By now you have surely noticed how woefully out of date this blog is. My sincere apologies, dear reader. You see, it turns out that planning a wedding is a ton of work and as the big day got closer and closer I found that it required my complete attention. This blog was the unintentional victim of my lack of time and attention. But no worries! We’ve tied the knot! And now we can get back to the important things in life, like going cool places, doing awesome stuff, and of course, occasional roadside mechanics.
Because so much has happened in the last month I thought I would just give you all the quick and dirty version. But even then, I think this is going to be a long one. Enjoy, and thank you for sticking with us during our brief absence.
First, the entire wedding weekend was absolutely perfect. It was everything I wanted it to be and so much more. Thank you so much to everyone that came out to celebrate with us! Your love and enthusiasm was radiant. Also, a huge thank you to Brandon’s mom, Carla, his dad, Mike, and all of the extended family that helped to throw our amazing fiesta themed rehearsal dinner!
My cousin, Darci, of H-12 Outdoor Cafe, drove her food truck out to the Lakeway City Park to serve us a taco and quesadilla feast while Brandon’s step-dad, Skip, served us beer, sangria, and margaritas under the pavilion! There was even a pinata for the kids! Seriously! It was the perfect way to kick off the weekend.
Brandon’s groomsmen. We’ve known most of these guys since highschool.
My lovely bridesmaids. You ladies were perfect!
This is it! The moment we’ve been waiting for for 10 years! I’ve been told there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd. I had always wanted an outdoor wedding and we got very lucky that the weather cooperated for us. There were flood level rains less than a week earlier!
My amazing friend PJ made our cake for us. It was alternating layers of raspberry petite fours and butter bourbon. OMG good and totally gorgeous!
These are just a sampling of the wedding photos and were almost all taken by guests on their phones so the resolution isn’t great. I should have the professional photos and video in a few more weeks and will post them all here on the website for you to enjoy.
Wow! How did we get here? The last time I posted we were in Arizona. Eeeek! That seems like forever ago (it was).
So when we left Brandon’s dad’s place in Arizona we drove to Columbus, New Mexico for a quick overnighter at the Pancho Villa State Park. The park is only about five miles from the Mexico border. We were told it is a popular stop for RVers planning to cross the border into Paloma, Mexico for some discounted dental work and cheap prescriptions. Supposedly there is a lady that will meet you at the border in a pink golf cart (with a complementary margarita) and take you to her pottery and crafts store before your dental appointment. No idea if that story is true.
The park was small and sparse but had everything we needed for a short stay. It was also the cheapest park we’ve found yet at $14 a night for water and electric.
We did not arrive in time to tour the museum, but we did learn that this park was the former home of the US military operations that fought off Pancho Villa’s army when they raided the town of Columbus. Only two small crumbling shacks remain from the original military base.
From Columbus we were headed straight to Texas! We changed our route a bit based on the recommendation of a local park ranger. He told us that we could take Highway 9 from Columbus straight through to El Paso. This saved us 50 miles of backtracking to get back to Interstate 10. We had not planned on taking Hwy 9 because my atlas had it labeled as a road of unknown condition with “local inquiry suggested.” Hwy 9 turned out to be the very best road we drove on the entire trip. It seems as if no one except the border patrol agents (and probably the smugglers) know about Hwy 9 so the road is in perfect condition despite being paved over 30 years ago. And there is no traffic! We highly recommend this route, but Shhhh! don’t tell anyone else!
Ahhh! We finally made it to Texas! Actually, I believe this is a photo of Juarez, Mexico on the other side of the river. You can see the city very clearly from the interstate and it makes a sharp contrast with the modern developments in El Paso.
We drove straight through El Paso and as much of west Texas as we could manage in one day. Our stop for the night was the Balmorhea State Park, the second cheapest park of our trip at $17 a night for water and electric.
The Balmorhea State Park is a bit of an oasis in the arid landscape of west Texas. The park is home to an absolutely enormous spring fed swimming pool. A bit of a cold front was blowing through so it was too cold for swimming, but I could tell it would be perfect in the summer time.
