Texas - Jan 25 - Feb 6

Well....like a New Years resolution gone bad, here we are, two weeks since our last update!  We've been in TX the entire time, but have stayed in three different areas.  It's been a fun couple of weeks traveling with our new friends, Scott, Linda, Jack and Tyler (and their dog Scout).  Linda is a professional photographer so her pictures are amazing.

Their blog is here:  Scout's Golden Hour

We finished up a few days in New Braunfels (just north of San Antonio).  They had a playground unlike any we've visited on our trip.  

(Oh, and any pictures that make you say "wow, what a great shot" - assume it was taken by Linda!)

Mommy decided to show the kids 'how it's done'. This is not photoshopped and she claims she wasn't even a bit sore the next day;)  We think she should take up her dancing hobby again!

London was not overly pleased about being brought into the Aeroball trampoline court, but it was the most exercise he's had in 6 months. 

We were able to take advantage of the Hill Country RV park community fire pit and barrel grill to make a mesquite smoked beer-can-chicken.

We spent a day in San Antonio, starting with a visit to the the Pearl Farmers Market. They had green, red, and purple cauliflower.

The Alamo (go see the Discovery channel video if you visit)

A great lunch at Boudros on the canal with "made-at-your-table" guacamole and a prickly pear martini. 

A canal tour 

We decided that because we were in the German town of New Braunfels we should make a German meal...but sauerkraut did not sound as good as homemade pretzels.

Along with the bounce mats and trampolines, Hill Country also had an indoor game room and an indoor pool.  For the kids, it was their favorite park for amenities.  Mommy and Daddy liked it because there was a Rudy's BBQ 5 miles away!

We traveled the next day to the Corpus Christi area (Port Aransas) with the help of a 25 mph tail wind - good milage!!  The park was located 100 yards from the beach with the jetty less than 1/2 mile away. You can see the large tankers that would pass through the canal

This was our first chance to drive on the beach so we went for a quiet 7 mile tour. We were told that come March, 150,000 spring-breakers arrive and this stretch of beach is bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Daddy was also excited because we were finally to a place where he has some idea of how to fish for the local saltwater fair.  But even with the same familiar species as found on the FL gulf, the techniques and bait may be different?  Yup, after scouting and talking to a couple local anglers, he determined the Redfish were biting, but we needed to be using "Ghost Shrimp."  Ghost shrimp can't be purchased, you have to "catch" them yourself using something called a "Ghost Shrimp Pump".  Thank goodness for YouTube.  Time for shop class.

We headed off to Ace Hardware.  When we arrived, Chris greeted us and showed us the pumps that he made and sold at the store. When we told him we preferred to make our own, he said "sure, I have all the parts. Do you want to make them here?" Chris not only let us use their work space, but he cut all the PVC to length to fit a 6 year old, and let us use their glue and tools. That's customer service!

In action that night (but no shrimp yet)

While walking the beach that evening there was a steady 25-30 mph wind.  JAK exclaimed "Look, it's making dunes just like we learned about at White Sands!" Seeing the connections play out is one of the most satisfying experiences of our trip. 

It took a few learning curves, but by the second day, we'd mastered the art of shrimp pumping and were collecting our limit of 20 per person.

Unless you are a ghost shrimp, you'll probably think they rank up there with the slug for least attractive creatures. They are not edible - or at least that's what we were told and we did not question it!

We were very excited when our friends Scott and Linda decided to stop at I.B. Magee. They are on a similar route and it's been a real treat to share experiences and time with them.  The kids spent time at the beach and were able to use the metal detector that Santa brought to find $.52 on their first try.  

Sadly, Anna confirmed it's not raining money today.

Linda's pictures of the kids are so great and we are so thankful she captured some of the most natural pictures we've seen of our children.  If you live in the NE, you need to look her up for your next family photos!!

Scott is as equally skilled in the kitchen as Linda behind the lens. He's one of those talented people who doesn't cook with recipes. Which means he's either: a true chef or a Grandma.  Our Grandmothers never cooked with prosciutto.

One of Scott's creations served on our finest dinnerware:

He taught Daddy a number of things and has re-inspired him to embrace one of his goals for this trip - use recipes for inspiration, but not creation.  Our family is probably in for some palate speed bumps....

Neither family had seen an NFL game this season, but we were all very excited about the Superbowl because it meant lots of cooking! For super bowl Sunday Scott made his homemade pizza crust which we topped with bacon, mushrooms and ricotta, Linda made homemade spinach artichoke dip and chocolate eclair, Melissa baked olive balls, and Daddy mostly ate.  The food was much better than the game!

Back to those ghost shrimp.  First we ventured out to the jetty and found an impressive catfish bite:(

But when the weather turned cold again, we took the ferry across towards Aransas Pass and found a large muddy hole holding Reds.  Over two days we caught 25 Redfish and 2 Black drum. More important, each of the kids and Mommy caught their first Red!  Redfish must be >20" to keep and most were too small, but we were able to keep 4 of the reds and both of the black drum (must be 14").

We cleaned them up at a great public cleaning house and a couple nights later had a fish dinner with our friends. The baked version was voted the best - fresh lemon and zest, mayo, butter, onions, garlic, jalapeno, pepper/salt, a couple other herbs, and tabasco baked in a clay pot. Next time we will add spinach. 

We decided to caravan with our friends to Port Lavaca and stay at the Lighthouse Beach park.  The drive included a trip across the channel by ferry.

The next morning at sunrise Linda gave us an early morning photo lesson.

And she taught us a few tricks

We are proud of our pictures, but compare them to the professional's pictures from that day!!

The next day it was time say goodbye. It was fun to have great neighbors for the past few weeks.  They need to make their way back home to the NE and like us, are eager to get to warmer weather in FL. Hopefully we will see them in FL, but if not, we will be excited to see them again when we make it to New Hampshire this summer.  It's been healthy for both kids and adults to have their companionship on this journey.

Yesterday we did a day trip around the area and to Port O'Conner.  It was 38F with strong winds again, but if it had been a warmer day, Port O'Conner looks slightly more interesting than Port Lavaca. Shrimping and oil are the main two visible industries in this area - at least when it's not tourist season.  Despite her neglect, we thought she was a beauty.

We'll be headed to Austin in a few days to pick-up Aunt Elyse and cousin Luke.  We are so excited for their visit and are hoping the weather warms quickly.  They deserve sun and warm weather after what they've endured this winter!

Katie Quote:  "If we are in Texas, where are all the horses and cowboys?"

We thank God for new and old friends this week.  We are blessed to know so many great people and we ask that he continues to keep us and those we love safe and healthy.  We have two dear friends who are currently fighting cancer and we also pray that he gives them continued strength and comfort. Please join us in this prayer.  God bless you and your family!