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Natural Bridge and Lexington circa 1957

As seen on my main blog…  Sorry for the rerun, but this blog is read by different people than the main blog is.

A very interesting film made in 1957 about my family’s American home… Special thanks to my friend, Joann, for posting this fascinating video about Natural Bridge and Lexington, Virginia.  

 

I have mentioned before that I come from Virginia. My family has been in Virginia since the early 1700s.  The earliest relative I’ve found in Virginia was a man named Johann Tolley, who came to Virginia from Hamburg, Germany.

Johann Tolley evidently fathered the people in my family who eventually settled in Rockbridge County.  Rockbridge County is kind of in the west central part of the state, in the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains.  Although I have been visiting Natural Bridge and its environs my whole life, I did not grow up there myself.  I was born and mostly raised not far from Williamsburg and Jamestown, Virginia, clear across the state.

Because my dad was an Air Force officer, the family he made with my mother was nomadic.  My parents spent the first 24 years of their marriage moving to different towns, mostly in the southern United States, but occasionally in other countries.  I was born during their fourteenth year of marriage, so I missed a lot of the moves and didn’t have any sense until the bitter end of my dad’s military career.

The one place that has always been a constant in my life has been Natural Bridge.  I’m pretty sure my family has lived in the same creekside house since at least the 1940s.  I’m not sure what’s going to happen when my aunt and uncle pass on.  I hope someone in the family will keep the house.  It’s a special place that is mostly full of wonderful memories.

Granny’s house… where my dad grew up.  There is a creek that runs in front of the house and another one that runs perpendicular to it on the left.

Down by the creek…

After a rare November snow in 2014… when I last visited.

Another shot up the hill.  I pray this house never leaves our family.  The street it’s on was named after my grandfather.

My family as of 2014.  Sadly, a couple of the people in the photo are no longer with us.  I think we’re missing about twenty people, too.  The Mormons have nothing on us.

 

The family church, High Bridge Presbyterian.  This is where we held my dad’s memorial service.

 

Many of my relatives are buried here, including my dad, who was moved about two years after he was initially buried at Granny’s house.

 

Goshen Pass, which is very close to Lexington and where Bill and I honeymooned…  It’s also kind of where we fell in love, the weekend before 9/11.  That’s another story, though.

My friend, Joann, who originally posted the above video, lives in Lexington, Virginia.  Lexington is about ten miles from Natural Bridge.  It has sort of a special place in my heart because not only is a super cute town, it’s also where many of my family members went to college or worked. It’s also where Bill and I got married in 2002.  Before the area was taken over by transplants from up north and out west, it was mostly settled by Scots-Irish Presbyterians.  According to 23 and Me, that is surely enough the lion’s share of my genetic makeup.  I was raised Presbyterian, too.

The video is interesting viewing for me, since my parents who are/were both from that area got married the year it was made.  Mom was 19 and Dad was 24.  They had lived in Rockbridge County their whole lives.  My dad finished his degree at Virginia Military Institute in 1956 and immediately became an Air Force officer.  The following year, he married my mom and they left the area for good, only to come back for visits.  My dad is now buried in the graveyard at the family church.  Originally,  he was buried on a hillside at the house where he grew up with his eight brothers and sisters, but my mom had him moved.  I guess she realized that house might not always be in family hands.

Another reason why that video is interesting is because it basically reflects the ethos of the 1950s.  The story is told from the Natural Bridge’s viewpoint.  It explains how the area used to be populated by “red men”, also known as Native Americans.  The Bridge explains that it tried to explain to the natives that it was created by God.  Alas, they worshiped the Bridge as a Pagan God, even though the Bridge tried to explain that it was the Christian God who created it.  The Bridge sounds almost grateful as it explains that white Christian settlers eventually moved into the area in 1737.  The white Christians “got it right’.  (I’m being facetious, here.)

