The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Checking Out Pedernales State Park

On Monday, I took a little roadtrip up to Blanco State Park where my friend Sage was staying. Blanco is a real nice small park but this post is about Pedernales State Park. We hopped in the car and headed north to Johnson City. Pedernales is about 8 or 9 miles west of there.

This park has a lot of hiking available. My son and his family hiked there a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. If you want to hike on the trails, you might be interested in this interactive map they have available online.

Sage and I were more interested in the camping area so that is where we headed first. The camping area is nice, sites are pretty well spaced and paved. There is shade available as well as more open sites. They have water and electric plus a dump station. We did notice that quite a few sites were closed. I know they are building a new restroom and I think they are working on electric in some areas but there were plenty of sites available on a beautiful sunny Monday. 

We stopped to take a picture of a very interesting camper and were invited to check it out. Kids sleep very comfortably on the second story. Mom and Dad occupy the trailer itself and have plenty of room to stretch out.

While you do have to cook outside, their little kitchen has everything you need. There is a bigger awning that can go out over the kitchen area and another one that can attach out on the side where the tree is located. Oh, and I forgot to mention that there is a room that zips on to the bottom of the tent area on the right side for longer stays.

This family is prepared to go anywhere with gas cans and extra tires attached.

I didn't take any other pictures of other sites but Sage was busy writing down numbers of shady sites. The site above was a good example of a more open site. Since I have a 5th wheel, I am always interested making sure that roadways and sites down have branches hanging down to attack my roof. This park was pretty well trimmed.

Next we headed to a scenic overlook area.

It was a bit of a hike (for us anyway) but still very doable.

The overlook is to the river.


The most strenuous part of the trail to the overlook is going back up the long series of steps near the end of the trail. They were in good shape but a railing would have been really nice.



Next we headed over to the swimming area. There is a parking lot at each of these trails (and no, these are not the real hiking trails that more experienced hikers will be looking for).

The swimming area is near the falls.  You cannot swim at the overlook area that I showed above.

There is a nice path heading down to the river that even has a couple of rustic tree benches.


The water in this pool was a really beautiful blue...this picture doesn't quite capture the actual color.


We stopped at the overlook area. The "falls" is rather flat and not too impressive with the water level at this time of year.

There is a path all along the river area down below us and there were a number of people climbing around on the rocks, laying down sunning, and just having a good time.


This is a better view of the falls area leading to the pool. With heavy rains, the water can explode through this area very quickly so one would need to be real observant during those seasons.

 
It was the first trip to this park for both of us and we really enjoyed it. I think we will both be camping here at some time in the future. Maybe I will see you there.

A Peek at Pearl Brewery's Hotel Emma

The first Saturday in January, I took my friend Sage down to the Pearl Brewery Farmers Market. That is always a fun trip but I really wanted to show her the Hotel Emma. It is unique and I knew she would appreciate it. Hotel Emma was originally a 19th century brewery. As part of renewing this entire area, the brewery was converted to a hotel.


The hotel is named in honor of Emma Koehler, an important figure in the brewery's history. Emma ran the brewery after her husband Otto who was the president of Pearl died in 1914. She managed to keep the brewery going during Prohibition by converting operations to dry cleaning and auto repair and making "near beer", soda, and ice cream. Other breweries shut down but Emma kept her entire workforce employed. She turned over control of the company to a nephew in 1933 but was a strong presence at the brewery until she died in 1943.

 But the story is even more intriguing. There were actually three "Emmas" involved in the story. 

 Emma Koehler was hurt in an auto accident in 1910, so Otto hired a live-in nurse to help… a young, attractive nurse named Emma, nicknamed Emmi. Otto and Emmi began an affair.  Emmi had a tall, blonde friend also named Emma, also a nurse.  Otto set the two of them up in a little house on Hunstock Ave. and soon was having affairs with both.  On November 12, 1914 Otto left the Brewery around 4:00 to visit the nurses.  An argument ensued and tall, blonde Emma shot him dead with a .32 revolver.  When the police arrived, she said, “I’m sorry, but I had to kill him.” Charged with murder, Emma skipped town and traveled to Europe to nurse WWI casualties. To the surprise of all, she returned to San Antonio in 1918 to stand trial.  The all-male jury found her not guilty.

