Travel Time Across the Midwest

One of the many things I appreciate about retirement is the ability to switch gears at the last minute.  No need to put in a request for time off.  No scrambling to get a report done ahead of time or delegate tasks that have to be tended to while you are gone.   You can just turn off the lights, lock the door and go.  This comes in handy when you want to help a family member move across several states, as we did this past week.

Son #4 and his lovely wife decided to follow career opportunities that took them from Texas to Omaha.  Within two weeks we were able to book our flights and be in Texas to help them pack up and drive the U-Haul up north.  Matter of fact, I am writing this post as we travel.  (Do not recommend trying to type on your laptop while riding shot gun in a 26-foot U-Haul.)  I blame all errors in this post on a bumpy keyboard. 

One of the benefits of working is feeling that you are needed and have something to contribute to others that is valued.  Work fulfils several basic needs in our lives, as I have addressed in a previous post, Have I Failed Retirement? It is important to find ways to fill those gaps once you retire.  One way to do that is by helping others.  So, Mr. U and I were happy to jump in a plane and fly to Texas to help with the move. Bonus that we got to spend time with our son and DIL.  They lived in New Braunfels, Texas, which is between San Antonio and Austin.  Needless to say, there is plenty to see in the area.  I have several favorites that I would recommend from previous visits there:

  • If you are in the area, of course you must do the San Antonio River Walk.  Duh.
  • The Alamo is also a must see, particularly for history buffs.
  • It is just a short two-hour drive south of San Antonio to the Gulf Coast.  We stayed a night in Corpus Christi and enjoyed a delicious dinner down on the pier.
  • I would recommend taking a late afternoon or early evening walk down 6th street in Austin.  It is a fun, historic district with lots of street music, entertainment, restaurants, and pubs.  Leave the later evening for the younger people though.
  • Take a day drive through the green rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country.  Beeeautiful! Who knew that Luckenbach, Texas, the legendary country music mecca, wasn’t really a city?   Luckenbach was founded in the 1840’s by two German farming families, one of which was the Luckenbach family.   In 1970 the town of Luckenbach went up for sale and John “Hondo” Crouch bought it as a venue for country music.  Famous names, such as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett performed there.  The day we stopped by there were some local country musicians jamming.   

While this trip was devoted to helping them move, we wanted to have a little fun too.  Because all work and no play smells suspiciously like real “work.”   So, after packing boxes all day, we took the evening off and went to Gruene Historic District in New Braunfels.  It is an eclectic area with antique stores, shops, restaurants, and entertainment, all tucked into the beauty of Texas. Gruene was founded in the mid-1840’s by German immigrant, Ernst Gruene.  He and his two sons planted cotton which became a big cash crop.  The cotton business brought 20 – 30 new families to the area and around 1878 a cotton gin, powered by the Guadalupe River, was added.   During this profitable time a dance hall and saloon, Gruene Hall, was built, which still stands today.  We had dinner at the Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar.  It is built into the ruins of the old grist mill and has terraced seating with tables overlooking the Guadalupe River.  A truly unique and beautiful atmosphere.

One morning we stumbled on The Pastry Corner, a lovely little bakery with outdoor seating.  This bakery has taken the pop tart to a whole new level.  As a matter of fact, it seems that adult pop tarts are popping up all over (I know, bad pun).   Once we got to Omaha we had breakfast at Good Evans and they also served up a fresh, homemade pop tart that was to die for.  Get there early because once they run out, that is it for the day.  You might want to share this sweet juicy goodness because it is LARGE. 

Picked up some goodies from the bakery.

Enough about pastries; back to the task at hand.  After the U-Haul was packed to the gills, Mr. U and I headed north.  We took time to make a few fun stops along the way.  One of which HAD to be Magnolia Market.  I am a fangirl of Joanna Gaines and her market did not disappoint. 

If you need gas and a bathroom break, you have to stop at a Buc-ee’s.  They boast that they have the “cleanest restrooms in America!”  But even more importantly, they have a very large unique store.  Think Circle K on steroids.   Don’t worry, you won’t miss one of these stops because they have hundreds of billboards along the freeway, which have entertaining advertising.  Be sure to have one of their Texas sausage kolaches; a fluffy sweet breading wrapped around a sausage with cheese.  Tell ‘em Marian sent you. 

So grateful to not be tied to a job, and at a point in life where we can drop everything and take a little micro trip to get to see our son and DIL and help them move.  It was a win for us.  We got to help them out and get a little vacation too.  Retirement life is good!

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