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24 Nov

Hamilton Pool Swimmin’ Hole, Texas

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 (continued):

The drive to Hamilton Pool Preserve from Austin takes 40-45 minutes
and is really outside of Bee Cave, not Dripping Springs. We hoped we
would be one of the 75 cars allowed into the preserve. After the 75 cars
are in, for each car that leaves, one car can enter. That is how they
manage the property so it isn’t overrun with people.

we arrived at the entry gate, there were five cars ahead of us and they
were moving. Good sign. The entrance fee is $10 per car.

made it in and found parking under a tree. (In case you haven’t heard
me say it before, shade is a plus – as is a swimmin’ hole – when the
temperature is forecast to be 99° F.)

We parked,
slathered on sunscreen, and headed down the quarter-mile trail to
Hamilton Pool. When we got there it was quite crowded on shore, but the
swimming hole is big enough to hold lots of people.

that we were mighty hot, especially after hiking in, we immediately got
in the water. Brr! This pool is a lot cooler than the swimmin’ hole at
McKinney Falls. After we got in, though, it was quite pleasant and
refreshing to hang out in. We liked that we could swim either in the
shade or, if we got too cool, we could move over a few feet and be in
the sun.

Hamilton Pool Preserve swimming hole.

After we cooled down and soaked our weary bones, we
hiked the trail through the natural grotto behind the swimming hole.
There is a trickle of a waterfall coming over the top, but not much.
People thought it was fun to sit where the water comes off the rock

Loving this place…reminds me of Oregon.
Natural grotto.
Where the “falls” come over.


Must be under the falls!
Another view of the beach and pool.
Ladder on trail around back of grotto.

Hamilton Pool trail.

The family we had met at McKinney Falls yesterday was
here today. Their boys were dying to show us the big catfish close to
shore. The boys threw little dried leaves in the water and the catfish,
thinking the leaves were food, would come to the surface. A couple of
those fish were over a foot long. No fishing allowed in the Preserve.

park ranger was on duty at the swimming hole to make sure no one breaks
the rules. There are a couple of life rings on ropes that can be used
to rescue people from the deep parts of the pool. We stayed about an
hour, and then headed back to our lovely campsite at McKinney Falls.

of us were exhausted from getting up early three days in a row, so we
napped away the afternoon. To prepare dinner, we made another campfire, ate roasted
hot dogs, coleslaw, left-over chicken breasts and cooked another veggie
skewer in a foil packet on the hot coals. For dessert, we wanted
S’mores but had run out of chocolate. Oh well, we’re mellow, we made
S’mores without the chocolate and they were good anyway.

had a wonderful time on our five-day getaway to McKinney Falls State
Park in Austin. It’s hard to believe all the things we crammed in, but
that’s why we chose this state park – it is very close to downtown
Austin so we could easily drive into town. The park is well maintained
and well patrolled by the park police and rangers.

Our only wildlife sighting was this morning; a skunk waddled through the dump station at the park.

Tomorrow, we head back to San Antonio.

Travel Bug out.

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24 Nov

Austin: Bouldin Creek and Bats

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weird, unique, quirky, unusual, maybe even kooky, definitely batty – that’s Austin for you. We had quite a day.

our 10K (6.2 mile) walk today it seemed something quirky or unusual was
around every corner. There will be a lot of photos and you can judge
for yourselves if you think Austin packs a lot of surprises.

Stay Suites on South 1st St at Barton Springs Rd. was our start point.
Within a few blocks, our route took us on Dawson Road where we had the
option of walking on the street or hiking through West Bouldin Creek
Greenbelt. We chose the Greenbelt.

On a SnoCone food truck.


The Greenbelt

After the Greenbelt we hooked up with Dawson Road again, then started winding through many neighborhoods.

Collector of classic cars.

On our itinerary were libraries, parks, schools,
history of local architecture, churches, food trucks, SoCo (South
Commerce) and tattoo studios (no we didn’t get a tattoo). There were
beautiful flowering trees and shrubs along the way too.



