The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Harley takes his role as navigator seriously!

Women RVers on the Road to Alaska

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I have a number of friends who RV.  A lot of them are women who travel alone but get together with friends whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Some of them full-time and some part-time.  I thought you might be interested in what some of them are doing this summer.  

Picture a group of five independent women on their way to Alaska.  They are traveling more or less in a group but that doesn't mean they follow each other all the time like an old fashioned wagon train.  They set certain stops and arrange to meet up.  Sometimes someone will leave early or late or stop along the way to check out someplace different than the rest.  

Birdie from The Egg and I travels in a Class A and is a full-timer.  She started in a Casita hence the name of her blog and then moved up to a larger Class C and into her beautiful Class A. Birdie and I have camped together a number of times and always have fun. Liz from Where's Liz-2012? is also a full-timer and recently moved up from a Roadtrek to a small Class C.  I've met Liz in person several times.  Now, all the other women I know from WomenRV, an online forum just for women.  Tina from Expeditions and Adventures is also traveling in a small Class C with her three small, medium, and large furkids all of whom are pretty experience travelers.  Next we have Mitch who is traveling with a small bundle of fur in a small travel trailer.  As you can tell by A Bacon Collar for Abby, Mitch has a wild sense of humor.  In Nan and Bear On The Road, you'll find adventures with Nan and Bear and this time they have another furry friend with them.  Right now the ladies are all in Montana and they've had snow and plenty of rain.  Stop by and check out their adventures.  Some of the women were a little worried about the fact that they all have blogs but, if you check them out, you will find they each bring a different perspective to what they see.

Two other women who belong to the WomenRV forum are already in Alaska.  Anita, Anita's Adventures 2012, headed up real early so you'll have to hurry to catch her.  Beth, On The Road With Beth, is also a full-timer traveling with her dog.  This summer she is in Valdez, Alaska working on a tour boat.

I hope you enjoy meeting some of my friends.

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day means different things to different people.  Of course, we all know that it is pretty much the beginning of summer vacation since kids will be out of school soon.  I hope everyone took some time to remember our military who have given and continue to give so much for our country and each one of us.  We should also remember their families because those families also give much to support the military member.

This is not a new song but I remember it well as it would be part of the music played at Memorial Day celebrations on whatever military base we were stationed at.  It really pulls at the heartstrings even if you aren't a country music fan and whatever your opinion of Lee Greenwood's music is, everyone remembers this song.

We had a quiet weekend here.  DH had to work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Saturday, I spent the day with long-time military friends--always nice to do.  We have been friends since our kids were very young.  

I spent Sunday with Margareta, an RVing friend that I met through our Pink FlaminGoes RV group.  At our last get together, we were talking about our "business" cards or maybe we should call them "calling" cards although that sounds a little old fashioned.  Margareta wanted a new one with a picture of her new dog, cat, and RV.  Since I design and print my own, I told her it was very easy to do.  And this was the day that we finally got together to do it.  

Margareta is not a full timer as she has a nice, small, older house that she is always updating.  But she travels A LOT so her Winnebago View is her only vehicle.  If she has to go some place, she drives it. Saturday she drove it to meet friends for a luncheon in New Braunfels.  Fuel might cost a little more but she doesn't have payments, insurance, or upkeep costs for an extra vehicle.  And Luschi, her retired working K-9 as well as her cat travel with her whenever she goes on a trip.  The three of them will be heading to Alaska in a few weeks.

After a tour of her home, we got to work on her new card.  I use Microsoft Publisher to make my current cards but I used to use the labels part of Microsoft Word.  Since she had that on her computer, we decided to use that so that she can print new cards or update the info whenever she wanted to do so.  We had a great picture of the three travelers and the RV to put on the card along with the information.  It came out looking very good and she printed about 50 cards so she would know how to do it.

I also got her set up with Google Reader as she wanted to be able to follow blogs from a number of women who are already on the road to Alaska and I think that Reader is the easiest way to do that.

Her neighbor and good friend arrived home from a trip to Corpus Christi so Margareta treated the two of us to some wonderful German cake from a new restaurant in New Braunfels called The Spoon and Fork.  There were about 4 different kinds of torte, all delicious!  She also sent some home for my DH which he promptly ate last night.

Today was a quiet day at home for us although we did join our neighbors for some great grilled food. We are fortunate to have some great neighbors--they are also a retired Air Force family only their retirement from the Air Force was just the beginning of their next careers since they are young with two kids in college (one will just be starting), and a third in high school. 

It's good for us all to remember on this Memorial Day. 

A Water Park of Another Kind - Hinman Island

A beautiful, tree-shaded place to enjoy the Comal River!

