Tuesday, February 23, 2010

EeeeHaaa! Rodeo Time!

Rodeo is a big thing here in San Antonio, and this year we decided to check out the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, a two-week event held in the AT&T Center and adjacent grounds. Started in 1950, this is one of the big events in town, and brings in some of the best known Country Music entertainers. This Rodeo Mapyear featured stars like Toby Keith, Trace Adkins and Alan Jackson, and even a few pop groups like Foreigner. Since we’re not crazy about fighting big crowds, we decided to visit on a Thursday afternoon, on a sunny and fairly warm day.

Like most events of this kind, tickets were sold depending on what you wanted to see. There were separate tickets (and prices) for the rodeo, the carnival, entertainment, and even a “Rodeo Star Experience”. Since there wasn’t much going on this Thursday afternoon, we settled for the “Grounds Pass” (only $5 for seniors), and began to explore.

Arena VendorsWe quickly discovered that although it’s billed as a rodeo and stock show, it also has the largest group of vendors we’ve ever seen, scattered throughout arenas and exhibition halls. There had to be at least 500 vendors, and amazingly, they all offered quality goods; clothing (lots of cowboy stuff), jewelry, leather goods, and more. We bought some amazingly good blackberry and jalapeno jam, green tomato-jalapeno relish, and a few containers of designer pasta - and the prices were actually reasonable! But the real treat was roaming the grounds and taking in the sights.

Food Vendors The food vendors here would make a cardiac surgeon delirious – the Monster Burger booth sold one and two-pound hamburgers, dripping with enough grease to lubricate the motorhome….mmm good! How about some alligator on a stick (the best place for them), or the best of Wisconsin and Texas combined, the Jalapeno Cheese Curds? Since it’s Texas, the home of chicken-fried everything, we weren’t surprised to see chicken-fried bacon…yum! And of course, you’d want to top everything off with a delicious dessert like the “hot beef sundae”. As Brenda and I sat in the food area eating our relatively healthy funnel cake (light on the powdered sugar) and drinking a Diet Coke to cancel out the calories, we could hear a sound kind of like someone crumpling cellophane - it turned out to be the sound of arteries hardening.

Rodeo Queens There were a lot of interesting things to see as we walked the rodeo grounds. There were actors and gunfights, huge Percheron horses (one weighed 2300 pounds!), tractors and horse trailers, and agricultural exhibits. Besides the carnival, there were plenty of activities for the young, and weLittle Girl watched as the Rodeo Queen and her court taught their little princess how to lasso a metal cow, and this little girl having trouble deciding which horse she wanted . And just to illustrate that the FeWarning Signderal Government doesn’t have anything over Texas when it comes to doublespeak, we ran across this amazingly uninformative sign in an “equine” area.

Overall, we had a great time and were impressed with the event – we’ll be back next year, after all, who doesn’t crave chicken-fired bacon followed by a hot beef sundae?

Kirk, Pam, Brenda, KeithWe also had a chance to meet for lunch with friends Kirk and Pam, who we first met while volunteering at Lee Metcalf NWR in Montana. I’d followed their blog even before we began full timing, as they’re the masters of full timers and volunteering and they’re at their 23rd location now. We had a good time catching up and comparing experiences over a long lunch. One of the amazing aspects of our lifestyle is that we make new friends all over the country, and then run into them again somewhere else in our travels.

Only five weeks until it’s “jacks up, slides in, and fire up the Cat” time. We’re both getting antsy and are ready to travel again. Come back and visit to see what we’re up to!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Staying Cool in Huaco Springs

We’ve haven’t done much interesting in the way of exploring since the last post, it’s still dreary and cool bordering on cold here. Huaco Spring But we’re not complaining, considering the horrible weather that almost everyone in the country is experiencing. The amount of rain here this spring has been amazing; we have a large spring here in the park that we didn’t know existed until this year. The spring bubbles up just a short distance from where we’re parked, and creates a fairly large, fast-running stream that flows into the river.

We did take a trip to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, a near 400-mile round trip and a disappointing day. The weather, although forecast to be partly cloudy and warm, turned out to be cloudy, windy, and cold. Aransas is a large refuge right on the coast, and with the shoreline and a large number of fresh-water ponds, usually hold a large number of shorebirds, ducks, and animals. On this day, however, it was barren of any wildlife except for a few birds and the ever-present American Coots. Aransas is the winter home of most of the population of Whooping Cranes, but to see them even if they were present required either a boat trip or a climb to a viewing tower, neither of which we were willing to do in the cold wind.