Bamboo, even.
Park with lots of fountains.
This park looked like so much fun – especially since it was in the 90s.

At greenpasturesrestaurant.com (Green Pastures Restaurant), peacocks have a home. There are also beautifully carved peacock sculptures. We even found babies.

White peacock (not sure if it’s albino, no pink eyes)

Look at those gorgeous feathers!!
Mama and babies.

Peacock sculptures.
Baby peacocks.
Isn’t he magnificent?
Green Pastures Restaurant
Mural at a mechanic’s shop.
Phoenix – tile work.
“Your Essential Magnificence” shrine by James Talbot

day was HOT and we were dragging. Nothing a good cupcake won’t cure.
Our next stop was Sugar Mama’s to have a cupcake in air-conditioned
comfort. I had a Pinup cupcake (vanilla with chocolate buttercream
frosting) and Bob had a mint chocolate chip bar (kind of like a
brownie). Delish! A good break from the heat and some quick energy too.

Special cupcake flavors today were mud pie and French toast.

Sugar Mama’s interior


Sugar Mama’s sign

Mural on the side of Sugar Mama’s Bakery.

The houses in the neighborhoods we walked ranged from cubist to modern to common.


This home looks Italianate.

area that really pepped us up was SoCo (short for South Commerce). We
would describe SoCo as bohemian, hip, trendy, and fun. If you go, look
for food trucks in addition to traditional restaurants.

SoCo (South Commerce in Austin, Texas)

Zebra disguised as Carmen Miranda.
Costume shop: Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds

How do you like the classic RV below?

Lots of murals around the SoCo and 1st Ave. area.


On south side of “Roadhouse Relics” building.

Roadhouse Relics specializes in making
authentic-looking relics. Even though everything in the store looks old,
it’s not. They sell well-made reproductions.

Mural on a tattoo studio.
Gingerbread cottage – looks like something from England.
Bouldin Castle.
Along someone’s driveway – hubcap row.

Very large yard art!
Passion fruit flower.

 At the end of our walk, we needed some ↓↓↓↓↓↓. The heat really saps your strength.

back to McKinney Falls State Park we saw this cool mural on a Chevron
station in town. It shows a number of reasons Austin is famous:  Stevie
Ray Vaughan, the State Capitol, the Colorado River, and bats coming out
from under the Congress Street Bridge.

When we returned to the 5er we had lunch, then Bob called a special
phone number to find out what time the bats were estimated to fly out.
The window of probable bat departure was 8:15 to 9:15 p.m. We rested
until it was time to head downtown.

Our evening
included viewing bats flying out from under the Congress Street Bridge.
Austin, Texas, has the nation’s largest urban bat colony living under
the bridge, estimated at 750,000 bats.

We parked at the
Austin American-Statesman parking lot on the southeast side of the
Congress Street Bridge at 8:00 p.m. and walked along Lady Bird Johnson
Lake until we ca

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24 Nov

McKinney Falls State Park Camping, Austin, TX

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Easy peasy two-hour drive was accomplished this morning from San
Antonio to Austin, Texas. When we reached McKinney Falls State Park at
11:45 a.m., a sign informed us the campground is sold out. Good thing I
made reservations four weeks ago!! We will be here for four nights.

site #27 was assigned to us, but the ranger told us if we didn’t like
it we could drive around and find a site we do like, then call to find
out if it’s available. Site 27 had no appeal for us whatsoever. We drove
around and found a pull-through site we liked, called the office and
were approved for the pull-through site, no extra charge. So nice here;
but hot and sunny. Here we are, all set up.

Our home for four nights!
Nice and spacious.
We have a fire ring and no fire restrictions!

Did I ever tell you all how much I love nature? Just a
few minutes ago, a deer ran by our 5th wheel and a squirrel is hanging
around outside our door.

After going to the
Visitor Center, walking to Upper and Lower McKinney Falls, and going
grocery shopping, we were in mellow vacation mode.

McKinney Falls State Park
Upper Falls Swimming Hole
Upper McKinney Falls swimming hole–dry falls.
Upper McKinney Falls swimmin’ hole cypress trees.
Visitor Center at the park.

