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June 17 thru 20, 2018 Beautiful Father’s Day morning weather, not too hot. Mario went down the road to get us some incredible, authentic Mexican breakfast tacos with fresh chopped onion, cilantro and red pepper sauce. My pick was egg and potato, with all the fixings of course, and queso fresco. Muy deliciosa!

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Got packed up, trimmed my hair and called dad. Rode with Judy to their new house being renovated. I love their French doors, the built-in bookshelves and the amount of natural light; can’t wait to see it finished. We watched the end of the FIFA World Cup (yea Mexico!), gave and got hugs, before heading out. I love you, Mario and Judy❣️

Considering New Braunfels is a hop and skip away, I landed in no time. I’m loving this journey, with each stop its own adventure. I’m here to visit Kathie, a beautiful woman who’s been a dear friend of mom’s for years She lives with her youngest, Matt. When she answered the door, warm fuzzies flowed in and around me. She said she couldn’t get over how much I look like mom.

img_20180617_163336549011418.jpgI met beautiful Bosco immediately, who barked and then slyly detoured around me. He finally decided I was worthy after several games of ball in the backyard. Kathie prepared a fantastic chicken spaghetti dinner; she’s an amazing cook. Her sons, Matt and Chris, daughter in law, Kara, and brother joined and we had a wonderful visit.

img_20180618_1005591668027958.jpgMade a light breakfast with Kathie’s fruit medley and some cottage cheese. Mom would be so proud of me for eating kiwi! I threw the ball around with Bosco, then headed to explore Gruene. About 35+ years ago, I went with mom and had a blast tubing the Guadalupe River and dancing at Gruene Hall. Unfortunately, the water flow is too slow for me to tube this time, but will definitely plan a future trip. Stopped for gas ($2.46/gal) at Circle K, then timed it perfectly to land a shady parking spot amidst the bigger trucks. Ha!img_20180618_1116521083031683.jpg

There are so many shops and restaurants in Gruene Historic District. This is where I started, Rusty Bugs & Roosters. I loved the bright colors, and creative artsy stuff, especially the fun metal art. The pink flamingos would be perfect in mom’s garden.

img_20180619_202048852056243.jpgI bought this super cute and simple shoulder-purse. Across the road is a cottage style B&B, with a whimsical garden (frogs included) and humorous parking sign.

All the shops are decorated uniquely and landscaped beautifully!

Enjoyed a lengthy visit inside Hunter Junction with a woman I believe was the store owner, about some history of the area and things to do. They specialize in t-shirts, so I bought my first trek tee here.

img_20180618_1149431041138063.jpgThe Simply Detailed inventory blew me away with beautiful, feminine clothing inventory; soft, flowy materials. They were definitely not in my budget, but I loved their clothes.

In The Best Li’l Bath Haus. The ladies were awesome and I got their complimentary hand rub with salt scrub. Bought the Sunshine moisturizing spritz they mixed. It smells and feels divine!

The name of this store, Traveling Gypsy, caught my eye. Lots of cool antiques and memorabilia and the older woman there was a doll!

Got a fun pair of earrings at the Hillbilly Chic, then headed to the Gruene Mansion Inn B&B. It was built in 1872 and offers a huge selection of uniquely decorated rooms across the estate grounds, not just in this Victorian-style treasure. Rates start about $175/night and beat the pants off a regular fru-fru hotel room. They’re very popular, so guess I need to book far in advance. Ha!

I headed to the famous Gruene Hall. Tons of famous and up-and-coming singers, songwriters and artists have performed and visited here. Super cool, old, authentic bar and dance hall. The bartender took this photo for me. Thanks, girl!

Hunger carried me to the Gristmill River Restaurant & Bar. Took in the beautiful scenery (love it!) and ordered Texas Torpedoes, bacon wrapped jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese, heavily battered and deep fried. They were huge and delicious, especially with the sauce. Perfect way to be bad, very, very bad. Robbie was my awesome server who recommended the strawberry Shiner. Ate one torpedo and doggie bagged others.

Next stop, frozen margarita. Found it at the Del Rio Cantina, where I totally enjoyed visits with staff and bartender, Jordan. Cute place with lots of festive lights and colors. Great margarita!

Winery on the Gruene was across the street. I’m not much on wine, since most are too bitter or sweet for me, but wine tasting would be what mom would love if with me, so I headed in. Talked with this wonderful person who quickly helped me find the wine that made my taste buds happy (gave my 4 torpedoes to him). It had a smoky flavor, slightly sweet, and was the 9th anniversary ‘flavor’. Paid for a glass and ordered a bottle, but Murphy showed up. Only samples were available; no bottles will EVER be available again. WTF?! I savored each sip.

