Laura and I are spending about four days in Central Texas. We started in Austin for two days, then on to San Antonio (where we are now). In the middle, we took a look at Hill Country real estate. Tomorrow it will be on to Fredericksburg.
Austin is a pretty cool city. It’s known for several things. First, it’s the State Capital of Texas. It’s also a major center for music, mainly Country. And finally, it’s the only “liberal” city in Texas. We were there mid-week, so we didn’t get to see any of the music activities there, but apparently the weekends come alive with music in many places and many forms. We did get to see some of the liberals on parade. We parked in the City Hall parking lot. When we got there, a bunch of people were ready to protest. They had a big banner stretched across the entrance to City Hall that said “Hunger Strike against Flouride!” Hahahaha. There was another protest going in front of the Capital building – something about “Women for Peace.” Laura and I are looking for a place to settle long term, and Austin is one of the places on our short list. I liked it there, but am a little nervous about the politics. I don’t want to land in a city that wants to take away my gun rights or tells me that I can’t de-claw my cats or use plastic grocery bags. We have a city like that in California, right down the 405 freeway from where we live. It’s called Santa Monica (and it’s the place I was born, by the way). Many people in the surrounding cities call it the “People’s Republic of Santa Monica.” Some people love it that way. To each his own.
One place that is a must see in Austin is the Old Bakery, which is just across the street from the Capital building. It’s a really nice old building from the mid 1800s that has been preserved. The first floor is a visitor’s center and gift shop. The second floor has a small museum. There were very nice people handling the counter downstairs who love to talk about their city. Very interesting and enjoyable.
One big downside about Austin is the roads. They are extremely confusing. I won’t bore you with the details on that. I’ll just say this. Have a good GPS unit with you. Otherwise, you are liable to get lost.
Both Laura and I have heard very nice things about the Hill Country, so we decided to look at some housing tracts there while we were driving from Austin to San Antonio.
We looked at a couple of tracks in New Braunfels, one of the many small towns in the area with a German heritage. Wow. We really liked this area. The two tracts we looked at were mainly “pick the land, work with a builder” type communities. The first place we looked at had a model house. It was a HUGE 3700 Sq Ft one story house. Very nice, on a little over an acre. This model home was for sale…..for $570,000. That’s a lot for Texas, but it is more than $200,000 less expensive than our much smaller condo in Redondo Beach, CA. Location, location, location as they say. The second tract that we looked at was similar, but it was a gated community, and the taxes were a little bit lower due to the community it was in. We had very nice conversations with the brokers in both locations. Bottom line, we could get a 2500 sq ft house built on an acre or more in either of these tracts for about $375,000. That’s pretty tempting. We aren’t going to be pulling the trigger on a major move like that in the near future, but perhaps in the next 5 – 10 years it can happen. I liked the idea of the Gated community, because of the added security. We plan on being off in our RV for months at a time, so having that added level of protection while we are gone sounds kind of nice. Time will tell…..one thing that scares us is the fact that, if we leave SoCal, it would be pretty much impossible to get back there. And then there is the weather. Higher summer temperatures plus higher humidity. How much would that bother us? Hard to know.
Now, on to San Antonio.
San Antonio is one of my favorite cities. I’ve been here twice before, on business trips with my former employer.
San Antonio has the Alamo. This is one of the handful of places that I find really moving. Why? I’m not really sure.
Laura and I have a special connection with this place. I’m related to Sam Houston. Laura is related to Davy Crockett. That is kind of weird, I guess, but not that unusual. Like most other people who lived in the early 1800s, both of these historical figures have lots of descendants populating the world of today. My Grandmother on my Dad’s side is the connection to Sam Houston. She said the family pronounced the name “Houseton.” Grandma’s mother had Houston as her maiden name. The way my Grandmother told it, Sam was the black sheep, who cavorted with Indians and left the family behind. I couldn’t see much family resemblance between Grandma and Sam Houston. Then I saw a photo of Temple Houston, Sam’s last child. Whoa. He looked a lot like Grandma. But is this the reason I find the place so moving? I don’t think so.
The were two other places I’ve been to that make me feel in a similar way. One was a battlefield in a forest right outside of Sitka, Alaska. The other place was the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC. At these places, and at the Alamo, I felt something like a vibration when approaching, and then I’m tearing up to an extent that is hard to control. I’ve only been to Sitka and the Vietnam Memorial once, but I’ve been to the Alamo three times now (counting today), and it’s happened to me all three times. Am I feeling some kind of sorrow that is left behind at these places? No blood was shed at the Vietnam Memorial, but family members who lost loved ones have been there by the thousands. What’s up with Sitka? I have no idea. The battle was between Russians and the Tlingit people, but I haven’t read anything about that conflict being especially horrific. As we all know, the Alamo was a terrible battle, and all of the defenders of the Alamo were slaughtered, along with a large number of Santa Ana’s army.
Once we get our RV, and can travel to sites like Gettysburg or Bull Run, it will be interesting to see if they have a similar impact on me.
To round out the night, Laura and I took a stroll on the Riverwalk and had a nice dinner.
I always feel very much at ease when I’m in Texas. It was a good day.
Tomorrow, it’s off to Fredricksburg for more Hill Country exploring.