Souvenir from a Jellystone Park

A while back Sher and I met a lot of our family members at an RV campground near Cleveland, Ohio. We stayed at a franchised campground with a Jellystone Park theme. Yes, right from the cartoon series with Yogi Bear, BooBoo, Cindy and the hapless Ranger.  We had a wonderful time as this was a perfect place for family activities.

Souvenir ornament

Souvenir photograph

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Airstream” style ornament , while Christmas themed, is now permanently hanging from the window over our table in the RV. This souvenir is cute, lights up and reminds us of that fun time we all had at the Jellystone Park RV resort.

Do any of you collect souvenirs from your travel adventures?

Please Remember to  Stay Safe and Stay Healthy 

Home is where you park it… What?

We received this cute towel as a nice gift this past winter from our Austin family.

“Home is where you park it” is a clever pun, really, referring to those who travel in RV’s. We have been in self isolation for the past eight weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twice now I’ve started and run both the RV’s engine and the on board generator. Best not to let the rig set idle for too long. The cute thing is that our towel is still correct in what it states: The RV is in the driveway next to our house, our home.

Sher and I are really looking forward to the day when our “Home” will be parked in an RV parking spot that is not the driveway of our home base house.

DIY RV plumbing repair

The cracked pump

While we were staying at the La Hacienda RV Resort in Austin this past winter we had a little plumbing issue in our RV. One evening Sher was sitting at the table and said “Maj, my feet just got wet.” Well, wet where it’s supposed to be dry is always a problem.

Long story short, there was a crack in the fresh water pump that supplies fresh water to the HWH, shower, toilet and sinks from the fresh water storage tank on board. After a check online and checking the leaking pump, I determined what replacement pump I needed. Ordered from Amazon, it arrived at the RV park 3 days later.

New pump ready to be connected

Installation finished. The white tank is the fresh water supply

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was not very difficult to remove the old pump and install the new one. The pump was in a compartment under the cushion for the table, easy removal. Two wires and two pipe connections were easy to hook up.  Fortunately the base plates on both had the same screw hole patterns. After about an hour I tested the newly installed water pump. It worked!

Corona virus, Indiana, and our take

Sher and I returned from Texas to our home in central Indiana the last week of February. The corona virus issue was heating up.  We wanted to ride it out in an area we know. The news kept getting worse and worse. Indiana finally got its first confirmed case, and as of this writing there are now twelve confirmed in the Hoosier state.

Our situation

Yes, we’re both a little scared and a lot upset. I am the poster child for the high risk individual with underlying health issues. I have a Trifecta: 69 years old with COPD and heart issues. I can’t take any chances so we are staying in, hunkered down with our TV, internet and talking with our kids and grand kids via texting and video calling. Are you avoiding crowds? Paying attention to “social distancing”?  (That’s a new term, huh? My how the world has changed in a few short months.)

Stocking up

Some experts say two weeks worth of food and supplies. I think a month is a safer bet, and we pretty much have that covered. What is your take on stocking up? Can you make it for two, three or more weeks without a trip to the grocery? Got enough medicines? A couple of our sons ran into  shelves empty of toilet paper yesterday.

A Meijer in Ohio

A Walmart in Indiana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A massive shutdown

Things are going from bad to worse. Schools and universities are closing everywhere. No gatherings of any large size are being allowed. Sports events? Well, forget them for at least a month or two. Concerts, plays, festivals? Nope. (Here in Indiana the Governor has designated 250 as the magic number for the size of gatherings that will be allowed)

What’s your feeling? 

We can’t understand why testing numbers are so low here in the U.S. The President says one thing, his top adviser Dr. Fauci says the opposite. Seriously? Hard to be optimistic about our government’s ability to handle the corona virus pandemic. What do you think?

To our blogging friends

Please please be safe! It’s bad, and we’re afraid it is going to get worse. We can communicate through our blogs and other e-methods which is helpful if, like us, you are wary of any public interaction. Let’s keep in touch.

Oh, wash your hands, wash your hands and wash your hands.

