"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
- Helen Keller

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Houston and The Woodlands

The Woodlands Waterway

One of the sculptures along the Waterway
Our trip to Houston was really a trip to The Woodlands, and un-incorporated  suburb north of Houston. This is where John’s friend and frat brother lives. We had heard the Houston traffic is crazy and I will have to agree with that. Even though we weren’t going to arrive at his friends until 5, we decided it would be better to drive through the city in the middle of the day so I looked for something in The Woodlands to do. I found they have a large Mall as well as an area called the Woodlands Waterway that has Market Street, a more upscale shopping area just off it. All of these things looked to be in the same area so that is where we headed. 

There is a reason they call this area “The Woodlands”, and yes it’s because it’s built into a large forested area. There are so many trees you have to look to find things, the trees obscure things from the road and that includes gas stations and shopping areas. I had a restaurant called Green Goose Acre in the GPS, it is a highly rated grill and pub. This worked out great as we found parking in a lot that is suppose to be pre-pay but no one was at the pay station so we paid nothing for a lot that usually charges $5 to park in. This was just a block from the pub and The Waterway. The waterway is an area that reminds me a little of San Antonio’s Riverwalk, but with more green space and fewer buildings. It is a very beautiful place to walk. After lunch and the pub we took off walking on the trail and found that we could get to both Market Street and the Woodlands Mall on the trail. It was a beautiful day and a great time for some window shopping. I did get a group of gripping cutting mats in different colors at Williams-Sonoma. They take up less space than what I have now and are color coded so you can use them for specific food. Otherwise it was just a meandering window shopping trip. I think we walked several miles by the time we got back to the truck and the timing was right to head to Jim and Wendy’s.

 Jim and Wendy
Jim was a fraternity brother of John’s and really the only college friend he has kept in touch with. It’s mainly just been Christmas cards and letters. The last time (and for me the only time) we had seen them was at their wedding over 26 years ago. We spent our 1st anniversary at the wedding in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  It was a fun wedding, Jim is from a very Armenian family and his mom and grandma kept us more than entertained. As a couple we have a few things in common as Wendy is also a dental hygienist so even though it had been many years it was a very fun and comfortable get together.

We learned from them that The Woodlands was a planned community and I think it really shows. There are bike and hiking trails throughout the community and it just has a cohesive feel and yet not in a cookie cutter kind of way.  It would be a nice community to grow up in.
The Empire Cafe

On Saturday Wendy had to work so Jim and John decided we would tour the St. Arnold’s Brewery. Jim had always wanted to go and beer isn’t really Wendy’s thing so it worked out great. First he took us to a little cafe called the Empire Cafe in a very eclectic neighborhood of Houston, it has kind of a “hippie” feel to it. We loved it. They were serving brunch and it was one of the best meals we have had on this trip. It was a beautiful day so we sat outside to eat. Eating on patio in January, this is a great life.
Then we were off to the brewery. When we arrived, it was a challenge to find a parking space. It is an industrial area with street parking and you could tell this was a very popular place. We have been to several brewery tours but this was the craziest one we have ever experienced. We had to stand in line to get into the tasting room and where the tour begins. It cost $7 each and you got 4 tokens and a glass (which you keep) for four 8 oz. samples. In line we noticed people had lawn chairs, coolers, backpacks and the like. The tasting room was so packed they were only letting people in as others left. Reminded me of a college bar on a football weekend. Finally in, we worked our way to the bar area to get our first glass and then worked our way over to the doors where the tour would start from. Looking around the tasting room, all the tables they had were packed and then on the ends and sides there were groups in lawn chairs eating and drinking; kind of like an indoor tailgating party. This place was nuts. 
The tasting room

Noticed these groups are using lawn chairs

We got in on the tour and the tour guide was worried we all didn’t have our glasses full enough to get through the tour.  It was interesting and we did learn a few thing about the difference between beer and ales and what it takes to be considered a craft brewery. I’ll have to get John to blog sometime about that because I am sure I would mess it up.
We left the brewery and headed to meet Wendy for dinner. It was again a lovely night so we walked the Market Street area, stopped for wine at the Cru and then walked to a little tex-mex restaurant. It was an altogether enjoyable day and I was glad Jim was the DD.

We left Sunday promising we couldn’t let it go another 26 years or we’d all be too old to have this much fun.
So now we are back in Port O’Connor and today the truck went in for its new transmission and we hope to leave here Friday for Kerrville Texas and the hill country.

This little vacation was fun and reminded us that the best part of this life is the time we get to spend with old friends and all the new friends we are meeting along the way. 

Happy Trails............................

