Day #10 – Galveston Spring Break Craziness

LOCATION:  Bolivar Peninsula, near Galveston, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  2nd night at Bay Palms RV Park
WEATHER:  Very nice.  Sunny.  High 75

I took a long walk around this part of the peninsula.  This RV park is next to a housing development that is quite lovely.  There are man-made canals leading out to the Gulf, and the homeowners each have their private dock.  It is a gated community.  On the other side of it is a real contrast – boarded up homes with lots of garbage and a chicken farm.  The roosters woke us up this morning!

Then, the four of us took off for lunch in Galveston. The line to get on the ferry was very long.  Spring break plus Saturday = chaos.  We waited in line for about an hour.  Carloads around us full of young people were partying with their loud music and revved up cars.  They were ready to party!

Trix, the Glanville’s dog, liked barking at the seagulls.

We have driven through Galveston, but had not visited it before.  What a surprise!  First we drove by the port and cruise ship dock (now empty).  Then to a renovated area  called The Strand.  It was hopping with Spring Breakers.  The beautiful old buildings have been restored to nice restaurants and shops.

The first restaurant we went to (at 2:00) said there would be an hour wait.  So, we went on and found a surprisingly quiet, upscale Italian restaurant.  The Glanvilles had an appetizer platter…

George and I shared two appetizers – blackened sea scallops in a garlicky butter sauce, and mushrooms topped with creamy crab on a bed of blanched spinach.  All very tasty.

We took a drive around the historic part of town, full of huge Victorian-type homes, and along the beach.  Then, we got in the line (again long) to board the ferry for the return trip.

The ferry ride itself is only about 15 minutes.

DINNER:  The Glanvilles’ turn tonight.  Rob grilled some chicken.  Irene served steamed broccoli/cauliflower and a platter of steamed asparagus.  All delish!

BOOK:  “The Guest List” by Lucy Foley is about a big wedding and all the guests’ (mixed-up) lives.  Of course there is a murder that culminates the big day.  4 stars out of 5

Day #9 – A drive to remember…

LOCATION:  Bolivar Peninsula in Galveston Bay, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  Bay Palms RV Resort.  Nice location – on bayside, not on busy highway.  Seemingly new  park.  Nice, level concrete slabs with full hook-ups.  Picnic tables.  No toilets or showers. No owner/host on site – all arranged via phone.  Good wifi.  $55/night.  3 stars out of 5…..really wanted that shower!
WEATHER:  Another spring-like day.  Sunny.  High 73
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  3 hours – see below!

We researched our route from the Lone Star Flight Museum to the Bolivar Peninsula, planning to meet up with the Glanvilles near the Galveston ferry for a pleasant, relaxed brunch.  Google Maps gave us two options – to go southeast from the museum for an easy 40-minute drive to the ferry, then a free ferry crossing across the bay, arriving in our RV park about 5 minutes later.   The other, which we obviously did not want to do, was to go northwest into the city of Houston, then get on the horrific Interstate 10 east, then south, then west, making a big loop of  about 3 hours.  Guess what we did?  Google “flipped” our options, and took us toward the city. We stopped and re-programmed the phone to go southeast.  It flipped again without our realizing it.   We were in rush hour morning traffic.  We got behind a crash, stopping traffic for miles.  By this time, there was no option of turning around  So, we did the circular, hellish route.  Interestate 10 is full of speeding semi-trucks, road construction, and vehicles changing lanes at full speed.  Ugh!

We managed to finally get to the RV park, safe and sound.  We were all frustrated, but joked that we will remember this day.

After getting set up (and sadly finding no showers), we drove to a beach shack for lunch.  We split an order of ceviche that was quite good.  Then, George decided he was still hungry so had some fried frog legs.  He said they were good. 

We walked around the area where we are staying.  It is very quiet.  We are next to a harbor with shrimp boats.

We relaxed in the afternoon, and read in the sun.  Very nice!  George took an outdoor shower and we watched him shiver.  Fun!

DINNER:  My turn……I did a Mexican theme.  The main dish was a tortilla roll-up that I had made once before with chicken.  Tonight I did it with leftover grilled bison burger.  I added sauteed poblano peppers, onions, and cream cheese to the meat,  and stuffed that mixture into tortilla rolls. Topped with salsa, green onions, and cilantro.   Sides were black beans, Spanish rice, and corn.  Here is the original recipe….

