It's been a busy few days, but we'll start with this sunset from the day after Thanksgiving.
So, it only took me six years, but I finally completed the write-up on our 2011 South Africa trip. It's on our new NatureTravelers.com website.
You can start with an overview of the trip here - 28 Days in South Africa, or you can go directly to the day-by-day account with all the photos here - South Africa Journal. That trip came about through friends we've made while RVing, and it was an unforgettable experience with a week spent in Cape Town and three weeks of daily wildlife-watching safaris in Kruger National Park.
And speaking of friends met through RVing, we've spent time with such friends over the last three days.
This past Saturday, we spent the afternoon and evening with Cori & Greg. We drove up to the Hamilton Pool Preserve to do some hiking and photography. However, we didn't take into account that it was 1) a Saturday, and 2) it was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. When we arrived, there was a line of cars and a sign indicating "Preserve Full".
On to Plan B. There are wineries and vodka distilleries with tastings in the area. Well, we ended up at the Deep Eddy Vodka distillery in Dripping Springs. And that's where the theme of the evening unfolded.
Linda & Cori bought two "planks" of shots filled with various flavors of vodka. After tasting the different flavors, they decided they liked the sweet tea vodka, so I fetched them one of the sweet tea vodka drinks on the menu. They liked those .... a lot .... so Greg fetched round two. I don't like vodka and Greg was on medication from his knee surgery, so we didn't partake.
The ladies were feeling pretty good and the volume was increasing at our outdoor picnic table. We decided we needed some food.
So, we went into the town of Wimberly and parked in the historic square. After exiting the truck, we spotted Marco's Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria. We walked in when it opened at 5:00. Now, I knew we might be in a little trouble when I looked over to the kitchen and saw an Italian fellow, and I asked "Are you Marco?" As soon as the word "Marco" left my lips, Cori said "Polo" and there was quite a bit of laughter at our corner table.
Now, Cori and Linda were looking to continue their .... blissfulness, but Marco's doesn't sell alcohol. However, they do allow you to "bring your own" and there was a wine shop across the street. Our girls were out the door before we ordered food. Greg and I ordered for the four of us, and they were soon back with a bottle of wine.
As the evening went on, our ladies got louder. My sign language for "turn down the volume" and Greg's shushing were acknowledged for a couple of minutes before the volume returned to "outdoor voice" level. We finished our meals and shortly thereafter, what we believe was Marco's wife came to our table and let us know she had a complaint from other guests. We didn't have to leave, but she asked us to keep it down. It was a good time to vacate the premises.
It's been a long time since Linda has been that "happy", and I'm sure Cori needed the release given the recent stress. All the way home we laughed as the women kept asking us if they were really that loud, and we kept reminding them of what they were saying and "yes" they were a bit too loud.
Back at the campground, we had a campfire in between our rigs (to help buffer the other campers from the impending noise). The campfire seemed to soothe, but we laughed for another couple of hours until the designated quiet time.
What started out to be a day of hiking in a pretty setting, turned out to be something altogether different. But it was memorable. :)
On Sunday, Linda surprisingly woke up feeling fine. We kept her drinking a lot of water around the campfire last night, and that may have "saved" her.
Later, Phil & Cinda, came for a visit. They attended one of our Educational Rallies, and are fairly new full-timers. They are staying in the area and contacted us a few days ago. They are still learning, but are loving the lifestyle. They've had some trials and tribulations, like most of us do, but their positive attitude is keeping them going strong.
We chatted for quite awhile in our rig, and then they wanted to take us for an early dinner at the Antler Cafe in Bulverde. We followed them in the Jeep so they wouldn't have to backtrack to drop us off. We continued the conversation, provided a few answers to questions, and learned they are headed to Arizona for the winter. Eventually, we departed with hugs and handshakes. Thanks for dinner and a nice afternoon Phil & Cinda. See you at the RV-Dreams Reunion Rally in March! Oh, by the way, Cinda is an artist and she offers painting classes - she may offer a class at the Rally.
On Monday, we were meeting our friends, Trey & Susan, in San Marcos for lunch. I was reminiscing about a place that used to be called Aquarena Springs in San Marcos where my parents used to take me as a kid when we were traveling in this area. It was my first experience on a glass-bottom boat, and I have fond memories. Aquarena was sort of a cross between Weeki-Wachee Springs (with its underwater mermaid show) and Silver Springs (with its glass-bottom boats) in Florida.
Now the Aquarena Springs is part of the Texas State University's Meadows Center for Water and the Environment. If interested, you can check out this article: "Flying Pigs and Mermaids: Crumbled Theme Park Reborn as Nature Center".
Also, if Aquarena Springs is part of your history, you might be interested in this documentary: Aquarena Springs & Ralph the Swimming Pig, The Documentary of a Texas Treasure.
The amusement park is gone, but they are offering the glass-bottom boat rides. There are no more mermaid shows or performances by "Ralph", but at least the springs are being protected.
Anyway, Trey & Susan both went to Texas State University (formerly known as Southwest Texas State University), and since they spend their winters in Austin working, we wanted to get together. We decided to meet at one of their old college hangouts - Gil's Broiler & Manske Roll Bakery in downtown San Marcos.
We had burgers in this old worn out restaurant, and enjoyed a Manske Roll (a gourmet cinnamon roll) for dessert. The conversation is always great with Trey & Susan, and we talked for hours. Eventually, we wrapped things up and said our goodbyes hoping that our vehicles hadn't been towed since we were both parked in 2-hour zones and had gone way past that.
As much as we love the freedom and the travel of our full-timing lifestyle, the people we meet are certainly a huge part of the enjoyment.
Now, one last thing before we sign off. A few people have asked about the recipe for Linda's Instant Pot Pecan Pie Cheesecake.
Well, it's actually two recipes combined - one for the cheesecake and one for the topping. She got the cheesecake recipe here - Instant Pot New York Cheesecake - and she took the topping recipe from here - Best Pecan Pie Cheesecake Recipe.
It's delicious. If you share it with others, you'll wish you had more for yourself. If you eat it all yourself, your waistline will wish you had shared it with others.
Well, that's about it for now. We'll be moving on to a yet-to-be-determined destination in the next couple of days. See you then.