September 8th 2010:
Nico is 41 today, and, so far, his birthday is starting out better than mine did yesterday. No matter, I guess my day ended pretty well. So…today we plan on walking to Market Center first, then to the River Walk to find some excitement: restaurants, waterfalls, cool refreshment; filming all the while with our Zoom recorder I bought off of Ebay. It’s great for video, though we’re not sure about recording our music on it just yet.
We finally found the tourist-loop of the River Walk and decided to hang out at The Hard Rock Cafe for a bit; Nico’s choice. I filmed a short clip of our time there. About an hour…’two beers for Nico…one beer for me’ later, we headed back to the hotel to ready for our cook-out at Chris’s later that night. I wish we could have strolled along the river for a while longer. I’ve always loved the river walk in SA, minus the bad smells in some spots. I swear—one strip under one of the bridges smelled like raw sewage. Not good! Oh well, you take the good with the bad. Right?
So…there we were, using the GPS…again, for directions to Chris’s. This time it actually took us to the right destination. I say… “It’s about time!” After several wrong turns and one wrong address, we were there: hungry, thirsty, and ready to relax. And so…we did!
One meal of barbecue chicken, with all the fixin’s, and a few drinks later, the guys broke out the guitars and we all succumbed to our passion: music. Nico and Chris played for a while and I listened, enjoying every minute of seeing two old friends catch up; picking up right where they’d seemed to left off. Then…I chimed in; singing a song that Nico and I wrote a few years back. It was a lot of fun. But, soon, it was time to head back to our hotel-home.
We knew we had another busy day ahead of us, since we’d already decided to head back to the river walk for a longer, more leisurely tour. We would also be filming again for a video I’ve been planning for one of our songs. I am also working my way towards documenting our travels in the Westy, though I find juggling the baby while navigating on our road trips a full time job in and of itself; never mind trying to enter filming into that equation. I guess time will tell.
If only we could have known what surprise we’d find when we arrived back at our room. I guess we should have known better than to leave Blanca, our little schnauzer, all alone in the room. But, at the time, we really had no choice; since she was ‘on her monthly’…in diapers…and couldn’t go along with us because Chris’s dogs are male and so on…and so forth. Either way, we thought we were doing the right thing at the time, and felt Blanca would be fine since she’d been alright with it earlier that day when we’d gone to the river walk. But…she wasn’t, not this time around. She’d torn through the bathroom door, which was brand new…though made only of paperboard, and also nibbled on the corner of the other door. Needless to say, we’d be paying for the damages.
*What I Learned By This Little ‘Event*:
-Leave the dog at the pet-sitters
-Get your dog ‘fixed’ asap—don’t put it off ‘til you have to diaper the little brat
-It is better (in case you can’t leave your pet behind or at a sitters) to leave your little K9 in your van-home, where she/he is familiar with the surroundings, than to shell-out travel money for damages to hotel rooms. Ugh!!!
-Pay for the damages and become a very welcomed, and trusted, guest at your fave hotel
September 7th 2010:
Just as we feared, the weather made a turn for the worst this morning. Happy Birthday to me! Instead of just a drizzle, the rain is pouring and we have to evacuate the river…before we’ve even had a chance to set up our drive-away tent. ‘Satisfaction of knowing how it will serve us in our travels eludes me still. Dammit!
We talked to the campground host before we left; his name is Marty…he loves our van. He told us of how his parents traveled with him in their VW Van, back when they moved from South Carolina to Texas. It makes us a lot of fast-friends; this old Westy. She’s a definite ice-breaker when it comes to conversation with strangers and making friends. Still, we had to evacuate the river because, according to Marty, the camp-site we’d chosen would soon be under water. So…we packed up…again, and headed out. To where, we had no idea!
The wind was gusting so swiftly we could barely keep Peniki on the road, and the rain made visibility less than safe, so we decided to stop a while…in a Taco Cabana parking lot, of all places. Hence the reason one should always pack a lunch and plenty of food. It doesn’t hurt to make a plan B when it comes to your destination as well. On any trip, long or short, Mother Nature is the real driver and we are only passengers. Anyone who knows Texas weather knows how flaky it is at any-given time of year.
So…there we were, contemplating plan B. A few stormy hours later, we headed south to San Antonio. The river walk was our next stop. Nico phoned his best friend to let him know we were in town, and we all made plans for drinks later that evening. The welcoming sign of our favorite ‘pet-friendly’ hotel, Motel 6, was a grand site after such a day. The trendy contemporary décor of our remodeled room was the icing on the cake, a hot shower…even more of a treat. We commenced to cleaning ourselves up for our soon-to-arrive guest. It had been too many years since Nico had seen his oldest friend Chris, though they still keep in touch on a regular basis.
