Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Texas BBQ + Kayaking on the Guadalupe River

Hi all, Dianne here.  Our final two days in the Texas Hill Country with Chuck & Cindy included a trip to Llano for some authentic, old-time Texas BBQ at Cooper's, driving the scenic Willow City Loop, and an afternoon spent kayaking on the Guadalupe River.

First was the kayaking expedition:  When Cindy made our reservations at Guadalupe River RV Resort, we reserved sites on the river, thinking we could launch our kayaks right from our RV sites.  When we realized that the water was only ankle deep there at the campground, we knew that wasn't gonna happen. 

 The helpful desk clerk at the campground gave Roger and Chuck some alternate ideas, so we checked them out.  Our best bet seemed to be a short drive to Louise Hays Park.  On Thursday we loaded our gear into Chuck's truck and headed off.

Cindy and I got a shot of each other taking each other's picture, then we headed upstream.  The current was gentle and the wind was behind our backs, so it was an easy paddle.  

The water was clear and clean.  We saw a zillion turtles (well, maybe not a ZILLION, but more turtles than we'd ever seen at any one time.)

This fine specimen stayed put long enough for us to get his photo:  
We didn't just see dozens of turtles on every available log, but saw lots of little turtle heads peeking above the water line as we paddled along.  It was yet another beautiful day in Texas!
On Friday, our last day together, we took a short road trip to Llano to give Chuck & Cindy the Cooper's Authentic Texas BBQ experience.  Roger and I ate here in December of 2009 and vowed to come back.  

As we pulled into our parking space, we could see the people lined up out front, awaiting their turn at the pit selection.

When our turn came, we had the opportunity to choose from brisket, pork, chicken, sirloin, sausage, and ribs.  As we made our (multiple) choices, each was dipped into the vat of sauce and placed onto a red plastic tray.  Each couple had a tray of meat choices.  

We then proceeded inside to the weigh station, where our choices were weighed, wrapped in butcher paper, and prices marked.  We chose sides at that station: cole slaw, potato salad, and different kinds of their famous cobbler.  (I chose blackberry; Cindy and Chuck shared a peach cobbler.  I was not willing to share mine!)  

After we paid at the register, we went to the "bean and sauce" station for some spicy beans, extra BBQ sauce, and silverware.  

Then we took our places at the long picnic tables, unwrapped our butcher paper and dug in!  The photo on the wall directly above my head shows an autographed photo montage of George W. Bush chowing down at Cooper's in 1998.  Other celebrity photos adorned the wall; Jewel and Texas Governer Perry among others.

One parting shot shows one of the huge covered, smoky pits where the meat is actually cooked.

On the way home from Llano, we sidetracked off onto the Willow City Loop.  This is a scenic drive that winds through private ranches and is known for its beautiful wildflowers in the spring.  Unfortunately, we were a couple of weeks too early for the wildflowers this time.  We did see some contented cattle.  

The scenery was typical Texas Hill Country.

Roger and I drove back to Mission on Saturday morning, and Chuck and Cindy headed north, back to Indiana.  We'll meet up this summer in Traverse City, Michigan for more good times.

It's a little more than a five-hour drive to Mission from Kerrville in a motor home.  (Told you Texas was HUGE; I always thought of the San Antonio area as being South Texas.  Hard to imagine that it's a five-hour drive south from there to Mission!)

As soon as we got just a little bit south of San Antonio, there were wildflowers blooming everywhere.  We stopped at a picnic pull-off for lunch, and I took some photos for my spring-starved friends up north:

Here's the famous Texas bluebonnet: 

 I can't identify these others for you,  but they sure are "purty."

The pet photo of the day shows Bandido snuggling up to Charlie's cat carrier as we drove south from Kerrville back to Mission.  This was Bandido's first motorhome trip, and we were anxious to see how he'd travel.  Jasper used to just climb onto the couch or chair and sleep the whole way (unless he was trying to steal our snacks).  Chaplin gets scared and has to ride in a crate so that he feels more "secure."  Bandido proved to be a good little traveler, sleeping most of the time, sitting on my lap part of the time, and -- as shown in this photo -- snuggling up to his pal, Charlie.

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