We were sad to leave Bottomless Lakes campground, but as it turns out, we were lucky we left when we did! We met some folks a week later whose reservation there had been canceled by the State because their sewer lines had broken and they had to kick everyone out to get them fixed! We saw the heavy equipment arriving just as we were leaving, and had wondered what was happening, but didn’t ask, since it didn’t affect us. Dodged a bullet there!
Bidding a fond farewell to New Mexico, we turned our sights toward Texas! Our first stop was another Harvest Host location, this time at a Vineyard. The hosts were so delightful when we contacted them to request a stay, but they neglected to let us know that Apple Maps doesn’t direct you there, so at first we pulled up to a very baffled homeowner a few miles away who hadn’t a CLUE what we were talking about when we told him we were there to stay the night!! We were really quite a sight driving our huge rig down his bumpy dirt road! This was our first dose of Southern Hospitality, though, as he was so gracious and suggested a route that was likely to take us in the right direction.
After a text to the host, we leaned that we needed to use Google Maps to get us to the right place. We had more than a little angst as we pulled once again off the pavement onto a dirt road, envisioning a repeat of the mud experience, but we bravely soldiered on, and the host met us at the gate to let us in. She informed us that the road was not dirt, but in fact a crushed rock called caliche and was very safe! She did warn us NOT to go off the road because the sand next to it was 6′ deep and we would NOT be able to get out of it! We were believers, and dutifully stayed on the caliche road!
We got set up and joined our hosts on their front verandah for a tasting of their delightful wines. After some convincing by the hosts, we agreed to let Pongo off leash. The assured us that their 80 acres was completely fenced and that there was no wildlife that could hurt him this early in the season. I have never seen that boy so happy!!! He ran and ran for over an hour, swooping by to check in with us every 15 minutes or so and to steal a drink of water from their cat’s water bowl!
Our hosts, Bill & Judy, told us how they had relocated from Houston to start the winery and were living their dream out in the Lubbock area away from the big city. We bought 3 bottles and happily turned in for the night, sleeping soundly after several glasses of their delicious wines!
From the time we knew we were going to Texas, I wanted to stop in San Angelo, which is reported to be the city of my mother’s birth. I say that because there has long been some debate whether it was San Angelo or Pittsburgh, TX, but we all remember Mom saying it was San Angelo, and we even had an address where Grandma had a rooming house there, so we decided to add that as a stop.
We tried to book San Angelo State Park for our stay, but could only get one night there. We figured we’d either hope for a cancelation or else find someplace like a Cracker Barrel or a Wal-mart parking lot for the remaining nights there. The ranger at the gate was, as is very typical EXTREMELY kind and helpful and suggested we keep checking for cancelations, although it was Spring Break and they were completely booked for the week and weekend. As we pulled into our site, I started to once again feel lucky because I knew we really didn’t want to stay here more than 1 night. It was pretty desolate and although there is a lake, it was very low and the place just didn’t have the kind of charm we tend to seek. I got immediately online and booked something a couple of hours away for the next several days, and boy did it turn out to be a good thing I did!
We got hooked up and headed into San Angelo to try to find Mom’s old address and to see what the town had to offer. BOY were we surprised! What a lovely town it is! There was so much to see and do we spent most of the day wandering around just taking in the sights! We found ourselves kind of wishing we had found someplace in town to stay.
We discovered that the place where my grandmother had her rooming house is now a Women and Children’s Hospital. I was kind of sad not to see Mom’s home, but at least it’s now a wonderful place! I think she’d be glad.
We explored the Historic District, where we found several historic homes that I fancied were just like the one Mom grew up in as they were approximately the same vintage.
After that we moseyed down to the river walk area where there was a gorgeous lake and picnic area, with; sculptures, an Amphitheatre, an art museum and a public swimming pool. The city has invested so much in these lovely public spaces, and we were thrilled to see folks out enjoying them on a lovely day! Once again we found ourselves saying that we would have to come back another time. It was such a stark contrast to the state park!
That evening as we were having dinner, I looked over and noticed some liquid leaking from under the rig. We did some very rudimentary research and discovered that a long-dreaded issue had come to light. Some newer motorhomes use a toilet called a “Vacu-flush” system. If you’ve ever flushed a toilet on an airplane or a boat, it’s the same kind of toilet. You know, the one that makes you fear you’re going to be sucked out into the atmosphere or the depths if you get too close? Well, they are prone to failure. We had been reading about the issue, so it was not a complete surprise, but it was certainly unwelcome. David started investigating the situation, and boy did he strike gold! The seals had blown and the little part inside that makes the “woosh” was pumping the toilet contents all over a compartment under the rig instead of into the holding tank What a disaster!!
As frequently as these systems fail, we assumed every RV parts house in Texas would have what we needed, but oh no! They had to be ordered! Luckily, we found a Marine Supply store in Florida who guaranteed he’d ship the parts overnight to Texas, but due to the Easter weekend “overnight” meant Monday. We were without a working toilet from Thursday through the following Tuesday.
