Featured

Road Trip Planning: 5 Easy Steps

Want to hit the road? All a road trip takes is a vehicle, a sense of adventure, and a plan. Well, and some money, but will be sharing our money saving tips for road trippers in another post, so stay tuned! We can’t help you with the funding, the vehicle, or the mind set, but we do have the plan! Today, we’re sharing our 5 easy steps for planning the perfect road trip. Let’s get going…

1. Where to go

Road trips don’t necessarily need to have a destination, it’s about the journey after all, but every trip starts with an idea of what you want to see or do. Is it a particular city, visiting friends or family, simply looking at scenery, a national or state park, or something else that interests you? Making the decision can be hard, but we’re fortunate to have multiple trip idea resources at our fingertips. Here are some great places to start:

  • Travel blogs, magazines, and books
  • Online news site travel features
  • National and state park websites
  • Google, along with Google Maps and Google Images
  • Only in Your State – https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/
  • Friends – ask them for recommendations based on where they’ve been
Wildflowers on a Texas road trip

2. When to go and for how long

The nice thing about road trips is that they can happen any time of the year. Is your trip going to be for a weekend, a few days, a week, or longer? Most people have limited vacation days per year, so time can be a big consideration when planning a trip. Some of our best trips have been weekend or long weekend trips, so don’t let a shortage of time be a discouraging factor. 

Lonely road in West Texas. Taken on our road trip to Big Bend National Park.

Here are some timing guidelines:

  • Weekend: plan a trip to a destination that is less than a three-hour drive from home and consider leaving on Friday evening.
  • Long Weekend: plan a trip to a destination less than a five-hour drive from home. Leaving early in the morning is a bonus because you can get to your destination by lunchtime.
  • One Week or Longer: figure out the distance between home and the destination then decide whether to drive from home or fly to the beginning point.

Once the destination has been decided, Google the distance between point A and point B. (For example: Distance between Amarillo, Tx and St. Louis, Mo.) Then plan your itinerary from the Google map. This allows you to see what interesting cities are along the route, the travel time, and it even allows you to add up to nine additional destinations. Consider taking a different route home so you get the bonus of seeing more great places.

3. Have a plan

We make an itinerary for every trip whether it’s a weekend trip or a long trip. The reason for this is it provides structure and helps with the financial planning aspect of the journey. Nobody wants to get in the car and waste valuable time trying to decide what to do or where to go next. Writing it down makes it a commitment even if we don’t always stick strictly to our plans. Below is an example of one of our itineraries.

Itineraries can be super detailed or as simple as some notes jotted down on a piece of paper. Our theory is that it’s better to have too much of a plan than no plan at all. We don’t want to arrive at a destination without a hotel or rental car reservation or not have a clue about what a city has to offer. On the other hand, we have a lot of admiration for the free-spirited road warriors who are brave enough to just get in the car and go!

Blue Ridge Mountains. Road trip to Shenandoah National Park.

4. Do some research

Find out everything you can about your destination and the cities you will be passing through using Trip Advisor, Chamber of Commerce websites, and other online resources. Google “things to do” in every town or city on your route and add the things you want to see to your itinerary. Atlas Obscura and Roadside America are great resources for finding unusual or quirky sights in a specific city or along the road. If you’re like us, we want to see it all and do it all in every destination because we’re probably not going back.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas.

Remember all those times as a kid when you wanted to see a roadside attraction and your parents would never stop? Well, now that you’re in the driver’s seat you can stop all you want. Go ahead and check out that alligator farm! Spray paint those cars at Cadillac Ranch! Spend thirty minutes browsing around that quirky tourist trap! This is your trip, so plan it the way you want.

One more thing about our planning strategy: we try to plan where we’re going to eat so we don’t waste time driving around looking for a place to stop. We make three choices per meal via Trip Advisor, blog, or other website recommendations. Asking hotel desk clerks for recommendations is also a good way to find the best local dining hotspots. In fact, on the trip from the itinerary above we didn’t eat at any of the listed restaurants. We ate at the restaurant recommended by the hotel clerk and ended up having one of the best meals of the trip!

5. Don’t take chances

Before you hit the road, make sure you and your car are in shape to travel especially if you’re going to be driving a long distance. Here is a short checklist:

  • Make sure tires are in good shape and aired properly, including the spare, and be sure you have a jack. Check the wiper blades and oil levels too.
  • Check to make sure the vehicle’s instruction manual and insurance information is in the glove box or console.
  • Outfit your vehicle with a roadside emergency kit including jumper cables, mini air compressor, flares or reflector triangles along with a few tools and other emergency needs in case of a flat or breakdown.
  • Keep a first aid kit handy for little scrapes, bug bites, blisters, etc., and add a nail clipper and emery board because someone will probably need them.
Our snack caddy goes on every trip with us.

Do take:

  • A cooler or basket full of your favorite road snacks and drinks.
  • A great road trip playlist.
  • A paper map or road atlas in case your electronics don’t work – it happens.
  • Chargers for electronics.
  • A few plastic bags of various sizes, including zip lock types, because they have thousands of uses besides for trash: muddy shoes, wet bathing suits and towels, dirty clothes, leftover snacks, just to name a few.

Now you’re ready to buckle up, crank up the tunes, and hit the road! Have fun and travel safely.

We will see you down the road…

Mike and Kellye

 

Need some inspiration? Check out these exciting road trip destinations:
 Abilene, Texas Road Trip: Things to Do
Things to Do in San Antonio: River Walk
Things to Do in Sedona, Arizona

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022            

Featured

Albuquerque to Taos Road Trip: Things to Do

Taos Pueblo

Northern New Mexico is a breath of fresh air – literally. The air is clean, the skies are bright, and the mountains are majestic! While visiting Taos you will be able to learn about its historic past, see world class art, and enjoy great food, all in a casual, laid-back atmosphere! Taos is also a year-round hub for a multitude of outdoor sports, and opportunities for sightseeing abound.

Taos is:

  • The perfect road trip destination for a long weekend.
  • A great get away for couples.
  • Best visited: anytime. We like September and October. Snow sports enthusiasts will love Taos in the winter months.

Rio Grande and Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque -Photo by Stephanie Klepacki

This airport-to-destination road trip is going to start from the closest major airport which is in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Miles between Albuquerque and Taos: 133 via Santa Fe.

Things to do in Albuquerque:

  • Old Town
  • Sandia Peak Tramway
  • Albuquerque BioPark – zoo and aquarium
  • Petroglyph National Monument
  • New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science
  • Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum
  • Breaking Bad RV tour
  • Casinos

Albuquerque’s Sandia Peak Tramway – Photo by Federated Art

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express. Both hotel chains have several locations to choose from.

*Recommended restaurant in Albuquerque: Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, 5011 Pan American Freeway NE

Travel tip: We highly recommend the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta which takes place every October. Here’s a link: Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Photo by Lad Fury

Getting There

From Albuquerque, there are two options for driving to Santa Fe. The I-25 route is the fastest. Highway 14 aka The Turquoise Trail is much more scenic but requires a longer drive.

From Albuquerque, take I-25 north to Santa Fe. Drive time between Albuquerque and Santa Fe: 1 hour

Recommended route: via the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway. From Albuquerque, take I-40 east to Highway 14 north toward Madrid.

Bonus stop: Madrid.  Once a mining town turned ghost town, Madrid (pronounced mad´-rid)  is now a thriving artist community. Drive time between Albuquerque and Madrid: 1 hour.

Continue on to Santa Fe via Highway 14. Drive time between Madrid and Santa Fe: 40 minutes.

Bonus Stop: Santa Fe.

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe, New Mexico

 Travel tip: If you can’t spend a few days in Santa Fe, try to stop for a few hours to explore the plaza. Plan a trip back when you can spend some time enjoying everything the historic city has to offer.

Things to do in Santa Fe:

  • Santa Fe Plaza
  • Palace of the Governors
  • Loretto Chapel
  • San Miguel Chapel
  • Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • Santa Fe Railyard
  • Meow Woof

*Recommended hotel in Santa Fe: Inn on the Alameda. Within walking distance of the plaza and Canyon Road galleries. Free breakfast. Click this link for Inn on the Alameda

*Recommended restaurants in Santa Fe: The Shed – 113 E Palace Avenue, on the plaza, and The Pink Adobe – 406 Old Santa Fe Trail, off the plaza.

