Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico

After our beautiful drive into the mountains around Taos ski area, we stayed in Taos town center.  The Town Plaza is cute, and of course there are lots of shops and restaurants.  If you like American Indian Art, a little Spanish art thrown in, and once in a while some Cowboy are, you’ll fall in love with shopping.  There is a lot of sterling silver earrings and necklaces.  But always remember just because it looks good out there, it might not fit in so well when you get home.  I find that I like the jewelry look so did indulge myself with a few pieces this trip.

While in Taos, do not miss the Taos Pueblo.  It is historically significant, something like you have never seen before, and just plain interesting.  You are on an Indian Pueblo where people are living their daily lives, so there are many restrictions, so be aware of what is OK and what is not, and photography is certainly not allowed.  Once you see the Pueblo, you will recognize it many paintings you see while shopping, it is a popular scene to paint.  The history is quite amazing.

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Around Taos and South to Albuquerque there are approximately 19 Pueblos, and you can visit each one.  Each Pueblo offers its own uniqueness, from as little as a visitor center selling their wares, to casinos and beautiful golf courses.  definitely should put on your list and visit a few.

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There are many missions along the way, and each with its own significance.  Most are off the main routes, so when you visit the missions, you’re also getting a scenic drive a long the way.  Also, just west of Taos is a really cool bridge that goes over a gorge, definitely worth the 8 mile drive out-of-town. 

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Arriving in Santa Fe, you realize it is a much bigger city.  There is the new section of town where the Shopping Mall and all the chain restaurants are at, but where you want to be is in the city center, the historic Santa Fe Town Plaza.  The old town area is about 3 times bigger than Taos.  The shops are not only on the Plaza, but down many side streets.  There are some nice local museums including some art museums you don’t want to miss.  There are some beautiful Churches and Missions around the Plaza, and the oldest house in the Country is located right off the Plaza.  A short drive away is Canyon Road and its about a mile long of Art Galleries.  There are all kinds of art, not just Indian or Cowboy art, but everything.  You could spend a day just walking up and down Canyon Road.  If you’re looking for a new painting, or a piece of art, you need to put this on your list before you buy.  But remember to bring your checkbook, this is not for the faint of heart.

I could consider Santa Fe a great place for a women’s weekend.  If shopping is your thing and you want everything contained in one area, what a great weekend get-away.  But if you’re looking for a special something that you and your husband want, then this is  a great couples escape also.  I didn’t see a lot of things that would keep children interested.  The weather was warm in July, but the mornings and evenings refreshing.  There was some rain, but nothing that ruined our days.

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These were just some of the sights along the way.  We drove along the Rio Grande River and saw tubers, looked like that would be fun.  After Santa Fe, we drove on to Albuquerque, another nice destination in our travels.  Until next time, happy travels to whatever destination you choose…….

 

Taos Ski Area, New Mexico

As mentioned in my last blog we recently traveled to New Mexico to find some cooler weather                                                          New Mexico 2013 047

and relief from another Texas hot summer.  Out day time temperatures in central Texas was just starting to hang around 100 to 105 degrees.  I know there are some people who don’t think this his hot and go about life like any other time of year.  For us, this is nothing but Hot!  So off to New Mexico we went.  We heard that Ruidoso, New Mexico was very popular with people from our area as this is the closest drive where you can get cooler weather.  Although we were going to stop and see Ruidoso, we drove a little farther and headed off to the Taos area.

What can I say, if you like Mountains, tall pine trees, high elevations, Mountain streams, brisk weather and a lovely breeze, than Taos is a good mix.  We stopped at Taos Ski lodge just to see what was there.  It was a little over 8000 feet and we were both feeling the shortness of breath.  The ski lift was open which would have taken us up to a little over 10,000 feet.  It was a standard open chair lift, we heard the vistas were beautiful, but we felt with us already having issues adapting to the height we thought it best not to go up.  Since we have left, I do regret not taking the time.