Day #8. On to Houston…..Oh no!

LOCATION:  Houston, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  Another Harvest Host site – Lone Star Flight Museum.  On the SE side of Houston.  Huge, level and paved parking lot.  Interesting museum. Museum closes at 5:00 and we had the place to ourselves.   Quiet night.  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Very nice, but super windy.  High 70

We got a fairly early start from Lake Texana, aiming to hit Houston mid-day when hopefully the traffic would be calmer. 

The winds were gusting from the south and we were heading mostly east, so the crosswinds were not fun.  Every time I took one of my hands off the wheel, we veered scarily.  Of course I was driving!

When we were within 15 miles of the museum, George took over as the Houston traffic was frightening for me.  We managed to avoid the toll roads, and were amazed at all the spaghetti junctions.

Rob and Irene pulled in about 10 minutes after our arrival at the museum.  After we got settled in, we toured the museum.  It was very interesting, especially for George.  Lots of airplanes!

The best part was doing a simulated flight.  I’m afraid I crashed my plane several times! 

Rob and Irene found a Vietnamese restaurant not too far away, but since we didn’t want to unhook and drive in Houston traffic any more, George and I stayed in for dinner.

DINNER:  A simple affair since it was just the 2 of us…..toasted naan with sauteed onions, summer sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and feta.  Side salad with some good tomatoes we found today.

DAY #7 – Happy St.. Patrick’s Day!

LOCATION:  Lake Texana near Victoria, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  2nd night at Lake Texana/Brackenridge
WEATHER:  Perfect.  Rain in AM; sunny in PM.  High 82

We stayed cozy inside while it rained in the morning.  We love the sound of the rain on the Airstream. 

A bunch of male cardinals have made their home in the trees next to our campsite.  They like to swoosh down to peck their reflection in our rear-view mirror.  It is fun to watch them, except they leave a lot of poop behind!

When the sun came out, we walked around the campground a bit, then went in to Victoria to find lunch.  Someone had recommended The Pump House, to which we headed.  It was the city’s original water works/pump house station, renovated from the early 1800s. 

It is in the historic district of town.  We followed the historic tour around, gobsmacked by the huge, beautiful homes built in the 1850s.  We think the wealth came from oil.

Back at the campground, we explored some more.  This is actually two campgrounds that have been combined.  Altogether, there must be at least 200 sites.  Almost all are occupied, full of families celebrating Spring Break. 

Then, time to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!  George made Irish car bombs (Irish whiskey and Guinness) for Rob and himself.

DINNER:  It was Irene’s turn to cook.  She made a delicious lamb curry stew, served over mashed cauliflower. 

After dinner, Rob and Irene tried to teach us a card came, Hand and Foot.  We must be slow learners.  We (or at least I) will keep trying. 

Day #6 – Reuniting with friends

LOCATION:  Near Victoria, Texas – South East/Central part of state
CAMPGROUND:  Lake Texana Park.  Formerly a state park, so has that “feel”.  Many sites on lake.  Water and electricity, flat and graveled sites.  Picnic tables, firepit, and stand-up grill.  A bit run-down.  $30/night.   3 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Muggy here.  High 78 and cloudy.  Light mist

We got a fairly early start out of Johnson City and thankfully were able to avoid driving through Austin and San Antonio as we drove southeast. 

Unfortunately, we are a bit early to see the famous bluebonnet flowers that line this part of the Texas highway system in spring.  I’m not sure if this story is right or not, but it is cute….When Johnson was President, his wife Ladybird gave all the Texas policemen bags of wildflower seeds.  She instructed them to dump out some seeds whenever they stopped to ticket a speeding car.  Thus, we have ended up with roads lined with flowers!

We arrived at our campsite and immediately hit the showers!  Both Joy and we are getting rejuvenated.  We have electricity and water so it feels luxurious.

Our friends Rob and Irene from Retama Village arrived about 20 minutes after we did.  They, and their Schnauzer Trix,  will be traveling with us for the next several weeks.

George and Rob got the stand-up grill going while I did the prep work for dinner.  Irene and I will share dinner duties – our place one night; her place the next. 

First we had the rest of my walnut spread with drinks. 

Then, we moved inside for dinner…

DINNER:  George grilled some salmon filets.  Sides were risotto with spinach/chicken/feta sausage, and green beans.  Quite nice.  We had a lot of opened wine bottles left from the wineries we visited a few days ago, so polished them all off!

