SC,GA,AL,LA,TX, 3 wk vacation from retirement: San Mateo,, Carmel Valley CA,Ft Collins,Arvada and back to TEXAS
12/04/2013 - 01/26/2014
Heading for Wilson SC ~ actual uncharted territory for this trip!! We’re heading south and west…..California here we come! Wilson was unseasonably warm at about 80 degrees and afforded us the opportunity do the menial things of life like laundry and “house” keeping.
December 5th & 6th ~ (CORRECTED) Days #151 & #152 Florence SC
Warmth and short walks around “Swamp Fox Campground”…long walks would have lead us into Rte 10 and oncoming traffic which was speeding by our door….. but WARM!... did I say WARM? that’s what it’s all about, baby!
December 7th ~Day #155
Another brief hiatus from camping…a quickly planned trip to see our “old friends” and parents of Devon’s grammar school friend Mary Ellen Lambo ( the rose among thorns! 4 older brothers…4 younger brothers!) It was like we’d never skipped a beat with Gerrie and Pete. We caught up on all 13 of our collective children and I heard something I never, ever thought I‘d be present to hear from the mother of nine: “I really love being alone”. No kidding? Their home is lovely and it made me start looking forward to having a home again…but…not yet. We have a lot more to see and explore. We’re all already looking forward to our next visit to Greensboro GA though, so we can visit again and play golf!
Dec 8th Day #156 Stone Mountain GA Happy Birthday Brett! (5 months on the road)
A state park in the pouring rain! We’ll have to come back here to the beautiful park and actually climb Stone Mountain…a not-to-be-missed park.
Dec 9th ~ Day #157 and..Happy 35th Anniversary to us!
We had A lavish 5 star meal at Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta GA owned by Chef Linton Hopkins and his wife. Elegant food served lavishly in lovely surroundings…highlight of the evening was talking to chef Hopkins after our beautiful and beautifully served 3 course meal and “fancy martinis”
Dec 10th ~Day #158 Montgomery Alabama
Spent the morning at the Ford dealership in Stone Mountain, before we ever hit the road! New warning light indicating the Wilson Dealership had only completed HALF of the Ford recommended repairs to our exhaust filter!!! And then we were off to a warm RV park in Montgomery where we met, among other people, a family of 6 who were touring the country and home-schooling their children for a year.
Dec 11th~ Day #159 Touring downtown Montgomery
Started our touring with a brief stop at the Troy University gift shop to pick up gifts for brand new little Troy Joseph Johnson and his parents and grandparents. This was followed by an enlightening tour of the Rosa Parks Museum. Lunch was at Martin’s with iconic local fare of fried chicken, homemade cornbread & collard greens served to us by a “made-famous-by-tripadvisor- waitress”, who was as iconic as the food and the restaurant!
Dec 12th ~ Day #160 Mobile Alabama Bethingrath Gardens
Move to Payne’s RV Park in Mobile, Alabama in time for what seemed like Christmas in July. Actually warm days gave way to very chilly evenings. Old Mobile has a strong resemblance to the French Quarter in New Orleans, so strong that they were filming a Bruce Willis movie (set in New Orleans) just down the street from where we were taking a walk. Our evening was spent walking among the Christmas lights at Bethingrath Gardens complete with a live choral group performance and hot cocoa…kinda gets you in the mood for a Christmas that we still have no idea is coming!
Dec 13th ~ Day #161
An outside walking tour around the USS Alabama Battleship near Mobile including..the Mary Alice fighter plane and her “sister” plane, the Jane! Lunch was an outstanding example of local seafood fare at The Oyster House where I had Fried oysters (of course) and Trace had local gumbo and not surprisingly, 2 delicious local beers.