Given that I was finally back in Texas, I immediately began craving tacos! The first tacos I found were brisket tacos sold at a tiny little grocery store. They looked sorta sketchy while sitting in the warming pan but they were amazing. But that was not nearly enough to satisfy the taco monster. I saw a taco stand on the side of the road on the way back to camp and asked Brandon to pull over. The sweet lady that ran the place told me that she was only serving burgers that day, but she had some leftover goat barbacoa from the day before that she could fix me. It was the kind of service you only get from a local business in a small town. And the tacos were also fantastic.
From Balmorhea we high-tailed it to central Texas to settle in at our home for the next few weeks, Lake Bastrop. First on the list of priorities was throwing a welcome home party to catch up with some of our friends.
These are two of Brandon’s groomsmen making cream-cheese stuffed bacon-wrapped jalapenos to throw on the grill. Yum!
Our site for the next few weeks, complete with patio lighting and our outdoor kitchen set-up.
Brandon’s little brother posing with Gunner. Dylan is seventeen years old and now thinks his first car should be a Jeep! We agree!
One reason I was really excited to stay at Lake Bastrop was that I thought I would be able to ride my bike to my best friend Andrea’s house. We’ve been friends since high school but it’s been years since we lived near one another.
Looking at Google maps there appeared to be a road that went from the south shore of the lake (where we were camped) to the north shore of the lake (across the street from Andrea’s house). One morning I hopped on my bike, grabbed a bottle of water, and took off.
It was very easy to find the road and for the first mile I thought this trip was going to be a breeze. Then I came across the “Do Not Enter” signs. Apparently the road I was on was a private road owned by the electric company. The lake is a power plant lake and this is the road that goes to the dam. I had no idea because there weren’t any signs on the section of road where I entered with my bike. Oops. Unfortunately, I was now stuck. I couldn’t go backwards or forwards on the road. My only option was to use the bike trail that I found crossing the road nearby. The bike trail seems like an obvious choice from the beginning but I didn’t have a map or any idea how long the trail would be or where it would come out.
The bike trail turned out to be mostly lovely but also a bit intense for my biking ability. The picture below shows one of the lovely flat sections. However, much of the trail was only moderately developed and felt more like riding my bike up and down a mountain.
There were also some nice bridges with views of the lake.
I never actually saw any cameras but I figured I shouldn’t risk it.
I was totally exhausted when I made it to Andrea’s house but I made it! My reward at the end of the trail was meeting Andrea’s new foster baby, Brooklyn! She was only a month old and super tiny.
And in case you are wondering, no, I did not ride my bike home that day. My legs were so sore Brandon had to come pick me up!
We had made our reservation for our two weeks at Lake Bastrop while we were still in Oregon. When we looked into extending our stay we learned that the park is very popular with locals and fills up every weekend. We could get a spot for Monday through Friday but they were completely booked every weekend. Lucky for us, our friends Tom and Abby have a few acres in La Grange, Texas big enough for us to park our RV! As an added bonus we got to visit with old friends and hang out with some of our favorite dogs.
Brandon used to live in La Grange on his family’s 250 acre ranch. That’s actually where he lived when we started dating 10 years ago. We had a ton of fun there and threw some epic parties! Much of Brandon’s family still lives in La Grange, though not on the family ranch anymore. It was fun to hang out at some of our old haunts and catch up with family.
Even though I had been coming here for years, I had never toured the old historic courthouse on the square. We decided to act like tourists for the afternoon and finally have a look inside. And it was amazing! I worked in an old courthouse in Portland but this place just had so much old school Texas charm. Brandon laughed at me the whole time while I geeked out inside the old courtroom, which they still use!
The small atrium provided great light in the hallways.
We also stopped by an old favorite BBQ joint, the Prause Meat Market. You order your meat by the pound, add whatever sides you want, plus bread, pickles, and onions. Perfect! Although they stopped making the famous Prause Beans. They were served cold, like a salad and they were delish. But oh well, not everything can remain the same.
