1 Comment

The Peaceful Banks of the Medina River

August is upon us, often known as the dog days of summer.  In the southern United Stares, August can be uncomfortably warm with relentless heat and humidity.  Southerners are growing ever so tired of the heat and yearning for the slightly cooler temperatures of fall.

The best place to spend these warm summer days is at the beach or the lake…. or at least in a cool refreshing swimming pool.  Another option is to visit one of the many rivers that wind through the Texas Hill Country. The water can be quite chilly and many rivers offer the cool relief of tubing or rafting.

IMG_0433

 

While we didn’t get away to the beach or lake last weekend, we did stumble across this pretty spot on the Medina River near Bandera.  It was peaceful and quiet, the perfect spot to take a moment to relax and take in the quiet beauty of the river banks.  Huge Cypress trees lined the banks offering plenty of shade from the hot Texas sun.  Actually, we were quite lucky that the recent rains had brought cooler temperatures, a huge improvement to the mid nineties of most August days. 

IMG_0435

I couldn’t get over the amount of birds that were wondering the banks and frolicking in the water.  I did a little research and to the best of my knowledge they were Graylag and Swan Geese with a few Muscovy Ducks mixed in.  (Thank you RH for your assistance on this!)  I went crazy trying to capture as many photos as I could of these amazing creatures.  

IMG_0436  IMG_0431

We came to the river after having a late breakfast in Bandera, also known as the “Cowboy Capital of the World.”  Why it’s called that I’m not really sure, but I did find some hard to resist western boots in one of the local shops.  Another interesting tidbit about Bandera is that Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie visited Bandera while taping their reality show The Simple Life.  If you happen to be a country music fan, Bandera was once called home to country musician Robert Earl Keen

 

We stopped for breadfast at the OST Restaurant in downtown Bandera.  O.S.T. stands for Old Spanish Trail, a route that was designated to improve highway access back in 1915.  The OST Restaurant opened in 1921 and today is one of the last original restaurants along the route.  It features a John Wayne room which features, of course, a plethora of John Wayne memorabilia.

File Aug 10, 5 06 52 PM

File Aug 10, 5 07 33 PM

No trip to Bandera is complete without visiting the General Store.  If you want to experience a bit of Texas history, this is the place to be.  The store is filled with local treasures and there is even an authentic 1950’s ice cream fountain.  we did not sample the ice cream as we had just finished breakfast, but I’m sure it would be a delight!

File Aug 10, 5 08 08 PM

Overall, I really enjoyed out quick trip to Bandera, Texas and the Medina River.  Bandera is filled with a rich Texas history and left me with a desire to return and explore a little more. As they say in Bandera…..

When Life Gets Tough,

Cowboy Up…..

Maybe next trip, I’ll wear my boots! – xxoo Gerri

 

 


2 Comments

The Beaches of Isla Mujeres

Imagine sitting on the beach and gazing off into the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.  I can’t think of anything more relaxing and tranquil than doing just that.

While visiting Isla Mujeres, an island across the the Bay of Mujeres from Cancun, I was fortunate to have several days of relaxing on the beach and soaking in the incredible soft hues of the amazingly clear and tranquil waters.

To Create Sunshine beach on Isla Mujeres

Not only is the water an amazing color of blue, the beaches are as pristine and white as you could hope to find.

To Create Sunshine beach on Isla Mujeres

There are a wide variety of beaches to visit around the island, all beautiful. We spent most of our time at Playa Norte, near downtown.  It was easy access for us, just a short five minute drive in our golf cart from our little casita.  It is also just a brief walk from the ferry if you are visiting the island for just the day.

We found during the week, if you go over on the side near Mia Reef Resort, you get less traffic from day visitors.  However, we did not cross the bridge to the Mia Reef Resort.  Although it appears to be a lovely all inclusive resort, it is rather costly for a day visit to their private beach.

To Ceate Sunshine Isla Mujeres

We chose to stay at the lovely Villa San Miguel.  After several years of resort vacations,  we wanted to experience a more authentic feel for staying on the island.   So often when you are in a resort, it is so lovely and relaxing you just stay in the resort.  Not that there is anything wrong with that!  However, our goal for this trip was to get out and experience what it might be like if we were to purchase property on the island.

File May 14, 8 45 58 AM

We enjoyed zooming around the island in our rented golf cart, and we actually visited the local grocery stores and made our own breakfast each day! ( My husband is a fabulous cook!)  We had hoped to try grilling some fresh fish at our little casita, however, we found the grounds did not provide a grill for us to use.

