Category Archives: Travel Tales

My favorite hobby. I would travel all the time if I could afford it. My goal is to visit all 50 US states and most continents (if not countries) in my lifetime. I’m ambitious like that.

Postcards from Small Town Texas

The Complete Package and I have been enjoying scenic drives to small towns throughout Texas. This is the fourth in a series of photos documenting our lazy day adventures and highlighting these small town Texas treasures.

Fourth Stop: Gonzales, Texas
Gonzales - Come & Take It 2

No single statement sums up Gonzales, Texas more than “Come and take it!” Why? Because that single defiant phrased uttered about a tiny but powerful cannon is believed to have launched the Texas Revolution in 1835. Rarely has such a small piece of hardware launched such a contentious battle.

Gonzales - Masonic Building

In a nutshell, it was borrowed from the Mexican military by the citizens of Gonzales for protection from native Indians. When the Mexican commander asked for it to be returned a few years later, the citizens of Gonzales declined his invitation. In fact, their response was “Come and take it” which, judging by the ensuing battle, was not well received. To learn more about this tiny cannon and its impact on Texas history, you can click here. As if to prove that Texans are tenacious by nature, the cannon still resides to this day in the Old Jail Museum. There you’ll also find the Gonzales Visitor Center.

Gonzales - Visitor Center & Jail Museum Bldg

Gonzales - Visitor Center & Jail Museum

But there’s more to Gonzales than one cannon. A town rich in history, this little gem is what leisurely drives to small towns are all about. Besides friendly people and a laid back atmosphere, Gonzales is beautiful. Just take a look at their Grand Dame of buildings – the historic Gonzales County Courthouse.

Gonzales - Gonzales County Courthouse

Gonzales - Courthouse Clock Close-Up

The Old Jail Museum, county courthouse and historic Gonzales fire department can all be found on the city’s main square. It’s a lovely picnic spot.

Gonzales - Town Square

Gonzales - Town Square Marker

Established in 1884 when the city first authorized the purchase of 200 feet of fire hose, Gonzales takes great pride in their fire house history. The original firehouse bell hangs in the town square as a tribute to the firefighters who’ve protected the citizens of Gonzales throughout the years.

Gonzales - Fire Station Bell

This great old vintage fire truck totally charmed my socks off.

Gonzales - Antique Fire Truck

We parked next to it while we walked around downtown. When we returned, we found this cute little stowaway on our truck tire. If only he knew how much I love squirrels. I took it as a lucky sign this would be a lovely day.

Gonzales - Tiny Stowaway

Just across the from the fire station, you’ll find a lovingly restored movie theater. I just love it when a small town takes the care to restore these great old landmarks. Too many of them are gone, replaced by giant mega-theaters. It’s a shame, really. The small, quaint & historic theaters are so much more fun.

Gonzales - Classic Old Movie Theater
Speaking of nostalgia, who remembers these great old gas stations from the road trips of our childhoods? This one is still in remarkably great shape. Makes me want to open a donut/coffee shop in it. Cool, huh?

Gonzales - Vintage Gas Station

And that’s convenient, because the perfect house is for sale across the street. What do you think? Too big for just the two of us?

Gonzales - Gorgeous Old Home

Yeah… you’re right. It’s too big. Maybe this one. It’s smaller.

Gonzales - House Built in 1895

Nah… probably not. Still too big. But this one? I think this one is just right.

Gonzales - Beautiful Home Fabulous Porch

I’m such a sucker for a big wrap-around porch, and I’m in L-O-V-E with this one. It’s easy to fall in love with Gonzales. It’s charming. It’s friendly. It’s proud of its heritage and comfortable with its place in Texas history.

Gonzales - Hero Square Monument

It’s a great place to spend a day, and a great excuse to take a day trip. And that’s my advice to you. Take advantage of the next pretty day, get in your car, and…

Gonzales - Come & Take It

Gonzales - Header with Courthouse

To learn more about Gonzales, Texas visit the Texas Escapes website.
To see the other small towns featured in my Postcards series, click on:

Postcards from Small Town Texas: Halletsville
Postcards from Small Town Texas: Yoakum
Postcards from Small Town Texas: Shiner

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Deep in the Heart of Texas

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. No phones. No internet. No distractions. Just peace & quiet. The Complete Package found such a place – a respite from the big city – deep in the heart of Texas. It’s called St. Clare’s Cabin and it was perfection. Here’s a photo journal of our week in the country.

