6 Unique Glamping Experiences to Book this Fall

 

Though  COVID travel precautions and requirements are slowly leaving, several people are still leery of traveling. So, I compiled a list of 6 beautiful, unique glamping ideas to allow you to travel while still keeping your distance from the masses.

The below properties are located across basically every region in the contiguous US. So, it’s likely you’ll find one within a decent driving distance from your home. Without further ado, here’s my suggestions of 6 unique glamping experiences to book this Fall.

 

1. The Spyglass: Fredericksburg, TX

This unique structure is part of multiple dwellings on a property near downtown Fredericksburg. Visitors say it’s close enough to enjoy downtown while still feeling like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

The Spyglass’s cylindrical build is very astonishing, and the interior design is no different. Starting with the built in hot tub, to the kitchenette and the bathroom, it’s like a luxury suite in the woods.

Be sure to check out the other properties on the grounds with the Spyglass as well. They were all constructed to amaze!

 

2. Getaway House: New Orleans

One of Getaway House’s newest outposts, Getaway Homochitto, opened to guests in January 2022. Actually located 2 hours outside of New Orleans in Meadville, MS, this destination is perfect for those needing to disconnect for a while.

There’s no wi-fi, and cell service isn’t guaranteed. A lockbox is even available for you to place your phone during your stay to ensure you have no distractions and can fully enjoy this experience.

 

3. Cloud Dome Treehouse: Campton, KY

You can knock off 2 glamping bucket list items by staying at the Cloud Dome Treehouse, which is a geodesic dome as well as a treehouse nestled high in the canopy of trees at the Red River Gorge in Campton, KY.

This dwelling is actually part of a treehouse village called Dome Town, which consists of 3 domes connected by rope bridges. Cloud Dome is the highest, hence the name. However, each dome has a unique view of the stunning gorge.

 

4. Willow Treehouse: Willow, WY

A one of a kind, geometric, custom built guest house imagined by Antony Gibbon Designs, the Willow Treehouse is a highly sought after getaway destination. It’s a lofted property just 15 minutes away from Woodstock, NY, and overlooks a pond.

The sleeping loft has windows on 3 sides as well as a nearby skylight, supplying you with a nearly 360 degree view of the land. It’s advised to pack lightly since you’ll be walking into the property as well as climbing up to the sleeping loft.

Also, this place sells out fast. So unfortunately, it may already be booked for the year by the time this post goes live.

 

5. The Missing Peace Chalet: Innsbrook, MO

The “Missing Peace” is an A-frame chalet located near 2 lakes (Aspen and St Gallen). Enjoy the Innsbrook leaves in the Fall, ice skating in the winter, and festivals in the summer.

The chalet holds up to 5 guests, with 3 beds (one being a sofa bed). So, it would be great for families.

 

6. ShangriLaLa Tiny House: Topanga, CA

Nestled in a sanctuary garden, the ShangriLaLa provides the perfect balance of indoor/outdoor living. The floor to ceiling windows make the home feel much more open, and the outdoor bathroom gives you the feeling of a tropical escape.

Due to the long, unrailed pathway leading to the house, guests are encouraged to pack light to ease their walk. This location is also not accessible to wheelchairs.

 

I hope you enjoyed my list of 6 unique glamping experiences to book in 2022. If so, stay tuned for my list of breathtaking rental houses across the US coming soon.

Have you visits any unique glamping or camping sights? Let me know in the comments.

 

Photos courtesy of Airbnb.

 

 

Ask a Local: Things to Do in New York City

 

William and I are visiting New York for the first time and want to squeeze in as many activities as possible during our trip. I was searching must see attractions, restaurants, you name it. Then I thought why not ask someone who actually lives there?? So, I did just that.

I asked my friend Joyce of JoyofMyLife a few questions about things to do in New York City and thought I’d share her answers with you.

 

 

 

Joyce is a content creator from New York. Her YouTube channel, JoyofMyLife, started as a fun way to make videos but has now become a platform where she ultimately wants to empower  her audience to embrace what makes them unique!

As a Black woman working in the tech industry by day, Joyce strives to show on JoyofMyLife that developers or coders don’t have to fit the typical stereotype and can still be successful while having outside interests like fashion and beauty!

What food spots do you recommend (restaurants, stands, etc.)?

Some places off the top of my head include Il Cortile in Little Italy, Industry Kitchen in South Street Seaport, Tacombi in the Financial District, The Cabin NYC in Alphabet City, and BLVD Bistro in Harlem, but there’s so many different types of food in New York that I don’t think you’ll get bored.

