A Travellerspoint blog

TX Camping Day 1: Finding the Frio

When Mike and I first got together, we went camping once or twice a year. We stocked up on all the equipment and had developed a great system. But then we bought the sailboat and our camping trips were replaced with trips to the lake. So we decided we were long overdue for a camping trip and planned one for May with our good friend, Vi. Mike suggested we return to Park Chalk in Uvalde, the site of our very first camping trip in 2003. But I'm one of those people who always wants to try new places so I started checking out Garner State Park. I did some research and decided that we probably wouldn't be happy staying within the park; it just seemed too crowded for our liking. Instead, I found a private camping ground just down the road called Magers River Camp.

Magers River Camp is located right on the Frio River. There are tent sites on one side of the road and RV sites in another location. All of the tent sites have electricity and water and there is a bath house with flush toilets and showers. We made a reservation for three nights and set off on a Friday morning for the long drive.

On the way down, we stopped in Austin at one of our favorite places, the Texas Chili Parlor. We had lunch and got some chili to go for chili dogs later that night.

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About three hours later, we were getting close to the campground. Unfortunately, as soon as we drove through Leakey, all of our cell phones lost signal. We had no coverage whatsoever so no GPS. The map from the website was less than helpful. We found the right road but couldn't find the turn off to the campground. We also found some wild turkeys along the way.

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We stopped at a house along the road to ask directions. It turned out to be the owner of Magers campground. He told us to follow him so he showed us the way. Once we arrived, he got out and talked to us awhile. Mike had some fishing questions for him so he started telling us all about noodling for catfish. That wasn't exactly what Mike had in mind. This guy was a character. He whips out some pictures of the catfish he's caught noodling and tells us a story of a huge one he caught in the river in downtown Bandera. The fish he caught there had another huge fish in its belly. After he caught it, it was laying in the back of his truck and a woman who works at the Mini Mart in Bandera asked him what was in the fish's stomach. He told her it was the little black boy he'd been using for bait. He thought this story was quite hilarious. We, on the other hand, were quite speechless. He showed us some more pics and let me use his cell phone (which strangely had a signal) and then went on his way.

We were assigned to campground #1.

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Once we arrived, we got our tents set up and a fire built.

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It got dark soon after. We cooked our chili dogs and hung out by the fire, relaxing and enjoying the quiet.

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Posted by deniseandmike 15:48 Archived in USA Tagged camping texas Comments (0)

Indianapolis Day 3: Horsey Ride!

Thursday was mostly a full day of class for me. I met Mike for lunch at Ram Brewery then finished up with classes around 3p or so. He took some pictures of the area around our hotel and where my classes are held.

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When I was done, we hopped into a cab and headed over to the Eiteljorg Museum.

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It just so happens that while we were in Indy this week, the museum was hosting a temporary exhibition of over 100 guitars played by musical icons. We didn't have long to see the exhibit so we had to rush through a bit.

They had a couple of guitars set up for guests to play themselves.

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These guitars show the progression of acoustics over the years.

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A pan dobro guitar:

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Stevie Ray Vaughan's fender strat and Lowell Fulson's hollow body acoustic guitar:

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Buddy Holly's guitar:

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After the museum, we walked over to White River State Park where we saw this interesting sculpture called The Tent. The Tent is a wind-activated sculpture that pays tribute to community and volunteer spirit.

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I wanted to take a walk down the canal which I envisioned to be like the Riverwalk in San Antonio. My vision was a little off. It's a nice canal but there are no restaurants or cafes or any place to stop and have a drink. It's more like a jogging route.

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Finally, it was dinnertime and tonight we went to the Libertine Liquor Bar.

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The Libertine is not the kind of place to order a beer or a plain rum and Coke. Only proper cocktails are served.

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For dinner, we had a few tapas. We started with some pork belly tacos.

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And my favorite, three kinds of deviled eggs - with caviar, sriracha sauce, and horseradish.

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And Mike made a special request for the last plate. He asked for some roe with toasted bread and garlic butter. The chef happily obliged.

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We decided to walk back to the hotel and on the way, we saw a few interesting sights. There were lots of beggars in downtown Indy but this guy was the most honest one we saw. His sign said, "Why Lie It' For Gin" [sic].

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In Texas, the Miller Lite girls make the rounds at the bars to promote their beer. Apparently in Indy, Miller Lite takes it to a higher level. Since we've probably bought and paid for this car with the amount of money we've contributed to Miller Lite over the years, they were happy to let Mike pose for a photo or two.