LeakeyTX - St Clare's Cabin

Nestled in a valley near the Sabinal River, St. Clare’s Cabin is between the towns of Leakey and Vanderpool, Texas and only 8 miles or so from Lost Maples State Park. Everything about the cabin’s location is scenic.

LeakeyTX - Cabin Entry

LeakeyTX - Welcome to St Clares

What a wonderful surprise to walk into such a warm, cozy and beautifully decorated home. I think I want to live here. Permanently.

LeakeyTX - Cabin from Bedroom Doors

LeakeyTX - Cabin View from Front Door

I love the dining nook table. It is handcrafted with an inlaid state of Texas in the middle and a star marking the cabin’s location. It’s all about the details.

LeakeyTX - Dining Nook

Here’s a close-up of that equestrian collage hanging over the dining table.

LeakeyTX - Equestrian Collage

This is what it means when someone says “the decorator paid such great attention to detail.” Every touch at St. Clare’s Cabin was thoughtfully placed.

LeakeyTX - Front Porch Love

LeakeyTX - Retro Picnic Decor

LeakeyTX - Cozy Kitchen

LeakeyTX - Gorgeous Dishes

LeakeyTX - Cute Country Bath

LeakeyTX - Bathroom Touches

I’m not ashamed to say I squealed like a little girl when I saw that the cabin was decorated in retro Christmas. I absolutely loved it!

LeakeyTX - Holiday Fireplace

LeakeyTX - Christmas Mantle

LeakeyTX - Pinnochio Tree Topper

Speaking of Christmas, as soon as we got there, Dobie (our Christmas Shelf Elf) found a fun new buddy to hang out with. Literally.

LeakeyTX - Wild Boar & Elf

When he got bored with the boar (ha-ha), he stayed busy pranking the kids. He was found swinging from the shower rod, soaking in a mini-marshmallow bath, and climbing a decorative shutter in the kitchen. I think he was motivated by that little Hershey bar. He’s definitely my kind of elf.

LeakeyTX - Elf Climbing for Candy

After snacking on chocolate, we found him napping in the tissue box. I think it was the only time he sat still all week. He’s an active, mischievous little elf.

LeakeyTX - Elf Treats & Nap

Speaking of sleeping, St. Clare’s Cabin has two lovely bedrooms, each with a queen bed (one firm, one soft). The first was decorated in a cowboy theme.

LeakeyTX - The Cowboy Bedroom

The second paid tribute to a long-lost relative and his military service. Both bedrooms had limestone floor, quilts made by the owner, and hand-embroidered pillow shams. Again with the details. Love, love, love it. Very sweet.

LeakeyTX - Second Bedroom

Also sweet? The cabin’s large front porch. I love a screened porch – a love directly traced back to my maternal grandmother who lived on the Red River outside of Denison, Texas. I have many, many fond memories of playing on her porch. I’m not sure there’s anything better than a cabin with a big screened porch, unless it’s a porch with a swing. Ever slept on a screened porch on a beautiful summer night? It’s a little piece of heaven.

LeakeyTX - St Clares Cabin & Kids

LeakeyTX - Porch View of Front Yard

The fenced yard is huge, and I loved this cute tin-topped table & chairs.

LeakeyTX - Porch Table at Cabin

We invited our daughter, son-in-law and two grandkids to join us for a weekend. I think they enjoyed the cabin as much as we did, but Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug reeeeealy loved it. They took full advantage of the great outdoors.

They fell in love with the creek that lines one side of the property.

LeakeyTX - Creek at the Cabin

Or maybe it was the plethora of limestone rocks they could toss into the creek.

LeakeyTX - Kids at the Creek

Over and over and over again – for two straight days.

LeakeyTX - Jonah Tossing Rocks

And then there was the hammock. Those kids loved that hammock.

LeakeyTX - Jonah & Lilly Hammock

LeakeyTX - Lilly in Hammock

We also loved exploring this part of the Texas Hill Country. The Complete Package and I took a different scenic drive every day we were there. I had no idea this part of the state was so lovely.

