Posted in Travel

Lovin’ New York

 

There is so much to do and see while in New York. Even 7 days in the city flew by with us wishing we had more time.

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Here are a few fun things to do while in New York.

Greenwich Village Le Poisson Rouge has great food, good drinks.

5641512B-9C7B-43A6-9B88-D6CBC2885C0EThe night Thor and Friends was the featured band.

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We enjoyed their unique sound and haunting melodies that kept the audience mesmerized.

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Greenwich Village has a whole different vibe getting off the subway felt like stepping back into time to the late sixties.

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Great music, fun people and delicious pizza are what you will find in The Village.

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Museum of Natural Science –

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Our visit turned into a Night at The Museum scavenger hunt.

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We found a few of the displays from the movie such as Tiki Head.

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Don got to sit with Teddy Roosevelt for a chat about the great out doors.

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When you go to this museum or the Metropolitan Museum of Art they have suggested prices listed outside, but you only have to pay what you can afford.

Radio City Music Hall Tour –

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This 75 minute tour takes you on an incredible backstage tour that includes seeing costumes

meeting with a Rockette.

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Hearing the history of the building and those who built it.


From the incredible bathrooms to the apartment built for the former manager in the 1920’s.

This our was well worth the $26.00 price tag and kept us inside warm and dry.

Be sure to ask to hear the story of why the elephant had to climb the stairs.

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Our tour guide Joyce was fun and knowledgeable and made us feel as if we were living the experience.

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Hamilton An American Musical –

So we saw his portrait at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his grave at Trinity Church. But I wanted Don to have the chance to see the show that he so generously had sent all of us to.

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So we walked over to the Rogers Theater and asked again if they had tickets.

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This time the answer was not only YES but they were tickets in the 9th row and for face value.

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The Broadway show was fabulous, and the theater is beautiful.


Later we found out theaters have occasional cancellations and sometimes have tickets at the door. Don’t go to New York and count on getting tickets to your favorite show, but know it is a possible option.

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Central Park Carriage Rides – You can book a carriage ride on line and there are a variety of prices. The average price is about $150.00 on line for an hour.

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We found that just going up to the park that the drivers will offer you a pretty good deal for much less if they are having a quiet night or day.

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Our driver Ishmael and his horse Scooby gave us a lovely moonlit tour of the park, pointing out several landmarks during our ride.

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Church –

There is no shortage of churches in the area. But St. Patricks Cathedral on 5th Avenue is a true experience.

They offer many times for Mass throughout the day so many that as we were leaving one Mass they were starting the next one.

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Of course while in New York, we had to visit Fox News.

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Just to give Don the feeling we had taken him to The Mother Ship.

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We even had a Homer Simpson spotting.

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New York is a unique beautiful city, whether your cheering on the runners for The New York City Marathon.

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looking for fun photo ops

or just traveling the subway

there is always something fun to see no matter how often we visit.

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Posted in Travel

The Stanley Hotel & My Future Nightmares

I hate scary movies. If I watch them I dwell on them and will have nightmares about them for years to come.
But something about visiting The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado fascinated me.

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So on a cold, moonless evening in September, Don and I drove though the pouring rain to make a visit to see if we could catch a glimpse of the ghosts that haunt the Stanley Hotel

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We walked through the infamous hedge maze, but the scariest thing we found were a few puddles that we had to jump over.

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I felt like we were in a scene from “This is Spinal Tap” as the hedges were only 2 feet tall, they came to our knees but to the children running through them they must have seemed like a dark scary forest.

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At the statue of F. O. Stanley, he stood before us smiling with his violin in hand, no spooky glares or words of warning before we entered the hotel.

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We walked up the steps to the beautiful lobby where the antique piano sat silently waiting to be played.

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We wondered if spirits gathered around late at night and played mystical melodies while dancing by the firelight in the dimly lit lobby.

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Behind the front desk stood a nice young man who was the keeper of the keys.

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Skeleton keys! Was his smile deceiving us, once the guests the guests were in their rooms would guest never be heard from again?

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Especially those staying in room 237 (or maybe it was 217)!

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The beautiful staircase stood empty with pictures of past owners but no twin girls standing in the hallway beckoning us to join them.

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In the basement stood an empty dollhouse, there was no activity to be seen on this night, but one could only imagine lights moving inside the windows and the doors creaking opening slowly.