Perfect for scuba, snorkeling, swimming, toobing, and fishing!  Can you believe there is another perfect park in New Braunfels?  You might want to make a visit to Hinman Island Park which is located on Hinman Island Drive, between Landa Park and Prince Solms Park.  Facilities include a playground, restrooms, picnic tables and easy river access from the park.  Oh, yes! Beautiful water.  

Oh, yes--you could tell from the picture above that these furkids were not going to be left out of the fun but they were very well behaved.  They had as much fun as the kids and adults.

On one side of the river you can see all the business places.  There are numerous places to rent toobs, lots of condos and overnight rentals right on the river.  There is also an RV and camping park.  So will see lots of signs saying private property over there and you are not supposed to get out on that side.  But, it really isn't a problem because Hinman Park has three or four entry points with stairs into the water spread out along the length of the river.

You can walk along the sidewalk and get in the water down at one end and then float along slowly until you get down to the final stair area.  The area is really pretty with lots of trees and grass along the side.

See the toobers down at the end of the park area?

This little area also leads into the Comal but is very natural and woodsy.

If you are really brave, you can shoot down through this tube and head further down the river but you don't have too.  It is well marked and you can easily get out before you get there.

There are rules for being on the river--no glass, coolers not over a certain size, music not obnoxious to others, etc.  But this is a family place where everyone has fun--you and your kids and grandchildren can all enjoy the water along the Comal.

Hmmm--Prince of Solms Park?  I don't think I've been there yet.  Stay cool!

More New Braunfels TX Adventures - Landa Park

As I mentioned, New Braunfels has a lot to offer.  One of the best natural attractions is Landa Park owned by the city of New Braunfels.  The land was purchased by Joseph Landa way back in 1859.  His son Harry opened the park as a tourist park in 1898 and it was finally purchased by the city in 1936 at the urging of citizens.

The park is lovely and large (196 acres) with many beautiful shade trees.  It contains the Comal River which was featured on Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not news column a few years ago as the world's shortest river.

The source of the Comal River is Comal Springs, the largest springs in Texas.  The springs gush from underground limestone springs throughout the park area.  These springs are prehistoric.  In 1691, Spanish explorers found a large concentration of Indians at Comal Springs.

It is a little difficult to tell in the photo but the springs were gushing into the river all along this hillside area.

Near the springs, you'll find the Panther Canyon Nature trail.  It's a beautiful natural area but you do need to keep the weather in mind as heavy rains can cause this area to flood rapidly.  Bikes and motor vehicles are prohibited on the trail.

If take the kids on a hike, they may want to cool off a little by wading in this area.  This area is set aside for wading as the springs area is off-limits for wading.  While you cannot picnic in this small area, there are many picnic tables and grills available for barbecuing throughout the rest of the park.

Only the ducks can swim in this area.

A short walk on the paths around the park will lead you to this Dance Slab complete with a stage.

Further along the river away from the protected springs, I saw these birds enjoying the water and you can just see the toobers further along.  This area is famous for toobing as they call it here both on the Comal River and on the nearby Guadalupe river which also runs through New Braunfels.  More on that later.

In this poster, you can see some of the highlights of the 76 year old park.

The Chaste Tree had beautiful purple blooms on it.

If you get tired of walking in the park, you can also take a train ride.  The train runs daily along a mile and a half track that winds through the park.

You can also rent a paddle boat or canoe.

If you were around on the right weekend, you could have a moonlit date on the lake complete with food as well.  Sounds like a fun idea doesn't it?

Archeologists have traced Indian settlements in this immediate area to 13,000 years ago.  This Founders Oak Tree was a seedling in the 1700's.  Early settlers told stories of how the Indians would leave messages for those coming later by weighing down the young trees branches to point in the direction they were going.  This huge tree is getting a little support these days and you can see how it is pointing off in one direction.

There is plenty to help you keep cool here in the park.  The Aquatics Complex features two very different pool areas.

One pool is a natural spring-fed pool complete with a couple of water slides, playground equipment, some tables, and lots of shade.

There is also a huge Olympic size swimming pool.

You'll also find statues telling about early settlers as well as informational plaques along the park's walkways.  Covered pavillions with picnic tables can be reserved for large groups.

There is also ample nature to observe as you walk around.  Your pets are also welcome on leashes and you will find pet stations with bags stationed around the park as well as lots of trash cans.

Just in case this isn't enough to keep you busy, you will also find tennis, miniature golf as well as a challenging 18-hole golf course.  This is a park that everyone can enjoy.  But, stay tuned, there is more coming.

An Afternoon in New Braunfels, Tx

New Braunfels, a small city located northeast of San Antonio, is a great place to spend an afternoon.  It was founded by early German colonists in 1845 led by Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels.  Prince Solms was commissioner general of the Adelsverein, the group which organized hundreds of German people to emigrate to Texas.  In 2010, New Braunfels became the sister city of Braunfels, German.  Located right off I-35, New Braunfels is very easy to find.  Once you take the exit towards the downtown area, you will find that the pace slows down.  It doesn't matter if you are a sports enthusiast, an outdoor nature lover, shopper, history buff, or just a sightseer, you find plenty of things to do here.

