Saturday, January 12, 2013

Wine, Dinner, Dancing, Walking, Pinochle -- Sat., Jan. 12

We had an invitation for dinner and dancing on Friday night. Bob's boss, Michael, asked us to go out with him and Mary. Originally, we were going to meet them at the restaurant at 7:00 p.m. You know how things change. Friday Bob called to ask me to be ready earlier and he was rather mysterious about it.

I went about my afternoon, doing laundry. Next thing I know Bob is in the laundry room at 4:20 p.m. telling me I have to be ready to go by 5:00 p.m. because a LIMO is picking us up. From the RV park? Seriously? I have 40 minutes to get ready?

He finished folding the laundry and I zipped back to the 5th wheel to change my clothes and put on a little make-up. I was ready by 5:00 p.m.! Whew.

So, there we were, standing in front of the RV park office and we saw the limousine drive by...a very long, black stretch limo. The limo must have been at least 30' long. About five minutes later, the limo came back, having missed the RV park on the first pass. He pulled into the RV park and we got in the car. The RV park manager was walking by and said, "Very nice." I don't know if they get many limos in the park.

The limo then took us an hour on the other side of San Antonio to Michael & Mary's place. They live out in the country where we saw deer in yards. We were invited in, had a quick glass of wine, and a tour of the house. They have a very lovely house and deck with pool overlooking the hills.

From there, the limo took us to dinner at A Tempo, a beautiful restaurant in Olmos Park. Beverly, a blues and sultry singer, whom they enjoy following, was singing there last night. We sat on the outdoor patio for dinner and Michael ordered two bottles of wine for all of us to share. (We were joined by another couple, Catherine and Jim, as well.) Mary and I ordered Chicken Tagine, Bob had Redfish Veronique, Catherine and Jim had mussels (which were quite yummy--they shared), and Michael had calamari steaks and crab-stuffed mushrooms. After dinner, all of us got up and danced in the aisles of the patio to Beverly's soothing, velvety voice.

The evening was perfect. All of us had a great time. We were there until Beverly quit for the night at 10:00 p.m. Four of us hopped back in the limo and we reversed the drive, dropping Michael and Mary off at their house, then we were dropped off at the RV park.

Bob and I stayed up until around 2:00 a.m. At 8:00 a.m. the alarm went off and we were up and at 'em for a jam-packed Saturday. I had my fanny pack all decked out with my Volkswalk record books, camera, cell phone, Kleenex and left it on the counter in the 5er. We had already driven about 15 minutes when I realized I didn't have it. Withdrawal. No camera today. Luckily, at sponsored Volkswalk events they have extra insert sheets for the record books, because apparently I am not the only one who forgets their books. Photos today are courtesy of Peri D. and her smartphone.

At 10:00 a.m. we met Jim and Peri at Texas Rivers Center in San Marcos, Texas for a 10K Volkswalk. The temperature was about 70 degrees and very humid. Luckily it was cloudy with a little breeze, otherwise the humidity would have been oppressive.

Texas Rivers Center, Texas State University

Aquarena Springs Lake.
Starting out fresh.
Our walk took us through the Spring Lake Preserve (here is a link to pictures from last year's Volkswalk in the Preserve--note the picture of the analemmatic sundial) where we saw an analemmatic sundial (a description of the sundial), a sickly looking xeriscape (dry landscaping) garden, and a viewpoint of the hill country. That was just the first quarter of the walk. [Note: I'm sorry for the very confusing paragraph above. It is easier for you to click the links to see and learn about the sundial than for me to try to describe it.]

From Peri--analemmatic sundial.


We progressed through a beautiful neighborhood, back to the Texas Rivers Center, then into downtown San Marcos.

Two hours and 15 minutes later, we were all hungry so Jim and Peri recommended Grins Restaurant in San Marcos. Great lunch, including peach cobbler for dessert. 

Grins at Grins Restaurant.
Jim and Peri had a Groupon for the Glass Bottom Boat Tour at Aquarena Springs and they graciously invited us to go with them on the tour. What a fascinating boat ride. We saw a spotted gar, bluegills, sunfish, shiners, Mexican tetras, largemouth bass, Texas River Cooters (turtles), red-eared sliders (turtles), cormorants (actually saw one eat a fish), snowy egret, some small grebes, flowering Cobomba (aquatic vegetation) and Rio Grande cichlids (a tilapia-like fish). The water is so clear. 

The glass bottom boats.

Jim and Susan interested in what guide is saying.

Texas River Cooters on log.

Aquatic vegetation and fish.

View of boat from roof of visitor center.
The springs can be seen bubbling or flowing underwater.  It's amazing how powerfully the water comes out of the ground!

The history of Aquarena Springs goes back around 12,000 years when native peoples frequented or lived in the area because of the availability of fresh water. Fast forward 12,000 years to 1946-1996 when Aquarena Springs was a major tourist attraction with glass bottom boat tours, Submarine Underwater Theater, and Ralph the swimming pig. 

In 1996, Texas State University purchased the property and changed the focus from amusement park to preservation and education. Now visitors are taught about the springs flowing from the Edwards Aquifer. I love springs anyway, so taking the tour, looking at the visitor center and doing the walk today all reinforced my love of nature.

After the glass bottom boat tour, we headed over to Jim and Peri's 5er where we played pinochle. Bob and Jim beat the socks off Peri and I. Then we played Sequence. It was very intense. You could have heard a pin drop we were so engrossed in the game. Peri made some snacks, we enjoyed a glass of apple wine that they had purchased at an abbey in Colorado and called it a night. 

We had two wonderful events in a row including last night and today. I feel like we've already done a weekend's worth of activities, but we still have Sunday left! Tomorrow, another Volkswalk.

Once again, thank you to Peri for the use of her photos from her smartphone.

Travel Bug out.