Day 5: Hanging out with LBJ

LOCATION:  Johnson City, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  Another Harvest Host site.  209 Vinery.  Small tasting room with super friendly owners/hosts.  Level parking lot.  One other RV here.  Great location — just 3 blocks from downtown.  5 stars out of 5.
WEATHER:  Cold in AM; Hot (84) in PM

We awoke to fairly nippy temperatures – 39.  Since we are trying to conserve battery use, we did not want to run our built-in propane furnace, so George got out his new “toy” – a small propane heater with a hose he connected to our main propane tanks.  It did the trick, and got us toasty very quickly.

Today was another day with a short  driving distance, so we took it easy in the morning.  Around 11:00, we drove to former President Lyndon B Johnson’s “Texas White House” which is both a national and state park.  We hiked on some of the trails, and toured the “living history farm” on the property, where volunteers dress in period clothes, take care of vegetables and animals, and give informative talks about the property.  The daughter of the homeowners was a midwife and delivered LBJ, their neighbor.

Here are LBJ and I hanging out….with masks, of course!

We had a picnic at the park, then drove on to Johnson City, only about 20 miles away.  The host came out to help us park, and we chatted a lot.  It turns out that the host has a sister who works at Mayo Clinic,  and at one time, worked in the same department that I did.  Wow! 

We walked the short distance to the main square.  There is not too much in Johnson City, other than 2 brewpubs and some whacky antique shops/junk stores.  It turns out that Johnson City was not named after LBJ, which we had assumed, but after his cousin who settled the area in the 1800s.

We stopped by Johnson’s boyhood home, but it was closed for Covid. 

George checked out one of the brewpubs and I thankfully got cooled off by their A/C.  Then, back to the 209 Vinery to show our support.  (We always buy something at the Harvest Host sites to show our appreciation.)  We each had a glass of wine (quite good) and bought some bottles.  The place was hopping with local “older” ladies (about my age).   I thought this was a smart idea of the winery – a win/win…..They are closed Tuesday – Friday, so on Monday afternoons, they offer wine at a very discounted price to the local ladies.  It is wine from bottles  that have been already opened for tastings, that they don”t want to sit until Friday.  The ladies know the routine, and pretty much help themselves.   The winery also uses this as an opportunity to have the ladies  critique some of their new wines.  I thought it was very clever!

We walked back into town to the other brewpub that has a very nice menu.  It was hopping, too, seemingly with local families.  We had their lamb burger that was very tasty. 

Another early night.  A note about our trip….We heard from our Nova Scotia friends.  It looks like we will not be makiing our Newfoundland trip this year.  There is still a chance we can get together later in the summer for a trip to Quebec  and Labrador.  Tomorrow we have a fairly long driving day where we will meet up with some traveling companions from Retama Village.  We will stay at this campground 2 nights, so it will be a chance to get cleaned up and to get Joy back in shape – battery, water, sewer. 

Are we in Napa Valley???!!!

LOCATION:  Outside Fredricksburg, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  Another Harvest Host site.  Messina Hof Winery.  Long,  level circular driveway to park.   hostess to greet us.  4 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  High 78. 

After the polo match and wine & cheese festival finished last evening, it became a very quiet night.  No road noise, and not a peep from our neighbors. 

This morning, we walked down to the polo field.  For the festival, they had brought in this camel for photo ops. 

Also, Texas longhorns  had been on display.

In the fields were Budweiser Clydesdale horses, goats, sheep, other cows, and donkeys.  They all galloped towards us to beg for food.

We had a very short drive from last night’s Harvest Host dance hall to today’s Harvest Host winery.  We arrived about noon and got set up.  It is a very “European” tasting room…

There is one other RV here – another Airstream.  What a coincidence – we are twins.  Both are 25-foot Flying Clouds.  We chatted with the owners a bit.  They are a young couple from Pittsburgh.  They both work remotely, so are traveling around the USA while working.

George was the designated driver today so I could do some wine tastings.  There are more than 100 wineries in this area.  We started at the Texas Wine Cooperative recommended by our Harvest Host winery.  This one was pretty popular. (Note the cowboy hat on the bench.)

Gals dressed up in their cowboy boots and fancy outfits flooded in from wine bus tours.

