The Great Lone Star State

The 2018 Circus Train tour continues ….next stop TexasWe have been to Texas plenty of times in the past visiting family and friends. We would travel south from Kansas and stop in the Dallas area. My Handsome Chauffeur also called Texas “home” for 8 1/2 weeks 39 years ago when he was in Basic Training to begin his career in the United Sates Air Force. This trip through Texas we were crossing the state east to west with a slight northern detour to Austin. As we crossed the state border from Louisiana we were greeted with a milage sign stating El Paso, TX was ONLY 857 miles away

HOLY COW Texas was going to take awhile to cruise across!

As we motored across Louisiana on Interstate 10 along with HUNDREDS of other motorists in all different types of vehiclesThe John 3:16 flag came in sight just in time to calm my nerves. We crossed more water on bridges than we ever had!

Miles and MILES of bridges with water not to far from touching the bottom of them. This Nervous Navigator’s brain started getting away from herself with thoughts of “What happens if we breakdown?” There seemed to be minimal shoulders available to pull over…then “IF we broke down it would be quite the feat to get to us AND we would be the cause of MANY unhappy travelers as we would be blocking traffic FOR SURE!” Thankfully those thoughts never came to fruition! Prayers work people!!!

The thoughts of a breakdown were not just a thought… there were plenty of potholes that we could not avoid that rattled the Mobile Condo to its core! It was a wonder we didn’t have a blown out tire! There were so many road hazards to count and no where to swerve to avoid them. Not only was the roadway TERRIBLE the wind also was blowing us too and fro! My poor Handsome Chauffeur was earning more gold stars keeping us on the road! Finally, in the distance we saw the greeting that we were entering the GREAT state of Texas! Hopefully they had more money in their budget appropriated for highway maintenance!Indeed the roads DID improve, but after the harrowing drive we endured across Louisiana My Handsome Chauffeur was READY to call it a day. Home Sweet Home for the night would be a Walmart parking lot in Vidor, TX . We had traveled ONLY 268 miles, but it felt like a MILLION! We were grateful to be OFF the road even IF it was Vidor, TX. My Handsome Chauffeur got out and did a walk around of the Mobile Condo and discovered that all of our tires were thankfully intact, but we did lose a hub cap👿hubcaps can be replaced! At least it wasn’t a blown out tire!

Vidor, Texas has a reputation that we were VERY unaware of. If we had any idea about it’s reputation we would have traveled further down the road, but ignorance is bliss as they say! When we let a friend know where we were spending the night she said “Please don’t base your opinion of Texas on Vidor” It wasn’t until the next day did I google Vidor and see WHY we were given this advice! WOW!

The next travel day was far easier than the previous one. Next stop Austin, TX! We were so excited. We heard so many GREAT things about the Capital of Texas…. beautiful city, bicycle friendly, great live music scene and delicious Texas BBQ… right up our alley! The campground we had reservations at was smack dab in the middle of the city… convenient to all of the things we wanted to see and do!

Pecan Grove campground is perfectly named as it is nestled amongst protected Pecan trees. The night sky of stars competed with lights of the city, high rise condos and apartments surrounding the campground. A number of folks make Pecan Grove their full time home. There are very few “transient” camping spaces. We felt so lucky to make Pecan Grove our “home” for the next week. This campground is FILLED with the most friendly people we have met! As we walked around the park we were greeted with friendly smiles, invitations to dinner, happy hour, given recommendations on what to see, do and where to eat! We were also asked not to judge Austin by the recent news reports!!

As we were traveling we had not heard the news that Austin was being terrorized by a serial BOMBER!!! WHAT???!!!! We immediately got ourselves educated on the current events plaguing this wonderful city. We determined that we were not going to let these random acts of terrible violence keep us from seeing the city. There are far more good people in the city (and world) than bad. We would indeed keep our eyes peeled for any unaccompanied packages or backpacks as we road our bikes all over the city.

