Sher and I decided that we wanted to flee the cold Indiana winters this year. Thus off we headed to the South Texas area known as the Rio Grande Valley. New Year’s Day seemed like a good day to not only start the new year but also start our journey south.
Our trip took us three days. Three wet, rainy, and drab days. Yes, it rained continuously from the time we left home base until just south of Corpus Christy, Texas. Finally some sun!
After 3 days of rain, we loved seeing a sunset north of McAllen, Texas
We arrived at Park Place Estates & RV Resort in Harlingen, Texas just at dark. I had talked to the office, and we were expected by the gate guard, who showed us to a spot with electric for the overnight. Come morning when the office was open, we toured the park. They had suggested two spots for us, and we were happy with one of them. As first timers at this park, we received a very good discount for our first month’s fee.
Nice concrete patio at our site. The weather for our first day was sunny in the low 70’s. We’ll take that!
This facility is designed with Snowbirds in mind. There are tons of activities planned, everything from horseshoes to making stained glass. An 85 degree heated pool and hot tubs are always available. We brought our bikes which will make getting around this large park easy. This park is one of several under the same corporate umbrella, and several other RV Resort companies are represented in the area.
This is our first time being true “Snowbirds”, that is in a warm winter climate in a park for +55 folks. We aren’t visiting family, nor are we traveling about doing touristy things. Sher and I are looking forward to a relaxed but sometimes busy couple of months. We’ll let you know how things are going…
The Oasis has a wide spread reputation in the Austin area. We wanted to check this restaurant out as the sunset views were reported to be spectacular over Lake Travis.
We really enjoyed the view of Lake Travis from one of the Oasis Terraces
The pretty drive to the Oasis winds through the hill country west of Austin. When you arrive at the facility there is parking and a short walk to the entrance to the restaurant. The exterior is interesting and covered with neat metal sculptures. We arrived around 2 1/2 hours before sunset and were immediately taken to a semi-private room that would seat our party of ten. Our room had a good view out over the lake.
The plentiful veggie fajitas
Two Oasis signature drinks in souvenir glasses
We started our evening with a couple of signature cocktails in take home Hurricane glasses. Our meals were, in my opinion, very good. Sher and I both ordered fajitas, me the beef and Sher the vegetarian. The portions were large and the food very tasty. The kid’s menu was well received by our youngsters who also appreciated the portion sizes.
Outdoor seating on the many terraces
The Oasis restaurant has seating both inside and outside on a series of terraces built into the side of the hill. All of the terrace tables have a great view of the lake and the horizon where the sun sets. A running photo contest is one part of the Oasis tradition. The evening we went was, to say the least, not very good for an artistic sunset photo.
The Oasis Restaurant has a 35 year history in the same location. Over the years there have been several changes in services offered. Some reviewers have panned the food, however our party was pleased with the quality of our meals. A series of steps was required to get to our tables, but ground level tables are available.
San Antonio offers visitors a wonderful list of things to see and do. Our family recently spent a day in this historic city. Sher and I really enjoyed taking our time strolling along the River Walk.
View of the River Walk from a pedestrian bridge
Restaurant on the second floor of this place. River tour boat is docked.
Beautiful and unique tiles on a step riser
The street signs provide great information
Where else would you find a longhorn head mounted on the third floor?
Our group found the Corner restaurant pretty much by accident. We had just parked our car after our trip from San Antonio, I needed a restroom and I saw the Corner sign a block north of Caesar Chavez Street. The rest of our family in the second car had parked south of the Congress Avenue Bridge and walked across to join us for supper.
The Old Fashioned Burger served with fries
The Corner is one of the newest restaurants in Austin. It is in the J.W. Marriott hotel and offers both a sit down dining area and quite a lively bar as well. We all enjoyed a delicious and reasonably priced meal. The kid’s menu satisfied both youngsters in our family, no easy feat these days!
Roasted watermelon and tomato vegetarian plate
The staff was most helpful in assisting us with our plans to see the famous bats under the Congress Avenue Bridge. Timing is important when seeing the 1.5 million bats leaving their roost for the night’s bug catching. Location of viewing is of course vital, and the Corner staff helped us with that too. Here is our bat watching adventure.
Who would think that a winged visitor from Mexico would make such a splash in downtown Austin, Texas. Such is the story of the free-tailed bat. These critters migrate to Austin in March and stay through November. The colony spends each day under the Congress Avenue Bridge and emerges en-mass at sunset. This daily event has become a famous local attraction in Austin.
