Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Wildflowers in Texas…

Donkey in Bluebonnets

Being from Texas we know that the best things about Texas are the Tex-Mex food, the Bar-B-Que  and the spring wildflowers. That is the main reason  we always try to enter Texas just before wildflower season and stay long enough for them to fade into early summer. As mother nature has her thumb in the mix some years are better than other years when it comes to the abundance and diversity of wildflowers.

Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush  Bluebonnets

This year is about an average year on abundance but the diversity is above average. We did however find a few nice fields of Indian Paintbrush and Bluebonnets (the Texas state flower). There really isn’t much to say about the beauty they offer to the visitors of this great state  to let the pictures speak for themselves. Pictures are from aorund the Bryan and College Station area. The ones with the donkeys are in front of a good friend's house just outside of Bryan, Texas.

Phlox Indian Paintbrush


Blue Eyed GrassYellow Flax

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Texas A&M University…

As many of you know we love to stroll through our nation's college campuses but strolling through Texas A&M University is a bit more special to us since we lived here in College Station for so long. I worked at Texas A&M University for over 30 years and also graduated from here so strolling along the campus brings back many memories for the two of us.

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Texas A&M University was founded in 1876 one hundred years after the birth of our nation. Six students enrolled on the first day in 1876 and it has now become the fourth-largest university in the United States with a fall 2013 enrollment of 56,255. Initially all students were required to participate in the Corps of Cadets and receive military training.  Until 1965 Corps membership was mandatory. Also it wasn’t until 1963 that women were even allowed to enroll in the all male college. Now there are more women than men at this school.

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College Station TX part 2 078It is interesting to note that during World War II Texas A&M produced over 20,000 combat troops of which over 70 percent served as officers. This was more than any other school; more than the combined total of the United States Naval Academy and the United States Military Academy. During this war 29 Texas A&M graduates reached the rank of general. Pretty impressive indeed…

When I first moved to this area Texas A&M had about 13,000 students but now it has recently passed the University of Texas as the largest university in Texas. Its main campus is one of the largest in America with over 5,500 acres and it is also home to the George Bush Presidential Library. Therefore it is a great place to take a nice long walk.

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Steeped in history it is also rich in traditions and it is these traditions that give Aggies (what they call students who attend Texas A&M) the sense of pride that many exhibit by offering up a “Howdy” as you stroll across campus. The campus is a vast area with well planned green space and beautiful live oaks everywhere.

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Walking amongst the old architecture I love looking at and admiring the little architectural details on many of the older buildings. We even had the pleasure of taking some of our RV friends who were passing through town on nice walk through the University. Read their account if you would like on their blog Goan’s On. Our walks in these schools of higher learning always leave us feeling a little more energized…

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Enjoying the Parks and the Grandkids…

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We had a visit from our son and his family from San Antonio the very first weekend we settled in at Holiday RV Park in College Station.. It had been a while since we had seen the grandkids so we savored every moment with them during their visit. We planned all along to go to Lockhart State Park after we leave here to take the grandkids camping but were really glad they made the drive over to College Station to see us first!

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One thing we love about College Station, Texas is the nice city parks. The planners have always incorporated green space in much of their development. And Texas A&M University has a real nice park affiliated with their Research Park just south of the main University. This was the perfect place to take the grandkids.

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We had fun walking around the ponds that are along one of the creeks in Research Park. Feeding the ducks is always a fun thing to do for children so we brought along some saltine crackers to toss n the water which had the ducks in a bit of a feeding frenzy. If I didn’t know any better I would swear that they had never been fed before…

We also had fun looking for different kinds of turtles and with mostly red-eared turtles around it was a bit of a challenge. We did spot a couple of pretty big soft-shelled turtles to the delight of Cameron our six year old. After finishing up our walk we went out into a field and had some family fun kicking Cameron’s new soccer ball around… what a great afternoon…

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After the weekend with the kids we enjoyed a walk in a neighborhood park with a 1/2 mile walking/running track around the perimeter.  In addition we walked the new and old sidewalk trails in Wolf Pen Park, a park with a concert stage and a Frisbee golf course.  It was fun to revisit these parks we frequented when we lived here before.