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If you had any doubts about the paranormal activity you could make an appointment with the resident psychic Madame Vera who keeps her office in the basement.

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Outside and inside there stood parked vintage cars waiting to take the hotels spirits on adventures to exciting places.

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From the windows you could almost imagine Stephen King sitting at a desk and conjuring up his next story.
Though I have never seen The Shining movie nor mini series, the story has such recognizable scenes and characters that even a person like me,who shies away from scary stories knows the history.

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Though Stephen King wrote The Shining based on this hotel, Stanley Kubrick took creative license and chose not to use it as the set of the movie.

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In later years, as though they were hoping to erase the haunting stigma of the Stanley, the film makers of Dumb and Dumber used it as one of its locations.

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As we drive away from Estes on a dark, stormy night, I am feeling as though I can more relate to the title of the later film. For how dumb could I be to go see a hotel that I know will give me nightmares just at the thought of it for months to come.
No more knives for Don for fear I will come home one day to see him with a scary look on his face saying “Here’s Donny…..nah..?

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Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Five States to Philadelphia

A few days before I arrived in New England , my cousin Michelle asked me if I would like to drive from Massachusetts to Philadelphia with her to deliver supplies for St. John following the devastation done by Hurricane Harvey. Michelle had lived on the island and was there for Hurricane Hugo, so she was very familiar with the damage a hurricane could cause.

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I am always up for a road trip, plus I am geographically challenged whenever I go to the east coast. As compared to Texas everything looks pretty close, so passing through 5 states in 4 hours seemed like a breeze.

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Friday night, we gathered at my Aunt Claire’s house to go through the supplies that had been donated to this beautiful island that had been ravaged by the storm, I was impressed with the generosity of so many as we sorted through mosquito netting, medical supplies, MRE’s, water filters and a variety of other items that were being requested.
It was like playing a game of Tetris as they carefully placed every box in her SUV until the only space left was for Michelle and I.

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Saturday morning with some great tunes and a car full of gas we headed out.
There is nothing quite like a road trip for 2 friends who get so little time together. We filled in the spaces of one another’s lives that had passed over the years, catching up with all the important and silly moments we had missed.

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The time flew as we passed from state to state.
When we finally arrived at the airport in Philadelphia the sponsors carrying the supplies to St. John were thrilled with the stash that our car held and escorted us directly to the tarmac where the supplies were unloaded.


Our car was emptied and Michelle made sure every box was properly labeled for transport.

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Having completed our mission we decided to do the only logical thing when in Philadelphia… see the Liberty Bell.

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My image in the past of the Liberty Bell was always of this very small bell in front of Independence Hall that people would walk by. Instead this beautiful reminder of our American Heritage has its own building.

The line to get to it is very well organized, there are dozens of photos and stories to read as you wait in line to view the bell. We arrived just before closing, and the line was short with a quick wait to get in.


We were able to get some great pictures, as all the tourists seemed respectful of allowing everyone to get their moment with one of our nations most well known symbols.

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We spent a few minutes after walking around the historical streets of Philadelphia, where so much of our nations history was made.

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Visiting the Liberty Bell costs nothing, the only thing we paid for was parking and some great souvenirs.

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In the visitors center we had a chance to take a picture with Rocky Balboa before heading back to our car for the drive back to Massachusetts.

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The sun was starting to set, and there was a misty rain falling as we drove away from The City of Brotherly Love.

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Again the music was playing and conversation was flowing when Michelle turned to me and asked “Do you want to go to Mystic Pizza.”

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Something about the place sounded familiar, and pizza is always great, especially on the east coast, so I said yes.
After a little Googling, I was able to find the location in Mystic Connecticut, it was a mere 2 hours out of our way, but the reviews and the history sounded great, we rerouted our GPS and headed to the coast.

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It was dark when we arrived in Mystic Connecticut, but I could tell this was a beautiful coastal town.
There was a limousine parked outside the pizza place, and inside their was a huge neon sign saying A Little Piece of Heaven. The movie Mystic Pizza showed on several TVs in a continuous loop.

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We sat at the bar and ordered 2 slices of the special of the day.
The bartender brought them to us and asked if we had every eaten there. We shook our heads no, and he let us know since it was the end of the evening and the pizza was not as fresh as he would like he was not going to charge us for our slices.
Well I am not sure what fresh pizza tastes like there, but I will say that was some of the best pizza I ever had!

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We walked around the place taking in the pictures and memorabilia before heading back to the car.