When you’re at Taos ski area, what you see is a very small portion of the ski terrain, so you think there’s not much there, but in reality it’s very deceiving.  In addition we saw horseback riding, I’m sure that would have been fun also.  You can stay in the area and enjoy some mountain biking also.  The ski area is about a 20 minute mountain drive back to the town of Taos.  So you need to know what you want for your vacation, seclusion and the mountain experience, or the town with shops, and restaurants.   The distance is not bad, so no matter where you choose to stay I’m sure you will enjoy the area.  I have attached some photos of both the ski area.  Next post will be to the town of Taos.

Enjoy the drive, it’s a fun road to travel……..

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New Mexico Bound

If anyone has ever lived in central Texas, just visited or vacationed here in the summer, you know Texas summers are Hot, I would say sizzling!  I thought we would make it through the summer but by early July I knew we had to get to some cooler weather.  So after doing some research and talking to folks we decided we would head to New Mexico.  I’ll cover our trip over the next few posts, and include lots of photos, but I do want to say now before I go any further, it was a wonderful trip.  The weather was wonderful (meaning cool) and we saw some beautiful sights.  Both of us had never been to this part of New Mexico before so it was fun and exciting to share in the experience.

Our trip consisted of seeing Taos, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Albuquerque and Ruidoso.  You probably see one thing in common here if you have been to New Mexico – Mountains!  We love mountain vistas.  Not only are they beautiful, but usually mountains means cooler weather.  So to start off the trip here are a few photos of our trip.

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Our outbound trip, that dark sky would intimidate anyone!

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Our Drive to Taos from Las Vegas, NM

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Historic Taos Plaza

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Gorge outside Santa Fe, NM

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Awesome Bridge over Gorge.

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Rafting down the Rio Grande River

Those are some of the photos, more to come.  Each area and city had something special to offer.  If you haven’t considered a trip to New Mexico, it’s worth putting on your list of “to do’s”.  Until next time, happy travels……..

A Great Family Day in Small Town Texas

Last weekend we had a really great day. We attended the Bluebonnet Festival in Burnett, TX.
As I have stated in previous posts there are many great small Texas towns that have some really nice festivals during the year, and Spring in Texas is the perfect time to attend these.
The weather is usually great this time of year and although the activities certainly can’t compare to a large city like Dallas or Houston, for small towns they put on a really good show.

We went to the Bluebonnet Airsho on Saturday and it was a really good afternoon. The stunt planes were very good, they had a B17 on display, they did a small reenactment, and some good displays of flying. There were no Blue Angels and no fancy military jets, but just good old fashion fun. We brought our chairs and for 3 hours we were entertained. The activity was continuous and it kept you interested.

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Once we finished the air show we drove about a mile down the road back to the historic square for a great arts and crafts fair, food and 2 stages for entertainment. It was our frist time to this festival and I would reccomend anyone who is looking for something to do mid-April next year, make sure you watch for this festival and plan on attending. They had a nice carnival section for the kids. Again, keep in mind this is a small town, but I would give this festival a solid 9 on the rating scale measuring this against other towns simliar in size. I hope if you plan to attend next year, sure hope you have a fun day.  Hope one of the roads you travel down takes you this direction…….

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San Antonio and the Alamo Go Together

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A trip to San Antonio must include a stop at the Alamo and the Riverwalk.  These are both downtown and there is access to the Riverwalk right across the street from the Alamo.  While on the Riverwalk there is plenty of places to stop to eat and drink, and you should plan a trip on the Rio River Cruise also.  It’s about a 1/2 boat ride that you see the sights of the Riverwalk and also hear some history on some of the buildings along the way.  You can certainly walk around the same way you take the boat ride, but unless you have a lot of time the river cruise is probably the best way to see it, plus much easier on the feet.

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The Riverwalk has been expanded many miles over the last few years and although downtown San Antonio is the heart of the Riverwalk with all the shops and restaurants, there is also the Museum Reach and the Mission Reach portions of the walk that are well worth a visit.  There are many things to do in San Antonio,  the two mentioned here are only an introduction.  It’s a great place to visit, hopefully your next travels will take you this direction.  Happy Trails……………….

