Thursday, September 19, 2019

Homeward Bound

The States We Visited During Summer of 2019

Roger here...  The map above shows our summer homes.  Our target area was Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire; however, we saw so much more, and we visited with so many friends and family.

I will be honest.  I was dreading the long drive home from Duluth, Minnesota to Mission, Texas.  (The very top of the US to the very bottom -- D.)
I knew that there would be a lot of hours on the road as well as many overnight stops.  We were both pleasantly surprised by the stops along the way:  

Ellenburg, Minnesota....

The Crystal Springs RV Resort right next to the interstate was truly a surprise.  It is a developing RV community with great potential.

The formal landscaping
walkways near our site were especially well done.

After a long day of driving, it was a special treat to walk a few steps from our site to go on a relaxing one-mile hike around the resort's lake.  

We did not see bigfoot (or a moose) but we did walk through clouds of fresh monarch butterflies --- literally thousands.   (Dianne here -- they were obviously freshly hatched and feeding en masse on a large field of goldenrod, presumably to prepare for their long migration south.   I wonder if we'll see any of these same butterflies in Mission?)

America the Beautiful

Des Moines (Saylorville Lake)...

We stopped at a Corps of Engineers Campground just north of Des Moines, Iowa so that Dianne could do genealogy research at the Des Moines Library.  She did find some useful information, but not as much as she had hoped.

Iowa State Capital in Des Moines

Wallace State Park (Cameron, Missouri)...

Jim and Sue recommended that we stop at Wallace State Park (near I-35) in Missouri.  It was a great recommendation.  

We enjoyed a 3-mile hiking trail through the deep woods.  The trail head was directly across from our campsite.  We could easily have spent more time here.

Benbrook Lake (Corps of Engineers Park near Ft. Worth, Texas)....

After a nondescript overnight stop just south of 
Wichita, Kansas, we drove to the Fort Worth area.  

Along the way we made a short stop at Buc-ee's.  I stayed with the dogs in the parking lot while 
Dianne explored this gigantic convenience store.

She came out smiling.  

Our drive through the Dallas/Ft. Worth area was not fun, but that was to be expected.  We eventually arrived at the Bear Creek Corps of Engineers Campground on Benbrook Reservoir.

View of Benbrook Lake from our Site

The campground was not very well maintained.  The sites and the facilities were in desperate need of upgrades.  That being said, this was a beautiful and restful reprieve from the city traffic.

We stayed here nine years ago.  At that time the water level was so low that we could walk on the cracked, dry lake bottom.  The smell of decay was pervasive.  The water level is still low, but as you can see in the photo below, the former lake bottom is now covered by colorful rushes and shore plants.  Nature always finds a way.  Oh, and the odor was a thing of the past.

We were pretty much alone in our area of the park.  The quiet of the setting helped us to enjoy our site. 

The sunset during our one-night stay was spectacular. We love the big sky and the Texas sunsets.

Austin, Texas....

We spent the next night at the Lonestar RV 
Resort outside of Austin.  It was a nice park well away from the craziness of the city.  It was also only 12 miles from the Airstream dealership where we had scheduled an annual inspection.

A year ago, when we were in Austin, it was extremely wet with continual flash flood warnings.  As you can see from the photo, water was not a problem this time.

We managed to park our extremely small 
Airstream next to a mammoth Airstream.  Kind of funny.

A vehicle inspection is always a little stressful.  Our day began by spending a half an hour negotiating closed city roads next to the dealership.  We eventually stumbled onto an open back gate and weaved our way to the service area with a few minutes to spare.  

The inspection was supposed to be finished in three hours.  We had the dogs with us.  We survived by sitting under a tree in a nearby Cabela's parking lot.  Dianne and I took turns going into the store.  The time passed quickly for whichever person was in the store :-).  We then visited an HEB to get a few groceries and headed back to pick up the Airstream.  

It was almost ready, but the service department recommended that the bearings be repacked, another hour, but glad to have it done.  
It was also a relief that they found no other problems.