The 90 minute drive home seemed like five minutes as we laughed and talked about our day and future plans.

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We arrived back to my Aunts house late, exhausted but happy. Five states, a rescue mission, history and pizza filled my head as I fell asleep that night. It was a great day and I look forward to another one of Michelle and Jill’s excellent adventures!

 

Posted in Travel

Grand Canyon West Rim

The West rim of The Grand Canyon is about a 2 hour drive from Las Vegas.

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The area is part of the Hualapai Indian Nation and has a different feel and look from the South Rim of the canyon (near Flagstaff).

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Driving to the west rim from the city you pass through the magical Joshua Tree Forest.

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These trees seem to almost have individual personalities and look like they are waving to you as you drive past them.

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At The West Rim of The Grand Canyon, you cannot drive through the park, like you can on the south rim. Instead you enter through the Welcome Center and are given a variety of options for your visit.

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Buses bring you through the area. I like this as it cuts down on the stop and go traffic you find at other state parks.

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We chose the Legacy Gold Tour for $89.00 this level included parking, hop on, hop off bus through the park, entrance to the Skywalk, and a meal voucher. We also purchased (for and additional amount) a helicopter ride into the Canyon and a Pontoon Boat ride down the Colorado River.

The helicopter ride was amazing, Tom from Sundance was great and very helpful with information of what to expect.

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I was in the middle seat but still had good views of the canyon, we were in the air for about 20 minutes on our approach to the river. Plenty of time to get an awesome view of the canyon walls.

We landed on the floor of the Canyon then boarded the Pontoon boat for our river adventure. Phyna was our guide, and she was a wealth of knowledge about the Canyon and the River.

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If you go on the on any of the sightseeing tours, make sure to sunscreen up before and wear a hat, the sun is very hot in the summer.


Our helicopter picked us at the river and and brought us up and out of the Canyon back to The welcome center. The flight gave us a thrilling view of the sheer cliffs. We were so close you felt you could reach out and touch them.

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Once back at the welcome center, we boarded a bus and started the first of our 3 stops at the West Rim.
The first stop was a to the Hualapai ranch, a small western village with bull riding, wagon rides, gun shows and great Canyon Views.

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We chose this stop for our meal that came with the ticket package we chose. The meal was baked chicken or barbecued pork ribs, a hearty meal.

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We had entertainment from a singer guitar player as we ate.

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Our second stop on the bus was the Skywalk at Eagle Point. This was the reason we had come to the West Rim. And it did not disappoint! .

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The views were breathtaking. We spent about 45 minutes on the Skywalk taking in the beautiful views, moonwalking and flying hundreds of feet above the canyon floor.

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One of the employees Tyler came out and talked to us about working on the Skywalk. He had stories of how at least once a day, someone would freeze, faint or get sick once out on the bridge, and how on occasion people would crawl across the walk, to frightened to stand. The bottom as well as the side are glass, so walking across you get an ethereal out of body sensation as you gaze upon the Canyon depths below. Tyler recommended that early in the day or late in the afternoon were best times to visit to avoid the crowds
Sadly, you are not allowed to bring anything out on the sky bridge (including no cameras or cell phones). But there are photographers that will take photos’ for you out on the bridge.

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Our final stop on the bus was Guano Point, there was a flat path here, or you could chose to climb the hills for better viewpoints. We stayed in this area until Lynne the security guard came to get us to let us know it was time to leave. But she allowed us to dawdle slowly along with her so we could get additional photos and hear about her experiences over the years being a park ranger.

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The West Rim was a unique Grand Canyon Experience due to the skywalk.
Given the choice in the future I would go back to the south rim, where you can arrive early and enjoy the sunrise or stay late and watch the magnificent sunsets and moon rises over The Canyon.

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The price to enter is also higher, the lowest priced package was $49.00 per person and that did not even include entrance to the skywalk. Entrance into the South Rim is $30.00 per carload of people.
But this was a fabulous experience that I will always remember, we drove away with the sunset behind us and a lightening storm in front of us

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But no matter what part of the Grand Canyon you visit, you cannot leave without being touched by the amazing tapestry and colors of this natural wonder.

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Tonight I will fall asleep dreaming of the majestic sights and scenes in what must be one of God and The Angels favorite playgrounds, The Grand Canyon.

