Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Monday, April 28, 2014

Hills and Rivers

Friday and Saturday were travel days as we worked our way westward along I10. I don't like those long, PDD travel days, so we broke it up into two approximately 260 mile days, stopping overnight at Hidden Lake RV Resort in Beaumont Texas. It was nice enough, very friendly folks at check-in, nice pull-through site and a rather inexpensive laundry room! I took advantage of that to do my laundry for the week, so I wouldn't have to deal with it in San Antonio. We had also been watching the weather, and saw that we would be driving into a severe storm watch area later in the day Saturday. Keeping that in mind, we made an early departure and arrived at the San Antonio KOA just after lunch time. No storms, just clouds for the drive, and we never did get any storms, just some gusty winds, although not nearly as bad as they had to the west in El Paso.

The RV Park is pretty nice. It's a very short, maybe 10 minute drive to the River Walk area, and there is also an inexpensive bus that stops right outside the grounds that you can take down there as well. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted unless they are lap dogs, which mine definitely are not :-). It's quite typical of a campground in a highly popular area, in that the sites are spaced quite close together. The park was very full when we arrived, as it was at the tail end of the big festival they have here each year, Fiesta!. Many  guests have departed yesterday and today, so there is a little more spacious feeling now. It has full amenities, including playgrounds, swimming pool, and a small breakfast restaurant. It's not my favorite type of place, but it meets my requirements for this stay of being clean, quiet and close to the areas I wish to explore.

The weather has cleared up with no storms in the forecast, however it is HOT! Near record temperatures for Sunday and Monday isn't too far behind. We decided with temps going up to 98 degrees Sunday that it would be a good day for a scenic drive, rather than any long walking routes. San Antonio is part of the famed Texas Hill Country, and we set forth with a plan to drive north is search of wildflowers and scenery.

We found fields of corn poppies and drummond phlox at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg. 

Close-up picture of corn poppies. I was very tempted to stroll through the nursery and pick up some flowers for the summer, but I really didn't know how they would do once we get up to the colder climates....speaking of which, did you know it was SNOWING yesterday and today up there??

I had read of a scenic drive north of Fredericksburg called the Willow City Loop. Its a ranch road that heads out of the hills and into an area of canyons and cliffs, along with roaming livestock from the ranches along the route. Casey did get to see plenty of his beloved cows.

Texas bluebonnets. It's nearing the end of wildflower season here, and I never found fields of mass bluebonnets like you see in the advertising. There were plenty along the roadsides though.

We saw thousands of these prickly cactus, and I liked this one that was a perfect heart shape.

And I found one with a bloom on it already!

After our Willow City Loop, we stopped at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. It was time to stretch our legs, and there were several hiking trails to choose from here. We chose the Loop Trail, that goes around the base of the Enchanted Rock. Enchanted Rock is a 500 foot high dome of  pink granite, the second largest formation of its kind in North America. It's an impressive geological feature with an estimated age of over a billion years, making it one of the oldest exposed rock in North America. The site also has archaeological significance, and figures prominently in several Native American legends.

Both puppies were very happy to be out and exploring.

By then it was time to head back to the campground and settle in for the night. I also had to get the game plan for Monday set. Again, it was going to be very hot in the upper 90's, so we planned to go to the River Walk early in the morning for some preliminary exploring, and then afternoon siesta during the heat. I elected to start our River Walk explorations at the north end, near the up and coming Pearl Brewery complex. It was listed as being quieter, dog-friendly, and free parking :-). So we decided to start there, and walk south until we decided it was enough for the day.

Our first view of River Walk. From the main streets of the city, you would never know what a quiet oasis is just out of sight. 
This section of River Walk down by Pearl Brewery was created in 2009 and is known as the Museum Extension. Several interesting pieces of art are scattered around the Walk, such as this sculpture called The Grotto by local artisan Carlos Cortes.

We found these fish "floating" under the interstate overpass.

In order to allow the water taxis and tour boats to access the the new section of the River Walk, the only working boat locks in Texas were constructed near the Lexington Street bridge to raise and lower the watercraft.

Warning: be prepared for many pictures of the San Antonio River walk over the next three days!

Shaded areas were much appreciated.

It would be lovely to have your office in these beautiful old buildings along the riverfront.

We made it all the way down to the Central Area, where the river has been detoured in a u-shape rejoining the main river further south. This is a very busy area, loaded up with restaurants, shops and of course, tourists!

By now it was getting warm, and we'd been walking quite a ways. It was time for lunch, and a very nice cowboy invited us up to The Lone Star Cafe, telling us it was dog friendly. Needing no further encouragement, we headed up and this was our view while we had an early lunch.

The food at Lone Star Cafe was very tasty and quite reasonable as well, as we chose from the lunch special menu. For the price of McDonald's, we had a great lunch, relaxing with a great view.

After lunch we headed back north along the River Walk towards our car, taking pictures of small details that caught my eye....

decorative stairs...

ducks swimming alongside the water taxis...

beautiful tiled murals all along the walkways. It was at this mural, though, that we had a bit of a surprise. I was looking at he mural, and Al was paying attention to somebody else walking down the path, and all of a sudden we heard a big "SPLASH". Whipping my head around, I see Honey swimming around in the river! Oh boy, I knew it was hot, but seriously?? Of course, Casey thought this was a wonderful idea, and was trying his hardest to get in as well. Luckily, it was near the historical dam, with partially submerged rockwork going into the river from the walkway, so we could guide Honey over there and she was easily able to climb out. We had a good laugh over that one.

