Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Texas road trip in RV coach style:)

Tuesday June 27th
Day 1


Michael & I are off on another adventure in a brand new way...RV road trippin'! Mom and Earl have a fancy shmancy coach with all the comforts of home! We are trekking up through Texas to Colorado for a family reunion. 

Every trip begins with packing the essentials like Cadbury chocolate and flip-flops:) I was super proud of myself to have everything lined up ready to go at midnight...hahaha

 The 4:30 am alarm found me my usual grumpy morning self, vacation not withstanding! Happiness normally finds me around 9:30 or 10am and not a minute before...just ask my children:-}

Right on the dot, and only 30 minutes after we planned (just like EVERY time) 5:30 am found us headed the two hours north to Mom's & her cushy RV with 60 full feet of road trip extravaganza!


I was hoping the ride would be smooth enough for reading and blogging while rolling down the road, but alas...not enough for this motion sick prone girl:-\
Mom has a RV road trip agenda including stops in Waco, Sweetwater, & Canyon, Texas before leaving our beloved state:) 

After just a 3 hour trip to Waco we pulled into the number 54 space at Flat Creek Farms RV park and headed to the meca of renovation genius...Magnolia Silo's, market and bakery! I am totally in love with Joanna & Chip Gaines and their show Fixer Upper, along with most of America. Apparently Joanna's popularity has now exceeded that of Oprah!

Behold the silos! A tribute to American ingenuity and the make over magic of Joanna who saw a vision of what this place could be:)

Every square inch of this place is usable from stylishly striped canvas covered picnic tables to wooden swings hanging from the steel railing above. Food trucks line the perimeter with delicious options like the "Granny Grilled Cheese" filled with cinnamon cream cheese & Granny Smith apples on sweet potato bread! 


A Magnolia garden and seed company hides behind a white picket fence a white flowers spilling out of the landscaping. Pink roses surprise you along the sidewalk...it's magical!


I managed to get this one picture of Earl...hahaha...he thinks I take too may pictures! Guilty as charged. I promised him I wouldn't ask again:) Mom married Earl 18 years after my daddy died of lung cancer. Earl has been extremely generous to our entire family and the grandchildren have really enjoyed having a grandfather!

Of course we needed to take the classic magnolia picture. It was 251 miles from Crossley Manor to the Magnolia silos, markets and bakery....well worth the drive!

Magnolia Market is full of the decor Joanna is partial to in her farmhouse shiplap decorating style:) I shopped modestly, leaving with just a few cotton blossom stems, and magnolia branch stems....it was painful:)




As I was checking out while trying to hide the total from Michael...hahaha (this is a man who still thinks tennis shoes should cost $10!)...anyway he spotted Chip & Joanna's hand prints embedded in the cement counter top. What an endearing touch! I am of the opinion that the popularity of the Gaines is due to their down home, ordinary folks persona. They seem like regular humans... just like the rest of us, and we love them for it:)

We were here on Tuesday, supposedly one of their slow days, and there as still a line out the bakery door. The number of employees on every corner was impressive...a mecca of stellar customer service. I had seen their show renovating this building into a bakery and was super excited to have an up close and personal look! Oh my, the cupcakes are to die for...and this is coming from a self confessed dessert snob. Daughter Brittany who caters of Nellie's Cottage has a line up of delectable cupcakes which is my standard. 




Surrounding the bakery are these landscape blocks with artificial turf...brilliant! An idea for the ages, one I would like to replicate somewhere. In our part of the world grass grows via "runners" and would be a nightmare to keep neatly framed around these cement blocks.  

Since we had cupcakes in our possession and a dire need to "taste" them now, we sat down in the shade for a bit. Earl never ever meets a stranger and had a long conversation with these two boys about religion, where they led the conservation.We do live in the south, along the outer edges of the Bible Belt, so it's not a taboo topic like some places in the world:)

Mom, me and Magnolia...how sweet considering we both love all things magnolia. Magnolia trees are a southern landscaping tradition, the state tree of Mississippi & Louisiana...an icon of the south. Great choice Joanna!


