Finding the birthplace of Texas

Exploring the wonders of Washington County

Last fall I found myself on a media tour of Washington County Texas with more than a dozen other travel writers. I’m a resident of the Houston suburbs, so I was not unfamiliar with certain parts of our tour. But it was thrilling to get the perspective of a tourist. My discoveries were amazing,  and I want to share them with all my readers: Finding the Birthplace of Texas; Exploring the wonders of Washington County.

While many in our tour group stayed at peaceful bed and breakfast properties or on a working cattle ranch, I found myself in downtown Brenham enjoying a luxurious Victorian room in a historic 1800’s renovated grain building at the Ant Street Inn, a boutique hotel. This was amazing for me, as each room presents with authentic Victorian furnishings, which I love! You can feel the history there.

I’m so excited about the newly renovated Simon Theater, and the Antique Rose Emporium was blissfully delightful. Most of our group took a turn at sitting behind the president’s desk in the mock setting of the Oval Office at the George Bush Presidential Library.

There are so many places that exude Texas history, such as the Barrington Living History Farm, the Cotton Gin Museum and Independence Hall at Washington-on-the-Brazos, the actual birthplace of Texas.

March is usually the time the year that almost everyone I know in the Houston area goes to Washington County to photograph their kids, wives, husbands, pets and grandkids among the Texas bluebonnets and Indian paint brushes, especially near Brenham and Chappell Hill.

Don’t miss a tour of the wineries in Washington County…it’s worth your time: Star of Texas Winery, Saddlehorn Winery, Windy Winery and Pleasant Hill Winery. I hope you get an opportunity to stay at Ant Street Inn, Lillian Farms Country Estate B&B, Southern Rose B&B or Texas Ranch Life working cattle ranch. Some of the places we ate included Must Be Heaven Café, Funky Art Café, Nathan’s BBQ, Ninety Six West and Brenham Grill next to Ant Street Inn.

I’ll be back soon with another travel adventure. Right now, I’m packing for our next cruise, TBA at a future date. Until then, happy spring!

Enjoy a glimpse of Washington County and enjoy my travel story in The Tribune at http://www.ourtribune.com/article.php?id=19926

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taking the walking tour of Historic Downtown Georgetown

IMG_9087My last post was about Round Rock, Texas, and the Round Rock Donuts.

Moving on we took a little tour of Georgetown, where I found some treasures at one of the local antique shops.

Georgetown is located just north of Austin off of IH-35, and it has the distinction of having been voted the “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas” in 1997. However, they claim that this title in no way indicates that the town is a bunch of squares – on the contrary!

Foodies and shopaholics will love Georgetown! Antique shops and boutiques, with an abundance of places to eat, will fill up your day, your weekend or your week.

It’s a beautiful town, with Victorian architecture and local watering holes nearby – Lake Georgetown, Blue Hole or San Gabriel River, where fun in and around the water is always waiting.

Founded in 1848, by 1880 the town boasted a courthouse, the state’s oldest university and the railroad.  Things were good, although in the beginning this frontier town looked quite ordinary with mainly log cabins and shacks.

Georgetown’s Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the historic Williamson County Courthouse, a Neoclassical structure, is a focal point that is being restored to its former days of glory. Victorian commercial architecture fills the streets and is now protected by the national register and the Georgetown Heritage Society. You will find scattered throughout Georgetown many displays of art, especially in downtown square and Southwestern University.

Georgetown has had much success rejuvenating its downtown area due to the city’s participation in the National Main Street Project. This program is piloted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and helps to bring about economic, as well as, architectural vitality in towns across America.

With so much to see, it’s a joy to take the walking tour of Historic Downtown Georgetown. They like to say that Georgetown is the hill country’s most beautiful little secret. And I agree!

See you next time, when I venture out to tour and enjoy more of what Texas has to offer. It’s a big state, you know! Adios!

Trilla

February 20, 2016

New photos added to our walking tour of historic downtown Georgetown, Texas.

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Discovering Round Rock Donuts

IMG_9069I’m a big fan of the TV show on PBS titled “The Daytripper,” where you’ll find Texas-born and raised Chet Garner exploring Texas, one day at a time. One particular day, he was exploring Round Rock, and that really got my attention!