LeakeyTX - Sabinal River Cypress

LeakeyTX - Scenic Drive - Bluffs

LeakeyTX - Preparing to Cross

LeakeyTX - River Crossing near Concan

LeakeyTX - View of Bluff at Sunset

LeakeyTX - Longhorns

LeakeyTX - Gang of Wild Turkeys

Those are wild turkeys, folks. We saw gangs of them – running amok, causing trouble and tagging cars late at night. It left me wondering how good one of these would be baked up for Christmas Dinner. And then I found myself craving a whiskey & Coke and a turkey sandwich. {heehee}

Each night, I found myself looking forward to sitting by the fire pit with a roaring campfire, or swinging in the hammock as the sun set over the valley, or gazing at a pitch black sky late at night with the brightest stars you’ve ever seen, or curling up in my favorite spot by the window gazing at the mountains.

LeakeyTX - My Baby in the Window

That’s My Baby. She’s keeping my spot warm. Thanks, honey! She’s a good girl.

And now that we’re home, I’m already thinking about our next visit to St. Clare’s Cabin. It’s so lovely in the fall, I want to see it in the spring when the creek is flush and the wildflowers are blooming. And I want to go back in the summer when the rivers are running at capacity and everyone descends on the Frio and Guadalupe Rivers to float in inner tubes and getting a little too sunburned. I want to soak up the fresh air, enjoy the peace & quiet, and watch those gorgeous Hill Country sunsets. And I want to do it as often as possible.

LeakeyTX - Sunset at St Clares Cabin

Want more information on vacation rentals? I highly recommend our two favorite “By Owner” websites – Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) and HomeAway. As with any ‘by owner’ site, the key is to do your homework, read descriptions thoroughly, stick to rentals that include plenty of pictures so you see what you’re getting, and rely on the reviews written by others who’ve stayed there. We’ve rented on these two websites at least 8-10 times, and we have never, ever been disappointed. If you’d like to visit the St. Clare’s Cabin Retreat website, click here.

So… where do you go when YOU want to get away?

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It’s Beer Week! Wait… what?!?

You heard me… Beer Week. And I’m not a beer drinker. There, I said it. It feels good to put it out there from the very beginning. My name is NanaBread and I am not a beer drinker. I never really have been, except for this one time in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the very early 80’s when I drank half-frozen slushy beer loaded with green olives. And it was delicious. If you’re not a drinker, stay with me. There’s a cake later in this post. I promise.

When Beer Week was proposed by my blogging friends and I was intimidated. But then I made beer bread and saw a few chocolate stout cakes on Pinterest, so after some research I embraced our Beer Week with open arms. In fact, I embraced it so well I ordered and drank two beer samplers on vacation in Vancouver. Here’s what I tried (for the team, of course):

The Sampler at Granville Island Brewing Co., Vancouver

Yeah. Doesn’t look like something a non-beer drinker would order, does it? For this one, The Complete Package helped out. It was a good plan – he enjoyed the boring flavors (pale ale, lager) and I enjoyed sampling the more exotic flavors (raspberry, honey, maple cream). Check this out:

The laminated Tasting Map was the best coaster ever & so informative!

What I liked best about this Granville Island Brewing sampler was that their flavored beers were gently flavored. Raspberry beer can be obnoxious, but this one was gently kissed with raspberry flavor. And it was lovely. My favorite was the maple cream ale. Second favorite was the one placed in the “Limited Release” section of the tasting mat – Ginger. Mmmm… ginger. And third place goes to the honey lager. Hard to describe, but so very easy to drink.

Next up (and several days later, I promise) was the Irish sampler from Mahony & Sons at Canada Place in Vancouver. The Complete Package abandoned me and ordered his own beer, so I was on my own for this sampler. I did what any team player would do – I cracked my knuckles and rolled my head to loosen up my shoulders and dug in. “We can do this!” It’s our family motto. TCP’s beer:

He wanted something light to go with salmon. Tsk.

Compared to his, mine looks like a Party on a Plank. This one included four Irish classics – 6 ounces each of Smithwick’s, Harp, Kilkenny and Guinness.

Slainte! (SLAHN-chə) – that’s Old Irish for ‘good health’ or something like that

I started with the pale lager and worked my way up to the Guinness.

Light & refreshing, but still a lager. Meh.

Then the Kilkenny Irish Red Cream Ale.

Oooo… I liked this one a lot; so I set it aside so I could savor it later.

Third – the Smithwick’s.

Smithwick’s Irish Ale – it was just okay; sorry, Smithwick.

And lastly, the Guinness. It’s so dark it looks like iced coffee.

