Wednesday, March 30, 2016

All Around Austin...

We've been to Texas a number of times, but never to the "Hill Country" area and not  specifically to Austin, which is one city I'd heard was "a fun one to visit" and "a must see", so this time, I was determined to make the time to get there, so off we went!  Well, as they say, "timing is everything"...and sometimes you just can't help when you get there.  We knew it would be "spring break", but were told that everyone goes to the coast, so it shouldn't be to bad, even tho Austin is a college town.  What we didn't know was that it was hosting the SXSW.  Which is a huge music, film & multimedia arts convergence that comes to town for 12 days.  Hundreds of thousands of young folks pay hundreds of dollars to attend and listen to hundreds of bands, see Indie type films, eat, drink, party, etc all day and night all along several blocks down the main city streets downtown.  Tents are set up and streets are blocked off.  This thing was BIG.

We arrived on it's last two days, not knowing where it was taking place, innocently deciding to see the famous "6th street area" so, headed downtown!  Oh boy!  Was that an experience!  Jack got to drive the gauntlet of detours with what seemed like 100 traffic cops, while I got to listen (?) to what seemed like 50 bands all trying to out-play each other at one time, since they were pretty much side-by-side, all while thousands of young people were doing their best at walking along so crowded together they could barely move (is that called a herd?).   Long lines were everywhere, outside restaurants, bars, the theaters, port-a-potties, etc.  Yet, everyone was dancing and having a great time!  I had Jack drive around a couple of times just so I could take it all in.  Ah, youth...were we ever that young?

We came back on Monday, after the festival was over, just to see if the area survived...it was completely clean, almost all traces gone.  All the stores, restaurants, bars, etc were closed though - exhausted!  You could almost hear them sleeping...a well deserved rest.  We never did make it back there...

So, instead, we enjoyed SoCo, or South Columbia Street!  Much more our style anyway...It's more Bohemian or funky, or as my kids say hippy.  Lots of fun murals, unusual stores, including a Tom's Shoe Store (1 of only 5) some great food places, some live music, and cool art stores.  Every time we visited this street we found something new, something different, something fun! 



When we weren't down on SoCo, we were off "seeing the sights", so first off was the State Capitol!  Quite impressive, I must say, although, hey, it's Texas, right?  Of course it's BIG, and of course the star dome is beautiful, but what was an unexpected surprise was the Rotunda floor.  A composite terrazzo design of the "Seals of the Nations" with the Seal of the Republic of Texas with its Lone Star in the center.  It's absolutely beautiful.  The details throughout the whole building are awesome, from the door hinge's to the various statues. 


Austin also is home to the LBJ Library, and we all know that Johnson was all Texan!  Visiting his library was both interesting and tough for me as it brought back a lot of memories.  Having lived through those years personally, it brought them all back.  Reading a lot of the material, I didn't envy Johnson taking over when he did, it was a tough time, and it no doubt was the reason he died so young.  He was in a no win situation.  Things are bad now, but back in the 1960's we were facing a war that not only where ALL our own family and friends were in; that we really didn't understand, and many didn't believe in, but we were fighting one here as well.  A war against each other - a race war like this generation has never seen.  Awful.  One that killed not only everyday people, but our leaders, both black and white ones.  I don't believe our country has ever been the same since. 

I needed something cheerful after that, so we went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center!  Lovely place, acres full of beautiful Texas Bluebonnets, Paintbrush, Evening Primrose, Spiderwort, Yellow star, Crossvine, trees, ponds, and all kinds of fun walking paths and things to explore.  It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon! 


It was suggested by a 'fellow Texan' that we go see the  Bullock Texas State History Museum, so we added it to our agenda!  It starts out with the discovery of the La Belle (c1684) and the restoration that's  currently taking place.  Then, of course, they talk about Stephen Austin, the Revolution, they move on to cotton, slavery, ranching, the oil boom, movies, and end with the iconic space scene "Houston..the Eagle has landed"(1969).  Cool.


It was finally our time to end our visit to Austin and move on to other parts of "the Hill Country" of Texas while the wildflowers are still blooming and the sun is still shining! 


...on the road in Texas,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/

Friday, March 4, 2016

Visiting...

