I arrived in Houston and our first stop was a true, Texan dinner of chicken fried chicken, okra, mashed potatoes, and sweet iced tea. They just don’t do it like this anywhere else!The next morning we headed straight to Brenham, home of the Bluebell Ice Creamery. We toured the factory and had a taste of the freshest ice cream I’ve ever had. Nothing beats fresh Bluebell. And, this is their 100th anniversary!
After our tour, we drove through Washington-on-the-Brazos and checked out the heritage museum there. The weather was warm and the bluebonnets were in bloom along the sides of the roads. We stayed off the main highways and took smaller roads our whole trip, which really showcase the beauty of the scenery of our beautiful state. On the way into College Station, we stopped at Messina Hof winery and bought some wine. Once we arrived, we spent the evening at the Dixie Chicken and Fitzwilly’s, eating Tijuana Fries and playing shuffleboard and dominos.
The next morning we continued our journey west (after a brief stop at the original Freebirds), and wound up in Shiner, Texas, home of the Spoetzl brewery. We missed the tour but still got to taste four free samples of different Shiner beers. Definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area. From there we went to New Braunfels for some German weinerschnitzel and sausage and potatoes. We spent the night there.
On Friday we backtracked to the south just a bit to hit the Natural Bridge Caverns, and took our time exploring the cave. Fascinating geology there. I remember going as a child. Leaving the caverns, we took the back route through New Braunfels, San Marcos, and up to Gruene. I really enjoyed walking through the tiny (like, 1 block!) city of Gruene. We got a great picture of the dance hall, and found out our favorite artist, Guy Forsythe, was actually having a cd-release party there the next night. We visited a western outfitter store where Chris picked up a great aussie hat- should come in handy when he’s in Africa. We ate lunch (it was more like breakfast, lunch, and dinner) at Adobe Verde, the best Tex-Mex I’ve had. They should really put a warning on the menu about the size of their burrito.
Bypassing Austin for the time being, we drove up to Waco. The next morning, Saturday, we awoke to a surprise: 30 degree weather and rain, which later turned into sleet and then snow! The Texas Ranger Museum was a block from our hotel, so we toured that and spent a couple of hours learning about the Rangers (the law enforcers, not the baseball players). Then it was time to head to West, for our rendezvous with Ken and Misty, who had arranged to meet us for lunch. We met at the Czech stop, picked up some kolaches, and then went down the street for some barbecue. We wound up spending several hours there, eating great barbecue and playing country songs on the juke box, practicing our two-step and drinking beer. We got some cute pictures outside of us in the snow, and Chris, Ken, and Mysti had a snowball fight (I was in the car with the doors locked).
On Sunday we drove to Huntsville, and found Sam Houston’s grave, which was ironic, as I am teaching a chapter on Texas and the West in my history class this week. From there we went back to Houston, as we both had to fly out of town the next morning. Although we had been avoiding chain restaurants all week (Freebird’s doesn’t count), we couldn’t resist a final steak dinner at Saltgrass Steakhouse in Houston. And it was totally worth it. Monday came too soon, and it was time for Chris to head to Africa and me to return to Nicaragua. Luckily for him, he had a direct flight from Houston (15 hours) and so did I (only 3 1/2 hours). We both made it back to our respective homes, safe and sound, and started another week at work. For me, I can feel my school year in Nicaragua starting to wrap up.