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……..

Long Time Coming…….

I didn’t realize that the end of May was my last post.  It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything fun or exciting, I just haven’t found the time to sit at the computer for any length of time and write.  It’s now July,  it’sTexas, and it’s hot out, so it’s a great afternoon to get caught up on life over the last month.  We haven’t gone on any special trips, but we certainly have been busy.  We’ve been here in Sun City for about 9 months now, and we’re still as active and having fun as we were earlier this year.  June flew by with all of the activities, events, parties and game nights.  But now we’re into July and as I kept hearing people say, now in the month of July and August things are getting a little slower.

But to fill in for the game nights, events and parties, I have now started to partake in the wonderful sport of golf!  Where do I begin.  Golf is truly a love, hate relationship.  It’s maddening when you go out and you get bad shots, missed putts, or just do something really stupid, but then it always seems that last hole or that last putt is the best of the day and you want to come back for more.  You always think I ‘ll do better on the next shot, or the next hole.  It’s amazing how you keep fooling yourself.

This Sun City has 3 beautiful 18 hole courses with driving ranges, chipping and putting greens.  They’re very nice courses and for many it is the main reason for moving here.  You can always get a tee time, it just might not be exactly when you wanted it, but they do try hard to meet everyone’s request.  Of course, like anywhere, someone is always not happy or satisfied.  It is so convenient to leave your clubs on your golf cart in the garage.  You put on your golf shoes and less than 5 minutes you’re on the 1st tee.  You truly can be spoiled very quickly.

If I haven’t said it once, I have probably said it each post, and I still feel this way, living here is like life on a big cruise ship.  You have to be careful though and pick and choose carefully what you want to get involved in, because you can easily take on too much and get burned out very fast.  I am finding it best to try something for a while, see if you like it, if not move onto the next thing.  You can always keep what you like but keep filling in the time with one of those new activities.  Your day can fill up very quickly.

So although some game nights have been stopped for the summer, we now have a weekly neighborhood pool party, not only is it a great place to cool off, it’s a really nice place to sit and visit, how refreshing.  I have to say for any person or couple thinking of retiring, and you want to stay active and get involved, then please don’t hesitate to check out an Adult community in your area.  I have learned since I quit working last August that you can be prepared financially, and be secure in that path, but if you don’t have a hobby or special interest you will be shocked how long a week can be.  You can’t eat out every day, you can’t shop every day.  Think of all the hours that you have sat in traffic to and from work, and all the hours you have worked, now look at that time and figure out what you’re going to fill it with.  You can’t sit on the computer every day, it’s certainly not healthy, so when you are financially planning your retirement, if you don’t have a passion for something or a hobby you want to pursue I strongly suggest you put that on your to do list so when that magical day comes and you leave that office for the last time, you’re not staring at unlimited hours of nothingness, but looking at activities and being social.

So 9 months later I’m still a fan of Sun City.  If that ever changes believe me you’ll be the first to know.  But for now and the foreseeable future I’m a big fan!  Shortly we’ll be taking a driving trip to NM and I hope to be able to provide you some great insights of places to see and things to do.  We’re off to Santa Fe and the Taos area, hoping that 8000 – 10000 ft in elevation will provide us a little change from the 100 degree Texas weather.  July 4th has come and gone, and the lazy days of July and August are in front of us.  Enjoy the summer, and I’m  looking forward to our vacation travels, will keep you posted on the roads we travel.  Until next time as the song states “Happy Trails”………..

 

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…….

Texas Courthouses

Today was relaxing!
My first activity of the day, after a nice relaxing breakfast, was a massage. I am a true believer in massage therapy and have given myself a gift once per month by having a massage with a licensed therapist. If you have never had a massage, I highly suggest it. It is great for your body and is relaxing and therapeutic. I figure I’m worth this one treat each month. I had a great therapist in New Braunfels and finding a new therapist is as hard as finding new doctors and a place to get your hair cut. I have been enjoying massages for about 15 years now so I guess you can say I’m picky and know what I expect and want and if I don’t get it I look elsewhere. Another benefit of living in Sun City is that they have 2 therapists right on sight. I had my first appointment today and I was rather impressed. I usually don’t find the right one the first time and I’m not quite sure if I won’t experiment a little with trying others, but I was satisfied enough that I made an appointment in January. So as you can see, my day started off very good.