It was hot as hell! Since I planned to walk by the river, figured one, non-alcoholic drink might be a good thing. Swung in the Gruene Coffee Haus for a cold, refreshing green tea blend and potty break. The sign in the ladies room made me laugh out loud.

img_20180618_171012257753345.jpgOnward to a very notable store, the Gruene Olive Tasting room. For olive oil lovers like myself, this a must stop. There are tiny cups and bread pieces to truly enjoy the tasting experience. Erin is amazing and I enjoyed a long talk about the oils, travel and life in general with her. I bought Passion Fruit that I can enjoy as is, or blend with lemon for salad dressing.

Just before my cell died (possibly from the shitload of pics), I snapped the General Store. It had food, souvenirs, and any gadget not needed but so cute or cool, and more. I hung out at the free salsa samples with chips!

I carried on exploring down and along the river. The weather was accommodating with cloud coverage, but the humidity was … Whew! Got back to Kathie’s just before dark and enjoyed great BBQ from Matt’s work. So awesome to be here with them!

img_20180619_1034511965977769.jpgMatt decided to spend one of his vacation days with me to check out the Natural Bridge Caverns he hadn’t seen in years and I’m super glad! He made tasty tacos before we headed out. I’m 5’6″ (sometimes) and felt so short next to him. Ha! Such a smart and sweet young man!

The weather was wonky; felt like it would pour, but was pretty much just a constant drizzle. Timing was great, just after 11a. In the door and straight to the counter. Admission is pretty pricey for a family, considering adult cost was $36.25 for the Combo, Discovery Tour and Hidden Passages.

We walked down to the meeting point for the Discovery Tour, listened to the guide who gave a brief history, tour safety and rules spill. We stood at the sink hole site where the ceiling had collapsed, leaving this 60′ limestone natural bridge. The walkway shown to the left is extremely steep, leading the way down 180′.

Heading into both caves through the first doors, the temp is 70. To protect life within, double doors maintain a constant 99% humidity, rising the temp within to mid-80’s. The paths weren’t difficult for us, but are steep, with wet areas. Ducking was necessary in a few narrow, low rock areas for me, so much more often for Matt at 6’6″, but he maneuvered all perfectly. The few cell photos I took aren’t the best. Absolutely breathtaking!

The tour guides in both caves were fantastic and I learned a great deal, including formation lingo (e.g. cave ribbons, curtains and draperies, soda straw stalactites) and the conditions and time required for growth. Mind-boggling beauty.

In the Hidden Passages tour, there are more fragile formations, so lighting is turned on and off after each section. At one point, while everyone is seated, all lights are turned off to experience the total darkness found only in caves and the ocean bottom. TONS of steps, so great workout for me and a good thing they tell you about them before going inside. This is the view on top of the limestone bridge.img_20180619_1417152096114814.jpg

There was only one hick-up on our adventure and that was the man in front of us who stopped repeatedly to take flash photos. Along with the flashes, we got the shutter clicks, which was turned up. It was very irritating and I thought Matt was going to go off on the guy, but he maintained his cool. Way to go to both of us!

The grounds are landscaped and there are other attractions at additional costs in the Discovery Village, like a Canopy Challenge, Maze, panning, and a zip-line. The souvenir and ice cream shop were fun to browse.

img_20180619_1503521065078983.jpgAwesome day trip and Matt’s company made it even better. Totally enjoyed our chats! Got back to the house and Kathie had homemade banana muffins waiting for us. LOVE! It didn’t take long at all, after a little TV, for me to be out like a light.

With overcast sky, occasional drizzle and cooler weather, today was the perfect lazy day. Enjoyed visit and TV time with Kathie, packed up non-essentials, picked a variety of delicious tomatoes and tossed the ball for Bosco. Planter gardens are wonderful on so many levels, especially for low-maintenance and no stooping. They also have a great side-yard garden.

img_20180620_150232987553143.jpgHad a super time in the enclosed patio area doing a new mini project of ‘restringing’ chairs using Paracord; $7 for 50′ easily covers two chairs. This was my first time restringing and it reminded me of weaving leather at Camp Shoshoni in Colorado. Fun!

 

Bosco kept me company and entertained by eating ants that dared to cross his invisible line.

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img_20180620_1836081725725878.jpgUpdated journal, then enjoyed time with Kathie and Matt, while eating her delicious meal; I didn’t last long after that. So much love here!

 

 

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