2012 - 2017 Travel Map - Now in East Glacier Park MT

Good Bye Austin, Hello San Antonio Texas

October 24 - 25, 2013   

We can feel the difference in the weather now that we are further south in San Antonio.  It is much more like Florida now with highs in the 80’s and lows in the upper 60’s.  We also have humidity in the 70-80% range making it very sticky.  We are also seeing a lot of dust that is supposed to be consistent with south Texas.  We are thinking that we are just going to need to get used to everything being dusty all of the time now.

Thursday the 24th we hit a local Wally World in Austin for some food staples.  But before we got to Wally World, we stopped at a local Mexican meat market about a mile up the road from our site.  We like getting our meat at a market whenever we can versus getting it at a grocery store.  Usually the meat costs a little more but the quality is much better and without as many chemicals.  The special thing we bought was some marinated Fajita skirt steak.  We got 1.5 pounds, enough for 2 meals.

After Wally World, we left the site at 6 pm and head into downtown Austin. Our goals were to see the bats, check out the night life, and have dinner somewhere.  

First on the goals list was seeing the bats. Somewhere around 1.5 million bats live under the Congress Avenue Bridge and come out in a swarm at dusk to eat.  This is on the top 10 thinks to do in Austin by the way.  When they come out they are silent but the air becomes dark with black bats.  It really is a strange sight to see.  This is another event that one must see in person to really get a good perspective of this.  Pictures just do not capture this very well.


Patty's new friend on Congress Avenue Bridge with the "Bat Man".  That is a bat on his head!

More bat spectators.
People waiting for the bats on Lady Bird Lake.

View of the people on the bridge and of downtown Austin.

Look close you can see the bats next to the bridge.

The bat swarms are in the background of this picture over the water. All those boats are spectators.

 After the bat fun, we were off to check out the night life in Austin.  Most of the night life seems to be around 6th Street which is only a half mile from the bat bridge.  6th Street in Austin is like many old downtowns now.  They are reinventing themselves as cool places to be.  Both sides of the street are lined with open front bars, bistros, and restaurants mostly all with live music.  The street is full of people having fun with the sounds of music everywhere.  It reminded us of a slightly upscale New Orleans just not as big.




The Ritz hotel and restaurant on 6th street.  A little too pricey for us.

This place is decked out for Halloween complete with a guy hanging from the top center window.

Roof top dining.

Many restaurants were either roof top seating or just have an open front to the street.

Cool Mural on 6th Street in Austin

So after strolling most of 6th Street several times as we got sort of mixed up with directions a couple of times, we sat down for dinner.  We decided on The Old Pecan Street Café for dinner.  Basically Patty picked the place out and it was great.  The café wasn't open to the street so it was more of a romantic sort of setting which we enjoyed.  

Both of our orders were good, but mine was great!  I had the Steak Bordeaux which was so tender I don't think I even needed to have teeth to chew it. It came with a Bordeaux and mushroom reduction that was just as good as the steak.  I also could not eat the whole steak so it came back to the RV with us.  It was a great night out.  How can you not like a night out with bats, steak and the beautiful woman you married!


Patty at The Old Pecan Street Cafe.



Friday the 25th we headed out of Austin around noon for the 100 mile trip to San Antonio.  We decided to stop at a Camping World on I 35 about half way to get some stuff we seem to only be able to get there.  We got some stakes to hold the carpet mat down in the wind, a new flex water hose, and a spring loaded door latch.  We also got some new hooks for our rope lights.  This added about an hour to the trip down to San Antonio.

We arrived at the Hidden Valley RV Park in the San Antonio south suburb town of Von Ormy Texas.  Hidden Valley is one of the most secluded parks we have been in.  It is at the end of a 3/4 mile long dusty gravel road.  The road sort of narrows and the sign for the park is over the entire gravel road.  The owners live in a nice house across from the welcome booth. 


This is the entrance to the park.

A doe running from us as we head to our site.