Side trip: Pecos National Historical Park. From Santa Fe, take I-25 toward Glorietta, then Highway 50 east to Pecos, and follow the signs to the park. View the ruins of a pueblo that was built around 800 AD. Allow at least two hours to see the site via a self-guided walking tour. The visitor center museum is extremely interesting. Drive time between Santa Fe and Pecos National Historical Park: 40 minutes. We highly recommend a visit to this park! Here is a link for more information:  Pecos National Historical Park

From Santa Fe there are two options for driving to Taos: the High Road to Taos Scenic Byway, which we recommend, and the Low Road to Taos, which is faster. Timing will determine which road to choose.

High Road to Taos – longer but most scenic

From Santa Fe take Highway 84/285 north toward Pojoaque, then take Highway 503 east via Highway 98 to Chimayo.

 Bonus stop: historic Santuario de Chimayo. Learn about El Posito, a hole in the floor of the church that is believed to have healing powers in its dirt.

Bonus stop:

The Church of San Jose de la Gracia

Low Road to Taos – not as scenic but faster

At Santa Fe, take US 84 West, then 285 North toward Espanola, then take Highway 68 to Taos. Drive time between Santa Fe and Taos: 1.5 hours.

Destination: Taos, New Mexico

Ruins of the San Geronimo Mission church and cemetery at Taos Pueblo

*Recommended hotel in Taos: El Pueblo Lodge, 412 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. Here is a link: El Pueblo Lodge. There is also a Hampton Inn.

There are too many good restaurants in Taos to list, but our advice is to ask the front desk at the hotel for their recommendations. Locals always know the best places to eat.

Things to do in Taos:

Stroll the plaza. Walk the square, check out the unique shops and boutiques, pick up a box of chocolates at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and stop in at one of the plaza’s restaurants for drinks and a meal. We recommend The Gorge Bar & Grill. Try the tequila-lime chicken street tacos along with the fried green beans and sip a margarita while people watching from the second-story patio.

Travel tip: there are some great shops and restaurants outside of the plaza too.

Visit Taos Pueblo. Take a guided walking tour of the pueblo. Learn the history of the site and the people who have called this sacred ground home for over one thousand years. Taos Pueblo is one of only 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the U.S. A visit is very well worth the price of the tour and a tip for the tour guide. Plan to spend two hours. Check the site for Covid-19 restrictions and availability here: Taos Pueblo

Get up Early for a Hot Air Balloon Ride. For the thrill of a lifetime, take an early morning hot air balloon flight. Dip into the Rio Grande Gorge, touch down on the river, then float high above the plateaus for spectacular views of the gorge and the mountains with volcano cone vistas of the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument. There are a few hot air balloon companies to choose from, and we recommend booking ahead for this popular activity.

Walk across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Take US Highway 64 West from Taos. Park on the west side, and walk across the bridge, which sits 650 feet above the river! Look for desert big horn sheep on the rocks along the gorge. Located at the edge of Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, the scenery is spectacular. Adjoining the national monument is Rio Grande Gorge State Park – we thought it was more of a rest area – where there are places to picnic while enjoying the scenery. There are great photo ops, and it is just a few miles east of the Earthships Biotecture Visitor Center. For anyone who has not seen the Taos Earthships, they are definitely worth a visit or an overnight stay. Some of the earthships are now Airbnb vacation rentals. Here is a link: Taos Earthships  

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge

Spend an afternoon fishing. Or spend the day enjoying most any other outdoor sport. Outfitters in Taos can arrange whitewater rafting or a float trip on the Rio Grande. Stop by Taos Fly Shop for some great fishing gear, a license, or tips on where the fish are biting. Head for the Taos Ski Valley for great hiking and mountain biking trails, and of course skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

Fly fishing on the Rio Pueblo

•Step into the past. There are no less than 10 museums in Taos, featuring the personal homes of past Taos residents, Native American history, Northern New Mexico history, and of course, art. As art lovers, we recommend learning about the Taos Society of Artists which made Taos the art colony it still is today. Be sure to check the museums’ websites for operating days and times as well as Covid-19 restrictions.

Browse or buy world class art. With approximately 20 galleries in town, Taos is an art lover’s paradise. From Native American art, pottery and jewelry to modern art and funky sculptures, there is a gallery collection to suit every taste.

Kick back. Grab a good book and find a cozy spot in the sun or curl up in front of a fireplace with a warm drink and that box of chocolates you bought at the plaza. Take a leisurely stroll then stop in at Parcht (on the plaza) for a glass of wine and a bite. Or get back on the road for a drive through the mountains and Carson National Forest. The possibilities for rest and relaxation in the Taos area are endless.

Looking for more ideas? Click on the links below to find out about these other exciting weekend road trip destinations:

El Paso to Ruidoso Road Trip: Things to Do

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Abilene, Texas Road Trip: Things to Do

Thank you for joining us! Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

IMG_2120

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

Featured

Things to do in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona 2007 051 Nestled in the heart of the American Southwest, Sedona, Arizona is truly one of the prettiest cities we have visited. Life in red rock country seems to move at a slower pace, and the city offers great places to relax, shop, view spectacular scenery, and eat. Sedona is a dark sky community which means there is an ordinance against light pollution. On clear summer nights, the Milky Way can be seen arching across the sky from horizon to horizon! By day, the red rock scenery is enchanting, and to make it even better the city averages 278 days of sunshine per year. Sedona is a great year-round destination, but we particularly like to visit during the early fall. Sedona is:

  • An ideal place for a couple’s getaway, girl’s trip, or bachelor/bachelorette weekends.
  • Perfect for a long weekend or extended stay.
  • A hub for several national parks and other attractions.

This 117-mile airport-to-destination road trip starts from the closest major airport located in Phoenix, Arizona. Phoenix has a large selection of hotels, resorts, RV resorts and campsite options for overnight stays. Attractions in Phoenix include: a zoo, an aquarium, water parks, museums, hiking trails, and golf courses. Click here for more information about accommodations and attractions: Visit Phoenix. Sedona 2007 055

Getting to Sedona

From Phoenix, take I-17 north. Drive time: 2 hours.

Bonus stop: Montezuma Castle National Monument. See an ancient apartment complex tucked high into the side of a cliff. Then drive 5 miles north to see Montezuma Well, a sinkhole fed by natural springs and also surrounded by ancient cliff dwellings. A 7-day pass is $10.00 for adults (which also allows entry to Tuzigoot National Monument) and children 15 and under are admitted free. For additional information, here is a link to the National Park Service website: Montezuma Castle National Monument.

Montezuma´s castle in Arizona
Montezuma Castle. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Continue on I-17 north to Highway 179 north to Sedona. Note: Highway 179 is Red Rock Scenic Byway, a designated All-American Road, which takes travelers through some of the most picturesque scenery in the country.

Destination: Sedona, Arizona

Sedona 2007 129 The town of Sedona grew up from farm settlements along Oak Creek when the first homesteaders arrived during the mid-1800s. Near the turn of the century, a man by the name of T.C. Schnebly arrived and made his home where the ever-popular Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village sits today. In 1902 the industrious Mr. Schnebly applied for the first post office in the area, and it is his wife, Sedona, for whom the city is named.

Accommodations:

While we can’t list or recommend the numerous hotel options in Sedona, we can say that accommodations in Sedona will cost anywhere from $170.00 per night to over $500.00 per night. From basic rooms at Hampton Inn or Holiday Inn Express to championship golf resorts and luxurious spas, Sedona has an accommodation for almost everyone’s preference and budget.

Dining:

Meal options can range from inexpensive American fare such as burgers and brews at Oak Creek Brewery & Grill to high-end dining featuring prime meats and seafood at Rene. There is even a McDonalds which finally opened in Sedona after years of negotiation with the city over its famous golden arches. The city said the bright yellow sign did not meet its ordinance which keeps structures and signs from detracting from the natural beauty of the surroundings. Sedona won, and the McDonalds was constructed in a Southwestern motif with turquoise arches. We’ve been told it’s the only McDonalds in the world that doesn’t have golden arches on the building. And while we’re talking about places to eat, be sure to go to the Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits in uptown Sedona and order the cactus fries – you won’t be sorry!

