicorn thing Gabby, you’ll get used to it.)
After playing around, touring the Alamo and Riverwalk, and such, we were off again to Austin to catch up with House Darby-Smith (Amanda, Brandon, and the kids; Eleanor, Henrik and Lennox). Yet another awesome family we are blessed to play with from time to time.
While the kids were in care and parents working, Karin and I got to see a little of Austin. We toured the Lady Bird Johnson Wild Flower Center and the Johnson Presidential Library. OK, we also found cool Austin breweries
It was also fun to hang out in the cool neighborhood in Austin where the kids have built a home. With the explosion of tech jobs in Austin, the Meuller Neighborhood is an interesting experiment in what you can do with an old airport. In this case redevelop it into a mixed use neighborhood that is designed to be walkable, transit oriented, and have a mix of housing styles and priced….to try to make sure it’s not just a home for the rich. We’ll see how affordable it is in the long run, but they are trying. The mix of shops and restaurants, all in walking distance is awesome. They need it cause traffic in Austin general is terrible. Ugh. Price of success and notorious Texas aversion to taxes that might pay for solutions. Good luck on that.
One of the highlights of our stay with the Darby-Smiths was what we all thought as a wine tasting and a local farm. But it turned out to be a tour of the most amazing urban farm, while we drank champagne with the owner. I’ll let Karin explain….
This urban farm was created and worked by a woman who owned a restaurant in East Austin for 25 years and now supports area restaurants with organic food from her farm. It’s a beautiful spot with herbs, greens and fruit growing in every spot imaginable. They raise ducks, chickens and rabbits. They have 2 donkeys to eat garden waste and create compost for the garden. A self sustaining enterprise. It was wonderful. Plus we got to drink French champagne during the farm tour. The gander’s name is Gustavo and will give goosey kisses to everyone. It such a such a pleasure for me (I really miss my garden) to hang out and talk plants and pet the critters.
After Texas, we decided to run over to New Orleans. Our friends Deborah and Marty have been living out dream….of moving there for four months to get the feel of the place. We figured, we’d stop by for a weekend.
You can drive from Austin to NOLA in a day….but we don’t have to. So we found a winery again South of Houston that was great (The woman who is their head wine maker got her start in a winery in Nampa, Idaho…small world). Then we stopped at a brewery in the middle of nowhere in Louisiana. Bayou Teche Brewing in Arnaudville. It’s a small place that makes a big brew. They also have a wood fired oven for making pizza. And it’s good.
One thing we came to understand in Louisiana is that what ever they are doing with state tax revenues, it’s not spent keeping the roads smooth. Holy poop. The long miles on causeways over gator filled swamp is one thing. You expect those expansion joints to have a little bump. But when you’re on US90 from Lafayette to New Orleans, on dry land, the road was so crappy, I got off and drove on the frontage road. It was in better shape. Sheesh.
It was better in New Orleans cause we just parked the rig and took an Uber into the quarter to meet Marty and Deborah. We had drinks in the historic Roosevelt Hotel, then walked to dinner at Nina Comptin’s Compere Lapin….awesome. Caribbean- and European-accented takes on New Orleans flavors. It was fabulous.
The next day, based on Marty and Deborah’s recommendation, we wandered the Quarter, and went over to Frenchman Street for music at the Spotted Cat Music Club. No cover, just by a drink during ever set and you keep your seat. The music was great, and the beer was cold.
But time waits for no one. BD was having a health scare back home so we had to start back.
We skittered North, up through Mississippi and into Arkansas, stopping briefly at Hot Spring National Park. Lovely, and we’ll be coming back here….to take the treatment. But we wanted to get back should BD need us, and we went through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and into Wyoming in just two days.
We stopped at a Bison ranch south of Cheyanne for a night, and that was tasty done up all BBQ. We then shot across Wyoming, cut the corner on Utah and rolled into the Camas Prairie to see Rebecca, Jeff, and all the nephews and nieces. And it was here that we learned BD was on the mend…so we decided enough time on the road. We’re going to stay a few days. Besides, that lets us put on our hat and boots and see if we can be useful at all.
There was also that track meet on the following Tuesday, and Braydon, Briana and Levi were all competing. We had to stay for that.
After the track meet, we rolled on, stopping a night in a remote campground in Eastern Oregon, at a winery in the Tri-Cities, and then for a couple nights at a pretty state campground near Winthrop, WA. You have to love Winthrop. They had to have a meeting one day decades ago where they said, “Well, that Bavarian thing is going well for Leavenworth. What can we do?” And the western theme town was born. It’s very cute, you just want to put on your boots and mosey down the wooden planked sidewalks to the Saloon for a whiskey. In our case, the Old School House brewery.
Finally, it was time to get up and over the North Cascades Highway, which was beautiful and still had lots of snow at the top. There were lots of hardy outdoors fold strapping on their backcountry skies with moleskins on the bottom so they could climb up, and then get some last runs of the season in on the snow.
And just like that, we were home. Well almost. Our engine mechanic on the boat was still doing a few tweaks on our engine, so we camped in sight of Anacortes at Bayview State Park for 3 days while he finished. It was not a hardship in any way. It was peaceful and allowed us to wind down from 6+ weeks on the road on our first RV Adventure.
What did we learn. That we don’t like driving so much. In future outings, we’re going to design the trips to get us somewhere…..and then we’re going to stop for a few weeks…or even a month….to poke around and see the area. I wouldn’t be surprised if we spend next winter in Florida or New Orleans…head to the Texas Hill Country for a month from Mid March to Mid April…adjourn to Santa Fe…then wind up through Colorado and Wyoming to Yellowstone. But you can’t get up there too early. None of the good camping spots opens until May.
So all in all….it was a great first test of our land cruising as a complement to our water cruising.