Our site is one of about 30 sites in a valley about a quarter of a mile farther down that dusty road from the entrance sign. We picked a pull through in the back with no trees so we could get satellite TV.  It looks like we have 6 neighbors spread out over the area.  Except for the dust, this will be fine for what we want to do here in the area.


Our dusty site.

Tomorrow, Saturday we are planning to do laundry and just lay low for the day.  In fact we will most probably chill out both Saturday and Sunday because it is supposed to rain and we don't like going out as much on the weekends since that is when most local working people get out.  We need to get a propane tank filled, I need a haircut, and we need to do laundry.  Oh, and we will probably have Fajitas one night using our new Mexican meat we got in Austin.

Stay Tuned!

Major Truck Service and Move to Austin Texas

October 21 - 23, 2013
   
Monday the 21st I took the truck to a Ford service dealer in Terrell Texas 13 miles east of our site.  This was going to be a big $$ service.  At 62k miles the truck needed fuel filters, transfer case fluid changed, engine cooling fluid changed, fuel injector service, oil change, and the transmission fluid changed.  While they were doing this they found a cooling hose leaking so I also had the hose assembly replaced.  

I took the truck in at 8 am and they drove be back to the RV and then picked me back up at 5 pm when it was done.  The good news is that I shouldn't need to do this level of service for another 60k miles.  The bad news is that it cost $1,500!  I was hoping to have this expense after the first of the year but I just didn't want to wait and take any chances with the truck.  
Tuesday the 22nd it was time to move on to our next destination, Austin Texas about 200 miles south.  It was a great day to travel, 72 degrees and not a cloud anywhere to be seen.  The only negative is that there isn't much scenery along the way, basically a boring 200 mile ride.

We arrived at the Oak Forest RV Park at 2:30 without a reservation and found they didn't have space for us for a week, only for 3 nights.  Oh well!  The price was good at $22 a night and the park is only 6 miles from downtown Austin. We really didn't know what we are going to do here anyway. We were going to catch up on laundry and do a little food shopping as we are out of some basic stuff.  We decided to just stay the 3 nights and get the laundry done at our next stop in San Antonio.

Our site in Oak Forest RV Park in Austin Texas.  This is a really nice park.

Wolf at the entrance to the park.

Steel Cowboy also at the entrance to the park.

Pool and hot tub at the park.

As we were hooking up at our site one of the park workers came over and asked if we knew there was another Sanibel owner here.  Well we do now!  This will make just the second one we have seen on the road.  

After getting settled in and having a little dinner we walked the park and stopped to talk to the other Sanibel owners. They were outside so it was pretty easy to strike up a conversation with them.  They had seen us come in so they knew where we were in the Park.  They just got their rig a week ago from a local RV show.  It is the same year as ours, 2013.  However theirs is a 3600 model where ours is a 3500 model.  The difference is mainly only in the floor plan.  I say only because the 3600 has 3 slides instead of 4 like ours. Both units are the same weight and length.  It was very interesting to visit with them and see the 3600.  We still like our layout better but it really is just a matter of what you like as one is really not “better” than the other.
The Sanibel 3600 is in the center of the picture in the back.

Wednesday the 23rd we made plans to see the state capital and take a hike around Lady Bird Lake.  We headed off to the state capital which is only 5 miles from us.  The Texas state capitol is the oldest government building in Texas being built in 1888.  
Texas state capital.  The first capital we hung out in.

A white squirrel just outside the capital.

Just after we got through security at the capitol building a tour guide came up and said we could join his next tour that starts now. The tour was with just us and one other couple.  It was a great tour of the building with loads of facts about Texas history.  The tour lasted about 40 minutes and was well worth our time. It’s funny; this is the only state capital building I have ever been in.  After living in Indiana and New Jersey for many years I never once took a tour of the capital building.  It really is a shame as I don’t have anything to compare to.
The rotunda with a seal for each of the 4 countries that have had a flag over texas.  Texas is the only state that say they have had 4 countries lay claim to them.

