Category Archives: road trip

Texas in a Day

Emily and Kristen picking sunflowers on the side of the road. Too bad they died in the hot car while we were on the river.

It started with an idea last Sunday: The Ultimate Texas Road Trip. Planning something of such magnitude isn’t to be taken lightly, but Emily and Kristen were more than willing to step up deliver with nothing short of success. The itinerary was this: leave at dawn, arrive and toob the Comal river around 930ish, eat lunch in Gruene, TX, Blue Hole for some rope swings, open air viewing of Star Trek.

Our time together was fantastic. One of those times where the whole group has the same concept of fun: doing as much as humanly possible in a single jam-packed day. When I first sat down to ‘blog’ about this Saturday I had the idea of just recounting the entire tale, but some stories are just too large to post on one’s blog. Sitting on the idea of what to write I’ve decided to compile my top-15 list from the weekend. What can I say, I love making lists on this blog. Onto the top 15…

15. Getting an early start.

I love seeing what people are like early in the morning. You know, who they are before they’re able to put on their nice clothes, get presentable looking, and certainly before their first cup of coffee. Meeting at Emily and Kristen’s place at 545am certainly provided a lot of this for the entire group to enjoy. I’ll have to say that these girls don’t mess around, they had already been up for an hour and a half before we got there, and they were more than ready to go. My voice hadn’t quite warmed up at this point, so the group go to meet the person I refer to as, ‘Barry White Kilzer.’

14. Roadies

If you don’t know what I mean, talk to Leah and Cat.

13. Toob Chutes

Starting off on the river you think, “This is gonna be so relaxing. Just sitting in this inflated rubber donut, I wont have to worry about moving for the next 2 hours.” Not so. About fifteen minutes into the river trip, you are forced to go down what is known as a tube chute, essentially a detour around an otherwise impassable dam, which is fun, but more work than I wanted on the river.

Taking a rest after swinging at Blue Hole.

12. BROCK’s self deprecating humor.

Dude has wonderful comedic timing, and never takes himself too seriously. He brought the perfect mix of funny and kept me laughing quite a bit.

11. Snakes

You always find out new things about people when you spend upwards of 20 straight hours around then. We found out that Emily has an unhealthy fear of snakes, and what they might do to her if they get near her in the water. She spent pretty much the entire time we were on the river avoiding being the person closest to the bank. If you looked at her once in a while you would notice that her eyes were often scanning the bank for slithering enemies.

Kristen on the other hand embraced all things wild. I’m fairly certain that if a snake had come near any of us, Kristen would have grabbed it by the tail, whipped it around in an Indiana Jones like way, and solved our snake problems. Is it sad that I would have deferred to a girl to protect me in such a case?

10. Oatmeal Cream Pies

The perfect combination of oatmeal, and… well, cream pie. These are a staple on any road trip I take, as they come with very little packaging, but are still wrapped individually.

9. Rope Swings @ Blue Hole

Blue Hole is simply that, a blue hole of deep water in Wimberly, TX. They’ve hung a number of large swings out over the water and you can swing into the water as much as you want. Really a lot of fun. There’s a group of young guys out there who are willing to lend you a hand, and give you a few tips on catching the ring. This was a lot tougher than I had imagined and I was unable to catch the ring.

Girls at Blue Hole. They looked nothing like the locals.

Sure I couldn’t grab the metal ring and swing like the locals did. That didn’t matter. I tried, and tried, and tried again and it just didn’t happen that day. But it was the experience of hanging out with a bunch of locals, who all looked related even though they claimed to have differing last names.

The girls on the other hand were much funnier to watch swing on the ring. Merinda in particular. The chain would swing out and then come back in at which point you were meant to sprint towards the ring, jump as high as you could out towards the ring catching it with your arms bent, then swing out over the water and splash in at the end. Merinda couldn’t run at the ring at first. It was pretty funny because she had the timing down though her aim was off. She would just run straight into the water missing the ring pretty much all together. Pretty funny.

8. Flowers

Our resident animal lover had no problem picking flowers at any chance possible. Seriously, we stopped on the side of the highway so she could pick flowers. Girls.

7. Flirting with Cougars

A group of older ladies was on the shuttle with us on our way to toob the river the second time around. I think it’s hilarious to chat it up with ladies like this. You can really see how they’re just trying to have fun, and it doesn’t matter that they’ve all spent the last 20+ years raising kids; they still think they’re in college. Seriously, these ladies had all been drinking since fairly early in the morning, and within a few minutes we had them all chanting Royce’s name so he’d hurry up and get back on the shuttle. More power to you ladies. Who says you can’t be 50, fabulous, and in a bathing suit? I can only hope that my wife has the guts to do something so fun someday!

6. Gruene, TX

A true Texas treasure. If I ever meet someone in another state who’s thinking of visiting Texas this is one place I’m going to tell them to visit. There are some great things to see and an even better feel. Gruene truly captures what it is to be a small Texas town, from the famous dance hall to the small shops lining main street, a day in Gruene is can’t miss option.

