Outpost: TRF 2021

Taking a trip back in time…..

On the weekend of November 6th, myself and my daughter ventured out to the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, TX. Neither one of us are strangers to the event as we have both attended the festival every year since 2007 or 2008 (I can’t quite remember) with myself only missing one year due to work and my daughter missing a few more than me. We hit all of our usual shows including the Clan Tynker Family Circus, Cirque Olympus, the Global Dance Theatre (formerly Gypsy Dance Theatre), and the Great Rondini. We walked the grounds, ate some awesome food, and I had a nice coffee porter from the Brigadoon Brewery known as Contract Killer.

We also decided to check out the joust for the first time in quite a few years. We sat in France’s section as usual and cheered on our knight as he battled competitors from England, Germany, and Spain. There is an amazing amount of athleticism and precision in action when these folks battle and the horses do just as much or more work themselves. Of the two events that the knights competed in, France won the first one and came in second in the second event.

There were a few new pieces added to the Fairy Garden and the Greek Agora and the newest section of the festival from last year expanded even more with new buildings and vendors. I must also add that the weather was perfect. It was cold enough that I had to wear a hoodie with my short pants but as the day wore on, it warmed up but remained cool enough that I didn’t sweat too much in my hoodie.

There was one glaring omission from the festival this year. As some of you may know, Clark Orwick, best known as Smuj, the faceless man that carried around Ded Bob and assisted Bob as he Bobmotized zombies for his show, passed away earlier this year. He was a big part of the festival and one of the funniest acts on the Ren Faire circuit. A new act took his place this year at the Globe Theater that he shared with Clan Tynker, but he was and will always be dearly missed.

The Texas Renaissance Festival was amazing as always. There are still two weekends left to attend so get out there if you can and witness an amazing spectacle. Attending the festival makes me feel happy, accepted, and like I am back home. I love TRF and hope that all of you get to experience for yourselves.

Thanks for reading my post. I’ve got some November Noise coming up on Thursday and Friday.

Outpost: Biloxi, MS

Home to one of my favorite pop culture and comic conventions, CoastCon, Biloxi, MS holds a special place in my heart. I’ve now made four journeys to this wonderful little beach town and will definitely go back. Back in July my wife and I decided to take a quick weekend getaway to Biloxi to chill out after a brutal year in 2020 and early 2021. It was definitely a much needed vacation.

We journeyed to Biloxi with absolutely zero plans. The only thing that we knew for sure was that we would be staying at the White House Hotel. Established in 1895, this hotel is reasonably priced, features a restaurant and two bars, and is nestled right across the highway from the Gulf of Mexico. Our room was wonderful. It featured a glass walk-in shower, a big TV, and a view of the neighborhood behind the hotel. The neighborhood is full of old homes that reminded me a lot of New Orleans, LA residential areas. On our next trip, we’re going to reserve a room with a beach view just because we want to see what that looks like from our hotel window.

After settling into our room we decided to hit one of my favorite souvenir shops, Sharkheads. We grabbed some shirts for our kids (who were having fun with their cousins in Galveston, TX) and a few other things. Then we had a nice supper at The Reef. Despite having visited Biloxi a few times I never was able to try The Reef. It’s Guy Harvey-esque facade that faces the highway always attracted me, but our paths never crossed until this trip. The restaurant is located right on the beach in Biloxi and features amazing seafood and other delicious items. My wife had a salad (I can’t recall the name) and I had Firecracker Shrimp Tacos. We also had fried pickles for an appetizer. It was all very tasty.

On Saturday morning my wife decided that she wanted to lay out on the beach and catch some rays. While she was doing that, I headed over to the USS Biloxi Memorial and also visited the Old Biloxi Cemetery. With graves dating back to the early 1800’s and some beautiful oak trees, this cemetery was simply lovely.