After hearing me explain why I wanted to visit Round Rock, my family and I made a trip there one Saturday morning to get our reward!

Round Rock Donuts is located in this Texas town and it is world famous! Since 1926 this yellow/orange donut has been winning the hearts and stomachs of all who enter. This Texas favorite comes from a yeast-risen, bread-like dough, with fresh eggs bringing out the color. This sets them apart from ordinary donuts. And, this is the home of The Texas Donut, which you have to see to believe. Which is exactly why I wanted to visit this place. I wanted to make sure that Chet wasn’t just pulling my leg, so I had to go see for myself.

This Texas-size donut is incredible and, except for the size, looks and taste just like the regular size ones. But you can imagine being on a business conference in Austin and suddenly seeing this big mamma on the breakfast buffet!

We sampled all we could eat, and with a sad and fond farewell, we continued our Saturday, but always remembering what we had for breakfast. It’s something I will never forget…  http://roundrockdonuts.com/

Round Rock ranked among best, most affordable cities in U.S.

I’ll see you back here soon with a look at Georgetown, Texas, which is just a stones throw away. Adios!

 

 

 

Recapping Louisiana’s Holiday Trail of Lights

Loyd Hall Plantation

Loyd Hall Plantation

In November of 2013, I joined a media tour group to explore the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights. From Shreveport-Bossier City, then east on IH-20 to Minden, Monroe-West Monroe and south on IH-49 to Alexandria-Pineville and Natchitoches, each town and each day brought new adventures, sights, tastes and scenery.

Thinking back, I remember visiting each town as if it were yesterday. I found it most impressive that Natchitoches is celebrating it’s tri-centennial! This town with brick-paved streets overlooking the Cane River was one location I decided to return to with my husband. Other very exciting events were The Tree Lighting on the Louisiana Boardwalk, and staying overnight at Loyd Hall Plantation Bed and Breakfast, which is rumored to be haunted! Oh, and I was thrilled to get to see The Steel Magnolia House, which is now a bed and breakfast, also.

Steel Magnolia House

Steel Magnolia House

This week I hope you’ll read my story about the Louisiana Trail of Lights, which appears in The Tribune at http://www.ourtribune.com/article.php?id=17583.

Here is a link to the pdf file of the newspaper. Scroll down to page 6C to view my article as it’s seen in the actual newspaper: http://ourtribune.com/apdf/tn.pdf.

Thrilled to see the "Steel Magnolias" house!

Thrilled to see the “Steel Magnolias” house!

Next month, another version of my story on the Louisiana Holiday Trail of Lights is scheduled to appear in TravelWorld International Magazine with “Holidays” as the theme for the November issue. When the magazine’s November issue is published, I’ll post a link here.

Thanks for visiting my blog, and remember, I appreciate your feedback!

Until next time…

You’re in Almost Heaven!

My family originates from the beautiful Appalachian mountains of southern West Virginia. We grew up in and/or near the small, quaint town of Pineville in Wyoming County. This little town has the quintessential courthouse, and boasts a well-known landmark — Castle Rock.

Courthouse and Castle Rock landmarks in Pineville, WV.

Castle Rock, a well-known landmark in Pineville, WV.

 

Pineville Courthouse

Pineville Courthouse — Wyoming County Seat. Reminds me of a scene from the movie “Back to the Future!”

During the 1950’s when I was a kid, I can remember what a special treat it was to get take-out food from the Pinnacle Drive-In, where “car hops” came to take your order and deliver it to your car window. While waiting for your order (this was not fast food), there would, undoubtedly, be other people pulling up to order. Folks talked and laughed, listened to their car radios, while waiting on their meals. It was a whole other time! Sometimes I long for those days…

As we grew up some things changed, such as new schools being built or combined, and subtle little changes in the landscape around  the small towns. But nothing drastically ever changes there. And that’s a good thing, because it makes one who has moved away feel that there is such a thing as going home again.

Submarine

This is the authentic Pinnacle Drive-In submarine sandwich that I ordered in October 2013…that was way too long ago!