After leaving La Grange we hopped around different parks in Bastrop for a while. We wanted to stay centrally located near family while we were taking care of all the wedding planning and other administrative work, like going to the DMV and county tax assessor’s office to get the Jeep and RV registered in Texas. The problem we encountered was that we couldn’t find a park with a spot available for more than a few days. This is a popular time of year to go camping in Texas (it’s not too hot yet) and there was also some big motorcycle race going on in Austin that was flooding the nearby parks with out of towners. We spent five days back at Lake Bastrop and a weekend dry camping at the storage lot of a park called the Oaks RV Park, before eventually landing at a KOA park near downtown Bastrop and right on the Colorado River. It was a very nice park with all the amenities and we had the spot closest to the river with a great view. Best of all, our spot was available until after the wedding!
For the most part these two weeks were filled by wedding planning, which is really just me sitting with my phone and laptop sending emails and making phone calls to all of the various vendors. We also made countless trips to Hobby Lobby to buy decorations. In retrospect, I probably went a little overboard at Hobby Lobby but it was fun and it all turned out beautifully.
I also attended my bridal shower which was hosted by my Aunt Lois and a number of my mom’s wonderful cousins. Thank you all! It was an absolutely fabulous event!
At some point we managed a night out to go see my parents and an old friend of their’s, Richard Dobson, play at a local restaurant. Many of our friends and family were there and we had a great time catching up. Richard may be familiar to some of you from reading this blog. We actually got the name of our RV from one of his songs!
There was also a group of people at the restaurant that arrived in vintage cars. Of course, Brandon left the concert for a bit to go check out the cars.
The next big adventure for both of us was the weekend before the wedding. Bachelor and bachelorette party weekend!
Brandon’s groomsmen started planning his bachelor party as soon as we told them we were getting married. To say they were excited would be an understatement. They started sending us countdowns to the “big day” i.e., the bachelor party, months ago. And they ended up having just as much fun as they expected. One of them actually told me that we should renew our vows every five years just so that they can throw another bachelor party. I reminded him that is not how it works but that we don’t need to get married for them to have an excuse to have a boys weekend!
For their weekend they rented a big beach house in Port Aransas down on the Texas coast. The plan was to go gambling on one of the casino boats that go out into international waters, but they ended up just spending the weekend hanging out, drinking whiskey, driving the Jeep on the beach, and generally being a bunch of dudes doing dude things.
I forgot to mention the cigars, lots of cigars!
Because everyone knows that the trail axe we keep in the Jeep is really for shotgunning beer!
Other only moderately dangerous activities included intoxicated livingroom wrestling, riding on a boogie board towed behind the Jeep, and dirt bikes on the beach. But in the end no one was injured, no one was arrested, and they didn’t break or lose anything valuable. I’d call that a win!
I also had my bachelorette party that weekend, though my party was not a four-day affair, and I don’t have as many good photos for evidence. My mom and Auntie Lyse hosted me and some girl friends at my parent’s house on Saturday. We ate tons of yummy food and started drinking champagne around noon. My mom had a half case of Veuve Clicquot that she didn’t know she had been saving for my bachelorette party but it seemed like the perfect occasion for it.
But the real story of my bachelorette party started around 8pm that night.
It had been raining cats and dogs for days and it wasn’t supposed to stop anytime soon. We had already rented a tent for the wedding as a back-up plan because it was predicted to rain on our wedding day too (it didn’t, yay!). But on Saturday we realized that we had left the Alpha 1 parked right next to the river and the river was rising fast. The exact spot where we were parked had completely flooded last October so we were really worried. We decided that the RV had to be moved right away.
Brandon wasn’t around to move the RV and I am not really proficient at driving it yet. I was also in no condition to drive at that point. Luckily, my amazing maid of honor, Andrea, said that her husband was home with the kids and had driven lots of big vehicles before. So we hopped in the car, drove to their house in Bastrop, found a last-minute baby-sitter for the kids, and drove over to the RV park.