 

Solstice Outdoors is a fun Texas art gallery

Out side of Dripping Springs, Texas in the Hill Country near Austin is a thriving landscape design business that also doubles as a place to view and purchase unique outdoor artwork. Solstice Outdoors Ltd. is based in a former ranch home surrounded by 2 acres of what is now a whimsical display of outdoor works of art and decoration.

Solstice homestead

Outdoor fire pit complete with pyramid and butterfly seating!

 

 

 

 

 

Through an online mobile search Sher found this place while we were prowling about the Dripping Springs area. Thanks to google maps we soon found this surprising gallery of both indoor and outdoor craftsmanship. Each of the rooms in the house were used to display local artist’ works, including jewelry, tapestries and pictures.

Bull/man iron soldier

Another metal man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By far the most unique part of Solstice is the “backyard”. As soon as you go out into the yard you are greeted with a variety of ‘creatures” in all sizes and materials. The company offers landscaping design and construction. Walking through the grounds was like walking through an outdoor arts garden.

This face is kind of creepy, IMHO

A different medium for a longhorn!

 

 

 

 

 

Often we don’t have a set itinerary some days when we explore an area. It is always an adventure to find things by just driving around looking for signs, or hitting up the mobile search for “things near you”. The day we found Solstice Outdoor, Ltd. was one of those days.

Painting with a Twist, North Austin version

We decided to look for another opportunity to do a “sip and paint” type studio event. A quick google search revealed four different Panting with a Twist stores in Austin. With this franchise, you have to check to see what painting was on the agenda on what day. Sher and I both liked a Valentine’s Day themed picture that was actually designed for “his and hers” to be combined to make one piece of art.

Front desk with the instructor and assistant

Thus we were off to Painting with a Twist of North Austin. Fortunately there was very adequate parking for the RV and it was a fairly easy drive to the studio. We got there plenty early, met the staff and got our aprons on.

Our work station

Work in progress

 

 

 

 

 

There was one instructor and an assistant. The set up was pretty neat: The instructor stood by the double canvas on a small stage. There she could give step by step instructions on how to create our masterpieces. In addition to seeing the instructor on the stage, there were also two large screen TV’s that you could also see her and the canvas as she painted it. Great idea!

Grinning and painting

Our finished two canvas painting in our RV

 

 

 

 

 

There were about 20 couples who were in our session. The instructor kept a running patter going as she gave us specific instructions on what to paint, how and when. She was good at her job, and was able to add humor and levity to her discourse. There was more than one reference to Bob Ross and his painting techniques during the session which was very interesting. Try one of these fun projects sometime. It is a great way to spend an evening. Here is the corporate website so you can find one of the studios near you.

Austin’s La Hacienda RV Resort activity

We were pleasantly surprised to see an announcement that the RV resort where we were staying was offering a “Paint and sip” type activity. For $20 each, the park offered to provide all the materials needed to create your own masterpiece.  Sher and I had enjoyed a similar type event last year in Seattle, so we decided to sign up.

Sher getting her design layout on the canvas

Paint that RV’s door!

 

 

 

 

 

The technique for this event was different from what we had done before. Instead of an instructor doing a step by step, we were given a line drawing and carbon paper. That resulted in a rough sketch transfer onto the canvas.

The finished products!

The final results came out pretty well, I’d say. Sher and I enjoyed  the chance to drink some wine, interact with fellow RV park patrons, and create a couple of “masterpieces”.

Austin’s Jack Allen Kitchens utilize locally sourced foods

Our son and his family introduced us to Jack Allen Kitchens restaurants. This local chain of 4 establishments in the Austin area has really set a very high standard for reasons beyond high quality menu items. We went to the Anderson Lane version of the restaurant.

A portion of the interior of the Anderson Lane location

The base concept behind this eatery is a combination of local sourcing and local involvement. By utilizing local sources nearly entirely, you can be assured of fresh ingredients in every dish served. The company is very much involved in local charities as well.