If you can’t tell already, the sun made almost no appearance at all the entire weekend. My wife did catch a few rays on Saturday morning while she was on the beach, but she went back to the hotel earlier than she wanted to due to a few rain showers. When lunchtime hit, I caught up with my good friends and Southern Geek founders, Rafe and Shannon White. We met them at The Blind Tiger on the beach near the casino area. I had fried shrimp and my wife had nachos. We spent hours catching up and Rafe attempted to catch some fish as well. The day remained cloudy with a little light rain here and there. As our second day drew to a close, my wife and I headed back to the hotel to rest.

Sunday morning found me headed out to early morning Mass at the beautiful Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The stained glass windows inside the cathedral were breathtaking. The service was beautiful as well. After Mass ended, I took another drive through the area and snapped a few photos of places. Unfortunately my wife was still in bed battling a migraine. I eventually headed back to the hotel to pick her up and check out. Before we left Biloxi, though, we stopped at a couple of gift shops and grabbed a few more goodies. We also saw a shark at Walmart!

We made plans on our trip back home to return to Biloxi in the very near future. There’s so much to see and do that we want to take the kids with us on our next visit. If you’ve never been to Biloxi, I definitely recommend checking it out. There’s plenty of new things to do in the area but there’s also a ton of things for history buffs to check out. I definitely recommend staying at the White House Hotel if you do visit Biloxi. The staff was amazing and the hotel is gorgeous. The views from the hotel, from the grounds to the top floor, are beautiful.

Well, that’s all for this post. Let me know if you’ve been to Biloxi or any other beach town that stole your heart. Thanks for checking out my blog. I’ve got some exciting news for my next post which I hope to crank out over the weekend.

Outpost: Texas Renaissance Festival 2020

Heroes and Villains Weekend

If memory serves me correctly, this is my twelfth visit to the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, TX (just northwest of Houston). I love this festival. Not only do you get to step back in time, but the music, the shows, the food, and the fun are wonderful. Having been to this festival a number of times now, I’ve seen a few of my favorite acts come and go. Thankfully, a couple of my favorites are mainstays and new acts are added all of the time to keep me coming back for more.

This year’s festival was a bit different than prior years thanks to COVID-19. Regulations and requests were put in place in order to provide a safe environment for performers, employees, and visitors. The biggest change this year was that tickets had to be purchased ahead of time on the web for specific dates. A limited amount of at-the-gate tickets were available, but only for military, seniors, and students.

Clan Tynker, one of the mainstays of TRF that also happen to be my favorite performers.

As I have done every single time that I’ve attended TRF, I checked out the Clan Tynker show first. As always, they brought smiles to the crowd with their mixture of magic, music, and mind-blowing stunts. I love this group and I look forward to watching them every year. I normally grab a photo with at least one of the group each year, but I had to skip this year due to the restrictions at the festival. I guess I’ll have to grab two photos with group members next year.

The gypsy dancers are beautiful and their band is nothing short of wonderful.

I attended a number of other favorite shows including Gypsy Dance Theatre and Cirque Olympus. I know that the lovely dancers get all of the attention when it comes to Gypsy Dance Theatre, but folks need to show a little appreciation to the band as well. They are simply amazing.

Apollo gets “loopy” as Athena encourages him during his performance.

Three of the hardest working performers at the festival, at least in my opinion, are Apollo, Aphrodite, and Athena, collectively known as Cirque Olympus. Their dazzling display of rope work, balancing, hula hoop spinning, archery, and more is simply fun to watch. On top of that, they are hilarious as well. Athena brings high energy and neck-breaking stunts while Apollo juggles and balances his way into our hearts. Aphrodite flirts with the audience, does amazing ribbon work, and shows off her archery skills as well. If you’ve never been to TRF, add Cirque Olympus to the top of your list of shows to see when you visit!

Aphrodite spins gracefully (but with plenty of power).

A cool addition to the festival this year was the Pirate Museum. Featuring actual artifacts from sunken ships, this museum was a welcome surprise. Not only was it educational, it was awesome to see a number of items such as blunderbusses, dubloons, and cannons.

