His (her?) name is Meeko and he/she was my new best friend! My aunt and uncle feed the stray cats in their yard (Texas rodents are no joke people!) and imagine our surprise when we look out the front door and see this funny looking 'cat' eating out of the cats dish. I somehow managed to get a smile out of him (and about 50 other photos...)
After our adventure with the racoon it was time to head down to the store and get ready to go floating. We packed our cooler full of drinks (the alcoholic kind, obvi), lathered on the sunscreen, and then hopped in the shuttle to head to another 'camp' up the river, with plans to float back to Bezdeks for about 3 1/2 hours. Because it wasn't yet Memorial Day in the states, which is usually opening weekend ofr all the river businesses, we basically had the river to ourselves (aside from the turtle - they were everywhere).
Day Five (May 20th)
Before heading out on the river for the day we first headed into New Braunfels to stock up on essentials (ie: booze and Starbucks). Once we got back to River Road we headed back to the Float house for another amazing burger, before once again getting shuttled to another 'camp' up the river. There were quite a few more people out on the river this day than on the previous day, and while we floated a group of 3 girls followed along behind us.
At one point I thought we were headed towards a turtle (I thought I could see its head just poking up above the water) and gave a heads up to Kels (she freaks out if the turtles get anywhere near her). The closer we got I realized it was not a turtle and the panic started to set up. The reason for the panic? It was a snake swimming across the river! And not the teeny tiny garter snake that I'm used to here in Saskatchewan. No, this thing was twenty feet long and came straight from my nightmares. It swam right in front of us (I could have reached out my hand to touch it - thank GOD for having bottoms on our tubes!) and when it reached the shore it started climbing a tree. Kels and I completely freaked out. We were ready to ditch the tubes in our hysteria - somehow swimming made more sense to us than staying in our tubes. We were in full on panic mode and obviously not thinking straight. The girls behind us, native Texans, told us that it was a copperhead snake and that they are venemous
Our reactions x 2,000,000
Oh, and I named him Nagini
Kels and I both agreed that if we had Nagini on the first day that there is no way in hell that we would have gotten back in the water on the second day. Especially after our aunt and uncle had told us on the first day that our odds of seeing any snakes our entire time in Texas were 1 in a million. We should have bought lottery tickets that day...
Luckily the copious amounts of alcohol that we had consumed helped calm us down and we were able to finish out our float. We definitely drank way more than the first day after the snake incident. The upside to the day after the snake incident? Just as we were heading in from floating as we arrived near Bezdeks Kelsey asked me to be the Maid of Honour at their wedding!
Once we were back on land we quickly dried off in the sun and then it was a mad rush to get ready for supper. Our aunt and uncle took us out for supper in New Braunfels at a cute little German restaurant that they go to quite often. The chicken fried chicken was ah-mazing (why isn't chicken fried chicken a thing in SK?!). As we were leaving the restaurant we found a stray kitten in the parking lot and I tried really, really hard to make it come home with me. I think I named it also but for the life of me cannot recall what (I guess thats what I get for taking 8 months to get this recap up...). Then we drove around New Braunfels a bit and they showed us some things (like a really cool water park that we are totally going to next time we go!). After supper we headed back to the house and watched the finale of The Voice and then it was time for bed. You wouldn't believe how tired you get after doing nothing but laying in a tube on the river all day!
Day Six (May 21st)
The next morning we packed up for our next adventure in Texas - heading to Gruene for a night. Kenton and I had been to Gruene on our first trip in 2001 and absolutely loved it. Its an old fashioned town, on the National Registra of Historic Places and is so quaint and I just love it so much!
Before we left we said our first round of goodbyes to our aunt and uncle since we were heading to San Antonio to the River Walk after leaving Gruene. The Budweiser rep was at the store finalizing the order for opening weekend and he gave us a bunch of free merchandise and some new drinks to try. Score! I also took a bunch of pictures of the store since everything has changed SO much since the last time I was there.