Based on the video, a lot of great people came from Rockbridge County.  Even Sam Houston, who eventually went on to be the namesake of Houston, Texas, was born in Rockbridge County.  I never knew that.  It’s actually pretty interesting, given the impact Sam Houston had in Texas.  In fact, reading about Sam Houston is uniquely fascinating, given his family history in Scotland and Ireland.  I was just in Northern Ireland a few months ago and we stopped in Larne.  There is a plaque there commemorating the history of the Houston family before they moved to Virginia.

Sam Houston also moved on the Maryville, Tennesee when he was fourteen years old.  I have not been to Maryville, but I do have a couple of friends who attended Maryville College and one who moved back to the town after she retired from teaching at my alma mater, Longwood University.  I also lived in Texas for a year… and Bill spent several years there and graduated high school in Houston.  I’m amazed at how all of these places are interconnected with Rockbridge County, which even today is still pretty rural.  Although a lot of new people have moved there, there is still a core of people descended from the original settlers.

I’m not sure why, but somehow when I was growing up, I never realized or appreciated the deep connection my family has to Virginia, especially Rockbridge County.  I think it’s because I was a military brat, even though I spent most of my growing up years in Gloucester County.  Gloucester is another one of those places where people settled and stayed, much like Rockbridge County is.

There were several last names there that would always come up at roll call in school.  A lot of them were the children of people from England who had stayed after the Revolutionary War, which was won in nearby Yorktown.  In the early 80s, Gloucester was still so rural that people who moved there were “come heres” and never really got the sense of community that the locals had.  My parents owned at house in Gloucester for about 30 years, but it still doesn’t seem like home, even though it’s probably the one place in the world where I feel sure I could get help immediately if I ever needed it.  I still have a lot of friends who live there.

I didn’t appreciate Virginia when I was younger.  I used to fantasize about moving somewhere else, where the people and the scenery were different.  Now, as much as I like Germany, I’m starting to think about going “home” to Virginia.  Maybe I would only go there to visit, though… I’m not sure if I want to die in my home state or even if circumstances will allow it.

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In Germany now…

We arrived in Frankfurt at about 8:30am local time.  It’s now 6:00pm.  Bill and I arrived in the Stuttgart area (Mohringen) at about 1:30 or so…  I was intensely irritable, tired, and hungry, even though our flight was pretty decent for a transatlantic on a commercial airline.  It took us awhile to get our bags, though the dogs were waiting for us in baggage claim like last time.  They were locked in their carriers, which were reinforced by zip ties.  Since we didn’t have access to anything sharp at that point, I had to leave them in there while they cried a bit.

I gotta hand it to the dogs.  They were very good at both the Houston and Frankfurt airports.  In fact, they were utterly charming in Houston.  In Frankfurt, they whimpered and whined a little, raising the eyebrows and the concerns of a few passers by.  They were nothing like Flea and MacGregor, though, who accompanied us on our last German tour.  Flea, in particular, was very vocal at the airport.  Come to think of it, MacGregor was good…  he just happened to be accompanying the very loud and obnoxious (yet lovable) Flea.

We had no issues whatsoever going through customs.  We were told we’d have to pay a fee, but when the customs people heard we were from the United States, they told us just to come on through.  Awesome.  Also, we thought we’d have to pay $800 for the dogs, but it turned out we only paid $400, because they went by their weight instead of the size of their carriers.  So things are off to a good start.  Incidentally, I have to hand it to the Houston Airport TSA, for being so good to our pups, and to Lufthansa Airlines, for just being way better than any American carriers I’ve been on.

After securing a car, which wasn’t quite large enough for our luggage and the dog carriers, we took off from the airport, then stopped at the first nasty rest stop off the autobahn.  I let the dogs pee and Bill took apart their carriers, which were eating up a lot of space.  No one at the car rental place bothered to help him set the GPS, so he was trying to fiddle with that.  I got increasingly bitchy as we rolled down the highway because my blood sugar was in the basement and I was struggling to stay awake.  Although Lufthansa’s food wasn’t bad for airline fare, it was still airline fare.  I didn’t eat much of it, so I was hungry.

