Inaugural Retirement trip – Part 10 – STILL partying, wine tasting, and then heading home
If you missed the previous posts about our Texas journey, the first trip since our retirement in March, you can go back to the beginning here. There are links at the end of each post to the next.
In the last post, I shared our Fiesta, and other, activities during the first 5 days in San Antonio. There is so much to do and see that we really only scratched the surface, prioritizing seeing friends both old and new, over constant activity. Although I could see how the uninitiated, reading this blog series, could think otherwise.
Day 6 involved an early arrival at the studio of San Antonio’s Public Television station, KLRN, where our friend John is a Vice President. We had the absolute pleasure of being invited to participate in a river barge cruise being filmed to kick off a new PBS travel series which will highlight Fiesta! Our role involved smiling, having cascarones cracked on our heads, smiling some more, and yelling “Viva Fiesta” on Que, numerous times. I must say, we excelled at this tough labor. 🙂
Following our morning cruise on the river barge, we made our way to the Guenther House for a scrumptious brunch out on the limestone patio. The historic 1860 mansion sits right on the Riverwalk south of town and was the home of the Pioneer Flour mill’s founding family. Definitely worth a look (and a pop into the bakery) after a meal! Lovely weather, great conversation, and awesome food, what more can you hope for?
That evening, we attended another Fiesta event, Cornyation, a spoof of the muckety-muck coronations of the Fiesta King, Queen, and their court. It’s a rollicking good time, but can be bawdy, so it’s best for adults only! The huge cast puts on elaborate skits that poke fun at issues, politicians, and celebrities, both local and national.
Day 7 was reserved for wine tasting in the Texas Hill Country. A two-car caravan of Dorcas, Jerry, John, me, Manuel and Illeana converged at William Chris Vineyards, just outside of Fredericksburg, where we enjoyed a leisurely tasting on the porch overlooking this view. We really enjoyed their wines, especially a lovely rose on this spring day.
From there, we moved on to Grape Creek Vineyards, whose tagline reads ‘Tuscany in Texas’. An apt description; the property is lovely and does invoke the feeling of Tuscany, with its mix of soft yellow stucco, timbers and terra cotta roof.
We thought that Grape Creek might have a restaurant, but alas, it was still under construction, and we were in dire need of sustenance. So, following our second wine tasting, we did the only sensible thing: we went into Fredericksburg and chowed down at Whataburger. 😀 Oh and what-a-burger it was!
Our third stop on our wine tour was at Alexander Vineyards. We were slightly disappointed that they did not have any wines made from Texas fruit, since they currently only produce wines from French and German grapes, but did enjoy their tasting. And their sign:
The next stop was a multi-vineyard collaboration, representing vineyards located around Texas in one grand location, called 4.0 Cellars. This was a great idea, as we would not have experienced their wines had we to travel to Burleson, Commanche or Lubbock! The structure was very interesting as well, as you can see here.
Our last stop was at Messina Hof Winery, one of three locations for this winery. Again, a lovely building beckoned us to stop and sit awhile. I thought I was done with wine for the day until I had a sip of their Sparkling Almond wine. 😀
The glow of Day 7 stayed with us during the scenic drive back through the Hill Country to San Antonio, and then was sealed with a nice steak dinner at the local favorite roadhouse, Josephine Street.
Day 8 found us worn out from the prolonged period of fun and excitement, and prompted a very laid back day of lounging around, eating, and resting. That evening, we had one more dinner with friends Paul and Julie, at another La Fonda restaurant. It is amazing how the years just fall away when you see friends you haven’t seen in many years, and you pick up right where you left off!
Day 9 was departure day. It was truly bittersweet; we were sad to leave San Antonio, and would miss all our friends and especially our gracious hostess, Dorcas! But sweet because we had enjoyed the most awesome time, and the company and warm hugs from so many dear, dear friends. It was not goodbye, but “until next time”!
We took our time on the way home, meandering through Texas and Louisiana, stopping in beautiful and historic Natchitoches the first night.
Instead of busy Baton Rouge, we crossed the Mighty Mississippi on a brand new, spectacular, and nearly deserted, bridge near New Roads.
We stopped in Zachary for a leisurely lunch at Le Blanc’s restaurant, proudly celebrating 37 years of service, and a great find in our search to avoid chain restaurants during our travels.
We made our way that afternoon to the home of long-time friends in Louisiana, that we hadn’t seen in some time. We met Mark and Kathy through the Honda Valkyrie group, circa early 2000s, and have kept in touch, sometimes more, sometimes less, ever since. As we experienced in San Antonio, once back together, we picked up right where we had left off! We spent a great evening catching up, and trying to convince them of the benefits of retirement. 😉
The next morning, we enjoyed our friends’ hospitality much longer than expected due to some severe storms that passed through the area. With vigilant use of the radar apps, we timed our departure perfectly, and traveled as far as Meridian, Mississippi by that evening, enjoying the freedom to take our time.
Day 11 found us in familiar territory, Alabama, and we decided to re-visit an old favorite natural area that had been revitalized, Little River Canyon National Preserve. If you are ever in the area around Fort Payne, Alabama (home of the country superstar group, Alabama), be sure to check it out. At the western end of Lookout Mountain, you’ll find a natural spectacle of river, falls and a lush, green canyon. Just a couple of photos before I close out this tale…
Words are inadequate to fully describe how much this trip meant to Jerry and me. To have just retired, been able to travel at our own pace, see lifelong friends, celebrate 20 years together, ride our motorcycles, see wonderful sights…it is just more than we could have ever hoped for. We are humbled with gratitude for all our blessings, including you, dear reader, for following along.
Peace and love to you all!