View of the watercraft waiting for the bats
We planned to see the bats after a day in San Antonio. Because it was a Sunday, free street parking was available if you could find it. A ten dollar garage was well worth the cost. When we got there I needed a restroom and found one at a great restaurant a block away. The staff at the Corner restaurant where we had supper knew exactly what time the bats would emerge. (Here is my restaurant review.) After supper we walked the two blocks to the bridge. Because it was Sunday the crowds were not large and we walked right up to the bridge rail for a great view.
The bat colony takes flight
A viewing deck was on the river bank for a look up at the bridge. A wide variety of tour boats, canoes and kayaks were in place on the water of Lady Bird Lake waiting to see the show. And what a show it was! The first bats started to fly about 10 minutes before sunset. It didn’t take long for hundreds of thousands of bats to fly out from under the bridge. The sky was filled with masses of bats! This is a fun free attraction that with a little planning requires walking only a few blocks.
Sher and I and family spent a very cold afternoon in San Antonio on New Year’s Eve. We enjoyed the famed river walk and were excited to take one of the Go Rio River Cruises. Fully narrated along the way, the cruise was most enjoyable. Seniors, be sure to ask for your senior discount for this must do attraction in the Alamo city!
Ready to board the boat for the cruise!
The San Antonio River Cruise
Glad we brought some cold weather clothing!
Pretty view of the River Walk with a pedestrian bridge
River side sculpture at the Briscoe Western Art Museum
Captain of the boat and tour narrator in one!
We said goodbye to family this morning and headed east. Our original plan was to drive to Lake Charles, Louisiana and stay at a casino tonight. On the way we made some cool stops, saw some neat things, and we ended up deciding to stop at the Rio RV Park again for the night. (See our review of Rio RV here.)
Burton, Texas train depot. Built in 1898 to the specifications of the Southern Pacific Railroad, this structure replaced the original from 1870 that had burned.
Neat old building with signage stating “Burton Auto Co.”. Might have been an early gas station.
Burton Farmers (Cotton) Gin built in 1914. Originally steam powered, it continued in operation until 1974.
New Mural in Brenham, Texas
Detail of mural painting
Built in 1870 for prominent banker, lawyer and landowner Jabez Giddings, this historic mansion in Brenham is known as the Giddings-Stone house.
The Austin, Texas area is home to many great restaurants. Cedar Park is home to the Blue Corn Harvest Bar and Grill. This causual dining restaurant offers both inside and, weather permitting, outside dining under the canopy of beautiful trees. Using local sourced ingredients whenever possible, the menu features varied items with a definite Southwestern flair.
Casual and comfortable dining room.
We dined with our family at the Cedar Park location. (A second location is in Georgetown, Texas.) Between the five of us we enjoyed a nice variety of menu items. All of the entrees were delicious, and portion sizes were larger than your average restaurant. Of note was the chicken fried chicken which I enjoyed. What a large portion, with delicious veggies and terrific mashed potatoes! Corn bread muffins, moist and sweet, were kept on the table at all times.
ROASTED VEGGIE SANDWICH
Grilled farm fresh vegetables and New Mexico cilantro cilantro pesto.
BLUE CRAB STUFFED CHICKEN
Grilled chicken breast stuffed with crab meat, jack cheese and sweet roasted peppers with Cajun cream sauce, cheddar seared potato cake and farm fresh vegetables.
CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN
Chicken with peppered gravy, mashed potatoes and farm fresh vegetables.
The service was excellent, and our meals were delivered in a very short time. This is most definitely a must dine spot in the Austin area for anyone who wants to enjoy a great meal at a great price. The quality of the food is really superb and the presentation is great. Get there early or make reservations. We were lucky and arrived before the evening crowd and were seated immediately, and shortly thereafter there was a considerable wait for other patrons arriving after us. Five stars for Blue Corn Harvest Bar and Grill. Here is the website for you to check out.
With temperatures in the low 60’s and partly sunny skies we had a great day to tour Austin. Fortunately we were able to find acceptable parking for our RV enabling walking jaunts for photo ops. Below are some of the results.
The awesome Texas State Capitol building in the heart of Austin
Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium has been home to the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns football team since 1924
The Santa Rita No. 1 oil rig first pumped oil in 1923. The rig was re-erected in 1958 on the University of Texas campus.
Grave of a Confederate veteran of the Civil War in the historic Oakwood Cemetery in downtown Austin. The grave of Sam Houston is here, as are other famous Texans.
Known as Bishop’s Palace, this Victorian style mansion was originally the home of Josephine and Walter Gresham. Gresham was a railroad magnate and hired famed architect Nicholas Clayton to design the home. The structure was completed in 1892, and it survived the disastrous 1900 hurricane.
From 1923 until the 1960’s the house was used as the residence of the Bishop of the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese. It is now owned by the Galveston Historical Foundation. Guided and self guided tours are available for an admission fee.