My aunt and uncles business has been completely destroyed by flooding at least two times that I know of (but I'm sure its even more). The building that I remembered from my trips to Texas in 2001 and 2001 was a completely different building than the one in 2014. Part of the new building includes a bar top that they had custom made. It has US and Canadian coins sealed in it and one of the coins (in the middle in the picture below) is the Oxbow Centennial coin from the Centennial celebration in 2004. My Grandma had sent the coins to my aunt and they used them in the bar top. I thought that was a pretty special way to show my Aunt's Canadian (and SK) roots
After our goodbyes it was time to hit the road to Gruene. It is literally about a ten minute drive (if that) from our aunt and uncles place on River Road, so we could have stayed with them another night but the Gruene Mansion Inn was SO cute that we couldn't pass up staying a night (even though it is quite expensive). We also didn't want to have to worry about figuring out cabs since we would obviously be drinking. When I say that we drank our way through Texas I meant it...
Our first stop when we got to Gruene was Adobe Verde for lunch. One of the best things about Texas is all the options for Mexican food. In SK my options are ZERO so I was loving life while there. We enjoyed our food and drinks while outside on the deck. The weather was tolerable since it was only May - there is no way us Saskatchewanites could handle that heat in the Summer without A/C - we'd melt!
After lunch it was time to check into our room at the Gruene Mansion Inn. I had done extensive research trying to find the perfect room for us. I LOVE Bed and Breakfasts and old houses so this was right up my alley. We picked the Carriage Haus out of all the rooms and it was PERFECT. It was located right behind the main Mansion, had a deck with chairs that overlooked the Gristmill and Gruene Hall and everything about the inside was to die for. I loved the old style of the house and if I were to ever get into the 'tiny house' movement it would look exactly like the Carriage Haus.
We settled into our room, and enjoyed a few drinks out on our deck before we headed off to explore Gruene and show Kels our favourite places
We went into the cute little shops, showed Kels the Gristmill (where we planned on eating supper later on), went into Gruene Hall, etc. After walking around we headed back to the room for a few more drinks before heading to supper at the Gristmill. Kenton and Kels slipped out for a little bit to go get old fashioned photos taken at a business next door to the Mansion, and I sat on the deck and enjoyed a glass of wine. I was definitely (once again) in my happy place
We were still full from our lunch at Adobe Verde so we didn't head over to the Gristmill for supper until after 7:30. Going back to the Gristmill and Gruene Hall were pretty much the two things I was most excited for about our entire trip. You know how you think so much about something that you build it up so much, and then it ends up disappointing you? Well that definitely didn't happen. They were both everything I remembered and more. The outdoor patios of the Gristmill have awesome views of the river, and the coolness factor of the entire building being the old three story brick boiler room of a Cotton Gin is a 10+. The chicken fried chicken (that I've been dreaming about for over ten years) was even better than I remembered. The margaritas were to die for - it was a perfect night.
After lingering at the Gristmill, trying to make the most of our only night there, we headed over to Gruene Hall (just a few steps away from both the Gristmill and our 'home' for the night'. A band called Poor J. Brown was playing that night and considering it was a Wednesday night there was a decent crowd. Fun fact about Gruene Hall: its the oldest dance hall in Texas and the movie Michael (with John Travolta) filmed the dance scene in Gruene Hall. The Dixie Chicks, Garth Brooks, George Strait, etc. have all played. The inside of the Hall is small-ish but theres a large outdoor beer garden area. I'd LOVE to go back on a weekend in the Summer (maybe this Summer...?)
Day Seven (May 22nd)
The next day we spent the morning in Gruene, before heading to New Braunfels and then on to San Antonio. We started off our morning with breakfast on the outdoor patio at the Mansion. They definitely know how to put out a spread! We enjoyed some mimosas on our deck after breakfast and then it was time to pack up and say goodbye to the Carriage Haus. After checking out we explored the town a little more and popped back into a couple of shops to get some souvenirs, and then took some typical tourist-y photos around town
Just as we were about to leave Gruene (we had left the Mansion where the vehicle was parked and were literally heading out of town) we remembered that we hadn't went to any of the wineries, so we turned around (Kels and I couldn't miss out on that!). We went to the Grapevine and tested three different wines. Both Kels and I fell in LOVE with the Texas Southwind Blackberry wine (if there weren't rules about how much alcohol a person can bring back into Canada we each would have bought a case - so good!) so we ordered a glass and went outside to the cute little patio area to enjoy it. Take note, it was barely noon and the guy at the bar filled our glasses SO full we could barely walk outside with them we were so afraid of spilling. We may have both ended up drunk by noon that day after the mimosas on our deck and then the wine (don't worry, Kenton was responsible and driving us to San Antonio).
