Today was the day we finally hit the road as nomads, meaning that our travel plans are not dictated by legal requirements or obligations to anyone. After spending a month in Livingston, Texas to fulfill all the conditions to establish our legal domicile (vehicle titles, inspection, tags and registration; drivers licenses; voter registration; new bank account), we are finally free to go where we want, when we want.
So now we are headed west toward New Mexico, where we plan to spend most of the month of October. It will take us almost four days to get across Texas, as we want to limit our daily driving to no more than 275 miles. That gives us time to see a little of the surrounding area when we get to a new campsite, and it’s also less tiring for us and for the kitties.
Today we left Livingston a little after 9AM, after stopping by the office to pay our electric bill for the month. You might remember that we had a little scare a couple of days after we arrived at the Escapees RV Park, when it looked like our electric bill was going to be astronomical. Fortunately we figured out that I had made a clerical error on my spreadsheet, so it wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought. Our total bill for the month, including tax, was $98.85.
We did not take the most direct route from Livingston to New Braunfels. This was primarily to avoid the heavy traffic in Houston, as well as the toll roads. Since we left Texas in 2000, they have gone absolutely bonkers with their toll roads. I have no problem with paying tolls when I need to get somewhere in a hurry. But the Great Republic of Texas, in all their wisdom, saw fit to get rid of all their toll booth workers and replace them with cameras. If you live in Texas and want to use the toll roads, then you get yourself a sticker to put on your car, and link it to your bank account, and when you use the toll road you automatically get billed.
However, if you’re just passing through the Republic and you don’t have one of the magic stickers on your vehicle, and you happen to use the toll road either on purpose or by accident (it’s very easy to wind up on a toll road without meaning to), then a week or two later you get a letter from the Great Republic of Texas, with a nice photograph of you in your vehicle on the toll road, and an invoice for using said toll road. And if you decide to ignore the notice, you will suddenly find that you cannot renew your vehicle registration in your own state until you pay the bill and the fines that go with it.
Okay, so with that said, we decided to stay far away from Houston and see some new country. Here’s the route that we took today:
We stopped in Conroe to get fuel for Lizzy (the RV), and we stopped for lunch in Hempstead where we just pulled into a big empty lot and fixed ourselves some sandwiches. Most of the trip was easy driving, with the exception of a quick thunderstorm just before we got to Hempstead which dumped a lot of rain on us. In fact, when we stopped for lunch and opened the bathroom door we found that some water had leaked in through the overhead vent fan. Never had that happen before, so we’ll have to check that in the morning.
We pulled into the River Ranch RV Resort around 3:45 this afternoon. We got a 50% discount on our site through our membership in Passport America. And since our rig is rather small, we got a prime site on the end, right next to the river as well as the wi-fi router! The site is costing us $22.50 for the night.
The unusual thing about this RV park is that it is located right under the I-35 overpass and the Business 35 overpass. There is traffic noise for sure, but when we’re inside the rig with the A/C running, we don’t notice the traffic at all.
The view outside our rig is the river with some beautiful cypress trees and lots of ducks. There’s a boat launch right next to the RV park where kayakers and recreational boaters can put in and take out of the river. And we even saw a snake swimming in the water as we were getting ready to head out to dinner. As long as he stays in the water, I’m OK with that.
After we got everything set up and *almost* leveled, we decided that instead of cooking dinner we would go out and enjoy some of the local color and cuisine. I checked some online menus and found a place that had some vegan options.
We went to the Phoenix Saloon in downtown New Braunfels, This place has been featured on the Food Network as well as the Travel Channel, so we knew it had be good. When we pulled up we weren’t sure they were open as the sidewalk was all torn up and taped off. But we saw their lights were on and we found a side door that they are using as a temporary entrance.
The place was pretty empty as far as customers go, with just a few people sitting at the bar (we got there about 5:30 or so). We decided to sit at the bar as well, since that’s where you had to go to order your food anyway. We started out with a local craft beer. We asked the barkeep for a recommendation and she suggested Juicy Visions IPA from the Middleton Brewing Company in San Marcos, TX. It was perfect, had some nice citrusy notes which I always enjoy. Andy got a dark porter that he really liked.
We ordered fried green tomatoes for an appetizer, and then followed with their black bean veggie burger with mango salsa. It was a pretty standard black bean burger (the same brand that we get at Sams or Costco), but the mango salsa is a nice touch, and I also had mine on a jalapeno bun that gave it a nice kick. The potato wedge fries were nice and crispy, so all-in-all it was a great meal.
After we ate, we walked around downtown a little bit to check things out. We came across a railroad museum in the old depot–it wasn’t open but we got to check out the outdoor exhibit of an engine, container car, and caboose. We also found a gelato shop where we stopped for a little dessert.
So that has been our day. The kitties are pretty worn out after their exciting travel experience. They don’t freak out as much as they used to when the RV is moving, but it’s still somewhat stressful for them. They’ll sleep very well tonight, just like we will.
Tomorrow we will continue our westward trek across Texas. We plan to overnight in a little place called Iraan (pronounced Ira-Ann), in their city park. Stay tuned to see how that goes.