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While on the subject of parks the George Bush Presidential Library is also here in College Station. We have been to the library before but there is a great little park with a walking trail just behind the library and with spring finally making its way to this area things will start blooming in this park soon. This will make it great for future walks or a picnic. So if you make it to this neck of the woods we invite you to check out the parks in College Station for getting in a nice walk…

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Stroll Through Downtown Bryan, TX…

Carnegie Library

Having lived in the Bryan-College Station, TX community for over 30 years we have seen a lot of changes.  No one area has changed more for the better than downtown Bryan, Texas. When we first moved to Brazos County the population of Bryan Texas was nearly twice that of College Station's 17-18,000. The downtown Bryan area, once a robust and bustling town had become only a shell of what it once was and was in serious decay.

Old Bryan Drug StoreBryan Tx Soda Shop

Founded in 1821 Bryan grew quickly once the railroad passed through town. By the 1860’s Bryan had even replaced Boonville, Texas as the county seat and shortly thereafter the city incorporated as symbols of the city government began to spring up. In 1876 in what is now College Station, Texas the the Agriculture and Mechanical College was built that would later become Texas A&M University.

Growth was still taking place in the city of Bryan but by the late 1990’s the City of College Station surpassed the population of Bryan and is now nearly 50% more populous thus contributing to the decline of downtown Bryan. Like many towns in the 1980’s and 1990’s the term “revitalization” was catching on and the city of Bryan was trying to figure out how to revitalize Bryan.

Bryan train Art on the StreetQueen Theater Bryan Tx

Revitalization was moving very, very slowly until the late 1990’s as it was about this time that a fellow named Zane Anderson. came onto the scene. Zane Anderson was a Bryan real estate person who had the foresight and vision to undertake the enormous risky venture of buying and redeveloping Bryan downtown area properties. Much of downtown Bryan resembled more of a ghost town than a vibrant area but Zane took the risk and bought some of the dilapidated downtown properties.

Proudest Monkey BarI am sure the Bryan city government will take credit for the amazing amount of revitalization that has taken place over the last 15 years in downtown Bryan but in my opinion it was Zane Anderson who was the catalyst and “Father of Change” that downtown Bryan sorely needed. Without his vision the speed at which the revitalization of downtown has occurred would have slowed considerably.

We love strolling through the newly redeveloped downtown area. What was once an area of boarded up business and terrible streets has become such a beautiful area with a new found energy as a younger population has embraced the changes in downtown Bryan. Businesses have popped up everywhere and the old boarded up buildings are nearly gone. We enjoyed visiting a few of the new spots in town, such as the Proudest Monkey Bar, and look forward to revisiting downtown Bryan in our future travels to see what exciting changes are still to come…

Friday, April 4, 2014

In Search of Really Good Mexican food…

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One thing we sorely miss from our time living in Texas is the abundance of really great Mexican food. There are many styles of Mexican cooking but in Texas the unique style is known as Tex-Mex. The Mexican food purists say that anything north of the Mexican border isn’t Mexican food so a regional cuisine developed that is similar to the Mexican food in northern Mexico but yet distinct in its own way… is thus called Tex-Mex.

Gallitos Fish at Los CucosChile con carne, breakfast tacos, cheese enchiladas and fajitas are major components of the Tex-Mex cuisine. One spice found in many Tex-Mex recipes but in very few, if any, Mexican recipes is Cumin. Tex-Mex is a very different cuisine compared when to the Mexican food in the Southwest in Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.The rich savory gravies of Tex-Mex food is just delectable.

Bryan-College Station (sister cities) have nearly 50 (or more) Mexican restaurants that mostly serve Tex-Mex food. Finding one restaurant in town that is the best is nearly impossible.As most towns do this area features an annual compettion called the Best of the Brazos (College Station is in Brazos County) where the public votes on what they think is the best in many different categories…

The Local Winner this year is a place called Casa Rodriguez and it is our favorite spot to get cheese enchiladas. We went there many times in our past and looked forward to going once again. Their salsa was as great as ever but the enchiladas were a bit disappointing in that they weren’t warm enough through and through. We sure do miss the enchiladas, and especially the migas for breakfast from Los Nortenos, our former favorite restaurant. Sadly it had closed down and  in addition to their enchiladas we d especially  miss their migas breakfast...

