Jason Coleman keeps Floyd Cramer’s piano genius alive

Jason Coleman is the grandson of famed pianist Floyd Cramer. If you don’t know Floyd, you do know his music. Sher and I were lucky enough to hear a concert by Jason at the Park Place Estates RV Park where we are official Winter Texans in the Rio Grande Valley this year.

Jason on stage

Coleman puts his music heritage out there with a dedication and sincerity that he gets honestly. His show not only is performing classic songs, but also a fascinating  look into the history of Floyd Cramer’s signature style of piano. Cramer’s piano is heard on just about all of the greats of country and rock from the fifties and sixties and beyond.

I had a nice chat with Jason

Applause from the large crowd rippled through at the start of most of the pieces Jason shared with his audience. He personality and the nostalgia of the music is magic. Not only did Jason play the tunes, but he also shared some poignant video of his time as a young man with his Grandpa Floyd. These clips included his performances with Floyd on TV.

Of the entertainment shows offered at the park, we both agreed that Jason Coleman’s performance has been the best.   I recommend that you check his website here for his concert schedule and available CD’s.

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Brownsville’s Camille Playhouse celebrates 55 years

Brownsville,Texas is home to a delightful community theater, the Camille Playhouse. Born of humble beginnings in 1963, this vibrant theater has become a beloved source for live theater in the Rio Grande Valley.

Sher and I attended a Saturday night performance of a musical classic: A Chorus Line. The theater is located in Dean Porter Park, a Brownsville city park. The lobby is warm and welcoming when you arrive to purchase your tickets. The theater itself is comfortable with all seats having a clear view of the stage.

We really enjoyed the performance of A Chorus Line. Chris Ikner directs. During the performance, which ran two hours without intermission, Sher and I were continuously surprised with the very talented cast. The choreography was, well, high stepping to say the least. Numbers such as “One” are performed with precision. Several of the cast have excellent voices and share that talent on stage.

A Chorus Line offers song, dance, humor and heart wrenching drama as a group of strangers compete for one of a limited number of spots in the chorus line of a Broadway play. The Camille Playhouse version of the musical is moving, well acted, fun and worth seeing. The show will be onstage February 8th, 9th and 10th. If the quality of A Chorus Line is any indication, we would suggest enjoying any production at Camille Playhouse.

Check future productions at the Camille Playhouse website.

 

Today we saw “The Wall” on the border

Today was sunny and windy in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas. Sher and I decided to head out and see if we could see the border wall. We also wanted to see the Rio Grande River, which is of course the US/Mexican border.

We started our trek on US Highway 281 south of Pharr, Texas. We headed east on 281, which for this stretch towards Brownsville is also the route of the Military Highway, another historic route in the Lone Star State.

Border fence seen across a farm field

Closer to Hwy 281, with graffiti

 

 

 

 

 

We spotted some of the border wall sections that were pretty far from the road. We were closer to the fence between Los Indios and La Paloma. The vertical metal slats were mounted in a large concrete foundation.

What we didn’t get, however, was why the wall/fence stopped out in the middle of nowhere. It seemed odd that it seemed to be random as to where the fences had been constructed and where there were none.

We continued our drive into downtown Brownsville into the historic commercial part of town. What a treat to see all the colorful store fronts and signage in Spanish. Different for a couple from Indiana. I spoke with a Border Patrol Agent who kindly directed us to a small city park where we could see the Rio Grande river. It too had a high fence, complete with coils of razor wire on the Mexico side.

Mexico on left, Border Patrol watching the river (I put my phone through the slats for this shot)

Looking across the river at Reynosa Mexico

Our rig parked at the Alice Wilson Hope Park. See how tall the fence is, and note Reynosa through the slats

 

 

 

 

 

All in all we had a very nice day. It was most interesting seeing the thousands of acres of irrigated crop ground. There were some workers in the fields, but mostly it seemed that new crops were just starting to grow, and other fields had been recently tilled in preparation for new crop plantings.

