3. “We have more fun than anyone” Texas road trip... September/October.2019

Day 11
And so it begins…well, technically, the actual event doesn’t start until tomorrow.  But it seems even when you get a few Sisters together, fun begins to happen right away.  The temps are brutal & if you’re in the sun, it’s torture.  JB Wells campground is really more like a cow pasture with fewer trees but with water & electrical hookups.  Jill & I would be sharing a space for the next few days.  There were quite a few campers already there as everyone was excited to get this party started.  Jill has been to one Sisters event before, but this was my first Sister campout event…I was a Virgin-Sister as the girls informed me last night…giggling as they said it.

We parked across from some of the women we met last night & Jill got her trailer all plugged in & ready to go…or actually ready to stay for the next 9 days.  Many of the Sisters set up extravagant ‘porches’…Jill’s is pretty minimal comparatively, but her new big canopy was welcome relief from the hot sun.  We spent a chunk of time setting up & it was worth it to have a bit of shade.

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I was ‘gifted’ a spot of my own, next to Jill’s, by a Sister that was unable to come at the last minute…so nice!  It gave both of us more space & more importantly, Jill didn’t have a neighbors sewer hook up 2’ from her front porch.  So, I took a few minutes to ‘Glamp’ & set up my space.  We chatted with some old friends & made new ones.  We made a run to Walmart for ice & other stuff.  

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Then we went to the Come & Take It Grill for food, which was really good & ran into our neighbor, Pam & her friend & sat with them.  Come & Take It is a Gonzels thingits everywhere.  Like the citys slogan.  Its all about a cannon that was gifted to the town when the Texas & Mexican armies got along.  Years later when they were at war, the Mexican Army threatened to come & take their cannon back.  Im not sure why the Texans didnt fight for it, but the story told to me, was that they sunk it so the Mexican army couldnt get it back.  So, from then on, Gonzales has had celebrations about that history & they have the biggest flag I’ve ever seen flying over the town square with that saying plastered on it.  And, it’s on bumper stickers, t-shirts, mugs, signs….all over the place.  

We sat on the porch & visited with Jo Lynn, a friend of Jill’s from Dallas & of mine from Waxahacie.  The day passed quickly & soon it was night & thank goodness, a little relief from the heat.

Day 12
It was cooler last night than I expected.  Jill has offered to let me sleep in her trailer with the air conditioning, but I was hoping to be able to stay at my own place.  My teeny weeny fan is working great…it’s no bigger than my hand & is USB rechargeable (one more thing to keep charged).  I didn’t need any of my window nets or the hatch net…there aren’t any bugs here.  So, I just rolled down my back window & opened all the others & let the night air inside.  It worked well.

While there aren’t bugs here, there are ants…something Texas-wicked called a fire ant.  They bite & they are everywhere.  We got some super duper white powder to sprinkle all over the ground & around our tires & Jill’s hoses to keep the pesky little annoying things away.  It was calling for rain everyday, but just as it did for the days I was on the beach, the forecast was wrong.  Except for the temperatures…actual was in the mid to upper 90’s, but the heat index was 100.

We watched as more Sisters arrived towing cute vintage trailers or big RV’s.  We rode our bikes around a little bit.  Then our friend Barbara showed up.  Jill & I have been looking so forward to seeing & visiting with her.  She took a three month trip this past summer to Europe & following her travels on Facebook just made us want to hear about each detail even more!  Jo Lynn joined us & we listened to Barbara talk about her trip…all of us enchanted by her travel experiences.  The four of us went out to lunch…back to the Come & Take It Bar & Grill.

There was brief period of rain…like 10 minutes but it didn’t cool things down.  Jill tucked into her trailer for an afternoon break & I decided to walk around & check out some of the vintage trailers that the Sisters are so well known for. It was Hot! Hot! Hot!  

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I posted on the FB group site to see if anyone was interested in a last minute bike parade through the park.  It was cooling off as the sun went down.  I had glow sticks!  I had glow bracelets!  I had enthusiasm!  But, in the end it was just me, Jill & Barbara.  In spite of it being the smallest & slightly pathetic bike parade, we had fun & it was great to be riding around in the dark with the twinkly lights from the trailers shining around us & the cool night air on our skin.  