Dec 14th & 15th ~ Days #162 & #163 Poche’s Fish N Camp
And we’re off…landing at Poche’s Fish-N-Camp in Breaux Bridge AL...one of our definite Top 10 sites. Acres, and acres of lakes surrounded by a single row of RVs with lots of space, small trees and a little grass. We had plenty of room to walk and see the local fields of cows and mirror-like lakes. A great spot! Time for laundry, phone call and coming up to speed with our lives.
Dec 16th & 17th~ Days #162 & 163 Escapees Livingston TX
Finally to our “mailing address residence” a tightly packed but pleasant and huge campsite where we get our mail sent for forwarding to us wherever we choose in our travels. Attended a local meeting of residents and I, for one, have decided that this won’t be my next home!
Haircut, a tiny bit of Christmas prep and a couple of nice long walks…
Dec 18th ~ Day # 164 Curt and Susan’s
FAMILY! Lots of great food, catching up, walks in the beautiful neighborhood, an introduction to our new favorite beer, Shiner Boch, and an initial meeting with the 6-month old puppy “Buster”, as yet not too oriented to company Hopefully a wet spring will help repair the divots our rig made in their lawn trying to back into their driveway! (Oh… and I managed to snag a great TJMaxx dress as a possible wedding shower dress!)
Dec 20th ~ Day #166 Canduccis’ in Houston
More FAMILY…yeh! So we stay up drinkin’ ‘til 4AM with Jerry after a great homemade dinner. Outstanding several days with Carol Ann, Jerry, Garrett and Irene (oh.. and their well-trained pup). Long walks in the woods, lots of attention to our dirty laundry, holey sweaters and other small repair matters…We slept in our rig in their very spacious driveway and took long, hot glorious showers in their spacious bathrooms, were treated to our first real sign of Christmas!! A beautifully decorated Christmas tree! Christmas really is coming..and soon, too!
Dec 23rd ~ Day #169
We never left Canduccis’ ‘til the eve of our flight to Brendan and Nicole’s from Austin TX. A night at the Marriott after saying goodbye to our rig for the upcoming 3 1/2 weeks (left at “Shoreline” RV Storage~ haven’t figured out what shore that is, yet!) Dinner at a “cheap & cheery” Tex/Mex restaurant next to our hotel and home early to bed to rest up for our long “vacation from retirement”
Dec 24th ~ January 12th 2014 Days #170 -189 “Vacation from Retirement”
Just a synopsis of our extended vacation…starting with 6 days of warmth in San Mateo CA with the Pomeroys as well as the Greens & being treated royally to gourmet meals by Bill and Nicole as well as some collaborative meals by all, hours and hours of playing with, reading to, walking with and best of all, waking up with Henry, the loquacious, every day! We had a tremendous Christmas gift luncheon at the BlueStem Brasserie and then were treated to our second Christmas gift of A Christmas Carole at a SF theater..SPECTACULAR DAY!, A movie night and an overnighter with ALL FOUR grandparents watching Henry while B & N celebrated their 7th wedding anniversary in SF ALONE. (the 4 of us grandparents together were able to successfully feed, entertain and bed little Henry..what a dream he is)
The Anniversary dinner, flowers and cards on the return of the happy couple were a fitting finish to a marvelous week. OH…. And the Save-The Dates for THE wedding have started to arrive! OK…that will put a lump in your throat, seeing that in print!!
Next we moved on via bus to Monterey…more warmth..where we were met by Alan Sokolow. Our 5 days there in the California Hills were relaxing and lovely…several walks (or rather uphill hikes), New Year’s Eve dinner with good friends of the Sokolows, a little touring around the village of Carmel Valley and a great walking tour of Carmel by the Sea which ended with drinks at Clint Eastwood’s bucolic, and rustic Mission Ranch on a marshy inlet with sheep roving about! Lest I forget…my first trip to Trader Joe’s in many a state afforded us the opportunity to buy great food for our Nancy Anderson’s shrimp and curry dinner for NYE and also to stock up on many of our favorites.