Gorgeous, if a beer can be called that; who can resist that foam?

And that leads us to Beer Week. I chose the Guinness and I paired it with dark chocolate, then smothered it in a Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. Sounds pretty good, don’t you think? Want a sneak peek? Here ya’ go.

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream

Here’s how I made the dark chocolate stout cake:
(adapted from The Realistic Nutritionist‘s bundt cake)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
4 ounces applesauce
2 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness stout
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a jellyroll pan with parchment or a silpat mat, then spray with Pam for Baking or grease & flour liberally; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; whisk to combine. Add the softened butter, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract and Guinness and beat with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the jellyroll pan and spread evenly to all edges and corners. Tap gently on the counter, then pop it into the oven. Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick just comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely.

For the Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup thick dulce de leche caramel
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Kahlua (or espresso, cooled)

In a saucepan, combine the whipping cream, espresso powder and caramel; arm over low heat, whisking until the caramel is melted and thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool; refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I put mine in my KitchenAid mixer bowl and placed the whole thing in the fridge so the bowl & cream were both cold). Once properly chilled, place the bowl onto the mixer and whip until soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar and Kahlua and continue to beat until it begins to thicken. In my case, stiff peaks did not form and that’s okay. It’s all going to be layered with cake in a minute.

To assemble:

1. Start with the cake (this is where parchment/silpat mats come in handy).

Baking it in a jelly roll pan makes the cake layers about 1/2″ thick.

2. Use a round metal biscuit cutter to cut the cake into circles. How big should your circles be? That depends on what you’re building your layers in. Measure your jar or glass to determine which size cutter or can to use, then cut the cake into circles. One jellyroll pan yielded 30 cake circles for me.

A metal biscuit cutter makes quick work of cutting the layers.

3. To pipe the whipped cream, I like to spoon mine into a ziploc-style plastic bag. It helps to put that bag into a glass and fold the top edge of the bag over the glass. Once the bag is full, pull it out of the glass, press out the excess air and zip it shut.

My favorite piping tool – a plastic bag; makes for easy clean up, too.

4. Using a pair of scissors, snip the corner off the bag just before you start piping whipped cream. I like to keep a small but deep mixing bowl nearby so I can set the bag down without it falling over and spilling out.

Snip the corner and start piping; when you’re done, throw it away.

5. Start by placing a cake round in the bottom of your jar or glass; top with a 1/2″ layer of whipped cream, then continue to rotate cake and cream layers.

Start with cake & work your way up to within 3/4″ of the top.

6. Finish with a nice swirl of the whipped cream.

A layer of the whipped cream goes on top.

Then a nice spoonful of caramel goes on top of the cream.

Then sprinkle with cake crumbs. Nothing goes to waste.

6. If you’re using serving glasses, cover them with plastic wrap and keep them refrigerated until just before serving. If you’re using canning jars, place a lid and ring on the top and tighten gently. Then feel free to decorate any way you see fit. I went with burlap and ribbon, and I was happy with the way they turned out.

That’s burlap held with a rubber band; rustic yet decorative.

Finish with a pretty brown satin ribbon & suddenly it’s fancy.

And that is my version of Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. My favorite thing about this dessert is… everything. I love how they look layered in jars. I love that the jars make them portable. I love that these were even better the next day, which means you can make them in advance and have more free time to entertain. It also means the leftovers (if any) will keep getting better and better until they’re gone.

Oh, yeah…there’s the money shot. Someone pass me a spoon.

Trust me, these go fast and they go down smooth – even if you’re not a beer drinker. If you are, then these are just the thing, lassie. Cures what ales ya’.

Now who’s ready for another round?
Visit these Beer Week bloggers throughout the week to see what they’re up to:

Monday:
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic – introduces us to a local Michigan home brewer turning passion into a business in her “Welcome to Beer Week” intro

Tuesday:
Madeline at Munching in the Mitten – shares her thoughts on Beer Week as well as a recipe for Pumpkin Beer Bread – just in time for fall
and
Kat at Tenaciously Yours – shares an overview of Gasthof’s Oktoberfest where young & old come together to celebrate what else but BEER!