What’s  your favorite side of town or borough?

Hmm, that’s a good question. if I had to pick one, I would say the areas surrounding Union Square – West Village, Chelsea, and Flatiron District..

What’s something tourists think about New York that isn’t true?

Hailing a taxi is not as glamorous as it is in the movies. I can’t remember the last time I was in an actual taxi; I always use the subway or walk if it’s close enough.

 

 

Do you have any touristy guilty pleasures? If so, what?

When I was in high school, I went on a class trip to the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center). It was such a beautiful view, and I have been meaning to go again. So yeah, basically any type of place with a nice skyline view. The Edge is next on my list of touristy things to do. lol 

Is there a #1 must see attraction that you recommend to visitors?

I always say the High Line since it’s more of a leisurely attraction, and you can visit it on a day where you’re not as jam packed with activities. You can decide if you want to walk the entire length or just part of it, and you are also able to see some nice views of the city and the Hudson River.

The South Street Seaport is nice too, with views of the East River and the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

 

Is New York Pizza really that good?

YES! I haven’t found any pizza that is better than New York’s.

What local businesses do you suggest for us to support?

Gooey on the Inside! Such good cookies! 

 

 

I want to thank Joyce for her amazing answers. They definitely added more to our “things to do” list! It was very refreshing to get a local’s point of view instead of reading other tourists tell about their trips and experiences.

I plan to get a local’s suggestions whenever we visit somewhere new from now on. Also, be sure to check out Joyce’s social media outlets. She’s the best! Her links are below.

 

JoyofMyLife

Email: contact@joyofmylife.com

YouTube: YouTube.com/JoyofMyLife

Instagram: Instagram.com/ItsJoyofMyLife

 

ACL Fest 2021 Prep Tips

 

It’s festival season! So here’s some last minute ACL Fest 2021 prep tips to help out this year’s attendees. Keep reading for all the things I wish I knew before going.

 

What to Wear

Of course everyone wants to dress their best, but do yourself a favor and wear comfy cute clothes, like a tank top and shorts. Whatever you do, DON’T WEAR HEELS! I saw it with my own eyes, people not realizing how much walking was involved or that you’re literally out there for an entire day. Save yourself and your feet by just saying no. You may get away with some brands of cowboy boots, but think more like cute sneakers or even something you don’t mind getting dirty.

Consider bringing a towel or bandana because you’re 100% going to sweat, and you’ll need something to wipe it off. You can even wear the bandana as a headband to catch sweat going into your face while still looking kind of cute.

 

Prepare for the Weather

Though ACL Fest is in October, it’s still going to be hot. Plus, there’s literally thousands of people around you putting off massive body heat. So dress light, drink lots of water, and since you’ll be outside for a full day, apply and reapply sunscreen.

There will be stations for you to refill your water bottle. So bring one or purchase one there. Also, not weather related, but don’t try to sneak in alcohol. They will find it!

 

Download the App

The ACL Fest app is very convenient and helps make sure you don’t miss anyone you wanted to see. It shows you who’s performing when on what stage, and you can mark the shows you’re interested in so you don’t forget. It also shows where everything is located, like the water stations, the VIP or GA+ sections, special pop-ups, etc. It’s nice to have, and you can just delete it right after til next year.

 

Free $5 from American Express

If you have an American Express card, you can link it to your wristband and receive a $5 credit to use for food, drinks, merch, whatever! You’ll also be able to use your wristband to make all your purchases while you’re there. So, there’s no need to bring cash or your card to accidentally lose in the sea of people around you.

 

What to Bring

Bring a small backpack or drawstring bag with you to hold water, a towel or bandana, deodorant, a portable charger, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, etc. Yes, you read that correctly. BRING DEODORANT! Again, it’s going to be hot. You’ll more than likely sweat off your deodorant, even your antiperspirant. So, bring it with you to reapply as needed.

You may be able to get free canned or bottled water at some booths. Get it, and put it in your bag for later. Be sure to drink plenty of water while you’re there.

 

Plan for Next Year

Regardless of what wristband level you had this year, I strongly suggest getting the GA+ wristbands. They don’t cost much more than the GA wristbands, and you get access to a shaded sitting area with a huge screen to watch shows while you cool down. In this area, there’s also private air conditioned restrooms, food vendors, and a bar. Oh, and did I mention all the free water you can drink??