Monday, January 30, 2012


We just returned from our little trip to Galveston and the Houston area. It was a fun little vacation visiting with old friends. I decided I would do two posts, one for each area so today is all about our time in Galveston.
Our very good friends from Iowa, Steph and Norm, let us know that they were going to be in Galveston for a few days on a road trip they were taking. Since we had never been to Galveston and it is only a few hours away we made plans to join them. One of the perks of this trip is having master planner Steph in charge of the “agenda” as Norm calls it. We have vacationed with them before and Steph does lots of research and comes up with a plan. When John and I travel that is usually my job so being able to let someone else handle that job was an extra perk for me.
We checked into the Springhill Suites which is just across the bridge on I45 as you enter Galveston Island. This was a great place to stay, a short drive to the harbor and Strand street and also to the seawall. They have a few extras too - breakfast and a happy hour with beer and chips is included in your stay. The first night (after happy hour) we headed to a local seafood restaurant on the Seawall that Steph had found and reviewed online. Gaidos has an excellent view of the water and excellent food. We splurged big time and had appetizers, wine, shrimp of various types and dessert. We all ate so much that we felt like we were waddling out of the restaurant, but what a wonderful treat!
Memorial to those who died in the hurricane of 1900
Wednesday was our day to tour together so off we went. Our first stop was on the harbor side at a theater that shows two short movies about Galveston. One is about the pirate, Jean Lafitte, and the colony he had on the island before being driven away by the American army. It was interesting but the acting was not that great. The second movie is about the hurricane of 1900. This was all done as a narrative with sketches and photos of the island before and after the storm. I had never read about this storm but it had the largest loss of life of any natural disaster in US history. They estimate that between 6,000 to 10,000 people lost their lives here. Very few buildings survived the storm and most of the dead were never identified and had to be burned to minimize the spread of illnesses like yellow fever. This movie is worth seeing to understand how amazing it is that Galveston even exists today. They built a seawall and raised the shoreline to help prevent this type of devastation from happening again. They have weather many hurricanes since them and in 2008 Hurricane Ike was particularly devastating, but nothing compared to the storm of 1900.

Our next stop was the Bishop’s Palace. This was a home built in the late 1800s (one of the few to survive the huricaine of 1900)by Walter Gresham. He was a railroad magnet and politician in Galveston. He built it as his dream home. After his death his wife sold it to the Catholic church as a home for the Bishop and so the name the Bishop’s Palace. It is an amazing home with beautiful woods and carving and stain glass windows in almost every room. They don’t allow photography so I can’t show you the inside but even John, who never gets into visiting places like this, felt this was well worth the entrance fee to see.
Norm and Steph at the Mosquito Cafe

Janie & John
Lunch was at the Mosquito cafe, another online find of Steph’s and another winner in our book. This is kind of a soup and sandwich shop. A fun atmosphere and excellent food.It started raining as we left the cafe and boy did it rain. We headed off to visit the Moody mansion (another prominent citizen) but the tours were all filled up. The lady at the entrance was less than friendly and it sounds like if you want to do this tour you need to call and check. This day all the tours were filled with groups. It was still raining when we left so we headed back to the hotel. 
That seemed like enough touring for the day, so during happy hour we ordered a pizza delivered and enjoyed a pizza and beer dinner. It was so much fun getting together with friends. We caught up on the kids and friends etc. and laughed a lot.

the Carnival Triumph in dock
Thursday Steph and Norm were off to their next destination and John and I had another day in Galveston on our own. The sun came out so we checked out the historic downtown, Strand Street, lots of little shops and restaurants. It is a short walk from the where the cruise ships come into Galveston. The Carnival Triumph was loading when we were there and later we saw it from the seawall going out to sea. I think this would be a great place to sail from. We ate lunch at Fisherman’s Wharf and watched the boats in the harbor. 
Our view at lunch

After lunch we headed to the seawall for a long walk. There is great parking along the seawall and it is a beautiful place to walk. Besides the ships there are people surfing and playing all along the beach. We walked probably about 5 miles and it was very refreshing. We stopped at Casey’s which is the casual dining attached to Gaidos and shared crab cakes and a beer before heading back to the hotel. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here. Friday morning it was off toward Houston and more friends to visit. This post has gotten pretty long so I’ll save those adventures for the next post.

Sufers along the seawall

The Carnival Triumph headed out to sea
View from the beach along the seawall
Happy Trails................................

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On a little trip

We are off on a little trip to Galveston and Houston. Since I forgot my cable to upload photos I will wait until we get back early next week to blog about our adventures. Hope everyone is having fun and enjoying life.
Happy trails..........................

Friday, January 20, 2012

Janie had a little goat..

Remember the Mary had a little lamb nursery rhyme? I changed it to reflect an interesting day.

Janie had two little goats that followed her home from her run today and everywhere that Janie went the goats were sure to follow.......

Well you get the idea.

