State #5 = Visiting Friends & Family in Texas

So we made it to Texas! Our first stop was Wolfforth near Lubbock where my brother and sister live for work and school. We were fortunate to stay on my brother’s place since he has a nice open plot in farm land that is plenty big enough for the motorhome. The last 45 minutes of driving was some of the windiest conditions I’ve driven in period and I had the wheel turned significantly into the crosswind the entire way just to keep going straight down the road. In the rear camera, I could see our ladder and chairs that we have strapped to the back getting buffeted by the wind when normally they are so tight they don’t budget. We made it safely though without issue and fortunately, the wind situation was better once we arrived, maybe due to some strategic positioning and a tall sturdy fence on the highway side that is supposed to block some of it. We got settled, I made a big pot of homemade chili and we had dinner with my brother while we watched lightning and thunder off in the distance across the fields. An hour later, that storm hit us fast and hard. Easily one of the strongest I’ve been in, which escalated to hail so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves talk in the motorhome without literally yelling! It got even louder as the hail became stronger and audibly bigger pieces, until right about when I was getting worried serious damage was going to happen it just stopped and that was it. The water leak over the driver window I thought got fixed leaked again so I’d have to take a look again at that later.. nothing serious! Just had to put a towel down. It’s always something though.

The next day I washed the Fiat and then we went into Lubbock for mexican food. We also finally watched the movie RV with Robin Williams and an episode of The Grand Tour where they take some hilarious RVs across the Nevada desert to find out what it is Americans like about this. Then we walked over to a get together for my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday (that’s a mouthful) and it was nice to also see my sister that evening. Next day was chore day, plus Costco and finally doing laundry. We also went out to the field where my brother was cutting hay (if you didn’t see the link above, he contracts out to cut/rake/bale and then sells/delivers it all over NM and TX). Pretty neat seeing all the heavy equipment he uses, which frankly looks like some scary equipment to be around. This one is pretty tame.

After saying our goodbyes, we headed Southeast towards San Angelo and stayed at a Harvest Host in a pretty much dead town of Eola, also in farm country: Eola Schoolhouse Brewery & Restaurant. We learned that the owner Mark, who took a break from some welding he was doing when we arrived, bought this vacant high school over a decade ago and has been slowly restoring it by himself bit by bit. He brews his own beer, which he hilariously offered us in Styrofoam cups (and was quite good) and offered to cook us some of his famous burgers later if we wanted. The dining area was basically one of the classrooms with a few long tables to eat at and a long bar replaced front of the room where the teacher’s desk would be. I don’t think he gets a lot of business except people passing through as he might be the only person out of a small handful still living in Eola. He did say that Budweiser picked up his beer for distribution though. The parking lot had an adjacent field next to a bunch of goats that we camped in overnight. Quiet and peaceful! Tinkerbell got some outside time.

Next day we made it to San Antonio and again stayed at a Harvest Host: Texas Air Museum at Stinson Field. This time we had a couple neighbors also passing through we briefly chatted with. After deploying, we popped into the museum real fast for the last couple hours before close. One of the volunteers spent part of the time explaining some of the exhibits. One of the main talking points was the history behind the women in the Stinson family who were some of the earliest pioneers and pilots in aviation, who even trained pilots during WW I. More on that history here. That evening we made the short drive and walked around the San Antonio River Walk.

A short trip to Austin was next, where we stayed five days at our first Boondockers Welcome host: Murry Ranch 1800. It’s similar to Harvest Hosts except that instead of business owners offering free overnight stays on their property, it’s just regular people doing the same with their private property. Funnily enough, we didn’t even meet our hosts until the second to last day since they were out with their motorhome on a trip to Houston when we arrived so they just gave us instructions on where to setup and to make ourselves at home until they returned. They were very nice though and we would definitely stay with them again if coming to Austin. This leg of the trip (Eola + San Antonion + Austin = 7 nights) was the longest we’ve ever dry camped (at least with this RV.. we’ve done longer at Burning Man with a rental). We used our automatic generator start feature extensively on this trip. You can program it to automatically turn on the generator when the house batteries get to a certain voltage or the temperature inside reaches a certain threshold. This is handy when you’re out and you want to make sure the household fridge doesn’t drain the batteries. Or another scenario is hot weather and you want the generator/air conditioner to automatically come on for the kitties. It’ll even only run it during designated non-quiet time hours. In this case, we had it come on during the daytime if the batteries were about 50% discharged and run for three hours which is long enough for the batteries to get back up to 80-90%. It has to do this 1-2 times a day depending on how active appliances and things that rely on electricity are being used that day. This puts about a 20% load on the generator, which consumes less than half a gallon an hour of diesel off the main tank so it’s very fuel efficient. I’m estimated we didn’t even use ten gallons over five days and diesel is only $2.55 at Buc-ee’s (the best gas station ever!!). The generator is pretty quiet and the kitties are used to it now. It’s also a good time to use things like the electric oven, microwave, or run the heaters during this time.

While in Austin, we spent most of the time visiting friends and eating! A couple places we visited: Little Thailand for excellent lunch specials and surprisingly right near us even though we were off the beaten path. Japanese curry at Domo Alley Gato which was just as it sounds (outdoors mostly, had a Japanese narrow alleyway with food stalls feel) - I had the Texas Mud curry and Jeri had the wings. We finally ate at a Whataburger which is nothing special, but a Texas institution it seems - I did enjoy my late night patty melt. On the last day we had crawfish and gumbo at Shoal Creek Saloon. We also visited Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center since spring has started and the flowers are beginning to bloom.