Monthly Archives: July 2014

WILAT Day 7: Marfa to Home

WILAT Day 7: Marfa to Home

It was hard to leave the lovely Hotal Paisano this morning but we had a 10 hour drive ahead ( not including stops). Our first stop was in Marfa because most of our car needed their coffee fix. I have never understood that addiction. Dr. Pepper, maybe, coffee, no. Things are always interesting in Marfa.


Nothing appeared to be open and serving breakfast so we made our next stop in Fort Davis. We had a breakfast burrito at Stone Village Market then Cindy and I took a walk to the Drugstore. We stopped and visited with a gentleman who makes walking sticks and brooms. The rest of the WILAT gang picked us up and we took a brief drive through Fort Davis. I found a fence for my backyard!


I know what Bob will say!

The Davis Mountains are beautiful!


I have always wanted to stop in Balmorhea and see the springs. We stopped at Balmorhea State Park and I bought a state park pass. The water was so clear and San Solomon Springs was inviting us in but we had a long way to go. I am going back someday!




We love Roadside America and Cindy has an app, checking things off as we find them. The Million Barrel Museum is on our way.





Theresa was eager for the next stop and a shot at tackling the sand dunes. We made it to Monahans Sandhills State Park just in time to have our picnic lunch. I rented a disc and watched my younger sister make the trek up a small sand dune. I laughed so hard. Cindy laughed so hard. We must have laughed for about 15 minutes watching Theresa tackle that sand dune.






As you could probably tell my bilateral total knee replacement had met its match on this trip. I thought I was Wonder Woman and good to go just 3 months shy of the surgery. I WAS SOOOO WRONG!!!!!!! I needed to be home a few planned stops few random stops later we finally reached Theresa’s house in Bluffdale.


Cindy wrapped up our trip with a gift but it was Cindy who gave me the greatest gift, the gift of seeing Texas through a song, visiting places I had
frequently passed by but never bothered to look at. Thank you Cindy!



WILAT Day 6: Big Bend National Park to Marfa

WILAT Day 6: Big Bend National Park to Marfa

Dawn couldn’t come soon enough after a night on an uncomfortable bed, yet the sunrise promised the start of a glorious day!


The River Road was our destination but we found quite a few interesting stops in Terlinqua.





By this time we pretty much had the words to “What I Like About Texas” memorized and on this glorious day as Cindy played her ukulele, she was joined by a kindred spirit, Moses!


We set our sights on the road that runs about 60 miles from Lajitas to Presidio. Our goal was to stick our feet into the Rio Grande River. We stopped at an old movie set where “Streets of Laredo” was filmed. We wandered down the rough terrain for a short distance before I returned to the suburban. My new knees just couldn’t handle it. I turned the camera over to Theresa and the rest of the group had a successful journey to the river.




The rest of the drive was stunning! We saw the beautiful river, beautiful flowers and a massive amount of Army worms crossing the road.




At this point I was dead tired and eager to make it to our hotel in Marfa, so we had a quick lunch at a roadside park outside of Presidio before driving to Marfa and checking in at Hotel Paisano. I couldn’t wait to see the Rock Hudson Suite and the private terrace!


The bed was wonderful but my favorite part was the terrace. What a peaceful place!

We drove out to try and find the Marfa Lights at 11:30 pm and WE SAW THEM. It was the perfect ending of a great day!

WILAT Day 5: Del Rio to Big Bend National Park

WILAT Day 5: Del Rio to Big Bend National Park

I told the ladies to rise and shine because we have so much to see today! Our very first objective to walk halfway across the Lake Amistad Dam! We stop for some helpful information.


You have to have a passport to go onto the dam, dammit! So on we go to the Pecos River!



We stop and do a little exploring in Langtry.




There are not very many towns in this part of Texas so we take advantage of the ones we find and have lunch in Marathon at the Pickle Creek Market and Deli. Time to hit the road to Big Bend National Park!




We check into our cottage and go out to explore the park.



Cindy gives us a performance of “What I Like About Texas” and we are off to find the Rio Grande.





We get to end our day with a beautiful sunset and a wide open sky for stargazing.



WILAT Day 4: San Antonio to Del Rio

WILAT Day 4: San Antonio to Del Rio

Today is Cindy’s 53rd birthday, she is exactly one week older than I am! We are starting the day off at Mi Tierra’s. They are open 24 hours a day but it is extremely quiet on this particular Saturday and it gives us an opportunity to explore.