Yours truly, yo-ho-hoing!

This was the first year that I tried a gyro, a Greek dish that’s not to be missed! I tried one from the Greek Agora where the Gypsy Dance Theatre and Cirque Olympus shows take place. It was delicious!

My “gyro!”

There were also a ton of wonderful shops and plenty of other performers to check out. I visited the Museum of Cruelty again and also took two strolls through the Magic Garden.

Museum of Cruelty.

If you happen to be visiting the Houston or Conroe area in October or November next year, be sure to check out the Texas Renaissance Festival. It has become an annual treat for myself and my family. There are still three weekends left this season, but be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time. Also, if you can’t make it this year, keep an eye on the festival’s social media outlets for the date of the Sale of the Century, a sale in which they slash ticket prices for one day only. I highly recommend taking advantage of the deep discount offered!

TRF valiantly fought the plague this year!

Thanks for reading my post. If you’ve ever been to TRF, let me know what you thought about it in the comments section. Also, feel free to tell me about your favorite shows, performers, and food as well!

Just one of the many displays in the pirate museum.

Outpost: Wolf Rock Cave

Just East Of Rosepine, LA

I use Instagram a lot. I probably use it too much. I have two accounts on Instagram including @kens_alternate_universe and a personal account. One of the accounts that I follow is @thetravelingcrawfish, a blogger who posts travel photos, facts, and more about the great state of Louisiana. On Saturday she posted about Wolf Rock Cave on the edge of the Vernon Unit of Kisatchie National Forest. I never knew about this place until Saturday and it’s only about an hour away from my home, so I decided to hit the road with my kids to check out the only known cave in the state of Louisiana.

A shot of the front of the cave.

To see this rock formation in Louisiana is amazing. The cave isn’t very deep, but it’s one of the most unique features that you’ll ever see in the Pelican State. According to this article (please note, the article has been removed from the Leesville Daily Leader website), the cave has a larger room that has been sealed off because it was deemed too dangerous for would-be spelunkers to tackle. I’d love to see the big room, as it was apparently used as a shelter by natives long ago and was supposedly used to hide Union supplies and horses during the Civil War.

Bundicks Creek, which flows just down the hill from Wolf Rock Cave.

Getting to the cave isn’t tricky, but you will have to go off of the beaten path to get there. If you leave out of Rosepine headed east on Bailey Road, you’ll eventually take a left onto Parish Rd 455 (also called Providence Road) and drive until the pavement ends. Continue on the gravel road until you see the parking area for the cave. There’s an informational sign at the trailhead and it’s just a couple of minutes on a well kept trail to the cave. The cave sits high on a hill overlooking Bundicks Creek. There are no restroom facilities, benches, or trash bins on the trail or at the parking area, so be prepared to take all of your waste out of the area with you.

Thanks for reading this quick post. Wolf Cave Rock is a unique and wonderful site to visit. Learn more about it here and at the Vernon Parish tourism site.

All photos taken by me.

Outpost: Northeast Louisiana

Mounds And Vampires And Corn, Oh, My!

With COVID-19 restrictions loosening up a bit and with my children suffering from hardcore cabin fever, I decided to take my family on a road trip to a corner of my home state that I haven’t had an opportunity to explore. Although I spent quite a bit of time in the Monroe, LA area, and have visited Vicksburg, MS on a few occasions, I never took the time to check out the area between Monroe and the Mississippi River in northern Louisiana. That changed this weekend.

Myself and the kids set out on a 4.5 hour road trip to Transylvania, LA. We traveled up Highway 165 (a highway that I’ve driven on many, many times) and then hit Interstate 49 near the small town of Woodworth. We drove north of Alexandria and turned onto Highway 28. This highway took us by the Frogmore Plantation and the legendary city of Ferriday. Ferriday is perhaps best known for giving the world Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart, and Mickey Gilley, three men that blazed trails in rock n’ roll, televangelism, and countrypolitan music, respectively. It was also the home of Haney’s Big House, a dance hall where numerous blues and R&B legends such as B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Irma Thomas performed.