I know VIP has more bells and whistles, but if you want to fully experience the actual festival, GA+ is all you need. Just pop into the private section for a bit to rest and recharge. Then, get back out there to enjoy the shows!

 

 

These are just a few tips I wanted to share to make sure you had the best experience possible. Also, remember. If you’re feeling under the weather, please stay home. Yours and everyone else’s health and safety are more important than a wasted wristband or missing some music acts. Stay safe and smart, and hopefully I’ll meet you by the flags at ACL Fest 2022!

 

Commodore Perry Estate: A Texas Getaway

 

During the long weekend for July 4th, we were able to have an overnight staycation at the Commodore Perry Estate here in Austin, TX, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it! It ended up being a rainy day, but we were still able to get the full experience, minus the pool. So, keep reading to find out more about this local treasure that feels like you’re in another country.

 

Quick Backstory

Commodore Perry Estate has been several things through the years, mostly schools and learning centers, but it was originally the home of Edgar Howard “Commodore” Perry and his wife, Lutie Perry. They built the estate in 1928 during the Roaring 20’s and held some of the best social events in Austin. It’s since been listed as a historic landmark and has had several additions and renovations. 

The current owners decided to restore the estate to its original glory, while also adding a few more modern conveniences. Commodore Perry Estate is now a private retreat in the middle of Austin, with Mediterranean-style design, 5 star dining, and Texas hospitality. 

 

A Tale of Two Guests

William and I arrived separately, and I made it there first So, at my arrival, I was welcomed by valet with an umbrella because it was raining off an on all day. I was guided to the front desk to check in, and my bags were taken to our room.

The host for the day took me to my room, gave me a brief history and rundown of the estate, and made me a welcome cocktail.  I had already informed him that William would be coming soon. So he told me how to make William’s drink for when he arrived. After the host left, I realized I didn’t ask the bellhop to bring my laptop up, which was in the trunk of my car. So I called William and asked if he could get it when he arrived.

So now, William is knocking on the door. I let him in and gave him a tour of the room. I made his drink and asked him what he thought so far. This is when it got interesting.

He parked across the street, where guests are suggested to park if they don’t want the valet service. So, as he walked up the estate driveway, he wasn’t acknowledged. Since no one acknowledged him, he went to the mansion instead of the inn, where the guest rooms are. The hostess at the mansion informed him where the inn was. So he walked back across to the correct building, all while in the rain and still not being acknowledged. 

He also had issues getting help to get my laptop out the car. Finally, he was told where our room was, not taken there like I was.

 

 

The guest room is absolutely  gorgeous! The bathroom features an open, walk in shower, a double sink vanity, and a water closet. The bedroom has a sitting area, a king size bed, a small balcony, and several other amenities. The lighting is all set to a universal dimmer but can also be operated separately.

There is a bar cart that can be customized with your  preferred alcoholic beverages and spirits. That isn’t complimentary though. Also, surprisingly, all the artwork and décor in the room was available for purchase.

 

The Mansion

After checking out our room, we decided to explore the grounds, starting with the mansion. The hostess at the mansion gave us a tour and told us about each room. Each room has its own unique design. The library is pictured above. It has very deep, moody décor and would be perfect for enjoying cigars and brandy (I don’t smoke cigars, but it has that vibe).

The den is a bright room with a bar in one corner and two taxidermied zebra heads above the fireplace. A punchbowl social is held there every evening, 3pm-6pm. Pre-COVID, there was a large punchbowl everyone shared, but now, each table has its own.

The solarium can be used for dining or lounging, and is beautiful. It has long, floral drapes on the multiple French doors that make the exterior walls of the room, and it still has the original floors from when the estate was built. There’s an expansive patio behind the mansion, overlooking the sunken garden and swimming pool.

Dining

We decided to eat dinner in our room instead of going down to the dining room because of the rain. I had the  brisket sandwich, and William had the Sicilian pepperoni pizza. We also had the house bread, which was highly recommended before our stay. My sandwich  and the bread were very  tasty and filling. The pizza, however, was very doughy and average.

Weather was a lot better the next morning. William left early for work. So I slept in then headed down for breakfast. The manager on duty was very nice and accommodating, and, of course, the dining room was beautiful as well. I had the frittata and a pineapple mimosa. After finishing breakfast, I walked through the garden a while, capturing photos, and contemplated going to the pool. I ultimately chickened out and headed back to the room to prepare for check out.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Though we had a few negative experiences at the beginning, overall, I truly enjoyed our stay. If you’re missing traveling and need to feel like you’re in a completely different country, I’d highly recommend staying at the Commodore Perry Estates. Also, don’t be like me. Go to the pool, and enjoy its beautiful vintage style.

