Live music was a highlight this week in Austin (Sat/Sun) and San Antonio. Austin is said to be the Live Music Capital of the country (though I think we heard something similar about both Nashville and New Orleans – but who cares – we’ve enjoyed the live music in all of these cities!) and we were able to take in some of that great music vibe at Stubb’s BBQ’s Gospel Brunch. The buffet brunch was full of tasty local dishes like fried catfish, cheese grits, green chili enchiladas and smoked brisket, but what really made it special was the uplifting gospel music that played the whole time we were there. In San Antonio, we ventured to a place called The Cove, which is part laundromat, part car wash, and part live music venue with picnic tables, a huge variety of local beers on tap, organic burgers, and even two playgrounds – one for your kids and one for your dogs. The band, Mitch Webb and the Swindles, was great, the weather was warm, and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
Of course we saw The Alamo while in San Antonio (Sun/Mon), but we also enjoyed the Market Square area and the River Walk. While in the Market Square area we stopped into an art exhibit run by Texas A&M Univ, San Antonio. The exhibit housed the works of two female artists (Santa Barazza and Carmen Lomas Garza) and what was really cool about the exhibit is that we could watch and listen to videos of the women describing how they developed their style, the imagery they used, and how they go about creating their pieces. While in that area, we also got a taste of Mexico when we tried fruit sprinkled with a chili powder topping (chili powder mixed with sugar and salt). Very tasty, especially on mango. The River Walk area was especially enchanting – restaurants and shops line the winding river channel that sits below street level and on this warm and sunny day, there were many people strolling around soaking it all in and enjoying themselves.
After a looooong drive on Route 10 heading from Texas to New Mexico (Wed), we reached our stop for the night – an RV park near Fort Stockton, TX. This town popped up in what seemed like the middle of nowhere and we were surrounded by desert and highway. However, they did have a little nature walk along the backside of the park and this photo was taken there at sunset. As we made the drive this day, we saw the terrain change dramatically from cityscape to suburbs to less populated areas to out-and-out desert, dotted here and there with oil wells and wind turbines. Interestingly, we found out that the land we were passing through used to be the bottom of an ocean 300 million years ago. Who knew?!
Now in Carlsbad, New Mexico, we spent yesterday and today (Thu/Fri) exploring the amazing Carlsbad Caverns. We hiked down switchbacks til we were about 800 feet under the earth and were greeted with a dazzling array of cave “decorations.” Soda straws, cave pearls, columns, draperies, stalactites, and stalagmites could be seen all around us (and for those of you, like me, who always had trouble remembering which was which, here are two handy ways to remember: stalactites cling “tight” to the ceiling and stalagmites stand up tall and “mighty.” Or you can remember the ‘c’ in stalactite is for ‘ceiling’ and the ‘g’ in stalagmite is for ‘ground’). If you are in this area, this would be a great place to visit – it’s unlike anyplace we’ve ever been before – an underground world that is hard to imagine without seeing it. I would also highly recommend going on one of the Ranger-led hikes and if you are there between March and November, you will be lucky enough to see hundreds of thousands of bats fly out of the cave at night. (unfortunately for us, the bats in Austin and in Carlsbad are all still vacationing in Mexico so we missed them in both places).