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Trip Report Miata Madness: New Braunfels Area Trip Report

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In mid-October DH and I took our first trip in a new-to-us two-seater convertible Miata. This trip was to be different for us, much more about the journey, the driving, the enjoyment of the car, than the destinations, or the photography, so our main focus was finding some nice curvy, hilly roads to drive!

The trip planning began with DH making reservations in New Braunfels at a hotel we had stayed at decades ago when we first moved to South Texas. The Faust is an older hotel, established 1929, in the middle of New Braunfels. He remembered that many of the rooms are, as advertised, rather small, so he secured one of the suites. This hotel has not been modernized but has kept its early-1900’s décor in a clean and well-maintained manner. And there is a (slow) elevator and more than adequate heating/cooling and plumbing.

The next step was to pick a few possible roads to try out, which he did with the help of a San Antonio car club member. Then we had to adjust our usual packing mode—we have been traveling in Suburbans or 4-door trucks with 1, 2 or 3 kids on long treks for years and years, and planning even a 3-day short-mileage trip for 2 was different in this small car! (No cooler in the back seat, for instance!)

Day 1: The plan was to leave Corpus Christi in the morning and stop at a couple malls in San Antonio, as well as at a deer-feeder store to get a motor repaired, before arriving in New Braunfels in mid-afternoon. A couple un-expected snags prevented this, but we did make it to one mall briefly and got the motor fixed before arriving in New Braunfels in the late afternoon. The driving this day was all on highways and often in traffic so not so much fun as functional. The car proved to be comfortable and plenty roomy for the passenger. (We just miss having all the back seat room to access whatever we want in way of electronics, food, and such.) The hotel lobby was as I remembered it—charming and filled with antiques. They’ve paved the lot out back and added a brewery since we’ve been. Our suite with hotel-kitchen stuff, living room area with flat-screen tv, and king-sized bed was lovely and roomy. No internet in rooms--which for a get-away was nice (ok, we do have Blackberries which functioned well, so we weren't totally unplugged!)

Our early light lunch had more than worn off, so we headed out on foot for an early dinner. We chose Liberty Bistro which is a very short walk away also on Seguin Street on the other side of the town roundabout. This was an excellent choice. They were very, very un-busy this early Monday evening, but this didn’t affect the attentive service or excellent food. DH had decent steak and excellent sides, and I had a pork dish with gnocchi and veggies that were delicious. Their specialty dessert is a chocolate soufflé—worth the 15 minute wait. Absolutely scrumptious. We spent a restful evening enjoying the comfort of the room.

Day 2: This day started out sorta grumpy with the only negative thing I have to say about any of the plans/accommodations/food choices. Breakfast is included in the room price, although it’s pretty light-continental, just yogurt, fruit, and some breads. But there was no tea. We are both definitely want-my-cuppa with-caffeine-thank-you. The “help” in the lobby was no help, and we just left to drive somewhere else. Headed towards a McD’s on I-35, but I spotted a Starbucks first, so we pulled in there. I was fine with this, but DH was not and felt a bit icky the rest of the day which he attributed to what he ate there. Anyway, I think hotels that provide breakfast should provide tea as well as coffee, but in any case, we finished our breakfast and headed out to the open road.

After an absolutely horrible summer of severe drought and high temperatures that had lingered on into early October, a cool, but dry, front had finally arrived just in time for us to have a glorious couple of days—top-down weather! So we put the top down and got out jackets, hat, scarf, lap-afghan, sunglasses, and sun-screen! Off we went. We took a few photos along the way, but not the usual 100's per day; like I said, this was a trip to enjoy the road.

We drove northwest of New Braunfels and eventually got on Purgatory Road which has hills, curves, and some dips that made for a most excellent introduction for us to the fun this little car will be on such drives. Then we ended up near highway 281 which is a major road back to San Antonio, and DH wanted to take me back to the mall we’d not had time for yesterday, so we drove south to North Star Mall. There I had no luck in my clothing search for a couple specific things, but it was fun, and then we ate at the Cheesecake Factory. DH had never been to one. Our lunch of salads and soup was good—best mushroom soup ever maybe—and then, of course, some dessert. We chose to split the Godiva cheesecake and it was–well, I don’t have another word for delicious!

We drove back up 281 and took a right onto Rebecca Creek Road which has even more curves and hills than Purgatory; DH’s driving prowess was quite evident. The weather was absolutely perfect for a convertible this day; this is a whole new experience for us, and this was a good initiation! Then we wandered around a bit. We had our Garmin “Sheila,” a not-too-detailed map, and some suggestions/directions from DH’s forum-friend, but these didn’t always match up, so sometimes we did a little re-calculating of our own. We found the River Road which runs along and back and forth over the Guadalupe River. On this fall weekday this was a marvelous, unbusy ride; we imagine during peak-tubing times, the traffic would be prohibitive to any sort of drive-for-the-enjoyment, though! Then we drove through Gruene at a slow cruise but decided not to stop; this is a great historic area worth a long visit, but not for us this day. Back to the hotel for a short rest and re-group.

The San Antonio Miata Club (the Bluebonnet Club) meets monthly on Tuesdays and a member had invited us, so we decided to do that instead of staying around New Braunfels. We drove back to Big’z which is a hamburger-and-more place on Loop 1604, where we were met by a policeman on a bike waving us into designated parking for Miatas. Nice reception! Big’z is a great place spread all over a hill with several dining areas including a patio and a separate room, where we were, as well as a big playground for kids. Good burgers, too. The club members were very welcoming and we enjoyed our time there. We got back to New Braunfels about 9:30, and after all the driving/riding, we fell asleep pretty early.

Day 3: And slept, for us, pretty late. We ended up not seeing much of New Braunfels this trip, but it is still a great little town, and for us this time a great base for our driving adventures. I found some tea in the coffee-making supplies in the room, so we each had a small cup to ward off the grumpies before we ate! We left late morning and drove north, stopping at Cracker Barrel in San Marcos for an early lunch. (I’ve been eating at Cracker Barrels since there was just the original one in Manchester, Tennessee, and then a few more in east Tennessee, and we find them consistent and a good value for “chain” food.) Then on up I-35 to Austin. In the Ransom Center on the UT campus there is a Gutenberg Bible on display; DH has seen 2, in the British Library as well as in Mainz, Germany, and had tried unsuccessfully to see a few others (Frankfurt, Bodleian Library, Trier), so he wanted to view this one. With the help of “Sheila,” we parked and walked a block to the Center where the Bible, as well as the first photograph, is in the lobby in a small but well-done display. There was also a temporary exhibit on banned books and censorship, so we spent about an hour perusing the exhibits before heading back down I-35 (lovely day again, but top up) to arrive home by dinner-hour. A good time was had by all!

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