The Hidden America, What RV Owners Like About Traveling to New Places.
An afternoon at Wine-101
Surprises on the Road
When you are on the Road in your Motorhome or Camper you are often looking for local places to explore, such as; restaurants, nature sites, photographic opportunities, local history or sometimes, just a great place to relax and eat.
Often, we will hear about places of interest from our fellow campers, but what we really like to do is just turn on the Garmin,to maintain my bearings, and drive around, almost randomly, with our camera in hand, and hopefully DISCOVER interesting places and sites.
This can be boring at times, in that you may end up just riding around and taking in the local scenery without making that great discovery. And, now that I think about, that isn't so bad either.
But my wife and I almost always find something that turns into a savory memory for us.
Sure, the local landmarks, historic and otherwise, are always on your list of things to see and do, when you set up camp in an area new to you.
But sometimes, I recommend that you just roam and look, to find that place that might be "just around the next curve".
Cross Country Adventures in America
This is a great read about what to do to enjoy your travels in your Rv when you take the back roads. I purchased it before we went on one of our coast to coast trips and we found a lot of "off the main road" places that we would have never found.
A Little Wine Shop and Restaurant
It was a Saturday afternoon, and after yet another trip to Camping World for parts (but that's another story), we were heading in the general direction of our campground which was about fifteen miles away.
The traffic around San Antonio was bumper to bumper at that time of day,so by the time we got out of the city and into the countryside, our nerves were a little frazzled.
Also, we were really hungry by this time and in search of that mystical place along the road, where the food is great, the wine good and the people are interesting.
After another ten minutes of just driving in the general direction of our campground, the decision was made to settle for any first two of the requisites I mentioned above and just settle for anything that might be promising when we saw a sign that advised us that we were entering the town of Helotes(hell-o-tees).
We figured; Oh hell (sic!),why not,it's worth a try.
So we took the first right off of the road and continued our search for food. But we were now driving at a much slower pace, being on a two-lane county road.
I kept one eye on my Garmin and one on the street signs, as our stomachs growled for food.
Our expectations and our standards were actually dropping with each turn in the road.
We found WINE 101 - a unique local establishment for good Food and Great Wine
Hope springs eternal, however, and before long we saw signs of civilization which was actually the small town of Helotes, Texas.
Another block and we passed an interesting building with a rock facade and a small sign which read "Wine 101".
The name intrigued us and since we were both strong proponents of higher education, we decide to give this place a try.
We parkec behind the main building in their dirt parking lot, walked around the building and there stood the proprietor. He was dressed in black waiters attire that you would find in your finer restaurants and asked us if we wanted to dine or just enjoy the weather and have a glass of wine.
We immediately relaxed, feeling that we had just tripped over one of our "discoveries". After a little small talk, we were seated in an outside courtyard complete with decorative lights in the trees and some really good Latin flavored music wafting through the leaves, by the owner.
The outdoor dining area covered at least a half an acre and there were numerous tables for two or four people with a few for larger parties, sprinkled around the walled yard, all shaded by the trees.
Also, the owner had installed a stereo system with speakers strategically placed in the tree limbs so everyone, regardless of seating, could enjoy the music they played, without interfering with any conversation that might be going on.
And, as we talked, we were delighted to discover that we not only had found a very nice outdoor restaurant but they also had a nice wine store with an abundant selection of great local and international wines to be purchased after our dining and sampling had been completed.
Great Food Options designed to compliment the Wines
Since we were really hungry, we eagerly scanned the menu which included some nice choices of cheese trays and other combinations of meats, vegetables and cheeses.
No big prepared meals here. Everything was designed to enhance your enjoyment of their wines and the great, and quite large outdoor dining area.
Of course, it goes without saying that our first hard decision was which wine we would be enjoying from their extensive and interesting list.. We finally decided on a California Chardonnay by Daniel Gehrs and eagerly awaited its arrival at our table.
Sitting in the shade of the severla tall Live Oak trees, we slowly relaxed from our day of city driving and we were delighted when the wine arrived, accompanied by frosted wine glasses by the way.
These chilled glasses turned out to be a welcome treat considering the Indian Summer heat of South Texas.
Our choice for lunch ended up being a European Cheese Tray described as being more than enough for two.
When it arrived, it was obvious that four people would have been thoroughly satisfied with both the quality and quantity of our selections on the tray.
Imagine having to choose between the following treats (all of which were on the tray): Brie, bleu cheese,Swiss cheese,cream cheese with hot pepper topping, fresh sweet grapes, cold tasty cherry tomatoes,Black and Pimento Olives, artichoke hearts, all accompanied by warm Italian bread,Wheat crackers and Pita points.
Yeah, it was that much food and it was all delicious.
Wine 101 - A great find for wandering campers
What a wonderful discovery and a great afternoon.
We lingered at our table for over two hours, savoring this grand surprise on our RV trip.
The music, food, wine and outdoor ambiance were priceless to us.
As we left this wonderful little Wine restaurant and returned to our RV and campground, the extra bottle of wine that we had purchased will remind us and encourage us to take more of those right turns on our trip.
Perhaps you will find and enjoy the occasional chance discovery of a great local place like Wine 101, that might be just sitting there, around the next curve in the road, just waiting for discovery.
I think that the most important lesson that my wife and I had re-learned while at Wine 101 that afternoon, was that you will never find the hidden jewels, on the roads of America, if you are not willing to look in those out of the way places.
Places that could be hiding your next surprise memory of your travels