Don't Mess With Texas

Sunday, February 17, 2013
TEXAS - Big sky and vegetarian restaurants that play Country and Western music.

Ken saw  a family of cats sunning themselves in an empty parking lot behind our hotel. We drove to El Paso, TX for morning coffee. I sleep lots on our morning drives lately because I often wake up in the night. We looked for an open Toyota dealer but it was Sunday so no luck. We needed to replace the headlight that Ken replaced on the ferry.

We drove through what appeared as a desert with low scruffy  bushes until lunch time. We stopped in small town  Texas at a Subway to purchase our lunch. The store was reminiscent of OXXO in Mexico. We finally succumb to sunflower seeds to help ease the long driving hours.  I say "succumb" because they seem to be addicting, make you thirsty and if you eat enough you feel sick.   

Monday, February 18, 2013

We drove for hours and hit town in early afternoon - San Antonio, TX.  We looked at several hotels but ended up at our good, old, cheap Motel 6. The others were reasonable but still lacking, so why pay more.  We later would find good hotels are hard to come by on the east coast, until we landed in Veracruz. 

Lobby of the Drury Inn and Suites.

We walked to the Farmer's Market, seeing a beautiful mural of lions. 

Then wondered in the sun to our first trip to the River Walk. A beautiful canal lined with trees and manicured walking paths. It is also crowded with restaurants.  The restaurants are happy hour spots from 3:00 until 6:00 or 7:00. We found a spot, The Iron Cactus Mexican Grill, with lobster tacos and lime margaritas.  How could one go wrong with that? Well a lot in Texas, but not here, Ken figures the lobster taco with the margeurita is a fabulous combination ...

The Iron Cactus Mexican Grill - our first lobster tacos.

...  we would return.

We walked and snapped pictures of ducks and lovely river scenes. Then we returned to our hotel ready for a good nights sleep.

Seriously, how often do you see a wreath of Cactus? ... nopales I think.

Nice, but not sure where it would go.

San Antonio River Walk

Tuesday February 19, 2013

This is our first full day in San Antonio, Texas. It was hard to commit to a particular outfit of clothing because of not being use to the weather, it was rather cool. As it was, I seemed to feel cool all day no matter what I wore. Dressing for the weather, in the winter, on the East Coast, was a challenge we never really got the hang of until after Veracruz.

Goslings made an appearance.

We walked around to many restaurants and hotel downtown discovering it is quite pricy in San Antonio for a simple lunch. We found one unique restaurant called The Buckhorn Bar and Museum. You were greeted with an authentically dressed cowboy - lariat and all. The walls were crowded with stuffed animal heads - ugh! Very Texas!

San Antonio has a free beer night in the park, which ended 7 minutes before our arrival. The band was fun.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We were off bright and early to go to our appointment at the Apple Store to see a "genius". We wanted the capabilities of our various electronic devices to be up to snuff, so to speak. We had a very helpful young woman "genius" that also guided us with our border crossing decision. She had recently lived in Matamoros, Mexico for six months and tells us the drug gangs had decided not to destroy the town's people.

We went to  a Puerto Rican restaurant for lunch. Ken could eat the buffet, but it was too meat oriented for this vegetarian. I had fried yucca with wonderful garlic and hot sauces.

Pepe, the van, needed a new headlight bulb, again, and windshield wipers. We went to Red McComb Toyota for the full Toyota experience. Huge garage or service area - Texas sized.

At night, coming home to the hotel, we saw flocks and flocks of birds mostly Grackles roosting in the trees near the hotel.  We have never seen so many birds roosting at night, especially not in the middle of a city.

While in the hotel room we decided to watch the news for a bit. Very depressing, child killed by pit bull attack, second deputy in a month killed on duty, some guy sentenced for murder, plus the road we were on to get the Toyota dealer was the scene of a road side shooting, not three hours after we drove it. The television news camera truck was shot in the windshield. Note to self, don't watch the news in Texas. 

Not a bad price for beer. Two Four for $19.

The view out of our room at the luxurious Motel 6, an old folks home.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

We got up and I found the I could actually write the blog today.  I wrote up three or so days.  I must keep up daily, it is more fun and more valuable.

Once we actually made it out of the room it was lunch time. We returned to a great little Mexican restaurant we found - Mexican Manhattan. We discovered later it has a patio around back as part of the River Walk.

Wow, what a tourist trap. Expensive as well.

Ken and I parted ways after lunch so he could go to the library for his telephone radio-meeting with Frank. I walked to the City Hall to see some fibre art. I had to go through a metal detector and sign in. All the major rooms had keypad locks if you wanted to enter them. I did get to see Jane Dunnewold's work but could not locate Lisa Kerpoa's. Jane lives in San Antonio. I went to Goodwill and found a few treasures.

I met Ken at the library and used instant messaging for the first time. I used it to locate Ken in the huge, unfamiliar building. He and Frank had talked, just like last week. 

Nice art in a library.

