On the Monday drive to San Antonio, we were struck by the quick cutover from the barren West Texas desert to the grassy, shrubby central Texas range land. It seemed to occur just as we crossed the Colorado River (not THAT Colorado River. Seems there is more than one). An uneventful driving day got us into Medina Lake Thousand Trails, our third Thousand Trails resort. We'd heard good things about this one and it did not disappoint. It was a very park-like setting with lots of trees and space between sites. About half of the resort is within spitting distance of Lake Medina, too. Not all of the sites had sewer connections, which I'm finding to be typical and disappointing about Thousand Trails, but I think we snagged the closest full-hookup site to the lake and took advantage our first night by walking down there so Crayton could .. you guessed it ... throw rocks into the water. Right away we noticed that there were deer everywhere in this park! And being protected, they were fairly tame and would come right up into your site. Talking with folks later, it seems the park workers have named them all as well (and not names like 'Steak', 'Stew', 'Sausage', etc).
We'll call this one "George"
The work week was fairly uneventful. It turns out there were a number of other full time families staying here at the same time and Crayton got to meet a lot of new friends. One night another family coordinated a multi-family potluck dinner at the Activity Center. We made Cajun beans and rice and headed over to meet everyone. Upon arrival we quickly saw that it happened to be at the same time and place as the regular all-park pot-luck, completely by chance. It was a fun time, but instead of an intimate night with four families, it was four families and several dozen retiree couples. Still, it was a great time and they didn't mind the 'intrusion' despite our not having signed up for their potluck.
Saturday we went into the city to explore a bit. Parking was a challenge, as usual, with our giant truck, but we finally found inexpensive street-parking only a half mile or so from the sights. It was a hot day, sunny and mid eighties and it turned out to be the same day as the Air Force cadet graduation, a large convention and several other events. The city was packed. We spent a little time at the Alamo, but didn't go inside as we didn't think Crayton would have the patience to wait in the hour+ line. After picking up a much needed sno-cone we walked over to the River Walk. It was much nicer and cooler down by the river and we were glad for the change. We had in mind possibly going on one of the boat tours, but as soon as Crayton actually saw one of the boats he HAD to ride it, so that made the decision for us. Our tour guide was a hoot, the tour was interesting and it was nice to get off our feet for a bit. After the ride we walked around a bit and found a concert going on by the Andean pan-flute guys. I swear they're following us, we've seen them three or four times, now. :) Finally, it was time to head back to camp.
Obligatory Alamo family selfie
Boat ride on the riverwalk
Sunday was a nice relaxing day capped by a movie-night invite by a fellow full time family. Three families and 9 kids or so enjoyed watching Trolls on the outdoor TV of one of their campers. It was a nice end to a pleasant week by the lake.
Monday we drove on to Lake Conroe Thousand Trails in Willis, TX about 40 miles north of Houston. The coming two weeks were going to be busy ones. We've been planning for some time to switch our official State of Domicile to Texas for a whole host of reasons and we'd set aside our time here to get it done. The main reasons we're changing our state of domicile are the lack of state income taxes, easy homeschooling laws, lots of good mail forwarding services and the fact that Texas makes it fairly easy to become a resident. We've already been members of the Escapees RV Club for a while and decided to use their mail forwarding service. They do a lot of advocacy and lobbying on behalf of full time RVers and I wanted to support them in this effort by giving them our business. The plan is to make this area a kind of 'home base' that we'll return to every year or so to see doctors, vets and dentists, renew licenses and registration as necessary, and demonstrate our intention to call this our 'legal home'. So we all got dental cleanings, Truman saw the vet, we got our truck and RV state inspections done, serviced the truck, set up our mail forwarding with the Escapees, registered the truck and RV, got new drivers licenses, and met with a lawyer to set up an estate plan and make sure we're doing everything we can to legally and legitimately be Texas residents. It was a very busy couple of weeks, but we got it all done and are happy to say we're officially Texans!
Bringing a bit of blue to a very red state...
We did take one day to get out and explore a bit and went to visit the Johnson Space Center, the 'Houston' of 'Houston, we have a problem'. I've always been a bit of a space buff. When I was a kid I even went to Space Camp for a week. Once in 7th grade while visiting Florida, we got to see a Space Shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral. I've always wanted to see Mission Control and I finally did. We saw the training/backup control room for the ISS as part of our tour. We also saw a Saturn V rocket and the Independence, a training and mock-up version of the Space Shuttle. The museum had a lot of great kids science activities. Crayton had a blast playing with them and hopefully learned a thing of two, but his 4yo attention span doesn't give much time for those sort of lessons to sink in quite yet. I have to admit I was disappointed at his apparent lack of enthusiasm for what he was seeing. I think that was a factor more of age than anything and I hope he grows into being at least interested in space exploration if not a space nut like his old man. In the week or so since, he's taken to playing with the die-cast Space Shuttle toy we bought him and has talked about how he actually saw it, so I'm hopeful it's starting to sink in a bit.
ISS Mission Control
Relic from the early days of the space race
The Shuttle independence (trainer, never in space)
Lake Conroe itself is a great park, as we're finding most of the Thousand Trails parks to be. They're really invested a lot in the amenities here with a new pool, cabanas, mini-golf, pickle-ball courts and activity center ... all of which were brand new. The sites themselves were a bit rough and un-level, but all the hookups worked fine. The lake was nice with a swimming beach and fishing piers. The pool, though new, was not heated and much too cold to swim in though I did see a few brave (i.e. younger) souls in it. Again, we met lots of full time families...some travelers and some staying local, all of which were nice and happy to have Crayton play with their kids. We even had another multi-family potluck dinner. This means that I've officially participated in more (non-family and non-work) potlucks in the last three weeks than I have in the last 10 years. Pretty cool. In reflecting on this, I realize I tend to mentally categorize my friends and acquaintances by the phase of my life I was in when I got to know them. It dawned on me here that I've officially entered one of these new phases as we meet new people on the road. It's been kind of fun to friend them on Facebook and keep up with their adventures as we travel along.
Crayton lunching with some new pals
Our last weekend at Lake Conroe was a rainy one and we were tired from running errands for the last 12 days, so we took it easy. Saturday we went to see the new Lego Batman movie at a local theater and Sunday we just hung out at the campground getting caught up on sending postcards, blogging (as I type right now) and walking around the park during the pauses between rain squalls. Weird to think this is out legal 'home' now.
Monday morning it was time to move on and we headed for Galveston Island for a birthday week at the beach!