Did a couple of loops in and around the Houston area, because we can and we weren’t on a hard agenda. Headed north of Houston to Willis, TX to boondock with the Bello Bunch (from boondockerswelcome). What an amazing family! They are RV’ers themselves, a young family with 3 kids that recently purchased an acreage and they rent out a 5-wheel, an RV and soon to be the top floor of their house – if you are looking for an Airbnb or a place to boondock north of Houston, definitely check them out here: https://linktr.ee/bellobunch We really appreciated their hospitality, sense of adventure, dedication to family and resourcefulness with properties!
From their location, we did a bit of touring the north end of Houston area like the Woodlands which is a very cool area – it’s a huge bike path along a canal system – we biked the whole area and it was like we were in another country! (of course we were in another country but I mean more like Europe, not north America – The Waterway (visitthewoodlands.com)_ Also headed into downtown Houston for one last hurrah at the performing arts centre to see Chris Thile – who is one of the best mandolin players in the world (Punch Brothers — Live at House of Blues (Full Set) – YouTube). The concert was amazing, unlike anything we have EVERY seen! Had no idea how the mandolin was so adaptable from Bach to Johnny Cash.
Headed west 3 hours to San Antonio area, to another army corp site on Canyon Lake. Spent our first day settling in and deciding what to do for the next 5 days. Turns out, Topgolf was on our agenda. What a fun place this is, if you have never been we highly recommend it for an afternoon or evening of super fun for all golf and non-golfers. You can have drinks, eats and virtual games for a fairly reasonable price. I loved the Angry Birds game!
So far, our travels through Texas countryside have seemed pretty flat and more than once we have said to each other, “its so flat” and hard to get perspective on the land area because there are no hills to look down onto anything. Of course, coming from Alberta, all we have is mountains and foothills to give us perspective. The San Antonio area is really a unique landscape; driving to Canyon lake and then San Antonio, there are definitely rolling hills and the landscape reminded us of Baja.
Headed downtown to the Alamo – not sure why, but it seemed surprising to me that the Alamo would be downtown – I thought it would be on the outskirts or out of town. The Alamo brought alot of the history that we have learned along the way, altogether. It also gave one another chance to sing “Davvvy Daaavvy Crocket – king of the wild frontier” at the top of our lungs. I can’t report on the Alamo, its a lot of history, probably just easier to google it.
Sidenote: some of the benefits of off-season travel is the very cheap tourist activities, but at the same time some of the tourist activities are not open. The Alamo, for example, was a free tour – I know WHAA! (if you are Canadian, for sure you would expect at least $20 to walk through the door)
When we mentioned to people at home and here on the road that we were heading to San Antonio EVERYONE said make sure you go on the River Walk! This was a very easy destination after the Alamo, as it was only a block away. Hands up for who’s been to the River Walk? WOW this is cool and the #1 tourist activity in Texas! Apparently, this area is susceptible to flooding, and so back in the day (late 1800 and early 1900) they put a flood mitigation strategy in place and this included the canal system. There are numerous access points to get to it, but you walk below street level to a pedestrian canal through downtown (11 miles) and its loaded with restaurants, bars, shopping, etc. This pathway system also runs north and south through the whole city, so you could bike the entire thing (this makes me happy, maybe not Todd!). One of the highlights we will be doing next week is the Missions Historic site – you can travel between the 4 of them on bikes. Very cool!
Another must do was the caves in New Braunfels, mysterious undergound caves; they were discovered by university students in 1960. Very cool caves full of stalagmites, stalactites and guano (google that). Hadn’t been to this type of cave since our 2014 trip to Australia (found here: Those Girls Travel: Jules Mooseknuckle)!
Our timing to San Antonio had us arriving during the first week of the San Antonio Livestock Show and Rodeo. Thought it would be a good idea to check it out. Spent the afternoon wandering the grounds and it is definitely comparable to the Calgary Stampede Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, but at about half the size and there were some different side shows and events going on that we hadn’t really seen before. Sat down for a bit and watched Horse cutting – I had no idea this was a thing and apparently, they do this at Stampede too, who knew! here is a short video: Horse cutting
Our tickets included entrance fee to the grounds, the rodeo (that happens INDOORS and at NIGHT) and a concert after the rodeo, that just so happen to be Toby Keith. If you were to do this exact same day at the Stampede, you would expect to pay upwards of at least $150-$200, but let me tell you, we paid an entire $30 each for this whole day! WHA?!!!
The rodeo and concert took place inside AT&T stadium – I think this is where the San Antonio Spurs regularly play. It was bizarre (to us Canadians) to have a rodeo indoors. The other unusual thing that we noticed at the opening ceremony, the MC over the mic system said a prayer in the arena to all the attendees and the rodeo participants, from the heart (unscripted like). I can’t remember the last time I heard a public display of worship to the general public (in Canada) in the last 15 years, so I thought it deserved a note of observation. After the national anthem, a military horse brigade, some fancy dressed horses with flags running in circles, some laser lights, loud music and flashing stars …… the rodeo was underway! There were some Stampede Horses used here and a small spattering of about 8 or so Canadian cowboys/cowgirl lined up in competition. One of the best breakaway roping competitors at the rodeo was from Calgary (Shelby Boisjoli)! This is also a fairly new women’s rodeo sport – break away roping…we are always learning! I didn’t get a video of the ladies, but i got a short video of an Alberta Saddle Bronc contestant: Saddle Bronc – Alberta Cowboy
It has been a very busy 3 weeks of exploring and we got home quite late from the concert so decided to stick around our Canyon Lake campsite for the day and enjoy it and the 24C temperature! Our fishing in the boat plan got kiboshed due to wind, so we did the next best thing: Kite Flying