Sedona has long been recognized for having mysterious cosmic forces that seem to emanate from the rocks. The forces are known as vortices. To quote Roger Naylor (RogerNaylor.com), vortices are “…swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy.” While some consider the entire area around Sedona a vortex, certain areas are said to have stronger powers than others. People often ask how many strong vortex sites there are, but the answer depends on who you ask. Some of the most popular higher energy areas are said to include Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, and Courthouse Butte. Visit Sedona and decide for yourself if the vortices really do exist.

Our Top 10 favorite things to do in Sedona:

Sedona 2007 067 1 – Hop on a trolley. Want to take a tour of the city and get some helpful information about the area? Sedona Trolley has you covered with 55-minute tours starting at $23.99 for adults and $15.99 for children 12 and under. Several tour options and times are available. Do this first for the best introduction to the city. Here is a link to the website: Sedona Trolley

2 – Shop. Tlaquepaque (Tuh-lockee-pockee) Arts & Shopping Village is a can’t-miss venue featuring shops, galleries, a chapel, and restaurants. The beautiful courtyard setting has an Old Mexico vibe with plenty of shade trees, colorful flowers, and a bubbling fountain. Visitors will want to spend a few hours strolling through the shops and galleries followed by a relaxing lunch or dinner on the patio at one of Tlaquepaque’s restaurants.

A glimpse inside the Tlaquepaque Chapel. Tlaquepaque is a popular wedding venue.

We recommend spending time in uptown (aka downtown) Sedona too. There are many stores and restaurants that offer a wide range of shopping and dining options. Word of caution: the Merry Christmas Sedona shop may be hazardous to your budget. With so many beautiful things to buy, it’s hard to choose just one – or ten! And don’t forget about the cactus fries and other great food at the Cowboy Club Grill & Spirits.

3 – Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Inspired by the construction of the Empire State Building, Arizona sculptor and rancher, Marguerite Brunswig Staude, commissioned the construction of the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Initially, she sought to build the church in Budapest, Hungary in the 1930s, but with the outbreak of WWII the plans were scrapped. In the early 1950s Senator Barry Goldwater helped Staude get a special use permit to build the church on Coconino National Forest land. The gorgeous church was completed in 1956.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

4 – Enjoy the scenery at Red Rock State Park. If there really is something to that vortices thing in Sedona, then this place might just have it! We experienced peaceful calm – an almost spiritual feeling – at this park. Hike one or all of the trails or simply find solitude along the banks of Oak Creek. This park is also an excellent picnic destination.

sedona
Cathedral Rock as seen from Red Rock State Park

5 – Take a pink jeep tour.  The tour company, known for their signature pink vehicles, can arrange a variety of off-roading adventures, hiking tours, and trips to the Grand Canyon, among other exciting experiences. We highly recommend the 1-day, Grand Canyon tour to the south rim. Here is a link to their website: Pink Adventure Tours.

South Rim of the Grand Canyon

6 – Drive through Oak Creek Canyon. Embark on a scenic 14-mile drive on State Route 89A between Flagstaff and Sedona. This is a slow road because of the corkscrew twists and turns, but the scenery will take your breath away! While the northbound drive is beautiful, we recommend driving south from Flagstaff for the best views.

7 – Play at Slide Rock State Park. Visit this scenic park in Oak Creek Canyon featuring a natural rock water slide. Go to play in the water, go to hike, or go for the scenery in this historic park.

Sedona 2007 174
Slide Rock State Park

8 – Gaze at the stars. There are several astronomy tours available in Sedona, and the state parks host them periodically too. Learn about the constellations and take a peek into outer space through their telescopes. We recommend Sedona Star Gazing – Evening Sky Tours. Here’s a link: Evening Sky Tours.

9 – Watch the sun set. We love a great sunset (or sunrise), and Airport Mesa is the place to be in Sedona just before the sun goes down. Here’s one we were lucky enough to capture. Sedona 2007 044

10 – Take a side trip to a national park:

  • Grand Canyon National Park is 2 hours north of Sedona via Flagstaff.
  • Petrified Forest National Park is 2.5 hours northeast of Sedona via Flagstaff.
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Page, Arizona and Lake Powell are 2.75 hours north of Sedona via US Highway 89.
  • Tuzigoot National Monument is 30 minutes southwest of Sedona.
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument is 45 minutes northeast of Sedona via Flagstaff.
  • Saguaro National Park is 3.5 hours southwest of Sedona via Phoenix and Tucson.

Now that we’ve given you our top 10, we should add that Sedona has so much more than what we’ve covered. There are numerous hiking trails for all levels of hikers, with Cathedral Rock Trail and Devil’s Bridge Trail being two of the favorites. Additionally, climbing and bouldering are popular in Sedona, and guided climbs can be arranged through several companies. ATV rentals and tours are available for those who want to have a little off-roading fun. There are several mountain biking trails as well as motorcycles to rent for wind-in-your-hair rides through the red rocks.

As you can see, Sedona has something to delight every visitor. While we can’t guarantee anything, we’re pretty sure you will love Sedona as much as we do!

*This is an update of an original post from September 22, 2018.

Sedona 2007 078

Click to see more exciting Arizona destinations:

Grand Canyon National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Monument Valley Tribal Park

Thank you for joining us for our recap of Sedona!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022              

Featured

Things to do in San Antonio: River Walk

San Antonio is one of the most historic cities in the United States, having been founded in 1718 when a Spanish expedition established the Mission San Antonio de Valero, now known as the Alamo. Soon after, a presidio (Spanish fort) named San Antonio de Bexar was established nearby and became the foundation of the city of San Antonio. The settlement served as the seat of the Spanish government in Texas until Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836, and at that time San Antonio was home to about 2,500 residents. Today, San Antonio boasts a population of over 1.5 million making it the seventh largest city in the U.S. 

While San Antonio has grown by leaps and bounds, the modern city has managed to hold on to its roots. The culture, the history…it’s all still there, and San Antonio’s residents are proud to share it with their visitors. The River Walk is a great place to begin a tour of San Antonio, and what makes it even better is staying a few nights at one of the beautiful hotels right on the river. 

 A cruise on the San Antonio River is a must, especially for first time visitors who want to get an insider’s view of what the River Walk has to offer. The typical cruise will take about 35 minutes. General admission for narrated cruises cost $13.50 for adults and $7.50 for children. Shuttle boats, which are used to get up and down the 15-mile-long River Walk, cost $20.00 for a one-day pass, and multiple-day options are also available.

Museums, shopping, live entertainment, beautiful hotels, and upscale as well as funky bars can all be found on the San Antonio River Walk. Then there’s the outstanding food! Of course, everyone’s favorite in San Antonio is Mexican food, and there is plenty of that to go around.

There’s something special about sitting outside in the festive atmosphere while enjoying a cold drink and watching the other tourists cruise leisurely by on the river boats. We can’t recall ever having a bad meal on the River Walk, and we’re particularly fond of Casa Rio for Mexican food. It’s pictured at the top of the post with the pretty umbrellas. If traditional American fare is what you’re craving, try Dick’s Last Resort. Touting themselves as the shame o’ the river, Dick’s serves up some pretty good “grub and brews” by the rudest servers you’ll ever encounter. They’re a chain, rudeness is their schtick, and eating there can be a hilarious experience. 

See an interesting timeline about the development of the San Antonio River Walk here: https://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/about/our-history/

We love San Antonio any time of the year, but spring is our favorite time to visit. (That’s probably because we went there together in the spring for the first time when we were teenagers.) Summer temperatures can get pretty high, but the mild fall weather can be very nice. We’ve also visited there in December, and even then, the weather was comfortable for sitting outside. 

Nightlife abounds on the River Walk too. From laid-back dive bars to the rowdier dance halls as well as English and Irish pubs, everyone will find a place to eat, drink, and dance the night away. People ask if it’s safe, and we say yes – with some conditions. First and foremost, travelers should always be aware of their surroundings no matter where they are. While we feel safe on the River Walk at night (we have seen police officers patrolling on bikes and boats as well as on foot – day and night), we would not venture into darkened or unpopulated parts of the walk or any parts of the downtown area at night.  

This pretty stone bridge is now known as Selena Bridge. A scene from the movie Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez was filmed on this bridge.