Renting our golf cart allowed us to explore the island extensively.  The lee side of the island, facing a view of Cancun, has numerous beautiful, sandy beaches.  The east side of the island, facing the Caribbean, is more rocky, but beautiful to gaze upon.  Many gorgeous private homes are on this side of the island.

Breathtaking views can be found at the southern tip of the island.  Here lies the home of Punta Sur and Garrafon Reef Park.  To get there, you must take a taxi or rent a golf cart, but it is well worth the brief journey!  Punta Sur hosts beautiful and unique rocky cliff formations.  For a small fee you may enter the sculpture garden which entry to this allows you a closer views of the rocky cliffs and Cancun across the bay.

To Create Sunshine Isla Mujeres

View of Cancun from Isla Mujeres

If you do make the drive to visit Punta Sur, I highly recommend taking the easterly road back to town.  You get to see the many beautiful villas and the views are amazing!

If you are seeking natural beauty in a peaceful, casual, slower paced island setting, Isla Mujeres should be on your list!  Whether you choose one of the fabulous all-inclusive hotels or choose a quaint villa for your stay, I do not think the Island of Women will disappoint!

Wishing you safe travels wherever you go – xxoo- Gerri

*Original photos by To Create Sunshine – For more photos of the beautiful Isla Mujeres and other amazing places you may follow me on Instagram @tocreatesunshine

 

<a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14269915/?claim=htqt8dsef7z”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>


Leave a comment

Colorful and Exotic Isla Mujeras

To Ceate Sunshine Isla Mujeres

Beautiful and tranquil Isla Mujeres is a slice of paradise in the Carribean Sea.  A small island, only five miles in length, surrounded by amazing turquoise blue water and filled with pristine white sandy beaches.  Isla Mujeres is just a brief ferry ride across the Bay of Mujeres (Bay of Women) from Cancun, yet so very different from Cancun.  If Cancun is Miami, than Isla Mujeres is a smaller, more quaint version of Key West.  Cancun is a huge, metropolitan city filled with beautiful beaches, shopping and nightlife.  Isla Mujeres offers a much slower, laid back island pace.   Imagine your days lounging on the beach or snorkeling in the nearby coral reefs.  Evenings are spent wandering Avenue Hidaigo with it’s many Mexican marcados and street cafes.

To Create Sunshine Isla Mujeres

Marcado on Hidalgo Avenue, Isla Mujeres.

The Mexican Marcado on Avenue Hidaigo

Many visitors come from Cancun each day, but Isla Mujeras is truly a destination in itself. If you plan to stay on Isla Mujeras,  there is a wide range of luxury hotels, all inclusives, and villas to choose from.  For our visit this year, we chose a charming casita near downtown complete with a pool area and incredible view of the Carribean Sea.

GETTING THERE

If you are flying into Cancun, and plan to stay on the island, you will want to prearrange for transport from the airport to the ferry that will take you across the bay to Isla Mujeras.  Have your transport take you to the ferry, where for $10 US you can purchase your ticket to cross the Bay of Mujeres to paradise.

The ferry will drop you off right in the heart of downtown.  You will find yourself on the main boulevard filled with red taxi’s, scooters and golf carts zooming by.  From there, you catch a taxi to your hotel, or if you’re staying downtown, you can transport your own bags the short distance to your hotel.  Some hotels are right down the beach within easy walking distance.  Others are a bit further.  I would want to have a pretty good idea of the location of your hotel if you are planning on walking with your bags, however, you see many people doing this all the time.

To Create Sunshine Isla Mujeres

View of the downtown area from the ferry

One of the fun things about Isla Mujeras is zipping around the five mile island in your rented golf cart. We had prearranged to rent our golf cart for the length of our stay.  One of our party walked to pick up the golf cart while the rest of us waited at the ferry with our bags. Once we had our cart, it was less than a five minute ride to our little casita.

To Create Sunshine Isla Mujeres

Villa San Miguel

Thank you for stopping by for a quick view of Isla Mujeres.  I will be returning with more to share about this beautiful island across from Cancun and more photos of the beautiful beaches.    xxoo Gerri

*Original photos by To Create Sunshine  –  For more photos of the beautiful Isla Mujeres you may follow me on Instagram @tocreatesunshine


2 Comments

The Hills of Tapatio Springs

If you are a lover of rustic charm found in nature, the Texas Hill Country is the place to go.  A few years ago my brother-in-law and his lovely wife moved into the exquisite resort community of Tapatio Springs.  This was a double blessing for my husband and me because not only do we get to visit with them more often, it gives us more opportunity to explore one of our favorite regions in Texas.

