San Antonio – Superbowl & A Visit From Our Son

On Super Bowl Sunday, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.  Someone was in a big hurry to get set up and get those marinated ribs on the smoker before the pre-game.  Beer was cooling, and we were relaxing just in time. As a bonus, the mild weather meant John was able to watch some pre-game on the outside TV (a form of tailgating, I suppose).  I busied myself with my many new pamphlets and started to get excited that our son and his girlfriend were coming for a visit this month. 

On our own we enjoyed a Texican restaurant, where were given free dessert simply because we didn’t know what sopapillas were (the Texican version of New Orleans’ beignets, with a bit of honey drizzled on top.  So simple but delicious!). We then got an in-depth historical lesson as we toured San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, and the one actual mission nearby, the San Jose Mission (we’d heard of the Alamo, of course, but didn’t know how many of these missions there were, nor the depth of the history). It was educational and explained the multitude of Catholic churches we’d been seeing lately.

IMG_6994We had planned with our son and his girlfriend to go to the San Antonio Rodeo while they were visiting and we’d bought the tickets online and were very excited.  The day we met them, I did tear up a bit at the airport, as we hadn’t seen them since October, and soon we were off to their requested spot, the Olive Garden (Fun Fact: The last time John and I had lunch at Olive Garden in Pickering, ON, Christian was born that evening, almost 2 weeks early).

After a nice dinner and an evening of chatting and games and catching up, the next day was Rodeo day!  We got there early, as the indoor show started at 1 pm, and started with the petting zoo, and collected some free samples.  Then at the show we learned about and watched competitions in calf roping, hog tying, mutton bustin’, bucking broncos, barrel riding and more!  It was such a spectacle, and so professionally organized, and we even saw a Canadian on the leader-board! Next we wandered the fairground, had some snacks, and then took in the flea market. 

By then, it was time to head to the Riverwalk, which is another very interesting part of the town.  The river meanders through a downtown San Antonio, just metres away from outdoor tables of cafes, craft shops, a hotel and convention centre (another very old and interesting story).  There was a celebration for Chinese New Year and colourful paper lanterns with LED votive candles were for sale. Folks decorated them, some with a message of good wishes for the future, some with memories of loved ones, and at 6:30 pm everyone set them afloat.  It was a beautiful scene. Afterwards, it was so crowded and busy that the wait time for tables at about 3 restaurants was 90 minutes. So much for a fancy meal out – instead, we picked up a pizza and had more quality visiting time in the RV. That was a near-record day for steps logged into phones and Fitbits!

IMG_6993

On this touristy weekend, Sunday continued with a visit to the San Antonio Zoo.  It was interesting to see animals we don’t have at our local home-zoo, and also to see the animals arranged very close to the visitors.  One more restaurant dinner at a place the kids had never tried (why is that still so fun?), and an early night, as they were heading home Monday morning. We were so glad to have them visit us, and had a really fun time with Christian and Caitlyn! Note: After the writing of this post, these two lovebirds were engaged in April – Congratulations! 

Next up, Galveston, Texas and a visit from our daughter and her fiancé (THAT engagement happened in December!!)

 

Advertisements

Portland, TX: Our First Month-long Reservation!

After our rustic Hill Country experience, we headed south to the Gulf Coast. We chose a park in Portland, Texas, just 8 miles from Corpus Christi, which was on our list for over a year, since we’d always been curious about that corner of the world.

The park was very nice looking, with many amenities and nice folks (and stray cats) we came across during our walks. The location was convenient and the office staff were friendly. What was unfortunate was that as new folks we were assigned a site in a “worker” area – and here’s where we learned the biggest lesson for reservations so far.

For the first 2 days or so, we had no idea we’d been placed in a “worker” area, but we pieced it together by day 4 (geniuses that we are, haha) – – we’d gone all that time, and neither seen nor spoken to anyone. However, we DID hear about 6 departing diesel engines in the land of the Huge Pickup Truck, every morning around 5:50 – 6:10 am (eventually we could identify who was departing for work from which site, without ever meeting them), and their returns every evening between 5:20 and 6:50 pm. These were all men who were hard-working, making a living, either as high-rise crane operators or at oil refineries – NOT vacationers. They have to live somewhere during their temporary assignments, of course, but at the start, we were so curious when no one was out and about.

It isn’t fun to feel lonely! Sure, we waved to anyone who walked by and had arms, and we knew the names of all the dogs who happened to pass by even though their owners sped up after a cursory “howdy”. I even asked John if I smell and people were staying away! Plus we didn’t have wifi, so we went to Starbucks every other day, in part to see other humans.

Eventually, although feeling shy, we went to the “other side”- retirees, full-timers, 6-monthers.

We finally did join weekly events such as card bingo one evening a week (cue memory of grade 9, entering the cafeteria on a lunch hour none of your friends shared), ladies’ crafts and men’s woodworking the first three weeks, but we were unable to shake this feeling of not belonging to the large group of regulars/snow birds, simply due to our location.

Week 1, 2 and 3 we tried as best we knew to slip into activities and even made some nice connections with nice folks, always during a pre-planned activity on the calendar. I’ve said this before but we learn something new each day about this RV thing.

IMG-3413

During the first week, we had poked around and saw a Texas-shaped hot tub, Activity Centre, $4 breakfast on Saturdays, and the previously mentioned crafts and wood-carving activities. We also learned there was weekly bid euchre, poker games, chair-yoga/stretching, bible study, and a weekly potluck. Since we were in the worker area, we used the first (shy) week to explore the area, when we weren’t relaxing (with hobbies, reading, cooking and baking). Looking back, we should have gone to more activities during the first 3 weeks.

A few days in, John tricked took me on a long walk along the Indian Cove Park (a famous spot for birders due to rare migratory and resident shorebirds). It is very scenic, and we walked over a mile looking at the waterfront.

When we stopped to read the plaque, we learned so much about the area in just a few minutes.

fullsizeoutput_f8f

The 4th and final week at the RV park was the best. We were moved to a spot about 30 metres from the Clubhouse! We met about 5 new couples per day, and so many from various corners of Ontario. We could see folks wandering onto the porch of the Activity Centre for 4 pm Happy Hour, ladies on one side and men on the other. Yes, we HAD to join them each day! When John bought a table-top smoker, at least twice I looked outside to see a group of 4 or 5 men standing around discussing it, or offering to help him taste the meat, haha. One night a stranger knocked on our door, introduced himself and said ‘his thing’ was meeting new people, so he invited us to join him and his wife at the next day’s potluck – he wanted to save us a seat! It was so much more fun and laughter with others than we’d known on this trip so far. Who knew about worker-spots? We do, now!

IMG-3451

During this last week we also went to tour the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier, which was very interesting. John took a turn on the flight simulator, landing “his plane” on the carrier, and once again, we spent hours learning and looking at history.

We also took in their famous aquarium where in the ‘tropical zone’ I found my spirit animal – the sloth.

IMG_6234

Fun Fact: You could play three football games or 14 basketballs at the same time on the USS Lexington’s flight deck? It’s that big!