At the Visitor Center, we saw man-made
chimney swift towers. Chimney swifts historical natural nests used to be
hollow old-growth trees. However, since most old-growth trees were
logged years ago, the swifts adapted to man-made structures. The towers
are for birds to roost and nest in.

Chimney swift tower.

We took the short walk to Lower McKinney Falls. Can anyone
identify the flowers? The first flower is
white with yellow center. The second is like a jack-in-the-pulpit.
There’s a pod with a very small purple “head” poking out.


Swimmin’ hole at Lower McKinney Falls.
We can’t wait to go swimming!


Interesting potholes in the rock.


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24 Nov

Government Canyon State Natural Area, San Antonio, TX

Through the Woods – Sunday, July 14, 2013


Our hike today with San Antonio Hill Country Hikers started on the
Government Canyon State Natural Area trail at precisely 7:45 a.m. One of
the attributes I like about this group is they start on time…no

We headed out into the frontcountry on
easy trails to warm up before heading uphill into backcountry. The first
part of the hike was on wide, flat trails. When we ventured into the
backcountry, the trails became narrower and a lot rockier. Thankfully,
most of the hike was in the woods. Woods = shade!

Hill Country Hikers at one of the park overlooks.
Trail distances. (Click photo to enlarge.)
Trail map. (Click photo to enlarge.)


Nice logo on the spur trail signs.
Well, not quite. Paul took us down to an overlook.
View from the overlook toward park headquarters.
Brief break.
Paul describing the lay of the land.
Our group with Paul, our leader.
Gone to seed.
Nice tree trunk arch frame.
 Straw flower.  


Horse crippler cacti.


Mountain lions inhabit area.
Saying our good-byes.

We hiked six miles this morning and learned a lot
about Government Canyon: There are at least 40 miles of hiking trails,
more acreage has been added to the park, and new hiking trails will be
constructed; wild pigs live in the park as do rabbits and mountain


There was talk of going out for pancakes after
the hike and I was game, but a solid plan didn’t materialize by the time
we left. Instead, we stopped at Taco Cabana and each had egg and potato
breakfast burritos with salsa from the Salsa Bar and a bottle of orange
juice. What a great protein replenisher after the hike.

Have a good week. Travel Bug out.




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21 Nov

Finding My Heritage at Historic Sites

The past few years, I have had the privilege of being able to visit a
variety of historic sites.  I also have been researching my family
history, using the resources available through Ancestry.com (which I
also use for other historical research).  Sometimes, the two interests
collide.  This blog will look at two particular historic sites where my
ancestors actively participated in American history–two historic sites
that in many ways shaped the outcome of the War for Independence.

The first, Washington Crossing Historical Park in Bucks County,
Pennsylvania, is the site where General George Washington planned the
invasion of Trenton, New Jersey, on Christmas evening in 1776.  The
Continental Congress had already moved west from Philadelphia in
anticipation of a potential British attack on the capital city. 
Washington’s army had fled New York and marched across New Jersey
following the defeat at the Battle of Long Island and set up winter camp
on the western side of the Delaware River in Bucks County,
Pennsylvania.  Enlistments were due to expire at the end of the year,
and Washington new that he needed a quick jolt to boost morale in the
Continental Army and encourage soldiers to reenlist for another year
(or, hopefully, for the duration of the conflict).

View of the Delaware River from Washington Crossing Historic Park, facing New Jersey.

Using Durham boats piloted by members of
Colonel John Glover’s Marblehead regiment from Massachusetts,
Washington’s troops were ferried across the icy Delaware to the New
Jersey shore, and then they marched several hours before attacking
Trenton after dawn.  Catching the Hessian troops by surprise,
Washington’s troops won the Battle of Trenton, continued to harass the
British troops in the region, and restored troop morale sufficiently
that kept the army fighting.

of Durham boats used in crossing. Troops sat on boat; horses and cannon
were transported on flat boats. Durham boats were primarily used to
ship iron from the Durham Iron Works to Philadelphia.

