Friday, December 30, 2016

South Padre Island

December 26-28

We had a very nice time while we were at South Padre Island. On Monday we headed to the island & on the way
we stopped in Port Isabel & had lunch at Pirates Landing. It's been 14 years since we've been to SPI & to Pirates Landing & we were not disappointed. Our lunch was very good.

Once we got to SPI we decided try restaurants that we have never been to rather than going to our old favorites. Since we had a BIG lunch we passed on dinner Monday. Tuesday morning we had the free breakfast buffet at the hotel which was mediocre at best. All the "bread" items were "white flour".

White bread & plain bagels. The muffins were miniature & intended to appeal to kids. Nothing healthy except an omelet at this buffet. The waffle was mediocre so I just ate a few bites. The egg dishes did not look very appealing so I passed. The omelet was made to order & they had a nice selection of veggies I could choose from.

On Tuesday afternoon we went out exploring to see all the changes that have happened since we left Texas back in 2003. We stopped at Rene's (Owned by Rene's in Mission). I was disappointed that it was just a gift shop & no restaurant but while there we checked out two places along the same strip shopping center & we came across Yummies Bistro (it was closed) & Gabriella's Italian Restaurant which was getting ready to open. They gave us menu's to look at & we decided to stick around & have an early dinner.

The food & service was fantastic & of course we both over indulged but walked it off on the beach. Everything is made from scratch
(no Sysco here), including the decadent desserts & each is made with their special "twist" to it. My favorite Italian meal is linguini with white clam sauce which is hard to find & they used fresh clams (still in the shell). I was in heaven. Al had his usual lasagna but he said it was the best he ever had. Not bad for a guy who doesn't get easily excited.

Based on reviews I read I decided to try Yummies Bistro for breakfast on Wednesday instead of the free, but not so good breakfast buffet. It was the best decision! I had a multi-grain waffle with pecans. It really was fantastic....even better than Cracker Barrel's pecan pancakes. Al had the Tex-Mex scramble that he said was very good.

Our itinerary:
Monday after we settled into our room we stopped over at the Birding & Nature Center which was cross the street from the hotel....very convenient & what a great place.

We did a dolphin tour on Tuesday with South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sea Life Nature Center. This is a small tour that only seats 6 per pontoon. It really was so much nicer than going on the big boatswith a bunch of people & not getting that personal touch. Scarlet & her husband George do an outstanding job. George was out Captain along with his dolphin spotter, Gorgi (one of their dogs). She was a
hoot! Every time she heard their "sonar"under water she would bark & point to where they were & she was right on every time. George & Scarlet communicate with each other when dolphin are spotted & we sure did see a lot of them. It was very hard to capture photos because they are gone by the time you hit the button but I did get a couple of decent ones. We had lots of sightings thanks to Gorgi.

The photos are posted in the order taken each day
The parrot is one of several birds in an aviary in the same area as the Pirates Landing & the Dolphin tour. The aviary is maintained by Davy Jones Locker. After we checked in at the hotel on
Monday we went to the Birding & Nature Center was our second stop which was across the street from our hotel. The turtle's were in the front of the building & the heron was wandering around in the bay side.
Tuesday afternoon was the highlight of our stay, the Dolphin Tour
Wedding Cake

The foodie photos were taken at Gabriella's
Gabriella's

Linguini with Clams





Tiramisu

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Courtyard Face Lift

Ok, now that we have the Pergola & fans our plan is to spend more time in our
yard & have our friends over.

It's hard to believe that after only a year our concrete was badly stained & had lots of chips in it. I wanted to cover up all the stains & chips in the concrete & as long as we were going to do that I wanted it perk it up.

Several neighbors have used a local company to paint the concrete surface with a concrete/paint mixture. I chose colors to coordinate with the house & yard furniture & then chose a mosaic design with speckling.


The results were fantastic!

The 1st photo is "before"

Tomorrow we have our first day to entertain!


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Our New Pergola

We waited a little more than a year to finally make a decision that we needed a
pergola.

Our next door neighbors put one in & we checked it out along with several other neighbors before making the final decision. 

George Smith came over & gave us the estimate & we decided to go forward with it. We also decided that we should explore the option of putting in fans. Again more research...the common theme was yes, do it. When I asked those that had them installed several responded that they should have put in more
than one. So, based on the fact that our courtyard & pergola extended 25 feet we decided to get 2 large fans. 

I called for estimates on installing the electrical & fans & of course my buddy Rene Villareal (R&R cooling & Electric) was not only the cheapest but he planned on doing it the "right way". This is why I use him for everything!

