Home Away From Home, Texas

A Week-end on the Road Heading Home

About 6:45 Jerry got up and turned the generator on so we could turn on the heat and the hot water tank. The back warmed up quickly but it was taking the hot water tank a little longer so we just dressed, brushed out teeth and took off knowing we could shower later. It was 7:22. I don’t think we’ve ever left that early.

We had another uneventful day of driving which we really needed after the fiasco going around Houston last night. Jerry figured that he wanted to drive 450 miles yesterday and today and then it would be an easy and shorter drive home on Sunday. I had recommended that we stop around 4:00 so as not to be driving in and locating a place in the dark. Fortunately both of those plans coincided. We decided to stop again in Saraland as the next Walmart was 133 miles away, too far to drive that late in the day. We stayed at the same Walmart that we had stayed in at the beginning of our trip. After we parked and Jerry asked for and got permission to stay we rested for a while. Jerry turned on the generator so we could turn on the water heater and take showers before dinner. It was taking too long for the water heater to heat up so we decided to go on to dinner. There were several restaurants along the way – the only catch – they were on the other side of the highway and despite a sign indicating pedestrians it looked like getting to the other side would be an extremely dangerous mission to accomplished. In addition it was dark. After walking a bit we wisely decided to turn around and go back to Walmart and find something there to eat.

That done, we got our warm navy showers and got ready for bed. Turned the generator off and read for a while. With our kindle and iPad it’s possible to ready without light. It’s supposed to get pretty cool tonight so we won’t need air condition and we can do without heat.

Saturday morning dawned early and cold. Jerry jumped up and turned on the generator and the propane heat. Since we both had showers last night we hurriedly dressed. I had planned to wash my hair but didn’t want to wait for the water to heat up so we were able to quickly leave. Pulled out at 7:22 – now I’m sure that’s a record.

As we traveled down the highway I suggested that we stay at a campground tonight. It’s our last night on the road and two nights of boondocking is about my limit! Plus, we needed to empty the tanks before we got home. Jerry agreed and I got busy trying to locate a campground that fit his parameter of 450 miles. My desire of 4:00 probably wasn’t going to happen since we crossed back over into Eastern Time thus losing an hour. I finally found a campground with good reviews, a pull-through and good Wi-Fi! I asked if there were restaurants within walking distance and he said it depended on whether I wanted to walk a mile and a half! After that conversation I got out stuffed peppers for dinner!

We arrived at Heritage RV Park in Augusta, Georgia just before 5:00 which was really 4:00 on Alabama time. We pulled in Gate 1 as we had been directed and there was the pull-through site right there on our right. We pulled in and were setup within minutes. The easiest setup ever and since the gentleman had taken my credit card information on the phone we didn’t even have to go to the office. Everything had been handled over the phone. I liked that!

We took a short walk around the park just to exercise our legs and then came in and had a late dinner. It felt so good to be in a safe and warm environment in an RV park. Walmarts are fine for a couple of nights but after that I’m about done.

We didn’t particularly hurry Sunday morning so we left about 9:00. There was a little misting rain when we left but we quickly ran out of that and had a nice drive the rest of the way home. Traveling on a Sunday is really easier as there is less traffic. We had a couple of stops, one at Flying J for gas and one at the NC Welcome Center for lunch and then we were home by 3:22. We both so love traveling but the best part is always arriving home safe and sound. It was good to get home but that stack of mail waiting me – oh my! Time to get busy on that before I can start planning another trip!

Home Away From Home, Texas

George H.W. Bush Museum

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Up and out early this morning because we were on a mission! Go through Johnson City to stop at the Black Spur to see if they had a sun we could use at the river and then get to the George H.W. Bush Museum. We were saying goodbye to Fredericksburg. As we rode along I continued to be amazed at the number of wineries that such a small area has. Between Fredericksburg and Stonewall, a small town between Fredericksburg and Johnson City there are probably 20 wineries some of them right next door to each other. The ground must be perfect for growing grapes! By the way, Stonewall is the town where LBJ’s ranch is located. There are also numerous peach stands along the way although none were opened at this time of year.