Capital dome 230 feet above the rotunda floor.  The Texas star is 8 feet across.

The Texas Senate and our tour guide Bill.  They only meet once every 2 years then they go back to real jobs.  If only we could do this with the federal senate!

Lights in the ceiling of the senate that spell Texas.  

The Texas House chambers.

Painting of the battle of the Alamo in the Texas House chamber.  Painted at the turn of the century and has hung here since then.

The last Governor's portrait hung in the capital.  Governor Perry has been Governor since George W. Bush left office in 2000.  When Perry leaves office his portrait will be hung.

Now for the hike around Lady Bird Lake that didn't happen. We plugged in the trail name in to our GPS and off we went. The trail is only about 3 miles from the capitol building.  We arrived with no issues.  

This trail is very, very poorly marked.  We found the trail head which was a sign pointing toward the trail.  Guess what, the trail went both left and right.  Since it is called the loop trail we figured it didn't matter which way we went so we went left or what we thought would be clockwise around the loop. 

After walking a mile the trail disappeared into a residential area. So back we came and we first took a side trail that looked to go in the right direction.  Nope, that was a dead end in the woods!  Back out we came and we went back to the start and went right this time.  

OK, now we are getting somewhere!  This looked to be the trail, but still no signs or markers.  Then we got to another trail split after walking another 1.5 miles.  This time the trail split to go over a walking bridge that seemed to take us the right direction.  No signs here either!  We took the bridge and the trail split again on the other side with, still no signs!  We went left as we thought this would take us back to a bridge to get us back to the trailhead where the truck was.  Not so!  

However, we finally found a map of the trail on a building wall that showed the trail. The trail had 2 main entrances, one each side of the river that leads to the lake.  We just walked from one entrance to the other!  We never got to Lady Bird Lake!  Now we need to walk the 1.5 miles back to the truck. It was OK as we really had not prepared well for this hike. We didn't bring water and we, evidently, didn't research the trail very well.  We did get a 4 mile hike in though.  All is good!
The only trail marker we found.





There is a little train that operates on the hour to take you to Lady Bird Lake.  That's what we should have done!

This is a spring fed swimming area that feeds Lady Bird Lake.  It is closed due to major flooding in the area a few months ago.  The water is said to be 68 all year so people swim all year here.  68 is a little too cold for us.

First time I ever saw an electric car  (Volt) plugged in getting a charge in public.

We spotted this political statement for the Labor Party as we were headed back to the RV.

We got back to the RV just in time for the other Sanibel owners to come over for a visit to our rig.  They took a tour of our rig and we discussed with them our issues we have had with it over the past 15 months.  Like us, they had not seen a 3500 and we had not seen a 3600 before.  However, we were familiar with the layout of the 3600 and we chose the 3500 over the 3600.

Tomorrow we are planning to visit a Wal-Mart for some small items in the morning.  Then we are planning to visit the downtown area and see the bats swarm out from under the Congress Bridge.  Amazing that seeing the bats is a top 10 item to do in Austin!   We are also planning to have dinner downtown somewhere.  Downtown is supposed to be quite eclectic.  We shall see!

Stay Tuned!

Dealey Plaza and Fort Worth/Alliance Air Show

October 19 - 20, 2013   

Saturday the 19th we just had to do the JFK assassination thing at Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.  I was here something like 8 years ago on a work assignment, so I had seen the plaza before.  However, it was a work assignment so we spent no real time there and we were there when the museum was closed.  This time we are here during the museums operating hours.  The museum is in the old Texas Book Depository which lets you go up to the window where Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK.  The down side is that you can’t take any pictures.

Just a couple of things I learned that I didn't know before about the assassination.  First, I didn't realize that the immediate area has not really changed much since the assassination.  The same trees and structures are still there.  It really doesn't feel like that long ago where you are there. The second thing I learned is that I didn't realize that Jack Ruby was actually tried and found guilty of killing Oswald. Ruby died of cancer long after the assassination in 1967 waiting for a second trial.   I had always thought he died within a few weeks or a couple of months after killing Oswald without telling his story.  Well, I was wrong!  