Breakfast is delicious and filling. We will need the energy because we are going to float the Frio River. We are taking the scenic route through Bandera to Vanderpool through Leakey on our to Garner State Park.





Our plan is to float the Frio but Garner State Park is full and will not let anyone else in the park so our journey continues to Concan where the Frio is too low to float so we take our shoes off and stick our feet in the cold river!




Our stomachs are starting to growl and there ain’t nothing worse than a car full of hungry women! We are stopping at Live Oak Drive Thru in Uvalde. Don’t let the appearance fool you, the food was amazing and the customer service was over the top. We tried the gorditas and tortilla soup!

It’s time for Saturday night in Del Rio. We arrive at the Val Verde Winery and the other women have a wine tasting.




We make our first World’s Largest stop in Del Rio!


Cindy makes her choice for birthday dinner and selects R & R BBQ Shack.
The food was delicious and we head back to the Hampton Inn for a night at the pool!

WILAT Day 3: Austin to San Antonio

WILAT Day 3: Austin to San Antonio

Austin is such a delightful city….weird…unique…full of surprises! Take Barton Springs! Oh my gosh it was beautiful! Icy cold, but beautiful! We all had planned to take the plunge and do a little swimming, but after putting our feet in, Cindy was the only brave one to dive in! That girl isn’t scared of anything!




After Barton Springs, we went in search of the best breakfast burrito in Austin. I believe we found it at Changos on Guadalupe. Delicious food and delightful people work there.

Another treasure we discovered was the Texas State Cemetery. It was a beautiful tribute to men and women that had given so much to our great state. We were especially delighted to see that it was Tom Landry’s final resting place as well.




San Antonio, the city songs are written about! I love this city, so much of our culture started here and blends here. We are meeting Vivian, Cindy’s sister for this leg of our adventure. We check into the Drury Inn and Suites and decide to eat at La Fogata (no argument from me). No visit is complete without a serving of Mango Empanadas topped with Mango ice cream. We are fed, so we are now armed and ready to tackle a few sights in downtown San Antonio, starting with the Riverwalk.


No visit to San Antone is ever complete without a visit to the Alamo!



We all stop at the Menger Hotel and bar for a few stories of our own.



The team is really starting to bug me at this point. We spot the Tower of the Americas and I start walking but some members think I might be overdoing it with the new knees, I wanted to prove them wrong so I kept walking.

I need a moment to show you photos of the anime convention going on in San Antonio. It was an interesting sight.




My walk continues and I am starting to drag a little but still not willing to admit I am struggling. We reach the tower, buy our tickets and reach the elevator. I am terrified of heights and quickly move to the back of the elevator when I realize it has a glass front, where you can view San Antonio!
Here is the view from the top



Cindy is determined to start a penny smashing business, she and Theresa have been smashing pennies and even brought a bracelet to display the smashed penny. We are looking for investors to buy our own penny smashing machines.


We finish our visit with a 4D movie about Texas! I screamed when the snake showed up it was so real! I am ready for a taxi, no more walking. We say goodbye to Vivian and had back to the Drury. We are all so tired we break a rule and have dinner at Texas Land and Cattle because it is on the bottom floor of the hotel. The evening is wrapped up with Cindy playing her ukulele and singing.

WILAT Day 2: Nacogdoches to Austin

WILAT Day 2: Nacogdoches to Austin

Our first day begins early! We like to wear matching shirts on our trips to make it easier to locate each other. Today we are wearing Call 811 shirts, courtesy of Jim Bob Sims. They are so colorful we shouldn’t have any trouble finding each other. We eat breakfast at 6:30 and the depart in search of a Nacogdoches sign. We find two and the first selfies of the day are made!


Our first stop on the road is at Buc-ees in Madisonville. Can’t pass a Buc-ees and not stop!


Next up was the world’s largest Teapot in Navasota! Theresa is always game for a cheesy photo op, so she showed her version of My Little Teapot and the rest of the gang joined in!


We came upon the Brazos River in Washington, TX. Checked that off the list.


Washington on the Brazos was our next destination. It’s a history filled bathroom break for us. I have to admit that being in the car for hours each day can push some to their limit. For me, it all becomes a song or a big joke.
And we laughed and sang ALOT!

We met up with our friend, Tim Menke, for lunch at Royers in Round Top. It was a delightful yet pricey place for lunch but it was delicious.