Even though we had said our goodbyes the day before we stopped back at the store to say one last goodbye before we headed on to San Antonio and to thank them again for letting us crash there right before their opening weekend (a busy time!). We got a couple photos taken in front of the store, and I had Kenton recreate a picture from twelve years earlier in front of the old store (before the flooding and rebuild) in front of the new store
After our final goodbyes we headed down River Road one last time, on our way to San Antonio. We got to San Antonio mid afternoon (its only about an hour away, even less depending on traffic). After driving around in circles trying to figure out how to get into our hotel (it was right on the River Walk so a little hard to navigate) we finally were able to park and check in before heading out to explore the River Walk. For the life of me I cannot remember what hotel we stayed at (I guess I should have gotten around to finishing this a LOT sooner) but it was right on the River Walk, we walked out the doors and booom we were there.
We walked, and walked, and walked that day. The River Walk has so much to see/do but its hard to navigate with all its twists and turns. We stayed at a hotel quite close to the spot on the River Walk with the most dining and bars options - the only part of the River Walk we had really explored when we went over 12 years earlier. We had a late lunch of a few appetizers at Dick's Last Resort and I got another Beergarita cup to bring home with me. We went to the Rainforest Cafe for supper that night and then went back to our room to have a couple drinks and get to bed early in preparation for our full day on the River Walk the next day
Day Eight (May 23rd)
We ate lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and that started off our day of drinking. After our lunch we went to visit the Harley Davidson store, the Alamo, and a few other stores and a mall that were above the River Walk but within walking distance. I got an awesome wine glass that fits an entire bottle of wine (because really, who doesn't drink the entire bottle at once?) at a store in the mall and was one of the best purchases I've ever made. We headed back down to the River Walk after that, dropping off our bags in our hotel room and having a few drinks from our handy dandy cooler while we were in the room. Then it was time to bar hop. We checked out SO many different bars along the River Walk. I love that there are so many different ones within walking distance
While at Durty Nelly's, an Irish pub where you get unlimited free peanuts and throw the shells on the floor and a piano player plays all day long, we came up with the BEST idea to open our own pub similiar to Durty Nelly's at home in O-town. The rest of the day, at each bar we 'hopped' to, we came up with even more ideas for our own bar (named Puzzles, obvi). I think the official count of bars we hit that day is 7 (Kenton or Kels correct me if I'm wrong please)
We had a late supper at a delicious Italian place with ah-mazing margaritas to round off our day
Day Nine (May 24th)
The next day it was sadly home time (it was also our Dad's birthday and our niece's dance recital that we unfortunately had to miss). It was a struggle getting out of bed due to the bar hopping from the day before, but alas, it was time to head home. Fun fact: it takes almost an entire day of driving just to get out of Texas. It's that big y'all! We stopped for lunch in nowheresville Texas for Sonic (one of our favourite things when we were kids visiting Texas was going to Sonic). They now have one in Minot, ND, only a couple hours from here, but we HAD to go to a Texas Sonic to relive our youth. Then it was driving, driving, and more driving
Day Ten (May 25th)
We tried stopping around 2:00 am at a hotel but there were no rooms so instead we drove a couple more hours then stopped in a parking lot somewhere in the middle of America and got a few hours sleep. Then once again it was driving, driving, and more driving. We stopped for breakfast at Burger King and I have to say, they make a delish iced coffee! Finally, after about 30 hours we arrived back in O-town in the early evening on Sunday the 25th. Ten days flewww by on us
So, if you were counting, we were actually only IN Texas for 8 days, the other two were driving through other parts of Canada/America, but #TenDaysInTexas sounded so much better #eightdaysinTexas and we were technically gone on our trip TO Texas for ten days so we'll go with it.
I'm SO happy (imagine me doing a happy dance right now) that I FINALLY got this post up!If you are still reading to the end I applaud you and if we ever meet in real life I will buy you a mimosa! It's definitely a long winded post, but like I mentioned in my January Goals I am doing this post more for me than anyone and I wanted to include as much details as I could remember
If you're ever going to be in the New Braunfels area let me know and I can give you even more recommendations for what to do/see! After finishing up this post I am missing Texas like crazy and may even be trying to convince my brother and SIL to move the planned Vegas trip for their Stagette/Stag to Texas, like we had drunkenly talked about while floating the river the second day. Wish me luck!