When we got to the RV I was very impressed with how much I did know about operating the RV without Brandon there for guidance. I got everything unhooked and ready to roll and was able to walk Josh through how everything operated. Sometimes you just have to be put on the spot to see how much you really know. After we found someone to jumpstart Andrea’s dead car battery (I know, it never ends!) we were on the road back to my parent’s house. We were able to navigate through the low-lying branches on their driveway without knocking anything off the roof and only two and a half hours later we had the Alpha 1 parked at my parent’s house (on high ground) and were able to re-join the party. They even saved us some champagne!
I stayed at my parent’s house in the RV until Brandon got home from the coast and we were confident that the river level was finally going down and not up. In then end, the river never completely flooded but I am still glad we made the conservative decision to move the RV when we did rather than worry about it the whole time.
The next week was a total blur full of last-minute preparations before the big day. But all of the stress was totally worth it for a wedding that was just so magical and full of love.
After the wedding we stayed an extra day at the hotel to recover and have a moment to take it all in and come back to reality. The next day the hotel was hosting some sort of charity event where they were auctioning off the cars in the pictures below. We thought about dressing up and crashing the party but we just didn’t have the energy.
From the hotel we finally went back to the RV, once again parked by the river at the Bastrop KOA. It felt like we hadn’t been home in ages. The whole place was a wreck from us coming and going and packing in a hurry. We actually had a six-foot A-frame ladder stored in the living room! And we still needed to get back to the wedding venue to pick up all of our stuff!
One thing no one tells you about weddings is how much stuff is involved and that someone has to be in charge of getting all of that stuff to and from the wedding. We had left a huge pile of decorations, a couple boxes of leftover booze, and two kegs! Obviously that was not all going to fit in the Jeep. Our plan was to borrow my mom’s full-size van, but not before spending some quality time with my parent’s at their boat on Lake Travis.
Once all the decorations, booze, and kegs had been picked up, and we were back home at the RV, we decided we needed a mini-moon trip before really getting down to the nitty-gritty of last-minute preparations before our big departure. We still needed to finalize our insurance, get new driver’s licenses, figure out the first part of our route, and fix some of the various broken parts on the RV.
I have not mentioned it yet, but we were actually dealing with a nearly catastrophic RV problem the same weekend as the wedding. Right before we left for the hotel we started having random electrical issues. First, our microwave convection oven went out. Next, some of our lights and outlets stopped working. The final straw was when we lost power to most of our lights, most of our outlets, our water pump, and refrigerator. At this point we were able to connect the dots and realized that everything that went out either ran on 12 volt power or was controlled through a 12 volt controller, like the fridge and water pump. The most likely culprit was a dead inverter, a unfortunately important and expensive part. But we didn’t have time to stay and deal with the problem because we were getting married in 48 hours and had out-of-town guests to greet and a rehearsal dinner in Austin to attend! So we threw away all of the food in our dead fridge, called a mobile RV mechanic, and left our keys with the front desk at the RV park. Luckily, we got a call from the mechanic right before the rehearsal dinner letting us know that it had not been the inverter but rather a bad battery cable. Thank goodness!
All of our electrical components came back after the repair except for the microwave convection oven. That one is toast. So while we wait for the new one to be delivered, we’ve been hanging out at Canyon Lake for our mini-moon!
At the wedding many people asked us where we were going right after the festivities. The honest answer was that we were going home to fix things and do laundry, but that is terribly unromantic. We quickly realized that all of those people were on to something. Taking a trip immediately after a wedding is a really great reset button to adjusting to your new life as a married couple.
So here we are at the Lake Point RV Resort on Canyon Lake. The pool is amazing and we’ve been in it almost every single day. I’m actually at the pool as I type this! We are also very close to New Braunfels, Gruene, and Wimberley.
We have really enjoyed our time here in the Texas hill country, but we also quickly learned that simply parking somewhere new and pretty does not mean we won’t be doing laundry and fixing things. In fact, we have ended up fixing more things while here at this park than we have almost anywhere else. So far we have had to fix our water heater, tank valve sensors, RV brakes, and then the Jeep started leaking transmission fluid!
But all is well and I will tell that story soon. As of now we have everything fixed except for the Jeep and it is in good hands at a shop in Austin. We plan on taking off in the morning to head back to Bastrop so that we can continue taking care of all the little things before we head out for our next big destination… Louisiana!