In Ferriday, we turned north onto Highway 425 and eventually Highway 65, which would lead us to Transylvania. Along the way we passed through towns such as Waterproof, Newellton, and Tallulah. I highly recommend researching these three towns, as all of them have very interesting histories and a number of notable people are from these towns.

When we finally arrived in Transylvania, we saw the general store (which appeared to be closed for the day), the famous water tower with a giant bat on two sides, the Transylvania Post Office, and the permanently closed and abandoned Transylvania Elementary School. The town is surrounded by corn and cotton fields on all sides and the highways that lead into it (65 and 581) are dotted with prehistoric mounds built by the indigenous people that lived and/or traveled through the area. Some of these mounds predate Stonehenge (3000 BC) by as many as an estimated five hundred years. Many of these mounds are located on private property and can only be observed from the road. Once exception to this is the Poverty Point World Heritage Site. I’ll get to that wonderful place in a few minutes.

By Sinneed – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8050043

After visiting Transylvania, we headed north through Lake Providence and cut across to Oak Grove, LA, home of the Fiske Theatre, the oldest operating theater in northeast Louisiana and the last remaining single screen theater in operation (according to Wikipedia). It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Learn more about the theatre here. From there we headed back towards Transylvania via Highways 134 and 581. On Highway 581, we viewed the Transylvania Mounds and the Juice Mound.

After leaving Transylvania for a second time, we headed south to Alsatia and took Highways 580 and 577 to Poverty Point World Heritage Site. The site features six mounds identified as Mounds A-F. Mound A, also known as the Bird Mound, towers over the rest of the mounds at a height of seventy-two feet. It is 710 feet long and 660 feet wide. It is the largest mound in North America. No one knows exactly what purposes Mound A or any of the other mounds were used for, as they differ from all of the other mounds found in North America as far as found artifacts are concerned.

Many of the artifacts found at the site and on display in the museum are amazing. In particular, I found myself in awe of the plummets. Polished and drilled to be attached to things like nets, this things look like they were manufactured and not made by hand. I also really loved the figurines and and other small carved items on display at the museum.

Visitors are allowed to walk to the top of Mound A. Three types of tours are offered at the site. You can take a self-guided 2.6 mile hike, a driving tour, or a tram tour led by a tour guide. We went with the driving tour considering our late arrival time. You can learn more about Poverty Point World Heritage Site at their website. Be sure to check their website before visiting at this time, since COVID-19 has affected operations at the site.

View from the top of Mound A looking back toward the museum and visitor center.

After our visit to Poverty Point, we decided to head home. Instead of taking the same route we used to arrive in NE Louisiana, we ventured down Highway 17, hopped onto Interstate 20, and then quickly exited in Start, LA. From there, we headed south on Highway 133 (catching glimpses of the Boeuf River along the way), passed through Hebert, and eventually ended up in the lovely town of Columbia on the Ouachita River. In Columbia we hopped back onto Highway 165 and made our way back to the Lake Charles area.

Our trip to NE Louisiana was definitely one that we’ll remember. The small towns in the area appear to be hit pretty hard by poverty, but the history (and prehistory) of the area coupled with the agricultural heritage of the region make northeast Louisiana a great place to visit. I also recommend visiting Monroe and, if you have time, stopping across the Mississippi River in Vicksburg to check out that town which is also loaded with great attractions and history.

Thanks for reading my post. I’ll be hitting the trail again real soon!

All photos by me except where noted.

Outpost: Transylvania?

Northern Louisiana…..

In my last post I mentioned that I had a special surprise coming on Sunday. Well, here it is! I took a road trip this weekend to Northern Louisiana. I visited some really cool places. One of those places is Transylvania!