Oh, and that friendly and helpful Border Patrol Agent? He has not been paid since the Government shutdown started.

Windy days, lots to do and a flea market

Sher and I have been at our +55 RV Resort in south Texas for a week now. We are just loving the weather, even though most days have seen consistent winds in the 20 – 25 MPH range. Temps are in the 70’s during the day. We are kind of waiting to swim until we get a sunny day with light breezes.

Beautiful skies and waving palms make for a pretty view from our RV.

We are not that far from where Pres. Trump made his ‘trip to the border’. Local TV news really enjoyed all the hoopla involving the movements of Trump and his entourage.

The guard shack at the gated entrance of our park. Gates are closed at night, IDs required for entrance.

We really like the park here in Harlingen, Texas. We feel safe, as there is a guard gate manned 24/7. The park is really large. There are actually several miles of roads to walk and bike if you wind your way through. Sher and I are both riding our bikes and walking daily. Most exercise we have had in a long time. We both have commented that we do feel better.

Inside vendors at the local Don Wes Flea Market

We took a trip to a local Flea Market this past Wednesday. There were some vendors with used flea market type goods. However most of established vendors inside the buildings were selling a wide variety of new products. We bought some bananas, oranges and a pineapple. The vendor had a pineapple coring machine, so it was ready to eat when we got back.

Well, gotta go. There is another dance tonight we have to get ready for. Park Place Estates always has something going on.

The Oasis Restaurant on Austin’s Lake Travis

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.

Scenes of San Antonio

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?

 

 

The Congress Avenue Bridge and the 1.5 million bats of Austin

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.

Good bye Austin, New Orleans here we come

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.

This First Watch restaurant in Austin gets a big thumbs up

There are First Watch restaurants all over the country. Tagged as “The Daytime Cafe” these upscale eateries are open for breakfast and brunch only, with the Northcross location in Austin open from 7:00 am until 2:30 pm daily.

CHILLED PEAR CIDER
Red Anjou pear, Fuji apple, organic
ginger, lemon and cinnamon

The service was excellent. We hit the door at a great time, about 9:30 am, and were immediately seated. The coffee was strong and hot. Sher enjoyed a local menu specialty drink: the chilled pear cider was made with Red Anjou pear, Fuji apple, organic ginger, lemon and cinnamon.

CINNAMON ROLL WAFFLE topped with cinnamon syrup, cream cheese frosting, toasted
pecans and cinnamon powdered sugar

The food was served in good time, and was hot when delivered. The pancakes I had were huge, and the eggs cooked to perfection with the fried potatoes. Our son had a Chimichanga with fried potatoes and fruit. Sher had the Cinnamon Roll Waffle, complete with cinnamon syrup, cream cheese frosting and more.

MULTI-GRAIN PANCAKES that were huge, topped with a couple of fried eggs and a side of seasoned potatoes

We highly recommend the Austin Northcross location of First Watch. The staff is great, the ambiance is inviting and the food is excellent! Visit the First Watch local website here for directions and other information.

Happy New Year 2018

We are currently in Texas visiting family in the Austin area. Tonight, New Year’s Eve, we all are in San Antonio. We have had a great time, even though the temperatures are in the 30’s with wind chills (yes, the pesky wind chills we thought we were leaving behind in the north) in the low 20’s.

Glad we brought some cold weather clothing!

Shopping and eateries along the River Walk

We have had a fun day, even though it was a very chilly day! We were able to take the boat ride on the San Antonio River. It was fun shopping at the many places along the River Walk, and of course we visited the Alamo, site of the famous battle that ultimately led to Texas gaining its freedom from Mexico.

The boat rides on the San Antonio river

Pretty view of the River Walk with a pedestrian bridge

Happy New Year 2018 to all of our online friends! We appreciate our fellow bloggers and our fellow RVers. A lot of you fit into both categories quite nicely. We wish all of you the best for 2018. Have a successful, safe and blessed year, friends!

The Alamo