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Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Sunday Night on The Riverwalk

Don and I love to travel, but in the last few years we have discovered that we have so much to see right in our own backyard, so instead of getting on a plane each time we wanted to discover something new, we have started calling Ubers or booking hotel rooms downtown. Now we can see more of the city we call home, San Antonio.

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There is a great variety of places to eat and drink on the San Antonio River, with something to satisfy every palet.

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If your downtown, check out The Esquire (155 East Commerce St) , not only is this the oldest bar on the River Walk (opened in 1933) but it is also the longest wooden bar in Texas. They have great drinks, and serve food until 10 pm during the week and until 1am Thursday – Sunday. With inside seating, you can escape the heat of Texas summers and tables outside to enjoy the views of the beautiful river walk on nice days or evenings.

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Close by on 234 Riverwalk Street is Waxy O’Conner’s, where we played a fun game of darts while listening to live music and enjoying a drink.

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We have had the opportunity to visit several of the Waxy O’Conners across the US, and this one did not disappoint.

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Our last stop of the night was our favorite and will probably become our San Antonio go to Sunday night spot in the future.

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Right upstairs from Waxy O’Conners is Soho Wine and Martini Bar at 214 W Crocket Street. As soon as you walk in the fabulous sound of the “210 Blues Band”, catches your attention with their rocking Texas Blues. Very reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaug

19DD7DFD-3611-48A1-B53E-27E63A15B5C4.JPGAt the bar, Adrian made some of the best “craft” cocktails ever to cross our lips. Don discovered earlier if you put a slice of two of fresh jalapeño in a vodka/club soda (with lime), it is a cool, refreshing drink with a nice a kick. Adrian our bartender took this to the next level using a previous drink recipe called “The Batchelor” and turned it into a “Spicy Batchelor”.

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The Soho was the former San Antonio Loan and Trust, and the bank vault still remains in place behind the bar, keeping safe their overflow of bottles and wines.

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With live music every Sunday, I imagine this will not be our last visit to Soho Wine and Martini Bar.

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All these great spots were with a 1000 feet of the beautiful hotel we had booked for the night, The Holiday Inn Riverwalk. We woke up the next morning and enjoyed coffee on our balcony overlooking the river.


There are lots of beautiful places to visit, but it is nice to know one of the most beautiful places in the country is right here in our hometown.

 

Posted in Travel

C’est La Vie….. Ya’ll

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This summer Don and I decided to visit Paris, Athens, Nevada, Bethlehem, Reno and Palestine…. all without leaving Texas.
And though seeing these place In Texas might be different from visiting the real things, Texas does have its own kind of unique beauty and fun.
While we did not get to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris France, we did stand below The Texas Eiffel Tower, complete with a red cowboy hat at The Love Civic Center in Paris Texas.

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Italy may be able to boast it has some of the greatest food in the world, Texas has fabulous BBQ at Blacks in Lockhart, and good home cooking at the Road House Cafe in Paris

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Londons bridges are historic and the Thames beautiful, but can they tube down the Thames like they can down the Guadalupe River? Check out the Waco Suspension Bridge or the Piano Bridge near Schulenburg, Texas if you want to see some great historical Texas bridges.

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Texas may not have the Eurostar, but The Pacific Railroad runs through just about every little town, and the views of the farms, rivers and fields is beautiful.


French love their wine, but even Texas has beautiful Vineyards with delicious wines coming out of the Hill country, and if your more of a beer person, check out the dozens of micro brewery’s that are making their mark in our state. If you cant make up your mind go to Wilson Street Liquors where Misty will help you decide from a large selection of wine, beer and various liquors to include some interesting Moonshines.

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Who needs overpriced couture clothing shops, when you can stop in Lockhart Texas and get beautiful vintage clothing from Magic Mirror, and meet Natalie, a talented friendly shop owner who knows all things vintage.


And yes “Notre-Dame de Paris” is a church that everyone should have the chance to see, but if you cant afford passage across the pond come to Texas and check out our historic Missions in San Antonio or our painted churches in Schulenburg.


If music is your thing, we have plenty of talented Texas originals like Shelley Laine, Tele Novella, Thor and Friends and River City Kings. Or go to Austin one of the true music Capitals of the world.

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We also do theater in Texas, if your looking for something original check out The Overtime Theater in San Antonio for Cthulhu Too The Stranger in Yellow (running July 21-August 12)

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There was no unrest in Palestine Texas, instead we found a friendly little town where businesses closed on The 4rth of July and everyone in town headed out to the park to celebrate The USA with fireworks and community.