Something I forgot to mention is that the resort style hotel also has 2 Mercedes Benz cars available for guests to drive on a first come, first served basis. We also didn’t take advantage of that benefit. I do plan on visiting again for more than one night and doing every single activity possible. So stay tuned for that!

 

 

 

6 Things to Do this Summer in

Pflugerville, Texas

 

It’s almost officially summertime, and like usual, I started looking for places to visit. Then I realized that I haven’t really fully experienced Pflugerville yet, though we’ve lived here for almost 4 years. So, I went on the hunt for fun and relaxing things to do inn Pflugerville before looking elsewhere, and thanks to the City of Pflugerville, I got some great ideas to add to my list.

 

produce at the Pfarmer’s Market

Pfarmer’s Market

Pflugerville’s Pfarmer’s Market is every Tuesday, 3pm-7pm, ,from May 11 to October 26. Due to construction, it’s currently located at Pflugerville First United Methodist Church.

You can expect tons of fresh produce (of course) from local farmers, as well as baked goods, honey, plants, eggs, Find new small businesses to support while enjoying some time outdoors. Pro tip: while cards are accepted by most vendors, bring cash just in case.

 

Rochelle & the Sidewinders

Music in the Park

Music in the Park is a good time for the whole family! It’s an outdoor concert series held on select Friday nights, 7:30pm-9:30pm, all summer long, starting next Friday, June 25. The first musical guest will be Royal Velvetee, a classic soul and jazz band who put on an amazing show!

Music in the Park is a free event in Pfluger Park, located at 515 City Park Rd. Alcohol is allowed, but no glass containers. For more info and a list of all the concerts this year, check out Pflugerville’s site here.

 

photo courtesy of Typhoon Texas

Typhoon Texas

If you’re trying to beat the Texas summer heat, aside from all the natural water holes, my first recommendation would be Typhoon Texas. They have rides and attractions for  every age range, from Buckaroo Bayou, which is made for toddlers, to the Snake Pit, where you must be 48″ or taller to ride the intertwining water slides.

For Independence Day weekend, Typhoon Texas will have its annual Red, White, and Boom festival, which will have carnival themed attractions, live entertainment, a hot air balloon ride, fireworks, and a Saluting our Heroes event. There’s also several food and beverage options at the park. Read more about Typhoon Texas here.

 

photo courtesy of ILY Nails

ILY Nails & Beauty Bar

Tired from running around to all the different events this summer? Treat yourself to a day of pampering at ILY Nails & Beauty Bar, Pflugerville’s first and only Black owned nail salon. They currently offer nail services and pedicures, with facials, brow services, and waxes coming soon. You literally sit on a throne while receiving a relaxing, stress relieving pedicure from one of the licensed technicians. For pricing or to book an appointment, head to ILY Nails’s website.

 

photo courtesy of Spirit of Texas

Spirit of Texas Independent Distillery

Do you like supporting local distilleries and breweries or maybe touring them? Well, Spirit of Texas Independent Distillery is located right here in Pflugerville! Their tasting room is open Thursday through Saturday. You can also book group tours or private events outside of these hours.

Something really cool to me about this distillery is that their spirits have local related names, like Pfluger single malt whiskey, Spirit of Texas straight silver rum, and Pecan Street rum. You can support them by visiting the actual distillery or by using their store locator to purchase these spirits at your neighborhood liquor store.

 

photo courtesy of Down South Cajjun Eats

Down South Cajjun Eats

My favorite, somewhat new, restaurant in Pflugerville is Down South Cajjun Eats, located at 15630 Vision Drive. As the name suggests, they specialize in Cajun dishes. They also have the best fried catfish in town, in my opinion.

This restaurant is owned by twin brothers and has turned into an awesome gathering place for great food and music. It’s located in a food court, but has definitely become the anchor site for the venue. Besides the catfish, they offer gumbo, pasta, wings, and several specialty items. Check out the full menu here.

Thank you for reading! To find even more things to do this summer in Pflugerville, visit the city’s event calendar.

 

WHAT TO PACK FOR A CAMPING TRIP

 

Last October, William and I went camping together for the first time at Big Bend Ranch State Park. We each had different camping experiences when we were younger, but this was our first time doing primitive camping. So we wanted to make sure we had everything we needed since we’d be basically in the middle of nowhere with zero cell service.