A Day’s Adventure

Back on the Texas road of adventures. If you have enough money and lucky enough to have the time and someone to travel with, seeing the U.S. or the World is exciting. But not everyone can take multiple weeks off to travel half way around the world. Many more only have the opportunity to visit sights that are closer to home. For those who enjoy a weekend get-away or are looking to put a vacation together another fun day to add to your trip if visiting central Texas is a visit to Fredericksburg, TX. You certainly can stay in town and visit these sights from there, but we made a day trip from our home and we stopped and visited many places en route to Fredericksburg. There is much to do and a variety for everyone.

Rt 290 is where the wine trail starts. If you like wine and want a relaxing day, you can spend the entire day traveling from one winery to the next. Every time we travel from Johnson City to Fredericksburg it seems a new wine tasting room is opening up. Even if you don’t drink much wine you should stop at least at one or two just to try some Texas wines. We happened to be visiting the area the 3rd weekend of the month so we went to Fredericksburg Trade Days. This is one of the biggest “market” days in the area. Most towns in this area have a certain weekend day of the month that they have a market days and usually it is on Saturday. But Fredericksburg calls their event “Trade Days” and it is for 3 days – Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It costs a few dollars to park but the entrance to the Trade Days is free. There is all kinds of stuff there. Probably not that much fun for kids but the Mom’s and probably even some Dads will really like this.

Another stop along the way is Wildseed Farms. In the Spring you can’t miss it. The fields are full of all types of wildflowers and the color is spectacular. They have a nursery where they sell plants, a cute store that sells knick knacks and on some days they have music in the afternoon. A nice rest stop along the way. There is also a place that sells pottery, so if traveling by car and you have room, definitely worth a stop. There is also LBJ’s ranch along the route, stop by and visit, always good to get a refresher history lesson.

 

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Along the way we stopped at a store, that I haven’t seen before. It was so cool! They had all kinds of wagons for sale – like the wagons from the  old Western movies. It was an interesting store to walk around and look at some of the unique items they have. Here are some photos of those wagons.  This Longhorn was eye level, very big!

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When you finally reach Fredericksburg there is a very good museum “Pacific War Museum” that is if you have a family member that is a history buff, this museum should not be missed. You can spend a 1/2 day in this museum.  I see many a family split up, the men go the museum and the ladies go shopping. And that is what Fredericksburg is also about – shopping! They have blocks and blocks of shops. You could spend a day just visiting all the shops and hope that your wallet won’t be empty at the end of it.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, there are other things to do in the area, and many festivals during the year, depending on when your visit is scheduled. There are good restaurants so you can have dinner before you head home. If you haven’t been this direction for awhile, or looking for something new, I think you would enjoy the day, and also not having to deal with city traffic. If this is a road you decide to go down, have a great time on your travels…….

Visiting the Rodeo in Austin

 

We have been busy with visitors the last few weeks and have been on the go.  I have many photos and fun things to do if you have a chance to visit Austin, TX.  Austin is a great weekend destination, a stop during your vacation or a destination onto itself.  This will take a few blogs but each day I’ll try to update you on one of the activities.  Today’s photos are from the Austin Rodeo.

The rodeo is not a year round activity but approximately the middle two weeks of March.  If you plan on being in this area during the month of March, then I would certainly consider looking this up and plan on having a fun evening.  My best description of Austin’s rodeo is that it’s in a good location, out of city traffic, and the grounds themselves is like the size of a County Fair.  They have a stage outside for musical entertainment, about every 2 hours there was a new act.  Plenty of “Fair” food, and some shows periodically thru the day.  Of course there was the amusement park rides, but we passed on that section.  They had pig races, a “roper” who was very good, a western shootout, and a dog show in the afternoon.  The day we went to the Rodeo, the Rodeo started at 7PM.

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It had all the standard Rodeo things – roping, barrel racing, bronc riding and bull riding.  We went on a Monday evening so the stadium was only about half full, but it was still fun and enjoyable.  I forgot to mention they also have animal judging, cows, pigs, etc… just like at County and State Fairs.  So here are some photos.  I will mention that some might be a little fuzzy as these are the “action” shots.  If you haven’t been to a Rodeo, I think it’s a good American past time and you should try it at least once – have fun!