This is just a teaser for my post. I’ll make my full report either tomorrow or Tuesday. Thanks for checking out my post!

Outpost: Texas Renaissance Festival 2019

Todd Mission, TX

I’ve been attending the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF) faithfully for ten years. I only missed one year due to circumstances beyond my control. I love TRF more than pretty much every other event that I attend on a regular basis. It has something for everyone.

I start the festival each year by doing one of two things: 1) If I arrive early enough for the opening cannon, I watch Clan Tynker perform or 2) if I arrive later in the morning, I head to the Magic Garden, stroll around for a bit, and take a photo with the lovely lady behind me in the photo above. I jokingly refer to her as “a topless chick in Texas” and have taken a photo with her every time I visit TRF.

The Magic Garden is my favorite spot at the festival. It’s the quietest place on the grounds and you never know when you might run into a fairie while walking along the path. One of my fondest memories of TRF is the time that my daughter and I found a fairie peaking at us through the bushes. My daughter sat among the lush flora with the fairie and took a photo with her. The fairie was so kind and sweet to my daughter and put a smile on her face. As we strolled along, we found more fairies in the trees, along the path, and playing by the fairie throne (which was replaced this year).

After enjoying a few moments in the garden, I returned to the bustling festival grounds and ate some Irish nachos (cheese fries) for lunch. Then I caught my favorite show, Clan Tynker. I love Clan Tynker to death. They are my favorite performers at TRF and always will be. They are funny, family-friendly, and genuinely appear to love performing for the crowd. They always amaze me with their juggling, music, comedy, and magic. I recently started taking selfies with the individual members of the group. So far I have a photo with Serendipity and Santiago. This year I added Rebekah to my collection! I’ll add Sam and Elijah very soon.

I attended more shows throughout the day including the Fire Whip Show, Birds of Prey, Tartanic, and Ded Bob. I then made my way to the Agora to see two more of my favorite shows: Cirque Olympus and Gypsy Dance Theatre. If you’ve never checked out Cirque Olympus, do yourself a favor and add them to your itinerary for your next trip to TRF. I only discovered them last year. They perform excellent aerial acts, gymnastics, and juggling sets. They are also very funny and interact heavily with the crowd.

On the surface, Gypsy Dance Theatre looks like nothing more than a bunch of lovely ladies belly dancing for the crowd. While they definitely belly dance, they also engage the crowd with laugh-out-loud humor and silly antics. Oh, and their band is awesome! I own a couple of their CDs and highly recommend that you check their work out. Also, if you attend their live show, be sure to check out their yupkas! They encourage you to look at them!

As the day started to wind down, I made my way to the front gates. TRF is always fun. I love attending this festival. In fact, I love it so much that I’m considering moving to the area when I retire so that I can attend all of the festival weekends. Check out a few more photos that I took at the festival this year and let me know if you’ve ever been to TRF in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to share this post with other folks interested in attending this or any other Renaissance festival.

Outpost: Fouke, Arkansas

Southwestern Arkansas

My regular readers know how much I love Bigfoot, Yeti, and all of the other cryptids out there. They might even know that I’ve visited Fouke, AR, in the past and blogged about it here. While own my recent trip to northwestern Louisiana to see KISS with my son, we decided to take a sidequest north to Fouke, Arkansas, home of the Fouke Monster and the film, The Legend of Boggy Creek.

Photo taken by my son.

Sporting my Ghoultown shirt (I’ll get to their connection to Fouke in a bit), my son and I drove into Fouke on Saturday morning. The drive up there was beautiful but we didn’t get to see the Fouke Monster. We stopped at the Monster Mart in town and were blown away by how much the store has changed and yet remained the same since our last visit in 2014.

The convenience store itself had changed very little. It’s a standard convenience store with soft drinks, snacks, and a few roadside necessities for purchase. On the museum side, however, things had been expanded upon greatly. A large display that included a Fouke Monster and one of its children had been added to the museum, as well as two display cases full of photos, albums, footprint casts, and more items related to the Fouke Monster and the history of the small town. There were also newspaper articles lining the walls and a gift shop that featured books, t-shirts, caps, postcards, magnets, mugs, and much, much more.