5. Lone Star Beer

What can I say, I really like this beer.

4. Open Air Movie Theater

Wimberly has a great outdoor movie theater that shows one movie each Saturday night. This isn’t a drive in theater, it’s really just an outdoor theater. Plywood screen, patio furniture, and old home stereo speakers under the stars and fireflies mean that this is a great place to watch any movie. I loved sitting there and ignoring the movie from time to time, stopping to stare straight into the night sky and listen to the crickets chirp away.

3. The late night drive

Everyone was kind of on edge for the final leg towards the house. I ended up driving the final hour or so, and I love these moments. I think it’s the feeling of being in a car full of people who are all either sleeping or just quietly staring out the window. Juxtapose that with the rest of the screaming and jumping around from earlier in the day and it makes for a wonderful moment of being alone among friends. I haven’t really enjoyed moments like this until recently, and this trip reminded me that these are some really good times.

2. Peeing in the river.

‘Nuff said.

Texas Road Trip 2009

1. Screaming from car windows.

Going on this trip I knew there would be things I’d be asked to do simply given the fact that the group I went with does things that I don’t often do. Example: they scream out of car windows.

I had never once screamed out of a car window when I wasn’t heckling an opposing sports fan, or holla-ing at a pretty girl. But these girls do this on a fairly regular basis. Sticking their heads from the moving vehicle and screaming just as loud as they could I sat there in amazement at the freedom and passion they were able to experience in their simple form of emotion. To be honest I sat there and wanted to participate, but I just couldn’t bring myself to join along. I was paralyzed by fear. What if my voice cracks? What if I can’t scream as highly-pitched as these ladies? What if my Jr. High football coach drives by and sees me? Some strange things swirl through your conscious when faced with a chance at real freedom. Needless to say the first chance for window screaming eluded me, but a pinky promise to try it the next time locked me into the most binding of all road trip contractual obligations. A few hours later, post tubing, I found myself on I-35 heading to lunch screaming at the top of my lungs out the passenger side window of a white suburban experiencing a real release of emotions, and it felt great.

I’m hesitant to admit this, but I’ll probably do this on future road trips when the moment is right. Thanks for showing me something new.

That’s it. A pretty successful summertime adventure if you ask me. From hanging out without our shirts on, to screaming out of car windows, we did it all. Now I just need to get away a few more times this summer before football season gets here.



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Blown-in-the-Glass Road Trip

My last week was one full of highs, and lows. Mountains and rivers (wow that sounds like something you’d hear at a youth retreat). Jon Steinbeck wrote the great American road trip novel, Travels with Charley: In Search of America, and at the beginning he makes a wonderful point:

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the-glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
The trip started out rough, with some fairly major car problems, but thanks to Larry, of Gary’s Towing and Automotive, the rest of the trip was great, until some more fairly major car problems at the end. The Buffalo National River Trail was phenomenal. Starting out the first day we hit some great elevation climbs that took us up to some really great views. Let me say this, Arkansas is very much underrated in terms of beauty. It was like the Rockies, but much less steep. All of the same great vegetation and feel, with lots of water and cool breezes, but sadly no 14,000 ft. elevations.

I think what I enjoyed most about the trip was the fact that we had purpose every day. We woke up, usually made a pot of coffee, ate a quick breakfast (oatmeal with a bit of granola for me), and then hit the trail. No one really complained, other than the first few minutes of getting the ole body warmed up again–we all knew what we were there for, and got after it with a striking intensity. Hiking up those hills was gratifying for a number of reasons: 1) getting to the top is the best feeling ever. You can stand there and look at where you were and a warm sense of accomplishment will easily wash over you. 2) Pushing each other is crucial. Every day at least one of us wasn’t bringing their ‘A’ game all of the time, especially me on the third day, and without the rest of the group it never would have happened. Sitting down and becoming complacent is just too easy, you have to keep on fighting.
Relating to that last point, I read Into Thin Air while we were on the trail. Reason being I wanted a tail about adventure, and the outdoors (the added bonus was the scathing tale of poor decisions made at unheard of altitudes). One of the points which Krakauer makes that I really loved was that without a team, a group that everyone can depend on, the trip will not succeed. You have to be able to trust each member to the fullest, and only in that will victory come about. We won, we hiked the trail, and although there was mud (and lots of it), poison ivy (more than any of us had ever seen, and caves that seemed to go on forever in vast darkness, the team took it down, and it was wonderful in the process. In the end I found that this trip, much like what my life has been for the past year and a half, took on a life of its own, and only in the end were we truly able to let go, and just let the trip be the person it so badly desired to become. When it became what it so badly wanted to become, we found how wonderful the journey had been, and how wonderful the trip home was actually going to feel.


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