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On our way back from dinner, Mike had seen the horse and buggies riding around the city and we had arranged for one to pick us up for a ride of our own. What I thought would be a nice, romantic ride through town didn't turn out as such. The driver kept yammering on and on and the traffic noise was so loud it was hard to enjoy the ride. It was nice just the same but not what I had envisioned (again).

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Our final stop for the evening was to listen to some tunes at the Slippery Noodle Inn. A great band called Pennycuff was playing there.

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We made it to bed pretty late and I had one more day of classes on Friday. We flew home on Friday evening after an unexpected great few days in downtown Indianapolis.

Posted by deniseandmike 20:35 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Indianapolis Day 2: Horsey Power!

Wednesday was my short, class day where I finished around noon so Mike and I had the whole afternoon together to explore what Indy has to offer. He originally wanted to visit the Indy Raceway but it was unfortunately closed that week. Instead, we decided to visit the Dallara IndyCar factory.

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Dallara is located about five miles outside of town in Speedway, Indiana. It's only about 1/3 mile from the Raceway itself.

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Our visit began with a movie about the history of Dallara, where we learned that the company was founded by Gian Paolo Dallara over 40 years ago in a small town outside of Parma, Italy. Dallara has been building and designing race cars worldwide ever since. The Speedway factory opened in July 2012 and Dallara now exclusively supplies all of the Indy cars qualified to race in the Indy Car series. After the movie, we took a tour of the incredibly spotless factory (no photos allowed) where we were shown step-by-step how they build each Indy car by hand. Each tub, which holds the driver for whom it is specially designed, is manufactured from carbon fiber as one piece. On top of the driver's tub are the primary components of the forward suspension.

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Below is the left front wheel of an Indy car. These components allow the driver to adjust the angle and pitch of the wheels during a race without having to make a pit stop for adjustments.

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The museum houses several legacy cars used in previous events.

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The visit ended with personal rides in a street-legal, two-seater Indy car driven by our tour guide. Although I'm sure it's nothing like being on a regular track, we did end up taking turns on a dime and getting up to speeds of 100 mph on the straight-a-ways.

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After a couple of hours at Dallara, we took a taxi back to our hotel then walked down Meridian Street to the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument at Monument Circle.

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The Monument was built in 1902 as a memorial to the Hoosiers who had fought in all the wars as of that date. The monument stands 284 1/2 feet high, just 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty.

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There are four statues on each corner of the monument representing the Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, and the Navy. Below is a sailor from the Navy (Mike's branch).

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The ground floor is a gift shop and for a small fee, you can ride an elevator to the observation deck at the top (or for free you can climb 331 stairs).

Looking south down Meridian Street towards our hotel:

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The Indiana State Capitol building:

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The Indiana War Memorial:

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Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts play:

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Going down the narrow stairwell, 31 steps to the elevator.

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We were a little thirsty by now so we stopped off at Rock Bottom Brewery for a quick drink. It was going to be quite a walk to dinner. On the way, we passed by Veterans' Memorial Plaza.

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We also passed by the Indiana War Memorial, which we had seen from the top of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument.

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After walking through a somewhat sketchy part of town, we finally made it to our dinner destination, The Rathskeller, a German restaurant and beer garden. I ordered the schnitzel.

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Mike ordered the Mixed Wurst Plate, an assortment of sausages including bratwurst, kielbasa, bockwurst, and a beer-steamed German sausage.

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When dinner was done, we headed upstairs to the beer garden to enjoy some local music by Jeremy Vogt.

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The band was an acoustic, classic rock-type band and they were pretty good. We stayed until they played their last song. Even though it was dark and late, we decided to walk back to our hotel rather than take a taxi. Although this time, we avoided the sketchy area. We did come upon a strange, dancing lady on a dark street corner.

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Still wondering what the hell that was all about, we made it back to our hotel and called it a night.

Posted by deniseandmike 21:51 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Indianapolis Day 1: Horsey Sauce!

Each Spring I spend a week in downtown Indianapolis attending a conference with my estate planning group. This year I invited Mike to fly up and spend a few days hanging out and exploring the city. I always have a little bit of free time in the evenings and some afternoons. I flew to Indy on Sunday afternoon and attended classes on Monday and Tuesday. Mike flew in on Tuesday afternoon, arriving just as my classes were finishing around 5pm. I met him at Kilroy's, the bar next door to our hotel.

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Mike brought along our new camera, which we had just purchased for my upcoming African safari, and spent some time at the bar taking pictures of the surrounding buildings.