The large submarine served at the Pinnacle Drive-In, Pineville, WV.

The Pinnacle Drive-In, Pineville, WV.

My husband and I made a visit to WV in October 2013, and reinforced our knowledge that one thing that has never changed is the Pinnacle Drive-In. The small parking space in front, combined with the intimate chrome tables and chairs of yesteryear inside, keep customers happy. What are they so happy about, you might ask?

For one thing, the Pinnacle serves a unique sandwich that is simply listed on the menu as a “submarine.” This sandwich is unlike any other submarine, as it is always made exactly the same way every time…no cold cuts here, nosirreee! This submarine comes large or small and consists of a fine-textured turkey salad, bacon, cranberry sauce, lettuce and tomato on a French bun that has been “crisped” in hot oil. If you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what you’re missing. In addition to these outrageously delicious subs, the Pinnacle serves other menu items, of course, and one of those is their famous hot dog! Served with chili and coleslaw on a bun that is butter-toasted on both sides, makes this hot dog one of the best ever, bar none!!!

This is no joke! Folks travel from far and wide to return and reclaim these delectable memories of their youth! Whether you’re a fan of the subs or the hot dogs, you’re in “Almost Heaven,” literally, when you have one in your hand and let the tastes and smells take you back to those distant memories!

Some of my family members still live in Pineville or surrounding areas, in fact, our ancestors settled in the area and built towns there, including Pineville, Oceana and Mullens. But some of us have moved away in search of better employment and opportunities for our children. A handful of us ended up in East Texas. We like to get together every once in a while to create what we consider the equivalent of Pinnacle Drive-In subs, which we call simply “West Virginia Subs.”

Some of our Texas family enjoying homemade WV subs (imitating the Pinnacle Drive-In subs) on our West Virginia Subs Day!

Some of our East Texas family enjoying homemade WV subs (imitating the Pinnacle Drive-In subs) on our West Virginia Subs Day!

One such get-together happened last week on September 26 in Jacksonville, Texas, where ten of us gathered to re-create our long, lost Pinnacle subs – our West Virginia Subs. We’ve done this enough times now, and we know how much of each ingredient we need, so we assign a list to each person. We set up an assembly station and start the creation process, down to the last detail – wrapping the subs in wax paper, complete with the toothpick sticking through it! Oh, man, we are truly transported back to those West Virginia hills that we love so well — if only for a moment in time!

Robin

Robin gives the sign of approval!

Homemade WV subs made with loving care!

Homemade WV subs (small size) made with loving care!

Janie and Delma

Everyone helped, except the guys, and they just reaped the rewards!

Sonja

Sonja started preparations the day before!

Trilla and Delma

Three dozen small size subs were prepared and almost all were eaten at once!

If you ever find yourself in the vicinity of Pineville, West Virginia, do yourself a favor and pull up to the Pinnacle Drive-In and place your order – submarine or hot dog! You won’t be disappointed!

You’ll find this little eatery on Rt. 16 and Pinnacle Avenue in Pineville, WV, phone 304-732-7785. If you’re looking for an awesome, picturesque setting for a nearby vacation get-away, try Twin Falls Lodge, which is located in Twin Falls State Park just up the road.

Twin Falls

Until next time, this is yours truly, with all my memories old and new of the Pinnacle Drive-In subs…priceless!

 

Antiquing in Livingston with the Three Foodies

Fun Americana Day!

The Three Foodies take in the Courthouse Whistle Stop

The Three Foodies take in the Courthouse Whistle Stop

Three friends, each from different countries and culture, yet we came together in friendship to share our love of food, life and the good ol’ USA.

After our previous daytrip outings to sample Indian cuisine at Bombay Sizzler in Spring, Texas, and Filipino food from Sarap Pinoy Restaurant in Humble, Texas, the Three Foodies were up for some local East Texas fare. We may be in what people consider the southwest, but there’s plenty of southern cooking going on here, too!

So we set the date, and off to Livingston we went. In less than one hour we were shopping at Downtown Treasures Antiques, while waiting to have a leisurely lunch next door at the Courthouse Whistle Stop!

