We enjoyed our
usual activities during April including dancing, playing pickleball, hiking,
and spending time with friends. Despite
having fun, I am suffering from “hitch itch”, the desire to be back on the open
road with Big Boomer towing Suite Retreat.
But until Dad gets off the monthly merry-go-round of healthcare
appointments, I must be content with just multi-day motorcycle road trips. Hence, we loaded Maximus the Trike on a brisk
but sunny Sunday morning, heading to Ennis, TX for their annual 3-day Bluebonnet
Festival. We traversed US-287 for most
of the time, which offers lovely, pastural scenery: grazing cows, horses,
goats, and fields of wildflowers. My
nose was filled with the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle, followed by the stench
of rotting animal carcasses and the acrid smoke from trash burns—not a winning
We had Choice
Privileges Rewards Points accumulated from our 3+weeks of hoteling it when Big
Boomer underwent repairs last May. So,
we decided to apply the Rewards points to our stay at the Quality Inn in
Ennis. It is located right off I-45 and within walking
distance (less than 1 mile) from the Festival activities. Mom immediately loved the place when she
learned it was family owned and operated by 3 generations.
It scored extra points for employing locals who are like extended
family, having worked for this establishment for many years. The motel is older, but clean and well
maintained, and its grounds are quite lovely.
With its outdoor pool, jacuzzi, and lighted courtyard snuggled under
live oak trees, you forget momentarily you are in downtown Ennis.
The staff and family were efficient and friendly--well all except for one, who was quite standoffish and a bit of a goof-off.
|I'm pretty sure Shadow will not be nominated as Outstanding Employee of the Month.|
We walked to
the Bluebonnet Welcome Center, arriving about 1 p.m. on the final day of the 3-day
Festival. We had ample time to peruse
all the vendors, check out the midway, and enjoy the entertainment, well
worth the $5/adult admission. We chilled
and relaxed to the musical performance by the Windbreakers, who label
themselves as “yacht rock”. What the
heck is that? To me, the songs all fit
the soft rock category: Eagles, Hall and
Oates, Bread, America. But the band
members were all dressed in nautical attire, so I guess they created their own
genre. Regardless of categorization,
this Rambling RV Rat, along with all the spectators, enjoyed their sound
immensely. It was a perfect musical
finale for the Festival.
In addition to
the Festival activities, this was peak season for viewing the blooming bluebonnets,
a member of the lupine flora species and the Texas State Flower. Ennis and surrounding areas boast more than
40 miles of roads, parks, and natural areas from which to view the sea of
wildflowers. We presumed that the
viewing trails would be less populated AFTER the Festival ended, so we planned our
multi-day trip accordingly. Sure glad we
did: We heard folks complaining about
the weekend traffic jams, lack of parking, and crowded trails. We encountered none of this when we started
our viewing venture on Monday morning at Bluebonnet and Veterans Parks. We were able to stop, park, walk along the paths
and trails, and, most importantly, take unobstructed photos. While the bluebonnets themselves were
exquisite, I so loved seeing the vibrant Indian paintbrush, pink evening
primrose, and assorted yellow wildflowers that were interspersed. We stopped at every designated area,
traversed every one of the 40+ miles of blooms, including Lake Baldwell,
Kachina Prairie, and even those areas the Festival categorizes as “off the
beaten path”. We were enthralled with
the simplicity of nature and basked in its beauty. No need for
expensive or exotic landscaping here.
The Master has created a colorful and fragrant mosaic of natural carpet
that stimulates our eyes and tickles our noses simultaneously!
The curving country roads were perfect for motorcycling, too. Along the way we viewed lots of hogs, cattle, donkeys, and horses,
including meeting Big Jake. He is the
tallest horse in all of Texas, measuring 20 hands!
One problem with
the Ennis area for us was the limited restaurant options to adhere to Dad’s
plant-based diet, especially since our visit included a Sunday and Monday, when
many non-chain restaurants are closed.
Thankfully, we found that Chile’s now offers a black bean veggie fajita
in addition to black bean burgers. So,
Chile’s became our go-to place. And it
was within the same complex as the Quality Inn at which we were staying, so we
just walked over each evening.
Tuesday to visiting Waxahachie, TX, specifically to visit the Munster
Mansion. Our friend Lisa, who is a guru
on all fun things to do in TX, told us about this replica of the home from the
1960s TV show, The Munsters. The owners
of the Mansion are friendly and welcoming.
They have worked diligently to replicate The Munsters’ residence at 1313
Mockingbird Lane, both inside and outside. I was fascinated by their painstaking research on room dimensions. And their attention to detail is evidenced by the placement of cobwebs and "food" on the dining table (which included baked “bat” cookies). Most of the furnishings are reproductions,
but you will see Eddie’s original Teddy Bear.
