Nancy’s Sky Garden in Austin is a hidden gem

Want to eat healthy? This restaurant in Cedar Park is truly a hidden gem. The menu is unique, to say the least. You pick your protein, pick your carb, pick your veggies, and finally pick your dressing. Get ready for a totally different, delicious and remarkably filling meal that you can consume with no regrets.

Signature plate. So much good stuff here!

Signature Plate protein choices feature varieties of chicken, fish and tofu. Don’t want protein? No problem. Veggies include rainbow salad, with fresh fruit. For your carb you have the choice of sweet potato noodles, baked or a tasty purple rice. Top it off with one or two of seven different dressings.

The smoked salmon Poke bowl featured a very generous portion of salmon

Other menu items include poke bowls with fish on a bed of veggies, purple rice, seaweed salad and other delicious items. In addition, soups, prism rolls, MixMix and Buddha bowls are also part of the unique offerings at Nancy’s Sky Garden. And don’t miss out on the hot and iced teas.

Store front at the Cedar Park location

This dining experience is most enjoyable. Look for all four Austin area locations at Nancy’s Sky Garden website. You won’t be disappointed.

 

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Bull Creek Park in Austin

Bull Creek Park is rather small, (48 acres) but is large in activity. Trails criss-cross the park, however Bull Creek itself is the highlight. The limestone riverbed, flanked by even more exposed outcroppings bring the Wow! factor into this delightful green space. We visited with family on a warm Saturday afternoon.

A beautiful Saturday

Natural water slide into a deep swimming hole!

Hiking and swimming are two of the favorite things to do at Bull Creek. I can imagine this park is packed with water seekers during the heat of the summer. We had a most enjoyable time walking along the river.

Enjoying Austin Texas for a while

We made the trip from Indiana to Austin in a few short days. We had some fun stops along the way including the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.

    Our site is very level gravel with a nice concrete patio including a picnic table. We are very close to the swimming pool laundry and all of the facilities.

We are going to be here at the La Hacienda RV Park and resort for a couple of months. We are looking forward to exploring the area. From what we have read it seems like there is a lot to see and do in and around Austin Texas.

The park has two swimming pools one of which is this delightful adults only pool complete with nice hot tub

 

 

Haunted Hotel in Texarkana

The Grim Hotel in Texarkana was built in 1925. At the time of its construction it was considered an architectural marvel of the day. With its massive ornate lobby, upstairs ballrooms and highly elaborate room furnishings it soon became a hotspot for the rich and famous.

The original sign still clings to the rooftop of this now rapidly decaying building

There have been many reports of paranormal activity in the hotel both during the times it was opened and since it was finally closed in 1990. Many famous and infamous people have visited here including Bonnie and Clyde.

This shot shows the massive size of the eight story structure. A recently posted sign states that by 2021 the building will be completely remodeled and filled with apartments for rent

 

Bascilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle is a National Shrine in Texas

The Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle is a remarkable place in the Rio Grande Valley. The Basilica has a fascinating history that traces back to the 1600’s in Mexico with a reported miracle. The current location has been the sight for pilgrimages for decades.

The bell tower

The Sanctuary

 

 

 

 

 

Sher and I decided to go to the Basilica on a Sunday for mass. The Sunday schedule has masses all day, with Spanish, English and bi-lingual. There is a mariachi band providing the music on Saturday and Sunday masses. We opted for the 3 o’clock English mass. The mass was very inspiring.

Free Holy Water fountain

First Station of the Cross

The sculpture on the back sanctuary wall

When we arrived, the 1 o’clock mass had not yet let out, and the parking lots were very full. I was able to find a handicapped spot. The complex has lots of support facilities. There is a hotel for pilgrims and a very large gift shop. We went to the gift shop as we had time before the 3 o’clock mass. The gift shop was filled with about any kind of religious item you can imagine. The stations of the cross are set up along a beautiful path that winds through the grounds.

When in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas you should consider a visit to the Basilica. Read up on the history and other information before you go. This is the website link.

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.

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.