Fiesta Time!

 

Jim Hogg Park, TX

The last two weeks have been so bright, warm, and vibrant that it felt like we’d skipped spring and gone directly to summer! Both yesterday and today it’s drizzly and grey. We are in a Corps of Engineers Park north of Austin, TX. The park is always relatively empty during the week, so for now, it’s just us and the critters.

It’s a perfect day to stay indoors and edit all of the photos I’ve taken over the last month, and share my photos from last week in San Antonio. We have lived 80 miles up the road, and I can probably count the number of times I’ve been here in the last forty years. And it was always going to the same few tourist spots. This time we found a wonderful RV park just minutes south of downtown San Antonio: Travelers World,  on Roosevelt Avenue. I won’t lie, as we drove in, we were skeptical… it didn’t seem to be in a good part of town. However, it turned out to be a GREAT park in a very convenient  part of town!

Mission San Jose

One of our favorite restaurants, Rosario’s,  was only a few minute’s drive away. We had the best frozen margaritas we’ve had in ages, around the corner from there at Tito’s, a small, neighborhood restaurant. The Mission San Jose is just down Roosevelt Ave. as is the Charro Ranch, home to the charreada, or Mexican rodeo, which was happening that weekend since it was Fiesta. We attended with some new friends we’d made while at Tito’s, Taylor and Linda, who were going the next day and kindly invited us.

Sebastian

Escorting una charra- cowgirl

The pledge of allegiance.

If you don’t want the bother of driving, the bus stop is directly across the road from the RV park to take you downtown, and even connects to take you all the way up to the Historic Pearl District, then drops you right in front of the RV park when you return. Silly us, we drove into town, and paid for parking.

We bought “Museum Reach” tickets for the riverboat ride that takes you up through the locks, amidst old and new architecture, alongside banks covered in Star Jasmine so intoxicating I thought I was in Heaven.

Waterfowl at Pearl

The ride ends at a lovely pond with a waterfall and a very short stroll to the Pearl Brewery District. Our first stop was the Hotel Emma which had been highly recommended by Brenda Coffee of 1010ParkPlace.com.  (We’d met her “girls,” two spirited pups that I’ve heard so much about, then had a delicious, and informative, lunch with her a couple of days earlier). Upon entering its doors, I became certain I was in Heaven!

Lobby, Hotel Emma

Lounge bar in Hotel Emma

While there were other people here, too, I was careful not to include them. The crowd that afternoon was mostly well-dressed business people. In the background, notice the big tanks; there were a few of them, each converted to private rooms that could hold four people for more intimate visiting. They were all occupied… next time.  The architects used as much of the brewery’s features as they could, making for a wonderful place to explore for hours. The manager told us they could even provide a safe place for our motorhome if we wanted to spend the night there… they’ve done it for musician’s tour buses. I’m picturing a giant bathtub, bubbles galore, and a glass of sparkling wine.  That would be a very special occasion, indeed!

XO Donna

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Sweet Home, Alabama

We stayed in Florence, AL at an RV park called McFarland Park (I kept calling it MacArthur Park and humming the disco remix version). It’s on the banks of the Tennessee River, in a large park with picnic grounds, ball fields, a running track, and a marina. Location, Location, Location. Continue reading

Holding Pattern

Hello there! I know it’s been a while since I’ve checked in, but since last time a lot has happened:
1. We’ve moved into our motorhome full-time. The possessions we chose to keep, and our cold-weather clothes and blankets, are in a smallish-ish climate-controlled storage unit. We promised ourselves a review and edit in the spring.
2. We have been staying in a nice RV park near Lake Travis in Austin (at a local park we like for this past month. It’s been a great location as we completed obligations with family and dear friends. But…I’ve learned that one month in one place may be too long. There’s a bit of a “Peyton Place” vibe I’ve detected….
3. I got to go to both Wisconsin and Michigan to see my sisters for our second reunion. We were in a sweet condo, on a nice sand beach on Lake Michigan. The water was warm, surprisingly calm, and great swimming – like an ocean, minus the salt! Cool weather, sweet harbor towns to explore with my sisters, and early morning solitary walks where I saw all kinds of guest cottages. It was a treat!

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4. When I returned home, the weather went from Texas HOT… to HADES HOT. Just like Stevie Wonder’s 1980 album, August was Hotter Than July!
5. We’ve bought ourselves bicycles, kind of a sport-cruiser blend… but it’s too dang hot to ride them except early, early, early in the morning! Like a kid at Christmas, I can’t wait to get up each morning to have coffee and then go ride! Well – not that I was drinking coffee when I was a kid… you know what I mean!
6. This coming Wednesday we finally head north to cooler weather! First stop, Madrid, an old mining town outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. There is a Gypsy Festival on Saturday, and you know I don’t want to miss out on that! There will also be dear friends, great meals together, much cooler weather, a Nia Technique class or two, and concocting cocktails in the high-desert. I promise you some great photos.

Till next time!
XO Donna

The Disney Miscalculation

From the quiet beaches of the Gulf Coast we headed inland to meet our friends Mike and Laura at Disney in Orlando.

IMG_0928When I tell you that it was easy to find our way to Disney, and to the Camp Wilderness Campground, it’s an understatement… Disney’s roads and signage are the best anywhere.

We were greeted enthusiastically, checked in quickly, and there was even a place to unhitch our tow-car. Disney also thinks of everything.  In just minutes we were backed into our cozy spot among the tall pines. When I looked around, I was a little surprised it was so crowded.

The next morning we walked two blocks to the shuttle-bus stop, and in minutes we were at the docks to catch a ferry across the lake to Magic Kingdom – Mike had planned an easy day of wandering around. He has been a vacation-club member forever, and he really enjoys off-season times. We were excited to have him as our tour guide, and I was excited to spend time with Laura.