The Courthouse Whistle Stop is aptly named, as it sits directly across the street from the Polk County Courthouse in Livingston, and the railroad passes by the courthouse, as well. Their serving dishes are vintage plates and saucers, none of them matching, which lends to a very down-home, country feel.

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From the menu, I ordered the southern-style appetizers for our group, such as fried green tomatoes, fried okra and jalapeno poppers. For our meals, each ordered a different dish, including chicken and dressing (a casserole recipe), grilled chicken sandwich, chicken tenders and chicken Alfredo. Yes, we ate lots of chicken! But the appetizers were what set the stage! We talked about old movies, such as “Fried Green Tomatoes” and “Steel Magnolias.”

The view from our table inside the Courthouse Whistle Stop

The view from our table inside the Courthouse Whistle Stop

Joining us for lunch was a good friend from Onalaska, Nita. My vehicle was full of donations that were delivered to Nita to benefit a favorite local Onalaska charity, Kids’ Free Clothing Exchange (KFCE), which serves the clothing needs of struggling families from seven surrounding counties. So, today was a good day all around!

After lunch, the Three Foodies explored enticing antique stores along Highway 59-S to look for more “treasures.” We found trinkets, gems and more at Junk in the Trunk, West Lake Antiques  and Antiques and More Consignor’s Mall. Arceli found a treasure — a sterling silver blue topaz ring, and for a very reasonable price. I had to drive back a few days later to buy the framed Egyptian papyrus that I spotted that day and should have bought, but didn’t. These things often happen when you’re antiquing or flea-market shopping. It’s all part of the adventure!

Looking for treasures at Antiques and More Consignor's Mall

Looking for treasures at Antiques and More Consignor’s Mall

On our way back, we stopped for dessert at the Happy Days Diner on S-59 at Shepherd. We were hoping for pie, but found cobbler instead! Arceli and I tried two: pecan cobbler and the blackberry one! Both were toppled with soft-serve ice cream! Shalni stuck with the ice cream.

Shalni and Arceli are happy at Happy Days Diner in Shepherd, Texas.

Shalni and Arceli are happy at Happy Days Diner in Shepherd, Texas.

 

Another full day of shopping, fun, food and friendship! Now, we’re thinking about where to go next. Shalni wants to take us for more Indian food in Houston – shopping, too, of course!

 

Can’t wait!

Friends, food, shopping — a great combination!

Shopping after lunch at the Spring Antique Gallery!

Shopping after lunch at the Spring Antique Gallery!

Here is how two friends and I became “The Three Foodies!”

I’ve been friends with Arceli, a native of the Philippines, for several years, as she is also my hair stylist at Mills Branch Salon and Spa, which she owns. I met Shalni, a native of Sri Lanka, under different circumstances, when she owned her dry cleaning business near me. The three of us have become “The Three Foodies” for the love of food and of native culture.

Both of these ladies are strong, smart business women, and I admire their personal sense of style; but most of all I love their spirit! We often get together on Arceli’s day off to explore new and exciting foods, and we like to throw in some shopping along the way! Whether it’s antiquing in the Spring area of Houston, in Livingston or the outlet mall on Rt. 290 — we shop like we mean it! Sometimes we find treasures or bargains we can’t live without. Sometimes we just look and celebrate with the other ones who found their perfect something!

It all started one day when we decided that we should plan a day to go try a restaurant featuring Indian food, with Shalni as our guide. Although there are other fine Indian restaurants in Houston proper, for our first outing Shalni took us to  the Bombay Sizzler in nearby Spring, TX. The menu consisted of a wide variety of Indian dishes, which were served buffet style. We tried everything, including a couple of kinds of curry! The meal was complete with a mango lassi! So good!

On our way home, we happened to be passing by The Antique Gallery of Houston in Spring, so I mentioned that it would be a good way to spend the afternoon. We were there at least two or three hours but only made it through approximately half of the gallery! Next time we plan to search the other half!

Our next outing will be to find some local food of the Philippines!

The Three Foodies discover Bombay Sizzler!

The Three Foodies discover Bombay Sizzler!

Enjoying the Mango Lassi!

Enjoying the Mango Lassi!