We are at Hotel Flora, which is a small place in a residential area of Mohringen, the town nearest to Kelley Barracks.  That is where Bill will be working.  Last time, he was in Vaihingen, which is where Patch Barracks is.  I am familiar with Patch and Panzer (everyone is), but Kelley is pretty new to me. I think I only went on there one or two times when we were in Stuttgart.

After we checked into the hotel, I took a shower, brushed my teeth, and crashed for about four hours. I was awakened by the sound of a family playing together after Sunday dinner.  I guess that’s preferable to the sound of a hysterical woman screaming into her cell phone, which is what Bill heard when were at the hotel in San Antonio.  It’s hard to believe we’ve only been in Germany for ten hours and we were just in Texas yesterday.

Tomorrow, Bill goes to work for the first time since April.  We also start our housing hunt.  Wish us luck!

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Another outstanding meal at Saveurs 209…

Yesterday, I was really bored and wanted to go out to dinner.  I thought about all the new dresses in my closet and how badly I needed a new Facebook profile picture.  I usually replace my profile photos when I put on makeup and look presentable.  Bill came to my office and asked if I’d be okay with burgers for dinner.  I blurted out, “I want to go out!”

Bill looked a little chagrined.  I think he was thinking about the cost of a nice meal and the fact that he’d pulled the ground beef out and didn’t want it to turn.  Bill asked where I wanted to go out and I said I wanted to go downtown… perhaps to Saveurs 209.  I saw Bill cringe as he considered the traffic involved with going downtown.  Then I said, “I want to put on a dress.”

Bill and me, dressed to the nines…

Bill relented and made reservations.  I got all pretty.  We went downtown and much to my delight, when we stepped into the restaurant, were immediately recognized!  The last time we went to Saveurs 209 was for Thanksgiving!  I told our host, Sylvain, that we’d been meaning to get back to their restaurant.

We were seated and proceeded to enjoy a wonderful authentic French meal for the third time in San Antonio.  Here are some photos from our delightful dinner!

Bill peruses the menu…

I had a glass of champagne– Piper Heidsieck, to be exact.  Bill ordered a very nice chenin blanc to go with our seafood heavy meal. The wine had a strong mineral taste, kind of like a chablis.  It was a good choice.  We enjoyed very fresh baguette bread with equally fresh butter…  

A velvety smooth chilled gazpacho amuse– avocado, green pepper, green onion, cucumber and, I would swear lime, though I didn’t hear that mentioned in the list of ingredients.   It was very refreshing!

My asparagus salad.  It was served with Parmesan cheese and San Daniele Proscuitto.  I love how this salad looks, but it also tasted very good.  The asparagus was firm and flavorful and the Parmesan and prosciutto added a delicately salty flavor.

Bill was eyeing a fish soup, but I talked him into the Comte cheese soufflé, which came with a small salad with walnuts and vinaigrette.  I would have ordered this myself, but cheese is kind of a hit or miss thing with me.  Very strong cheeses are a turn off.  I’m happy to report that this starter was delicious… not too strong and very comforting.  I would order it if it’s available during our next visit (but I bet it won’t be– they change the menus frequently!)

For dinner, I had lobster with green peas, tomatoes and mint pesto.  The lobster was very generously portioned and delicious…  It was garnished delicately with roe.  The mint and peas complemented the lobster very well.  I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes, but the two included with this dish were flavorful and succulent.  They also added a dramatic dash of color to the dish, making it look like a work of art.

Bill had halibut with asparagus and roe…  I tasted the halibut, which seemed delicately poached.  It was tender and moist, cooked to perfection.

Dessert!  Bill ordered for me while I was in the restroom and I ended up with a dreaded lava cake…  Actually, it was a nice dessert, served warm with vanilla ice cream.  I have nothing against lava cake, except that everyone is doing that now!  I was hoping for a chocolate biscuit with raspberry ganache and chocolate chips.  Oh well… I didn’t refuse the dessert!  Bill had a very interesting streusel with strawberries and pistachios.  