College Station TX part 2 029We also had to revisit our favorite spot for fajitas and one particular Mexican seafood dish called Gallitos Snapper. called Los Cucos. We also love their chips and salsa and after spending an evening at Los Cucos we were completely satisfied and will return several more time before we leave. The lemon butter sauce with jalapeno, mushroom and tomatoes that top the fish is absolutely wonderful. I have tried on many occasion to replicate this sauce but have failed each time so we must return for Gallitos fish anytime we find ourselves near their restaurant.

There are many other eateries we must visit or try before we leave here. It is very important for us to get our Tex-Mex fix before leaving the state of Texas and there is no better place to start than here…

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Back to the scene of the crime… College Station, TX!

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College Station TX part 2 019The drive over on Highway 105 from Delta Downs to Holiday RV Park in College Station, Texas was uneventful. Holiday RV Park is not a place with lots of amenities but it is a very convenient stop for us to visit our old home town. We left College Station a little over three years ago and started our new lives as full timers. We have had a lot of fun over the past four years but we always enjoy stopping by our old stomping grounds. Driving in we could see there is a lot of growth happening in our home town not the least of which being a big expansion to the Texas A&M football stadium, Kyle Field as evidenced by the large cranes in and around it. 

Having lived here for over 30 years there isn’t much here we haven’t seen however we still plan to stay a month for various reasons. We hope to visit with many of College Station TX part 2 103our friends from our previous life as working stiffs.  We certainly plan to visit a lot of our favorite eateries and pubs as well.  We can't wait to have our Tex Mex  favorites and plenty of delicious Texas BBQ.   We also very much enjoy shopping at our local grocery store, HEB. 

We arranged to have our teeth cleaned at the local Dental Hygiene school since we will be here a month. Then this is the time of the year that we do our deep spring cleaning of our motorhome. Abbey and the CRV will be getting scrubbed down and the carpets will have an appointment to meet with Mr. Rug Doctor.

Besides all the chores we plan to get in several good walks at some of the very College Station TX part 2 100nice local parks, visit Texas A&M University and the George Bush Library  We will also play a little Frisbee golf, maybe some real golf and just enjoy the springtime wildflowers that are so prevalent this time of the year. No doubt we will also drive by to see our old house and check on the rent house we kept.  Since baseball and softball are in season I hope we can also catch a few games at Texas A&M while we are here.

We also hope to see some of our nearby out of towner friends either by taking a road trip or two. We are now only 170 plus miles from the grandkids so we plan to see them as well. We are sure looking forward to reliving some of our old and fun experiences during our stay here in College Station, Texas…

Sunday, March 30, 2014

To Delta Downs and on to College Station, TX…

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We finally left Betty’s after being caught in her web for an extra four days. As a result we only had one extra night to spend on the road since we made reservations at Holiday RV Park in College Station, Texas. Not wanting to spend a lot of money for a one night stay and not really wanting to spend our first overnight in a  Walmart I found a nice overnight spot right on the Louisiana and Texas border.

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We drove 109 miles over to the Delta Downs Racetrack and Casino in Vinton, Louisiana after calling ahead to ask if it was okay for us to overnight in their parking lot.  They said yes and instructed us to park in the back lot. After looking on Google Maps I located the lot that we were going to park in so we wouldn’t be confused when we arrived at Delta Downs.

We pulled into the back lot and parked parallel to the Delta Down horse racing track. We centered our rig under a street light so we would have ample nighttime lighting without having to use the generator as much. After parking we walked Bettys Part 6 and Delta Downs 071around the property and went inside to see if they had any new player comps. They did and although they were quite meager it still didn’t stop us from using them to gamble a bit. We played about an hour, enjoyed several complimentary beverages and by the time we left we were only out about 10 bucks! Not bad for a evening worth of entertainment as well as an overnight parking spot.

Bettys Part 6 and Delta Downs 070Come morning I arose to a treat as I opened our blinds up to our view of the outside adjacent horse track where the ponies were running around the track for some early morning exercise. I made a pot of coffee and sat back in by driver’s seat to watch the ponies warm up and practice out of the starting gates right in front of our home. What a sweet spot for an overnighter… much better than a Walmart I would bet.

After breakfast we tidied up and left Delta Downs for Texas. A longer drive was in store for us today as we made our way to Beaumont and onto highway 105 to avoid Houston. One hundred and eighty eight miles later we pulled into our site for our next month long stay at Holiday RV Park in College Station, Texas.