Wednesday:
Anne at From My Sweet Heart – turns beer into Pumpkin Ale Pretzel Caramels; what sweet magic is this?
and
Lauren at Climbing Grier Mountain – tries to steal The Complete Package from me with her Pale Ale Shrimp Po’Boy; it’s one of his all-time favorites

Thursday:
Megan at Country Cleaver – celebrates her heritage and Octoberfest in style with one of my favorites – Schnitzel & Dumplings
and
Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen – joins in the fun with her review of the Outlander Brewery.

Friday:
Mads at La Petite Pancake – creates a fiesta for your mouth with her luscious Beer Battered Shrimp Tacos
and
Allison at Decadent Philistines – takes Four Peaks Brewery Kilt Lifter Scottish Ale to new levels with a spicy German mustard, ale-soaked sweet potato oven fries and Maple-Ale Ice Cream; some people are just overachievers.

Saturday:
Katie The Hill Country Cook – visits the Double Horn Brewery outside Marble Falls, Texas to take in $2 pints & Happy Hour Apps
and
Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic – is back with Black & Tan Brownies
and
Carrie at Bakeaholic Mama – thinks outside the box with hard cider and a fabulous Woodchuck Sweet Potato Bisque; this is why I love fall.

I’ll be your mouth is watering now, isn’t it? I’ll be updating the links above throughout the week, so stay tuned. Beer Week may just prove to be our greatest endeavor to date. Cheers!

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Where have I been? Vancouver!

Vancouver, British Columbia – it’s on Canada’s western coast. Ever been? It has been on our bucket list for years. So when The Complete Package & I decided to take a trip to celebrate our 30th anniversary, we picked Vancouver. Why? For the mountains and the ocean and the food and the culture and the whales, of course! And it was every bit as beautiful as I thought it would be.


I don’t usually photograph airports, but Vancouver’s is lovely. This gorgeous sculpture greeted us as we stepped off our plane. As far as airports go, Vancouver gets a solid A+ (in case you’re rating airports).

For lodging, we decided to rent an apartment in the Yaletown area of downtown Vancouver. Apartments are plentiful in Vancouver, and this one really stood out. The location was perfect, the apartment was beautiful, the private rooftop terrace was a total bonus, and the views were stunning. I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor when we walked in. Here are the snaps we took once we recovered.

I’ve mentioned HomeAway.com and VRBO.com before, and we used it again for this trip. I can’t say enough about our experiences except that each place we’ve rented has been completely different and each has been spectacular. This rooftop “Skybox” apartment in hip Yaletown was no exception. Everything about it was fabulous. Did I mention the views? Because I just can’t say enough about the views of Vancouver from this apartment.

It wasn’t easy, but we did actually leave the apartment long enough to see some of Vancouver. Here are a few of the places we visited:

The Capilano Suspension Bridge & Treetop Walks

Chinatown & The Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden

Historic Gastown

Granville Island & Public Market

The Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia

Whale Watching along the San Juan Islands

The Vancouver Aquarium

Miscellaneous Sights Around Vancouver

And in case you’re a foodie, there was food. Lots of food.

Recognize that last one? That’s poutine – it’s a Canadian thing. French fries topped with cheese curds, then smothered in gravy. It was on my “must try” list, along with Nanaimo Bars and local wild salmon. If you make it to Vancouver some day, give it a try. Poutine. Remember that name (if you love gravy).

Vancouver was glorious. The friendliest people on earth live there, and I’d be friendly too if I were lucky enough to live in such a wonderful place. They have a temperate climate. They have ocean views and mountains galore. They plant flowers on every corner and hang them from every street light. Vancouver is beautiful; plain & simple. And if it’s not on your bucket list yet, it should be.

Note from NanaBread: this blog post was long on photos but short on text, so if you have any questions please leave me a comment. I’m happy to answer anything I can about our Vancouver trip.

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Postcards from Small Town Texas

The Complete Package and I have been enjoying scenic drives to small towns throughout Texas. This is the third in a series of photos documenting our lazy day adventures and highlighting these small town Texas treasures.

Third Stop: Shiner, Texas


Shiner has an unconventional downtown compared to other small towns we’ve visited. Instead of a town square, Shiner’s downtown appears to be one long street running parallel to a railroad track, with shops running for a block or two on either side of the tracks. While I missed that town square vibe, there were plenty of historic buildings to ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ over. Most of these were built in 1910-1911. I can never get enough of the gorgeous brick details in these old buildings. The craftsmanship is just stunning and so colorful.