Tim was our tour guide for the afternoon. Tim really wanted us to see Festival Hill, we did a drive by because this was not open. It is a hidden gem that we would like to go back and check out. It has over 200 acres that contains, gardens, parks and concert halls.

Tim kindly took us on a tour of the world’s smallest active Catholic Church. On the altar was a note that said “stop stealing from us! We know who you are!” So sad that someone steals from a church of all places!



As we made our way to visits 4 of the painted churches, we just had to stop at Junk Gypsy and check it out!! Just love that place!!



Tim took us by the Colorado for a photo opp!


Tim is also our guide as we visit four of the painted churches in Fayette County. First stop: St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ammansville.



Sts. Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in Dubina



And a quick trip over the piano bridge:



St. Mary’s Church at High Hill


9 young men in World War II.


Our final church was St. Mary’s in Praha


We voted on our dinner stop and chose Blacks BBQ in Lockhart. The BBQ was delicious though the sides didn’t quite make the grade.

We finally made it to Austin and settled into our hotel and decided to check out the hotel happy hour and enjoy a nice cold Lone Star beer…check!
Cindy’s beautiful daughter Cortney joined us. While Cindy caught up with her daughter, the rest of us head down to the bridge on Congress to watch the evening flight of the bats. Unfortunately, it started pouring down rain and we were drenched, so we limped back up to the hotel.
Night night!

WILAT Day 1 – Road Rage.

WILAT Day 1 – Road Rage.



Our epic adventure finally has begun! After a grand send off in Crandall, we were finally on the road to Nacogdoches! We were on a roll until we came upon a little road construction. However, nothing can dull our sunshine! Armed with Texas tunes and Texas artists and a car full of laughter, we powered through the hour long delay and finally made it to the Sabine River just outside of Longview.


While in Longview, we dined at Dudley’s Cajun Restaurant, which was voted East Texas Best for over 25 years!

Before checking into our hotel, we ventured over to the Oak Grove Cemetery to check out the final resting place of a number of men who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.




What I Like About Texas 2014

What I Like About Texas 2014

#WILAT2014 is upon us!

It’s Wednesday, July 16, 2014. Day one of the #WILAT2014 experience. And I’m ready

I feel like I’m going to camp.

A few last minute preparations need to be done before the merriment can ensue. All my clothes are clean. Nutrisystem is packed. Chargers and plugs and cameras and cords are all accounted for and neatly rolled and stowed in my carry on. It was my understanding that we were allowed one case and one carry on. I way over-packed for the South Carolina trip so I will over-correct and under-pack for the #WILAT2014.

Please excuse the repetitiveness of the #WILAT2014. I’m branding.

I’m looking forward to seeing and being with our little gang. Let me introduce the players in our comedy:

Lynda. Our Den Mother. Lynda has planned the trip, mapped our route and replaced two knees during the process! I think she might be a little worried about her new parts getting along with the fun, but I’m not. She is my hero for taking it all on at the same time! Lynda is my first best friend.

The Blounts. Sisters from the same Mister. I haven’t had much time with these girls, pretrip, because they were in EUROPE. Some people like to over-train. The word is that they love to argue with each other, but that the storm clouds roll by quickly and all is right with the world again. Wanda and Deniece were good friends during my school years in Saginaw and I’m excited to be able to continue the good times.

Theresa. The Traveling Little Sister. I think that Theresa will be our comic relief. A very necessary character in any production. She has trekked and blogged her way across Texas and other parts and will stop on a dime for a photo op. My kinda travel buddy. I’m getting more and more excited!

Supporting characters in our endeavor are:

Bibi. Big Sister and Part-Time #WILAT2014er. My sister will be joining us in San Antonio for one night of festivities but she won’t travel with us. Is this a bit of foreshadowing?

Courtney. My Sweet Girl. My Courtney will meet up with us in Austin and be our guide for an evening. She loves travel too and will be watching and cheering us on from the wings.

Special Thanks to the backstage crew, JimBob Sims, Bob Williams and Rooster Barnett for their love and patience and patience and patience.

And the star of the show, our headliner, our inspiration

GARY P. NUNN. Texas Troubadour. Killing Me Softly With His Song. Mr. Nunn’s words will be a beacon to light up the road before us. We go with his blessings, or at least the blessings of his wife. I sent the Nunn’s an email request:

Good Morning!