 

Bill and I finished with a round of espresso.  We basked in the afterglow of a delightful meal.  Afterwards, we chatted a bit with Sylvain, telling him how much we love Europe and that we hope to be there next week.  Where exactly we’ll end up is still “up in the air”, but there’s a good chance we could go to France.  If we do, this meal will make an excellent kick off to our vacation.  In all, our meal cost just under $200.  It was definitely worth every penny.  Bill tipped 20%, which brought our total to about $240.

I also told Sylvain that if Bill doesn’t get a job soon, I might have to approach him for a job waiting tables!  I was half kidding.  His eyebrows raised when I told him about my experiences working at The Trellis, restaurant that for over 30 years, was owned by Marcel Desaulniers, a French American chef who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.  I told him how stressful it was to work in that place, because we learned how to serve food properly.  It took me a long while to get it right, but I finally did… and now, thanks to Marcel, I appreciate good food and good service.  And thanks to Europe, I appreciate the fantastic unhurried experience one can have at Saveurs 209.  If we can’t live in Europe anymore, we can at least enjoy European people.

I think Saveurs 209 is probably the only authentic French restaurant in the San Antonio area.  It is also the only “nice” restaurant Bill and I have visited three times.  And if we don’t move out of the area, we’ll definitely be back.  If you are inclined to dine on French cuisine and you happen to be in San Antonio, I highly recommend Saveurs 209.

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Our afternoon at Big Hops Gastropub, San Antonio, Texas…

Bill decided he wanted to go out for lunch today, so off we went to the brand new Big Hops Gastropub.  Prior to opening the Gastropub, Big Hops was known as a “growler station”.  You could go there and fill up on exotic craft beers.  Bill heard about them opening a restaurant and decided we needed to check it out.

First impressions…  We seated ourselves at a table and I immediately noticed the great music.  They were playing classic rock, which goes great with American craft beers.  Everything here in is on draft and from the USA.  But don’t come here looking for Lone Star or Shiner Bock.  These beers come from smaller breweries.

Bill checks out the computer monitor for beer choices.  There are two of them on the walls.  Some say they are hard to read, but we didn’t have any trouble.

The menu.

A shot of the beer menu on the wall.

My first beer.  This was a Schwarzbier from Live Oak Brewery.  Quite nice!  I like the little beer keg glass, too.

Caedmon’s Ale from BS Brewing for Bill…

The waitress talked us into these insanely delicious Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Curds.  They were $10, served with house made ranch dressing.  Sinful and addictive as hell.  We did bring about a third of them home.

Bill’s Korean BBQ served on a steam bun.  It had cucumbers and pickled cabbage.  He liked it.

My Tinga… Basically chicken in a spicy sauce with onions, cheese, tostadas, and a side of sour cream. I couldn’t eat all of this.  It was very spicy and I had filled up on the curds.

Bill’s Odell 90 Schilling Scotch Ale.  He wasn’t that impressed with this…

Prairie Ale’s Vanilla Noir… $10, served in a snifter, and 12.5% ABV.  Positively awesome!  I am loving Oklahoma’s Prairie Ales.

Someone got cute in the ladies room…  Not me.

My third beer… a Deschutes Black Butte Porter.  This was a nice way to cap off our first trip to Big Hops.

We left with two 32 ounce growlers.  

Enjoying the Stone right now…  We spent about $100, including the two 32 ounce growlers, lunch, and lots o’ beer.

All in all, we really enjoyed visiting Big Hops.  We had a good server who knew the menu and the beers very well.  She was laid back and not stressed and I was impressed that she knew about Prairie Ale’s Bomb, which is fucking fantastic.  The atmosphere was not all that exciting, but I did like the beers on offer and the music– nice mix of heavy metal and classic rock with a few TVs showing sports.  The food is good, but be warned that there’s not anything on the menu that is vegan friendly.  Vegetarians might also be challenged.  Big Hops doesn’t take American Express and is discontinuing a couple of items on the menu.  Still, I think in time, this is going to be a very happening place in San Antonio.  I bet we’ll be back.