Each year, Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware is reenacted. 
Unlike when my ancestor Jacob Griesemer participated, today an icy river
prevents an accurate recreation of the crossing, and instead the troops
walk across the bridge to New Jersey.

connecting Washington’s Crossing to New Jersey. This bridge is
occasionally used during reenactments if the weather prevents crossing
the river in boats.

By the way, I can now say that I have walked from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.

The second historic site of the Revolution where one of my ancestors
fought was at Saratoga National Historical Park.  This time, however,
instead of serving with Washington (who was busy with the Battles of
Brandywine and Germantown at the time), my ancestor was on the other
side.  Kaspar Spahn (aka Casper Spohn) was a wagoner in the Princely
Hesse Hanau Artillery Regiment, and as such he worked with the caissons
in the Battles of Saratoga.  His regiment was stationed at the Breymann
Redoubt, unsuccessfully defending against the American assault and
ultimately surrendering to the Continental Army.  This location is also
significant because troops from Spohn’s regiment shot General Benedict
Arnold in the leg, and it was during his recuperation and military
governorship in Philadelphia in which he became acquainted with Major
John Andre through his wife Peggy Shippen, daughter of a Loyalist judge.

Boot Monument at Saratoga

side of boot monument. The monument honors the hero of Saratoga, whose
name is not mentioned on the monument. For some reason, they didn’t want
to mention Benedict Arnold.

The neatest part about visiting Saratoga, however, was finding out
from the Park Historian that the cannon and caisson in the Visitor
Center was from Spohn’s regiment and that in all likelihood he worked on
that cannon during the battle.

What I’d like to call Caspar’s cannon in the Visitor Center

After Burgoyne surrendered his army, Spohn was taken prisoner,
ultimately spending the remainder of the war at the Hessian Camp in
Reading, Pennsylvania, and remaining in the United States following the
war.  Several of the guards at Hessian camp were ancestors from another
family line.

To me–an historian of early American history–it has been quite
exciting to visit historic places where my ancestors walked, fought, and
camped during the American Revolution.  I might not be descended from
anyone famous (well, at least not famous because of their service during
the Revolutionary War), but it definitely was a memorable experience to
be where my ancestors had lived during this extraordinary time.

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08 Oct

Should You Consider A River Cruise?

My husband calls me a serial cruiser.  With eleven ocean cruises under my belt, three more planned within the next year, and at least 30 more on my bucket list ‚¬Â¦ I love to cruise!   Now that I’ve returned from my first river cruise, I have some clear thoughts on which of my ocean cruising clients would enjoy a river cruise, and which of my non-cruise clients would find a river cruise a wonderful vacation choice.   

Here are some things to consider:

Age:  Are you in an older demographic; or appreciate this well-traveled, experienced segment of the population?   If you answered yes to either, consider a river cruise!   With no youth activities onboard, and no staterooms that would accommodate a family, the average age of river cruisers is between 55 and 65 years old.  In my experience, my fellow travelers were friendly individuals who enjoyed participating in the onboard social activities, and were quick to share stories of their past trips.  All in all, an interesting group to spend days with.

Tour style: Do you enjoy touring with a group of passengers and a knowledgeable guide?  If you answered yes, consider a river cruise!    Organized tours are a part of the package.   There is also free time built into the schedule.   Our tour guides were very knowledgeable, which added much value to the overall experience.   When visiting churches, monuments, historical sights or event for a quick city overview, there is truly no comparison between having a guide and going it alone.

Getting from here to there: Do you enjoy traveling to new cities without packing/unpacking and changing hotels?  If you answered yes, consider a river cruise!  Not only does traveling along the rivers save you the time and hassle of moving to a new location, there is always something to see along the way as you pass small towns, other river-going vessels and beautiful scenic landscapes.  

Motion: Do you avoid ocean cruising because you are concerned about the motion of the water?  If you answered yes, consider a river cruise!   With no waves, no large swells, and land close by on both sides, there is no need to be concerned about the water’s motion.   I speak as someone whose motion sickness is easily set in motion (pun intended).