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I think all ages would enjoy this activity.  It’s not an all day activity, but if you can arrive a few hours before the rodeo starts you can take in the shows, possibly see some judging, have a fun dinner, then attend the rodeo.  Also, after each rodeo event there is Live music to enjoy.  So when next March rolls around and you’re going to be here, take a look at their website, and book your tickets.  Hope you enjoy.

 

Packing, Patio Party and WURSTFEST – Does it get any better!

It’s been a few days since posted anything new, because how exciting can packing be?  I have been a busy bee this week packing up the house and getting ready for our move, which is now fast approaching.  But after working on it most of the week, I’m happy to say that I’m actually much farther than I expected.  We took yesterday and today off for fun things we had planned, but we’re back on track to packing again tomorrow.  Every move prior to this one, I have worked right up to the moving day, so it was very tiring.  Worked all week, and every evening and the weekends I would spend packing, and after a few weeks of that you get really tired.  This is the first time I am not working and it’s really not so bad.  I’m probably in the minority when I say I really like packing.  It’s like putting a puzzle together.  You pack this and that, then you have a certain size spot in the box that you need to find something to fit, so you walk thru the house and then you see it and it fits just perfect and fills out the box perfectly.  So each box is like a mini-challenge and you feel such an accomplishment with each one you tape up.

Now onto the fun things, really how much can you talk about packing.  Yesterday we drove to our new community in Georgetown to attend our first neighborhood party, although not moved in yet.  We were introduced to most of the people in our neighborhood, and I’m lucky if I remember 5 names.  Certainly have no idea who belongs to who as the wifes were not sitting next to their husbands so that one is going to take some time to figure out.  I have to say that I can pretty well hold my own when meeting new people, and joining in discussions but it was a little overwhelming.  The best example I can give you is like you’re walking into the middle of a movie where all the characters know what’s going on and you don’t.  So we have a lot of catching up but from our first meeting with our new neighbors they seem very friendly and open and I’m sure in no time we won’t be the new kids on the block, but feel like we have been there for years, I’m looking forward to it.  So we attended the afternoon patio party and unloaded an SUV load of stuff in our future garage, so we accomplished a moving task while having a very pleasant afternoon.

Then there’s today – it’s WURSTFEST time!  Only in New Braunfels, TX is it WURSTFEST time.  Every time about this year Wurstfest is held, it is a 10 day music, eating and beer drinking event.  It’s a place you can go with your family, spouse, old or young, if you like polka music you’re going to love Wurstfest.  The weather this time of year is fantastic, there’s plenty of sausage and sauerkraut, and an unlimited amount of both domestic and import beers.  They have bands from all over the Country and World that come to this event.  Some bands come from Germany and I can almost guarantee that every band will have at least one accordion player.  I thought accordions were dead, went by the way side in the 1960’s, but not here in New Braunfels, they are here to stay.

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Wurstfest has been going on for a very long time, from about the 1960’s, not sure of the exact history, so as always, the Internet will answer that question.  We went this afternoon because after 4 years of attending this festival we do have a favorite entertainer the Alex Meixner Band.  I have to say, in my opinion, he is the best entertainer of the event.  This year he had a special guest, the Canadian National accordion Champ, he was amazing!  Now I’m not an accordion aficionado, but it is an amazing instrument and fun to listen to.  Every year we get our annual dose of the Chicken Dance and the Beer Barrel Polka, two traditions that I enjoy maintaining.    Some of the entertainment are local to New Braunfels and are very good also.

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Alex Meixner Band with Canadian Champion

Typically this festival is held near November 1st each year and the start date only changes by a day or two.  The event runs over 2 weekends, and although they are open during the week, it is only open in the evenings starting at 5PM on weekdays, of course the weekends are the biggest days and evenings and based on the crowds we saw today, it was amazing.  I have never seen it this crowded in the 4 years we have gone.  If you like to hear some good German music, enjoy good food, drink some good cold beer, and enjoy the beautiful Texas Fall weather, then you need to make New Braunfels your destination for a long weekend or a stop over on your vacation in this area, I don’t think you will be disappointed.   As I have stated before you don’t always have to travel far to have a good time, make some great memories and enjoy something different and new.    If coming to attend Wurstfest make sure you have time to stop and see Gruene, and enjoy some good music and there is also historic downtown New Braunfels that is worth the stroll.  It would certainly be a weekend that you will get plenty of good food and some great music, there is not a shortage of either one in this area.  This is a road well worth traveling down….. enjoy!