Time to fight the Austin streets and traffic again as we slowly progressed to Fredericksburg.  Ah!  

Fredericksburg, Texas.....

 Our last stop before we arrived home in Mission, Texas was one of our very favorite places.  The hill country of Texas (just west of Austin and San Antonio) is so scenic and there are so many things to do.  The KOA east of town is quite close to the things we enjoy, and we are always able to find a shady quiet spot at the back of the campground.  We stayed three nights.  We loved seeing the donkeys in the photo below from the sitting area of our campsite.

They are actually grooming each other.

When reading about our stay in the Fredericksburg area, please keep in mind that our activities were spread over two days.  Too much fun in a single day no longer fits in our lifestyle :-)

We recently discovered the Fat Ass Ranch and Winery.  Some wineries are sophisticated and serene.  Some wineries are outrageous.  It is not difficult to guess which this one was.

The wine here is different than the wine that we usually drink.  That being said, it is actually pretty good.  We did a tasting here and bought a couple of bottles in the honky tonk tasting room.

On weekends trailer food is available outside next to the horse shoe courts.

Obviously, Dianne's arms are not long enough to take this selfie. ;-).

(Not one of my talents -- D.)

Our "go-to" winery for many years has been 
the Grape Creek Winery.  We are members of the wine club and needed to pick up the 3-bottle shipment that would have been delivered in the hot June weather (when we were not there).

As wine club members we get a free glass of wine with every visit in the "members only" section of the beautiful patio.

We had a tasty meal in the trattoria during our visit.

We have visited many wineries in the Fredericksburg area over the years.  There are countless wineries here. Since our last visit several more have popped up.  I wanted to try something new.  After doing some research, the Signor Winery seemed to fit the bill.  It did.

What a setting Signor Winery provided for enjoying a glass of wine.  The landscaping
was amazing.

Rather than do a tasting, we decided to have a glass of Sangiovese (Dianne's favorite wine).  It was outstanding.  We bought a couple of bottles.

We also enjoyed a delicious tray of cheeses, meats, jalapeño jelly, and olives.  

We have officially added this to our list of "must visit" wineries.

Our next stop was to buy fresh peaches from one of the orchards.  We always seemed to miss the peach season, but we lucked out this time.

The imposing Altstadt Brewery was another stop for us.  I had a glass of Alt beer.  Dianne had a glass of Chianti.  We both had delicious soft pretzels with cheese and mustard.  

We could not return to the RV park without ice cream.  We drove into Fredericksburg for a required stop at Clear River.  Yum!

Dianne's choice:  One scoop amaretto peach pecan, and one scoop pecan pie.

I could not end this post without a photo of the longhorns back at the Fredericksburg RV park.  Hey Y'all, we are back home in Texas!

We arrived home to a tropical jungle in the back yard.  It took us three days to clean up all the excess foliage.  Being away during the summer months in a subtropical climate results in quite a bit of sweat when we get back.  

Back home in Indiana we called this a brush pile.

This will be our last post until we travel again.  We are already planning next summer's adventures.

Dianne's Teensy-Weensy Trailer Tip:

One item that was indispensable this trip was the carrying/storage case I bought for my small 3-quart Instant Pot.  

Not only did it protect the Instant Pot from scratches and bumps, it also had enough storage in the top compartment for all the accessories...

And pockets to hold other items, including the electrical cord.   Handles made it easy to tote around.  

This brings an end to the trailer tips.   I originally thought I'd just do one blog with all the tips, but decided it might be better to string them out all summer, so I did.   Hope you enjoyed them!  -- D.

Pet Picture of the Day...

During our time in Fredericksburg, we stopped at Dogologie on Main Street.  Dianne insisted on buying clothes for our dogs.  After all, there are two weeks of chilliness in extreme south Texas.

Not needed for winter, but stylin' nonetheless

Ready for "Winter" Texas Style

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