 We’re super excited to be going back to Big Bend Ranch very soon. So, I thought I’d bring you all along as we prep for the trip in case you decide to visit the great outdoors this spring or summer.

 

panoramic view of our campsite in Big Bend Ranch State Park
our campsite
 
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The Necessities

I’ll start with what you’ll definitely need for your trip. Then, we can talk about things that are nice to bring along, just in case. So, the necessities are:

  • a tent with stakes
  • sleeping bag or several blankets
  • lantern or flashlight
  • batteries
  • portable charger
  • first-aid kit
  • sunscreen
  • deep woods insect repellent
  • 1 gallon of water per person per day
  • a separate gallon or more of water for cleaning and misc.
  • knife
  • firewood and kindling
  • matches or other fire starter
  • cooler
  • pots, skillet, cooking utensils, and eating utensils
  • plates, bowls, cups, or mugs (depending on what you plan to eat or drink)
  • towels
  • hand sanitizer
  • toilet paper
  • a spade or small shovel (if there’s no bathroom nearby)
  • washcloths
  • toothbrush, toothpaste
  • unscented biodegradable soap
  • canned goods and easy to cook foods
  • can opener
  • tape
  • trash bags

 

picnic area

Nice to Have Items

These next items aren’t necessary for your trip, but they may make it more enjoyable.

  • lawn chairs
  • plastic tablecloth (if a picnic table is available at the campsite. Trust me!)
  • a small grill
  • sleeping pad
  • headlamp
  • small folding table (if a picnic table isn’t nearby)
  • hammock
  • cord or rope
  • grill rack
  • cards and board games 
  • binoculars
  • reading material
  • action camera (like a GoPro)
  • baby wipes

 

 

Clothing

Something to remember when camping is that the weather can change at any time, especially when camping somewhere like Big Bend Ranch. The nights are waaay colder than the day. So try bringing multiple options such as:

  • short sleeve and long sleeve shirts
  • a sweatshirt
  • a jacket
  • socks
  • thick socks
  • pants
  • shorts
  • underwear (of course)
  • bandana or sweat band
  • sneakers
  • maybe hiking boots
  • flip flops
  • stretchy pants, like leggings or yoga pants
  • swimsuit
  • warm pajamas (a MUST)
  • rain gear
  • maybe long johns

 

 

These are all great items to have, some less necessary than others, but it’s a nice list to help you realize what you may want or need to pack for your camping trip. Did I forget anything? Let me know in the comments if you have any additional suggestions.

 

 

 

21+ Glamping Retreat in Central Texas

We recently had the opportunity to visit the new Serana Glamping Retreat, which is a 21+ glamping experience located in Paige, TX. That’s about 30 minutes from both Bastrop and Smithville, TX, and about an hour from Austin. Here’s what went down and everything you can expect.

 

Little Bluestem exterior

Accommodations

There’s three options for accommodations, one of three kampinas (small cabins), the Little Bluestem (luxury tent), and the Big Bluestem (bigger luxury tent).

The kampinas now have full electricity and provide heat/AC, electrical outlets, etc. The Bluestems do not have electricity, but Serana provides a portable charger for you to use during your stay, and each tent has a wood burning stove for those colder nights.

We stayed in the Little Bluestem, and it was beautiful! It felt like we were in an upscale hotel. Walking up to the tent, you first arrive at the gravel patio with 2 separate sitting areas and a gas firepit. The view from both sitting areas is a pond that was breathtaking at sunset. The front of the tent has a netted enclosure. So you can leave the tent open in the day (and night if you choose) to enjoy the views of the property while keeping a bit of privacy and stopping critters from getting in. There are also 3 windows that you can zip closed if you’d like.

 

sitting area inside the Little Bluestem

There is a queen sized bed with a memory foam mattress (very comfortable), plush white bedding and sheets, a coat rack, just enough decor to make you feel at home, and another sitting area inside the tent, as well as the aforementioned wood burning stove. They also provide Turkish bath towels, and boy were we naïve. We thought it was an extra throw lol. Firewood is also provided for the stove, but I advise you to bring your own kindling to easier light the fire. Maybe watch a few Youtube tutorials like this one also.

 

wood burning stove inside the Little Bluestem

Amenities

Since this is a true glamping retreat, several amenities are provided for your comfort, such as an outdoor kitchen and bath house. In the kitchen you’ll find  a refrigerator, a cooktop, sink, coffee and tea makers, cookware, dishes, flatware, a barbecue grill, and a Traeger grill.