We asked the wine pourer for other recommendations -for wineries off the main highway, that would be quieter.  He recommended Narrow Path, where we headed next.  There we had lovely views of the vineyards and enjoyed a tasty pastrami sandwich for lunch

Our next one, recommended by Narrow Path, was Adega Vinho, a Portuguese name.  This one was lovely, too.

We ended the day back at Messina Hof Winery, our Harvest Host site, with a final glass of the day.  Most of the day I had tried dry reds, but since it was warm, we tried a dry rose’.  We bought the bottle to pair a salmon dinner later this week.

DINNER:  Since we are in wine country, I put together a charcuterie platter:  cheese, pate’, artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, walnut spread, and toast points.  Very nice.

BOOK:  “The Devil’s Cave” by Martin Walker.  This is one of my favorite series, about Bruno, a policeman in the Dordogne area of France.  I especially like it as it brings back memories of our time housesitting there.  Wonderful descriptions of food and wine, too.  5 stars out of 5

Another early night, since we are conserving our battery.  We listened to another podcast in the candlelight.  Not too shabby!  This is glamping! 

More Harvest Host fun!

LOCATION:  Outside of Fredricksburg, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  Another Harvest Host – Camp Bankersmith Bar and Dance Hall.  3 stars out of 5

Since we didn’t have far to go today, we hung out at the Lone Star Bar and Grill all morning,  and relaxed. 

On our way to today’s destination, Camp Bankersmith, we drove through the town of Fredricksburg.  It is a German town and is quite cute – full of shops, wine tasting rooms, and German restaurants.  Since it is Spring Break, the town was full of tourists.  We just kept driving….. 

Camp Bankersmith was once its own town and the post office has been converted to a bar.  There was no place to park Joy, and it was full of people, so we drove on to find the area where we were supposed to camp.  It is a large field that could probably accommodate 20 RVs easily.  We found a nice spot, set up, unhooked, then returned to the bar/dance hall to register.  All very informal.  The bartender said that we were fine and nothing else was necessary.  Not the cozy atmosphere that we usually enjoy with Harvest Hosts. 

Lunch and beer were at the magnificent Alstadt Brewery outside of Fredricksburg.  It is very impressive.

We had a home-made pretzel with some home-made sausage in their tap room.  The main restaurant seemed to be overflowing with tourists, including noisy kids.

After some nice beers, we took a drive in the country and drove through another fun place called Luckenbach.  It is similar to Camp Bankersmith …..It used to be a town and is now an outdoor beer garden and dance hall.

Back in Joy, we watched hundreds of cars drive by toward the polo field.  There was a polo match at the end of the road in front of us this afternoon, along with a wine & cheese fundraiser.  Included in the entrance fee was a ride on a helicopter so we had to tolerate the helicopter noise for a few hours. 

George is such a chick magnet……Right next to Joy was an old-fashioned horse-drawn carriage.  Carloads of women stopped after the polo match to take their pictures.  A group of about 7 women spilled out of a pick-up and called over to George to take their photo.  After he did, they invited him into the carriage for more photos and some cuddling.  What a guy!

We returned to Camp Bankersmith to check it out.  It, too, was full of tourists.  People were playing outdoor games and there was a good band.

It is a very lively place, and it was interesting to people-watch.  The atmosphere just isn’t our cup of tea, though. 

The food seemed to be typical rich, fried bar food, so we decided to return to Joy for dinner.

DINNER: We shared some of my hummus on crackers.  Then, I warmed up some leftover pasta and added a leftover crab cake and some pesto.  It turned out pretty well.  Side was salad.  Our stomachs were happier with this than with the restaurant food we have been eating.

We are trying to minimize our battery usage, so we ate by candlelight and by flashlight.  Normally, our battery recharges as we drive, but since these Harvest Host sites are all nearby, the battery is getting a bit low. The main thing we need it for is to keep the fan going for the refrigerator. 

Before bed, we listened to podcasts on my phone (Thanks, Alexis!) by candlelight.  An early night….

How fun! Camping at a Texas bar & grill!

LOCATION:  Fredricksburg, Texas – in the Texas Hill Country, north of San Antonio
CAMPGROUND:  Another Harvest Host site…..Lone Star Bar and Grill – a country-western bar with live music and a food truck.  Big field with sheep.  Big area for RVs.  5 stars out of 5.

