In anticipation of our upcoming workamping position for Nov & Dec, we decided to relax a bit and check out some of east TX. First off was the Piney Woods area that included the Sam Houston Ntl Forest. We found a Passport America RV park in Trinity, TX that was right on Lake Livingston. Marina Village Resort was an interesting park. It is an older park at the back of a HOA type golf subdivision that has had a bumpy past and has changed hands. It is very easy to see that the HOA rules were VERY relaxed or nonexistent at times since there are some abandoned looking homes, mixed with newer brick homes and older, run down Brady Bunch homes. Are you getting the visual yet??? It is a mish mash of homes for sure! So you drive through this sprawling subdivision back to the RV park. Most of the sites have water view with some on the water. We were lucky enough to grab one of the waterfront sites in a smaller loop. The loop was probably not meant for big rigs but we were able to squeeze in and creatively get out. Amenities include a small marina with boat rentals, a small store with bait, laundry and 2 pools. Everything was clean but looking tired and old. It was nice and quite with about 70 percent of the park empty, which is why we couldn't understand when a couple pulled their camper in right next to us. Really? Did I mention their little dog barked and howled all day while they were gone? Sometimes you just gotta wonder. Oh well. There was alot of wildlife to keep us entertained as well. Deer were out all over during the day and not shy about getting close. You definitely felt like you were in their space. There was even a flock of pelicans that landed for a couple days.
While in the area we visited the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and the HEARTS Veterans Museum in Huntsville, TX. The Sam Houston museum is part of the Sam Houston State University. Sam Houston was an important figure in the fight for Texas' independence. He served not only as the President of the Republic of TX, US Senator and Governor of TX but also, prior to those dates, he was the Governor of TN. The museum was nicely done and the grounds had several period buildings, including two of his homes. It was a beautiful day for a walk on the grounds!
After the Sam Houston museum we made our way to the HEARTS Veterans Museum. Unlike other military museums, this one had a focus on the veterans and their experiences throughout the years in the military. There was veteran insight from the Revolutionary War to current day. It was nicely done with personal veteran artifacts and included several outdoor displays of military vehicles and planes. Unfortunately, we were too engrossed in the information to take pictures and by the end we were starving, so Rick didn't even get pictures of the vehicles.
We quickly decided to start our TX BBQ tour here in Huntsville and went over to Walls BBQ. We figured if we are going to be in TX for 7+ months, we might as well have some sort of goal as we move around the state and what better than a BBQ tour! Walls BBQ is located in a gas station strip mall on the side of the freeway. You know, the hole in the walls are usually the best! Well we were pleasantly surprised that this was relatively new and was really cool inside. It is dedicated to the prison across the road and "The Wall", which would be the last place you go through as you are released. There were alot of prison pictures, especially of the prison rodeo that was held there up until the 80's. It is also frequented by prison staff as well.
We are both brisket fans bit will not shirk away from trying any BBQ. On this day, Rick decided to step outside the norm and try the brisket fries and street corn. They were amazing! I had some brisket, beans and slaw and all were very good. I don't think we ever met a brisket we didn't like. Perhaps by the end of our BBQ tour we will have developed that discerning taste to know the best of the best, but hey, this was some of the best we have had thus far.
After 5 days at Marina Village, we mosey'd on down the road to Bryan/College Station for another Passport America stay at The Galloping Snail. Heck the name itself made it irresistible, but at 50% off, that sealed the deal. We were soo intrigued with the name, we asked the owner about its origin, and it was actually his mothers CB handle. Cool!!! This quaint little park is on the outskirts of Bryan near the Expo Center. The vibe here was numerous full time residents who really kept to themselves and a couple transient travelers coming through. The sites are full hook up, pull thru for travelers with an awesome laundry room building that also has two full amenity home type bathrooms, one even having a bathtub! You do not see that very often at campgrounds! There was also a cool community room with all sorts of games like pool table, foosball, air hockey and a cute little bowling alley.
Our main reason for picking this area was to hit up our second Presidential Library and Museum. This one being the George H.W. Bush museum on the grounds of Texas A&M. We really enjoyed this museum as it was a president in our lifetime, so we could easily relate to displays and history. It was especially meaningful for Rick as the fall of the wall in Germany occurred during Bush's presidency. This was the same wall that Rick guarded while serving in the Army in Germany and he was able to stand near a portion of that wall again. The museum was very well done, the grounds and Barbara's rose garden beautiful and the burial site powerful.
Also during our short stay in the Bryan area, we went to check out Messina Hof Winery. Friends introduced us to this winery and had given us some of their sweet white wine in the past, so we decided to check out their reds. We'll just say we found several we liked and did not walk away empty handed! It was a really cute estate winery where they produce the wine, have a tasting room and store and also a nice restaurant and bed and breakfast.
After our short stay in Bryan, we moved closer to Austin where we relaxed at a Wilson Fox Corp of Engineer park on Granger Lake, northeast of Austin. Again, we did not realize we would be there for a holiday. You see, alot of holidays seem to slip by us in this lifestyle. However, after seeing lots of families come in for the weekend and start decorating their sites, we knew we better be ready with candy for trick or treaters. Good thing we did, because Saturday night they were out in full force! One site even had a little haunted walk of sorts. These folks really got into it!
While at the park we were able to finally see an armadillo! We were soo excited as this was our first sighting! They really do not pay much attention to you as they are super interested in the bugs, until you get close, then they HOP off. I wish we would have taken a video because I could not believe that it was hopping like a bunny...as much as an armadillo can hop. We also took a walk on our first night in the park and came upon a swarm of monarch butterflies. Turns out this park is on their migration route to Mexico. Glad we took that walk because after that we only saw a random butterfly here and there but never another swarm.
Another stop on our BBQ tour was Louie Miller BBQ in Taylor, TX. This place was on a side street downtown and if I wasn't using Google Maps, we would probably have had a hard time finding it. A very unassuming little hole in the wall place. BUT, this was a 2006 James Beard award winning BBQ restaurant. Why heck ya, we're in! It was a cool little place that seems to really do a hopping business and is tops with the locals and we were able to get in right when they opened on Monday for lunch. We are brisket fans mostly and this did not disappoint! The smoked turkey and bbq pork were very tasty as well!
While at Granger Lake, we were also able to meet up with friends who live in Killeen. We met up at Johnny's in the quaint little town of Salado, TX. Think of roadside bar and restaurant and that's what Johnny's is. They have had some big names perform there prior to hitting it big. Cool stuff all over the walls too, including some stuffed varmint. We had some delicious country fried steaks and then decided to check out the downtown Salado strip. Unfortunately, they roll the streets up at 6pm since they are all little shops. Perhaps we'll have to stop back when we are in the area again.
Well that wraps up our time exploring East Texas. Up next, we are excited to make our next move, see family and start our next workamping assignment!
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