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Our trip to Blue Star Brewing Company in San Antonio…

If you read today’s Overeducated Housewife post, you know that last night Bill and I met up with one of Bill’s former co-workers and his wife.  Bill and I had been wanting to try Blue Star Brewing Company near downtown San Antonio.  A friend of ours from Houston who is into craft beers kept telling us to try it.  So we finally took the plunge last night…

This is a photo of the front of the restaurant…

 

Blue Star Brewing is in a small artsy community.  I noticed a couple of other bars/restaurants nearby and art galleries.  We didn’t take the time to go exploring, since our companions were going to be joining us.  Upon entering the restaurant, we were asked if we preferred indoor or outdoor seating.  Since it was a beautiful evening, we opted to sit outside.  We sat at a picnic table with a nice view of the Riverwalk.

The menu.

 

We perused the menu while we waited for our friends.  There were several tempting looking dishes being offered.  Blue Star has a number of burgers that are made with bison and beef.  They have salads, barbecue, some Tex/Mex inspired dishes, and other comfort foods.

A Raspberry Geyser

 

The first beer I tried was the very refreshing and somewhat low boozed Raspberry Geyser.  It had 3.8% ABV.  This beer is no doubt popular with the ladies as it doesn’t taste much like beer.  It’s more like a Belgian lambic.  I found it very refreshing and it was probably my favorite beer of all those I tried last night.  The waitress did offer to bring me a taste before I ordered, but I decided I’d take a chance.

Bill’s Flying Pig Extra Pale Ale was a hit.  It was crisp, refreshing, and hoppy.

Our friends arrived as we were enjoying the first round.  We ordered hummus to snack on while we decided on dinner.  The hummus was good, but the bread was a little hard.  I was worried about eating too much of it because I just had a crown prep done and didn’t want to break my temporary crown… or any teeth!  More veggies would have been nice, since there was a lot of hummus, but not much to eat it with.

My second beer.  This was called Close Encounter.  It’s a sour beer made with prunes and tamarind.  Bill was put off by the prunes, but it was a nice beer that came in at 4.8% ABV.  I would have liked a bigger glass.  A snifter is fine with a really strong beer that knocks you on your ass, but this didn’t seem to warrant the small glass it came in.

I had fish and chips.  The fries were good– garlicky with just enough salt.  The fish was fine, though it doesn’t rival anything you’d find in England.  It arrived to me a little cool, as if it had sat for a bit.

Bill enjoyed his pulled pork sandwich.  I didn’t taste it.  

 

I also tried the Texican lager, but forgot to take a photo of it.  That’s just as well, since I thought it was the least interesting of all the beers I tried.  It arrived to my table with almost no head and was a bit on the watery side.  At 4% ABV, it’s not too strong… but I didn’t think the flavor was all that inspiring.  It makes for a nice hot weather beer, though.  It will probably rehydrate you better than a boozier beer will.

The stout was yummy!

I wasn’t so put off by the Texican to skip trying the Spire Stout with dessert.  This stout went very well with the chocolate cake.  In fact, I probably should have just had two stouts and skipped the cake.  It wasn’t all that great.  Bill had the cheesecake, though, which was nice.  It wasn’t too sweet or super heavy, which made it pleasant on a warm March evening.  In all, the bill for Bill and me came to about $83 before the tip.

A couple of quick shots of the inside of the restaurant.  I was trying not to be too conspicuous.

The bar area looked inviting.  

I enjoyed the snarky signs posted around Blue Star’s parking area.  You can park yourself or use the complimentary valet.  We used the valet.

 

Blue Star rents bikes or you can take one of the ones the city rents.  I’m impressed with San Antonio for copying Europe and offering public bikes.  I would have probably enjoyed a Riverwalk stroll too, if we hadn’t already been out for a few hours and our two dogs didn’t need a pee break.