What a destination...fabulous design, good food, delicious baked goods, and a market of magazine worthy home decor! 
Already planning a return visit with my girls:)

Wednesday June 28th
Day 2

Our day began with breakfast at Ihop and a trip to the Texas Ranger Museum! We watched a 45 minute movie extolling the historical adventures of the Rangers which came to be 1823 just two years after colonization began in Texas. Ten men were hired by Stephen F. Austin to fight the Comanche raids on settlements. I came out of that movie more proud to be a Texan...if that's possible:)


As we were walking in the museum Michael asked "Why are there two Texas flags instead of one Texas and one American?"....hahahahha... I just rolled my eyes and said "You still don't quite get it" Texas is well... just Texas! We were once our own country remember?"


These guys on the wall are the great protectors in our part of Texas:) Good to know and thank you Texas Rangers!

Oh my goodness...loved watching the Lone Ranger as a kid! Couldn't resist this photo shoot:) Not sure this is our best look...hahaha...my Englishman does have his best tough face on for the camera:)

Many of the old Texas Rangers were legends in their own right. Harold Weiss did extensive research on Captain Bill McDonald. He describes the old Ranger as having "intrigued people with his charisma, bravery, and dynamic qualities." Bill was a body guard for Presidents Roosevelt & Wilson. "He also had the skill to track down outlaws, to evaluate physical evidence found at the scene of a crime, and to disarm or defeat mobs."

Next on my wish list... to see the Waco Suspension Bridge...


As we travel I love to look up the history of a site! Learned it from my mom:)

Along the road in front of the bridge is a sculpture called "Branding the Brazos", a tribute to the great cattle drives of the West. 





The last thing I wanted to do with the short time we had in Waco was a tiny bit of junk shopping:) There were dozens of junk shops (planning my next trip!) but settled on The Junky Monkey...




Really wanted to take some of these shabby vintage doors home, but alas... not possible in the RV!

 I loved this patriotic display for 4th of July. Imagine the possibilities of decorating with a hanging ladder!


 After a quick 10 minute look around, I settled on these fabulous distressed corbels, crafted by a local fireman. Corbles have been on my decorator wish list for ages! This shabby metal container will look perfect in my newly re-decorated master bedroom. Yea for junk shopping!

And just like that we are on the road again under puffy white clouds floating in baby blue skies, an abundance of afternoon sunshine and ever shorter, scrubbier trees as we head into west Texas. Next stop...Sweetwater.



Thursday June 29th
Day 3

Woke up to a beautiful sunrise in Sweetwater! Michael & I set off on an early walk in the brisk breeze and cooler morning, especially anticipating over 100 degrees that afternoon in Palo Duro Canyon!


I do love sunrise. It breathes hope into a new day with new possibilities with the promise that new beginnings are always a dark night away!

This capture of the windmill against the cloudy morning sky speaks West Texas to me. I feel the frontier spirit of the ancestral Texans, their struggles on the frontier, and the courage that made them brave the unpredictable and harsh weather of this great state!

Well...our walk turned into a hike since the short cut we tried to take through the scrub brush didn't work out so well. We thought about trekking down the train tracks thinking they would lead back but weren't willing to take the risk soooo predictably we took the long way around to be safe...haha
I did enjoy our morning trek...just me & the hubby under this big, big west Texas sky!

Things were heating up as we drove the winding road down into Palo Duro Canyon. By the time we we up camp (aka plugging in the RV) it was nigh to 105 and to top it off the electrical hook up had a problem, then the generator, then one of the air conditioners gave out! I did grow up tent camping but having enjoyed the comfort of the cushy RV air conditioning life style for the first time....being hot was unbearable...ha!