This might just be my favorite downtown shop. Why? Because my mother’s name is Martha and she is an avid quilter; has been ever since she was a wee girl. If she ever decides to move away from Oklahoma, I think she could step right into this place and take over. How perfect is that?


Once you’ve hit all the shops and taken a lunch break, take a short stroll down 6th Street to this bridge over the creek (that’s downtown in the background).


For your efforts, you’ll be rewarded with a visit to the Spoetzl Brewery, home of Shiner Beer. For Texas beer lovers, this place is sacred.


There’s something about visiting the Spoetzl Brewery that makes you feel like you’re experiencing Texas history firsthand. Heck, I’m not even a beer drinker and I get excited seeing those gorgeous, enormous copper brewing kettles.


Tours of the brewery are only available Monday through Friday (I know… I don’t get it, either) so plan accordingly if you want to take in the heady brew room in person. If you find yourself in Shiner on a weekend, don’t despair. The gift shop is open on Saturday from 11am-3pm, and you can sample Shiner’s many varieties while browsing the t-shirts, ball caps and other treasures.


If you’re lucky, you might even find yourself there during a beer-themed trade fair. We found table after table of antiques & collectibles under the live oaks in front of the brewery. While we didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without, there was certainly plenty to see and some really interesting people to chat with.


Our last stop was one of the famous painted churches of Texas. Built by Czech and German immigrants, these churches are among some of our most treasured Texas historical buildings. This historical marker tells the tale of Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church in Shiner (click on the photo to see it in a larger format, then click the ‘back’ arrow on your computer to return to this post).


Just outside the church, we found this pretty little grotto/shrine.


But the real show-stopper is the church itself. Built in 1920-21, it’s a testament to the faith and perseverance of Shinerites as well as a nod to their history and heritage. As luck would have it, the church was locked when we were there. To see photos of the painted interior, you can click on this link to a Google Images page or visit the Texas Escapes page for Saints Cyril & Methodius Church.


What I can tell you is that it’s enormous and absolutely gorgeous from the outside. Even if you find it locked, it’s still worth a leisurely stroll around the church just to enjoy the details of the exterior. It really is a lovely church.

Shiner is located approximately 125 miles west of Houston, 80 miles southeast of Austin, or 90 miles east of San Antonio. For more information on Shiner, visit their website at http://www.shinertx.com/ or visit the Texas Escapes Website.

To see the other stories in this series, go to:
Postcards from Small Town Texas – Hallettsville
Postcards from Small Town Texas – Yoakum

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Republic of Texas Bike Rally (ROT) Austin 2012

The suns sets over the Texas state capitol during ROT 2012


If you read my blog, you’ve occasionally heard me reference The Complete Package (my beloved husband) and his girlfriend (his beloved motorcycle). Each year, TCP takes his girlfriend… er, motorcycle… to Austin to participate in the Republic of Texas (ROT Rally for short) Bike Rally. And every year, I pack my Jeep full of his gear, my stuff and our Boston Terrier and fulfill my destiny as the driver of the support vehicle. Lest you think I’d rather be riding on the back of said motorcycle, think again. But that’s a story for another day.

Each year, approximately 50,000 motorcycle riders and 200,000 participants join in the fun at the largest motorcycle rally in the state of Texas. One of our favorite events of the weekend is the bike parade from the Austin fairgrounds northeast of town where the rally takes place to downtown Austin in front of the state capitol. It is really something.

With the parade route stretching about 11 miles long, bikers riding 2-across will stretch the entire length of the route for more than an hour. To give you an idea of how many riders take part, when the first riders pass the state capitol and turn onto Congress Avenue, there are still riders parked at the fairgrounds waiting for their turn to leave. That’s a solid line of riders stretching out for more than 11 miles riding across Austin, revving engines, honking horns, flashing lights and high-fiving onlookers as they pass. Even if you’re not a motorcycle enthusiast, it’s an impressive spectacle.

Here are a few photos from this year’s ROT Rally parade into downtown Austin.

Here they come! Escorts lead the first riders down Congress Avenue.

Lilly Bug, our granddaughter, takes in the parade from atop mommy’s shoulders.

Bikes of all shapes, sizes & colors parade past.

Some are stretched out choppers…

Some have stretched out riders…

Some get a big ‘thumbs up’ from event staff when they pass.

Some bikers share their ride with pink-haired cuties…

And some ride solo while rocking a spiked yellow helmet for color.