When we got home, there was a big truck parked outside our house.  Not two minutes after we entered our dwelling, the doorbell rang.  It was two Hispanic guys who were probably looking for the previous tenants.  They weren’t threatening.  Probably were hoping for a crash pad.  It made Bill nervous, though.

All in all, last night was a lot of fun.  I’d go back to Blue Star Brewery, though there are other craft brewers whose beers have impressed me more.  Also, while service was friendly and accurate, it was a bit on the slow side.  But we weren’t in a hurry and we weren’t rushed, so I can overlook that for a Saturday evening.

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Silo Elevated Cuisine… Alamo Heights

I recently purchased three new dresses.  Why I purchased them, I don’t really know.  I don’t really have a need for them, since Bill and I don’t go out on “dates” that often.  They are a little too sexy for a workplace, not that I plan to be in one anytime soon.  And if Bill doesn’t find a job, we will be too poor for dates anyway.  But anyway, we did decide to go out last night, so I wore my new navy blue dress.  I looked like this…

Yes, there was a little retouching on this photo.  Other than that, though, it’s all me.

 

We decided to try Silo Elevated Cuisine in Alamo Heights.  Silo also has a second location on 1604 Loop, a big road not far from where we live.  Alamo Heights is apparently the original location.  The other one on 1604 is in a rather upscale strip mall, while the Alamo Heights location is in kind of a yucky part of San Antonio, right before you get to the nicer, older neighborhoods.  One thing I immediately liked about Silo was that there was plenty of free parking.  Valet parking is also available behind the building.

We got a little turned around.  Silo is at the rear of the building, but there’s also a small plates restaurant called Nosh at the front that is probably owned by the same folks.  I actually liked the looks of Nosh and would happily try it one day.  They had lots of Belgian beer, which always impresses me.  We passed through Silo’s rather cool but mostly unattended bar area to get to the restaurant and met a pretty hostess who checked us in.  To get to Silo’s dining room, you have to take an elevator up one floor.  I guess that’s why they call it “elevated cuisine”.  Cute.

The dining room was a bit dimly lit and I could hear some cheesy music playing over the sound system.  I would have preferred something a little more avant garde or dynamic or even new age.  A man met us at the elevator and seated us at a two-top right next to a table for four.  I noticed Silo’s dining room is kind of small and there aren’t a lot of intimate places to sit.  Booths are in short supply.  No matter.  Bill and I wouldn’t be doing anything naughty anyway.  I got a view of the open kitchen and the wait staff, while Bill got to watch people coming on and off the elevator.

Our waiter’s name was Barney and he was obviously practiced at his craft.  He delivered his specials perfectly from memory.  I was silently applauding him, since I used to struggle with that when I waited tables.  Bill ordered a bottle of wine and I asked for a glass of champagne while we perused the menu.  At around this time, the lights kept going up and down.  I told Bill that at the restaurant where I once worked, when the lights went down, the prices went up about 50%.

I love getting a little bottle of champagne…

This was the wine Bill selected.  It was okay, though not particularly exciting.

 

Silo has a prix fixed menu that offers two courses for $29.  You can get a third course with a $3 supplement.  It’s a pretty good deal, since several of the dishes on the a la carte menu are available.  Bill and I decided to skip the prix fixe menu, though, and try something more adventurous.

I started with a spinach salad.  It had a sherry vinaigrette, raspberries, dried apricots, and applewood smoked bacon.  It was garnished with “crispy brie”, which was really just a fancy name for a cheese stick.  I really enjoyed the brie, though I wasn’t all that impressed by the way the salad was presented.  It was like a pile of leaves with layers of stuff under them.  It tasted good, though, and is keeping me regular.

Bill had the soup of the day, which was a white bean with bacon and Swiss chard.  It was very good, though it reminded me a little of Bean with Bacon soup.  Note the bread, which was outstanding.  There was wheat and some kind of cheese bread in there.  Yum!

