Tuesday, December 31, 2013


We didn't hang around long Saturday morning in Leesville. We are people on a mission and we are on our way to Texas!

This post is going to include three days of travel. On Saturday we traveled from Leesville Louisiana to Brenham, Texas, Sunday from Brenham to Bastrop and Monday from Bastrop to New Braunfels. 

Here's the map.

I've titled this post Bastrop because it is the only place in the three days that we stopped and spent some time.

Ready? Three whirlwind days coming up!

I only took two western Louisiana pictures for you. Not much to look at although many would argue that point I'm sure. Lots of trees.

And many areas of logged trees.

Have we ever mentioned how much we LOVE Texas. So so so glad to be back!

I have no idea why we keep traveling around winter after winter thinking that we will find a better place for us then Texas. If only it was warmer at this time of year.

Also lots of trees in North Eastern Texas. They don't call it the Piney Woods area for nothing. We are a little further south than we were when we passed through this area two years ago on our way to San Augustine and into Louisiana. That time we had just left New Braunfels and now we are headed there.

Across BA Steinhagen Lake west of Jasper.

Ahhhh - we are really enjoying the wide, flat, quiet roads of Texas. Have we ever mentioned how much we LOVE Texas?

Our overnight spot. Because we have stayed at so many - and shop there lots too - we have a special place in our hearts for Home Depots. Definitely home for us. This is the Brenham HD, nicely located just off of the 290.

It wasn't long before Cassia was off taking pictures. This one worked out well - we often take silhouettes of the three of us but here is one of Hraefen.

The driver - probably getting back in the cockpit to reposition. He We tend to drive around the parking lot a 1000 few times until our position is just right.

Now, is this not one of the best selfies you have seen in a while?

Sunday morning - up early and back on the road.

This picture is far to late. Just before this group of trees, we went through a very large area of the remains of a forest fire. We weren't surprised since we drove through it on the way out two years ago not long after the fire had taken place. Although I should have, I didn't think to take pictures of the area.

But you are in luck - we met someone in Bastrop who lives there and did. 

Here's the story. We were nicely parked for the day, Sunday, in Bastrop. Not sure what Cassia and Derek were doing in the van - this and that - but I was in the front passenger seat on the iPad. The window was open a bit. A young fellow walked over and to my surprise placed a roll of money through the window. WoW! Right?! What a nice gesture but I quickly said no thank you. Having seen this, Derek quickly exited the van to speak with the fellow explaining our situation. The boys mom came to join the conversation and a good time ensued talking about our travels and Bastrop. Ryan and mom Carolyn were here during the fire and spoke of the true community among the residents that they witnessed during this awful event. 
Here are some amazing pictures on Carolyn's blog, take a minute to go and look.

Back to the donation - just goes to show that their are good and caring people out there looking out for the rest of us. Nice to meet you Ryan and Carolyn!

When we first arrived we went for a stroll around downtown Bastrop.

We never seem to have a problem finding stroll around towns in Texas. Being Sunday most of the stores were closed - that's ok - just like Fredricksburg last spring. Better that way for us. 

Nice to have a little bit of Christmas left over.

Pretty neat!

Ahhhhh……the parts of my heart that live outside of me.

This looked to be the happen' place for Sunday brunch - good thing we decided to eat breakfast before we went for our walk.

There has to be a good joke in there somewhere about a Texas giraffe!

 The history of Bastrop was depicted in this metal work - a mural I guess we could call it.

The old Colorado River Bridge is now the pedestrian walkway.

The river walk we went to from here - in a few pictures you'll see the view back from the stairs in the background.

Although we are enjoying our walk about town the real reason that we stopped in at Bastrop was yes - the craft beer.

The BB is in a very neat section just off of the downtown beside the river. It is surrounded by other old buildings with businesses - music, jewellery and a river (canoes and tubes) company - very neat.

Down the stairs to the park.

A girl on a mission.

Following our lengthy playground visit we went back to the van and kicked back for the rest of the afternoon. 

Around 4:30pm we surfaced again and went back to the park. The lights were just coming on.

And just think - Cassia has never watched Sesame Street. Just a big yellow bird to her.

Back to the Bastrop Brewhouse - this time we are staying for beer and dinner.

Our flight - consisting of BB's Pine Loop Porter and St. Camilia Honey Brown and Live Oak Brewing's Big Bark Amber and Liberation Ale.

We quite enjoyed all of the samples but once again the porter was our favourite. We would have left with a growler until we learned that it would cost $30! $15 for the bottle and $15 for the beer! What! Generally, filled growlers from the breweries we have visited average around $17. Not sure what is up with that. Sad.

This is the main area of the brewhouse - we sat in the back addition because this area was full due to a football game going on when we arrived. 

I think that everyone is working hard at the Bastrop Brewhouse, however we weren't overly impressed - their prices are steep and the food just so so.

By the time we headed back to the van the night had turned cold and windy. We moved fast. I snapped a few pictures of the row of Christmas lights. Sadly the main lights overpowered them and the pictures really didn't turn out well.

But we enjoyed walking through the display nonetheless.

