Clipped Wings

2020 showed so much promise for travel and adventure and then, like everyone else on the planet, our plans were derailed by COVID-19.  As one neighbor put it, “our wings have been clipped.” And while we wait out the stay-at-home orders and nationwide closures, we are dreaming of our next road trip.

IMG_7802After leaving Austin earlier than planned on March 18 we headed towards home via Waco, Midland, TX, and Las Cruces, NM.

It was a much faster trip coming home…about five days. On the way back to Arizona we witnessed increasing shutdowns of rest areas, stores, and restaurants.  Empty grocery store shelves caused even greater discombobulation.  Every day brought a scary new reality. Many of those new realities seem to be sticking around for awhile.IMG_7846

For the last month we’ve been glad to be off the road and in the safety of our little townhome in Prescott, AZ.  It’s not a bad place to be if you have to be grounded! IMG_7916Throughout April we’ve stayed very close to home, venturing out just to go to the grocery store or to get exercise. We can hike the trails right from the house, and we enjoy some of the country’s best mountain bike trails.

Our little community has grown closer during this time. Ever since stay-at-home order was issued, we have been gathering (with appropriate social distance) in the parking lot at 4:00 p.m every day for happy hour. IMG_7885 It’s BYOB and chair and it only lasts an hour but it’s a been a great way to stay connected and support one another. We’ve even celebrated birthdays while following the recommended guidelines for safety! It’s been a great time to be in Prescott with beautiful weather and lots of outside time.IMG_7077Later this week I’m headed in to have surgery on my foot in hopes that four years of pain while hiking and walking will be addressed.  Now that elective surgeries are being done in Arizona, I jumped on the opportunity to get my issues addressed while we are grounded at home. I plan to do a few blog posts here to report on this next adventure.

Here’s hoping you and yours are healthy and safe!

Texas Hill Country

We made our way north from South Padre Island into the beautiful Texas Hill Country.  Our first night was spent at a park, Blanco (pronounced Blank-O) State Park.  We had a beautiful view of the river and were within walking distance of the quaint town.  IMG_7645Of course, BBQ was on the menu and we enjoyed our meal at Old 300 BBQ. IMG_7646However, our time in Blanco was short as we were headed for our week-long stay in Kerrville, about an hour and a half to the west. We made By the River Campground our base as we explored the various towns in the Hill Country.  Our waterfront site gave us a shoreline view of the Guadalupe River and its beautiful Bald Cypress trees. Kerrville sunsetPeople come from all around to watch birds and catalog their sightings at this campground.  We were most excited about the many turtles that hung out right below our back window.TurtlesKerrville was a great base from which to explore this area.  On our first day we visited the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and National Historic Park.  We learned about the legacy of LBJ by viewing his birthplace, home, ranch, and final resting place.President SteveM w LBJ and LBSteve w LBJ
It was fun to see the “Texas White House” where LBJ hosted world leaders during his presidency and conducted our nation’s business at the time Steve and I were born.IMG_7641.JPGOn display at the ranch is LBJ’s smaller jet, dubbed Air Force 1 1/2. The big jets were too big for the ranch’s airstrip so LBJ and his visitors used smaller planes to get to the ranch. The airstrip still dominates the pastures behind the ranch house.

IMG_7648The LBJ Ranch is still a working cattle ranch and is home to cattle which traces its lineage to the champions that LBJ bred.  Walking through the show barn and seeing the LBJ-branded cattle made it all the more fun. These cows have it made!

IMG_7647LBJ cow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On another day we headed to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and climbed to the summit of the legendary outcropping. It was just over a mile roundtrip and about a 400 foot elevation gain. IMG_7649 It was my first attempt at real physical activity since coming out of my boot.  I was determined to get to the top and was successful. IMG_7654However, it wasn’t without some lingering pain afterwards. We’ll head back to the doctor when we return to Arizona next month. Luckily I can still enjoy a good picnic, even if my feet hurt!IMG_7650

IMG_7625After our hike we did some exploring of the very cute town of Fredericksburg and did some shopping.  Both Steve and Mia were patient while I “poked my head into” most of the shops along Main Street.  Maybe it was the free LoneStar beer that was handed out at several of the shops that made it tolerable for Steve!