The weather cooperated enough for us all to take a stroll to the river walk, about a mile or so away. We never did find the touristy part of the Riverwalk, so we gave up…from exhaustion, and headed back to the hotel. Following the GPS was the last thing we should’ve done, since it took us so far out of the way that we ended up in a ‘not so safe’ part of SA. No blame on anyone, but next time we went out touring, we carried a map and our compass. So much for technology!
What did we learn from all of this…?
*Carry a good map of the city and a compass. A flashlight at night helps immensely too.
*Take plenty of extra cash, just in case your thrifty camping adventure has to be traded for an uptown excursion.
*Carry some mace in a strange city; especially if you’re a woman.
*A shoulder tote or backpack always helps if you have to bring water and other items, such as baby necessities.
September 6th 2010:
‘Woke up late today, even though we swore we’d get up and get going down the road like early birds. No matter—we are like the tortoise: slow as hell. Still, we managed to make it out of Dallas before noon-ish. We’d been spending some time with my oldest daughter Mia, there in the West End of Big D.
It had been a very enjoyable week for me, Mia, and Nixi. ‘Not for Nico: he’d been taking the six o’clock Dart Rail to the TRE train to Fort Worth, then The T bus to work; an all day journey that landed him back in Dallas no sooner than 9 PM each night. I hated him being gone for the entire day…before sunrise ‘til post-sunset. But we made it through the week…I spent some very valuable time with my Mia…and all systems were pointing to ‘go’ for our longest road-trip in Peniki to-date.
A bit nervous and excited all in one, we looked forward to a new adventure in our Westy. Although we did a bit better in our preparations this time, our plans to head out early were steadily curbed. But what can one expect from a couple of turtles. After all, it is quite a task driving to storage for our camping gear, loading or unloading, gassing-up, ice…food…drinks…traffic until we are out of the city; it just seems to be one thing after another. And, before we know it, we’ve spent half the day and almost $200 before we ever get going. It sucks…yes. But…it is the path we’ve chosen…for now. I remain hopeful that we will find the place to set some roots. Soon, perhaps…? One never really knows.
So…there we were, finally losing the hub-bub…rat-race…congestion of the city, finally reaching the peacefulness of the path less traveled; a state highway after Labor Day, headed for New Braunfels. My 42nd birthday was the next day, Nico’s 41st birthday would be the day after mine, and he had planned a river-camping trip for our big days. I was excited because we were actually going to be able to set up our drive-away tent…more than two months after purchasing it on Ebay. I’d been anticipating how much room we’d add to our tiny van-quarters. Turns out…I was right! But I’ll get to that eventually…in a future post.
A long…slow time later—around 2 AM the next morning—we finally arrived at River Road on the Guadalupe River; a place Nico had visited more than 20 years prior and now wanted to share with me and little Nixi…Blanca too. So, there we were; exhausted…road-weary, and it began to drizzle just before we fell in for some much-needed rest. We could only hope that the next sunrise would bring a more enjoyable day on our first lengthy road trip. A sunny, cloudless day for my birthday would be a welcoming surprise…no doubt. If only that had happened…it would have been femmetastique! But…as most of us know, life usually doesn’t turn out that way.
What did I learn from all of this?
*Do all prep-work (storage, packing the van, food/drink purchases, gassing up, etc) the day before you’re set to leave.
*Research, research, research the weather before you set your destination.
*If you’re slow-going (Peniki topped speeds of around 55 on level ground and 45 up hill), divide a trip of 300 or more miles into two trips of 150 miles…coming or going.
*Buy Ice before you get out of the city, or you’ll be paying double…more than likely.
*Pack a weeks’ worth (no more, due to weight) of canned goods, dry goods, fruits and veggies; things you don’t have to keep cold…just in case.
*Make sandwiches before-hand and pack in a cold pack or cooler, so you won’t spend money on unhealthy fast-food.
*Pack plenty of water…no matter what.
*If you carry a portable potty, make sure it is very clean…first, then if there is room in your van or travel vehicle (and privacy), keep it inside where you can use it in case of emergencies. **Not recommended for all travelers…believe me!**
*Try not to pack too much inside the van/RV/camper cabin so you can move around and be comfortable…and safe on the road.
*Always carry tools and a spare tire. **We had a flat in the middle of ‘nowhere’ on the way back.**
*Relax…have fun…meet new people, but, don’t drink too much. Too much of a good thing is usually…not.