Monday morning we continued our ride to our destination - the Berean Bible Church in New Braunfels.  If you have been with us for a while you will surely recognize this place - this will be our fourth visit to see Pastor Jerry and his wife Barbara. In fact we were here just last March as we were heading north from Mexico. Our other three visits are here, here and here.

Texas!? What are you doing in Texas?! What about not speeding through Louisiana. Right George!?

For those of you not on Facebook you are completely lost right now I am sure. 

Plans have completely changed.

I don't know what I was thinking when I said last night that I would share our new plan with you tonight - a bit premature. 

But I am out of photos now so it will definitely be on tap for tomorrow night. Good timing too - a new year a new travel plan.

And with that segway ------


To you all from the Wood Clan - may 2014 bring you health, happiness and new adventures!

Being the party animals that we are NOT - tonight is just a regular night for the three of us!

See you again in the new year!


If you are looking for more of Rantin' n Raven we are not hard to find out there in the social media world. We are on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. See you there!

Monday, December 30, 2013


Friday morning was our last day following the Natchez Trace Parkway. Only 54 miles to go.

And with another early start, we knew that we were going to cross the finish line well before lunch.

First picture of the last day on the NTP. Although much of it is lined with trees, there are many areas where it opens up.

Some to natural areas like this, most often to farmland.

Hmmmm - the story board seems to be missing. If you google NTP and Sunken Trace you can find many pictures of this feature. The 'sunken' areas of the trace are the sections where the ground was relatively soft - the walkers, riders and wagons wore it down.

You can also see summer pictures of the Sunken Trace with are much more alluring. I didn't want to take someone else's photo for you to see but there are many on the internet.

Since it was so cold being so early in the morning - Derek and I left Cassia and Rufus in the van as we came to look. We decided not to climb down. 

Continuing on through the trees.

Next stop - Mount Locust. A main destination on the south end of the Parkway. 

A stop not to be missed.

Enjoying our conversation with the Ranger and the volunteer hosts from Ohio. We were early - they said they liked early visitors! Very friendly folks.

Scott was our tour guide - he knows his stuff. Sadly, Derek was able to hear much more of the history then I was since I had a four and a half year old spurring me on. 

Walking on a part of the Old Trace. This is the Mount Locust Inn and Plantation site. It is one of the oldest structures still standing in the area known for historic homes. Mount Locust was home to five generations of Chamberlains, with the last leaving in 1944.

One of the things that I haven't mentioned yet but should is some history about the Trace. This is from the NTP material. "By 1785, an increasing number of boatman known as "Kaintucks" were floating flatboats down the Mississippi River to sell their goods at the markets in Natchez and New Orleans. Without an efficient way to navigate up the River, the boatman walked north on the NT to make their way home. A day's walk from Natchez brought the Kaintucks and their gold to Mount Locust." 

And beyond. For a meal of corn mush and milk and a place to sleep the cost was 25 cents.

Picture courtesy of Cassia - she is becoming quite the photographer.

The tools to the right would have been in an outbuilding - since there are none today the tools are shown in what was a bedroom for six boys!

This was the ONE girls room!

We really enjoyed our visit at Mount Locust. Derek found a kindred spirit in Scott - I think they could have talked the day away. After breakfast we finally continued on our way.

Our last stop - 10 miles north of Natchez.

The 35 foot high mound covers eight acres and measures 770 feet by 435 feet at its base. Two secondary mounds sit atop the primary mound, bringing the total height to approximately 60 feet!

It was cold and windy but we braved our way to the top.

The last few miles…..

Sad but true. 

Back to the real world. Making our way through Natchez. We may have stopped to have another look around the downtown but since it was still quite early and cold and windy, we decided to continue on.

Heading west over the Mississippi River - our first time going this direction. Two years ago was our first time at the Mississippi River, you can read about that here of our time in Vidalia and our visit to Natchez here.

From Mississippi to Louisiana.

It wasn't long before we were in the middle of Louisiana and traveling through Alexandria. Since we hadn't planned to keep going I was a bit unprepared for this city. I usually have a google map on the iPad so that I know where to send Derek - and it isn't big enough to have a detail map on my paper map. So - we had to wing it. We did well though - nice that the signs were easy to follow.  

A view of the downtown as we went by on the highway. It looked clean and interesting but quiet. Maybe we should have stopped…..has anyone been to downtown Alexandria?

And that was our day. 

After a stop at Walmart on the outskirts of Alexandria we carried on to the Lowe's in Leesville for the night. Again I was unprepared. Derek pulled into McDonald's so that I could do a quick search, but he couldn't find a place to park so pulled out again. Because the road was so busy I was able to bring up the internet and find Lowe's all while we waited to turn. Lowe's was just around the corner - although not visible from the main street so we would have missed it. Nice.

Well, that was our five day Natchez Trace Parkway excursion. As mentioned we highly recommend. Here are some links if you are looking for more info.

Tune in to my post tomorrow night to find out all about our new - yes, NEW, travel plans. Somewhere along the way through Tennessee we decided that something had to give - the weather or us. Since the weather seems to be settling in for a cold winter - we are off to find the HEAT!


If you are looking for more of Rantin' n Raven we are not hard to find out there in the social media world. We are on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest. See you there!

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