So, the pergola & fans are now in. It looks fantastic & boy is it cutting down on
the sun & heat...even inside the house. Rene's guys, Berto & Rene (different last name) came over to drill & run the wires to the Pergola on the first day. George started on Tuesday & was finished on Thursday except for a couple of last minute touches done Friday morning. Berto & Rene came back Friday morning & installed the fans, set up the 2 remotes, mounted them & installed the switch on the inside next to the patio door.

We rearranged the furniture so that when sitting on the sofa & chairs everyone can see the planter bed with all the flowers. We also have new bushes (Croton mammy) & tree (Crepe Myrtle) that are very colorful & will look great when they get a little bigger. So, we have a nice relaxing environment in our courtyard now...& it will be cooler, which is even better.

The finished job looks fantastic!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Birds And The Bees!

Oh, the birds & bees are very busy at our house. It seems like I'm feeding the whole neighborhood. 

My hummingbird feeders seem to be attracting birds that sure don't look like hummingbirds. 

I guess that's why I'm making a lot of nectar but at least I know I do have a lot of hummingbirds getting some too...they are just too fast for me to get good photos!

I'm surely not going to complain because it's wonderful to see all these birds.


We have lots of hummingbirds but they are a lot harder to get photos because they flit around so fast. 

We will be having our Pergola built in the next couple of weeks so we will be able to sit outside more & enjoy watching all our fine feathered friends without baking in the sun so much. We are both looking forward to it.

We have a lot of experts in our community that can probably name all these birds but I sure don't know what they all are. All I know is they are absolutel beautiful....even if they drink all my nectar. 

    






Saturday, August 27, 2016

Destination South Padre Island

Well, we had so much fun on our first non-working vacation with no dogs or motorhome so now we are planning our next trip.

When we lived in TX in before we used to go to South Padre Island (SPI) a couple of times a year & stayed at an RV park called Destination South Padres. That RV park is now a KOA. 

The last time we were in SPI was back in 2003 before we moved back to WA state so I'm sure it's changed quite a bit. It's also interesting that down here in the Valley (RGV) where we live now they refer to South Padre Island as "The Island". Up north it was South Padre Island. 

Dayla is going to take care of the dogs again & reservations have been made. We are going in November so it will be my last "relaxing vacation" before I gear up for the holiday shopping season. Perhaps when it's over we will come back & I can recuperate.

I am looking forward to a Dolphin cruise & relaxing walks on the beach! Not as nice as the Oregon coast but certainly a lot closer.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Christi Updates

Well Christi has been with us now for 2 months & she is all settled in. 


While we are still mourning Allie we are doing better knowing that she is in a better place & no longer suffering.

The first photo is Christi & Allie lounging on the bed. As you can see they really got along well in the short time they were together.

Shadow & Christi are doing very well together & Christi is making lots of friends.

We went on our vacation this month & Dayla (our dog sitter) took good care of
them. She stayed at the house & sent photo updates a few times to put our mind at rest that the dogs were not suffering. In fact it appears that we were hardly missed. They were excited to see us when we got home but when Dayla came over a few days later they were all over her & Christi was whimpering with excitement. I also found out that Christi slept in the bed with Dayla...what a traitor!

Some friends have asked for more photos of Christi so I'll attach them here. She hasn't changed much other than gaining a little weight but since she's a very active dog she will never get fat. She burns it off as fast as she takes it in. Thank god we have our own little dog run in our yard & she does use it!


It didn't take long for Christi to discover how comfortable the leather furniture was & now I have to fight with her to sit in my own chair. I won't complain too much...we did buy these because they were durable & I had a feeling Allie & Shadow would be spending a lot of time on it. 

In case you haven't noticed, Christi is NOT camera shy! In fact, I think she's a ham & enjoys getting in front of the camera.

Christi & Shadow really play a lot & the photo on the right is what they look like
after a round of playing out in the yard....they crash & burn!

The last photo is Dayla & Christi. Dayla came over for a visit yesterday. She joined us at our community BBQ & pot luck & then we visited at home after. As soon as Christi saw Dayla she started jumping for joy & whimpering with excitement. Hmmm, she doesn't do that when I walk in the door!


video
All in all I'd say we now have 2 very happy dogs. Christi has given Shadow a new lease on life. He's almost 9 years old, never played with toys & rarely played with Allie. Now Christi & Shadow are playing with toys together, doing tug of war, chasing each other & sleeping next to each other. It's wonderful to see how Christi has helped Shadow learn how to enjoy life again. The only time he ever really played was when he was at the dog park in AZ, at the Ocean in Oregon or when I threw a ball for him to chase. Now, he's playing with Christi every chance he gets. As you can see in the video, they have a great time playing together. She's have his size but they just have a great time!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fredericksburg

We are in one of my favorite places...Fredericksburg. We started coming here in the mid 1990's when we lived in TX the 1st time.
We came twice a year for the woodcarving shows. The woodcarvers were a fun bunch & they introduced us to Friehdhelm's which is our favorite German restaurant. Over the years we tried everyone in town & their food wasn't nearly as good. Friedhelm makes the best Jagerschnitzel I have ever had. Over the years we were told that Friedhelm uses his mother's recipe & while some of the other restaurants in town have tried to copy it they just never made it as good. I can attest to that because I have tried it at each of them.