The bath house has 2 bath stalls and a sink right outside them. There are also 2 outdoor showers with rain shower heads. Toiletries were also available in the showers.

Lastly in the communal section are a big firepit for lounging and a Quonset hut for dining. We loved the rustic yet modern look of the common areas. It really made you feel like you were having an elevated retreat experience.

 

the Quonset hut

Around the Property

Serana is set on a 53 acre property with 4 ponds, chickens, ducks, coming soon, an outdoor gym, and wide open spaces to roam and explore. I was literally frolicking through the fields at one point!

Serana also does something very cool. They have mobile chicken coops that they move periodically. This allows the chickens to naturally fertilize and turn the soil, resulting in beautiful, bright green grass. We unfortunately couldn’t find the ducks while we were there.

The property itself is full of photo ops, but you may get too caught up in enjoying it so much that you forget to “do it for the Gram”. All in all, this was a very enjoyable stay, and I would definitely do it again. If you’d like the best of both worlds, the great outdoors and being in town, read my previous blog post here, giving tips on things to do in downtown Bastrop.

 

me literally frolicking through a field
one of the four ponds on the property

 

Visit www.seranatx.com to book your stay and get away from it all for a few days. For even more pictures of our stay, click here to see my Instagram post. Thank you Serana Glamping Retreat for the awesome experience! 

Things to Do in Downtown Bastrop, TX

 

We were recently able to visit Serana, a new 21+ glamping destination in Paige, TX (blog post coming soon), which is about 30 minutes away from Bastrop. So, we decided to take a day trip to Bastrop and see what all it had to offer. Spoiler alert, the answer is EVERYTHING!

 

Where to Eat

My number 1 question when traveling is “Where are we eating?” So, of course, that was the first thing I checked when we decided to head to downtown Bastrop.

First, before we even get to the food, let me just say how beautiful it is downtown! We were in the historic district. So all the buildings are preserved from waaay back in the day! Then downtown sits on the banks of the Colorado River. So, you can take a nice stroll along the riverbanks on the way to your next destination. ( I love these kinds of things.)

 

Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard

Now, back to the food! We were glamping Saturday night, then spent all day Sunday in Bastrop. Saturday evening, however, we also went into town for dinner at Neighbor’s Kitchen & Yard. This restaurant sits right on the Colorado River bank with a huge multi-level patio overlooking the river and a stage downstairs in “The Yard” for live performances (which, by the way, just started back).

 

the Brooklynite calzone, the Comeback Dip, and the Hot Li’l Honey calzone

For a starter, we tried the Comeback Dip, which is rightfully named because it’ll definitely have you coming back to order more! We both ordered calzones.. I had the current featured flavor, The Brooklynite. William had the Hot Li’l Honey. We traded half of our calzones with each other, and I loved them both. The Brooklynite was more traditional with red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, mushroom, and oregano.

The Hot Li’l Honey contains olive oil, mozzarella, tomato, salami, and cherry peppers. Then the calzone is drizzled with habanero infused hot honey. The sweet, spicy, and savory flavor combo was perfect!

Lastly, for drinks, I had the moonshine margarita, and William had the Geometric Rye-No by Iron Bridge Icehouse, which is located right next door to Neighbor’s! We thoroughly enjoyed our food and time at Neighbor’s and will definitely be back!

After our awesome dining experience, we headed back to our campsite to relax and rest up for the next day.

 

Paw-Paw’s Catfish House

For dinner on Sunday, we visited Paw-Paw’s Catfish House located on Main Street. This restaurant, which was started by Cheri Rice in honor of her grandparents, already pulled at our heartstrings before stepping foot inside the restaurant because it made us think of our Paw Paw (William’s grandpa). Both of my grandfathers were gone before I was born. So, I never had the chance to experience a grandfather’s love. Upon meeting William’s grandpa, lovingly called Paw Paw, he immediately took me in as one of his own. He passed away in 2019, and we love and miss him dearly.

So with that backstory, of course when we saw a catfish house with that name, we had to go! I’m happy to say they did not disappoint. William and I agreed it’s some of the best catfish we’ve had since moving to Texas in 2013.

