Spring Wellness Trip – Log and Comments
Follow Along on our Wellness Hiking Adventure.
When we travel we try to stay in places with a kitchen or kitchenette. If not, we also carry an induction 'burner' and a few pots/pans to make a nice meal in our room. Often we don't have a 'grocery store' near so we take our own in our wonderful Kia Soul.
April 8th, 2018 - Sunday - Orlando to Mobile Alabama
We left Orlando a bit late, at 10:30. My planned departure was for 9am but we never make that. It takes us a few days to get back into the swing of road tripping. The weather was unseasonably cool and overcast. We drove straight through to Mobile Alabama, where we stayed at a Comfort Suites, which is always a reliable place for us. We made good time and nary a law enforcement officer to be seen; always nice to put the peddle to the metal! No incidents and smooth sailing all the way. Light traffic as it was a Sunday.
We got up early and got away at about 09:30 this morning. Getting better!
Traffic was a bear most of the way. Trucks, trucks everywhere and where did these idiot people learn to drive. The ‘ fast lane’ seems to be the right lane where no one drives. Amazing how idiotic people drive and it’s not just in Florida. All the way to Houston idiots sat in that left lane poking along; forcing me and others to try to zoom around on the right; a dangerous thing but what can you do?
Trucks, semi tractors were everywhere. Then they try to ‘pass’ each other by accelerating all of TWO (2) mph over the other guy and takes forever; meanwhile traffic backing up behind them. Yes, I understand that technically, you aren’t supposed to go over the speed limit when passing but what idiot politician/bureaucrat came up with THAT idea is beyond me.
That was all bad enough, but then we hit Houston at about 4pm; hoping to avoid the traffic I remember from 35 years ago when I lived there. No joy. Bumper to bumper crawl from the Eastern outskirts all the way; took almost 1.5 hours just to get across the I10 to the West Loop South and the Galeria where we had booked a Candlewood Suites room. Our favorite hotel chain; it has a full size refrigerator and cook-top with all the accouterments you need. We got in at about 6pm and I had plans to have dinner with my ‘Cousin’ who I hadn’t seen in about 40 years! Finally made it to Sweet Tomatoes on I10 West at about 7pm. They were gems about driving in all the way from the Woodlands, way North of Houston just to visit. We closed the place and the nice folks at Sweet Tomatoes wanted to go home so asked us to leave. Lovely evening and we could have talked all night but Tom had a flight to catch to their place in Denver Tuesday AM.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, if you ever stay at the Candlewood Suites at the Galeria, well it’s not quite there, It is a real BEAR to find and GPS is not great. This place is Inside the 610 loop almost tucked in under the Southwest Freeway and 610 South. Nice place once you get there and they have a night guard to patrol the parking lot all night.
We slept in a bit and finally broke out the laptops and connected to the free WiFi. I’m trying to keep/maintain this log/diary of this trip as we go.
Tonight I am seeing an old friend I haven't seen but once in about 45 years. Be great to see and visit with Tim and his lovely wife Cindy. A couple of lifetimes ago we worked together; good times.
We will be dining at the Harvest Organic Grill at 1810 Fountain View Dr. Houston, TX 77057
We got off about 10am for a shortish drive to San Antonio. Getting out of Houston was a bear but once on open Interstate 10, not too bad until we got closer to San Antonio then we had some construction traffic. Comfort Inn Suites was tucked back by the freeways but within walking distance to the Alamo and River Walk.
We walked up into town and along the river walk for a while then over to the Alamo. If you only have watched the movies, it is Really Smaller than what you would think. It is in great shape with lots of folks taking great care of the place. Armed Texas Rangers are scattered around the grounds for both show and security.
We took the River Walk Boat tour which was about 40 minutes with a nice, often funny, commentary. We then headed back to the hotel to unload the car; we couldn’t check in before; too early. After unloading we were tired and decided to Uber over to Senior Veggie at 620 South Presa. Back off the beaten track it was only about a 10 minute drive and we had a really great driver. First time we ever tried Uber; great stuff.
Well, Senior Veggie is beyond fantastic. Not fancy at all but the FOOD, OMG It was really out of this world. We ordered appetizers but WOW, they were full meals and more. Very reasonably priced for the size of the dishes and the quality and flavor make it well worth the modest price. We could not eat the full entrees we ordered so took them to go. Stuffed to the gills, we called another Uber which arrived in just a minute or two and got back to our hotel.
We visited Senior Veggie for Dinner after walking San Antonio, along the River Walk and visiting The Alamo. What a divine place to eat. The food portions were huge and our appetizers were FULL MEALS so we had plenty to take with us. If you live or visit in San Antonio, whether plant based, vegan or not, the meals are DELICIOUS.
St. Joseph’s Church
We visited St. Joseph’s Church on the way to The Alamo. What a beautiful place and such history. They continue the tradition of saying Mass in German one Sunday each month. If you visit San Antonio this is a must visit; while there, make a donation in the ‘Poor Box’ to help the less fortunate!!
April 12th 2018 – San Antonio to Alpine Texas & Big Bend National Park
Well, the drive on I10 from San Antonio to Alpine was long and mostly boring. The land is dry, so very dry and seems in need of rain. We saw a Fire Truck putting out a roadside brush fire; no doubt some idiot tossed a death stick out the window. That is about the only way these roadside fires can get started. By the time we got to Alpine the temperature had climbed to 98 degrees! HOT and DRY. Like any desert climate, it can change dramatically. We are lucky, SO LUCKY that tomorrow when we explore Big Bend National Park it is going to be 65 in the morning and climbing to low 80’s and SUNNY so just about PERFECT.