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Halloween brings out all kinds of Soul Searching

The town we reside in is New Braunfels, TX.  It’s a wonderful small town that is north of San Antonio.  I’m sure years ago there was open land for farming and grazing, but since we have lived here it’s built from San Antonio all they way up the I35 corridor, and basically now all the way to Austin.  If you can’t find it along I-35, it’s probably not here.  I don’t think they can cram another business or sign along the frontage road, in Texas these frontage roads along the Interstates are prime real estate.  This is the New Braunfels that most people will see as they speed along I-35 going somewhere.  But this is not the New Braunfels that we saw and certainly was not the reason for picking this cute town to move to.

It’s in a great location. We’re less than an hour to get to downtown San Antonio, and just over an hour to get to downtown Austin.  If you ever wanted to see 2 different cities so close together, then you need to come to San Antonio and Austin.  The differences are truly amazing.  In addition to the great business corridor to live along for businesses and jobs, New Braunfels is on the eastern edge of infamous Texas “Hill Country”.  You ask, what is the Hill Country?  When most people have only seen Houston or Dallas while visiting or passing thru Texas, you really haven’t seen Texas until you have come to the Hill County, it is the prettiest area of all Texas.  Of course that is my opinion, and I’m sure others feel the Piney Woods, or prairies and Lakes area is the nicest, but that’s OK  because that’s why everyone lives where they do, we each think our area is the nicest.

I’ll leave the Hill County to another time, but for right now let’s get back to New Braunfels.  The area was settled by Germans in the mid-1800’s and I’ll leave the historical data for you to research on the Internet, but although San Antonio is majority Hispanic, New Braunfels is still trying to hold onto its German roots.  One of the events they have is Wurstfest, which by the way, is starting on Friday, 11/2 and I will blog about our day at Wurstfest next week, but this event is a very German event and is basically a 10 day festival saluting sausage and all the German music, and yodeling you can listen to.  As you go west out of New Braunfels, there are ranches  and many homes with acreage, with rolling hills and grazing Longhorns.  In the Spring you have all the Wild flowers  and it’s very lush and green, providing there is no drought, which seems to be occurring more often.  The historic old section of the town of New Braunfels, has a wonderful old courthouse that they are actually refurbishing right now, a pretty round-about with a gazebo in the middle and a nice multi-street downtown that consists of many old buildings.  We have the oldest bakery in Texas, the oldest Texas dance hall in Gruene Hall, nice antique stores, good restaurants, a good supply of bars that typically are hopping on Friday and Saturday night, wine bar, oyster bar, and some nice B&B’s to stay.  The history is plentiful in this small old town.

So you wonder how does this blog title correlate to what I’m writing.  Well, last night we participated in the annual “Soul Searching  – Night Ramblings at the Comal Cemetery”.  Of course this correlates to Halloween, the departed souls were bringing their life stories to us.  The Comal Cemetery was established in 1868 and is the burial ground for some of New Braunfels founders and notable citizens.  These ancestors come to life for the evening and provide storytelling of their lives and chronicles the family history.  Most of the souls lived in New Braunfels from the 1840’s to their death in the early 1900’s.   It is truly amazing that some of the actors are actual descendants of the people that they were talking about, I just find that amazing.  I would have enjoyed another hour or two listening to these stories and learning more about the history of New Braunfels, the actors did a great job bringing the history to life.   I know some people will think that going to a cemetery to view the graves is morbid and depressing, but The Comal Cemetery is so full of history and it so well-kept its like walking thru a Park.  It is amazing to see how the families meshed together thru marriages and the number of family members that are in the family plot.   Although Halloween brings about the scary and spooky stuff I would recommend a day visit to walk thru the cemetery to view the various families and recognize some of the historical names.

