Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Austin and McKinney, Texas

Leaving Mission, TX, the wind was blowing briskly so driving the rig up to Austin was a little stressful. 

About an hour outside of Mission we had to pull over for a security check. The sign post listed ytd drugs that had been seized and undocumented aliens that had been caught.  A little scary when you realize this was the beginning of February. 

As we got closer all the vehicles were checked by the Border Patrol with a dog sniffing for something.

This was a shot of just one of many large refineries we saw on our drive.

When we reached Austin we stayed at McKinney Falls State Park and took the pups for a walk on one of the trails.

The place was loaded with cacti so the pups didn't venture off the trails.  Neither did we.

This pretty little succulent is called pencil cactus and the pups found out very quickly that it is nasty.  It has very sharp barbs and even brushing near it will leave you with many sharp pieces attached.  One of the camp hosts said he actually thought it jumped out at you as you walked by. 

A close up of the pretty flowers and the sharp barbs.

This area is called Upper McKinney Falls and is a large rock formation with the Onion Creek running through it.

A very pretty area for a stroll.

Trees living on the edge.

One of the many channels flowing to the falls where the water has worn away the rock foundation. 

Distance shots show the unique carvings caused by the water.

The park is named for Thomas McKinney who moved here from Galveston and built a home in the late 1840's.  This is the remains of the homestead and it was built from limestone blocks.

A two room house served as the quarters for McKinney's horse trainer who was John Van Hagen from South Carolina.  He was in charge of the thoroughbred horses until 1873.

While in Austin we met up with a good friend of mine, Dawn Barker, and her husband Mel.  We ate at favorite Tex-Mex restaurant of theirs and had a delicious meal along with a few margaritas.  That was the first time the Captain and I had ever tried a margarita martini.  It is made with tequila and is quite tasty.

Mel and Dawn Barker enjoying a great meal at Matt's El Rancho Restaurant.

The next day we took on the city of Austin.  What a neat place!

I didn't realize the huge river that passes through the city is the mighty Colorado. 

Austin is full of unusual buildings creating a beautiful view.  There were many more new buildings being built.
Austin City Limits, the longest running musical series in American television history, recorded its first program in 1974 with Willie Nelson at the University of  Texas.

Willie has a street named after him, too.

Austin has many musical sculptures throughout the city.

A statue of another Texas singer, Stevie Ray Vaughn.
This is Angelina Eberly.  In 1842 Texas was an independent nation with Austin as the capital.  Sam Houston, the president of the republic, decided the capital should be in his namesake city so he sent troops to remove the government archives.  Angelina, a local innkeeper, discovered the men loading their wagons and rushed to the corner of Sixth and Congress to fire a cannon and alert the people.  In the process, she blew a hole in the Land Office building and alerted all the populace. The citizens chased down Houston's men, recovered the archives, and gave them to Mrs Eberly for safekeeping.  You go, girl!

Other unique sculptures.

While in Austin we visited the state capital and walked the grounds.  It was a warm, sunny, day which made it even better.

A very stately looking building.

The rotunda inside the capital building.

The grounds were beautiful.

Looking down Congress Avenue from the Capitol.  The street stretches on for miles.

Not sure what this artwork signifies.....
Austin has a fantastic downtown dog park on the Colorado River.

Since it was Saturday, there were dogs and people everywhere.  

The river is also used for all types of boating.  Basically, the whole area was pure chaos and everyone, man and beast, was having a great time.

In case you forgot something, there was a truck with goods from the Great Outdogs store.

For lunch we stopped at an outdoor cafe and I had a grilled eggplant sandwich (house specialty) that was delicious.  The Captain had a cheeseburger.  
We were able to spend one last evening in Austin and Dawn joined us for dinner.
This was the CRU Food and Wine Bar.  We could use one of these in Five Points.

The wine was great and so was the food.  A very different type of restaurant.

One last hug with Dawn before we ended the evening.

Sunday morning we left for McKinney, Texas, to a company called MCD that sells window shades for the rig.  You need to book a week there because they measure and make the blinds while you are parked in their lot.  Arriving Sunday afternoon, I helped back the rig into our parking spot and realized one of our tires was very low.  The Captain got out and looked at it and the tire was completely flat and loose on the tire rim.  Luckily, it was one of the tag-axle tires so the other tire took the load while we were driving.

The culprit wedged inside our tire.

We called our roadside service and they sent someone out to look at the tire.  He removed the screw and patched the tire but wasn't sure it would hold. Since our tires had been made in late 2006, and the lifetime is 100k miles or 7 years (we had 55k miles and 6.5 years), we knew it was time to bite the bullet and get them replaced.  We found a tire company in Denton, TX, that had the type of Michelin tires we needed so after MCD measured our windows and took our order we went on another drive. 

We got this picture on the way to Denton. I thought it was a hoot. 

Our tire company.  Doesn't look big but they handle a lot of truck tires.

Wow! Look at these new treads. Eight of them only cost $5k and they didn't even shine them up.

Back to McKinney and MCD.  These are the old shades.  When the strings fail the whole shade fails.

They were driving me crazy and I think I mentioned it to the Captain once or twice.....

Ripping out the old ones and putting in the new shades.  Turns out MCD was so speedy they completed our shades by Wednesday and we were able to get back on the road on Thursday.

The new shades....I couldn't be happier.


One of the nicest things about RVing is meeting new friends.  Sitting in the MCD parking lot we got to meet a wonderful couple from Wisconsin.  Since they also like wine, we had several evenings together getting to know each other.

Joe and Rose Vier are full-timers but each summer they spend several months in Wisconsin with their kids and grandkids.  Since I'm originally from Wisconsin, and the Captain and I want to RV through the state, we are looking forward to the next time we get together with the Viers, hopefully in 2014. 

Texas is a great state with many wonderful cities.  We feel as though we have just touched the surface and look forward to coming back many times.  We are on our way to New Mexico now but will spend several more nights in Texas as we travel across the arid southwest with a stopover in Abilene and Van Horn.  Peace!

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