This is our first trip without an RV so we stayed at a B&B in town. We've never been here but it had rave reviews. When we arrived I realized that the cottage we reserved is not very suitable for anyone with any mobility issues. It was very cute but the floor surface was uneven with lots of areas that made it difficult to walk on & a Jacuzzi tub that I could never get into or out of. They moved us to another cottage which has a very flat, even floor & a large walk-in shower.

While this cottage is larger & nicer the furniture is very nice looking but VERY uncomfortable.
This morning when Al was sitting on the porch a white cat jumped in his lap. Poor think looked like it was starving so I gave it some of the left over sausage we had for breakfast. While out running around today I bought some canned cat food. The lady next to me at HEB thanked me for feeding the cat & asked if I was going to take it home. The white cat loved the food & while he was eating it another cat (who was obviously well fed) came running over but thank god it didn't try to eat the cat food. The white cat is now sleeping peacefully on the patio with Al. The owners say the cats both live here but it's apparent that the white one is not eating much.
Daniel, our salesman at Hacienda Ford told us about a B&B that he & his fiance (now new bride) went to & they loved it. So, I called & we went over to check it out today. We both loved it. There's only 2 cottages & the owner gave us a tour of each. They both have a private screened porch with a hot tub.

We also checked out another B&B but decided we really liked the one Daniel recommended so guess where we are going next time!


Out & About

Our favorite German Restaurant in town is Friedhelm's Bavarian Inn. We were introduced around 1995
by the Texas Woodcarvers Guild (we are live members). For years we attended the woodcarving show & rallies twice a year in Fredericksburg & this was one of their favorite places. I had never eaten German food so I asked for a recommendation & the waitress suggested their jagerschnitzel. Al loves their Knockwurst. The food was wonderful & every time we go to Fredericksburg that is what I eat.

A few years ago I decided to check out the jagerschnitzel at other local German Restaurants & decided they just didn't cut it. Their Jagerschnitzel was no where near as good so we stick to Friedhelm's.

Enchanted Rock

On our last day in Fredericksburg we decided to head out of town & explore an area we had
not been to yet but it was on our bucket list.
About 18 miles north of Fredericksburg is Enchanted Rock State Park. Although I couldn't hike up the trails I was able to get some really fantastic photos from below...It was better than nothing!

Enchanted Rock is comprised of several large domes of pinkish granite rising 450 feet above the surrounding plateau. The rock is a granite pluton batholith (a protrusion of volcanic origin).
Enchanted Rock covers approximately 640 acres and rises approximately 425 feet above the surrounding terrain to elevation of 1,825 feet above sea level. It is the largest such pink granite monadnock in the United States.





Saturday, August 6, 2016

San Antonio

Well, we had a nice drive up to San Antonio. Traffic was light & we arrived early
as planned so we could attend the Alamo Re-enactment. 

We had no problem finding the hotel & we got lucky to be able to check in early. The room was exactly as it was shown on their website so there was no disappointment there. Everybody is so pleasant & helpful so we were off to a great stop. They gave us directions to the Alamo via the fastest route & gave
us some suggestions on parking.

The room has a large corner sofa bed, king size bed, walk in shower like we have at home & a small refrigerator & coffee pot for Al. They have a free breakfast with REAL breakfast food. I can't wait until tomorrow ;)

Once we settled in we headed out to find the Alamo. It has been over 15 years but we had no trouble finding it but boy was it busy! Cars & people everywhere.


We had to drive around for 1/2 hr trying to find a place to park. The only parking lots that weren't full wanted $15.00 30.00. We finally got lucky & found a city parking garage that actually had room & it said it was $10.00 all day. Most of the other parking lots & on street parking was full. And what was even better is that it was not $10 but FREE because we had a
handicapped plate. How lucky is that. It was covered parking too so the car wasn't baking in the sun so that was even better.

The parking lot was only 3 blocks from the Alamo so that was great. Between the heat & my hips I was very happy....until we got there & found out there wasn't a "real" re-enactment. The photos I post here will show you exactly what we got to see other than the regular things we've already seen before. I was expecting what they
described on their website, a real re-enactment. Ah, but they did shoot off a gun once while we were there LOL

Ok, that was supposed to be an unexpected adventure so I am not devastated but I'm sure there were many tourists who were upset.

After we rested up at the hotel the staff told me about a great Italian restaurant only 3 blocks away. Ok, so now we can walk off what is probably going to be a very decadent dinner. 