We found the River Walk back to the Iron Cactus for a wonderful happy hour experience. The River Walk really "makes" the San Antonio city experience great. They are very lucky to have it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

We did a long morning of hanging out in the hotel room. I did the laundry in preparation for parts south. We did the blog, etc. I am hoping the moderate amount I am writing is good for my shoulder and not harmful. We went to the weirdest McDonald's. Many or most people seemed quite "off", only way to describe it. I am not sure why - mental illness, drugs, etc.  The workers were worked behind a locked counter, most unusual.

I used my Apple Maps, walking, to find a veggie restaurant not too far from the hotel. Ken wanted me to practice using "maps" so I could find me way around. We were expecting a little place with few customers, but we got the opposite. It was the first veggie restaurant I know of to play country western music. Ken and I saddled up to a window table with Loretta Lynn blasting away on the stereo "... don't come home a drinkin, with loving on yer mind...", most surreal. 

Later we hung out at the library to catch up on emails, etc. We walked home, changed and decided to walk to the southern part of downtown - King Edward area. It was very cold and we didn't dress for the weather. It was way beyond refreshing. We poked our heads in a huge, old building which is now a restaurant, pub. Fantastic flat bread pizza crust with salt and olive oil instead of the regular tomato sauce. We also had four other toppings - two different cheeses, mushrooms and asparagus. Again the food on this trip has been noteworthy. We returned to the hotel in the cold with our last River Walk.

King Edward hysterical mansion.

Incidentally we thought the best Texas beer was Lobo Negro and Shiner Bock.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

We left our hotel room and San Antonio, TX to drive to Corpus Christi, TX, about a two hour drive. We stopped at a garage that sold all sorts of Texas memorabilia - much of it had stars on it. They play county, western music everywhere in Texas. Ken wants to buy a pick up truck.

The scenery was like that of central Saskatchewan near Saskatoon with the added feature of cactus. There was more traffic on the road. Once we arrived in Corpus Christi we went to several poor looking, rundown RV parks.  One would not even let us stay there because we did not have an RV. 

Not much of a Camp ground, but the hurricanes take most everything away.

This Grackle ate a bug off our wiper.

We drive to a touristy area - Mustang Island. We had the added experience of going on a little ferry (about a five minute ride). Lots of birds escorted the ferry travelers - especially Laughing Gulls. They are white with a black head and other than that, look like regular Seagulls.

We drove through a town consisting of restaurants on a huge sand spit. We arrived at Mustang State Park. There was a Whooping Crane Festival in the area, but we unfortunately did not spot one. We did investigate many restaurants in the area. Many were over priced and generally not very funky or inviting. On Trip Advisor they are referred these restaurants as "dives", Ken imagined so because of the poor appearance and smell of creosote.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

We began the day with the refreshing beach walk. We saw laughing gulls, piping plovers, brown pelicans and many small shorebirds you commonly see in Mexico. The jetty was composed of huge slabs of granite. We thought we saw a celebrity, Sarah Gilbert, but we were not sure. When she said hello, Ken was sure it sounded like her and for sure it did look like the Big Bang actress. She did however seem rather wealthy for someone tenting in a state park. 

Jelly fish

We could see the pelicans feeding off the breakwater.

Ken headed out to the breakwater...

... for some shots of the pipers and pelicans.

We would see more pelicans feeding in Tecolutla

Ken saw oil blobs stuck to the rocks.

Sand Castle.

We drove off Mustang Island into Corpus Christi. The majority of the homes seem small and built on slabs or pilings (pilings so when the water comes in it goes underneath the house). It was by no means a lush area, they appear to have been having a drought.

By some act of god we found a Rudy's Texas BBQ. 

Complete with hose down sink for Ken.

The hugest lumber yard I ever saw.

We shopped the day away at various Walmart, H.E.B. stores (like a cheap Walmart). We found an Asian market for individual soy milk, but in cans, made with Canadian soy milk. Soy milk is available in Mexico, but the individual serving sizes are sweetened with juice, we use them with granola for breakfast in the morning so like to take a months supply with us. The search was worth it as the canned soy milk was tastier and less expensive to the tetra pac So Nice we usually bring.

Then we drove into the city of Corpus Christi. We drove by the shore, saw little of interest to us and left the city. Off for the rest area between Corpus Christi in Brownsville.

Monday February 25, 2013

The wind was the striking feature of the day, 25 kilometres per hour. The palm trees were just rowing paddles. We both had a bit of staggered sleep, but considering the storm, we felt well rested. Where we were staying had beautifully tiled restrooms detecting scenes of Texas in tile, quite amazing. We drove directly to our hotel, once we drove the two hours or so to Brownsville.

We basically spent five hours getting repacked and packed for tomorrow's big adventure to Mexico. That included time for Ken to purchase Mexican auto insurance. Our hotel backed onto a small river with Muscovy ducks around it, just like Walter, our only named duck at home.

By supper time we just wanted to be cosy. Off we went, however, to exchange a previous sleep mask purchase. Our hotel room was a suite with a microwave oven. We bought individual frozen portions of food (can call Ken calls them frozen leftovers). We eat back in our room.

It was dusk and birds of all sizes were roosting on telephone lines. I would say we saw in one spot, a dozen segments telephone line full of birds. That was just in one small area.

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