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Texas is a beautiful state, and Texans do not fall into any one category. Yes we have cowboys, ranches and long horn cattle, but we also have NASA, top colleges, The Gulf Coast, plus a huge melting pot of people who came from all over the world to settle and share their culture, art, cooking, education and generosity.


The greatest thing about Texas though is the Texas friendly you feel when you travel through the state and are welcomed to each town.


C’est la vie ya’ll,such is life in this great state. So if your looking for a place where you can experience great food, theater, music, art and some of the nicest people around, then come on down and experience Texas.

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

California Wine Country

I believe that my favorite place to travel to is the place i just left. So today my favorite travel destination is Northern California …. aka Wine Country. With over 500 Vineyards in area, there is no way a person could ever see all of them. But its about so much more then just wine. Lots of places to eat, the ocean is a close drive and the mountains are right in front of you. Here are a few of my favorite wine country picks.

If your going to wine country my favorites are

The Meritage Hotel and Spa
Off the beaten path this place has its own wine cave, full spa you can book a massage, pedicure or just sit by the pool and relax.  It has a bowling alley, vineyards, great restaurants and beautiful views, they have their own vineyard and tasting room on site.   Close to some great boutique vineyards.   They will set up a variety of tours for you if you ask.  Love this place.  About 1 hour from SFO and 15 minutes from NAPA.

Embassy Suites Napa – 1075 California Napa Valley – great location walking distance to downtown Napa, free breakfast Buffett and happy hour.

Napa Valley Marriott – nice hotel great pool and bar.

Napa Valley Wine Train
Very romantic nice tour of wine country.  The food is delicious. a little pricey but good way to see country side.

Vineyards
Calistoga Castella di Amarosa – beautiful castle Vinyard you feel like your in old Europe with gorgeous views, great wine.

Madonna Estates – small Vinyard good wines, nice staff.

Elkhorn Peak Vinyard
Small boutique Vinyard, call Ken in advance to book tasting, great wine, personalized visit, he will educate you on all things wine.

Grgich Hills – wonderful wines, good tour, great history.  One of my favorites.

Bogle Vineyard -Located near Sacramento, no tasting fee and a beautiful outdoor seating area.

Places to eat

Napa – Downtown. Joes 902 Main downtown Napa – great view of river good food, delicious cheeseburgers great beer flights and beer choices.

Scomas of Saulsalito
Great place to stop and eat on the drive to Napa if your coming in from San Francisco.  Good food, water views pretty town past the Golden Gate Bridge.

Black Bear Diner 303 Soscol in Napa – huge portions delicious home style cooking

Red Hen Cantina 4175 Solano Napa – delicious margaritas.

Sattui Winery 1111 White Lane St. Helena – Beautiful winery great place to stop for picnic, in addition to wine they also sell cheeses, bread and lunches there is a beautiful picnic area on the grounds.

Gotts Roadside 933 Main St St. Helena – delicious cheeseburgers its a small roadside place food is very good.

Ernie’s Tin Bar 5100 Lakeville Highway Petaluma – fun little roadside bar, no cell phones allowed.  Friendly very simple.

Pub Republic Petaluma
Loved the Brussels Sprouts Tacos, I am not even a Brussels sprout fan but Don ordered them and I ate most of them. Good service, live music and full bar.

Della Fatoria Petaluma
We came on a Saturday and it was pretty crowded, it is a tiny place so expect a wait. But it is well worth it. I had the delicious eggs Benedict. The bread they use is so good and their sauces are amazing. Breakfast is served until 11 and they close at 3:00 so go early and be hungry. They also sell bread and pastry.

The Golden Gate Bridge

It doesn’t matter if you drive or walk over it, this is a classic sight that never gets old. For best views dont stop at the bottom, go up the hill where there are other stopping points (with much less traffic)   The views from above are breathtaking.    Bring a jacket, it gets chilly there even in the hottest summers.

Sonoma Raceway

This is what brings me to this part of the country, my husbands job with Fox and the NASCAR race in Sonoma.    It’s a beautiful racetrack and with great views not to mention the chance to see a good race.

Movie Buffs
Visit Bodega Bay and the Birds Cafe where you will find pictures and items from the movie The Birds.
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Petaluma, St. Helena, Calistoga, Napa and Sonoma are very near to one another.