At Paw-Paw’s, we started with a basket of onion rings, which were THE BEST onion rings I’ve ever had anywhere! That says a lot, by the way, because I consider myself an onion ring connoisseur. I also had the sweet tea, which is served in a mason jar and is refilled regularly. It was perfect, with just the right amount of sugar.

handbreaded onion rings, fried catfish platter, and Paw-Paw’s platter

 

For our main courses, William had the fried catfish platter, which came with 6 pieces of fish, fries, pinto beans, coleslaw, hushpuppies, and tarter sauce or cocktail sauce. Then I had Paw Paw’s platter, which came 3 pieces of catfish, 3 HUGE jumbo shrimp, and all the sides from the catfish platter. I had the tarter sauce and cocktail sauce though. 

We were both stuffed and had to get to-go boxes. I wanted to try the banana pudding couldn’t bring myself to order it. So, that’s on my list next time because believe me, there will be a next time.

 

Copper Shot Distillery

 

Things To Do

Now, you may be thinking, “She told about dinner Saturday night then skipped to dinner Sunday. What happened in between?” Don’t worry! We’re getting to that right now. So, Sunday, we got up relatively early to enjoy the campsite more before leaving. Then, we headed downtown around 11am. We were supposed to get breakfast at Maxine’s Café but ended up eating before leaving Serana. So we didn’t have an appetite quite yet. Because of this, we started our downtown adventure a bit early. 

We got there as church was letting out, but businesses weren’t open just yet. So we walked around for a while taking in the views. That’s when we were able to see the Colorado River in all its glory. It looks a lot different in the daytime. We walked up and down the riverbank, taking in the sights and seeing what we could see. William spotted a log with what we thought were 3 turtles, but upon further investigating, ended up being 7! They’re pictured below in the slide.

So now, it was noon, and downtown was open for business. So we made our way to Astro Record Store. This store was previously a saloon and is really cool to see. They also had a really good selection of records. We left with 3 new records for our collection. After Astro, we wondered around a bit more, stopping at Colorado River Winery as well as Cripple Creek Wine & Gifts. We then headed to Copper Shot Distillery. Here, we each had a flight, trying 2 of their infused moonshines and 2 whiskeys. Let me just say, those infused moonshines are DANGEROUS! They’re so good, you may forget you’re drinking alcohol. The whiskeys were smooth, but they will definitely make sure you take your time drinking them. We also discovered Copper Shot has a Bloody Mary bar on Sunday’s that are pretty popular.

After our flights, we decided to walk them off a bit. So we headed back to the river to walk the other direction. After some time, we realized we still had time to spare before our dinner reservation (due to our changed schedule). So, we ventured off to Walmart. On our way, though, we ran into a Goodwill. So we had to stop. There were some great furniture pieces for amazing prices. (I think our neighborhood Goodwill jacks up the prices some.) We found a classic movie that we needed in our lives, The Adventures of Babysitting. So, we got that. Then, we were again off to Walmart. Once that store trip was over, it was time for dinner. So, we headed back to Downtown Bastrop for our Paw-Paw’s fix.

 

 

Everywhere we visited followed COVID protocol, requiring masks, unless you were eating or drinking, and we didn’t witness anyone trying to defy the rules.

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in Downtown Bastrop and are already making plans to return, this time with friends. There’s plenty to see and do, such as the museum and visitor’s center, a movie theater (not quite downtown), plenty of restaurants and bars, and a lot of history to learn. I’d highly recommend taking a day trip to visit, and next time we’ll venture out from downtown to experience even more of the city.

First Time in Denver

I had planned on going to Denver, CO for my birthday. It was originally a couple trip for William and me, but once “you know what” hit, that counted William out because he’s considered high risk due to his asthma. So it turned into a family affair, with the addition of my friend Jennifer. Here’s the story.

Larimer Square

How it Started

So, we planned the trip for months, as one does. For our first day, since we were all arriving at different times, I decided to hire a private chef for that evening so we could rest up and wind down from traveling. The first chef completely ghosted me. We were conversing. All she had to do was send the invoice. Then she was nowhere to be found. So, I found her on Instagram and asked her if we were still on. I didn’t hear back from her until we were back from our trip. Luckily, I went ahead and moved on. So, I found another chef, and he tried to overprice the meal for whatever reason. So, I cancelled our agreement as well.

