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…
Indianapolis on a Saturday night in early November can be quite pretty and full of activity. Landmark structures are well lit, and the street horse drawn carriages are already offering cozy rides to couples and families alike.
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
While visiting our family in the Seattle area they took us to a restaurant called Bob’s Burgers and Brews. It is a local chain. It is known for it’s burgers and its large selection of craft beers on tap. There are several of the restaurants in the area, but they have so far stayed in the state of Washington.
The huge “double” burger and fries
The extra large portion of cheese quesadillas
I had a huge double burger and Sher had some cheese quesadillas. The portion sizes were great and the food was delicious. In addition our waiter was fantastic and took care of us exceptionally well. This is one of those local establishments that offer great dining at a good price.
Sher and I got to go to the 2018 version of the Washington State Fair in Puyallup. We went with our daughter, son-in-law and our 4 year old grandson. The fair was packed with all kinds of “state fair” type stuff, including a large midway, tons of vendors and of course, agriculture exhibits.
We went on the last day of the fair, and the fairgrounds were packed. A good time was had by all, and Sher and I had our first ‘Scones”, a jam filled biscuit type pastry that is a famous item at this fair.
Dodge City, Kansas portrays itself as one of the historical sites of the old Wild West. In keeping with that tradition, the local casino is called the Boot Hill Casino and Resort. The site layout has the casino flanked by a large event center (for concerts, conventions, etc.) and a Hampton Inn hotel and suites.
We liked the casino. It is small compared to most, however it was clean and the staff was very friendly and helpful. What really stood out was the first time player Free Play program. When we signed up we both got player cards with $10 free play. We also learned that for our next four visits we’d get another $10 for each visit! That’s right, we went back the next day after we checked out of our campground. Yep, we put our cards into slot machines and Bingo! another $10 free play.
That night we parked in the casino lot. The next morning before we headed out we went back into the casino and, you guessed it, we both got another $10 free play! We both got $30 in free play, and we each have another $20 if we ever go back. Best new player Free Play program we have ever come across.
On our way west we went off the interstate for a trip to Boonville, Missouri. The billboards touted the Isle of Capri Casino and Resort. The casino was clean and neat. We got our player’s cards, but no free play as we already signed up at a sister casino in Louisiana. We did win a bit at this casino stop.
We are off again on what will be a rather long trip. We are planning to go to visit our daughter, son-in-law and grandson in Seattle. Not ones to take a direct route, we are going from Indiana to Seattle by way of Las Vegas. A quick check of the Rand McNally will quickly show that this is NOT a direct route.
Anyway, we’re off now. Our first day took us through Illinois. We had to stop at Casey, home to all of these “World’s largest” things. Wind chimes, pitch forks, golf tees and of course the largest rocking chair. (See below) Kitty cornered from the chair they were working on completing the World’s Largest Teeter-Totter. I swear they were….
This chair is HUGE
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.
We saw that Caesars Entertainment out of Las Vegas had just bought the Indiana Grand Racing Casino as well as the Hoosier Park casino and racetrack from Centaur Gaming. We went out to the Indiana Grand to see what differences Caesars had brought to the place.
Other than some banners and signs calling out the Caesars name, we did not see any changes at all. The slots were the same. Our old players reward cards were still working, adding points as they always did. The half price buffet is still offered on Mondays for us “Golden Gamers” (folks 50 and over).
On Saturday, July 28th Caesars has a pretty wild promotion give-away day planned. They are calling it “An evening of winning” with $60,000 in cash prizes awarded over the evening. Enter and get a chance to spin the wheel for an instant prize of $1,000! Time will tell what changes Caesars has in store for their new Indiana properties. Be sure to check out the Indiana Grand website and the Caesars website for more info.