I talked with the lady behind the counter for quite awhile. She told me a little bit about the upgrades on the store and I also learned that Fouke won their high school football game on the prior evening.

I ended up purchasing a magnet and Lyle Blackburn’s Beyond Boggy Creek book at the Monster Mart. You can read my review of one of Blackburn’s other books, The Legend of Boggy Creek, here. Yes, I could have purchased the book on Amazon or even directly from Lyle’s website, but that would have meant that I couldn’t have purchased the book with the Monster Mart stamp on the inside. I plan to get Mr. Blackburn to sign the book if I ever get the chance to meet him.

Oh, and for anyone still not sure about the connection between Fouke and my Ghoultown band t-shirt, Blackburn is the frontman from the Texas-based gothabilly band. I’ve become quite a fan in recent months. Check out their website here.

After making my purchase, my son and I drove around Fouke for a few minutes before heading on to Texarkana, TX. We had no real destination in mind when we arrived there, we just wanted to kill a little more time before heading to Bossier City, LA to see KISS on Saturday evening.

If you have any interest in cryptozoology and want to visit a key location in Bigfoot history, make a trip to Fouke, AR. You’ll learn about the beast, the movie that made it famous, and the wonderful little town that became the focal point of one of cryptozoology most famous cult films.

Thanks for reading. Check out the links and keep an eye out for my next post.

Outpost: San Antonio, TX

Remember The Alamo!

My family and I took a quick trip to San Antonio, TX a few weeks ago and, as always, the place didn’t disappoint us at all.  We arrived late in the afternoon but had enough time to venture to the Alamo, where Texian and Tejano soldiers and numerous volunteers from the United States of America (of which Texas was not a part of at the time) bravely died defending their belief in a Texas free of Mexican control.  Estimates of the actual number of those that died vary between 150 and 250 brave souls.  If you’ve never been to the Alamo, I highly recommend visiting it at least once in your lifetime.  It is a truly moving experience to visit this place.


Outside of the front doors of the Alamo is a great monument to the defenders of Texas.  It is a massive monument and does well to honor those that fought at the mission.  Across the street are a number of stores, restaurants and tourist venues.

After a brief visit in downtown San Antonio, we headed to our hotel, the Hilton San Antonio Hill Country.  I highly recommend staying in this hotel as it is located near SeaWorld San Antonio.  It offers a shuttle to and from the park and also has nightly attractions for the entire family.  You can roast marshmallows and make s’mores in the campfires located in the courtyard at night.  You can also watch a family movie, play basketball, eat hamburgers and hot dogs, or swim in one of the three pools or relax in the jacuzzi.  There’s also a restaurant on site and a gym with ellipticals, weight machines, and other exercise equipment.  This is our favorite hotel in the area and have stayed here on multiple occasions.


On our second day in San Antonio, we visited SeaWorld San Antonio.  We rode all of the big coasters including the Steel Eel, the Great White, the Wave Breaker, and the Shamu Express.  We watched a few shows as well.  My personal favorite was the Beluga Whale/White-Sided Dolphin, and Macaw show, Ocean Discovery.  I also enjoyed the Animal Conservation Center.  There we got up close and personal with an owl and learned about animals that are cared for at the park that aren’t necessarily of the aquatic persuasion.

Since it was July, it was very hot at the park.  Luckily we found the Chill Out Bar located next to the Great White roller coaster.  The bar offered liquid nitrogen frozen ice cream and a number of cool adult beverages including frozen Jack & Coke.  The best part of the bar is that you get to keep the cup that your drink is served in when you’re done!  Oh, and it’s one of the few places in the park that serves drinks with straws.  The straws are paper, though, and completely biodegradable.