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We had a couple of drinks and killed some time before our dinner reservations. When it was time, we walked over to Harry and Izzy's, the slightly more casual, sister restaurant of St. Elmo's Steakhouse. St. Elmo's is an Indy institution and I had eaten there on a previous trip. Both restaurants are famous for their shrimp cocktail, not for the shrimp but for the cocktail sauce. It's full of horseradish, loads of horseradish. I knew Mike would love it. So of course, we started with the shrimp cocktail.

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That got our eyes watering and noses burning. WOW! I've never had so much horsey sauce! For the main event, Mike had the South African lobster tail and I had the grilled salmon oscar style.

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After dinner, we walked back towards our hotel and stopped off at Claddagh's Irish Pub for a nightcap. Mike tried out a local, Indy-brewed beer.

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Once back at the hotel, Mike took a few pictures of the street scenes before we headed up to bed for the evening.

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Posted by deniseandmike 20:47 Archived in USA Comments (0)

North Carolina: Ladies in Drag

Just after tax season, I went to visit my dad for a few days in Morganton, NC. For the Saturday of my visit, Dad bought us tickets to attend the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I grew up going to drag races with my dad and then later on with my ex-husband. It has probably been about 12 years since I've been to any. And I had certainly never been to a four-wide track since Charlotte is the only one that exists. Normally drag races are conducted with two cars running side by side. But in Charlotte, they run four cars side by side. This was definitely a new concept for me and I was looking forward to it.

We got up with the roosters in order to make the drive down to Charlotte to arrive early enough to attend the pre-race activities in the pit.

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If you've never been to the drag races before, this is the time when you can walk around in the pits and possibly meet the drivers, watch them get the cars ready to race and fire them up, and buy team gear. We rounded the corner in the pit and Steve Torrence was just starting his car. The smell of the nitro fumes coming out of the car are strong; they will make your eyes water like you're crying uncontrollably.

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Next to him was John Force's team. John Force himself came out to sign a few autographs.

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The U.S. Army even has a car, driven by Tony Schumacher.

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As does the Sheikh of Qatar, whose car is getting fueled here.

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After hanging out in the pits, we decided to go check out our seats. Dad had gotten us great tickets, right on the start line.

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My only complaint was the chick behind me who thought it was okay to stick her foot in my face throughout the day.

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At least her flamingo sandals were cute. She got pretty drunk later on in the day, went down to the snack bar and stubbed her toe. So then she stuck her bloody foot in my face throughout the day. Nice!

The races were kicked off by a couple of parachutists carrying American flags.

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Another new concept for me since I last attended drag races was an influx of female racers. Also mentioned previously, one of my favorite movies when I was a little girl was about the first female drag racer, Shirley Muldowney. Shirley overcame all odds to break into a male-only sport and went on to win an unprecedented three NHRA Top Fuel titles in her career. She paved the way for the women I would see race today: Brittany Force, Courtney Force, Alexis DeJoria, and Erica Enders.

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The Force sisters are daughters of the legendary John Force, 15-time Funny Car champion. The oldest, Ashley, raced until 2011 when she had her first child and announced her retirement. She now works behind the scenes in the family business. The second oldest, Brittany, just began her career as a driver of a Top Fuel dragster.

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Unfortunately, Brittany came in last in the first round (only the top two advance) and did not advance any farther.

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Her younger sister, Courtney, the 2012 NHRA Rookie of the Year, drives the Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car.

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Courtney came in third in her heat so she did not advance to the next round either.

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Alexis DeJoria, drives the Patron Toyota Camry Funny Car. Her father is the owner of Patron tequila and co-founder of Paul Mitchell hair products. After many successes and surviving a near-death crash on her way up the ladder to Top Fuel, this is her sophomore year driving Top Fuel.

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Alexis had a problem right off the line. She came in last at 10.241 seconds. It was not looking good for the ladies in drag!

And then came Erica Enders. Erica drives in the Pro Stock class of NHRA. Pro stock cars run on racing gasoline while top fuel dragsters and funny cars both run on a mixture of nitro and methanol. Another difference between the two is that pro stock cars run the full 1,320 foot distance of the track while nitromethane-fueled cars run only 1,000 feet. In 2006, Erica became the first woman to qualify #1 in pro stock and in 2012 became the first woman to win in the finals in pro stock. On this day, she had quite the successful day, placing second in the first round and first in the second round to advance to the finals. She is in the green and white Charter car.

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She lost in the finals by only .026 seconds, taking second overall.

It was a fun day and I was glad to see so many women following in Shirley Muldowney's footsteps and joining the sport. I wish them luck and hope they'll stay safe.

Posted by deniseandmike 20:50 Archived in USA Tagged north dad carolina Comments (0)

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