Organization/Logistics: Do you like your travel days to be very organized?  If you answered yes, consider a river cruise!    The river cruise staff has everything figured out to a T.  Both embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze, and daily schedules are set in place to the wire (when we arrived onboard literally two minutes past due, we found they had already made an announcement to locate us – and I believe a search party was just about to set out).  Even the passengers onboard took their responsibility seriously ‚¬Â¦. everyone was punctual, tours set off on time, and no stragglers.

Yes, river cruising is one of the hottest new trends in travel; and yes, river cruising is a fabulous experience for many; however it is not right for everyone!  

Perhaps Not:  Do you prefer dining with only your own travel companions?  Do you prefer complete travel independence?   Do you enjoy only private tours?  Do you value a daily schedule that allows the greatest amount of personal freedom?  Do you enjoy a city-center hotel experience throughout your vacation?   Do you dislike riding on a large motor coach, if even only for a short while?  If you answered yes to most of these questions, or if any one is a deal-breaker, than a river cruise should not be a consideration for you.   

Personally, I enjoyed the mix of having pre/post-cruise independent stays along with our river cruise experience.  Will I cruise by river again?  Definitely!   With so many great rivers and regions to sail, choosing which river to cruise next will be a fun decision!  


Check out my website for a detailed account of my recent Danube River Cruise at www.luxetraveldesign.com/blog


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19 Jul

Books, Boats, and Busts

Six states.  Fifteen historic sites and museums. 
Two interactive factory tours.  One visit with family.  All were part of
a wild first two weeks of July.

My brother and sister-in-law visited earlier this
month, my brother for the first week and my sister-in-law for both weeks
(the last week was part of a requested “history tour” where we visited
most of those fifteen sites and museums).  They arrived on Saturday,
June 29 and spent a few days visiting with members of my father’s family
who live in the Harrisburg area before trekking north to Mansfield. 
Their first stop on Tuesday was at the Peter J. McGovern Little League
Museum in South Williamsport, PA, which has been remodeled since I
visited it last August during the Peanuts exhibit.  That afternoon, we
traveled to Leonard Harrison State Park, home of the Pennsylvania Grand
Canyon (it’s smaller and a lot greener right now than the one in
Arizona).  On Wednesday, we went to the National Baseball Hall of Fame
and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, exploring baseball history (it,
too, has changed since my last visit in June 2000—also during a Peanuts

The reason why I wore #8 when playing softball.

The reason why I wore #8 when playing softball.

The travels from Mansfield commenced on July 4,
which was spent at Knoebels Amusement Resort, home to the best amusement
park food in the world.  That day, Knoebels celebrated the 100th
“birthday” of the Grand Carousel with free carousel rides (which they
enjoyed, and she grabbed several brass rings).  We missed the parade
(which passed on the other side of the park), they rode the roller
coasters (enjoyed Phoenix more than Twister), and visited the three
museums in the park (Carousel Museum, Miners Museum, and Knoebels
History Museum).  We also saw live bald eagles at the park.

Two bald eagles behind the fence

Two bald eagles behind the fence

On Friday, we visited the Julius Sturgis original
factory in Lititz, learning how to make pretzels the old-fashioned
way…by hand.  The plan was to go to Dorney Park, but another 95 degree
day changed those plans.

My attempt to make a pretzel by hand

My attempt to make a pretzel by hand

Saturday was the “visit family” day, as we visited
with my uncle Wayne’s family (our World War II sailor boy), including my
cousin Terry (who is Wayne’s primary caregiver), cousin Scott, and
Terry’s family.  Sunday we rode the Strasburg Railroad and explored the
Turkey Hill Experience (highly recommended for children—and you get free
ice cream and iced tea/lemonade) before heading to Baltimore, where my
brother would fly back to Houston.

Corn maze along route of Strasburg Railroad...the train to Paradise.

Corn maze along route of Strasburg Railroad…the train to Paradise.