The pretty bridges, the peaceful green-hued water, and the lush trees and plants make this the ideal place for a stroll anytime – day or night. Pop into the shops at Rivercenter, visit an art museum, stop in at one of the bodegas, browse the street vendors’ wares, and check out the restaurants’ menus, most of which are posted on the patios or entrances. Warning: it is very difficult to choose just one place to eat or just one souvenir! 

Tower of the Americas

Did you know that San Antonio was the site of a World’s Fair? HemisFair ’68 was held from April to October 1968, and today visitors can still visit HemisFair park which is just a short walk from the River Walk. The iconic, 750-foot Tower of the Americas is still a thrill for visitors who want to ride the elevator to the rotating restaurant at the top for great food and great views. The park also has a playground and splash pad for the kids, giant chess and checker boards, as well as flowing water features, fountains, walking paths, and green spaces. The park, a designated San Antonio Historic District, is also home to several State Archaeological Landmark buildings, and the Tower of the Americas has been nominated for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wondering what’s near the River Walk for kids to do? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered:

  • Eat a great meal (they have a kid’s menu) and play arcade games at Dave & Buster’s – on the River Walk at Rivercenter
  • Have some fun building something and riding the rides at Legoland Discovery Center – on the River Walk at Rivercenter
  • Spend an afternoon at HemisFair Park’s amazing playground, giant sandbox, and splash pad – 0.9 miles
  • See what’s in the sea at Sea Life San Antonio Aquarium which is located close to HemisFair Park – 1.2 miles
  • Check out the hands-on interactive exhibits at the DoSeum – 2.8 miles 

Other exciting San Antonio attractions for the entire family: 

  • Get up close and personal with animals at the San Antonio Zoo – 4.5 miles
  • Extend your animal adventures to Seaworld with its sea life exhibits and Aquatica water park all in one place – 20 miles
  • Enjoy the thrills at Six Flags Fiesta Texas amusement park – 23 miles

La Antorcha de la Amistad

In addition to the attractions we’ve listed, there are numerous cultural, historical, and art museums in San Antonio. Many public art installations can be found around town too, such as the La Antorcha de la Amistad (Torch of Friendship) by Mexican artist Sebastian. The 65-foot, lipstick red sculpture was a gift to the City of San Antonio by the Mexican government in 2002 and represents two cultures and languages merging together as one. The sculpture is hard to miss in the heart of downtown, and glimpses of it can be seen from the River Walk.

If outdoor sports are your thing, there are several highly rated public golf courses in San Antonio. Fishing, swimming, and boating can be found at beautiful Canyon Lake located 1 hour north of the city. The San Antonio Spurs NBA team as well and a handful of other semi-professional and college sports teams provide plenty of excitement for sports fans. San Antonio also boasts botanical gardens, historic residential districts, historic churches and other historic buildings, as well as a market district. The UNESCO World Heritage Site: San Antonio Missions Historical Park is a national park site that should not be missed.

Read our post about the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and the Alamo here: https://oneforthemoneytwofortheroad.com/2022/06/01/san-antonio-missions/

As you can see, there truly is something for everyone in San Antonio. If you’ve never been there, we hope we have inspired you to visit, and if you have been there, go again! The city has so much history and culture to offer, and besides that, it’s just so much fun. Did we mention the food?

We’re going to close the post with some interesting facts about the San Antonio Express-News building which is located a couple of blocks from the River Walk.

Home to the San Antiono Express-News newspaper for more than 90 years, this beautiful Art Deco building was opened in 1929. The newspaper’s parent company, Hearst Corp., moved the newsroom and printing operation to other sites in 2020 and put this building on the market for sale. What intrigued us about the building was not just its historic beauty, but the bas-relief panel above the door. (What can we say…we love art!) It was sculpted by none other than Pompeo Coppini, the same artist who created the stunning Alamo Cenotaph. The carved stone panel (shown below) features images representing labor, education, enlightenment, truth, and justice. It is our understanding that in March 2022, the building was sold to a property development investment group from Austin. We will be anxious to see what they do with this fabulous property.

Thank you for joining us in San Antonio! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

Tower of the Americas and La Antorcha de la Amistad photos courtesy of Henry Becerra. 

Featured

National Route 66 Museum

Where is it?

On Route 66, of course! Actually, it’s on a stretch of the original Route 66 in Elk City, Oklahoma. We plan to drive the entire route someday, but we’re settling for bits and pieces for the time being. This turned out to be a nice little piece of the route.

What’s it about?

It is a complex of five great museums all in one place. They include:  the National Route 66 Museum, National Transportation Museum, Farm and Ranch Museum, Blacksmith Museum, and the Old Town Museum which contains the Beutler Rodeo Hall. All sections are worth the stop. Below are some shots from the Route 66 Museum where there are different vignettes depicting what travelers would have seen in each of the eight states along the Mother Road.

We suspect there may still be some places like this one in New Mexico and Arizona, live rattlesnakes and all!

Crusin’ through the great state of Missouri. Gotta love those vintage cars!

“Are we there yet?”

Who napped in the back window on family vacations? Was the motel pool your entire reason for living? How about stopping at Stuckey’s for a pecan roll and a cheap souvenir? A&W root beers and burgers in the car anyone? Remember when motels had stationery and post cards in the rooms? And then there were those real live “trading posts” with that horrible-tasting rock candy and “authentic” turquoise jewelry. Oh, and Reptile Village, but our dads wouldn’t ever stop. Those were fun times, and this museum really brought back the memories for us, although some of it was way before our time.

Outside in the sunshine, we walked around the “old town” exhibits and looked in all the windows. Below are a couple of shots.

Wonder what the gas prices were back in this gas station’s heyday?

More of the old town. Each building is furnished with items the businesses would have had way back when, and all can be viewed through the storefront windows. There’s even a country doctor’s office complete with creepy medical instruments.

We fell in love with the sculpture (below) in front of the Old Town Museum. The museum building had once been the home of a family who owned department stores in western Oklahoma. The first floor depicts how some of the early residents would have lived. The second floor is dedicated to the the Beutler family who own a ranch north of Elk City and have raised champion rodeo stock for almost 100 years. This museum was worth the admission fee by itself.

His name was Commotion, and he was the Beutler brothers three time world champion bucking horse.

“Commotion” from a different angle. It is a beautiful bronze sculpture by T.D. Kelsey of Guthrie, Texas.

Click here for an interesting read about this multi-faceted artist: https://www.tdkelsey.com/the-artist

The museum complex admission is (currently) $5.00 for adults and $4.00 for children 6-16. Children 5 and under are admitted free. For AAA members and people over 60, it is $4.00. (We paid $4.00 each, but we’re not saying which discount we got!)

In closing, we would recommend a stop here for travelers who have a couple of hours to spend. And if you’re already traveling the Mother Road (or even I-40), a stop here is a great way to get out of the car for a time, take a relaxing stroll through the complex, and learn something new while you’re at it!

Thank you for stopping by our site, and we hope you come back again for more road trip stops, Quick Stops, Wish We Were There Wednesdays, and lots of other good stuff. We appreciate you more than you know, and we would love to hear from you so feel free to comment below. We can also be found on Facebook and on Twitter @KellyeHefner.

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

 

 

 

 

Featured

10 Amazing Things to See and Do at Big Bend National Park

Who doesn’t love a national park? How about a road trip? A visit to Big Bend National Park gives you the best of both worlds! Big Bend is one of two national parks in Texas, the other being Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and both are vastly different. The Guadalupe Mountains are the remains of what was once a massive underwater reef. The Big Bend area was the edge of an ocean back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Today, we are sharing our top ten things to see and do at Big Bend in random order, so let’s get going to one of our favorite national parks!

1. The Chisos Mountains

Casa Grande peak as seen from Chisos Basin is one of Big Bend’s most iconic sights

The Chisos Mountains lie entirely in Big Bend National Park. The rugged Chisos were formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago, and erosion has sculpted them into the beautiful hills and peaks we see today. Emory Peak, at 7,835 feet above sea level, is the highest peak in the range. Black bears, mountain lions, a variety of smaller mammals, reptiles, bats, and birds make their homes in the Chisos Mountains.

