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Rolling...and Rolling...and Rolling Through Texas
A little gem in Beaumont for our 1st night in Texas.
En Route to Austin
On day 9 of our southern excursion, we crossed the Texas state line while the radio offered up the Allman Brothers’ Statesboro Blues. Now THAT’S road trip music. When I booked a night at the Hidden Lake RV Resort in Beaumont, TX, it was strictly for convenience and a good night’s sleep halfway between New Orleans and Austin. What a sweet spot that turned out to be! The managers took understandable pride in the mowed trails around the lake, out to the marsh, and another small nature trail. Walking each one of these after the hoped for great night’s sleep was, besides being a very pleasant surprise, rejuvenating when that was just what I needed. I can’t speak for The Captain but feel fairly confident that he got the same return from giving his casting arm a workout over the lake.
Stay here in Beaumont
- Beaumont RV Park - Hidden Lake RV Resort in Beaumont Texas - Beaumont TX RV Park - Beaumont RV Resor
Hidden Lake RV Resort in Beaumont Texas - Beaumont RV Park - Beaumont TX RV Park - Beaumont RV Resort
While making his rounds in the golf cart all park managers seem to have, the co-manager asked us if we were camp workers (something we have casually considered). He was sorry we weren’t because they were looking for a couple to replace him and his wife and he thought we might be just right. After so many “Thank you for your interest but…” letters in response to my last job search, that felt good. Now here are words I never before that moment would have imagined floating out of my mouth: “It was an appealing mental picture, setting up house/camp for an extended period here in Beaumont”, and The Captain concurred.
We heated up the two beignets we’d saved from the day before from our last stop on the way out of Louisiana, had a little more chicory coffee (each of us got a can for Christmas – quelle surprise!) and headed for Austin as Stevie Ray Vaughn played Texas Flood on the radio. I know, we couldn’t believe it, either.
We had barely hooked up before Austin’s skies opened up pouring rain and pitching hail. That, with the wind and the fact that it was a Sunday night between Christmas and New Year’s, led us to the easy choice of dinner 1 block from the Pecan Grove RV Park at The Green Mesquite Barbeque and More, which we’d seen on the way in. I had cheesesteak tacos and Jim had fish tacos. It was a friendly place, inexpensive with generous servings. All in all satisfying on a stormy night after a long drive. There are lots of reviews to be found online for the Pecan Grove RV Park. We were plenty happy with it. The location was fantastic. It was plunked right down in the middle of town, where it’s been since the 1940s. The city has built up around it and developers must be chomping at the bit. There’s no website, in fact they do all their bookkeeping with nice old-fashioned ledgers. The host and I bonded over our flip phones. There’s wifi for guests, though, and you can find them on facebook. The place smacks of a steady unwillingness to sell out and I hope nobody does for a long, long time – if ever.
Pecan Grove RV ParkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Touring Austin by the Seat of our Pants
The morning was chilly and clear and, before walking downtown, we walked practically next door to Austin Java. Breakfast was decent but it didn’t occur to me to go back so, you know, enough said there.
We felt our way downtown, enjoyed the very pretty River Walk where the Colorado passes through the middle of town. Along the river, I learned about Margaret Hoffman, Austin's Tree Lady who was responsible for recognizing the importance of and protecting Austin's trees (https://www.americanforests.org/our-programs/urbanforests/urban-forests-case-studies/austin-the-tree-lady/). A little later in our walk, I picked up my 2nd of 3 sheroes for the day, Angelina Eberly (statue pictured), whose passion and comfort with a cannon kept Houston from becoming the Capital.
With no real plan, we looked around, scouted a place for music later, and followed the signs to the art museum. On the way, we went through the Capitol, which was well worth waiting in line and going through security. The art museum was closed so, although we might not have chosen it first, we ended up having a long and interesting visit at the Bullock Museum of Texas History. We saw wreckage and artifacts from La Belle, lovely paintings by Tom Lea and a lot of interesting history, including the 3rd woman to make my shero list for the day, Matilda Boozie Randon, a freedwoman midwife who lived to be 100 years old and it wasn't because life was easy on her.
