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.

This is Wursthalle

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.

Alex Meixner with Canadian Champion

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!

Mark Halata and Texavia

Advertisements

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

Our road to Eureka Springs, AR

 

This is a small town in Northwest Arkansas, called Eureka Springs.  It has not been touched in hundreds of years.  I’m not sure how many men will like this town, but this is a shopping haven for women.  This is a great Women’s weekend retreat.  The area around this town is very nice, and they have many events, so if traveling to the area, I think it’s worth a stop and check out their event calendar.

If ever in northwest Arkansas do not miss Eureka Springs. What a quaint town.

 

A mural on the side of a building in Eureka Springs, AR

 

One of the many unique buildings in town

 

The Courthouse in town

 

Jefferson City, MO

I’m a few days behind on bringing you up to date, so here I go.

We left the Chicago area on Friday morning and drove to Jefferson City, MO. You say, why Jefferson City? There are no direct Interstates that go there, it is sort of out of the way for the big city destinations, but we chose Jefferson City for one reason, and that was to take the Missouri State Penitentiary tour. Now we all have heard of Alcatraz, but I had never heard of the Missouri prison until I started reading about things to do in the state of Missouri. Befoe I go on I will say that it was worth the extra time and distance to travel to Jefferson City.

The Penitentiary was decommissioned in 2004 and moved about 7 miles out of town to a new faciity. The day we were there they were celebrating the 175th anniversary of the prison. To help correlate the year it was opened, the Battle of the Alamo ocurred in 1836 and that is when this prison was open, amazing. The Alamo is still standing and so is this prison.

Regrettably the Penitentiary has not had much financial support and has been exposed to the weather conditions so it has fallen into disrepair. It is my understanding that portions of it has been torn down and there is an ongoing discussion of what to do with the facility. Once you get by the raw condition of the buildings listening to the history and picturing what it was like you can get lost in the moment.

We had an excellent tour guide, Mike. He was one of the previous wardens of the Penitentiary, how can it get any better. He was a wealth of knowledge and had some funny stories, and also some rather sad ones also. I could have listened to him all day. We took the 2 hour history tour, but there is also a 3 hour history tour, and starting in 2011 they now do ghost tours. I’m really sorry we missed the ghost tour as that sounded like lots of fun and really scary. I believe they have “sleep over” tours, but I would suggest you inquire about this as I’m sure advance reservations are needed and they are only at certain times.

We were able to see 2 cell blocks, one built in the mid-1800’s and the other built in the early 1900’s. Much of the presentation was how prison life has changed over the years, and how prisons were built back then and the changes in building style that occurred. The conditions were deplorable, that’s all I can say. This prison had some famous inmates such as James Earl Ray, and Sonny Liston. In addition to the cell blocks we also saw the “buried cells’, or as I would say the dungeon, and also toured the gas chamber. This Penitentiary did execute 40 inmates during it’s lifespan.

What’s also amazing about this Penitentiary is that it housed up to 5000 inmates at one time, while Alcatraz never exceeded 800. It gives you an idea of the scope of this place, the conditions that existed. If you stood still and closed your eyes while our tour director talked you could actually imagine what it was like. And I can tell you imagine is all I would ever want to do.

Some of you might be saying now, why would I go see this. From my viewpoint, it is a part of history, it was extremely educational and I can certainly tell you that if you were on the edge of committing a crime, once seeing this facility it might make you rethink your direction in life. If was one of the most infomative and enjoyable tours that I have taken and I know much of that was because of our tour guide, he made the tour excellent.

Now, there is one other place you should visit while in Jefferson City and that is the Missouri State Capitol. It is a beautiful building and what is unique about this building compared to other Capitol buildings is the artwork. The Capitol was completed in 1917 and is in downtown Jefferson City, only about 7 blocks to the Peniteniary. On a nice day it is walkable. When the Capitol was built they issued bonds. They were able to complete the building with an excess of about $1 million. Since this could not be refunded they used these funds to acquire artwork both in the building and on the grounds. They have tours from 9AM to 5PM daily (except for lunch) and it is free, it’s about 55 minutes. Once the tour is completed you can walk around the building and go back and look at the artwork in more detail. You can visit the Capitol without taking the tour, but the tour guide provides details that you would not get on your own.

Jefferson City is not a large city but they provide a very good Visitor’s guide that I’m sure you can look at on line also. I hope you consider Jefferson City as one of your future destinations or stop overs, and do hope you enjoy. Check for schedules as this part of the country does get cold and it does snow. I will be posting some photos shortly. Take care and continue traveling safely down your road you are traveling.

A day in Volo at the Antique Auto Museum

This one wouldn’t be bad to have either

Flinstonemobile – could resist the photo op!

A very nice looking Chevelle Supersport 396

Very Nice Car, only upper $70’s for anyone interested,

Munster Mobile

Another retro 60’s TV program

These are just a few of the cars at the Volo Antique Auto Museum in Volo, IL.  This is a far North suburb of Chicago.  In addition to the photos they have a lot of antiques to look at.  So if part of your group wants to look at cars and the other look at antiques there is enough of each to keep everyone busy.  It’s well done and I think you would enjoy your time visiting.

They do have a diner for lunch, but you get a wrist tag, so if you have time, about 1/2 mile away is a fast food restaraunt where you can go and have a good Chicago Vienna hotdog, or Italian Beef. If this is your first time in the Chicago area, please try the Vienna hotdogs, this is truly Chicago.  The place is called Fratello’s and I don’t think you would be disappointed, this is a good lunch spot.

Have fun if you go.  Tonight we were in Joplin, MO after spending the day in Jefferson City, MO and I’ll give you the update in the next post.  Saw some intersesting things and can’t wait to tell you about them.  Also have some photos to share.  So until the next post we’ll be on the road traveling towards Texas.