As we traveled along I reminisced about our trip as our days were slowly coming to an end. We have seen such different terrain throughout the state and many animals that are not indigenous to North Carolina such as mule deer, jackrabbits, coyote, blue bird, road runner, bison, several different kinds of deer, sheep, and goats – Jerry saw an ostrich or emu in Fredericksburg. He couldn’t tell which it was but he knew it was tall!

As we rode along I suddenly realized that we were pretty close to Austin so we began the discussion of “do we want to stop in Austin”. Jerry didn’t want to but would if I wanted to. My feeling was I really didn’t want to but it seemed a shame to be that close and not go but we were getting to be sort of like homing pigeons – it was nearly time to head back to North Carolina. We might have been more prone to stop if it had been a nice sun shiny day but instead a cloudy, windy cool 51 degrees did not encourage sightseeing plus – we know we’re more national and state park people than city people and we were just getting a bit tired! We didn’t get just close to Austin though – we went right smack dab through it, traffic and all but everything moved smoothly. Next time Austin! As we left Austin we were on a toll highway but apparently they will bill us because there are no toll booths.

We arrived at the George H.W. Bush Library and Museum at 12:20 making good time. After a quick lunch in the motor home we made our way into the museum. With typical Texan politeness we were greeted by several people – after going through the metal detector of course. We paid our senior admission and then with perfect timing went in to watch a short introductory video and then we began our exploration of the museum. When we presented our tickets we were given the option of having an audio tour and we both accepted that. After that I rarely saw Jerry as we both just wandered on our own and saw what interested each of us.

img_3950The museum is amazing and shows a man and a woman of such character and compassion. I learned a lot about both President Bush and Mrs. Bush. They met at a dance and that was that for both of them. They later married when he was home on leave. Not knowing when he was going to be home they set a wedding date for December but he didn’t get home until Christmas Eve so the wedding invitation date was marked though and a January date was inked in!

As soon as President Bush graduated from high school he entered the military and trained as a pilot. He flew many successful missions but on one flight was hit by the Japanese and lost two of his men. He had to parachute out of the plane and was lost at seas in a raft for a short while. That incident certainly was a life changing event for the president.

The most important things to both of the Bushes were faith, family and country. Even after his one year term as president neither he nor his wife settled into an easy life. They both were and are very active volunteers always trying to help someone in need. Mrs. Bush’s Reading initiative has helped countless people through the years. She worked on this initiative when President Bush was vice-president under President Regan and continued it when she was First Lady. She wondered why she was saying the same things as First Lady that she said as the vice president’s wife but what she was saying was getting a lot more attention. She said it didn’t matter what she said as wife of the Vice President.

It seems that both President and Mrs. Bush have quite a sense of humor and love to laugh and smile. On the first night in the White House they invited their family in to spend the night!

The Day the Wall Came Down
The Day the Wall Came Down
After viewing most of the museum – I could have stayed a lot longer but knew we needed to get on the road – I wandered around the grounds a bit. There is a beautiful sculpture called “The Day the Wall Came Down”, a monument to freedom referencing the Berlin Wall. The sculptor Veryl Goodnight said he used horses to represent the freedom of the human spirit. The graffiti painted on the rubble beneath the horses was replicated by the Mr. Goodnight from actual graffiti painted on the Berlin Wall. President Bush requested that the names of 15 people who were killed at the Wall be written on the “Dove of Peace” to represent the over 900 people who were killed trying to escape to the West. I also visited the place where the Bushes will be buried and where their young daughter Robin is now buried. I was also able to view President Bush’s engraved words on the building “Let future generations understand the burden and blessings of freedom. Let tem say we stood where duty required us to stand”.

Words of Wisdom
Words of Wisdom

We left College Station about 4:30 headed on down the road hopefully driving until about 5:30 and stopping at a Walmart. Instead we hit Houston during the 5:00 traffic and a few days before the Super Bowl plus missed a turn so that plan went out of the window. And then the GPS lost the signal!

We spent the night in the Walmart parking lot in Baymont, Texas a suburb on Houston – I think. We were pretty lost last night in a lot of traffic and unknown to me running low on gas. Jerry hastily pulled into a Spur station and filled up with gas. While he was doing that I was trying to figure out how to get to the Flying J which had been our intended target for gas and spending the night there. I really was not looking forward to spending the night at a truck stop as I hear it’s pretty loud plus the spaces need to be used by the truckers rather than RVers. As I searched I realized we were only about a mile and half from a Walmart that allowed overnight parking and it was on the way to I-10 where we needed to be.

