New Braunfels

Trip Start Nov 09, 2008
Trip End Apr 02, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Saturday, February 28, 2009

We left Van Horn and headed for San Antonio, going through the Texas countryside which gradually became greener and more populated.  We spent some time contemplating how such a huge and diverse country has such a strong national identity and a real sense of patriotism - Bruce Springsteen happened to be on the radio at the time, when a stereotypical image of America appeared in the form of eight motorbike riders cruising down the highway on what initially looked like Harley Davidsons, however on closer inspection the irony was that the bikes were actually Hondas! 
We were travelling past the town of Ozona which was marked on the map as having the Davy Crockett Memorial and we were due for a break so we decided to give it a visit.  We found the memorial and were severely tempted by the museum which boasted an exhibition of Mrs Mayde Bailey's slippers and vintage aprons but, as we were looking at the memorial, an American lady came out of the museum complaining bitterly that the museum closed at three and the curator wanted to get off at three o'clock sharp and it was quarter to three so she was shutting up shop now.  Fortunately, as keen on Mrs Mayde Bailey's cast offs as we were, we didn't feel quite as strongly as the thwarted visitor.
We arrived in San Antonio during the early evening and made the decision to carry on for a while and eventually found the town of New Braunfels and booked into the Red Roof Motel - part of a budget chain and less run down than our last stop.  The motels in the USA are often better value than Australia and New Zealand as the price, even at the lower end of the scale, includes free wireless internet and breakfast.  Our only problem has been that because we've been up late at night on the free wireless internet, we have been too late to get up for breakfast!
We had a day of rest where we just lazed around, went shopping and ate!  We visited IHOP where Steven, although he is being better behaved, refused to eat anything.  He has developed a liking for hash browns, but we have encountered three types of hash browns and the ones he likes are the ones that MacDonalds do for their breakfasts, so when offered other types he digs his heels in! The hash browns at IHOP are the other two types! 
During the morning we noticed the traffic building up on the interstate freeway running by the motel and the feeder road that runs parallel to it until it was almost at a standstill.  We wanted to go to the shops about five miles down the road but D was not to be deterred! We jumped in the car (Americans don't walk anywhere!) and sat for an hour in the car to cover the first mile.  After listening to the Bob the Builder twice through, we put some local radio on and found out that a petrol tanker had turned over on the interstate and the petrol had not only spilled over the interstate but had drained down to the local road which passed underneath it and the police would be letting traffic back on in twenty minutes.  We eventually got to the shops having had to pass over the offending flyover where you could still smell the petrol from the accident.  When it's all happening - you have to get out there and join in!
The man on the reception recommended that we visit the local Natural Bridge Caverns and the African Safari Park next door to the Caverns.  We decided to go to the Caverns on Monday but felt it would be hard to explain away the missing windscreen wipers to the car rental company if we went to the Safari Park!
We had an interesting tour of the cave, having persuaded Steven that there was no bear in the cave (as in his Bear Hunt book) and thank goodness he was very well behaved.  It is a criminal offence if you touch the rock formations and we had fears of him rampaging over the ancient stalagmites.  What we didn't anticipate, despite numerous warnings, was D slipping over on the damp walkway!  All of a sudden there was a crashing behind us (rockfall?!) and we turned to see D on his back with the camera held high in the air!  The guide was panicking and concerned for him and the other people were all oohing and aahing at him in hushed tones and suddenly Steven's voice piped up, 'Daddy you fell over'.  Fortunately there were no bones broken, but D has been suffering with a stiff shoulder which he puts down to his effort to save the camera!
In the afternoon we headed up to Austin, the state capital of Texas, stopped to sample the wares of Jack in the Box (yet another eatery) and went back to the motel. 
The weather had turned colder since we had arrived in Texas and have been very relieved to find the decision to travel across the south of the country a wise one so far.  The weather has been warm during the day but the temperatures dropping at night, but there has been unseasonal snow in Alabama and Georgia, where we are planning to head to later this week.  The snow has now moved further north and no more is forecast so we should have no problems.  Our original plan was to go up to the north where there are sub-zero temperatures and oodles of snow.  We could have stayed in England for that!
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