The first day of the trip was my actual birthday, and since we were celebrating my 35th birthday, which is a milestone birthday to me, Jennifer and I flew in first class. It was my first time, and let me say, I’m in love! Click here to see how that went lol. We arrived in Denver first, but my niece, Kayla, arrived shortly after. So we waited for her so we could all drive to the Airbnb together. On the way to the house, we stopped by a dispensary. This was also a first for me, and what an experience it was! Once my sisters and other niece made it in, we had also partaken and were under the influence. So this is what happened with the food. smh

Since we were without a private chef, I just found a local restaurant that delivered and had family size dishes. Now, here’s where I messed up. I ordered the food after taking the edible! So, the evening was going on, and I knew the food shouldn’t have taken that long. Eventually, I decided to check the status, only to find that I had ordered it as pickup instead of delivery. Mind you, we didn’t have a car, and the restaurant doesn’t deliver themselves. It’s actually through Doordash. So, I’m freaking out now. I called the restaurant and let them know, and together we came up with a solution. Uber has a new service called Uber Pickup, where they literally pick things up and bring them to you. So, we finally received the food, and it was surprisingly still hot! Night saved! As far as the rest of the night, I ended up crashing around 8pm. Happy birthday to me. lol

the Mile High Tree at the 16th St Mall

Hitting the Town

Now, it’s Friday, day 2, and we’re starting our activities. We headed downtown to Larimer Square, but sadly it was closed. So we walked over to 16th Street to check out the 16th Street Mall. I’m not sure if Larimer Square was closed because we were too early, because of the snow, or due to the lockdown that started back the week of our trip. All during our trek, there was a slight blizzard (to us) taking place. We couldn’t wait to get to Denver and experience the snow until we got to Denver and experienced the snow. It was basically like walking in the rain. lol

 So, during our journey, we made it to Angelo’s Taverna, where we had lunch in a greenhouse. The greenhouses are part of their solution to outdoor dining due to COVID restrictions. It was a really cool experience, besides it being pretty cold inside. We started with oysters. Then I ordered a huge calzone with sausage and bell peppers. After dinner, our server brought me a cannoli for my birthday.  Everything was delicious!

Angelo’s Taverna Greenhouse Dining

We had so many plans, like visiting Miracle at Larimer Square, a Christmas themed pop up bar. There’s one in Austin during the holidays too, but we never make it. We were also supposed to go ice skating downtown. While neither of those happened, we did ride the free 16th Street shuttle to the State Capitol and stumbled upon a German Christmas market in the Civic Center Park called the Christkindl Market. Each vendor was set up in a cedar booth that resembled a log cabin. We had some delicious hot chocolate and Russian style crepes from Blinchiki, one of the food vendors on site. If you’re in Denver in December, please visit this market. It’s like you’re in another place and time.

Christkindl Market Denver

The last details given were from Friday and Saturday. At this point, the whole trip has become one big day because Saturday evening, my niece received some news that would completely change and outweigh everything. At around 5pm, mountain time, my niece received a call that her daughter was in a terrible car accident and had to have emergency surgery, among other things. Of course, this meant we spent the rest of the trip making sure she’d be ok. It was a long night, but our baby girl pulled through. Two months later, she’s still on the road to recovery, but she’s doing so good!

I’m sorry to end the story this way, but that’s how the trip ended. Everyone else’s flights left early in the morning. So, when I got up, they were already gone. I cleaned up, took a few pics (that were all later deleted), and headed to the airport. I did treat myself to some expensive airport restaurant food since I got there early. Then I met up with Jennifer, and we came back home. I will say that I plan to return to Denver when it’s safer and warmer so I can get a better experience of the Mile High City. Have you ever been there? If so, do you have any recommendations for when I revisit?

Steuben’s Uptown in Denver, CO

While in Denver, we had the chance to visit  Steuben’s Uptown and try their Monte Cristo sandwich, among other things. They are following all the possible safety measures currently needed right now and have outdoor seating set up in a huge event tent with decor and heaters. You never even really notice you’re outside until a quick breeze comes through. Also, masks are required, unless you’re eating or drinking.

 

They started us out with their gravy fries, crispy Brussels sprouts, and cookie dough donuts (all of which were delicious). We also had mini mimosas, and let me tell you. I’m not sure I could’ve handled a full sized one. lol

The Meal

Now, for the Monte Cristo, it was everything I wished it would be! I’ve been longing for a good Monte Cristo since “Hey, You Gonna Eat or What” (yes, that was the real name) closed down in Austin, and Steuben’s filled my cup! It was deep-fried to perfection with not too much powdered sugar, and the raspberry preserve on the side sealed the deal. I’d highly recommend it if you get the chance to visit.

 

The other meals we ordered were the eggs Benedict, the Steuben’s burger, and the buttermilk pancakes stack. Everything was a crowd favorite and very filling. Be prepared to possibly get a to-go box. Thank you Steuben’s for your hospitality and great service! I can’t wait to visit in warmer weather.