To Create Sunshine Tapation Springs, Texas

Tapatio Springs hosts the perfect mix of Texas nature with deluxe resort.  This awe inspiring golfing community is nestled in the heart of the hill country, just outside the charming town of Boerne.  I have to tell you the brief ten minute drive on Johns Road from I-10 to get to Tapatio Springs is just as sweet and charming as the lovely community itself.  Once you exit I-10, the road twists and winds through the rustic and hilly countryside that gives the area it’s name.  As you drive be sure to keep your eyes open for deer, sheep, goats and various other wildlife you might see as you drive.

As you take one last turn around the bend at the top of the hill you get your first breathtaking view of Tapatio Springs. The resort was bought several years ago by the country/western singer George Strait and a group of investors and they have been making improvements to the resort ever since.  The 18 hole golf course has recently been renovated by architect Tripp Davis and Associates and features an amazing panoramic view of the rolling Texas hills that surround the golf course.

I’m honestly not much of a golfer, but I do enjoy riding in the cart and taking in the beauty of the surroundings. I also enjoy photography so this seemed the perfect opportunity to practice my amateur photography skills while Dear Husband practiced his amateur golfing skills.

To Create Sunshine Tapatio Springs, Texas Hill Country

View from the golf course of Tapatio Springs.

As you tour the golf course, you get an amazing view of not only some of the highest hills of the area, but also some of the beautiful homes surrounding the golf course.

IMG_0123

The 18 hole golf course offers a spectacular venue and is filled with auspicious live oak trees, rolling terrain and abundant with water features.  This serene Hill Country Resort offers both a photographers and a golfers delight!

IMG_0124

As always, when it’s time to pack up and return to our busy lives in the city, I’m thankful for the opportunity to have spent some relaxed time in the serene beauty of the Texas Hill Country!

Until Next Time – xxoo- Gerri


7 Comments

Rustic Charm in the Texas Hill Country

I know that there are many places of awe inspiring beauty in the world. Colorado has the most majestic mountains I’ve ever seen.  I am enthralled by the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Sea.  I have been astounded by the breathtaking beauty of Hawaii.  Thailand fascinated me with it’s exotic culture and charming people. I long to visit and see more of these amazing places.  However unique and fascinating those places are, they are far from my home.

So, when I need a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city, I escape to the Texas Hill Country. My husband and I load up the Tahoe, along with our schnauzer, Bear, and head west until the flat lands gradually turn into rugged, rolling hills covered with live oak and cedar trees.  Nestled between San Antonio and Austin and encompassing 25 counties, the Texas Hill Country boasts of a rustic charm filled with a a rich Texas history, charming architecture, and a natural beauty that soothes my soul and brings me peace and serenity.

IMG_20170220_100426.jpg

I have to admit, the weather was less than desirable the weekend of our last visit. After our arrival the fog and rain set in, and temperatures dropped into the 30’s.  No worries though.  We loved being there no matter what the weather.

The Texas Hill Country is known for it’s numerous small town venues, restaurants and antique shops all filled with quaint, rustic charm.  One of our favorite hidden gems is the Welfare Cafe. Located off IH-10, between Boerne and Comfort, the Welfare Cafe is an out of the way kind of place that is not too be missed.

The Welfare Cafe began as a General Store way back in early Texas history opening around 1848.  The local post office was later established in 1880 inside the General Store.  Welfare became a railroad shipping point and the small town thrived. By 1892, the town of Welfare consisted of a whopping 275 residents, along with a schoolhouse, saloon, hotel and cotton gin.

img_20170220_104130

In 1916, the original general store and post office burned down, but was rebuilt that same year.  As time passed, the small towns population dwindled and bad times haunted the small community.  The boll weevils destroyed the cotton crops, and of course there was the  great depression.  The population dropped to a mere 25 residents.  Through it all, the post office and general store continued to be an important meeting place for the community.  A place to collect your mail and exchange stories, borrow books and talk about the weather. Over time as the population of the small town dwindled,  the local school closed and the few students  that still lived in Welfare would take the bus to the school in Comfort.  At the end of the day the bus would drop them off at, where else, but the general store.  In 1966, the trained stopped running past Welfare and it wasn’t long after that the post office closed, followed by the general store in 1978.

