We had a lovely visit with my parents (Roger and Shari) and their Icelandic foreign exchange student (Maria).  It was February break in New York and we were very happy to explore Texas with them. Luckily the weather cooperated and gave them some nice warm days (although it was a bit cloudy). We explored many areas of Texas from San Antonio to Austin to Galveston and all in between. Our first adventure was at Natural Bridge Caverns near New Braunfels, which was our home base for the week.  This cavern system is very large and impressive.  We enjoyed gazing at all the stalactites, stalagmites, pillars, and wave formations during the 75-minute tour.  I found the wave formations the most interesting, as they are like looking at the ocean floor.  The cavern rooms were very large with lots to admire including fried eggs, bacon, jellyfish, and the king’s throne.  Wade especially enjoyed the 100% humidity inside (this is for all of you who know about our sweat-a-thon days)!  We had a great time and were exploring Texas from the ground up.

Roger and das boot!

Roger and das boot!

The next adventure involved partaking in German tradition in Texas.  Germans settled New Braunfels and the surrounding area in the mid 1840s and this German heritage is still very much alive.   There are numerous thriving German bakeries and restaurants.  So we decided to eat at the highly recommended Friesenhaus.   The food was amazingly good but Das Boot was even better!  Wade, Roger, and I shared this 2-liter beer.  The boys picked out the most elite 8.5 % Hofbrau beer (which we were told was only being served in this restaurant in the United States).  This beer was absolutely delicious!  In fact, my Mom who doesn’t like beer enjoyed the taste of it.  The night was very fun and our technique was a success because no beer was spilled. Thanks Mom for driving us home! San Antonio was our next stop on this Texas tour.  The Alamo was our first destination.  We revealed in the history and architecture.  We also immersed ourselves into Bowie history.  Wade’s famous relative, James “Jim” Bowie, meet his untimely demise here fighting for Texas’s freedom.  The most intriguing part of our visit was walking through the gift shop and finding an old picture in a display above the Bowie knifes.  Wade’s brother Billy Joe “Bill” Bowie is in this picture!  I mean it; it is an exact image of him.  Anyone who knows Bill will agree.  Check it out below.  So there is definitely some family history here!  After picking our jaws up off the floor we headed out of the Alamo on to the River Walk.  This is a very nice paved walking path following the San Antonio River.  We strolled along the pathway until our stomachs would not let us go any further.  We settled on the first restaurant we came too and had a mediocre meal.  Once we continued forward we found numerous, better restaurant options just meters in head of us.  Oh well, now we know where not to eat on the River Walk!  We finished our day in San Antonio with some yummy gelato and a conversion with Tom.  He is an entrepreneur selling t-shirts and may soon be on the Shark Tank television show.  He was a very enthusiastic man, but we did not buy any of his products.  I am afraid the Sharks on Shark Tank will eat him alive!  Watch for Tees by Tom.

Austin was our next destination.   We explored the funky shops along South Congress Street and found my cupcake food truck, then headed up Congress Street to the Texas State Capital.  The Texas Capital building is a massive red granite ornate building.  We participated in the free tour and learned a lot about Texas.  The inside of the building is just as impressive as the outside.  Did you know that the building has massive underground wings?  Well it does!   Following our tour we walked out of the rear entrance of the Capital building to run into a television set.  Really, we stumbled upon the tapping of an episode of NBC’s hit show Revolution.  This set was very open and we were able to come within feet of it.  We watched for about 45 minutes and talked to several extras, and then they changed to another take and started filming right in front of us.  The scene involved one of the main characters, Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos).   They still allowed us to watch and we witnessed three or four takes with Tracy 10 feet away from us.  She even smiled at our cameras!  Maria won, as she took the best photo.  Pretty cool!  We left with faces full of smiles as we went to meet a fellow DeRuyterite (New Yorker) that lives in Austin.   We had a very good meal and great conversation on South Congress St at The Lucky Robot.  It is always great to visit with hometown peeps while traveling, even better when they too have nomadic hearts.  We ended our night with some fabulous ice cream at Amy’s Ice Cream and with a cowboy riding his horse (maybe a mule) down the main drag.  Only in Texas!

Shari on the beach

Shari on the beach

Next up, Galveston.  My great Aunt Barbara and her family live near Galveston in League City, Texas.  Therefore we made the 3.5-hour journey across Texas to visit them.  We had a great visit with Aunt Barbara, Cindy, Mark, and Ryan.  Thanks for treating us to lunch and dinner Aunt Barbara!  We also explored downtown Galveston.  We started by driving our car by Pleasure Pier and then onto the beach (very weird to a non-Texas person that you can drive your car feet from the ocean) and took in some salt air.  Shari and Maria tested out the water with their toes, but were smart enough to stop there, as it was windy, cold Texas day.  Then we headed to the Strand and revealed in the historical architecture and shops.  We ended our day with a very delicious dinner on the Kemah Boardwalk. The final day of my family’s visit was spent enjoying the pools and hot tubs of the RV resort and then exploring the local town of Gruene.   A German family settled Gruene in 1845 and they thrived on a booming cotton business.  Thus many of the historic homes and storefronts still exist in this sleepy 3 street town.  An old cotton gin is now a great little restaurant along the Guadalupe River called Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar.  We enjoyed an afternoon lunch with Mom’s favorite drink Sangria here.  The Gruene Hall was our next stop on this historic tour.  This is Texas’ Oldest Dance Hall and it is still rocking.  We admired the signed photos on the walls and watched as the roadies set up for Asleep at the Wheel, who was performing that night.  The rest of the town was rather disappointing as it is all shops with minimal historic character.  Therefore, we finished our walking tour and headed “home”.

We had so much fun at the German restaurant, Friesenhaus, the other night that we made it our final destination.   Again we feasted on delicious German schnitzel and wurst, but this time we also enjoyed live German music.  At one point the accordion was put down and an alphorn (alpine horn) was brought out!  Fun times!

Y'all come back!

Y’all come back!

We really had a great time with my parents and Maria!  The week went by too fast and we were sad when it was over.