You may be asking yourself, “Do they not KNOW about Austin City Limits?!”. Well, of course we do and would love to see a show but the timing was wrong. We saw where it was, there just wasn’t anything happening until Willie Nelson and Family after we left.
Austin Afternoon AlbumClick thumbnail to view full-size
In keeping with our falling into whatever worked at the time, we walked into the Iron Cactus on 6th Street with hearty appetites on the early side of dinnertime. While the atmosphere and the food holds its own, we both fell a little bit in love with our extraordinarily handsome and sincerely friendly server. We asked, at one point, if he were an actor or model and guess what? He’s a yoga teacher. I’m glad we asked after we ate because we really ate. My Poblano Panela Burger was amazing. Jim had some crazy pork loin dish that I believe brought a tear to his eye at one point. We probably didn’t need the tuna appetizer but I’d do it again and dessert, too. As much as we would have liked to try them all. We agreed it would hard to deviate from the Tres Leche cake now that we’ve had it there. What I really wanted was hole-in-the-wall Tex Mex but this had been a visit of defaults, all of which worked out nicely for us. We did have a plan, though, to go to the Friends Bar, also on 6th Street, to hear some music. We walked in early, it was cold, we were full, they didn’t even care if we didn’t order anything – which we eventually did. We hit a good spot on a good night, which probably isn’t hard to do. The Paul Walker Trio featured Paul Walker on guitar and vocals. When he started to play Hendrix’s Little Wing, it sounded so good, we sort of expected Jimi’s voice to come out. It didn’t, but it wasn’t at all disappointing, either. The band did justice to the requisite Stevie Ray covers and pulled a full house in off the street by early into the first set. This was especially good since the deal was that the front door stayed open until the house filled up. Like I said, it was cold. We stayed until a little into the 2nd set before hailing a cab to take us back to the Pecan Grove, where we’d left several hours earlier and had walked several miles since.
Still No Bellydance Class, but...
On the suggestion of my treasured friend and belly dance teacher, I paid a visit to the Arabic Bazaar on the way out of Austin. The RV had developed some sort of mystery leak that dripped on me in the passenger seat. Jim dropped me off at this fabulous store (so much more than a store, really) and went to park and have a look at what might be dripping. We still don't know about that but I do know that this is a place I must revisit. Visiting with the proprietor, Zein, was most pleasant. She's a passionate and interesting woman with gorgeous inventory. As she said, there are easier ways to make money than retail but her store has become "the end of a thread" for people from her home of Syria. As painful as it is that the need exists, it clearly brings her deep satisfaction to fill that need. I left with an assortment of beautiful belts and scarves for when I FINALLY find a class again. I've taken to doing shoulder shimmies on my walks. It's been ENTIRELY too long now.
We are STILL in Texas!
After another walk along the river, we left on a beautiful morning for our next stop, Fort Stockton, Texas. The landscape was pretty, which was a good thing because there’s a lot of it. We rolled into another really nice RV park on a night so clear that we stood outside singing , “The stars at night are big and bright, clap-clap-clap-clap, deep in the heart of Texas…”. And you know what else? The sage in bloom IS like perfume (clap, clap, clap, clap…).
A Stop in The Land of Enchantment
We woke up in Fort Stockton on our 12th anniversary and to celebrate, I drove us to New Mexico. We had our anniversary omelet dinner in the Silver City RV Park. The drive was longer than anticipated and we weren’t close to anything that inspired a night out. All day long, I looked forward to driving into what I thought was going to be a sweet little Old West artsy town and The Captain would be so surprised at what I’d lined up for us. Well, he was surprised, alright. Dollar stores and fast food chains dominated the landscape. The morning, though, found us downtown where we couldn’t resist the antique store. Other than that, we didn’t have time to explore but would like to go back another time. On this New Year’s Eve, however, we had plans with Jim’s cousin, Michael, and his wife, Nancy. They had a party ready when we got there. Next stop, Scottsdale, Arizona.