I have gotten a group of friends together for a Texas Road Trip next month and we are using
Gary’s song, “What I Like About Texas” as our roadmap.

Lynda, PhD. (Plans Handling Diva) has mapped out the most glorious Texas tour ever with Gary’s lyrics lighting our way. The experience will begin in Nacogdoches on July 16 and circle the state with stops in Austin, San Antonio, Saturday night in Del Rio, the Big Bend, Marfa, and hundreds of historical and zany detours along the way.

It would be the greatest if we could include a show along the route, but the stars did not align and it just won’t happen.

We are going to share our trip through instagram, twitter, facebook, vine and blogs. I tried to friend Gary on facebook, but it said the friend list was too full. You would be most welcomed to peek in on our progress by looking for #WILAT2014.

Thank you for your time and tell Gary, “Thank you for the music!!”

Cindy Sims

P.S. Do I need to pay royalties if I wanted to use the song in our video?


I hope we all, every one of us, have a great rip.

You ask me what I like about Texas…

Trains, Planes and Automobiles to OKC

Trains, Planes and Automobiles to OKC

People were amazed when I told them about our sibling train ride to OKC. Here are the most common questions.

Did you go with all your siblings? Nope. Just three of them.

How much did it cost to ride the train? $60 per person RT from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City.

How long did it take? It was supposed to be 4 hours but those damn freight trains made it 5 hours.

Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to drive? Absolutely!

This trip was a trial run to see if we would enjoy the experience of train travel. Here we were riding a train, 4 siblings and two children, a multi generational experience, ranging in age from 11 to 64. I loved it. You could talk, nap, walk around and you had a lot more leg room.

Here is the Red River indicating that we are entering Texas!


Let’s go again!


Oklahoma Thunder!

Oklahoma Thunder!
Oklahoma Thunder!

The thunder rumbles and wakes me in the night along with brief flashes of lightning! I am eager to start the day so I hit the shower and head down to breakfast, after waking Theresa up of course! Julie’s teeth are chattering so I turn the air conditioner up 10 degrees.

It is still raining and looks like it will for a couple of hours. So we start the morning with a walk in the rain to the Banjo Museum. The hotel loaned us umbrellas and we stroll the three blocks “Singing in the Rain” only to find that the museum is not open! Back to the hotel. We had originally planned to spend the morning in Bricktown but the rain put a damper on those plans. We decided to rent a car and hit the road, Route 66 to be exact.

First stop the giant Braum’s milk bottle.


I love yard art and on our way we happen to see a unique mailbox, it was worth turning around for. They had some other pieces of art as well on Portland street?


As the rain stops, so do we for a quick photo op in front of a dentist office!


Riley and I are getting hungry but we still have two more stops before lunch. When I first asked the crew about stopping to see the Miss Americas, Greg was the only one who really seemed interested but to my surprise Theresa was so excited when she saw the statue of Jane Jayroe!


We drive by the state Capitol and it is pretty hectic so we park in the 15 minute section.




Lunch Time!!! We check out Trip Advisor and decide to check out the #1 spot, Nic’s Grill, but the line is waaaayyy to long so we head over to The Mule. We have about a 20 minute wait but since they are technology friendly they send us a text when our table is ready. This gives us a great opportunity to explore the nearby shops, one particularly grabs our attention but more about that later. We settle in at The Mule, Gary warmed up a barstool as he sampled the beer,

and all I can say is the sandwich selections are unique. Julie and Greg decide on the macaroni pony: JalapeƱo Cornbread, Chipotle BBQ Pulled Pork, 3 Cheese Mac and Cheese, Pickle. I tried a taste and it was amazing. We also ordered fried cheese curds and they were delicious! Next stop: Pie Junkie


We get a variety pack to take back to the hotel! We are meeting up with Reatha! Back at the hotel Gary and Riley go for a swim while Greg, Theresa and I start a Gatlin Brothers singing marathon! Pie time with a choice of Drunken Turtle, Coconut Cream and French Silk! It was good pie.

Gary and Riley arrive back in the room with Reatha. After consuming the pie we go to the American Banjo Museum just a few blocks from the hotel.



The Oklahoma City Memorial is an example of beauty and peace, a wonderful memorial.





We get back to the hotel to rest before the ball game.


We can’t talk Reatha into going to the ball game so we say goodbye. The OKC Redhawks
are playing the New Orleans Zephyrs and we have seats right behind home plate!