March 30, 2012

Willow City Loop Bike Ride

Yesterday we were talking to some road bikers that are staying at the hotel we are parked at, and they casually mentioned that we should try the Willow City Loop. One of them said that it was the "best bike ride" he'd ever done. So, this morning we decided to give it a go. We woke up nice and early (8:30... that's pretty early for us recently), ate a hearty breakfast, packed the bikes up in the car and drove to Willow City. We chose to drive there instead of bike there because it was 16 miles from Fredericksburg and I didn't feel up to doing a 56 mile ride (not sure if I could do it even if I wanted to...). We parked our car across the street from the Willow City post office and set off. I'm not really sure why they call it a Loop, as its really an out and back, you start from Willow City, bike the road until it T's into highway 16 and then turn around and come back.

March 28, 2012

Some Down Time in Texas

We've taken some downtime here in Fredericksburg. Sky found a soccer league he can play with (he must have a nose for soccer..)

Sky playing soccer with a pick-up group

March 27, 2012

Cooking in a Travel Trailer

We've had several questions on what we eat in the trailer. The answer? Pretty much what we used to eat back home. We have a three burner gas stove, an oven and a medium sized refrigerator, so we have access to the same ingredients and preparation methods. Generally breakfast is oatmeal, cream of wheat or cereal (with coffee! got to have the coffee!). Lunch is mostly packed up sandwiches, chips and fresh fruit for site-seeing picnics. Dinner is always hot, and made on the stove. Since the refrigerator space is somewhat limited, and we don't have a microwave, we stay away from making large portions, we generally eat everything we make. Our favorites are Thai dishes, soups and taco salads. Here is some Thai Spicy Basil Chicken we made using this recipe:

March 24, 2012

Under the Texan Sun

Today we went hiking at Lost Maples State Park. This park is supposed to be spectacular in the fall when the leaves on the maple trees change, but I bet it would be pretty spectacular any time of the year. First of all, the drive out there was super scenic. We drove from Fredericksburg through Kerrville to Medina, then made a right on Ranch Road 337. There we encountered a group of 50 motorcyclists, and for good reason. This road is like a roller coaster with its constant rolling hills and steep curves. It offers sweeping gorgeous views of the Hill Country, plenty of creeks and lakes and lots of wildflowers, not to mention the plentiful picturesque ranches and country homes you pass along the way.

March 20, 2012

Pedernales Falls State Park

Today we drove to Pedernales Falls State Park and hiked the 7.5 mile Wolf Mountain Trail. We ate our lunch at the falls themselves, which were pretty spectacular given the huge amount of rain we got last night. The locals said they had never seen the falls so full.

Hiking the Wolf Mountain Trail at Pedernales Falls State Park 

March 19, 2012

Exploring Texas Hill Country

We have had amazing weather here in the Hill Country and so have taken the chance to explore. Over the weekend we toured several of the local vineyards. We especially enjoyed the Bluegrass, BBQ and Blue Bonnets festival at the Becker Vineyards.

The tasting room at Becker Vineyards 

Check Out My New Mountain Bike!

As I mentioned before, we had been on a hunt to find me a new bike. While in Austin, I'd been perusing the Craigslist ads, and there were so many choices. I would say there were at least 200 new listings just under the For Sale, Bikes category every day! On the last day we were in Austin, I logged on Craigslist, set the search parameters, and immediately found a listing that had all the right qualities. We gave the guy a call, he met us 30 minutes later at the local HEB, I test drove the bike in the store parking lot, and 80 dollars later I owned a new bike! Here she is:

March 15, 2012

An Awesome Day in Fredericksburg

Today we biked to the local Lady Bird Johnson city park. We played some tennis, then Sky tried to teach me how to juggle (I'm not going to quit my day job just yet....OH WAIT!).

March 13, 2012

Fredericksburg, TX

We have spent the last few days in Fredericksburg. This is a super quaint town about 70 miles west of Austin. With a population of only 10k you would think it would be pretty boring, but if anything, it has turned out to be extremely inviting, relaxing and picturesque. There is a long Main St (about a mile long) that is filled with boutiques, cafes, restaurants, galleries, museums, ice cream parlors, and candy stores.