From Fredericksburg we couldn’t pass up a stop in Luckenbach.  Yes, Luckenbach, Texas from the song where Willie Nelson is known to have spent a lot of time. We didn’t see Willie but we did listen to a few of the local pickers and enjoyed a Lone Star.IMG_7661IMG_7665We even had our picture taken at the kissing booth, with Mia as the focus of our shared affection. IMG_7667Traveling with her continues to be a lot of fun.  She doesn’t like to be left in the trailer and makes a lot of noise if we do.  However, she loves to ride in the truck in her crate, and she’ll wait for us patiently if we leave her in there.  So far the weather has been cool enough so she’s been able to come along.  We are hoping that continues and she is too. Sweet MiaWhile in the Hill Country we also visited other cute towns including Bandera, Boerne, Medina, and Comfort.  Between the towns are humongous ranches, many with strange animals in the pastures.  It seems that exotic animals are a popular collector’s item for rich Texas ranchers. Anyone know what these are?Weird animalWe saw deer, antelope, llamas, bison, and other creatures we couldn’t identify. Of course, many of the ranches also have classic Texas Longhorns on the premises.IMG_7656When we weren’t out driving the back roads of the Hill Country, Steve continued to run as he’s preparing for next week’s Run the Alamo Marathon. I joined him on one day on the bike while we explored the Kerrville River Trail. IMG_7672We also spent a a few hours on Kerrville’s local mountain biking trails. While we didn’t do any wine or craft beer tasting while here, we expect that will change once we hit our next stop, New Braunfels. Stay tuned!

 

SPI in the RAIN

Our winter adventure continued this week on the Texas Gulf Coast and South Padre Island (SPI).  We had envisioned SPI as white sand beaches that go on forever and sunshine all day long. While the beaches didn’t disappoint, the sun certainly did.  Considering we had rain and a stiff wind five of the seven days, it didn’t quite live up to our expectations. Nevertheless we made the most of it.IMG_8920.jpgOn one of the sunny days we took the bikes out to explore the area.  SPI has some beautiful beach boardwalks that allowed us to bike right alongside the sand and surf. IMG_4011.JPGOn another day we took a drive towards Brownsville and stumbled upon the Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site, the location of the first major conflict in the Mexican-American War.  America’s victory here led to the US invasion of Mexico and eventually the definition of our southern border. Yes, even Mia enjoyed the excursion.IMG_7575.JPG While in SPI we stayed at the KOA.  We are becoming KOA regulars and this location had its pros and cons.  We enjoyed meeting snowbirds from all the “cold” locations during the campground’s social activities. In the week we were there we attended a sunrise breakfast, ice cream social, and watched water zumba while sitting out by the pool.  Even Mia, the camping queen, enjoyed the views.IMG_8913.jpgThe KOA was a little cramped and we would have enjoyed a little more space. However, we’re leaning that it’s common to be packed into many of the RV resorts.

We’re now on our way towards the Hill Country, between San Antonio and Austin.  Along the way we made a stop at the legendary King Ranch, the 825,000 acre cattle and horse ranch. Two giant Texas Longhorns greeted us as we entered the ranch property and were a reminder of the long history of cattle growing in the region. IMG_7593.JPGWe missed the ranch tour but tried our hand at roping. Clearly we are both novices at this skill and need to leave it to the ranch hands.IMG_7595.JPG      Our last stop in Kingsville was at the King Ranch Saddle Shop, which produces and sells luxury leather goods including incredibly made saddles that any horseman would love. We know a few folks who would have been in heaven in this place.

Our adventure continues as we move northward toward the Texas wine country.