We were quite impressed with how the city takes care of the area. We saw several cleaning people sweeping and cleaning the walkways, gathering trash, several landscapers taking care of the flowers, along with watering boats. We also saw a river-cleaning watercraft, that was going slowing along the river with skimmers, collecting any debris and leaves floating on the surface. Little things like that make it look so beautiful.

We finally made it back to the north end of River Walk, which is also as far as the water taxis can go. Upon reaching the car, we were surprised to see we had logged almost six miles of walking! We headed back to the RV Park, where a short siesta was in order for all of us, then it was time for me to work on this journal while Al took the car over to WalMart for an oil change. Later, after dinner, he's going to work on getting all the crushed bugs off the front of the coach, while I work on the plan for tomorrow! Normal chores still have to be done, don't they? 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Impressions of New Orleans

It was definitely a whirlwind tour, having allocated a single day to explore New Orleans. As a stated earlier, we stayed at French Quarter RV Resort, just steps from the French Quarter. Yes, it is VERY pricie, but it's all about location, baby! It worked out very well for us all in all, except for the actual site itself. The resort is located just off of and below I 10. Believe it or not, smack dab in the middle of the resort is a huge billboard piling! Yes, our site was right next to this, and caused two things to happen: of course, our satellite dish went straight into the billboard, so no television for us ( but we did find out that the antenna works just fine for local channels). The other thing, everyone knows that birds hang out around billboards, and everyone knows what birds drop (so to speak).....yes our vehicles were bombed! So, if you do decide to splurge and stay here, DO NOT take site 47 :-).

After seeing how insanely crowded the French Quarter was in the late afternoon, we decided our best course of action would be to wander down that way fairly early in the morning. That would beat the heat of midday as well. Armed with a self walking tour guide that I printed out, off we went right after breakfast.

So many of the buildings have back history to them, I won't list them all here. As you wander down the streets, you have to look for the bronze plaques posted on the sides of buildings, detailing the history of the different buildings. 

It was interesting to note the eccentricities as we passed down the narrow streets; this was a light fixture over the entrance to a parking garage, of all things!

This pretty kitty was in the building of an art gallery. I couldn't get her to look at me though as she was more interested in keeping her eye on the dogs.

Beautiful tiled street signs told us what the original name of the streets are.

I believe he is looking for tips; at least he doesn't come after you :-).

We laughed at these two real estate signs on different buildings; would you want haunted or not haunted??

We then strolled over to Jackson Square, for a photo of the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral and sculpture of  Andrew Jackson. St. Louis Cathedral is one of New Orleans' most prominent landmarks, and is among the oldest cathedrals in the United States, being built in 1718.

Of course, a walk along "The Moonwalk" along the Mississippi River is necessary.

On to the French Market at the north end of the French Quarter. We passed the Southern Candymakers and saw them making pralines. I didn't go in and get any, as Al does not care for candy with nuts in it, but once I read what pralines are, I wish I had!

We then walked down The Esplanade, the far end of the French Quarter where many residences are located. The wooded median runs down in between the two lanes of traffic, making a nice place to walk while viewing some of the beautiful homes. Some examples are shown below:

By now we had walked quite a long ways, it was getting very warm and a bit more crowded, and it was lunch time! Having had several recommendations, we headed to the Central Grocery for their world famous sandwich, the muffaletta. Being a cold sandwich, we had it to go, and walked back to the RV Park for lunch. A few more pictures, though...

Both the dogs and our feet welcomed the respite, as well as the nice cool interior of the coach....the air conditioning works just fine :-)! So we took out the sandwich....

It's pretty large.....

Wow, was it tasty!! 

After lunch (yep, we ate the whole thing LOL!), we acted like typical Southerners and took a mid-day siesta; no need to wear ourselves out in the heat of the afternoon! We then decided to pile in the car and take a ride down St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District, to view the beautiful homes down there. There were definitely some gorgeous estates, as well as a few homes that I can totally envision the vampire LeStat living in....weren't those novels set in the Garden District of New Orleans?

We parked and took a walk through Audubon Park.

The trees were beautiful.

Different artwork was scattered throughout the walking paths. Several fountains, playgrounds, picnic grounds, and a golf course are also found in the park.

You could see the iconic tower of Loyola University from the park.

We were pretty thoroughly walked out by this time; I will say, if you visit New Orleans, put on your best walking shoes as it is the best way to see things! We headed back to the RV Park, fed the dogs, and then went out in search of dinner ourselves. After checking different reviews on TripAdvisor, we settled on The Original Pierre Masperro's. It wasn't too far from the RV Park, had excellent reviews, and this is what we had for dinner:

Shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, with a bread pudding with a whiskey sauce for dessert. 
This dinner, folks, was enough to bring us back this way someday!!

So, this was our whirlwind tour of New Orleans. We did enjoy it, and there are enough things we left undone that it would merit a return trip someday. I hope you enjoyed the pictures, and we are now settled in San Antonio Texas until next Friday. On to more adventures :-).