The well-maintained Chisos Basin Road carries visitors seven miles through an interesting variety of flora and spectacular mountain scenery. The road ends at Chisos Basin where visitors will find a visitor center, campgrounds for RVs and tents, the Chisos Mountains Lodge (the only commercial lodging in the park), a restaurant and gift shop, as well as an assortment of trailheads for all levels of hikers. The Window serves as a pouroff when water needs to drain from the Chisos Basin and surrounding areas during heavy rainfalls

Park visitors flock to the Window for dramatic sunset photo ops. The 5.6-mile out and back Window Trail originates at Chisos Basin. (Note that the trail has a 900- foot elevation gain on the return.) Another trail – Window View Trail – is easy and wheelchair accessible. In our opinion, there are many places in the park that are perfect for watching the sunset and sunrise, but the Window certainly provides a unique photographic perspective.

2. Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

The breathtaking eight-mile-long Santa Elena Canyon features 1500-foot cliff walls that frame the Rio Grande River as it meanders through the big bend of Texas. The Santa Elena Canyon Trail is a fairly easy 1.4-mile out and back hike originating at a parking lot on Santa Elena Canyon Road. The trailhead is approximately 44 miles (1+ hour drive) from the main visitor center at Panther Junction.

View of the canyon wall from the trail

Local outfitters are available to arrange a variety of river trips ranging from one to three days on the Rio Grande and through Santa Elena Canyon. (Note that a backcountry permit is required by the park for overnight trips.) The river forms the border between the U.S. and Mexico. While there is no requirement to have a guide in order to float or paddle the Rio Grande, we highly recommend using an experienced outfitter.

3. Fossil Discovery Exhibit

As we mentioned, Big Bend National Park lies in an area that was once the edge of an ocean. The Fossil Discovery Exhibit showcases some of the creatures that inhabited the area millions of years ago including sea life and dinosaurs. Kids and adults alike will enjoy exploring this open-air museum space which is located approximately eight miles north of the Panther Junction Visitor Center.

Over 90 dinosaur species have been discovered at Big Bend, some of which are unique to the park.

4. Wildlife Viewing

Javelina aka Collared Peccary

Big Bend National Park is home to a large variety of wildlife. In addition to those that live mainly in the Chisos Mountains, many other animals and birds live within the park’s other two ecosystems: river and desert. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to photograph all of the animals that we have seen at Big Bend, but we have been lucky enough to capture a few. We have spotted Barbary sheep, fox, coyote, hawks, and many other birds, just to name a few.

Doves
Rattlesnake

5. Hike, Walk, or Backpack

Big Bend offers a wide variety of hikes to choose from – 79 trails in all – and rather than try to describe them, we are listing a couple of links that should provide complete trail information:

View from Burro Mesa Pouroff Trail
  • Off trail hiking is allowed
  • Backcountry requires a permit
  • Backpackers and primitive site campers are required to have a permit

If in doubt, always check with the park before setting out on any lengthy or overnight trek. Stay conscious of the weather conditions including high temperatures in late spring, summer, and early fall.

6. Scenic Drives

There are over 100 miles of improved, well-maintained roads in Big Bend. The most popular road is the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive which is a 30-mile-long road that takes visitors through some of the most diverse and scenic parts of the park and ends at Santa Elena Canyon.

Mule Ears peaks as seen from the pull-out along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. There are many places to pull out and view beautiful scenery from Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.

But wait – there’s more! Spectacular scenery can be viewed from all of the paved roads in the park so driving any of them is a thrill. Note that the only gasoline available in the park is at Panther Junction. 

The Sierra del Carmen seen from Park Road 12 southeast of Panther Junction
View from Chisos Basin Road
South view of the Chisos Mountains from Park Road 12
River view from the Rio Grande Overlook

7. Terlingua Ghost Town

Terlingua is a gateway community to the park but does not lie within the park boundaries. The entrance to Big Bend is approximately 8 miles from Terlingua, and it’s another 22 miles (30+ minute drive) to Panther Junction Visitor Center.

The Starlight Theatre is a restaurant that serves up good food and drinks with live entertainment

And…Terlingua isn’t quite a ghost town in traditional ghost town terms. People do live there, and there are some thriving businesses including a few restaurants and area hotels. Visitors will certainly experience ghost town vibes while walking through the cemetery and when viewing the crumbling buildings in the former cinnabar mining town.

Terlingua Cemetery
Terlingua

Terlingua is a great place for a couple of hours of roaming and eating if a break from the park is on the agenda. The history of the town is interesting as is the history of the cemetery. Funky souvenirs of all kinds can be purchased at Terlingua Trading Company which is next door to the Starlight Theatre. Terlingua is also the site of the famous Terlingua International Chili Championship which has taken place there on the first weekend of November since 1967.

8. Lajitas

Lajitas is a great place to stay for visitors to Big Bend and is located approximately 12 miles west of Terlingua. While some regard Lajitas as a town, we can’t bring ourselves to call it that because it doesn’t have a post office. It used to have a post office, but it closed in 1939. Lajitas does, however, have a mayor – a mayor who is a goat, that is, and his name is Clay Henry.

We can only assume that the guy with the horns is the Honorable Clay Henry, and the other goat is Mrs. Clay Henry, the First Lady of Lajitas.

Lajitas is actually home to the fabulous 27,000-acre Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa. Touted as one of the best and most beautiful golf courses in Texas, Black Jack’s Crossing is a premier course that attracts amateur golfers and pros alike. The resort is located on FM 170 along the banks of the Rio Grande between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. Also known as the River Road or Camino del Rio, FM 170 covers 114 miles between Terlingua and the border town of Presidio and is considered one of the most scenic drives in the state. The Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa features modern, well-appointed hotel rooms with an Old West vibe, as well as a multitude of amenities and activities for the entire family. A general store and a gated RV campground are also located within the resort. Charter air services are available from Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston. For further information, here is a link to the resort’s website: https://www.lajitasgolfresort.com/

9. Stargaze

Photo by Philippe Donn

Pack your telescope! Big Bend is an international dark sky park. In fact, Big Bend has the darkest skies of any national park in the lower 48 states. The park hosts various programs such as star parties, ranger talks, and moonlight walks throughout the year. The summer months are the best time to view and photograph the Milky Way.

10. Cross the River Legally

The only port of entry in Big Bend is across the river from Boquillas del Carmen, usually referred to as Boquillas. A former mining town, Boquillas struggles today as a tourist destination for visitors to Big Bend.

Boquillas, Mexico

Visitors must have a passport and will pass through customs when returning to the U.S. River crossings are done by small rowboat or on horseback, each for a nominal fee. An additional fee ($2.00, last we checked) is required to enter the Maderas del Carmen Natural Protected Area where Boquillas is located. There are a couple of cantinas in Boquillas that serve food and drinks as well as a few places to buy souvenirs and handmade goods. Tours are available for a fee, though a guide is not required in order to explore the town. U.S. currency is accepted in Boquillas, but only in small denominations.

For further information about Big Bend, click this link to the park’s website: https://www.nps.gov/bibe/index.htm

Windmill. Historic Sam Nail Ranch, Big Bend National Park

Those are our top 10, though we barely touched on the park’s features and those of the surrounding areas. Below we have listed some additional things to know if you’re planning a trip to Big Bend.

  • Unfortunately, people have been led to believe that Big Bend is not a safe place to visit. We believe it’s very safe. We are more afraid of encountering a rattlesnake than having a border issue there. Travelers should always be aware of their surroundings no matter where they are.
  • Early spring and late fall are great times to visit Big Bend, but those times are when the park experiences the most visitors. With that said, it is an enormous park with plenty of room to spread out so crowds shouldn’t be a problem.
  • There are several campgrounds at Big Bend. RV camping with hook-ups book up fast so make reservations as far out from your visit as you can. The same goes for booking a stay at Chisos Mountains Lodge.
  • The park is remote so cell service can be very hit and miss.
  • The closest major airport is in Midland/Odessa, Texas which is approximately 242 miles (4+ hour drive) to Big Bend.
  • Alpine, Texas is 82 miles (1+ hour drive) north of Big Bend and serves as gateway city to the park. Hotels, restaurants, and the Museum of the Big Bend are all located in the pretty city.
  • Marathon, Texas is 73 miles (1 hour drive) north of Big Bend and serves as another gateway to the park. The historic Gage Hotel is the centerpiece of Marathon and delights visitors with its 27-acre Gage Garden botanical area and fine dining at the 12 Gage Restaurant, among other amenities. Shopping, art galleries, additional restaurants, a museum, and a city park can also be found in Marathon.
  • Marfa, Texas is home to the Marfa Lights, Marfa Prada as well as other art installations, and the historic Hotel Pisano. Marfa is located 30 minutes west of Alpine on US 90, and approximately 1.5 hours from Big Bend National Park.
  • Fort Davis, Texas is approximately 1.5 hours from Big Bend and features Fort Davis National Historic Site.
  • Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas’ biggest state park, is located approximately 13 miles west of Terlingua (20 minutes from Big Bend National Park) and is home to 238 miles trails for a variety of uses. Off-roading, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking are just a few of the activities that visitors to Big Bend Ranch State Park can enjoy. Click the link for more information: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/big-bend-ranch

We could go on, but we’re going to close the post here. Our purpose in posting is to give our readers a comprehensive overview of the places we visit. We hope that we have inspired you to visit the U.S. National Parks because they really are our country’s best idea. If we can help you with planning your trip or answer questions, please leave us a message in the comments section below.

