Focus: Texas trip, part two

I appreciate the comments on my part one of the Weston Senior Citizen’s trip to Texas and the other states we visited in October.  Everyone had a good trip and we covered quite a few miles in 11 days.  The last column took us through the first week and our last day in Dallas and Fort Worth.

On Saturday, October 12, we checked out of our hotel after a nice breakfast and traveled to Waco, Texas where we visited the Magnolia Market and Silos created by Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s program Fixer Upper.  We were quite surprised with the many visitors who come to this location to visit the bakery and local shop featuring many of Joanna’s designed items for the home and gifts.  There are over 2,000 visitors on any given day and the line going into the bakery was over a block long.  The Magnolia Market was full of wonderful handmade items for the home and was just full of gifts to purchase.  I was drawn to a tall wall creation that was made with paperback books.  The wall unit was made of wood and the paperback books were placed with the pages facing outward one on top of the other in rows with decorative dividers in the shape of windows.  The rows of books with the pages showing in the front looked like bricks at a distance.  The idea was very creative. One could easily put this together for a really neat decorative wall unit.  We shopped in the store and then went outside behind the store where there were children and parents playing ball in a grassy area.  There were picnic tables sitting all around with food trucks selling all kinds of food for lunch.  Another area was filled with Joanna’s plants and vegetables for sale.  We were very impressed with the area.  The silos have not been opened; however, plans are made to have them open in the future.

We left in the afternoon for our next destination of San Antonio, which was the Azuca Nuevo Latino Restaurant where we had a real Latin dinner featuring beef tenderloin, sautéed shrimp and lamb chop in a mixed grill platter.  We were served a variety of desserts on a large tray and everyone shared a little of each.  This was a unique restaurant and a good meal.  We checked in at the LaQuinta Inn in downtown San Antonio.  Everyone was tired but agreed that the day was enjoyable.

After another good breakfast, we set out for sightseeing of several locations.  We visited the Alamo Shrine, which is the most famous spot in Texas and has come to symbolize the heroic struggle against impossible odds and where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.  We also toured through the area of the King William Historical District with historical homes, the Governor’s Palace and visited the Mexican Market and had lunch at El Mercado. The highlight of the day was our Riverboat Cruise on the Paseo Del Rio where one could look at the Riverwalk with all the shops on both sides of the canal.  We later shopped at the Riverwalk where folks sat outside and ate and watched as the boats cruised by.  By the end of the day, everyone was ready to get to the hotel for a good night’s rest.

 On Monday October 14, we ate breakfast and checked out of our motel for our trip to Houston to visit the Space Center.  We really enjoyed our tour of the history of visiting outer space and the unique capsules that are used for travel and exploration into other realms of outer space.  This is a great place for a family to visit.  Many experiences are available for all ages.  There are places to eat and shop, as well as visit inside a spaceship, to see what it might be like to travel in outer space.  After our afternoon visit to the Space Center, we had dinner and checked into the Crowne Plaza Suites for the night.

Staying in six motels was quite interesting.  All of the motels were very nice and very different.  The most interesting and challenging were the first two motels we stayed in.  My roommate and I found the beds hard to get into.  The beds were very high and challenging to get up on the mattress.  We laughed trying to find ways to get on the bed and lie down.  We found out the next day that there were footstools available if needed.  The girl who met us on the bus the first day forgot to tell us about the footstools.  The high beds were the topic of discussion by everyone who slept in them. So, if you take a trip and get to a room with a really high bed, you can call room service for a footstool.  This would save you the hassle and make your stay a little more comfortable.  I guess we should have thought to ask for help, but we managed.

     On Tuesday, October 15, we had our breakfast and set out for our trip to New Orleans.  We arrived in New Orleans about 3:30 p.m. Our destination was the French Quarter, where we would visit the Café du Monde for their famous Chicory Coffee and Beignets.  The coffee was strong and very good.  The Beignets were made of fried dough with powdered sugar.  One might compare them to a round doughnut with powdered sugar on top.  We then shopped for some unique items we found in the tents along the downtown area before they closed down for the evening.

     One of the special treats we were given was the visit to the New Orleans School of Cooking.  We enjoyed seeing our meal in progress by one of the male chefs in the school.  He was very pleasant and funny as he prepared our first course, which was Chicken & Andouille Gumbo.  He finished this dish and served everyone a bowl of soup.  It was good.  He then made pecan bites and served them.  He then prepared chicken and rice with a special topping.  Everyone enjoyed this experience at the end of the day.  The Chef’s final dish was a flaming peach dessert and ice cream. This dessert has a fancy name; however, I could not find the spelling.  The dessert is served in many fancy restaurants and is very tasty.

We departed at 9:00 p.m. for Metairie, Louisiana for the night at the Country Inn.  I wish we had more time for our visit in New Orleans.  We were on a huge bridge going into the area and had to wait for quite a while on the bridge for a wreck to be attended to, which made our time shorter in the French Quarter.  These are some of the quirks in planning a trip with estimated timing.  I might like to go back to New Orleans for a longer visit.

     Our last day of the trip before coming home was traveling to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  We stayed in the Courtyard at Hamilton Place.  Everyone was tired after the all-day trip.  Of course, Clara always had something planned for us.  We played bingo and searched for a variety of things we saw along the trip.  We watched a few movies and listened to music.  Everyone on the bus visited and became friends with those we had never traveled with.  There were folks from Weston, Buckhannon, Jane Lew, Elkins and points in between.  The average age of the travelers was 68. The age did not deter the excitement and joy we shared as we traveled from one place to another.  

     The last day of our trip was to visit Rock City Gardens, which was a real treat.  We traveled up a narrow road and when we reached the gardens, we were able to take a walking tour through the rocks.  The tour was very interesting as we walked through narrow openings with rocks much higher than one imagined.  Our destination was to reach the lookout a good distance upward.  When this destination was reached, we could stand on a large rock and look over seven states.  It was quite beautiful and very high up.  Some folks took the swinging bridge back down.  I decided to take the walking tour through more rocks.  We reached the bottom and found some nice areas with flowers, greenery and a place to shop.  Everyone found keepsakes to take home.  This is another great place for a family to visit.  The tour is safe.  Signs are posted all along the tour so one cannot get into an area where they might get lost or hurt.

     We got back on our bus, traveled until dinner.  We ate dinner and then returned to Weston about 8:30 p.m. By the time I got home, it was approaching 10:00 pm.  I like to travel but am always happy to get home.  My cat, Mau Mau, was happy to see me.  He got on my lap and cuddled with me until bedtime. 

      Coach tours are a nice way to travel.  The plans are made, and you just go along for the ride.  When there are 40 to 50 folks traveling together, there are many incidents that you might have where you wish something different might have been available.  No trip is perfect, and a group of folks will have favorite parts of the trip, while others might not be as excited about some of the places attended. The schedules are tight, and some might wish for more time in one location or another.  However, the trip was exciting, fulfilling and many miles of the United States were available to sightsee and visit.  I wish to take this opportunity to thank Clara Atchison for a great trip.  The person in charge of the trip has much to take care of and Clara did a great job keeping us to task for 11 days.  I hope to go on another trip next year.  Clara is already planning a trip to Vermont, Alaska and Lancaster.  She will be sending information out after the first of the year.  To all the Texas travelers, I wish you a great Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.   


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