Some like to hide their identities like these mysterious luchadores.

Some represent the ‘older’ crowd on an ultimate trike…

While others represent the younger crowd like this green Ninja hottie.

Some riders are too cool for school…

While others are too fabulously outlandish for words.

As downtown fills with bikes, the first riders into downtown fill Congress Avenue starting at the state capitol and parking their way down to the river.

When a traffic jam occurs, some riders are friendly enough to stop and chat with our grandkids and pose for pictures.

Eventually, Congress Avenue becomes a giant parking lot filled with thousands of bikes and people begin to mingle and take it all in.

I love that the downtown parade is a family-friendly event. People of all ages, races, backgrounds and tastes come out to see this once-a-year event. Rally organizers throw a giant party downtown each year. There really is something for everyone – from bikes to live music to stunning architecture.

When all else fails, you can always break out the light sabers and battle to the death, as My Baby learned at the hands of Jonah Bear. Lilly joined in, too.

Every year, friendly riders show off their bikes to anyone who asks. Some will even let the kids sit on them and pose for photos. Jonah Bear loves that part. I think he likes dreaming of the day when he’ll be big enough to ride a bike into downtown Austin with his Papi. And to that, I say “let the boy dream!”

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My favorite wallpaper

A close-up of the Mucha stained glass window at St Vitus Cathedral

When I say wallpaper, I don’t mean wallpaper wallpaper. As in not on the walls of my home. This photo is the wallpaper or backdrop on my laptop. Many times a day I gaze at this photograph and still I can’t seem grasp all the glorious detail and exquisite color. I took this photo last fall on our trip to the Netherlands, Istanbul & Prague. This is the famous Mucha window in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic. It was designed by Alphonse Mucha, whom I personally believe to be one of the greatest Art Nouveau masters of all time.

Note: to see the photos in a larger format, simply click on the photo. When you’re done, hit the ‘back’ arrow on your computer to return to this post.

Here is the window in its entirety:

A full view of Mucha’s glorious tribute to Prague’s Jubilee

Simply stunning. Until our trip to Prague, the stained glass windows at St. Chapelle in Paris were my personal favorite. But now? I just can’t stop looking at this window. No matter how many times I see it, I can’t get enough.

The detail and color in each panel is simply stunning.

Are you a stained glass lover? Do you find yourself planning visits to old churches when you travel just to see the gorgeous art? Because if you don’t, you’re missing some of the finest historical masterpieces the world has to offer. If you have any favorites, please share them in the comment section. I’d love to see what inspires you and perhaps add a few new destinations to my bucket list.

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Filed under Things I Love, Travel Tales

Postcards from Small Town Texas

The Complete Package and I have been enjoying scenic drives to small towns throughout Texas. This is the second in a series of photos documenting our lazy day adventures and highlighting these small town Texas treasures.

Second Stop: Yoakum, Texas

Yoakum, Texas is located between Houston & San Antonio on Highway 95 So., 35 miles south of I-10 and 11 miles south of Shiner. To learn more, visit www.texasescapes.com.

To see the first story in the series – Hallettsville, Texas – click HERE.

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Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts, Travel Tales

Houston 2012 Art Car Parade

The Complete Package and I attended our first Houston Art Car Parade this weekend. What a hoot! Over 300 cars entered this year’s parade; each one of them unique and entertaining. Here’s a look at this year’s event, starting with Houston’s mayor. Note: You can click on any photo to see it in a larger format, then simply hit the ‘back arrow’ on your computer to return to the blog.

And to prove that it’s not just about the cars, here’s a tribute to my favorite “accessory” of the day. Caution – you may not be able to handle all this sexy.

To the funny & friendly lady who sat behind us at the parade ogling the Viking Skater man (I believe her name was Lynn) – that one was for you. {wink}

If you’d like to learn more about the Houston Art Car Parade, please visit their website at http://www.thehoustonartcarparade.com/

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Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts, Things I Love, Travel Tales

Postcards from Small Town Texas

The Complete Package and I have been enjoying scenic drives to small towns throughout Texas. This is the first in a series of photo collections documenting our lazy day adventures and highlighting these small town Texas treasures.

First Stop: Hallettsville, Texas

Hallettsville, Texas is located between Houston and San Antonio on Old Highway 90, 17 miles south of I-10. To learn more, visit www.texasescapes.com.

10 Comments

Filed under Travel Tales