We were not disappointed. La Foccacia is a family owned business. Dad (passed away yesterday)was from Rome & I had a chance to talk to his son Raymond. We chatted about Rome & I compared notes on my experiences there, about art, etc. We shared some of our art with each other & I talked about my experiences with Italian food & how I have tried linguine with white clam sauce all over the country & their's was by-far the best. That made him very happy. So, today turned out to be a good day even if the re-enactment was a bust. Tomorrow is another day!


Sunday

This morning we had a great breakfast at the hotel. I have to say it was more than I expected. They offered scrambled eggs plain & a la mexicana, fruit, yogurt, cottage cheese, french toast, sausage, donuts, english muffins, bagels, toast, a wide variety of cereal & wide variety of juices. 

The hotel was booked solid so as you can imagine there were a lot of people coming down for breakfast. The place had a steady flow of traffic & the food was darned good! 

Tomorrow should be quieter so I will try to get some photos of the breakfast room.

After breakfast we headed off to the Botanical Garden. It was amazing! We didn't get to see it all but I did my best to see as much as possible with frequent breaks to sit & rest. 

After we finished we stopped at the gift shop & I overheard an interview going on. While shopping the lady who was interviewed stopped to chat. I had overheard her mention donating to dog rescues so we had a very interesting conversation. She told me that as a member of the national butterfly center in Mission we get free admission to the botanical gardens. 

Today was dog day & everybody came with their dogs. The lady I was talking to told me they do it 4 times a year & the next one is Dec. 1st. They put out small kiddy pools & water bowls all over the place.

We did manage to see a large part of the garden but we will save the rest for another trip. Next time we bring more water. There were a lot of dogs in every shape & size.






















Our next stop was to the Pearl Brewery area. We got there eagerly enough to check out the farmers market which had everything you can imagine. We refrained from buying any food or bakery stuff but it was nice checking it out.

We are eating 2 meals a day so we are heading off to one of our favorite BBQ joints for a late lunch.

Ok, we had lunch at the County Line on Riverwalk & I have to say that Rudy's is now my favorite BBQ Place. It's been years since we have been to County Line & since then we've been to Rudy's on a regular basis. I guess County Line is now off our list of favorites.

After walking up & down the stairs to Riverwalk I'm DONE for the day. My hips are crying uncle. 


Monday


This morning we enjoyed the buffet. It was even better than yesterday. Today
there were no scrambled eggs but we had waffles & 2 different type breakfast sandwiches. One was like an egg McMuffin & the other was a croissant with cheese, spinach & mushrooms. It was excellent. 

After breakfast we walked off some of the decadence at the Japanese Tea Garden.

The hotel we are staying at is on Riverwalk on the south side but still within a few minutes of just about everywhere.

The tea garden was amazing & one of the first things I saw was a large planter filled with Pride of Barbados in full bloom. Makes my 2 measly little bushes look puny!

The garden is amazing & having been to one in Japan I have to say while it's not quite as spectacular it is beautiful. They did a fantastic job of creating it & it's
very peaceful & very well maintained.

Some of the first pictures aren't very good. It was early, humid & my lens kept getting foggy. There was a beautiful water fall but the photo didn't really come out very good.
There was a beautiful waterfall that was in the back of the garden but the photo I took didn't turn out very well. 

I couldn't walk back there because of all the steps & we were too far to get a good photo of it. 

It's very obvious that a lot of work goes into maintaining it & it is very well maintained. There were some cute baby ducks with their mom in the water & they were fun to
watch. Several other birds were wandering around but I couldn't identify all of them.


The cute little fellow on the right was quite comical. He stood there for the longest time balancing on one leg & kicking his other leg back & forth. I was told that he does that all the time. 

They had the most beautiful bed of Pride of Barbados plants I've ever seen. Made me jealous because my 2 little ones look puny by comparison.









In the afternoon we headed back over to the Pearl Brewery to have late lunch at Bakery Lorraine. Since we are eating only 2 meals/day we can afford to be a
little decadent. 

I have to say that this place is fabulous. When we stopped in yesterday while we were at the farmers market the place was packed & a line to order. When we arrived today the place was packed but no lines. 

By the time we ordered there were a couple of tables that opened & while we waited to get our quiche Lorraine the place had a steady flow of traffic coming in to order.


We were told that yesterday was actually a very slow day & that usually the lines are out the door.

After eating their quiche Lorraine I can understand why they have a steady flow of customers. They make everything from scratch & their pastry looked amazing. 

We were good (sort of)...we did not have any dessert.

If you are in San Antonio you have to check it out. It is even better than the Corner Bakery Cafe!

Out for an afternoon stroll to walk off that decadent lunch. Ran into an adorable sheltie/collie (nobody is sure which), some nice people & great scenery.