On with the tour....also, I wanted to mention that most of the pictures in the post were taken by Sage Mingan.

Out front just beyond the circle driveway, there is a patio where a beautiful fireplace sets the stage for entering the hotel. 

The hotel takes full advantage of its history to use elements of the former brewery for unique d├ęcor.

Stepping into the lobby, you can see piping on the ceiling and walls. 

There is exposed brick and actual equipment that was used in brewing.


There are lots of places to just sit in and take in the scenery.

A window into an old barrel storage room.

Also scattered around are unique old items.


And decorative tiles.

Unique light fixtures.

You will even find unique signage and names.

And heavy, old doors that are obviously hundreds of years old.

And beautiful woven fabrics from far away places.

Peek out a door to a hidden patio just waiting for guests to discover it.


All these valves used to operate different portions of the brewing process. 

A beautiful spiral staircase sits in one corner of another room were guests can order drinks and snacks and sit and visit.....you don't even have to be a guest to enjoy all of this.

Several old vats were cut open and filled with seating to provide a private nook for visitors.

 
 
If you are ever in San Antonio, be sure to visit the Hotel Emma located on the riverwalk northwest of downtown. You can take your own tour and see everything on the main floor, visit the coffee shop, order a drink, or just sit and relax and take in the scenery. If you want to see more of the hotel beyond the main floor, you could be a guest or you could sign up for one of the hotel's tours for $15. 
 
If you come on a Saturday or Sunday, you can also enjoy the Pearl Farmers Market right beyond the hotel.



A Hot Time at Torchy's

Friday about noon, I got a phone call from my son saying they were going to try out one of the top rated taco restaurants in Texas for lunch and would be right over to pick me up. Helen was already home from work as she went in really, really early so the two of them plus the grandkids and me headed towards the Quarry area near Alamo Heights and Lincoln Heights. We found it.

Torchy's tacos aren't your ordinary tacos. They all have names and different ingredients and cost between $3.50 and $6 or so dollars each. Between us all, we tried the Tipsy Chick, the Fried Avacado, Beef Fajita, Mr Pink, Mr Orange, and a couple Washintonians (pulled pork).

Some were spicy.....all were unique......

and they were.......
 
The place was located in a strip type mall and was pretty busy even though the inside is fairly large and they have two outdoor patios.

Christmas Better Late Than Never

Maybe "Better Late Than Never" is not a good choice in words. In odd numbered years (i.e. 2017), the grandkids spend New Years with their Dad and Christmas with their Mom. So they arrived the evening of 28 December so we celebrated Christmas on the 29th complete with presents and the traditional dinner. I made cinnamon rolls on the eve and baked them in the morning right before we headed over to our son and DIL's. Presents had already been put under their tree the day before.

Angus wanted to help open on of Helen's presents.

I think this was a stocking gift for Cam...Finger soccer.

Angus got a lion's mane. It was very realistic from the front.

Morgan has lots of cow decorations in her room so she thought this calendar was pretty cool.

Helen had a really big package as she had mentioned she would really like a firepit for the backyard.

I think Dave was trying to figure out what this was.

Angus carefully annialated some wrapping after it came off the packages. she doesn't eat it just shreds it.

In addition to the cinnamon roles, we had some mini-quiches and the hashbrowns Helen is fixing.
 
I didn't do a great job of taking pictures and totally missed any of the lovely spiral ham dinner that we had later that afternoon. Helen loves to cook so we had dinner at their house and I brought mashed potatoes and homemade dinner rolls to add to all that she fixed. It was a great Christmas.