Disclaimer: If you can think of nothing you enjoy more than taking your kiddos, or your grands, to Disney for a few days… bless you. And, skip the next three paragraphs.
If, however, you’re of the other school of thought, read on
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Disembarking the ferry and heading toward the security gate into Magic Kingdom, I noticed there were lots of families, with lots of little ones, and all with strollers. LOTS and LOTS of them. Maybe it wouldn’t be as crowded as this was looking… Spring Break was over, after all. Right?

IMG_0837But when we got through security and turned the corner onto Main Street, USA, there were thousands of people already inside! I was hit with a wave of claustrophobia, and I needed a  minute to regain my composure. We’d obviously miscalculated.

I took a photo, and texted my sister, Andee: “I WAS WRONG. THERE IS A HELL.”
With her usual sarcasm (a trait we share) she replied: “What the hell are YOU doing there when the WHOLE WORLD is on Spring Break?”  That was a darn good question.

In an attempt to get out of the fray – strollers can be lethal weapons – we looked for an upscale restaurant where we could have a calm lunch and a cocktail. The meal was disappointing, to say the least, and made even more so because the restaurant didn’t serve wine or beer.
Texting my sister again, “Andee, they don’t seem to serve cocktails here… ”
“Of course not!” she replied. “And probably a good thing… parents would all get drunk!”  I could see why.

We’d just finished lunch when Mike and Laura arrived, and we set off to do more adult-oriented things. We had dinner reservations at the Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant inspired by the one built in CA in 1928.  We took a shuttle from Magic Kingdom to Hollywood Studios and then strolled around taking it all in.  There was so much to see, including a farmers market!

IMG_5471We arrived at Brown Derby early, and decided to sit on their outdoor patio, have a drink, and people-watch. The service, the ambiance, and the quality of the classic cocktails were all perfection.  When we went in for dinner, I saw that the walls are covered in B&W caricatures of old Hollywood stars. Laura and I stood there trying to name as many as we could.  We were shown to a very comfy booth, which was quieter, enabling us to carry on a conversation. And the food. I owed it to my sister to take a photo and tell her, “I am in HEAVEN!”

IMG_5469I will say that starting off thrown into Disney’s Magic Kingdom made us appreciate the other parks even more.  And I learned a valuable lesson: find out when Spring Break or Christmas Break ends for all of the eastern states before scheduling a trip here.

Unless, of course, you can think of nothing you’d enjoy more.
XO Donna

Paradise Found

We’ve been home for a month now, and it has rained 90% of the time.  Every day I check my weather app  (I am becoming a glutton for punishment)  and see that it is lovely in Key West, sunny and 80. I could be strolling with the gypsy chickens and sipping a Cuban coffee… Continue reading

72 Hours Out

As I’ve run into both friends, and acquaintances, over this past month, when they ask what I’m doing, I tell them about our upcoming trip. Their reactions vary greatly… from excitement, to being envious, to being flat-out frightened by the whole idea. I ask them why they feel that way, and they tell me that they dislike the idea of giving up all of their possessions,  and of having to be in new places, meeting new people all of the time.

I can understand that… it is stepping off the ledge of all that is familiar, and comfortable. But the trade-off is worth it for those of us with gypsy hearts. Like a turtle, I carry the comfortable and familiar with me everywhere I travel .

I believe that, except for a few psychopaths, people the world over all want the same things. The scenery may change, but you can look for those commonalities in everyone you meet. Just this week I met an ex-Marine, and of all things, we ended up talking about how much we both love the sound of birdsong early in the morning.

We will be in Destin, at Disney, then onto Tampa/St. Pete  before heading to Key Largo and Key West for a week.  I’ve got the Beach Boys song “Kokomo” playing in my mind. We have 2 stops planned so far for our return trip, but don’t really have details or reservations yet. Our schedule is… well, very tightly scheduled, and that makes me a teensy bit nervous, but this is more than a vacation,  it’s a test-run. If we make it through this 3,000+ mile, almost 30-day journey  in under 300 sq.ft. of living space,  it will be a miracle! Joking. Maybe. Yeah, joking, I have no doubts we will make it.

While we aren’t pioneers by any stretch of the imagination,  it will still be a learning experience for us.  If it’s as much fun as we hope, when we return we are selling our furniture, putting a few special things in storage, and when our lease is up in June we are going full-time.  If we are in your neighborhood, leave a comment and if possible, we’d love to meet you. Preferably for a cool drink with an umbrella in it!

XO Donna

Fixing a Hole

… where the rain gets in.

And, just like in the Beatles song, it stopped my mind from wandering. There’s nothing like getting out of bed first thing in the morning and having water squish through your toes to wake you up!

imageWe are good detectives and quickly figured out the general vicinity of the leak, and a temporary solution: close the slide! After drying it as much as humanly possible, we aimed a fan on it, and let it run all day and into the evening. The carpet finally dried out.

Days later, when it stopped raining, we discovered that the topper covering the slide was torn. I volunteered to climb up on the roof, bringing my trusty roll of duct tape with me.  In the end, it was all for naught… when we closed the slide again it tore my artfully arranged duct tape right off!

We drove our RV down to Houston last week, where we put it in the shop with a mechanic who comes highly recommended by our motor-home manufacturer. Besides the leaking slide, we gave him a “honey-do list.” He is a good-natured man, and took it all in stride.

He’s been keeping us updated; it should be ready sometime next week. We will pick it up, celebrate with dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant – El Tiempo in Montrose – then drive home in the morning to begin packing for a trip up north, which includes a detour to Lincoln, NE, then on to Wisconsin to see 2/3 of my sisters.

It was 91 degrees here today, and I am more than ready for some cool weather, autumn color, and apple cider!

What’s the weather like where you are?

XO Donna