The “history tour” began in earnest on Monday
morning with a stop at Mount Vernon on the way to Williamsburg.  I had
previously visited Mount Vernon (back in June 1975 on the way back from a
family trip to Pennsylvania), but the interpretive focus had changed
considerably since then.  The house was pretty much unchanged (here is
where Washington died, here is the piano Sally played, etc.), but the
outbuildings had a much stronger interpretive focus.  Exhibits now
acknowledge the existence of slavery on the plantation.  In the
education center, Washington comes to life through interactive exhibits
(oooh, look at the brightly colored and lighted map that shows how the
French & Indian War was the first truly global war).

Battles of the French & Indian War light up on the map

Battles of the French & Indian War light up on the map

Not only wouldn't they let metake pictures inside Mount Vernon, but I also couldn't take a photo of Washington's false teeth.  Bummer.

only wouldn’t they let me take pictures inside Mount Vernon, but I also
couldn’t take a photo of Washington’s false teeth. Bummer.

The next two days were spent at Colonial
Williamsburg, which I had visited last summer.  This time, I was able to
go on the house tours this time, as my physically limited mother either
stayed at the hotel (first day) or people-watched at the visitor center
(second day).  The inside tours were quite interesting, as the costumed
interpreters and guides provided a semi-first person account of the
family who lived there during the 18th century or allowed the
visitors to participate in activities (the first day, my sister-in-law
and I were part of the action in a civil court, and the second day we
helped “storm the palace” in response to Royal Governor Lord Dunmore
removing gunpowder from the magazine to ships along James River).

Drummer summoning the mob to get ready to storm the Governor's Palace.  First time I've been a part of an aborted rebellion.

Drummer summoning the mob to get ready to storm the Governor’s Palace. First time I’ve been a part of an aborted rebellion.

Following Colonial Williamsburg, we journeyed to
Historic Jamestowne, part of Colonial National Historical Park.  It had
changed since I visited last year; they were now doing archaeological
excavations outside the church (and the church where the House of
Burgesses first met in 1619 was closed for restoration).  This time, I
ventured to the Archaearium, which has exhibits on some of the
discoveries made, including the original foundation of the State House
and Jane, who became a meal during the starving time after her demise.

Horse uncovered during excavation outside church.  Probably a casualty during Starving Time.

Horse uncovered during excavation outside church. Probably a casualty during Starving Time.

The next stop on the history tour was Monticello,
Thomas Jefferson’s home.  Photos were not permitted on the first floor,
so I can’t show you how Jefferson fit his bed into an alcove in order to
save space (nor Jefferson’s polygraph, an 18th century Xerox
machine).  The tour guide was definitely old school, as he asserted
that Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings were mere speculation,
yet the basement/cellar area of the home included some interesting
exhibits on slave life on Jefferson’s plantation.

Jefferson was a smart man, but fortunately he miscalculated for his 7 day clock--otherwise, I would not have been able to take a picture.

was a smart man, but fortunately he miscalculated for his 7 day
clock–otherwise, I would not have been able to take a picture.

Back in Pennsylvania, we spent a rainy day at
Gettysburg National Military Park and Eisenhower National Historic
Site.  It definitely is worth the price to take the shuttle bus to the
Eisenhower Farm, the only home owned by the 34th President of
the United States.  From the outside, it looks like a typical
farmhouse, but the interior definitely represents the life of someone
who held great influence on world events.  Without a doubt, it’s also
the only farm in Adams County that includes its own putting green.

The presidential putting green

The presidential putting green

Back at Gettysburg, the visitor center is celebrating the 150th
anniversary of the battle with a new exhibit (“Treasures of the Civil
War”) that focuses on the leaders of both Union (Army of the Potomac)
and Confederate (Army of Northern Virginia) forces.  Because of the
weather, we didn’t do the entire auto tour, but we did locate the Texas
monument at the battlefield (which is considerably smaller than the
Pennsylvania monument).

Texas Monument.  Ca. 7 feet tall.

Texas Monument. Ca. 7 feet tall.

Me at the Pennsylvania Monument (I'm 5'8").

Me at the Pennsylvania Monument (I’m 5’8″).