We headed to that way and were able to stay and parked in the lot along with another Class A and a Fifth Wheel. Although we realized it was ok to park there Jerry still went in and asked permission. The manager said it was fine as long as we pulled out of the way. While he was gone I realized that we could pull over to the side curbing and open up the bedroom slide for the night so when he got back that’s what we did. We discussed trying to find somewhere within walking distance to eat but decided to warm up the hamburgers instead. As soon as we finished with dinner I got ready for bed, got my iPad and kindle and got in the bed. Trucks and cars kept loudly zooming by and since this was a 24 hour Walmart I was afraid that we’d have a night of that but at 10:00 everything got quiet and it stayed that way all night.

Home Away From Home, Texas

Enchanted Rock

All dressed up and ready to go!
All dressed up and ready to go!
So far on our January journey we have done six hikes (but who’s counting – us!) and we thought a trip to Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, Texas would be another great hike. It was great but it wasn’t a hike, it was a climb! Up 425 feet in .67 miles. Whew. There was hardly any flat area and we literally climbed all the way to the top. Of course we had a couple of rest stops, ok, maybe one or two more but the climb was so worth it. We had heard that the park could get really crowded on the week-ends so we decided to go during the week and in the early morning. Well, we made it by about 10:30, early for us but I was amazed during the climb at how many people were there. I can’t imagine how crowded it must get on the week-end. Someone told me Fredericksburg and the Enchanted Rock was the number one tourist spot in Texas. Don’t know if that is true but it was busy today. We chatted with a couple who only live 2 hours away but had never been before. We also chatted with a RV full timer plus a couple from Minnesota. There were all ages and sizes and I didn’t see anyone turn around.

Enchanted Rock is a small part of a large underground rock called a batholith. More than 50 million years ago erosion uncovered part of the rock and weathering and erosion of that bedrock made the rock that we climbed today. It is a small speck compared to the huge underground rock that spans over 100 square miles. Now, that’s big! This is an exfoliation dome in that Enchanted Rock continuously “sheds” its outer layers of rock as it contracts and expands. The result is large curved sheets of rock that break up and can eventually slide down the rock. I guess that’s what makes it so difficult to climb.

flagPerhaps the most poignant moment of the entire trip occurred to day. I didn’t know it but today is Freedom Day and I suddenly saw an American Flag being carried up to the top of the rock. There was a young lady dressed in uniform and proudly carrying our flag up. There were many people who had their picture taken with her and offered their sincere thanks for her contribution.

As we left Enchanted Rock we decided to stop in Fredericksburg for lunch. I had seen a restaurant that advertised the best burgers in Fredericksburg and also quiche. Sounded like a win-win to me so we headed to Wheelers Restaurant. Ham and cheese is not my favorite quiche but it was the quiche of the day so that’s what I got. Jerry of course got a burger. We topped our meal off with sweetbread pudding draped in almond sauce. It was tasty!

Our plan was to go on back to the RV but somewhere along the way we decided to ride to Luckenbach, the town where everybody is somebody. Jerry was a bit skeptical thinking it was going to be another Cadillac ranch site but it really was interesting. Members of the Luckenbach family along with some other immigrants moved to Luckenbach from Fredericksburg in the 1850’s and settled along Grape Creek. They soon established a school and a post office. The town has a general store full of most any tourist memorabilia you might want. At the back of the store is a bar selling beer. There are a couple of very still cats there and I heard one couple arguing about whether or not the cat was alive. He was but he was super still even with all of the activity around. Outside at the back of the store they have continuous music. Today was a singer with his guitar. While he was singing an older man in shorts and spindly legs hobbled up with his guitar and joined him. Wow – when he started playing and singing he looked like a young man. He didn’t play long, sang a couple of songs he had written and then one about Luckenbach. Both of the singers sang songs that told stories.

Exhausted, we headed back to Fredericksburg with a quick stop at Walmart for our last run on groceries. When we got back we both hit the sofa for a little nap!