The museum is worth the $16 each for entrance (we paid $14 after getting an online discount).  It will take you at least 90 minutes to go through the museum.   We spent about 3 hours at the plaza and the museum which included the 45 minutes wait in line to get in! Most of the stuff I have seen before but I have never seen it all in one place like it is here.   The museum is set up with numbered exhibits that you use to take an audio recorded personal tour.  This is very well done and not at all what I would have expected. So, I recommend this museum to anybody who is interested in the assassination of JFK. 

The building on the left is the Texas School Book Depository where Oswald shot JFK.  Oswald shot from the last window on the right below the highest window (6th floor).

Abraham Zapruder made his famous film standing on top of this wall.

The shots are marked in the road with an X.


Ok, I am a Railroader still at heart and these TRE cars/loco have a nice paint job!



After the museum and touring Dealey Plaza, we went back to the RV and I ended the day washing the truck.  This is one of the dirtiest the truck has been due to the rain and the muddy area we are in at this RV Park.  Anyway, after 2 ½ hours the truck looks great again!

We had a night of hamburgers on the grille and then watched some TV and then to bed.

Sunday the 20th we headed to the air show in Fort Worth/Alliance TX about an hour south west from our site. This is my first time at an airshow   I had seen the airshow in Sussex NJ by parking along the road and watching.  Now we get to hear and see the planes up close with an idea of what is happening.  The weather was going to be great with no clouds and 72 degrees with just a slight south breeze.  It just doesn't get better than that!

The show started at 10 am and we arrived just after 11am. The air show is free; they just want $20 to park.  I think one of the best parts of the show was the reenactment of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  The show used 8 US built Japanese Zeros that were used in the movie Tora Tora Tora.  It was pretty amazing to watch the Zeros come in formation and fly almost at eye level.  They even set off fire bombs on the runway to make it look like the planes were dropping them.  The reenactment took about 20 minutes making it feel very realistic. 

Most US air shows have some sort of US military aeronautics show segment. However, since the government sequestration the military has not been participating in any airshows.  So this airshow has relied on private citizens and other countries who own US fighter planes for that part of the show.  Are we a strange country or what!?  

The air show was definitely worth the money and we had a great day!

The airshow mascot.

We are getting some fall here in Texas.  This was at the entrance to the airshow.


This is a Vietnam vintage plane they used to drop sky divers during the day.


Japanese Zeros coming in for a bombing run.


The Zeros swarming around and making bombing runs.



The finally of the Pearl Harbor bombing.

Zeros flying away after bombing Pearl Harbor.

I know next to nothing about airplanes so I will just try to repeat what I heard the planes are.  This one is WWII british used in North Africa.

US WWII.

US used these for aerial spotting.

The airshow did a reenactment of a WWII fight with the Germans with air support.

I believe this was one of the first jets that were developed at the end of WWII.

This is a jet powered truck.  It was a real crowd pleaser.  It shoots fire out the back for at least 300 feet when it runs.  The airshow did a stunt where this truck raced a prop plane.  I couldn't get good pictures of that but the truck won going just over 300 mph!


I believe this is a B-24.  It is one of just 2 left.


B-29A Superfortress.  It is the only one still flying today.









We stayed at the air show until just before it ended at 4 pm so we could beat the traffic rush out.  We got back to the RV around 5:30 just in time for wine o'clock.

Tomorrow I am taking the truck in for major scheduled maintenance.  This is the 60k maintenance that includes renewing the cooling fluids, transmission fluid, transfer case fluid, injector service, oil change, and fuel filter change.  This will more than likely take most of the day so we might get some down time and reading done.  As a note, I thought I would be reading a lot once we began this nomad life.  Not so!  Seems we are doing something all of the time.  Life is good!

We head to Austin Texas for a week on Tuesday.

Stay Tuned!