Happy, safe travels, y’all!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022                                      

Featured

Quick Stops – New England

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Sunflower getting ready to unfurl her petals

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First stop: Windsor, Vermont

Where in the world is it?

Windsor, Vermont lies along the banks of the Connecticut River on the eastern border of the state. The quaint town is about 68 miles south and east of Montpelier.

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Steeple of the Old South Church in Windsor (Congregational – 1768)

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Old South Church Cemetery

Windsor is the birthplace of Vermont. In 1777, the Constitution of Vermont was adopted here, making the Vermont Republic a sovereign state. Vermont joined the United States in 1791. Windsor was also the capital of Vermont until 1805 when Montpelier became the capital.

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We saw these wonderful old barns in Windsor and found ourselves wishing we knew their story.

Second stop: Carroll Homestead

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Where in the world is it?

The Carroll Homestead is in Acadia National Park.

The 45 acre Carroll farm was settled by the John Carroll family in 1825. Here the family grew hay, maintained gardens, and also raised animals. The last members of the Carroll family vacated the house in 1917, but they continued to farm the land. The property was acquired for Acadia National Park in 1982. We wouldn’t call it a major attraction of the park, but the house itself is architecturally interesting. Besides, we wanted to see as much of the park as possible so we made a quick stop. Unfortunately, the house wasn’t open when we visited, but we’re sure that the seeing the inside would add a lot to a visit here.

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It’s a fact, Jack!

Many of the New England churches with the tall white steeples are/were Congregational Christian churches. Although Congregational churches can be found in many countries around the world, the roots of American Congregationalism grew from the religious beliefs (and most likely the political beliefs) of the Puritans of colonial New England. Some view Congregationalism as a movement rather than a denomination. Congregational churches are governed independently by each church’s own congregation. Today, the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, the United Church of Christ, and the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches carry on some of the traditional Congregational beliefs and practices. Harvard College and Yale College (originally, the Collegiate School) were established for the purpose of educating and training Congregational clergymen. And, now you know…

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road. 

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

Featured

RV Tips and Tricks: Our Favorite Campsite Dinners

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In preparing for camping trips – most of ours are weekend or long weekend trips – we try to prepare as much food at home as we can before we leave. Who wants to spend all weekend cooking when there’s hiking, and photography, and sights to see? In our experience, convenience foods are the way to go, especially if prep time is limited. The following recipes utilize as many convenience foods as possible and can be pre-prepped at home to save a lot of time at the campsite. Each recipe serves four but can be easily adapted for more hungry mouths, or minimized for less servings. Our trick is to go ahead and cook the extra to enjoy as leftovers later. Bon appetit!

Main Dishes:

Lemon Basil Garlic Grilled Chicken

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  • 1/2 c lemon juice, fresh or concentrate
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 T minced garlic – use more or less as desired. (We use the kind in a jar.)
  • 2 T chopped basil, or more if desired
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts without rib meat

Place the first four ingredients in a zip lock bag. Seal bag, squeezing out air, and gently knead/shake to mix ingredients well. Add chicken breasts, reseal, and knead/shake to coat chicken. Place the sealed bag into another zip lock bag to ensure against leaks during transport to the campsite. Marinate in refrigerator or cooler until ready to grill (at least two hours) or up to 24 hours if kept properly chilled.

Dispose of marinade, and grill chicken over medium heat 5-7 minutes per side until done.

Close-up of Salad in Plate

Serve with grilled corn on the cob and tossed green salad.

Variation: Cut grilled corn kernels off of the cob and add to salad along with the sliced or diced grilled chicken.

Tips:

  • Make two batches of the marinade. Use one to marinate the chicken breasts and the other for salad dressing, adding a dash of salt and pepper or other preferred seasonings to the dressing batch – sometimes we add a teaspoon or two of sugar or sugar substitute. Do not reuse the marinade that contained the raw chicken.
  • Chicken may also be baked in the oven (350 for 30 minutes) or sauteed in a little olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until done.
  • Leftover cooked chicken breasts may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Pork Tenderloin Two Ways for Two Meals

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  • 3 Hormel Lemon Garlic or Peppercorn Pork Tenderloins
  • Two bottles of Heinz Texas Style Bold & Spicy BBQ Sauce (or any favorite BBQ sauce)
  • Hamburger Buns
  • Hamburger Dill Pickle Slices
  • Sliced or chopped onion

Place the tenderloins in a (lined for easy clean up) crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours or prepare according to label directions. When done and cool enough to handle, tightly wrap one and a half of the tenderloins in foil, then place in a gallon size zip lock bag in the refrigerator.

Meal one:

At the campsite, heat the foil wrapped tenderloin in the oven, over a campfire, or on the grill at medium-high heat for 30-45 minutes, until heated through. Slice into medallions and serve.

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Serve with canned ranch style beans and potato salad or coleslaw. Try the Fresh Express Coleslaw Kit or make your own with the leftover cabbage and carrots used in the soup below. And, if you want to get really fancy, serve medallions on top of mashed potatoes. (We like the Simply Potatoes brand that can be heated in the microwave.) Spoon jarred Heinz Pork Gravy with a splash of red wine added while heating or Heinz Homestyle Mushroom Gravy – with a few fresh or canned mushrooms and a splash of white wine added while heating – over the top of the meat.

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Meal Two:

Take the other one and a half tenderloins and shred the meat. We cut them into chunks and put them in a food processor or beat with a hand mixer to shred. The meat can also be shredded with bear claws or forks. When the meat is coarsely shredded, place in a lidded Tupperware type bowl and add the barbecue sauce to taste, mixing well. Refrigerate until ready to use. Heat in a pan on the stove top, grill top, or in the microwave and serve on buns with hamburger dill pickle slices and onions. Take along the remaining BBQ Sauce to serve with the sandwiches.

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Serve with chips and fruit for an easy dinner or lunch.

Tips:

  • The shredded barbecue mixture freezes well. Thaw in refrigerator or cooler then reheat. This (or sloppy joes) is our go-to meal for the first night at camp, especially if we’re arriving late in the day, and it’s perfect for when the weather isn’t conducive to outside cooking.
  • If using jarred gravy, doctor it up with extra pepper, garlic or onion powder, fresh or dried herbs, or sprinkle in a few sliced green onions, including the tops. Add small amounts at a time and taste as you go.

Foil Packets

  • 2 packages of Hillshire Farms 14 oz Polska Kielbasa or other smoked sausage of your choice sliced into 1/2″ thick coins and divided into 4 portions.
  • 1/2 head green cabbage sliced into thick chunks and divided into 4 portions
  • 8-12 small red potatoes halved, divided into 4 portions
  • Onion sliced into 4 – 1/4″ inch thick – slices
  • Butter or margarine
  • Salt and pepper or Season All
  • Pam or other non-stick cooking spray
  • 4 – large (at least 12″ x 12″) squares heavy duty aluminum foil
Hillshire Farm® Polska Kielbasa Smoked Sausage Rope, 14 oz.
Spray foil squares with Pam. Then layer, starting from the bottom, 1/4 of the red potatoes, onion slice, 1-2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 of the sausage coins, and top with cabbage. Season to taste. Fold the foil over the sides, then fold down the top, creasing to make a slightly loose packet, but don’t smother the food. The packet needs a little space inside to allow the food to steam. Place the packets on the grill over medium heat. Cook for 30-45 minutes or until everything is heated through and potatoes are fork tender.
Several sections of lemon. Macro

Variations: Layer 1/4″ thick potato slices, uncooked hamburger patty, sliced onion, sliced celery and sliced carrots. Add butter, season to taste, and cook 45 minutes to one hour. Try salmon, lemons, and asparagus, or shrimp, lemons, and broccoli. Or go vegan and use only fresh veggies. The sky’s the limit with these little gems, so try your own variations. Cooking times may need to be adjusted.