For dinner, I had a pork shank with green chile “mac n’ cheese”, spinach, and some kind of creme fraiche.  This was way too much for me to finish, but I was impressed with how it fell off the bone.  It was garnished with a tasty cherry sauce which complemented the meat very well.  I look forward to enjoying the leftovers later.

 

About halfway through our meal, three ladies sat at the four top next to our table.  I could see they were eyeing our entrees.

Bill had the special, which was lamb.  It came with mashed Yukon gold potatoes, carrots, and spinach.  I don’t like lamb much, but I tasted his and it was very tender, smokey, and flavorful.  If not for the slightly gamey taste all lamb seems to have, I might have preferred his dish to mine.

For dessert, I had vanilla bean cheesecake.  It was absolutely delicious… not too heavy or dense.

Bill had the signature “toasted coconut pie”, which had a crust made of Belgian chocolate painted macadamia nuts.  It was really yummy, though I think I liked the cheesecake better.  It wasn’t as sweet as the coconut pie was.  Bill said Barney “didn’t oversell it”.

As the ladies sat at the table next to ours, a couple at a four top on the other side of us were telling their waiter what they did and didn’t like.  The lady sounded as critical as I am.  😉

Outside of the restaurant.

We spent about $185 before the tip.  Barney gave us outstanding service, so Bill tipped him accordingly.  I thought Silo was worth the money and would definitely go back.  It was great to get out last night.  I hope we can do it again soon.

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Old West Burgers, San Antonio, Texas…

I decided I wanted to go out and try a different burger joint today.  Bill and I decided to go to Old West Burgers in the Shavano Park area of San Antonio off the 1604 Loop.  I had noticed this place from the car last time we drove past that area.  It has a very simple Web site which is pretty much just the menu, but I had read some reviews of the place that made it sound appealing and different.

We walked in at about 2:30pm and a friendly guy behind the counter welcomed us and asked how he could help us.  I said we’d never been there before, so he gave us a quick lowdown on what they had to offer.  They specialize in burgers and offer everything from the regular beef burgers to chicken to even vegan varieties.  They also offer salads.  I really wanted a burger so I ordered the guacamole burger ($7.99), while Bill got the jalapeño burger ($7.99).  All burgers come with fries, but if you want to pay a little more (99 cents), you can get tater tots or sweet potato fries.  Bill got regular fries but I got the tater tots.  Then we each ordered beers.  Old West Burgers has a pretty good selection, especially of Texas beers.

I had a Santos…

Bill had a Ballast Point IPA…

Nice bar area overlooks a pleasant outdoor seating area… There’s also a playground for kids.

Huge projection TV!

Modern country music blared over the sound system as we looked around at the spacious dining room.  There was only one other couple sitting in the restaurant, so our food was up pretty quickly.

Guacamole burger with tater tots… It was absolutely delicious, juicy, with excellent homemade, fresh rolls.  The tater tots were also very good.  I struggled to finish the sandwich, but was feeling good when I was finished.

Jalapeño burger had a cheese and jalapeño bun, also homemade, as well as jalapeño peppers on top.  Bill pronounced it outstanding.

A view of the back wall.

The shopping center where this place is located… 4553 N.W. Loop 1604 

Bill and I could definitely see ourselves going back for another burger at Old West Burgers.  The service was fast and friendly and the burgers were very satisfying.  I especially loved the buns.  It’s not so easy to get there, but it was definitely worth the trip.  I think Chester’s Hamburger Company has a better beer selection, but I definitely preferred the burgers and fries offered at Old West Burgers.  I’m glad I got the urge for an outing!  Looks like they also have events.

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anecdotes, international moves

Texas or Germany?

I have a feeling that once Bill retires, we’ll end up staying in Texas.  But really, we could end up anywhere.  For the first time in our marriage, our next station will largely be our choice.  Well, it’ll be our choice to the point that we can go wherever there is appropriate work available.