First stop the Capital

We learned so much about this great state from our docent.. here is a link that gives some cool facts about the Lone Star State9 Things You May Not Know About Texas

We road bike trails following Lady Bird Lake where people were kayaking and paddling on paddle boards. One of my Handsome Chauffeur’s favorite musician, Stevie Ray Vaughn, has a place of honor along Lady Bird LakeWhile we were in Austin we were treated by a visit with our dear friends who were in the area from Missouri visiting their daughter! What a treat to share wonderful Texas BBQ with them!Not only did we ride our bicycles around, but we we also able to get on the Harley and ride the wide open spaces of the Texas backroads in the “Hill Country”! It was so WONDERFUL to have the wind in our faces and the sunshine warming us! We rode the Devil’s Backbone and came upon beautiful Canyon Lake!

The beautiful blue water was a sight. We also saw someone land a fish! We made a mental note that we would someday return here with the Mobile Condo and call this place “home” for awhile!

We met up with some friends that make Texas their home at The Saltlick for another delicious taste of Texan BBQ.My Handsome Chauffeur was a part of a BBQ team that competed at The American Royal in Kansas City when we lived in our Stick and Brick home. He is always interested in how others prepare their version of BBQ. Saltlick did not disappoint!As our time in Austin came to an end we spent a night being entertained by a great bandNext stop San Antonio! The trip was to be a blip of time …… only 80 miles. A piece of cake! Unless you check the air pressure in the tires of the Mobile Condo only to discover one tire is 30 PSI below what it is suppose to be!😬Not a happy Handsome Chauffeur and now a VERY Nervous Navigator! Thankfully, we did check the tire pressure instead of assuming all was well. We have a air compressor on board, but unfortunately it was not cooperating. We set out with our eyes scanning the interstate for a Truck stop that would be able to air us up. That was probably the longest 30 miles we ever traveled! While my Handsome Chauffeur added the much needed air to the tire I hit the phone locating a Michelin dealer to check the tire out as we began to wonder if we picked up a road hazard on our trip through the HORRIBLE roads in Louisiana. As luck would have it there was a Michelin place just 30 more miles down the road that could see us right away!

Of course the tire in question was an inside tire of the duels so the diagnostics took a bit of effort!After removing both tires the diagnostician determined we had a bad valve stem. Phew! Not a bad tire! The nice fella went to work immediately and in less than 30 minutes we were road worthy again! Not only that, when my Handsome Chauffeur went inside to pay for the service he was told it was FREE! Wow what a wonderful gift!

On the road again we were treated to the beautiful display of Blue Bonnets and Poppies that adorn the the highways in Texas. Soon we were at our new “home” for the next week San Antonio, TX! What was to be a short trip if 1 1/2 hours turned into a 4 hour trip, but we were there safe and sound!

When we planned our trek across Texas we had planned to stop for just a few days to see the sites, visit long time family friends and Lackland AFB where my Handsome Chauffeur attended Basic Training many moons ago. Low and behold the time frame we planned on coincided with San Antonio hosting the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament AND our beloved KU Jayhawks were playing in the tournament!!! To say we were THRILLED to be there for the festivities and tournament was a HUGE understatement!

Torrential rains for a few days gave us “lake front property”and “helped” us determine that we had a “little” water leak. We took care of some caulking and maintenance. It’s always something😉!

When the sun finally came out we hit some of the sites and we joined in the festivities that were associated with the tournament.

The City was FILLED with fans from all four of the schools playing. The excitement was electric wherever you turned!

The day before the tourney We joined hundreds of LOYAL KU fans to watch them practice in a Shoot AroundWe were so blessed to enjoy dinner with our nephew (a KU SUPER FAN) who was also in town from Kansas for the games!None of us had tickets for the game …. YET. The prices were a wee bit inflated and not in our budget 😉 .

Over Tex Mex, chips & salsa, and local adult beverages with hundreds of KU faithful fans we formulated a plan to wait until the very last minute to see if the prices went down, or suck it up and pay the big bucks for this “unique opportunity!”

