Viewing posts in January, 2011

Austin to Big Bend TX – Jan 8-12

20 Jan

Today is January 20th, our 135th day on the road.  We’re still in Texas.  Last night another Arctic cold front has swept in, it’s 32 degrees at noon, no sunshine, burrr.  Joanna has picked up my cold, except it’s knocked her out.  We’re in a beautiful campsite in Davis State Park, nobody around us.  We’re surrounded by trees, cooing doves, gentle breezes and curious deer.  Except for an occasional wifi or cell connection, we’ve been away from electronic connectivity.  We’re still in Texas.  This blog covers the time from Austin to Big Bend National Park.

Before we left Austin we visited the flagship Whole Foods Market.  Neither of us has seen anything like it before.  Overwhelming at first, particularly on a Saturday afternoon when one has to elbow their way through the hoards of people, and is very hungry and just wanting some lunch.  Aside from the usual food, salad and prepared foods bars; this market has some half dozen mini-restaurant locations throughout the market.  We ate and shopped for food, knowing that we would not find an appealing market for weeks.  Food is a major attraction on the road!

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Austin TX- Jan 5-8 – A blue dot in a sea of red

8 Jan

After leaving San Antonio we took a two-hour drive to Briarwood, near Austin, to visit my Texas friend and former co-worker at Rastar Films, Sister Susan Bartholomew.  Now, Susan is not a nun type of sister.  We’re very similar in many ways, including sharing the same December 10th birthday, albeit I’m much older, and consider one another as brother-sister.  Susan lives in a beautiful rural area with her trusty dog, Daisy.  We spent a night at her house, although I thought she might ask us to leave after I rudely yelled at Daisy to just stop barking at me.  Despite my yelling, Daisy and I bonded solidly.  I think she remembered me from our visit here in 2006.  We had a wonderful visit with Susan, as though our last visit was last week, not five years ago.

I’ve enjoyed, might I say overly indulged, in Southern and Texan cuisine.  But, being a Californian and a recovering vegan vegetarian, I’ve been having a hankerin’ for the type of food to which my digestive system and I are accustomed.  Susan took us to a new local restaurant, Emcee’s Eatery, and it was a delicious and decidedly non-Texan meal (i.e. wild mushrooms, artichoke hearts, al dente pasta, crisp vegetables, lightly dressed salads, spanakopita).  “Dorothy, are we still in Texas?”

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A Week or so in San Antonio TX- Dec 28-Jan 5

5 Jan

Our 5 day hide-a-way in a Houston hotel ended, both of us feeling well enough to move on, we head west to San Antonio to stay with Joanna’s brother Will Jay and his wife Annette.  I’m not feeling healthy again, so a conversation with the doctor in Redwood City results in new medication for my GERD.  It’s working.  I’m feeling hopeful that I will feel normal again, soon.  Then, forgetting my reaction to decongestants, I began taking Mucinex and couldn’t keep my eyes open.  I wasn’t very good company.  Then, as the Mucinex wore off, my lower back went out.  I’d say I wasn’t a happy camper, but we haven’t really been camping in close to a month.  Meanwhile, Joanna is feeling well.

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Two Weeks in Houston TX- Dec 12-28

4 Jan

Other than the Johnson Space Center south of downtown Houston, I’m not sure why League City exists.  Nor am I interested in finding out.  Most of the city seems to be spacious shopping centers bordering I-45.  I’d describe the downtown area, only I don’t remember it.  Apparently League City has waterfront resorts along the Galveston Bay shoreline.  It also affords views and smells of nearby Texas City, an oil refinery center and deep-water shipping hub.

We stayed at an RV park alongside I-45.  Being alongside a busy interstate, it was very noisy.  The pads were narrow.  So were the grass strips between the pads.  The price was double what I would consider fair.  Our neighbors were permanent residents – two parents, two small children, and a disabled grandparent living in a trailer about twice the size of our VW.  On the plus side, great bathrooms and it was a convenient functional place.

For those unfamiliar with RV parks vs. Campgrounds, allow me to explain the difference from my point of view.  RV parks are often filled with long-term residents, either there for economic reasons (RV parks are relatively cheap), work reasons (temporary workers, like construction workers on a project), or Snowbirds (those fleeing their inhospitable northern winter homes for the warmer, crowded, and very social conditions of an RV park.  The RV parks tend to be expensive, crowded, clear-cut, and developed in such a way as to maximize the number of slots that can be crammed between the fences.  They remind me of entry level housing developments, without the houses.  Campgrounds, especially national or state, are developed in more remote areas where the environment was minimally disturbed when the campground was developed.  Oftentimes the roads have not been paved.  The bathrooms tend to be minimalist, but functional.  Campgrounds offer far more privacy and quiet.  They are often located within large national or state parks and away from development.  In the morning one hears chirping birds, not the RV park roar of 18-wheelers.  Our preference is clearly Campgrounds, but sometimes there just aren’t any that are convenient.

I’ve always been fascinated by space travel.  Earlier this month we missed a 4 am launch from Cape Kennedy in Florida as it was rescheduled several times and we decided to leave Florida.  Disappointed!  And so, on to the NASA Johnson Space Center near Houston.  We toured the Johnson Space Center.  Lots of fun, but not as exciting as Cape Kennedy.  The high point for me was visiting the original Apollo Command Center (think “Apollo 13” film).

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