Riverview1 We’ve moved to a better site at the park; it’s more level, in a quiet location, but best of all has a great view of the river rapids. The new site is a great place to sit outside and listen to the water rushing and watch Osprey and Great Heron as they hunt for food. Even though the trees are leafless and the grass is brown, it’s still a beautiful place, and the view through the windshield is wonderful. BBrenda Wavingrenda enjoys sitting outside and reading her cooking magazines, and although engrossed, took the time to wave enthusiastically for the camera in this picture.

In the continual search to make our RV a home, we decided to replace the dining table and chairsBuffet with this “server” that we found at Oak Express. It gives us needed storage, and the top folds down to form a countertop for eating. A couple of folding stools rounds out the set. We’re very happy with it!

Sorry that our blog hasn’t been very entertaining, this is the time of year where we’re resting up, cleaning up, and getting ready for the summer. If I did a blog every day, it would be pretty boring – up at the crack of dawn (8:00), coffee and browsing on-line newspapers – think about what to have for lunch – eat lunch – nap – think about what to have for dinner…….well, you get the picture. But, we’ve got some things to see and do in the coming weeks, so please come back and check us out!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Dreary February

It’s another rainy, dreary day here along the river, a stark contrast to our time here last year when it never rained – not once. It’s been the good type of rain; the steady, soaking kind that will fill the aquifer and keep everything wet enough to eliminate the wildfire danger, that is until the newly-nourished grasses die and create a whole new fire hazard.

Thank you all for the great comments! Blogspot doesn’t allow me to reply individually, but please know that it’s great to hear your thoughts about our stories, and we’ll reply if we have your email or web site. Incredibly, our site received it’s 29,000th visit a few days ago – thanks again to all of you for checking on us!

New Blinds Open We’ve been busy catching up on repairs and maintenance getting ready for our spring journey back to the Pacific Northwest. One feature of the motorhome that’s always bothered us is the day/night shades, since they easily break, gather dust, and don’t allow any breeze through the window without also letting in the sun. New Blinds Closed So, just as in our Allegro Bay, we installed 1” real wood mini-blinds throughout the coach. The blinds, custom made by justblinds.com, fit perfectly, although it took a number of four-letter words to get them installed properly. We love the “residential” look, and now we can open the windows, crack the blinds, and enjoy the breeze while still having a degree of privacy.

Mercado Last week we made a trip to downtown San Antonio to see the sights and do some shopping. Our first stop was Market Square, also known as El Mercado. The market area, dating back to the 1800s, has evolved into a block-square area of shops and restaurants selling goods that Mercado2reflect the Mexican culture and heritage of the city. The main building is crammed with little stores separated by narrow aisles and a sensory overload of color. Lots of ceramics, figurines, clothing, pi├▒atas, and wind chimes. And of course, real vanilla, not the extract so scorned by culinary artists like Brenda. You can buy it in little jars or gallon buckets, everybody sells it and every store claims it has the best price. We didn’t spend a lot of time browsing the stores, as it quickly becomes apparent that they all offer pretty much the same products. But we did buy some vanilla.

Alamodome After a coffee break and a short drive, we arrived at the Alamodome to see what was new at the RV and Boat show. We’d never been in the Alamodome, and although the exterior is striking, found that the interior is pretty average – just another arena. I once worked with a rather eccentric (trying to be nice) guy who once said that he was glad they’d finally built the Allegro Bus Front Alamodome, since he was worried that the rain would erode the sacred building where Davey Crockett died. Seriously. Unfortunately, the Alamo is not contained in the dome, but there were plenty off boats, trailers, and a few motorhomes. We made the mistake of looking at a Allegro Bus Rearnew Tiffin Allegro Bus, a 43” dual axle behemoth with a bath and a half – yes, bath AND a half floorplan. The full bath is in the rear and is amazing; two sinks, lots of drawers/cabinets, big shower, and huge closet. You can drive this home for around $300……..or like us, you can start the buying process by winning Megabucks.

Keith, Brenda, Laurie, Odel-1 The highlight of this week was meeting fellow full timers and bloggers Odel and Laurie, authors of Semi-true Tales of Our Life on the Road. We knew by their blog that they were in the area and made arrangements to meet them halfway at My Place, a small Bar & Grill with great food and wonderful service. It was a real treat for us to spend the time with these great folks, we have so much in common (youthful good looks, sparkling personalities, and of course, love of food) that the afternoon passed before we knew it. Our first sign that we may have stayed to long was looking over and seeing the waitress and owner with their heads on the bar, sound asleep. Even though we’d never met, spending time with Odel and Laurie was like being with old friends, and we hope to meet up with them again. For a look at Laurie’s blogging and humor skills, check out the story of the hidden brownies here.

We’ve got another two months here in Texas, so check back and see what we’ve been up to!