The downtown area is centered around the Main Plaza located in the middle of a traffic circle.

If you haven't had breakfast or need an afternoon pick-up, head over to Naegelin's Bakery.  Naegelin's is the oldest bakery in Texas and has been around since 1868.  You'll find delicious German, French, and Danish pastries and bread to choose from.  They also have coffee so you can relax at one of the small tables out front and enjoy the goodies.  They are famous for their strudel and numerous people came in to pick up large orders while I was there.

As you walk around the downtown area, you will notice numerous outdoor mural paintings adorning the buildings.  You will also find a number of art galleries and several antique and collectible shops.

 Another business which is even older than Naegelin's Bakery is Henne Hardware.  Texas's oldest hardware store has been serving New Braunfels customers since 1857.

Inside Henne's, you will see the original tin ceiling and wood flooring plus old fixtures like rolling ladders and money trolleys as well as new hardware products and unique gift items.

Another downtown fixture in the Phoenix Saloon which was originally built in 1871.  It was reputedly the first bar in Texas to serve women.  In the 1890's, the bar featured badger fights and an alligator pit.  Chili powder was invented here by William Gebhardt in 1894.  Prohibition closed it in 1918 but an illegal brewery operated out of the basement before a department store eventually took over the bar area.

After a two year renovation, the bar was reopened in 2010 and every thing possible was recycled.  It has been featured on the Food Network.

You will find the Seekatz Opera House just down the street.

If you are a museum lover, you'll want to stop by the New Braunfels Railroad Museum.  Of course, you'll just be touching on what is available here.  You'll also find the McKenna Children's Museum, The Buckhorn Barbershop Museum, The Lindheimer Haus, and the Heritage Village Museum of Texas Handmade Furniture.

This barely touches on what you can find to do in New Braunfels.  There are two coffee shops downtown in addition to numerous German restaurants as well as those featuring Mexican and American cuisine, many featuring well-known chefs. If you want to spend the night, you'll find plenty of motels, hotels, and bed & breakfasts.  There are also numerous RV parks and resorts in the area.

And I didn't even mention Schlitterbahn, the world's first water resort and voted World's Best Waterpark for 13 consecutive years. They have recently added a new park area called Tubenbach to their already state-of-the-art water attractions.  If you aren't in to water parks, you might enjoy their huge Christmas shop.  Next up are some of the more natural attractions for this area.

Okay, Enough with the Mud

Finally we had sun today and by tomorrow, maybe I won't be doing this several times a day.  I know we need the rain, we really do, and it really isn't the rain I is what happens after the rain lets up and the "kids" want to go outside again.

Really Willy, again, are you serious?  Yes, you are going in the sink.  Let's just hope you don't clog it up.

In you go, don't be smurking over there Gretchen.  You are next and then I am locking the door to the back yard.  Harley, come back here this instant!  Harley!

Sigh!  I am very tired of cleaning up muddy footprints.

Johnson Settlement, Tx

It is never fun when the grandkids have to leave but we decided to make a fun day out of it by leaving earlier than usual and heading to Johnson City to take in the part of the LBJ National Park that is located there. The kids were excited about another chance to do the Junior Rangers Program. We started at the Visitor's Center in town and quickly realized that we should have allowed a lot more time.  It took us quite a while to go through all the displays covering LBJ's political career.  A lot of it was over a 5 and 8 year old's level.  We worked on the ranger book and completed the required 6 items to earn a badge but were disappointed that we ran out of time to see the inside of Johnson's boyhood home which was just down the street.  We will have to stop there another time.  

The Visitor's Center closed at 5:00PM but the Johnson Settlement is open until dark so we decided that we would do that next.  You can walk from the Visitor's Center or you can go a very short distance down Highway 290 and park there.  This settlement was established by Lyndon Johnson's grandfather and great-uncle.  They established a cattle drive headquarters in the 1860s. Their log cabin, barns, cooler house, and windmill still stand.  It is a little hard to see with the shadows but this is a dog-trot cabin with an open space between the two closed areas.

We started with a look at the Texas longhorns in the corral up front.

They were interested in us too.  Those horns are bigger than they look.

There is a more modern building with restrooms and more information but it was closed.

Morgan is five but she could easily read this sign.

Once we got to the main cabin, there was a button to push for an onsite history lesson which was given by none other than Lady Bird Johnson herself.  There is glass across the openings in the two sides of the building so that you can see inside where it is set up just as it would have been when the original inhabitants lived there.

The kids even got to see what it would have been like to ride in a covered wagon.

We all really enjoyed the tour of Johnson Settlement so be sure to stop there if you go through Johnson City.