Tips:

  • Look for Hillshire Farms Sausage on sale at Walmart, then stock up. It is also fantastic for breakfast!
  • Foil packets are super versatile, and we love the “fix it and forget it” way of cooking. All ingredients can be cut up at home and placed into zip lock bags for transport to the campsite, however, we do not recommend slicing potatoes until they are ready to be cooked as they can turn an unappetizing gray color. The packets can also be cooked in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes, or until done.

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Wondering what to do with the leftover cabbage? Make this:

Hearty Vegetable Soup

  • 2 – 32 oz boxes of beef broth (use only 1 box if choosing to use V-8 juice for additional liquid)
  • 2 – 4 cups original V-8 juice or other V-8 variety of choice, optional for additional liquid
  • 1/2 head of cabbage chopped into chunks
  • 3/4 c shredded carrots
  • Large onion chopped
  • 3-4 stalks of celery sliced
  • 1/2 of 1 small package fresh green beans cut into 1″ pieces – use the other half as a side dish later
  • 2-3 medium zucchini cut into bite size chunks
  • 2 T Better Than Bullion beef base, optional, but recommended for slightly thicker, beefier stock
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 t minced garlic (we use the kind in a jar)
  • 1/2 t garlic powder (or to taste)
  • 1/2 t onion powder (or to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Note: if using Better Than Bullion, taste soup before adding salt,

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, saute the onion, celery, and carrots in olive oil over med-high heat until just tender – about 5 minutes. Add beef broth and other ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender but not mushy. This soup keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.

Serve with: sandwiches or warm buttered bread for a light and easy dinner.

Variation: Add cooked pasta, cooked stew meat, or cooked meatballs for an even heartier soup.

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Side Dishes:

 Grilled Corn on the Cob

  • 4 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
  • 4+ T butter or margarine, divided into 4 portions
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle each ear with salt and pepper, then place 1 T (or more if desired) butter or margarine on each. Wrap individually in foil and place in a gallon size zip lock bag. Store in refrigerator or cooler. When ready to cook, place on grill over medium/high heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the kernels are tender. Remember to turn them occasionally so they don’t burn. If charred corn is preferred, unwrap during the last 10 minutes of cooking time and place ears directly on grill, continuing to turn occasionally.

Grilled corn cobs on wood background. Free Photo

Serve with: additional butter and/or garlic herb seasoning, or garlic and/or onion powder, smoked paprika, or other seasoning of choice.

Tips:

  • Corn may be cooked in boiling water on a stove top until done. Cooked ears will keep well in a refrigerator or cooler for a day or two and can be wrapped in foil and reheated in the oven or on the grill. If reheating in a microwave, wrap in a damp paper towel and place on a microwave safe plate.

Grilled Veggies or Fruits

Fresh halved ripe tomato viewed close up at an oblique angle to show the juicy texture of the pulp
  • Halved (longways) zucchini or yellow squash or both – grill cut side down
  • Onion, thickly sliced
  • Cabbage, thickly sliced – think of them as cabbage “steaks”
  • Bell pepper
  • Beefsteak or Heirloom tomato halves – grill cut side down
  • Portobello Mushrooms
  • Pineapple rings
  • Peach halves – grill cut side down
  • Pear halves – grill cut side down
  • Apple halves – grill cut side down
  • Grapefruit halves – grill cut side down
  • Any other fruits or vegetables of choice

Brush will olive oil and grill over low-medium heat until cooked/heated through, then season as desired.

Variations: cook any of the above in a foil packet, turning occasionally, until done. We like to add butter and a dash of Worcestershire sauce to our onion packets. The grilled fruits are wonderful with a little butter and brown sugar for an easy side or dessert.

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Super Simple Salads

Prepare these easy salads at your campsite:

  • Bagged salad from the supermarket. Add any variety of vegetables, cheeses, and fruits of choice, or eat it as is. Red or green grapes, strawberries, and mandarin oranges are great on green salads.
  • Sliced avocado and halved grape tomatoes with coarsely ground salt and lime juice.
  • Cut a head of iceberg lettuce into four wedges. Top each wedge with creamy dressing of choice, such as ranch, blue cheese, green goddess, thousand island, etc. and sprinkle with bacon bits and shredded cheese.
  • Jarred marinated artichoke hearts mixed with any combination of halved grape tomatoes, black and/or green olives, pickle slices, baby corn, and cut up pickled okra or other pickled vegetables such as beets, asparagus, carrots, and green beans.
  • Halved grape or cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, onion, and basil, mixed with store bought balsamic glaze and a little olive oil. Best if prepared 24 hours before serving so the flavors can blend.

That’s going to do it for this post, y’all. Come back soon for more RV tips and tricks, campsite recipes, road trip ideas, and awesome destinations. If you’re not a follower, become one so you never miss a post. In the meantime, happy eating!

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road – or at a campground! 

Mike and Kellye

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⇒Tossed Salad Photo Credit: Jill Wellington

⇒Grilled Corn Photo Credit: “https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/background”>Background photo created by jcomp – http://www.freepik.com

⇒Halved Tomato and Sliced Lemons Photo Credit: freefoodphotos.com

⇒Bell Pepper Photo Credit: Photo on <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/re6/1d21115b”>Visualhunt</a&gt;

Photo by Malte Luk from Pexels

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true products, vendors, and venues. Our suggestions are for places or products that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited or used personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022

Featured

San Antonio Missions

Our visit to the Alamo and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park took place on Palm Sunday. What a wonderful day to see the historic mission churches and celebrate their history! In addition to the Alamo, there are four missions along the banks of the San Antonio River which compose San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Each of the mission churches are still active parishes today. As proud Texans, we hope you will enjoy our tour of the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in our state. 

 Our first stop was the Alamo. 

The Alamo

Mision San Antonio de Valero. The Alamo (which means cottonwood in Spanish) is located in downtown San Antonio, Texas. Contrary to what most believe, the entire compound, what is left of it, is the mission. The building pictured above is the mission church which is universally recognized as the Alamo. Built by Spanish missionaries, the church and mission date to 1718. The Battle of the Alamo took place here in 1836. Although the Mexican army won the battle, it was significant in the events leading to Texas gaining independence from Mexico. The mission was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The Alamo is included as part of the San Antonio Missions UNESCO World Heritage Site, though it is not part of the national historical park. The Alamo is owned and managed by the State of Texas. 

Travel tip: no photography of any kind is allowed inside the church.

Beautiful tree on the mission grounds. We had to wonder what this tree has witnessed in all of its years here. Just under the bottom branch in the center-right of the shot is the mission’s water well.
This building, which is located on the mission grounds, houses “The Alamo: A Story Bigger Than Texas” exhibit featuring artifacts from the Alamo and the Phil Collins Texana collections. While there is no fee to enter the church building or grounds, there is a fee to enter this building, and advance tickets are recommended.

Free timed tickets are required to enter the mission church and can be obtained from the kiosk in Alamo Plaza or online at: https://www.thealamo.org/visit/calendar/alamo-free-timed-entry

Travel tip: we got our exhibit tickets and timed entry tickets for the church online and included them as part of our itinerary to save time upon arrival.  

The Alamo Cenotaph (south side)

The Alamo Cenotaph is a monument commemorating the Battle of the Alamo and honors those who fought in the battle. Its actual name is Spirit of Sacrifice. The stunning sculpture by Texas artist Pompeo Coppini is sixty feet tall, forty feet long, twelve feet wide, and stands adjacent to the mission at Alamo Plaza. On the east and west sides, the bas relief sculptures depict the leaders of the battle. Names of some of the Texans (then known as Texians) who fought there are engraved into the granite near the base. The monument was dedicated in September of 1940.

West side
East side
North side

And speaking of historic buildings, we are including some interesting facts about the Emily Morgan Hotel which interests many who visit the Alamo.

