Day 9 – San Antonio: The Alamo, The Buckhorn, River Tour & Deer Food

We wanted to take advantage of the weekend so we decided to go to downtown San Antonio on Sunday.

Our “must do” list was river walk, The Alamo and by my brothers recommendation, the Buckhorn Saloon.

GORIO River Tour

We arrived and first hopped on a GORIO river tour.

The tour was shorter than expected (20-30 minutes) but it was cool to be able to grab an adult beverage and just get acquainted with the area.

The Alamo

Next we walked up to The Alamo. The night before, Kristi found a quick video to explain the history so the kids had context when we went there.

Unfortunately, by the time we got there (3pm) the tour of the inside of the Alamo was already sold out for the day (tickets are free but limited).

However, the grounds of the Alamo (walls, courtyard and other buildings) don’t have limits set.

Mom and Dad both enjoyed the experience. I think Brayden did as well.

Harper isn’t a big history buff unless it involves mermaids or unicorns. Her favorite part was likely the gift shop 🙂

The Buckhorn

This was a surprising enjoyable part of the visit. The Buckhorn is supposedly the oldest saloon in Texas. It was converted to a restaurant and museum of Texas wildlife and Texas Rangers.

Some of the deer had dozens of points.

The furniture and decor was very “Wild West.”

And the Longhorns were indeed long.

The ranger museum and Wild West museum were cool also. A lot of cool exhibits and didn’t take hours to go through. It was a little expensive, in my opinion but there are coupons available online, and it was more authentic “Texas” than some of the other tourist traps in that area.

Tex-mex on the river

We concluded our time with a Tex-mex dinner on the river. We tried to get into Casa Mia, a very old and popular privately owned restaurant. But they has a very long wait and we were very hungry so it wasn’t in the cards.

Instead we settled for The Original Mexican Restaurant just next door. Everything was quite good but the salsa was hot. Harper burned her tongue on it.


Texans seem to really love this local chain of grocery stores, which makes sense. They are run very well and do a lot in the community.

For instance, the one we stopped at had handicap parking and then a couple of spaces for cars with kids and expecting mothers.

If you are from the southeast, think “Publix of Texas.”

We even found some food allergy friendly treats which was an unexpected score.

Although I don’t plan on moving to the country of Texas anytime soon. One thing I really do like about this state is the pride they have for their heritage.

Restaurants often only serve local food and drinks, just about everything you buy is labeled as local if it is, and kids in the 7th grade have to do reports and visit historic Texas sites as part of their education. Mandatory.

It is a really cool culture when you come from Florida – where everyone is from someplace else.

Day 8 – Biking with deer in Hill Country

My kids and I are both enjoying and agonizing over the hills in the campground when riding our bikes around.

It feels great going down the hills but burns climbing them as Harper accurately put it.

Being Floridians, we barely get to see any kind of hills.

That said, Brayden already loves biking (as do I). But this is Harper’s first time mountain biking. I’ve been secretly training them at home for this day with frequent bike rides. Her stamina on the bike has really improved over the past few months.

Harper went down her first mountain bike trail and yelped with glee, and told me that she loved mountain biking.

Music to this dads ears. I do too!

Deer experience

But beyond that, as we have been riding around the campground, we’ve seen deer everywhere.

Brayden has been an ace at spotting them.

As we were on our morning ride, we noticed some kids just off into the woods with about 10-15 deer. They were feeding them carrots.

Our kids, naturally slammed on the breaks to join in.

Here are some photos…

When we got back, the kids were quick to tell mom about their experience, and she was excited to grab what was left of our carrots to go down and do it again.

Now we have no carrots for dinner.

Day 7 – Drive to San Antonio

After a long drive we are getting disciplined about taking a day or two to recoup and explore the new campground.

The last drive again wasn’t the easiest. Roads were under construction in a couple of spots and there was a pretty heavy cross wind for the first half of the 4 hours that made me feel as though I was pulling a sailboat.

One positive note is that one of my favorite craft beers was born in Texas (introduce to me by my good friend Josh) and is distributed pretty heavily here – Shiner Bock. So I picked up a sixer at the Shell station when we stopped. Score.

After seeing it, I knew I’d enjoy a cold one after this drive.

Missed a turn that added 20 minutes to the trip but it was a beautiful drive into Hill Country Texas.

Day 6 – Margaritaville with friends

Today was a great day. We spent most of it with our good friends Taylor, Elexis, and their kids Bentley, Nash and McKenzie.


Jimmy Buffett just renovated a resort on lake Conroe to turn it into a Margaritaville and the kids spent the day in the lazy River and splash pad, followed by a chicken wing dinner at one of their favorite places.