I went out for my run and suddenly I hear this noise behind me only to find these two little goats coming up behind me. They passed me and then stopped and waited for me. A gal in a golf cart slowed down and told me should though it was cute that I was walking my goats. I had other cars slow down to see such a site. I turned around to go back towards the RV park and they still followed me, there are a couple farms along the way and I figured if they belonged at one they would head on home but no they followed me all the way to the park. I went in to see if the camp hosts had any idea where they might belong and she said no but it wasn’t unusual for animals to be roaming around. Well they started chewing on the tree on the office patio so I had John shoo them towards me and sure enough they started following me again. I went back the way I’d come from hoping I would figure out who they belonged too. I got to the first farm that I thought might be theirs and by then they were looking pretty tired and sure enough off down the lane to the farm they went. I was glad they had found home. This farm has horses and a sign that says beware of dog but I think they need a sign that says beware  of friendly goats! 
Happy Trails.....................

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rockport visit and Amazon Friends

The largest Live Oak in Texas they estimate it is over 1000 years old

John, Phil, Janie and Dawn
Last week I emailed some friends we met at Amazon that I thought were headed to Rockport. We wanted to check out this area for possible stays in the future and it is always fun to get together with friends so thought we’d combine the two. Phi and Dawn arrived in Rockport on Tuesday and called us this morning saying this would be a good day to visit so a quick breakfast and we were on the road. 
Pelicans on the gulf
Rockport has a lot more to do than Port O’Connor and is definitely a lot busier. That has pro and cons but I think we could like this area. One of the places they took us was Goose Island State Park. This is a beautiful park right on the gulf and they have camping spots right along the beach, they also have a campground loop in an area forested with live oaks with a lot of privacy. The only disadvantage of this campground are the low hanging trees, you would definitely have to pay attention as you drove through this park with your rig. Like most state parks there are limited stays and only electric and water hook ups. 
Fisherman at Goose Island State Park
We took a long walk out on the fishing pier at the park and it was beautiful. We also went for Mexican for lunch and checked out the park they are staying in. From what we can see there are a lot of choices for RVs here. We enjoyed the tour and the chance to reconnect with friends now that we’ve all recovered from the job.
Fishing Pier at Goose Island SP
Next week we are headed for a little vacation to Galveston and Houston, leaving the rig here under the watchful eye of our camp hosts, who have been great to us during our stay. We have had a little glitch in our travels, the truck is going to get a new transmission. We have been concerned about it for awhile and on our trip here it was registering some codes on the Banks monitor about the transmission slipping too much. It seemed to be ok unless we are towing. John checked into the Dodge dealer at Port Lavaca and after a check decided to do a new high performance transmission. It is going to be a bill but it looks like it is a very needed upgrade and since we want to go through mountain country on our travels back to Iowa this is a good time to get it done. I may get John to write about all this as it is way out of my area of understanding. We are hoping it will get built and get here as we return from our little vacation and then it will take a couple days to get it put in. We are suppose to leave here on February 2nd so it is cutting it close but we will just adjust as we need to. Just like life in a sticks and bricks home there are always things that have to be dealt with. 
The only photo John took today. :)
Hope you enjoy some photos from Rockport and
Pelicans is a row.
Happy Trails.................................

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Shiny Rig

John got he rig done yesterday and it looks so pretty! I’d like to say I helped but that would be lying so lets just say I supervised. Eveyln asked what we used to wash and wax the rig so I thought I’d show you. Here are the product John likes:
The waterless wash is Eco Touch Wash.

The wax is RejeX.

Thought I’d show you the ladder we use too. This was a great find on sale at a hardware store back in Iowa and we have used it many times.

The other question I got from Karen is where exactly are we. Well I mentioned it is off the beaten path and if you want to come here the only way here is Texas Highway 185. I thought I’d just show you on the map. This is not a place you would just happen upon. I’d say the only people here are the ones who want to be. It’s very quiet except for the boats sometimes and there aren’t many services but if you want some laid back quiet time in the winter it is a great place to land. 

Happy Trails.................

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Nice Leisurely Bike Ride

It is always harder to write when there isn’t much going on. We had a couple cooler days but it is starting to warm up again. John has been waxing the rig. I helped with the washing but I’m just watching him do the waxing. The rig is starting to look pretty shinny! It may rain tomorrow so we need to get it finished today, that may mean I’ll have to start helping instead of watching. Bummer. 
Before this little cold snap John and I went on a long leisurely bike ride around town. When we got to the pier the tide was out so we walked out on the sand to the waters edge. Thought I’d share a few of those photos.

I also took some photos of my favorite houses along the way. I love how people use really bright colors for their houses, you just don’t find that back in Iowa and it seems perfectly fitting here.

We also found these goats and donkey’s in someones back yard. The zoning is a lot looser here than where we are from. I’ve never seen goats with horns like these.
Happy Trails...........................