Jill was ready to be tucked into the air conditioning for the night, but I thought this was the best time of day to be outside.  My neighbors across the road stayed up most nights—7 or 8 of them talking & laughing & they let me join in the conversation & fun.  I continued to meet more Sisters every day & every night.  So many interesting women here that I would never cross paths with otherwise.

Day 13
The event planners had shower trucks & porta pottys brought in…not everyone has both of those in their campers.  Vintage campers typically don’t have either one.  It’s easy for me to pee outside when I’m dispersed camping in the forests & it’s dark outside & no one is camped close to me.  But in a campground with so many campers parked right next to each other & bright lights overhead, it’s practically impossible.  Jill has offered more than once for me to use her bathroom, but I don’t want to go into her trailer in the middle of the night & wake her up just to avoid a walk up the road to the porta potty.  While on the one hand it’s kind of a pain to walk that far, in my jammies once out & walking I love the cool breeze & the night.  Sometimes there would be parties going on & you could hear laughter from one of the porches.  This morning, though, I walked up to the shower truck & got all clean & sparkly!  

The event offered three tours & Jill signed us up for all of them.  Today, we’d be touring San Antonio.  I threw a big monkey wrench into the mix by driving behind the buses all week.  I get motion sickness more now than ever & didn’t want it on this trip.  Someone offered me a barf-bag, but that wasn’t really the solution I was looking for.  This ended up not really being a tour, but more like a ride into San Antonio & we’d be gone about 12 hours.  I’ve been to the city once before, but wanted to see the Mercado & what the markets were like.  I met the group at the restaurant, La Margarita.  They had a huge & pretty room reserved upstairs for all of us.  The food was good & we enjoyed a mexican band while we ate.  Merrick, another friend we’d met at Waxahacie last year, joined Jill & me & we spent the next three hours or so going through the markets.  There are about 50 different storefronts, all selling about the same 50 things.  I’m not kidding.  But, I’m still glad we went & strolled through them.  I’d originally wanted to go into Mexico at Matamoros while down by the Gulf, but was warned off not only by comments found on Google, but by friends & strangers.  I love all the bright colors & murals in this town. 

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Not sure what the significance of all the locks are, but it looked interesting.

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The coolest & most unique place we went into was up in the LaVillita area.  Jill scored some pretty clothes there & Merrick had a wonderful conversation with the salesperson…I didn’t get all the story, but her last name was Pace.  As in the picante sauce family.  But I really wanted a margarita.  I’d skipped drinking one at lunch.  The group was supposed to all meet again at another mexican restaurant at 5:30 on the river to go on a river cruise.  So, the three of us found a table outside on the edge of the water & had a drink.  Other Sisters had the same idea & our table of three soon became a table of 6 with a table of 6 next to us that were all Sisters too.  It was nice just to sit & relax & talk.

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Merrick & Jill above the river.

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Enjoying a drink along the river.

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All the Sisters showed up & we boarded two different boats, each filled with tons of yummy appetizers.  Then we started the cruise up & down the river as winds through many shops & restaurants…it lasted about an hour.  

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It was getting dusky by the time the group boarded the buses & I made the mile trek back to my parking space.  I spent the last of the evening over at the neighbors porch chatting & laughing.

Day 14
This morning began the same as yesterday…hitting the shower truck early, then into my 4Runner following a bus.  Today’s tour was of 4 “Painted Churches”.  The definition of a painted church is one built & decorated by immigrants; all of these churches were Catholic.  These small Texas towns were made up the Czech & German immigrants that came to the US in the 1840’s.  The tour guide was super knowledgeable & proud of this heritage.  (I couldn’t get over the fact that so many people in this state, & in our country would lock these people up & throw away the key if they were coming into our country today.  They came to the United States by the millions in the 1800 & 1900’s.   All were welcome to come to our country & build a home, start a business & begin a new life.  You couldn’t vote or run for office  unless you were naturalized, but all were welcome to come & stay.  No huge big crazy long drawn out complicated government process to make you ‘legal’.  I guess the Statue of Liberty meant something totally different when it was built in 1886).  Well, on with the tour. 

