The funny thing is, one of the reasons I wanted to drive around the Hill Country in the first place was because we've been talking for several years about moving up there when we retire. But New Braunfels never occurred to me, I don't know why. I was thinking of places like Wimberly and Dripping Springs that are a bit closer to Austin. But New Braunfels is a decent size town (~40,000 pop.), and it's on the freeway more or less halfway between Austin and San Antonio - a little closer to San Antonio - which means both of them are easy driving distance. And it's really pretty, I have to admit. And Rob is in love. (And it's not like we're moving up there next week, or even next year, in any case.)
We didn't really get on the road until about noon Saturday. We left the house at 10, but we stopped to eat breakfast and then stopped again in Clear Lake to give the listing papers to the realtor, finally. (It's listed, now, but doesn't yet have pictures online, darnit.) Then we drove straight down I-10 for 100 miles or so. I usually think I-10 west of Houston is ugly, but either the trees have grown up a lot more, or it was just the time of year - or possibly both - but it was very pretty and green, pretty much all the way. There were wildflowers, although not as many as I have seen in past years. (I don't know, does the state of Texas still do all that seeding on the side of the freeway like they used to? That would explain why there weren't so many, if they've stopped.)
We got off the freeway at Luling, and cut across to San Marcos. I can't go on a holiday and not go shopping a little, and San Marcos has all those outlet stores. It was late in the afternoon by the time we got there, so while it was still busy, it was possible to find a parking place. We didn't stay long - but we did buy some stuff at the Pottery Barn/Williams- Sonoma outlet. It was mostly kitchen odds & ends- some of it we'll be giving to Rob's Mom when we finally get up there, since Mother's Day is coming up and her birthday is right after that.
Then after that, we went down the freeway to New Braunfels. I wasn't even originally planning to spend the night there - I think I tried San Marcos first, because I was thinking it would be cheaper since NB is more of a tourist town, but they weren't. I ended up with the Hampton Inn in NB, partly because it had a "hot breakfast" included in the price - it turned out to just be sausage and eggs that were hot, but it was still a decent breakfast. Anyway, it was around 5:00 by the time we got there and we decided to go ahead and get dinner, since we had had a late breakfast and no lunch. I had seen a billboard for a restaurant called Oma's Haus which I'm pretty sure has been around forever, so we went there. It was pretty unprepossessing from the outside but the food was good, as it turned out. You could tell it was one of those places where the locals go, not just tourists. I didn't realize it, but Rob had never really had German food before. (No German restaurants in Galveston.) He had chicken schnitzel, and I had a potato pancake plate, which came with sausage. (It came in Oma size and Opa size, but I stuck with Oma, and just had one pancake.) And we split an apple strudel for dessert, which was oh-my-god good, it really was. It's a good thing we only ordered one - I think I could've eaten about two by myself!
Let's see, after that we went and checked into the hotel - which turned out to be practically right across the freeway from where we already were - and we watched a little of the Astros game, and then decided to go driving around before it got dark. The thing about New Braunfels is, it has two rivers right in the middle of town, which makes it really pleasant and pretty and green. The original tourist attraction was just the river itself - you rented tubes and went floating down the river. (I did it once or twice, years ago.) Then a while back they built this huge water park - Schlitterbahn
- which was so successful they've now built a couple more, including one in Galveston. But while the town has grown since I was last there, it still feels like a small town, in a good way. I think Rob liked it so much because it felt sort of Ohio-ish to him - there are some very similar little German towns in Ohio.