The final day of my sister-in-law’s history tour
took us to two places I have visited several times:  Daniel Boone
Homestead (where I worked as a “Government Service Intern” during the
summer of 1986, long before that title took on other connotations during
the Clinton administration) and Valley Forge National Historical Park. 
At Daniel Boone Homestead, we arrived early enough to get a personal
tour conducted by one of my students who is working there as an intern
this summer, and they even opened up one of the buildings for me to take

Nothing like going down a staircase sideways because the steps are narrow and winding.

Nothing like going down a staircase sideways because the steps are narrow and winding.

By the time we got to Valley Forge, it was
extremely hot, so my sister-in-law opted to watch the orientation video
(which apparently has not changed since when I saw it in 1978, based on
her description of it), then we took the auto tour of the park.  After
all, it is hard to envision Washington’s army suffering in the cold and
damp weather when it’s 98 degrees outside.

So, back to the title of this blog.  Books—bought
lots of them, including a New Testament that has parallel text in
Pennsylvania German and English at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical
Society.  Boats—one of the purchases made at the gift shop at Monticello
was a cloth version of Lewis and Clark’s boat from their expedition
(including a dog and Sacajawea).  Busts—my office will soon include a
lovely bust of Benjamin Franklin, which was purchased at Valley Forge. 
I’d move him there now, but I’m afraid he would start sweating in the
90+ degree temperatures there (the heat has already led to bobble head
of one of the Founding Fathers becoming unglued from the base).  And the
cell phone that bounced its way across Main Street in Mansfield on July
4 and was rescued by a good Samaritan (who then called my home to alert
me of its location) is still working.  The case is a bit scuffed, but I
don’t need an Otter box to protect my Windows phone.

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04 Jul

Eisenhower Park Fitness Hike

Okay, I did it again. We went on a fitness hike. After the first one,
I wasn’t going to do the fitness hikes, they’re just too darned fast
for me. But when I read the description of tonight’s hike, the “fitness”
part didn’t jump out at me. They walk 3.5 to 4 mph up and down rocky
trails. {{{pant, pant, pant}}} Thank you, Anthony, for hanging out with
us in the back so we didn’t get lost.

I opted to do one
loop of three miles. When we got to the intersection where the decision
was made to do another loop, I bailed out to walk 0.7 mi. back to the

Bob came separately from work in his truck and he opted to do the second loop. So midway through the walk, we parted ways.

Uphill climb


The tower.

Below is a highly zoomed photo of Six Flags Fiesta Texas. If you enlarge it,you can see some of the roller coasters in the park.

Six Flags Fiesta, San Antonio, Texas


Part of our hiking group.


Our hike leader, Paul.


Bob heading downhill.
And there he goes.
A paved trail here.

Shortly after the above photo, I opted to head back
to the car, 0.7 mi away. On the way back to the car, I moseyed,
lollygagged, photographed, admired the scenery and chilled (as much as
one can chill
when it’s 80 degrees and muggy).

The paved trail.
Rain lily.
Blackfoot or rock daisy (Melampodium leucanthum)


Trail scenery.
Juniper berries. Lots of juniper trees in this park.
A very large juniper.
Recent rain.
Greater tickseed (Coreopsis major)
Close up of the flower stalk from the yucca below.


A nice fence to keep people from going on a trail.
This park is in the flight path for the San Antonio airport.
Texas plume (Ipomopsis rubra)

When I returned to the meetup area everyone was
already back! Was I THAT slow? No, the rest of the group bailed on doing
the second loop. They all wanted to go to Freetail Pizza for pizza and

We followed someone who knew where they were
going and found the place. For dinner, we ordered the “Date Night
Special,”  a pitcher of beer and a small, one-topping pizza. It was fun
talking to Kevin, Nicki and Don for an hour.

What a great way to spend the evening. Thanks to everyone for coming out.

Travel Bug out.


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04 Jul

Brook Hollow, San Antonio, Texas

Today I tackled Brook Hollow neighborhood Volksmarch on my own. My
Centurion Challenge is getting behind so I need to do more Volksmarches.
A good benchmark is 50 walks completed by the end of June. Currently, I
have finished 35.