The Emily Morgan is a registered Texas Historic Landmark and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977

Opened in 1924 as a medical arts building with doctors offices and hospital facilities, the building served its original purpose until 1976 when it was updated to house modern office spaces. In 1984 the site became the Emily Morgan Hotel. In 2012, after undergoing major renovations, it became a Hilton Doubletree Hotel but kept the name Emily Morgan. An unusual feature of the exquisite building is its gargoyles depicting different medical ailments. The building sits just north of Alamo plaza so its grounds, which were once part of the mission, saw the deaths of hundreds of men. The hotel is said to be one the most haunted places in San Antonio. 

Ever heard the song “Yellow Rose of Texas”? Legend has it that Emily (West) Morgan was the Yellow Rose of Texas. Read all about it here: https://officialalamo.medium.com/who-was-the-yellow-rose-of-texas-750c95617241

San Antonio Missions

Our second stop was Mission Concepcion which sits in a residential neighborhood a few miles south of San Antonio’s downtown area.   

Full name: Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Concepcion

Mission Concepcion, which dates to 1755, is the only unrestored stone church in America. As with all of the Spanish missions, its purpose was to convert native people to Christianity and integrate them into communities where they could be taught trades and farming in order to become self-sufficient. The mission was originally established in east Texas, however the Franciscan priests, who wanted to bring the native people into Spanish culture, chose to move away from the French influences of what is now Louisiana. This site of Mission Concepcion was chosen in 1731, and it took about 15 years to complete the buildings.

Mission Concepcion. Note the water well in the left-center foreground. Each of the missions have a similar well.

The mission church and convento (building complex where missionaries, visitors, some residents, and the parish priest resided on the mission grounds) boast of their 250-year-old frescoes which are beautifully preserved today. The outside of the church was also once painted with bright colors, but those have been erased over time. Interestingly, the stone for this mission was quarried on its own grounds. While the Mission Concepcion church was constructed in the Spanish Colonial style, some Moorish features were also incorporated, such as this pretty archway and stairwell outside of the church. This nook was so unexpected, we had to wonder if it was original to the mission.

Because services were being conducted while we were visiting Mission Concepcion, we were unable to enter the church.

Our third stop was Mission San Jose. The national park visitor center is located here and provides helpful information about all of the missions. 

Full name: Mission San Jose y San Miguel de Aguayo
Founded in 1720, the San Jose Mission and Church were completed in 1782. We arrived just as Palm Sunday services were ending.
Luckily, we were able to get a picture of the beautiful sanctuary, though the church was crowded with parishioners and other tourists. It was the only one of the mission churches that we were able to photograph inside.

Mission San Jose was our favorite of the four missions. It is also the most restored, with the majority of the restorations having been completed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) which gave unemployed young men work relief during the Great Depression. Approximately 80% of the church is original.

Convento and water well. The white edges above the stone arches are where roofs once were.
Housing for the native residents of the mission. Each home has two small rooms and a tiny fireplace. Eighty-four of these “apartments” encompass the mission grounds.

San Jose Mission was touted as the Queen of the Missions. While it was not constructed as a fort, the mission was said to be as secure as any fort of the day, thereby protecting its residents against attacks by hostile outsiders.

Granary completed in 1755 and restored in the1930s

Our fourth stop was Mission San Juan, which was a little disappointing at first glance because we thought the church was new. Once we began our trek around the mission grounds, we found out we were wrong!

Full Name: Mission San Juan Capistrano

Similar to Mission Concepcion, Mission San Juan’s humble beginnings were in east Texas in 1716. The original mission, Mission San Jose de los Nazonis, was established to serve Nozonis Indians in the area, but the mission failed, so it was reestablished in its current location in 1731 and renamed Mission San Juan Capistrano. The mission suffered misfortune in its new location too. Epidemic diseases such as smallpox and measles killed many of the natives. Attacks by hostile bands of Apache and Comanche Indians also plagued the mission. These adversities caused some of the inhabitants to leave mission life behind and return to their nomadic lifestyle.

Mission San Juan Church dates to 1772 and is the mission’s second church. The stone walls were covered in plaster in 1984, and other preservation measures were completed in 2012.

Construction of a third church was begun in 1775 but was never completed because of the decline in the population of the mission.

Unfinished church dates to 1775 with some restoration in the mid 20th century

The native people who built and lived at this mission were farmers of food and fiber. They also made tools and cloth which, along with the crops, enabled trade that helped sustain the community. By 1762, about 203 people were residing at the mission. Remains of several farm tracts and an irrigation system can be found near the mission, as well as a dam which is not open to the public. The national park operates a demonstration farm for visitors today, using the same irrigation system (acequia) and growing the same types of crops.

Convento, restored in the 1960s

Our fifth and final stop was Mission Espada which was our second favorite of the four San Antonio missions. 

Full name: San Francisco de la Espada

Mission Espada is the oldest of the Texas missions, having been founded in 1690. As with other missions it was established first in east Texas but was reestablished in its current location near the banks of the San Antonio River in 1731.

Mission Espada Church, completed in 1756

The residents of Mission Espada made bricks, some of which can still be seen in the mission’s structures. Residents of Espada also made tiles, wove cloth, made tools, and raised crops and livestock.

This arched entryway to the mission shows the brickwork
Ruins of some of the original mission buildings

Espada also had an aqueduct which still exists today and diverts water from the San Antonio River to the mission and its farmland. A portion of the aqueduct is pictured above as it crosses Piedras Creek, and below is the acequia (irrigation canal). This acequia is still used by people who live near Espada.

For more information about San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, click here: https://www.nps.gov/saan/index.htm 

That’s going to be all for this trip. We are thrilled that you stopped by our site, and we hope you return again for another great road trip, Quick Stop, Wish We Were There Wednesday weekly post, or a travel tip or two. We post for you, and we would love to hear about your road trips so feel free to leave us a comment below. Please like our site and become a follower so you never miss a post. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter. Until the next trip… Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022  

 

 

Featured

Wish We Were There Wednesday: Feathers and Fur – The Sequel

We’ve got more feathered and furred animals for y’all from our latest Texas Hill Country road trip. Enjoy!

Trees full of buzzards. We have no idea what they were doing. Probably just waiting for their next public service project. Did a U-turn on a skinny little backroad to photograph them. Don’t tell anybody, but we’re kind of intrigued by buzzards.
We’re not real sure what longhorns do these days except lay around and wait for somebody to take their picture… At least they posed even if they didn’t smile. (We know the correct word is “lie”, but we don’t really care about proper grammar when we’re talking about lazy cows.)
Mrs. Cardinal! We were excited to get a picture of her because we don’t see that many girl cardinals. When we do see one, they are too busy to sit still long enough for us to get the shot. Isn’t she a little darlin’?
Not exactly what you’d expect to see on a Texas ranch, but there it is in black and white…
These little birds are so cute – until some interloper tries to eat from the same feeder, then all heck breaks loose, and the little beasts turn into dive bombing, raging, fighting machines! Is its tongue out? Are their beaks like straws? Do they ever stop flying long enough to sleep? Hello…any hummingbird experts out there?
Now this is what you’d expect to see on a Texas ranch – the LBJ Ranch specifically. If you look closely, you’ll see that it has a number on its horns. We want to know how they get them to sit still long enough to be numbered. Wait…do cows sit? If you have ever seen a sitting cow, raise your hand.
Neither feathered nor furred, it is a ‘dilla butt! Armadillos might have some fur somewhere, though. Have any of y’all ever picked one up and looked?
This is a fish. It does not have feathers or fur either, but it does have fins.
These sheep…
We think you’re a real handsome guy, but we’re not lady turkeys… sorry 🙁
You don’t see too many bison around central Texas, but here’s one at LBJ State Park in Stonewall. Still think they would stink. Not getting close enough to find out…
Just a plain ol’ mallard, but we thought he was pretty. And he let us take his picture. And he hangs out on the San Antonio River Walk… so, yeah…
Some of y’all might think this is a weird picture – we do. But how often do you get a cell phone shot of a White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth at a grocery store? Uh-huh, that’s what we thought…

Thank you so much for stopping by! We hope you will come back again for more road trips, Quick Stops and other good stuff. Subscribe to become a follower so you never miss a post – just hit that button on the right side of the page. Likes, shares, and comments are very much appreciated.

Happy hump day, everyone!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2022