The menu? Folks, you can’t get any better than the culinary delights found at Jack Allen Kitchens. The atmosphere is one of the most relaxed that you will ever find. You never feel rushed. The service is 5 star provided by truly professional wait staff.

Wedgies Salad

All of the cocktails are superb. The appetizers are great. (Try the house made pimento cheese and flat crackers. Yummy) But let’s talk the entrees! Sher had the “Wedgies salad”. It was huge, and as she said, the best ever. Garnished with onions, grape tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles, this salad was topped with green goddess dressing.

Chicken fried chicken, mashed ‘taters and veggies

I fell in love with the menu listing the “Chicken Fried Anything”. I went with the chicken breast, instead of the pork chop, ribs or meatloaf. (Yes, meatloaf.) The chicken fried chicken breast came smothered in gravy, resting on a portion of the large helping of mashed potatoes and accompanied by a squash medley veggie. Our son had the chicken fried meatloaf. He let me have a taste, and it was good too.

The dessert

And at the end of our meal, we were tempted with the dessert offerings. Biff (our waiter) offered to bring us 5 spoons and plates so we could share the decadent chocolate/pecan/ala mode you see in the picture. It was twice as good as it looks.

In or near Austin? Go to the Jack Allen Kitchen website here. Find the facility handy to you, and by all means go and enjoy a unique and memorable dining experience.

Great craft beer at Twisted X Brewing Company

Dripping Springs , Texas is in the Hill Country near Austin. A bit south of this eclectic town is the Twisted X Brewing Company. Sher and I put it on our agenda one Thursday afternoon, and were glad we did!

The tasting room

The tasting room at Twisted X is open air and very comfortable. The Thursday afternoon we were there also had a fella playing guitar and singing which was a nice touch. We ordered a flight of four to sample. The bartender picked out the samples for us, and he did a good job. Some of the beers are available only at the tasting room.

Bar and brew list board

The brewery logo

 

 

 

 

 

I really liked the Austin Lager, and even bought a couple of cans to take with us. By the way, it is an advantage to travel in our RV, as the fridge is right there, and you don’t have to ever worry about your brews getting too warm before you get home. You have your home with you!

Our flight of great craft beers

Anyway, the Twisted X Brewing Company is another fine brewery in the Dripping Springs area. They have brewery tours on Saturdays and Sundays. Private events are also hosted. Check the Twisted X website here for details. Put a visit to this brewery on your agenda, folks. You will be glad you did!

Texas Hill Country Olive Co.

We had just finished checking out the town of Dripping Springs in the Hill Country outside of Austin and were waiting for another brewery to open. I spotted a sign for an olive company the opposite direction from the brewery, so off we went.

Striking architecture of the Olive Company

About five miles later we saw what looked like some kind of Italian mountain villa. Yep, that turned out to be the Texas Hill Country  Olive Company. We had no idea what to expect, except that it would involve olives. Well, what a nice surprise when the hostess showed us to the free tasting stations. Yes, we were invited to taste different olive oils. I sure got an education.

Olive oils on the left, balsamic vinegars on the right

Fun signage

 

 

 

 

 

I had no idea that there were so many different kinds of olive oils, all of which were made by this family owned and operated business. Sher and I both enjoyed tasting the different olive oils. You taste them by putting a few drops in a small cup and either tasting it directly by mouth or dipped on a small piece of bread.

In the showroom in front of one of the tasting stations.

In addition to the oils, there were several varieties of balsamic vinegar as well set out for tasting. These were all imported from Italy, and there was an amazing range of flavors. The balsamic vinegar we bought was a blackberry flavor, which will be perfect to mix with the olive oil we bought to make a great salad dressing. Yum! The showroom also has a wide variety of gift boxes and other goodies.

Olive trees at the Olive Company

Olive tree beginning to flower

 

 

 

 

 

This place should be on everyone’s list of must visit places in the Hill Country. The site has lots of olive trees in their on site orchard. Our hostess explained that the company also has many more orchards in south Texas as well. Yes, olive trees grow in places other than Southern Europe and the Mid East. You can experience them at the Texas Hill Country Olive Co.