We’ve been doing something different for us…staying in one place for a 
l o n g  time and visiting with friends!  Our usual style is to constantly be on the move, traveling from place to place, seeing as much as we can, but this past couple of months…we’ve just been slugs, and have plopped ourselves down!  First in San Diego CA, then in Surprise AZ. 

We always visit in San Diego in January, as we have lots of family and friends there.  We just stayed there a lot longer than usual this time…although there never seems to be “enough time”.  We did seem to see almost everyone this time.  Being in Arizona has helped, because we’ve made several trips back and managed to see people each trip.

While we were in San Diego we managed a fun side trip to Palm Springs for the weekend with our friends who have a second home there.  We jammed a lot into those two days!  Spent one of them going to Joshua Tree National Park.  We hadn’t been there in years, and what a beautiful day that was!  So much fun to see all the various cacti and gorgeous scenery.  I had to chuckle at the memory of when I used to take my children there when they were little and they used to climb the rocks, and now those rocks are a “big deal” for rock climbers from all over to come to! 
While we were visiting our friends, we were invited to brunch by another of our RV’ing friend who is staying at a nearby upscale RV Park in Indio.  Wow, nice to see how the “other half live”!  We’ve seen some pretty fancy RV resorts, but this one beats them all!  Now I know what we can do with our millions when we win the lottery!  ;-)


After leaving San Diego, we moved to Surprise AZ and have been parked next door to our friends who own a site at Happy Trails RV Resort.  It’s been fun being next door “sharing” their patio, friends and good times.  We haven’t ever done that in the four plus years we’ve been RV’ing.  I can see why people settle down in these RV Resorts.  There is a lot of comrade and a sense of community here.  They certainly supply you with plenty of options of things to do, from wood working shop to sewing to crafts to more common ones like pickle ball and golf.  They’ve got it all, and if they don’t, you can start a class yourself!  ;-)  Makes one think about staying…kind of…


We’ve not completely stayed put…we can’t.  We’ve taken a few day trips…

First was to Wickenburg.  That was a fun day!  Cute little western town with lots of great sculptures all along the streets.  Most, if not all, I think, were created by the artist Seward Johnson.  He’s done work all over the world, and his work here is no less remarkable.  His most famous piece here is The Jail Tree, it’s very life like (my picture doesn’t do it justice as the sun wasn’t doing me any favors, I’m sorry to say).


They had a great museum that we really enjoyed going through, Desert Caballeros Western Museum not only had a wonderful western art collection, but downstairs it had recreated the small town of Wickenburg back in the early 1900’s.  They give you headphones to wear that automatically are prompted when you approach a piece, so you don’t have to key it in.  Very nice.


Another fun trip was to see one of our other long time friends who now lives in Prescott.  We’d been here before, but many years ago.  We love this quaint town.  We came on their “4th Friday”, which is when all the galleries stay open late and serve beverages and snacks and socialize.  It was a lot of fun.  Our friend drove us all around showing us all the additions since we last were here, enticing us to consider moving here “one day”, had a wonderful lunch in the old saloon and enjoyed browsing through the galleries that night.  Prescott forest suffered a nasty fire a few years ago, and that was so sad to see the damage it left behind.  It was always my favorite part of the area.

Our friends took us to Cave Creek for a nice day trip.  Next door is the small town of Carefree.  Don’t you just love that name?  They have the “largest sun dial”, so of course I had to go see it and take a picture!  ;-)  It was in their Desert Garden, which was truly lovely and had some of the most unusual cacti I had ever seen.  Cave Creek had some fun shops that we enjoyed moseying in and out of.  We discovered an absolutely wonderful restaurant there, called Tonto Bar & Grill.  Hardly any parking, but boy was the food outstanding!  Beautiful place, right on a golf course so we sat on the patio and really enjoyed the view and the weather.



I’m sure we’ll find a few more “side trips” before we leave.  In the meantime we manage to read, to clean house, to take walks and to relax.  All nice things before we get back “on the road” again.  It’s been a nice re pass.  Something different for us, and different is good.  I think 2016 is going to be a different kind of year for us…I'm looking forward to it.


...kicking back in Arizona,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/