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The churches were beautiful works of art.  All of them had been fairly recently restored, with the exception of one of the churches had it’s original ceiling.  They were all built in a similar Gothic style construction & were filled with alters & statues.  

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The tour guide was a sweet local woman who had an interesting history of her own & was admittedly a convert to Catholicism about 8 years ago.  I am a cynic when it comes to religion; I attended a Catholic girls elementary school for four years & never felt welcomed by the religion since I was not Catholic (& my Mother was divorced…YIKES!  That’s a huge sin!!).  There is much I don’t understand about the rules & rituals of the Catholic church & didn’t find being in these churches comforting…it was quite the opposite.  But from an art & beauty point of view, they were wonderful.  The details on the ceilings & walls were spectacular.  And, I’m sure if you are Catholic & attending Mass in one of these churches, is very special.  Most of our group really seemed to be enchanted by the artwork & all of the statues.

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We got back to the campground about 30 minutes before tonights event started.  It’s Rosie the Riveter Texas Style tonight (not sure what that means, but we’re ready for it!)  So, we put on our costumes & walked up to the pavilion to see a couple hundred other Rosies ready for an evening of fun!

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I was ready for bed by the time we made it back to our campers.  It had been another super hot day.  But on one of my last walks to the porta potty around 11pm, I was strolling down one side of the road & on the other side another woman was walking back to her trailer.  Behind us were two big parties going on…both full of laughter & lots of people.  I looked over at my co-walker & said, “why are we walking back when all the fun is back there?”  She started laughing, we introduced ourselves.  She was Barbara from Austin & so our conversation began.  We started visiting right there in the middle of the road & 1 1/2 hours later we finally said good night.  Another nice Sister I was happy to have met.  

Day 15
Sleeping at night in my Camper has been just fine.  My little bitty fan works wonders & the nights are cool…still no bugs…thankfully!  Waking up super early I went to the shower truck then back to the 4runner & made coffee.  Jill & I had been invited to an impromptu breakfast by a bunch of Sisters parked by our friend Jo Lynn.  What fun!  We met new Sisters & laughed & ate yummy breakfast tacos.  Jill & Jo Lynn found out about the Boot Whisperer & made an appointment for Friday (more on that later).  Today was a free day & there is a big shopping event happening in Warranton & Round Top.  Twice a year for a 2 week period, the two towns open up with a couple of hundred shops, stalls & outdoor spaces to sell everything.  A lot of it is old antiques, quirky old stuff, some new boutique stufflots & lots of stuff.  There are some places to eat too.  In spite of the triple digit heat index, Jo Lynn drove us to Warranton, about an hour away from Gonzales.  We all shopped for about 3 hours going in & out of quite a few places.  Jill & I didnt think wed be going to the Shady Lady event on Friday night, but when I found the perfect outfit to wear, she caved, found herself something as Jo Lynn did too, so we all three were ready for that party.  I had a really yummy lunch-- a shrimp BLT.  But we were all worn out from the heat & ready to go. So, we headed back to camp.  Jill cooled off in her trailer before tonights Woodstock 50 Years Later celebration.  I visited the shower truck once moreall the faucets were set to cold this time of dayseems no one wanted or needed any hot water (& it felt great!).

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My favorite statue of the trip so far.

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Peace, Love & Hippiness——we filled the pavilion with so much fun tonight.  There was karaoke going on & one of the Sisters could really belt it out.  She had an amazing voice & sang often & the dance floor was going wild.  

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But, we all went over the top happy when one of the Sisters daughters, a young woman with Downs Syndrome, took the microphone & sang out “Dancing Queen”.  It was an awesome evening & we all danced for hours!

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The night had been so much fun there was no way I could sleep.  Jill was ready for bed but I was still on a dance-high.  I popped open a bottle of Sangria we’d bought & welcomed the cool night air.  Merrick had asked me earlier if I’d visit with a Sister friend of hers who would be living out of her van in the upcoming months, show her my “Camper” & maybe give her some tips.  So around 11, Merrick & Elly showed up & we had a nice visit.  Finally, a little after midnight I tucked into Camper, turned off my twinkly lights & let my head hit the pillow.

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