Main St.

March 11, 2012

Austin Goodwill Stores

My wife and I are thrifty and we like to peruse Goodwill stores, mainly when we are out travelling. In Austin we went to three different ones scattered throughout the city, and each was drastically different from the other.

The first, on the Southeast Side of town, was massive, poorly organized and an utter zoo inside. Instead of being organized on shelves, items were just thrown in bins, and organized in general categories like Clothing, Electronics, etc. People were picking up armfuls of items and slinging them into the adjacent bins.  I think as the items would cascade down, they scanned them to see if there was anything worth grabbing. Also, instead of charging a set price for an item of clothing or a book, everything was weighed and then you would be charged by the pound. For example, we bought a book, so we had to push our cart onto the scale,they subtracted the weight of the cart, and we were left with 1 pound of a book, so we paid the $1.69/lb price.

South by Southwest For Free!

We happened to roll into Austin the week before the beginning of South by Southwest and naturally decided to stay for a portion of it and see what events we could attend. Since we hadn't preordered tickets, we were going to have to pay the walk up price, ranging from $595 to $1,395 for the full shebang… this is for one person!  We weren't willing to spend anywhere near that amount, so set out to see what we could find for free.

There are quite a few events that are associated with SXSW that allow you to attend for free without a badge. In total we went to five events, four of which required an RSVP.

Out and About in Austin

We were very pleasantly surprised with Austin as a whole. I feel like we spent most of the days fruitfully exploring sites, and that there is still plenty of unexplored ground left. We had great access to the city by highway from the McKinney Falls state park, and contrary to what we’d heard, Austin’s road systems were not too congested and were pretty easy to get around on. 

March 08, 2012

Making New Friends

For the last year Skyler and I had been planning our trip, and in doing so, were doing a lot of research online. One of the blogs I had stumbled upon was Our Take on Freedom: Escaping the 9-5 Before We're 25. I’m one of those people that can’t start anything in the middle, so I found their very first entry, and read their blog from the begging to their most recent entry. Yair and Ayo, the writers of the blog, just recently turned 25, and have been traveling around the US in their RV for over a year. I found a lot of good tips in their blog, as well as a good dose of inspiration.  In December I had written them an email to let them know that A, I had been online stocking their blog for a while now, and B, that we would love to meet up with them. It turned out that they would be in Austin the same time we were, so we made plans to get together.

March 07, 2012

The Austin Yellow Bike Project

Today we got to partake in the Austin Yellow Bike Project. This is a non-profit organization with two locations in Austin.

The main Yellow Bike Project warehouse in Austin

March 06, 2012

McKinney Falls State Park, TX

After boondocking for three nights in the Evangelical Church we decided it was time to recharge in the country side, both mentally and resource wise. We chose McKinney Falls State Park because it is just minutes outside of Austin, pretty much the same distance as the church was. Here the rates are $16 a night for a site with electric and water, but you also have to pay $5 a person a day for day-use fees in the park, so it ended up being $26 a night for us. We were only going to stay a couple of nights, but because the park turned out to be so nice and so conveniently located to Austin, we’ve decided to stay through Friday morning.

March 05, 2012

Go Fly a Kite…in Austin!

After several laid back days at the Grasslands we hit the road once more. I’d had ample time to read about the state of Texas, and was very excited about getting to see what is known as the Hill Country (basically Austin and good portion west of Austin). This region is supposed to be pretty different from the rest of the state of Texas because of its green rolling hills and plentiful wildflowers (as opposed to the flat, mostly dry farm land). We were not disappointed when we drove in as immediately you could tell a difference. Everything did green up, and all of a sudden Fiona (our truck) was shifting into lower gears to get us up the slopes. Our first impression of Austin was that it reminded us of California, which if you know us, that’s a very big plus!

March 01, 2012

You Know You're an RV'er When...

You know you're an RV'er're casually walking along a peaceful neighborhood street, you see this view and spot a perfect dump spot opportunity:

See the clean-out drains? Yeah..


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