The 3rd saw us at a new airport and off to another state and another entirely different climate (no wonder our bags are so heavy and overpacked) the San Jose airport. Off to Denver where Devon and Patrick met us after weather (in the eastern part of the country) delayed our flight by about an hour and a half – more Shiner Boch! We greeted the bride-to-be with hugs and fresh flowers (“woops, I forgot to wear my engagement ring!”) cold weather (dog walking day #1 was THIRTEEN BELOW ZERO!!) sunshine, and hanging out, another haircut, trips to the dry cleaners, grocery shopping etc… Devon made us a terrific vegetarian meal (which the boys supplemented with scrambled bison meat) and Patrick treated us to several of his now-famous chop and grill meals! All works of love.
Saturday off to bridal dress “searching” for a dress Devon had already loved on line then tried on and she returned to the shop with Maeve and me for a fashion show…..I was fine, till she added the veil :’( Magnificent! Sunday was just the bride and her mother…icy cold and sunny. Devon treated us to every style they offered-full, straight, jeweled, plain, strapless, lacey, mermaid shape and sleeved and unsleeved!! The overall favorite was, of course… the first dress she ever tried on! Encore of Ft Collins, where we were, had nearly the exact same dress as the shop on day 1, for many hundreds of dollars less and a few added lovely details. WE HAVE A WINNHAH! Sunday evening was one of our nights to see Brett perform in Spamalot …brilliant work and an ever increasingly wonderful voice..and we get to see it again on the 11th!!
Monday night was Christmas at Brett and Amanda’s (without Patrick, unfortunately due to his work schedule)..Visiting with Brett and Amanda while they’re NOT working is something we rarely get to do. We had a collaboratively prepared salmon dinner and saw their beautifully decorated and cozy apartment where we spent the evening by the open stone fireplace.
Patrick and Devon left for Christmas at Dorion’s on Jan 8th (today is SIX MONTHS on the road….HALF A YEAR!) which put us in charge of Edora for a few day…I can’t say she consistently got the 3 one hour walks in the park that D & P give her but she did get exercised 3x/day . It was great bonding time for Nance, Trace and Edora! Monday saw “the 3 of us” in Estes park scouting out the wedding venue and lodging…..what a fun day. The View is rustic and lovely..PERFECT for Devon and Patrick to celebrate their wedding in a 100 year old lodge with views of the Rocky Mountains. I’m finally starting to feel the reality and excitement of the wedding after feeling very distant (as we were) and removed for a long time.
We were able to enjoy our two very special Christmas gifts from D & P during their absence; one was a night out at Choice City Deli for an awesome dinner and local brews from their aprox 50 tap selections! The second was an afternoon movie at a theater showing current academy award nominated films while you sip on MORE Shiner Boch on tap and eat freshly popped popcorn, does it get any better??? Great gifts. Both!
Sunday Jan 12th we drove to the Denver Airport (while Edora waited out D & P at Doggie Camp), left Devon’s car in a duely noted spot with keys hidden as agreed and took off to rejoin our rig in Austin after having been gone for nearly a month! And a terrific month it was!
Rig rendezvous was in the late afternoon and we settled into an Austin city campsite near the next city we’re going to check out. A few groceries and a little set up and we were “Home at Last” and happy to be there.
Jan 12th-14th ~ Day #190-192 Austin Texas and Gruene Hall
Arrive Austin,..spend first two days catching up and head out for a driving and walking tour of “The Drag” near University of Texas campus and a walk across the Congress Street bridge hoping to see a few late season bats fly out from under the bridge at sunset. It seems that in the summer MILLIONS of bats emerge from the bridge to feast on mosquitos. …an Austin sight we’ll have to catch on our return, some day. The highlight of our near-Austin visit was a day in Gruene (pronounced “Green”) TX, an old, old dance hall is the center feature of this neat spot which also includes great little shops (where we’ve already done a little advance Christmas shopping) We stopped into the dancehall for an early evening Shiner Boch (getting a theme here?) and some great guitar picking and singing..a signature of Texas!