I haven’t mentioned this, but what New Braunfels is mainly known for is Schlitterbahn Water Park and toobing on the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers.  These activities are what dominate the summer scene from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  On weekends it seems the town doubles in population.  But once Fall comes the town becomes ours again.  In addition in the downtown area they have a Children’s Museum, a very nice local museum detailing the history of New Braunfels and other local museums that are worth the time, make sure you check out the Visitor Center upon arrival or setup your schedule prior to arrival.  It’s a destination that the next time you are zooming by on I-35 to get to Austin or San Antonio, take the Interstate exitfor New Braunfels and see why small town living has become so popular.  Step back in time and notice the names on the streets and buildings then go to the cemetery and you will see the names of the people who settled and started this town.  I can’t go back to my roots like so many of the local people can, but if I could I would be very proud.  Also, if you’re going to be in the area next October about this time, check New Braunfels Park and Recreation website and sign up for these tours.  They’re fun and educational for the whole family.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween and enjoy your road you’re traveling on this week, until next time………

Vacations do not always have to be Far from Home

This restaurant was a popular place.

I have always liked this Building – a little New Orleans in Boerne

We had a very nice day on Saturday.  We went to a town that is about an hour away, called Boerne, TX.  This town is located off Interstate 10 about an hour northwest of San Antonio.  We went on Saturday because they had an Antique Car show, plus Market Days, plus blocks and blocks of stores for shopping.  It’s a quaint small town where you can go to spend a day shopping from jewelry stores, to antique stores, to even a very nice Christmas Store.  There are good restaurants and also a bakery and you can even get pickles, which are fantastic and made locally.  The cars on display were all Pre-1949, so there were some classics that were restored and many Hotrods.  My husband is a car-nut so we have been going to car shows for years.  Coming from the Midwest you can go to a car show most weekends during the summer, but here in Texas they’re not as often or as big.  We try to attend this one every year because it is one of the best in the area.  Check out Boerne, TX website to see what weekend this car show will be.  If you have a pre-1949 car and haven’t attended this show you might be interested.  If my husband was nearby when I was writing this he would have made sure I wrote the year and model of each car next to its photo, but then this is my blog not his.

A hotel in Boerne, right in the heart of all the action.

Cute Pickup Truck

What was nice about the day is that it proves you always don’t have to travel far and wide to enjoy yourself.  There are many hidden gems probably within 1 – 3 hours from your home that would make for a wonderful day get-away.  You always don’t have to incur hotel expenses and drive a great distance, just check out the weekly events and happenings in your area.  As mentioned once before,  almost every State has an Event calendar and you can really plan your weekends.  One can only cut the grass so many times, work in the garden or wash your car.  I find when we go away for the day it’s like a mini-vacation.  Especially when I was working the day away made the weekend seem longer and when I went back to work on Monday, I didn’t feet like I wasted it sitting at home.  Even now, being home every day, it’s fun to go away but for a similar but different reason.  I find myself doing more of the daily house activities and by going away for the day I feel recharged and relaxed.

A photo of part of the Main Street with all the shops.

If your husband doesn’t mind this type of day, going from store to store, then even when there is no car show, Boerne is a wonderful town to go see.  This is also a great Girl’s Day Out or part of a Girl’s weekend.  Forgot, there are also art galleries too.  Not too far away are a few Hill Country Wineries that can add to your day’s adventures.   At Christmas the town is decorated very nicely and they do have different Holiday activities.  No matter what day you choose, I think you will enjoy your visit.

Some of the cars at the show parked on Main Street

A very Nice One!

The nice thing about the Car show is that the Main Street was closed so there was plenty of room for walking and viewing the cars.  You could go from cars to shops and never have to worry about traffic and crossing streets.  The Market Day that Boerne hosts is one of the better ones in the area, and they always have some local music that you can sit and listen to.  Not very much seating so you might want to bring your own chairs with if you plan to sit awhile and listen.  I hope if you go for the day that you enjoy.  These are photos of Boerne and the Car Show hope you enjoyed  traveling down Main Street of Boerne with me.

One of the Buildings in Boerne dated 1908