The Brook Hollow walk is very close
to where Bob works. The start point is La Taza Coffee House on San Pedro
Ave. Most of the walk is in established neighborhoods with old oak
trees. The temperature was 84 degrees with 70% humidity and a nice
breeze. Even though I developed a moist sheen on my face, neck and arms,
the breeze dried me off. There were sprinkles for five minutes, but
nothing to speak about.

Here are photos from today’s Volksmarch:

Magnificent magnolias in bloom.
Tall mountain larkspur (Delphinium scaposum)
Nicely shaded streets.
Stately old oaks. You can see the humidity in the air.


Almost missed this doe. She was hiding behind bushes and lawn furniture.
Mimosa tree.
Clematis “Integrifolia” feathery seed head.
Long, quiet neighborhood streets.
Red bird of paradise, also called pride-of-Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)


What kind of cactus?
Oleander and cactus.
Oleander flowers.
Leftover rubble on the sidewalks from the downpours.
Texans love their BBQs!! Look at this set up.
Why it’s called a white-tailed deer – tail goes up in alarm when disturbed.

The 10K (6.2 mile) walk took 1 hour and 50 minutes. Very pleasant area to walk in. I felt safe.

Ciao for now. Travel Bug out.



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04 Jul

Museum Reach of San Antonio’s Riverwalk

At 7:00 p.m., San Antonio Hill Country Hikers started their walk near
La Gloria Restaurant behind the Pearl Brewery. Goal: a four-mile round
trip walk to the Houston Street Bridge and back. Twenty-five people
walked the walk and talked the talk, some of it trash talk.

greeting committee consisting of our group leaders welcomes everyone
and explains the walk. A group photo is taken at the beginning, then the
fast walkers set their pace, and everyone else settles into their own
rhythm. Also at the start point, hanging out in the water were mallards,
a coot, and a yellow-crowned night heron.

Paul photographing the group at the start.
Placid aquascaping.
Yellow-crowned night heron.
Many blooming flowers along the Riverwalk.

The Museum Reach of the Riverwalk is north of
downtown and passes by the San Antonio Museum of Art. Along the Museum
Reach are works of art along the bridge overcrossings, under the bridges
and along the path.

Hands across the water (bridge overcrossing art)
Faux bois (false wood – concrete) arbor

Many tile murals line the Riverwalk. Here are a few…


Tile work to beautify an outlet cover.
Tile work depicting the San Antonio River.
Downtown, Tower of the Americas and river in the foreground.
Houston St. Bridge artwork of Mission Concepcion.
Fish art hanging under an interstate bridge; crepe myrtle blossom in foreground.
The Grotto – cement art complete with skull and waterfall.

The Museum Reach is beautiful with many trees and
flowers currently in bloom. Jasmine wafted in the air through sections,
honeysuckle scent in other sections. The hibiscus are in bloom and have
the most vibrant colors – red, orange, yellow, pink. The dramatic
trumpet flower has blooms that measure 10″-12″.

Trumpet flower.

For Bob and I, these walks give us time to connect
and talk about what’s going on in our lives and what we plan to do in
the future; all while enjoying the fresh air and beautiful surroundings.
The temperature was in the high 80s this evening and VERY humid!


Museum Reach of Riverwalk
Another yellow-crowned night heron.
Places to go from the Riverwalk. Well marked path!

When the walk was over, a number of people from the
group were going to The Cove for dinner and invited everyone to go. We
had never been and decided to check it out. What a good place. One thing
Bob and I have noticed about San Antonians is they like to sit outside
under a tree, patio, or the evening sky to eat. The Cove has a large
outdoor seating area with a small, air-conditioned inside area (the
bar). Bob and I both had “Lisa’s Special” which is two tilapia soft
tacos made with cabbage and poblano sauce, along with a spinach salad
for $9. That was the perfect ending to our four-mile walk.

returned home at 9:30 p.m. Thank you to the Hill Country Hikers. You
have a knack for making people feel welcome and a part of the group from
the first outing.

Travel Bug out.

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