January 15th ~ Day #193 Blanco State Park, Blanco Texas
Another Top Ten camping spot…found by a chance meeting with ”Jett” and her partner “Deb” in a parking lot in Chanute Kansas while negotiating our rig and truck purchases. …and who should greet us at check in but Jett herself! Beautiful, positively bucolic site backed up to an enormous cow/bull pasture in a sparsely populated 100 state park along the banks of the Blanco River. It would have been a 9/10 had it had full hookups at our site but we did have water and electric! ..more long walks along the river and around the small, quaint and within walking distance, town of Blanco. Not our best grocery shopping area yet at “Lowe’s (not the box home improvement store but a moderately stocked local grocery spot)..oh well, We did go out to The Old 300 for local fare one night. A sampler of brisket, the house specialty, and ribs with a little side of fries! Meat was delicious and the spot was oh so local, charming and cute!
January 18th ~ Day #196 Armadillo Farm- Luckenbach TX
A campsite described to us as “the other” local campground where musicians playing at local and legendary Luckenbach, TX stay and live their bohemian lifestyle. No group activities here, unless you count imbibing around the huge fire pit late into the night a group activity. Well it’s a simple, nearly empty of transient campers, site that has several more permanent residents off elsewhere, and a few weekend tenters. Day one was warm and lovely and I walked the .4 miles to “the town of Luckenbach” which totals about 4-6 old wooden outbuildings at the end of a 200 yard dusty road along a nearly dry riverbed. The iconic post office says est. 1890-1971. It’s now mostly a general store with a bar in the rear selling all things touristy and memorabilia of all sorts. There’s a small split rail fence behind the dance hall which gates off an enormous long horned cow, who is saddled up for rides..I took only pictures, no rides. The largest building houses the ubiquitous dance hall and stage, as well as “The feed Lot” for burgers and corn dogs and whatnot and then there’s the kiosk that sells… SHINER BEERS! And the focal point of it all is the “Picker’s Circle” which is predominantly outside near the picnic tables for the ever revolving local singers to gather and strum and sing…and that’s Luckenbach! I personally heard Jake Martin lead the Picker’s circle followed by Jimmy Lee Jones former traveling band member of local upstart Luckenbach performer, Willie Nelson…terrific voice and uber talented guitarist who was sporting a black tee shirt which read: “I won’t quit till willie does”. Round two of our first full day in Luckenbach was at the local KOA camp about 3-4 miles down the road where we personally invited to join the owners and campers around the campfire to enjoy another talented local favorite Thomas Michael Riley, who spends his winter in Fredericksburg camping and occasionally singing for the locals. Another Texas treat of singing by the campfire (NO Shiner alas…it was a BYOB)
January 19th ~ Day #197 Hondo’s
Our new friends, the Hickeys, whom we met in Rochester MA, after finding out we’d taken them up on their suggestion to “winter in Luckenbach/Fredricksburg TX” immediately took us under their wing when we told them we were actually heading here. (They were in New Hampshire seeing their 4th grandchild into the world! Pat’s first suggestion, after checking out “the bar at Lukenbach” was to enjoy Hondo’s on the Main St in Fredericksburg on Sunday afternoon & hear Melissa Weatherly and the Any Given Sunday Band…and we did. She has a wonderful voice and sang a lot of covers with her 6 member band that we could sing along to. Warm outside patio under the shade trees, more local beer samples and a great (and nutritious) lunch…life is good!
January 20th ~ Day #198 LBJ Ranch
A walking tour around Lyndon Johnson’s enormous ranch, and through his ” Air Force ½” (Air Force 1 wouldn’t fit on the ranch runway…) hanger, as well as the tiny shaded grave site where he and LadyBird are buried with his ancestors, was an historic first for us. (I did however as a young teen do a drive-by the Kennedy compound with my Dad when such things were allowed) We have lots of pictures of his one room school house, a reconstructed family home and the cattle, deer and Bison that now inhabit his ranch.