We also went to Discovery Point, located just outside of the entrances to SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica, the SeaWorld water park.  There, visitors are given the opportunity to have experiences with dolphins, beluga whales, and sea lions.  There’s also Explorer’s Reef, home to a number of sharks and exotic fish.


SeaWorld San Antonio offers both education and fun.  My entire family enjoyed the day at the park and plan on returning again in the future.  There’s still plenty of things left for us to explore at the park, and I recommend allowing at least two days to really take in many of the attractions.


We left early on Sunday morning after attending Mass at Prince of Peace Catholic Church near our hotel.  We then made an unexpected trip back to Austin (but no sightseeing this time) and then headed home later that evening.  Our trip naturally included a few stops at Buc-ee’s Travel Centers across Texas and when we got home, we immediately wanted to return to San Antonio.

As always, thanks for reading.  I’ll have a post about the latest Hurricane Pro Wrestling event that I attended in Beaumont, TX in the very near future.  I’m still hoping to check out Ant-Man and the Wasp and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom before they leave theaters, and I also want to see Teen Titans Go! To The Movies.  If by some miracle of fate I get to see any of these films, I’ll post a review.

Outpost: Austin, TX

Weird City

Keep Austin Weird.  It’s a sentiment shared by plenty of people across the city of Austin and pretty much all over the state of Texas.  Austin is definitely something of a strange bird when compared to the rest of the state that it calls home, but it somehow manages to be something to just about anyone that passes through it.


I recently visited the capitol city of Texas with my family for the first time.  I have relatives that live there now and decided that it was time for a visit.  I also wanted to see what was so wonderfully bizarre about ATX.  I wasn’t disappointed at all.  This post will feature a brief glimpse at our time in Austin.  I hope that you enjoy it.

Our journey began where every journey across Texas should begin: Buc-ee’s Travel Center.  Buc-ee’s is as Texas as Whataburger and cowboys.  It’s a staple of the Lone Star State and if you ever get the chance to visit one of these extraordinary travel centers, I highly recommend it.  The larger centers are found along most major highway systems throughout the state and smaller, more standard convenience store versions of the chain can be found in many neighborhoods in Texas.  The travel centers offer everything from Texas and Buc-ee’s souvenirs to brisket, sausage, and other great tasting goodies.  They also have their own line of sweets which can be found in both the large and small versions of the stores.  My wife’s favorite treat are the Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets, which are sweet puffed corn treats.  I love the t-shirts and the restrooms.  The shirts change on a regular basis and have become collectors’ items for fans of the chain.  The restrooms are insanely clean and the stalls are walled around so that no one can see in or out while you’re taking care of business.  Learn more about Buc-ee’s here.

After meeting up with our relatives in Austin, they took us on a whirlwind tour of the city and then stopped on Congress Avenue to let us check out a wonderful stretch of shops that included Big Top Candy Shop and Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds.  Big Top featured all sorts of wonderful candies and sweets including many old fashioned candies that are harder to find in brick and mortar stores.  They had an enormous selection of more modern candy as well and all of it was under the guise of a traditional tent circus.  Oddities were hanging on the wall as were classic circus posters.

Lucy In Disguise With Diamonds is every cosplayer’s dream.  It featured all sorts of accessories and pieces for creating your own costume as well as costumes that were ready to rent or own.  Photography was restricted in the shop since it’s pretty obvious that with all of the cool items that they stock, people will naturally want to try things on and post selfies without actually buying things.  The store had everything from high end creations to simple costumes that can be purchased in stores like Party City for Halloween.  If you’re a cosplayer, definitely check out this place.

Our second day in Austin featured a visit to the State Capitol, the Texas Capitol Visitor’s Center, Barton Creek Greenbelt, Zilker Botanical GardenAmy’s Ice Creams, and the Congress Bridge Bats.  We journeyed to the gorgeous state capitol grounds first and checked out the many statues and monuments that highlighted both local and state events, individuals, and the multiple cultures that have impacted the city and state.  One of my favorite monuments was the one for African American history in Texas.  The large monument was simply beautiful.