Thankfully, the place we had booked for the next several days had a lovely restroom very close to our site, so we really were able to make the best of things while we waited for it to arrive!
Also lucky for us, our daughter Alison’s roommate Tori was visiting her mom in San Antonio, so we had the part shipped there and drove down to pick it up. This also allowed us to have dinner with Tori and Kelly, where we could catch up and get recommendations on things to do in the Hill Country of Texas!
Equipped with rubber gloves and plenty of bathroom cleaner with bleach, David dove into the repair project by removing the whole system and disassembling it on our campsite picnic table (he put down a tarp to keep everything clean for the next campers there) and by the end of the day our toilets were “whooshing” once again! Needless to say, we’ve purchased a second replacement kit so next time we’ll be ready!
Remember our friends Bill and Judy? Well, being Texas wine aficionados they recommended we stop by Fredericksburg in the Texas “Hill Country” as it’s become a bit of a Napa Valley destination in Texas. We ended up staying at the best hidden gem: Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park just outside of Fredericksburg. We loved this place!! It had the biggest dog park we’ve ever seen and it was close to the downtown area that had wine tasting, an excellent WWII War of the Pacific Museum (Admiral Nimitz was born in Fredericksburg) and great German food. That’s right, this little town has an Alpine theme to it as German immigrants settled in this part of Texas once they arrived on the Gulf Coast.
Surprising to us to think of sauerkraut in the middle of Tex-Mex land!!! And speaking of food, we found some of the best refried beans and fresh made tortillas too! I think the most unique, though, was the deep fried Jack Daniels pecan pie. We couldn’t resist that, although we did share! Sadly, it looked better than it was, but that didn’t stop us from finishing every bite!
On our last day in Fredericksburg (after BEGGING to stay another week, but alas, there was no room at the inn!) we made a sunset trek to Enchanted Rock. It is a gorgeous hiking area that is dog-friendly, so Pongo enjoyed it immensely! We got to the top just before sunset and got some great photos, but we had neglected to bring flashlights, so we didn’t get to stay to watch the suns et fully. Again, we’ll be back!
I was sorely tempted by these gorgeous wildflowers, including the famous Texas Bluebonnets I’d been hearing about, but it’s illegal to pick flowers in a state park. Fortunately for me, they also grow in abundance along the sides of the roads, so I stopped to pick a bouquet on our way home.
With a promise to ourselves to plan a much longer visit in the future, we headed for San Antonio where we would spend the next 10 days. Our first order of business was to visit the famed Riverwalk for a boat ride and some Margaritas!
The next day was really the only day David would have in town because he had to fly back to L.A. for some work meetings, so we made the most of it with a fascinating distillery tour at Maverick Distillery, and some yummy food at La Gloria!
No sooner had David left for L.A. than my beloved buddies Cheryl & Kimi flew out to stay with me. We had SUCH a great time! It was all of our first time in San Antonio and we all had advice from friends and family on what to see and do but it was SO hard to choose. We made a 4-hr trek up to Waco to visit Magnolia Farms at the Silos, made famous more recently by Chip & Joanna Gaines from the HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” Prior to that, you may remember it was notorious for the 51 day standoff between the Branch Davidians and the U.S. Government. I was so happy to see a much more happy reason for the town to be famous!
Mostly we ate our way around San Antonio! Everything from fast food to barbecue, it was all delicious, especially since it was all flavored with love between 3 friends who’ve spent our whole adult lives having adventures together! Of course Kimi appears to have been the designated photographer, so she’s not in any of the pix, but believe me, she chowed down as much as Cheryl and I did!
We did manage to visit the Alamo, which was seriously underwhelming. I thought it would be so much bigger with more to see. But we managed to work up an appetite and ended up visiting the strangest restaurant! Schilo’s is touted as the oldest restaurant in SA. It’s really just a coffee shop, but we wanted breakfast, so that worked. The menu looks kind of like it has a pic of Hitler drinking a beer on the cover, and in the back room there are animal heads on all the walls! Very strange, but a unique experience!
In the evenings we mostly just hung around the RV watching movies and catching up. It really felt so much like the old days when we would send the kids out to play and we’d sit on the couch enjoying our “girl time!”
Their visit as way too short, and it was soon time for them to leave, but we were comforted by the knowledge that we’ll have another LONG visit with hubbies included in June when we are in Michigan!
After they left I had a whole day before David came home so I spent it doing to some work. I am a personal shopper, and obviously my regular clients are all back in L.A. so I put myself on the schedule with Shipt and shopped for a few local folks. I met the most delightful family! Tara and her son Trevor met me at the door and helped me carry in the groceries, and we spent probably 45 minutes just chatting like old friends. That’s the thing about Texans. No one is really a stranger, everyone is welcome in their homes. We could have talked all day, and I left feeling like I had another friend in the world.
We are officially in love with Texas! The folks here are so delightful, and the countryside is beautiful! We are sad to leave San Antonio, but thankful that we still have a ton of Texas to explore!
Up next: This may be our favorite place in the world!