This afternoon we did a little adventure learning more about our town we now live in. As mentioned in previous posts Georgetown has a quaint square and a very nice Courthouse right in the center. Today we participated in the Williamson County Courthouse tours. Every Friday and Saturday, all year-long they provide free tours of the courthouse. The tours start at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 and start in the Williamson Museum across from the Courthouse on Austin Street. The tour guide was very knowledgable and we enjoyed her tales of some of the famous people and activities that occurred within the courthouse. I’m sure if you go on more than one tour you might even hear some different stories.

One surprising thing we learned is that the Courthouse can be rented for weddings and parties. There are two chambers and a meeting room and a balcony. And you can rent the entire second floor for under $400.00 an hour. Of course you must add catering, music etc… but how cool is that. They remove the benches and setup tables, but the judge’s bench and some items remain, it sounds like an interesting place to have a party and I think it’s nice that the public have an opportunity to use the building. The Courthouse was completed in 1911 and is the 5th courthouse for the County. The first two were basically log cabins, the 3rd courthouse they do not have photos of, and the 4th Courthouse lasted from about 1877 – 1920 and it was explained that it was basically falling apart, so much so that it could not be salvaged. So in 1911 the Courthouse was completed and with many changes over the years, it was not refurbished to it’s 1911 glory until 2006. On the Tour they point out what is not original due to new safety laws and some changes that just could not be put back to the original format.

It’s a beautiful Courthouse and since it Christmastime they had the biggest tree in the center that exceeded 2 floors with ornaments hanging from the ceiling. It was a pleasant afternoon and glad we were able to take time to learn more about what Georgetown and Williamson County has to offer. Our next stop is to see old town Round Rock. We have learned there is more to Round Rock than Dell, I35 and shopping and we’re going to find it. I hope you’re having fun traveling down your road. I know it’s a hectic time of year, pace yourself and enjoy your travels. The season will be over before we know it and we’ll be waiting another 11 months for all the activities to start again. Happy Travels and Happy Holidays.

Christmas in Georgetown, TX

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Here is Georgetown, TX – our new home town.

This is the Courthouse on the Square that was refurbished in the early 2000’s.  I don’t have any history on the courthouse at this time, but later in the month we will be going on a tour, and I will hopefully will be able to share more details with you.  The Courthouse is surrounded by a lovely square that has a nice variety of shops and restaurants.  The library is nearby and there are some nice parks and walking trails also nearby.  It is Christmas time in Georgetown.  The next few photos will show it getting darker than there will be the Christmas lights.

On the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend we visited downtown to listen to the Carolers and wait for the lighting of the town, it was all very nice and quaint.  The town is lit up very nice and it’s a nice Square to take a walk around, even if you don’t shop.  Last Friday the shops were open late and most shops offered some tasty treat to savor while you looked at their merchandise.  Next weekend they are having some type of Christmas Fair on the Square and looking forward to that.  As I mentioned in one of my earliest blogs we love small Texas towns with the old courthouses.  Texas has done a great job investing in these wonderful structures to preserve them.  Although Georgetown has all the “new stuff” – strip malls, shopping, etc… it’s the core of the historic old town that keeps attracting me.  Please enjoy the remaining photos.

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As all good small Texas towns have, yes there is a winery on the Square.  We considered part of the Hill Country and we are surrounded by small Texas award-winning wineries.

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This is on our list of “to do’s”.  This is an old movie house converted to a theater.  New Braunfels has one also and it was always on our “to do” list.  This time we will be going there to see a play in 2013, one more of those small items that need to be accomplished.

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One of the local stores on the Square – their windows were done up so nice, it was like a Vintage Toy Store, only available in small towns!

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Courthouse once the sun goes down and the lights go on.  All 4 sides are decorated.

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One of the streets on the Square all done up with the lights and the stores open for business.

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The Courthouse has a real cool dome that is lit up green for the Holidays.  You don’t realize until you’re driving around Georgetown but this area, the downtown historic district, sits on quite a high hill, you can see this for miles around.

Well, that concludes today’s tour of Christmas in Georgetown.  Promise I’ll have more for you soon.  Hope you’re having fun traveling down your Christmas roads and making your wonderful memories.  Until next time, drive carefully on your road you are traveling……………..

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!

Mark Halata and Texavia