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How I Spent My Fall Vacation

After 3 months of working 24/7 it was time for a break. I had several personal things to take care of, some bigger city shopping I needed to do, and I was starting to hear the bell even when it hadn’t rung. Eek! I needed to cool down too. Texas summers are brutal. I decided to go to New Braunfels 150 miles away where there was everything I needed and wanted. To keep my gate, I had to leave my RV behind for the fellow covering me to stay in so I looked for a reasonable motel. There aren’t any there. Anything even remotely close to cheap had truly terrible reviews posted. It occurred to me that if I was going to pay out big money for a place to stay, I should do something I had never done before and look at cabins and cottages for rent. You would not believe some of the weekly prices I saw but I did find two that met my needs and price range. One stood out as a great place that my cat could also go for a vacation away from the evil bell so I booked it.

Joy’s Cabin is only 10 miles from most of the shopping and attractions in New Braunfels. It is out in the quiet country away from the busy noise of the city. With 3 bedrooms, free washer and dryer, minimal satellite TV, all needed utensils and other household items, a painted cement floor with throw rugs, a lovely porch with a swing, and a pond it was more than enough for me to spend a pleasant week. The living room was the original 1850s cabin while the rest of the cabin had been added to it. Most of the rooms are done up in old country style but the kitchen is nicely modern. The beds are a bit hard though I found one of the full size beds in one bedroom was just right for me. The futon sofa in the living room is also very comfortable for sleeping. I spent a few evenings watching the sky from the porch swing and loved coming home to the stone steps and large wooden cabin door. It also had a working mailbox to get my accumulated mail sent to me there. The air conditioning was wonderful all week. I have air conditioning in my RV which is good but it can’t stave off the heat of a Texas afternoon like house air conditioning can. I was cool all week. My cat enjoyed the cabin too. I didn’t think she would like being caged up when I was out as required but she didn’t seem to mind being in her large dog cage with her litter box, cat bed, water, and food. She took her time coming out every night after I got back. Joy was very easy to deal with and even called me afterward to thank me for cleaning up before I left to make her job easier.

Joy's Country CabinLiving room and single bed bedroomKitchen and dining room

Following advice from another gate guard, I went to eat at The Grist Mill in Gruene, TX. The atmosphere and service are very good. My chicken fried steak had the perfect flaky coating on it. The mashed potatoes were REAL, fresh potatoes. The prices were a bit higher than I like and the gravy tasted like it had been cooked by a dang Yankee. It had no character at all. I had to pour a bunch of pepper on it to get it to taste decent.

Grist Mill in GrueneGrist Mill

After dinner, I wandered next door to the oldest dance hall in Texas, Gruene Hall, for some free and very fine local music along with a beer (root). Many well known country music stars such as George Strait got their start there. The floor appears to be original as it certainly has that old look and feel to it. There’s a couple of billiard tables available if dancing or sitting aren’t your thing. I will definitely be going back there.

Gruene Hall

Most of the week was spent in shopping for needed items such as an AT&T Mi-Fi at the AT&T store (AT&T has the best coverage in Texas), a trip to Camping World, Wal-Mart, a badly needed haircut, a visit to a new doctor and a flu shot, a rabies shot for the dang cat, etc.  I had plenty of fun though too. On Thursday I went river tubing on the Comal River thanks to Texas Tubes. For $15 they rent you an inner tube for a 3 hour float down river and through three fun chutes that go around dams. At the last public exit they pick you up. Despite the threatening clouds, there were quite a few folks out tubing that afternoon. We passed by Landa Park which is popular for river swimming, very upscale homes and condos, an older woman swimming for exercise with fins on her hands and feet as if she was in a pool, and the Schlitterbahn waterpark. I quickly learned that some paddling was necessary in places so I took off my Crocs and used them as paddles which worked very well. Expect to bump your butt at least once in a low spot. Watch out for that first chute as it’s a real looloo! Take water with you in a thermos or canteen. Feel free to chat with other floaters. I met some very nice people from Japan out there. Only 100 feet from the last exit, it began to rain with icy cold drops. Everyone began to paddle wildly to get out of it. One unfortunate man got to the steps and flipped over while trying to exit. His waterproof camera with all his pics went into the river which wasn’t too deep but deep enough to hide it from us. Bummer!

That's me!Comal River and Landa Park

On Saturday, I bought a season pass to the Schlitterbahn Waterpark and went to the old park (Schlitterbahn West) with George. We got wet! I loved the Downhill Racer slides. The White Water chute was a little too much for me. Liked the Loops. Did the Soda Straws. The Congo with lots of mist and some animation was fun but the last waterfall was steep and kept making me hit my good ankle on the wall. Not a good idea to screw up both ankles. My favorites have got to be the heated Lava Lagoon Pool near the Congo which has bubbles too and the Raging River Tube Chute for a nice long easy float from one end of the park to the other and underneath a building. Tubes are free and located all around the park. If you see one sitting on the sidewalk or empty in a pool, just take it and go. If you fancy some water volleyball, they have it.

George at Schlitterbahnnew_braunfels115Raging River Tube

Raging River TubeBelly up to the barWater volleyball

There are plenty of places to eat and they do allow you to bring in a cooler and food for a picnic in one of their spacious picnic areas. You can rent a private cabana though I don’t think that is necessary. I had a decent hamburger though I would have gone for the turkey leg if I had known they had them before I ate. It was hard seeing any of the advertising boards without my glasses on. Rent an all-day locker to stow your stuff or if you don’t need the security you can just plop your stuff on a picnic table. Don’t do as I did and forget the sunscreen. Oops! Being the end of the season, most of the gift shop merchandise was 50% off so I snagged a Schlitterbahn T-shirt which came in handy the next day to prevent further sunburn. Parking was easy and readily available though I don’t know what it would be like at the peak of summer.

Picnic area

On Sunday, I went to Schlitterbahn East which is much newer. You can do both parks on the same day for the one entry price. They have a free tram running between the two parks. Schlitterbahn East has lazy rivers which run round and round continuously so there is much less walking needed and may be better for seniors. Speaking of walking, I wore my swim shoes on the first day and my Crocs on the second day. The Crocs were much better for walking and did stay on my feet through all the water falls. I loved The Falls which is a river float with plenty of action but not too crazy, is very long and continuous, has lots of beaches to get in or out, and has a an aquaveyer which is a conveyor belt to lift tubers up to the higher level. You’ll get a good butt massage on it. LOL. Stick to the right when approaching it or you’ll have to go around the island again to get to it. Watch out for the big waterfall. Fifty percent of the time you will flip over at the bottom of it no matter what you do. There are plenty of lifeguards at the bottom to assist you and there is a ramp to help you get back on your tube.

One beach The FallsAquaveyerAquaveyer

My other favorite was the Torrent Wave River at Blastenhoff Beach. They combined a wave pool with a continuous wavy river. Now that is fun! Most folks use a tube but you can go without. Younger kids should not go alone and should use a tube. Also near the beach is Hans Hideout with water cannons above and below you can use to shoot climbers and passers by. It is one constant deluge of water inside the hideout with a rope net to access higher levels and very mild tube slides out of it. Above the beach are several fast tube slides if you have the stamina and guts.

Blastenhoff Beach and wave poolTorrent Wave RiverHans Hideout

If you are into surfing, checkout the Boogie Bahn at Schlitterbahn East. You launch on a boogie board from a chute onto a perfect wave and can show off your tricks if you can keep from being pushed back over the top or to the side.



Schlitterbahn is now closed for the season but I have a season pass that is good for next season too so in the words of Arnold, “I’ll be back!”.

For more pics click here.

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