Game day proved to not be so kind to the Navigator of this Dynamic Duo! Unfortunately, I had picked up food poisoning the night before. I was beyond sick ….not only physically, but heartsick I was not going to be able to make it to the tournament!

The closer it got to game time I encouraged my Super KU fan to go have fun and try his luck on getting a ticket. I had a wonderful seat on our couch with 7up and saltines to keep me company. So all dressed in his KU regalia with a sign that he made stating”Need 1 Ticket” my SUPER KU fan left the Mobile Condo to join the other 999,000 people who were in town for the game!

He positioned himself with his sign in an area where there was tons of foot traffic heading to the Alamodome. He had plenty of offers to pay $400 for a single ticket. Little did those sellers realize, not only is my Handsome Chauffeur VERY frugal, BUT he is the most PATIENT person I know when waiting for a deal!

It was close to tip-off time. He was beginning to think he may need to spend some of his hard earned cash if he was going to see this event in person.

Patience paid off BIG for him this time. As he waited, a trio approached him and told them they had an extra ticket in “nosebleed” section. My KU Super Fan inquired “how much?” They then told him they would give him the ticket for F R E E! Oh my goodness I know my SUPER KU fan heard the Angels singing in his ears!!! Free?? What are the chances of that happening?

So in the Alamodome he walks with his new 3 BEST friends and sends his ailing Navigator this photoOh my gosh I was beyond THRILLED for him! Yes, the seat wasn’t the very best, but being in the atmosphere was beyond COOL and for FREE made it sweeter than honey!

After the first game was over fans from the losing team started to leave the dome. Just in time for the KU game to begin My Super Fan was able to move into a vacated seat still up high, but mid court…. he was in heaven!

Alas, our Jayhawks didn’t play well AT ALL! They did not advance in the tournament. Our bubble was bursted. Still we had the time of our lives being a part of the excitement! As the saying goes for most KU fans….There is always next year!

Before leaving SanAntonio we did a quick drive through where my Amazing Veteran started his career in the USAF back in 1979To say he wasn’t excited about it is a BIG understatement. Ironically, as we entered the gate the radio station we were listening to began to play the Star Spangle Banner! GOOSEBUMP moment for us both!

As we drove around we saw lots of new Recruits walking in formation. It brought back memories (or nightmares) of his past. The recruits looked like BABIES! Well, I guess compared to our age now they are😉. It also brought a sense of pride and appreciation for what these fine men and women voluntarily signed up for to keep our country safe. The tour brought up lots of memories for us both. It was a lifetime ago, but in the same sense feels like it was only yesterday we were a military family.

Our visit to San Antonio was completed by being able to spend Easter with our “framily” (friends that are family to us) The meal was such a treat! Many of our favorites recipes were prepared by our amazing hostess. Some were passed down from generations. The food and company was chicken soup to our Nomadic souls. We left not only with our tummies filled, but our hearts were FULL as well just being able to be with them.

Up early the next morning with El Paso, TX in mind. Another 552 miles to get there and we would STILL be in the state of Texas! Whoa!

There really is not much between San Antonio and El Paso. It reminded us of our travels thru Nevada a few years back, except for the Border Patrol cars and inspection stations The speed limit was 80mph. Unfortunately, the Circus Train’s Conductor keeps it at 65mph so we had lots of folks passing us. We are not often in a hurry, but when the scenery is not so great it really would be nice to travel a bit faster, especially when it’s legal to go 80mph!

We finally made it to El Paso. We were thrilled to see that the city was beautifully surrounded by mountains. Home Sweet Home for the evening with fellow Nomads in the Walmart parking lot. We enjoyed looking out at the vista!

As Morning was breaking behind the mountainswe said farewell to Texas. The 857+ miles east to west was so worth the journey! Thanks for the fun memories….We’ll be back to see you again Lone Star State!