January21st ~ Day #199 Enchanted Rock climb
A beautiful day and an energetic climb up a 425’ rock (the insides of an ancient volcano that never erupted which has been exposed over the years due to erosion) to the top. Pictures of the summiting are available. That was followed by a picnic in the local park at the base of the rock…a highlight day!
January 22nd ~ Day KOA Fredericksburg
Moved to the larger more active KOA camp anticipating the arrival of our friends the Hickeys, Pat and Paul, with whom we’ve become quite the “pen pals” recently. They arrived next door as we stepped out of our rig to attend the evening “Pickin’ and grillin”event around the fire. Hugs all around, then they did the world’s fastest rig set up, grabbed their wine & joined us post haste. Pat got in on the Picker’s Circle for her first time after only a year on the guitar! The circle was rounded out by Thomas Michael Riley, another guitar playing couple and…Warren Burdett a man who coauthored Purple People Eaters, toured with Ricky Nelson and suggested the opening lyrics to Travelin’ Man for Ricky as well as touring and doing “a little backup singing” for Glen Campbell and…used to walk Gene Autrey’s horses for extra $ when he was younger. By profession, Warren was a chemist and now he’s the security officer here at the KOA!
January 23rd ~ Day ShaAnnie
Freezing cold, with light snow and mixed “precip” in the evening called for a trip down the road to the bar at Luckenbach for the intrepid New Englanders to see ShAnnie around an inside fire with some cocktails. I’m officially now a ShaAnnie groupie…we made it home to a frozen water line and therefore NO water…it will thaw out..no worries!
Jan 24th ~ (CORRECTED) Day #200 TWO HUNDRED DAYS ON THE ROAD!
Great work by TBA! We have water, a new water filter (to replace the one that cracked last night) and plenty of back up propane for heat!
. Tonight’s round #2 of ShanAnnie was at the Hanger Hotel in Fredericksburg. Turned out to be a very “grown up and lovely bar” where Shan played hours of “lounge music” by ear and Annie joined him for the occasional solo! The cost of our evening was our own drinks and a chocolate cream martini for Shan… A great night with Pat and Paul Hickey as well asTheir and our new, friends Lynnette and Gordon.
Jan 25th ~ Day #201 Luckenbach Blues Fest
We attended an all-day Blues Fest.. 10 hours for $25 each. We were entertained by some forty year old bands (Texas Tornados band of the late Freddy Fender “Until the Next Teardrop Falls”), the second runnerup from 2012 The Voice Nicholas David and another Voice contender and lovely singer Tameca Jones plus 4 others lasting into the night.
Trace was approached by yet another portrait painter, this time a roving artist …who, not surprisingly, seemed to be enamored (and who wouldn’t be?) with Trace’s eyebrows and terrific mustache…he sat for the work then left a little lighter in the wallet but he’s adorable on the wall (or will be when we have a wall again!) We had cheap, skinny hamburgers without rolls for dinner and tried to pass on the cheese stuffed fried poppers and curly fries! (I still need to work on fitting into my Mother-of-the-Bride dress.. which might end up being designed by “Tents by Peterson” at this rate!) This has been yet another highlight day on the eve of our departure from the “Adult Disneyland” of camping in the Luckenbach area.
Jan26th ~Day # 202 Depart Luckenbach/Fredricksburg
Warmer and sunny with a small group waving us out…Pat, Paul and friend Lynette saw us off with multiple requests to come back next year for a longer stay. One could do one’s self in going out 4-5 nights a week for singing, two step lessons, campfire entertainment, KOA BBQs, and maybe poker night every week for the whole winter…we’ll see.
That’s about 4-5 hours of catch up work on this blog…it’s now 3:30 PM….. time for some lunch!