Sunday, February 23, 2014

Still in Texas

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about our adventures, but truthfully we haven’t been doing all that much that’s interesting.  Coming to Texas six months ago was the right and necessary thing to do to get Brenda’s shoulder repaired, but being anywhere for six months is difficult for us.  We always enjoy seeing the scenery out our window changing, but changing from autumn to winter to spring wasn’t what we had in mind.  But we’re getting close to hitting the road again, and are busy with preparing our home for travel.  Before we leave, we’d like to share some of our travels though the Hill Country.
Brenda and I both spent time growing up in Cleveland,Ohio surrounded by neighborhoods of second and third generation immigrants from Europe.  There were Slovenian, Czech, and Polish neighborhoods, along with P1070191Lithuanian, Hungarian, and a large Italian population.  So it was a shock to us to find so many of the same nationalities in Texas.  Since spending Poster2time in the state, we’ve been to the Museum Interior2oldest Polish settlement in the U.S. in Panna Maria, visited the German Wurstfest in New Braunfels, and enjoyed Kolache in almost every bakery and donut shop in this part of the state.  And so our education continued with a visit to the Texas Polka Museum.  To my Ohio friends and relatives who grew up with the Polka music of Frankie Yankovic, Art Perko, Bob Timko and others, it’Poster3s probably a shock (as it was to us) that Texas produced so many polka bands.  The museum isn’t very large, just a storefront in the German-Czech town of Shculenburg, and is crammed with old posters, newspaper articles, and other memorabilia of Texas bands.  It was fun to see all of the Czech last names – somehow it’s hard to picture a Texas rancher, driving his pickup truck full of hay for the cattle, cowboy hat on head and snuff dip in cheek……listening to polka music on his CD player.  But that’s what makes our travel so interesting – you’re constantly surprised at the people and places that make up this great country!

Czech Us Out SignAfter reading about all of the Polka bands, we were in the mood for…what else?  Kolache!  And it Kolachewasn’t far to a coffee shop that featured the real thing, not the Texas version that contains sausage and jalapeno.  I love the poppy seed Kolache, but had to settle for a cream cheese version, but eating one always brings back memories of growing up in a Czech family.

Cooper's SignSince we’re on the subject of foCooper's BBQ Pitod, I thought it might be fun to share what a real Texas BBQ restaurant looks like for the benefit of our friends and relatives Weighing the MeatReady to Eatback East.  We’ve visited the BBQ capitol of Texas in Lockhart, but prefer Cooper’s, a restaurant down the road from us in New Braunfels.  There’s a ritual to eating here, unlike a Bean Pottraditional restaurant where you sit down, order from a menu, and have your food served.  Here, your meal starts with a stop at the pit.  Cooper's InteriorThe meats are kept warm on the open grill, and you order by piece, slice, or part.  For example, a piece of sausage, a slice of brisket, or a half chicken.  You can also order a number of ribs, but remember the barbeque is priced by weight.  After picking out your food (“sauced” or “unsauced”), you head for the weigh station, where your meat is cut up/sliced, weighed, and wrapped.  Placing the package on your tray, you head down the line to select sides and desert, then to the cashier.  You can actually skip the sides, since beans and bread are free!  Then off to the table, community style, where huge jars of jalapenos are available if you’re into fiery pain.  After finding a place to sit, it’s off to the big ‘ol bean pot, to help yourself to pinto beans with a bunch of peppers floating on top, to the dill pickles, onions, and of course, white bread.  Then it’s time to sit and eat.  With maybe a trip or two back to the bean pot (the best pinto beans we’ve every had).  We always enjoy visiting here; although the meats are a bit pricey (but worth it), the free beans and bread make for a reasonable meal.
Jacob's WellWe’re always running into fellow bloggers and making new friends.  We recently had a visit from Susan and Bob, whose blog “Travel BugClimbing Prayer Mountainwe’ve enjoyed  following.  We’d metView from Prayer Mtn earlier this year for dinner and enjoyed their company, and invited them to Wimberley for a day of exploring.  After Susan & Boban overcooked brunch at a local restaurant, we decided to look for a couple of the sights mentioned on the Wimberley Chamber of Commerce web site.  Our first stop was Jacobs Well, described as “one of the most unique perpetual artesian springs in the world”.  The people who write for the Chamber took just a bit of poetic license with this one, for all we found was a small creek, full of green scum, with a small round clear area that is apparently the “unique” spring.  Big Whoop.  So off went to our next stop, Mount Baldy, also called Prayer Mountain.  Right outside of Wimberley, the little mountain had some nice views on this hazy day.  After climbing up the 218 steps to get to the top, we understand why they changed the name to prayer mountain – we were all screaming “Oh God!  My Knees!” by the time we reached the top.

BoerneOn a recent trip to the small village Boerne (Burn-nee), we strolled Expensive Antiquesthe main street looking at all the galleries and high-end shops.  How do you know that the antiques are really expensive?  When you see a sign like this:

We’re nearing our departure date for our journey to the Oregon Coast for the summer, so be sure and check back and follow us as we travel through some of our favorite areas!