We then took a guided tour (absolutely free) of the capitol and also visited the Texas Capitol Vistor’s Center that featured exhibits highlighting everything Austin and Texas.  There were exhibits for the capitol and the history of Texas, as well as exhibits highlighting truly unique aspects of the state such as Blue Bell Ice Cream and Whataburger.  My favorite part of this visit was getting to see the painting Dawn At The Alamo by Irish painter Henry Arthur McArdle.  It is located in the Senate Chamber.


After our trip to the capitol, we had lunch at In-N-Out Burger because we wanted to see what all the hullabaloo was about.  As far as hamburgers go, it was pretty good.  We then journeyed to the Barton Creek Greenbelt for a quick hike smack in the middle of Austin.  We were surrounded by rocks, trees, and even a few rock climbers.  After our brief hike (which was a wonder to find in the middle of a bustling city), we went to Amy’s Ice Creams, a trippy little ice cream joint that featured all sorts of wonderful flavors.  Be sure to check out their link above to see the wild and delicious flavors that they offer.  On our trip, Amy’s had a dinosaur theme going in honor of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  Flavors included Godzilla, Rex, and Blue (for the beloved velociraptor) and others. I took on the Dino, which featured Mexican vanilla ice cream, rainbow sprinkles, and Fruity Pebbles.  It was tasty!

After visiting the Greenbelt and filling up on ice cream, we headed to Zilker Botanical Garden to look at some beautifully unique gardens.  The Hartman Prehistoric Garden and the Isamu Taniguchi Oriental Garden were two of our favorites, as were the Pioneer Settlement and the Woodland Fairie Exhibit (a limited time exhibit).  The Prehistoric garden included a replica of the Zilker Turtle fossil found at the site (the real fossil is at the Texas Memorial Museum).  It also features a statue of an Ornithomimus, a dinosaur whose tracks were found in the garden.

That evening we staked out a spot under the Congress Avenue Bridge to see the Congress Bridge Bats take flight.  Be sure to check their website above if you plan on making a trek to Austin to see the bats, as they only make their trek throughout certain months of the year.  It really is an awesome sight to see whenever they take to the night sky.  I also recommend visiting the Nightwing monument located just down from the bridge near Barton Springs Road.  It was created by Dale Whistler and quietly spins in the night as the wind blows.

Our last day in the city included a visit to the Texas Memorial Museum located on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.  We spent a few hours learning about the geological and biological history (and prehistory) of the state of Texas.  Exhibits were found in the Hall of Geology and Paleontology, the Hall of Texas Wildlife, the Hall of Biodiversity, and the Great Hall, which features the suspended reconstruction of a skeleton of Quetzalcoatlus northropi, a massive pterosaur found in Big Bend National Park.  There was also an exhibit dedicated to the ancient Buzz Saw Sharks (Whorl Tooth Sharks) found in Texas, Idaho, and other U.S. states, as well as Mexico and even Australia!  This is a moving exhibit that will only be at the museum until September of this year.  Visiting this museum was a blast!  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.  Be sure to check it out if you can!

After leaving the museum, we had one last visit with our relatives that included a walk along the Colorado River on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.  We paid our respects to Stevie Ray Vaughan along the trail by visiting his statue.  We then headed back to Louisiana.  Our journey home included more stops at Buc-ee’s and a couple of detours at shops in Bastrop, TX.


I highly recommend visiting the city of Austin, TX.  It is beautiful, the people are friendly, and there’s so much more to the city that I need to explore.  I haven’t even visited any of the live music locations yet, and there are plenty of other places in and around the city that I want to experience.  Check out the Travel Texas and Austin Travel websites for more information and maybe we’ll run into each other next time I visit!

As always, thanks for reading my posts.  I really appreciate each and every one of you for reading, liking, and sharing my content.