NOTE TO BLOG READER WHO COMMENTED — One of my readers (thanks for following) asked me about the pull-out pantry that we have in our 25-foot Flying Cloud Airstream.  She said her shelves fall down while traveling.  We have not had that problem at all.  Our hooks are welded to the metal rail which holds them up.   Maybe check with Airstream?  Maybe re-weld? 


We had a nice sleep at Medina Winery,  the Harvest Host location outside of Castroville.  Since we weren’t in a rush, we took a long walk around a big hayfield this morning. 

We drove into the town of Castroville, settled by people from Alsace (the France/Germany border). We stopped by a famous Alsatian bakery to buy some goodies, then drove around the historic section of town.  The houses were built in the 1800s and really do look French/German.  Very pretty, and all very well-kept.

On north to Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World.  We ate lunch in the famous OST – Old Spanish Trail, a popular restaurant for the locals, serving cowboys and conquistadors since 1921.  Covid precautions are very much relaxed here.  We were one of the few wearing masks. 

We arrived at this Harvest Host site at about 3:00.  The owner greeted us and directed us to our spot, out in a fairly large field.  There is one other HH camper here.  I had to get out of the truck to shoo away the sheep so that George wouldn’t accidentally run over one! 

We got settled in and walked around.  I counted 13 sheep in our field.

Some of the sheep were not too friendly, but this one wanted a handout…

We checked out the outdoor seating of the bar & grill.  Minnie Pearl, a very fat pot-bellied pig, was rooting around and liked to be petted.

Ride-’em cowboy! 

We mosied over to the bar and enjoyed listening to a female country-western band.  George had a Lone Star beer, of course, then an IPA.  I had a wine from a nearby winery. 

We ordered dinner from their food truck.  George had their pig fries.  They were a Texas version of the Quebecois poutine dish — French fries smothered in sauce (BBQ for Texas) and cheese, onions, and pulled pork.  Really decadent.  I sampled some, but it was too rich for me. 

Then, at 7:00, the main band took the stage.  The place was packed with locals.  The band was quite good.  We didn’t stay too long.  We could hear the band and the crowd from our Airstream, but we were far enough away that it didn’t bother us.  The band stopped at about 11:00, I think. 

And…..We’re off!!!!!!!!!

LOCATION:  Castroville, Texas – just west of San Antonio
CAMPGROUND:  – Not really a campground, but a Harvest Host site.  Medina Winery.  Lovely, rural location with a cute indoor/outdoor tasting room. As with all HH sites, it is free, but we opted to park in a site with electricity for $10.  Flat and gravel.  Beautiful view of farmland.  5 stars out of 5

There were a ton of last-minute things to do to get ready to hit the road.   Our target departure time was 11:00, and we managed to leave Retama Village at 11:45, not too shabby. 

Our first stop was lunch at Caro’s in Rio Grande City, a restaurant that had been recommended to us.  They are famous for their unusual puffy tortillas.  Parking was a little tight.  A policeman eating in the restaurant rushed out to tell us we were about to run into a customer’s car.  She came out to move it, so we were  ok.  We shared a Puffy Taco Platter…..

We had to maneuver around a gigantic pothole in front of the restaurant after lunch, then Google took us through the town and on a gravel road until we hit the highway.  Guess who was driving?????

The drive took longer than we had expected as there was a lot of road construction, including several stops where a pilot car had to guide us through a one-lane only section.  The countryside was pretty desolate most of the way.  We passed through several sad-looking towns.  The road excitement was  spotting 3 dead javalinas and one dead dear along the way.  The caracara birds (fairly rare) were munching on the dead bits..

We also spotted a roadrunner. 

We pulled in to the winery about 6:30.  Its twinkling patio lights welcomed us. We got set up, then went inside for a glass of wine.  The owner/wine-maker graciously poured us a tempranillo and a sangiovese.  They were both nice.  We bought a bottle of a white – Blanc deBois – to drink later in the week with seafood.   We just love Harvest Hosts.  This is night #62 with Harvest Hosts.  If any reader is interested in joining, let me know as I can get you a discount (and I will get a rebate). 

DINNER:  I had made a shrimp/pasta casserole while still in Retama Village.  I warmed it up in the oven.  It was nice to have something already prepared.  Side dish was arugula salad and tomatoes.  George is finishing off some Caesar salad dressing (thanks to friend Tony’s recipe!)