Bill has contacts in several places.  We could conceivably end up in North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, or even Germany.  Bill found a job in Stuttgart that he’s a very good fit for.  He hesitates to apply for jobs now because retirement is a few months off.  I say he needs to circulate his resume now.  It takes time to find work.  That was true even in the dark ages when I was looking.

I don’t really want to go back to Virginia because I have spent most of my life trying to get out of there. It is my home, though, and living there would put me close to friends and family.  On the other hand, I kind of like not living so close to family.  North Carolina would be okay, though we would probably choose a different area than where we were living before.

Texas is okay except there are so damn many people here.  Just driving around this city, you see so many houses on zero lots, packed in so tightly.  Yes, there’s work here, but it’s not a place that feels like home to me.  Nevertheless, we’re looking for a place that might be a good place to settle.  Texas offers some really nice benefits to Texas veterans, including home loans.  Given that Bill’s ex wife screwed him out of his VA benefits, this is a great opportunity for us.

So we’ll see…  But given my ‘druthers, we’d move back to Germany for a few years and save up some money so we can buy a house.  I don’t feel ready to buy a home now, even though it’s supposedly a good time to do so.

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Uncategorized

Dallas or Austin?

Last night, I was sitting here thinking about which Texas city I’d like to explore over a weekend.  I am really not very familiar at all with Texas and am not sure how I like living here.  So I asked my Facebook friends if I should visit Austin or Dallas (and one person suggested Houston).  Overwhelmingly, the vote was for Austin.  Bill and I did visit Austin over the summer, but we didn’t really do anything there.  We just drove around and looked at the place… it was too hot and sultry to get out and find what makes the city so popular.

Austin is not at all far from San Antonio.  Dallas, on the other hand, is a bit of a hike.  One of my friends described Dallas as “high falutin'”… kind of a junior league sort of place.  It sounds like it doesn’t have a lot of character, yet a lot of people live there because there are jobs there and that’s where the Cowboys have a big stadium.

Bill went to high school in Houston and that’s where he met his horrible ex wife.  He says it’s a big, booming city… hot and humid in the summer.  I have never really been there, though I have driven through it as we made our way to San Antonio.  I imagine we will get there at some point, since Bill has family there… so do I, now that I think about it.

So anyway, Austin is probably more my kind of place than Dallas is.  It has many brewpubs, great restaurants, music venues, and weird people.  I can get onboard with any city with the slogan “Keep Austin Weird”.  Maybe we’ll get there soon for a much needed break from San Antonio.  I am in need of some travel so I’ll have something new to write about.

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restaurant reviews, San Antonio, Texas

Mexican…

I needed to get out of the house this afternoon, so I asked Bill if he’d like to go downtown and have some Mexican food at our favorite downtown Mexican restaurant.  This was our third time at this place, right on the Riverwalk, and once again it didn’t disappoint.  The first time we went to this restaurant, it was 2007 and my first time in San Antonio.  We went there for dinner and sat out on the terrace.  Then in July, we went back and chatted with the bartender, who served us again today.

There was a game in downtown San Antonio today, so that backed up traffic.  We had a heck of a time finding parking.  Once we did, we walked around the Riverwalk to the restaurant.

I had a couple of these… they were very potent and refreshing.

Bill had tostadas with chili while I had the quesadilla appetizer.  It was huge and we both had leftovers.  Then we had tres leches cake for dessert…

 

I was really enjoying our late lunch here.  The bartender is very personable and a great host.  The food is good.  And they were playing great 80s music.  It was like being in high school again with lots of New Wave and progressive songs from my teen days.  Better yet, the price is right.  We ate for about $15 each, including booze.  They have free parking, though we didn’t take advantage of it during this visit.

The weather today was kind of cool and overcast, but the Riverwalk was crowded and teeming with tourists.  It was nice to get out, though.  I think we’ll have to go back to our Mexican place again soon.

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