It is always good to have great company – especially after a year of seclusion with COVID.

The best part is that the kids picked up as if they never skipped a beat (it’s been 4 years).


Then someone started talking about food so we went and got some wings.

Day 5 – Houston Space Center

We want to do something fun at each of our main stops. Since we are space nerds, Space Center Houston and Johnson Space Center was a natural “must do.”

The highlights from the visit were the following

747 and Shuttle

We got to go inside of both. This was sweet as Kris and I are children of the Shuttle era.

Mission Control

We drove past Mission control and all of the astronaut training facilities. The inside tour isn’t open due to COVID.

Space Vehicle Mock-up Facility

They did recently reopen tours of the Space Vehicle Mock-up Building. This is where they have all of the modules for the space vehicles and ISS. Astronauts have to train in this building for 2 years to learn how to use all of the controls.

It was cool to see people actively working in here. Also it was a great blend of old and new equipment such as new rovers and drones they are building for Mars.

We got to see the start of the future moon space station, the space center where they will send astronauts to stay before they go further in space.

Plus we got to see the current modules that make up the International Space Station.

This was pretty fantastic.


Drove past building 17 where the Orion project is being coordinated. This is the program that will begin once the current program ends in 2024.

Virtual reality mission

This was a quick virtual reality ride of sorts that mimicked being in space.

Saturn V and Rocket Park

This was a really cool display of the Saturn V rocket and it’s predecessors.

Space X Rocket

This was recently donated by Elon Musk. When NASA mentioned that they wanted to pressure wash it, Musk told them “absolutely not.” That it was part of its character and if they were going to do that he was going to take it back.

You gotta love his eccentricities. I agree. It looks better with the flame marks.

Astronaut Urine

The kids also learned that at the international space center, astronauts recycle all water including urine.

That’s right, they drink their own pee. That is all folks.

Days 3 and 4 – Rest in East Texas

We finally arrived to our destination outside of Houston TX. The drive was long must mostly easy until the last day. From Lafayette, LA the roads and traffic were bad so it made for some focused driving and not much cruise control.

Two funny stories:

Bumpy roads

We thought we were home clear of the bad roads once we entered Texas from Louisiana. We were wrong!

Just after the welcome center the road was under construction and wow … we hit a dip without any warning! For a moment we felt like the Dukes of Hazard catching some air – or at a minimum maxed out our shock springs.

Thankfully we were all were if our seatbelts so we didn’t hit our heads on the ceiling of the cab.

I think we scared Low Rider though (he definitely got some air).

We joked the rest of the way about our things in the camper being smashed against the ceiling like “who left the knives in the ceiling?” and “how did the jelly smash against the roof?”

Sure enough, when we arrived, everything was everywhere (although no colored pencils were stuck in the ceiling).

Avoid toll roads

Second story: I guess we didn’t turn on the “avoid toll roads” feature on our GPS. So in busy downtown Houston, the GPS nautically took us on a long and very nice toll road in order to avoid traffic.

That’s great except that we discovered that our toll pass doesn’t work in Texas.

Of course, there were signs the entire way that remind me that toll “violators will be prosecuted.”

By the time we realized we were on it, it was too late to get off.

That is the last thing you want to think about is being in a Texas state prison after a long few days of travel.

Luckily, I found that they have a free get out of jail free card once every 365 days. I quickly created a Texas toll account to avoid this.

Anyway, after traveling the last few days we just wanted to take a couple of days to rest and let the kids play. So that is what we did.

Day 2 – Lafayette, LA

Today was a long day of driving today since we left late yesterday, and wanted to keep our initial check in day at our first campground in Conroe, TX.

We stopped at another Cracker Barrel (how awesome is that) but this time in Lafayette, LA.

We are really looking forward to our first campground tomorrow primarily because we’ll get to visit our good friends who moved there a few years ago. We haven’t seen them since 2018 and our daughter only vaguely remembers them (she was 3-4 years old at the time). Our son remembers their oldest whom he was friends with.

It will be good to visit with them and their kids. Plus it will be good to park it for a few days and not drive.


Day 1 – Tallahassee, FL

Today we finally got everything packed up and hit the road this evening. Target: Tallahassee.

After a busy few weeks home – between dentist appointments, doctors, work stuff, a couple of birthday bashes, and the kids getting sick for a couple of days, we were ready to hit the road!

We left around 6:30 pm and landed at the Tallahassee Cracker Barrel at about 10 pm.

Tomorrow we plan on having a long travel day to make it well into Louisiana. This way, Monday we only have a few hours of driving to get to Houston.