These extensions are like magic ad go in and out with just the push of a button, extending the living space to the size of a small apartment...nice:)

I am always drawn to flowers but as I got closer to admire these purple "dandelion like" blooms it became clear they were the same obnoxious WEED fought in an epic battle for control of my landscaping when we lived in Dumas Texas. Flowers or weeds? It's really a matter of perspective. Set against the stark dessert landscape surrounded by red rock cliffs they are wildly beautiful. Growing uninvited into a carefully constructed landscape they were ugly and unwanted. Perspective is a lesson nature teaches me over and over again!

We can to Palo Duro Canyon to see the musical "Texas" which has been playing in Palo Duro Canyon for 52 years! 
I loved it...5 stars... a fabulous must see!

Before the show, a bar-b-que dinner was served chuck wagon style by cowboy hat wearing Texans..of course!


The best part of this delicious dinner was unlimited bar-b-que sauce to douse (aka drown) the pork, beef and sausage to your hearts content:) 

Old & worn (to put it mildly) wagons were scattered around the venue...oh the stories they could tell!

After dinner a local band played country music in the "square" before the show began. Mom & I were looking around for Michael & Earl finally spotting them looking totally relaxed in the only two chairs right up front:)

The Texas musical was absolutely breathtaking. 
We were not allowed to take pictures so I downloaded a few from the internet to give you a "taste of Texas"






At the end of the show a heartwarming tribute was given to all military men and women who serve this great country. Gratitude swelled in my heart and tears filled my eyes as images of local servicemen and women filled the giant screens with a background of patriotic music & dancing, flag waving, water fountains dancing, and fireworks were bursting overhead. How fortunate we are to live in this nation of liberty given to us by those who sacrificed everything! I was proud to be a Texan after the play, but more proud to be an American. We are truly blessed!

Friday June 30th
Day 4

Early morning we packed it up and headed out of the canyon!
Hubby is getting better at selfies! The first few times we tried it was hilarious...hahaha!

We lived in Dumas Texas which is in the panhandle from 2002-2004. Michael had a job in small Emergency room. We drove by the home and children's schools as we were passing through town. I never felt at home, although the house was beautiful. Our children did make some good friends and we learned some valuable life lessons from this experience but I was extremely happy when we headed back to east Texas! 





Today we finally made it out of Texas...haha...through a bit of Oklahoma and into Colorado. West Texas is full of wind farms. Each of these did turbines cost about 1.8 million and take 15-18 years to pay for themselves. Texas does has the most wind energy capacity in the nation. Each of those blades are about 60 feet long. I saw this cottage right under these and thought...ohhh I would not want to live there!

Earl reliquinshed control of the RV to Michael for 50 miles:) 
I was appreciative of his normally cautious nature especially since Earl kept telling him to go faster! We enjoyed did decide one of these giant coaches would not be on our wish list. We would prefer a smaller version:)



We spent tonight in LaJunta Colorado at a KOA campground with a view of a farm...not super exciting, but I am grateful for farmers...we need them:) This was the last night of our RV coach adventure. Thanks for the invite mom...we've enjoyed it!

Saturday July 1rst
Day 5

Our day began with breakfast at a small town cafe called Copper Kettle Cafe...courtesy of Travel Advisor:) Biscuits and gravy baby...biscuits and gravy!



Pueblo was our next stop for grocery shopping for the family reunion. We also toured a beautiful old Victorian home built in 1893 call Rosemount. It is a 37 room mansion which the Thatcher family occupied for 75 years before it became a museum. The wood work was still gorgeous and with the 14 layers of lacquer, it looked brand new! 

The drive from Pueblo to Westcliffe included a beautiful drive through a mountain pass. This is the view out the front as a passenger in the back...

In the distance are the Sangre DeCristo Mountains (Spanish for the blood of Christ) The mountains are occasionally enveloped in a reddish hue during sunrise and sunset, especially in snow. 
Westcliffe, the place of our family reunion sits in the valley below these mountains.


And just like that the RV Texas roadtrip is over. It was a grand adventure. We are glad we accepted the invitation and the hubby is now researching RV's......hahaha....smaller versions:) 

 
p.s. For daily picture updates... follow me on www.instagram.com/nelliescottageretreat
And
www.instagram.com/lifeatcrossleymanor