We are staying in a lovely Quality Inn in Alpine about 80 miles from Big Bend but since the wonderful State of Texas is wise, the speed limits are 80MPH. You can MOVE and get to where you are going pretty quickly.
April 13th 2018 – Big Bend Texas
According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, this continental border follows the middle of the Rio Grande—according to the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo between the two nations, "along the deepest channel".
Now in Big Bend today, I pretty much was in the middle and maybe actually IN Mexico by this definition. The Center of the River’s flow was very low and at this point about 6 feet across. I was in the middle of the main channel that was just mud so was I in Mexico? Hmmmm, if I was, am I an illegal as I crossed over back and forth a few times. DO I get illegal benefits? Where do I apply?
The drive to Big Bend National Park today was long but the weather perfect. It started out cool but soon was bumping 95 degrees. The road was winding and the speed was posted at 45 in the Park. The terrain is just bone dry, dry and dry! Only about 12 inches of rain a year and I’m not sure how anything can survive there. Still the rugged beauty is breathtaking.
April 14th, 2018 – Drive to Tuscon Arizona
It was a long drive today but we wanted to get to Tuscon for an overnight before driving to Sedona. We stayed at Comfort Suites at Sabino Canyon to be close to Saguaro National Park-East. We checked Happy Cow for a place to eat and low and behold there was Renee’s Organic Oven at 7065 E Tanque Verde Rd, just a short walk from our hotel. We had a marvelous vegan pizza with home made crust and all organic toppings. Instead of a tomato base they used a black bean sauce that was superb.
April 15th, 2018 - Saguaro National Park-East
Just outside of Tuscon, this wonder of a National Park is on the small side and offers a shortish drive through a world of wonderful Saguaro and other cacti plant species. Plenty of great vistas and turn off points to take pictures and it seems a trail biker paradise. They were everywhere!
April 15th, 2018 – Drive to Sedona Arizona
After our lovely drive in Saguaro National Park, we had plenty of time for a nice drive to Sedona. We arrived at our Bell Rock Hotel, which is part of Diamond Resorts but not a time-share. The rates were reasonable for a nice room with kitchenette and full size refrigerator (essential for Road Trip Plant Based Folks).
Check in was fine and they had a concierge desk that was very helpful. They offered us a ‘deal’ for two first class tickets on the Verde Canyon Railroad scenic adventure tour. (A $200.00 value). We just had to sit through a ‘sales pitch’ for their time share deals. Well I once did a consulting gig for Marriott Resorts and understand how there cash machines work so we had NO intention of doing anything but heck, $100 each for sitting through a sales pitch is time well spent.
Our room was lovely but on the second floor. We travel HEAVY with food, cooler and a plethora of stuff from induction cook-top, pots and pans etc. Then there is the big case we have our hiking equipment, shoes, backpacks etc., lots of stuff. We managed to grab a nice employee and he offered to help; what a blessing. We do carry a collapsible luggage dolly with us and that helps with our electric cooler.
We managed to lug it all up, most anyway, and settled in for the evening.
April 16th, 2018 – Sedona Arizona
We slept in and organized everything for the weeks stay. We headed out early so we could check out the area. We got to the Diamond time share ‘presentation’ was really a one-on-one intensive sales pitch from a lovely young lady. Turns out she wants to move towards a Plant Based Lifestyle so we mostly talked about diet, health, wellness and what we do! She introduced us to her supervisor who suffers from celiac or thinks he does. We gave him our pitch as well. We finally got around to the ‘sales pitch’ and went to see some of the resort rooms; lovely! We gave our hostess two ‘Kitchen & Love’ Quinoa Quick meal cups (with artichoke and roasted peppers) and she was impressed that we can carry these with us (no refrigeration needed). Anyway, we finally got our passes to the Verde Canyon Railroad and left.
We went to ChocolaTree Organic Eatery & Marketplace for a latish lunch. This is a ‘raw vegan’ establishment and the ONLY vegan restaurant in town. Hell, we could make a fortune here if we had the backing to open a true full vegan, Whole Food Plant Based restaurant. Anyway, we both had the ‘raw’ enchiladas and they were divine. Not your regular fare as ‘raw food’ can only be heated to 117 degrees but delicious! We followed with Nancy’s raw chocolate cake and my lemon pie with nut crust; again delicious! Unfortunately not cheap either. WE really could make a fortune here if anyone wants to back us; we would only manage not actually cook.
April 17th, 2018 – Hiking Bell Rock
We got up early and grabbed our back packs and headed to the Bell Rock Trail Head. It is a beautiful sunny day and about 60 degrees; perfect hiking weather. We took a more difficult route up from the parking area to Bell Rock, following a dry wash and doing a bit of rock scrambling and climbing but our trusty walking sticks (with camera mounts) we have had for years proved worthy again and we made the trek around Bell Rock and got some terrific pictures.
April 18th, 2018 – Hiking Cathedral Rock
Up early again today and headed to Cathedral Rock. It is hard to believe but this 3.5 hour hike around Cathedral Rock might have been even more impressive than Bell Rock; it’s close. This trail around the Cathedral Rock vistas change at every turn. A relatively easy hike, there are twists and turns and a few steep climbs but pretty modest. The views around every turn are different and the vistas magnificent. The weather was perfect, cloudless sky's and a nice breeze at about 70 degrees.