I was a bit leery to enter the Mansion, especially when Spot emerged
from beneath the stairwell. But he was
quite hospitable. He didn’t even use his fiery dragon breath on
me. I tried to sneak a peek at Grandpa’s
book of spells, but I worried Igor would fink on me. And I was on good behavior (quiet as a mouse)
in Eddie’s Room, especially when I saw that giant rat trap. We enjoyed this tour immensely, but we do
recommend you go with a minimum of 4 adults to get the best value. You see, they charge the same admission ($120)
whether you go alone, as a couple, or with a group of 4.
|Spot welcomed us (somewhat) as we entered the Mansion.|
|Eddie's original teddy bear sitting in the electric chair!|
|I stayed clear of the giant rat trap in Eddie's room!|
|Igor waiting for Grandpa to retire for the evening!|
|Marilyn's room. It even has a hidden door.|
|The boudoir of Herman and Lily.|
|Herman greeted us in the living room, where every cobweb is strategically placed to replicate the TV home.|
|On the right, you can see the entrance to Grandpa's basement laboratory.|
We hopped back
on the trike and went to downtown Waxahachie. We
walked around the historic district to view the cute gingerbread-style homes dating from the 1890s to early 1900s. We also strolled along the business district,
stopping at Farm Luck for a beverage at their nostalgic soda fountain and cafe. Afterwards, we did a 3-mile hike along the
Waxahachie Creek Trail. Another
fun-filled day exploring another great Texas town.
|I found it apropos that an attorney's office was next door to a pest control company.|
|Waxahachie Creek Trail|
After our final
complimentary breakfast on Wednesday at the Quality Inn, we expressed our
gratitude for the hospitality to the staff and said farewell to Shadow the Cat. We were heading back to Livingston, but
planned several tourist stops along the way.
First up was the Confederate Reunion Grounds State Historic Site in
Mexia, TX ($4/adult admission). For 50+
years after the Civil War, Confederacy veterans and their families gathered
here annually for fellowship, food, and commemoration. But the lands were used thousands of years
previously for hunting and gathering by several Indian groups like the
Caddo and Comanche. During the oil boom
in Limestone County, TX in the 1920s, the Grounds became part of a retreat for
oil rig employees.
We stopped next in Groesbeck, TX to visit the Old Fort Parker Historic Site ($4/adult admission). This is a reconstruction of a civilian fort established by the pioneering Parker Family. Comanche Indians attacked the fort in 1836, killed several occupants, and abducted 9-year-old Cynthia Ann Parker. Cynthia was adopted by a Comanche family, married a Comanche warrior, and gave birth to Quanah Parker, who became the last great Comanche chief. It is an interesting tale of a young girl who integrated so well into a new way of life that she never wished to return to her family. We drove a few miles down the road to visit the Memorial Site dedicated to the Parker family and victims of the massacre.
|The vultures on the chimney freaked me out a bit.|
|The Parker Memorial|
We were trying to avoid rainstorms, so we opted to take I-45 home. We were passing through Huntsville, TX, so stopped for dinner at Joe’s Italian Grill before going straight to the VFW for dance lessons. We sure were tuckered out by the end of the day.
April was a
month of celebrations for us. We had a
wonderful Easter week, including viewing the film His Only Son at the
Lufkin Cinemark Theater, attending the Good Friday Cantata at Livingston’s
First Methodist Church, and fulfilling our traditions of watching 10
Commandments and King of Kings while coloring eggs and enjoying our
plant-based Easter feast. We joined
Dave/Debbie for cocktails to toast their 1-year nomadic RVersary.
|Our plant-based Easter Dinner included a honey sweet bread shaped like yours truly!|
|Celebrating Dave/Debbie's 1-year RVersary with Dan/Paula.|
And the biggest day of commemoration in April: the anniversary of my rescue from the toy store so many years ago. (If you don’t know how I became the Rambling RV Rat, you can read my story here Happy Birthday to Me! ). Mom baked me a special “cheez cake”, named for its shape (cheese wheel) rather than for its ingredients.
|My delicious cake and the Mini Me's my parents made for me!|
Now that I am a maturing stuffed rat, I decided it was time to sell my 2019 Polaris 570 side-by-side. Want to buy my buggy? It is trail rated, has all required safety equipment, and only 244 riding hours. I'm even throwing in a pair of helmets with headsets, all for $9,999 OBO. It is in great shape, and I love every minute with it. But I am looking now to score a more legitimate set of wheels like a Jeep, which can be used on highway or off-road.
|This great little machine can be YOURS!|
Well, time to
kick the dust up at another VFW dance, so I’ll sign off now. I’ll talk to you again soon!