img_20170220_214816

Today, the fascinating history of the small community of Welfare is being revitalized by Gabriele McCormick and her husband David.  In the early nineties, Gabriele and David were looking for a change from corporate life in the city and fell in love with the charm of the hill country,  as so many of us do.  They purchased the general store, post office, and various barns on about 150 acres.  Slowly, they began to restore the old buildings and began the transformation to what we now enjoy as the Welfare Cafe.  The restaurant has thrived, and over the years, Gabby and David have continued to make improvements on the land.

In 2005, the Goat Barn was built using reclaimed wood from the original barn.  There is now an intimate wine bar in the loft. The Welfare Cafe frequently offers special events and is the perfect venue for a rustic, but charming hill country wedding.

IMG_20170221_162019.jpg

As mentioned previously, the weather was dreary the day we visited and the charming, rustic gardens were showing the effects of the recent freeze.  I have to admit, I enjoy wandering the grounds almost as much as I enjoy the fabulous cuisine which has a touch of German influence.  The day we were there, we enjoyed a delicious Sunday brunch complete with German sausage and strudel, croissants, an assortment of fresh fruits and cheeses, quiche, pancakes and so much more.  Of course, what Sunday brunch is not complete without Mimosas!

IMG_20170225_094009.jpg

IMG_20170212_105341.jpg

The Welfare Cafe is a delightfully charming venue filled with nostalgia and relics from the past.  This is a delightful spot for a lovely lunch or dinner.  Be sure to check out their website and calendar for special events.  They offer special holiday celebrations and often have live entertainment.

The charms of the Texas Hill Country are endless.  If I had my way, I would spend my days wandering the many small towns and visiting all the lovely shops, restaurants, historical sites, and possibly a winery or two.

I hope that someday you have a chance to visit the Texas Hill Country and explore the many fascinating venues that the area has to offer.

“Texas is a State of Mind.”  –  John Steinbeck

xxoo – Gerri

* I would love to hear a comment from you have visited or plan to visit the Texas Hill Country or the Welfare Cafe and Goat Barn.

a href=”https://www.bloglovin.com/blog/14269915/?claim=kjbfj8dhdym”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>


2 Comments

Estes Park Beauty

After being home in Cypress for two weeks, I am still reveling in the delight and memory of our Rocky Mountain getaway.  Today I am sharing photos with you from the town of Estes Park.

image

Estes Park is nestled at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park and is surrounded by the most auspicious views everywhere you turn.  Mountain Peaks rising around you range in height from 8500 feet to 14,000 feet.  Mix this backdrop with the beauty of changing fall colors and you have a recipe for beauty that is hard to beat.  The town hosts numerous cabins, condos and hotels all sharing amazing views of the glorious Rocky Mountains.

image

Estes Park offers an abundance of shops, galleries, boutiques and restaurants to enjoy during your visit.  Main Street has a small town atmosphere where you can enjoy the beauty of the Riverwalk while browsing the many shops and local artists galleries. You can even throw a line in and try your hand at fly fishing.

image

One of our favorite dining spots while visiting Estes Park was Ed’s Cantina and Grill. Although we had a bit of a wait ( they do take reservations ) the food did not disappoint. The menu is diverse and flavorful with plenty of fresh ingredients featuring items such as Squash Stuffed Poblano Chile and Bison Tacos. My personal favorites included the Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas and the Veggie Taco Salad. The diversity of the menu satisfied both the vegans and carnivores traveling in our group.

image

When you step outside the backdoor of Ed’s Cantina, you are greeted by the surprising beauty of the riverwalk that meanders through the town.   Here you can enjoy a stroll or simply sit and take in the peaceful beauty of the river.  Many restaurants offer outdoor seating to take in the glory while you dine.

image

I have been fortunate to visit the wonders of Colorado a few times.  Each time it has left me in a state of awe and wonder at it’s incredible beauty.  There is so much more to see and experience in this great state that I look forward to hopefully many more trips!

Hope you are enjoying the beauty that surrounds you                                     where ever you may be today!

xxoo  Gerri

 


4 Comments

Rocky Mountain High!

image

As an elementary art teacher, I rarely have the opportunity to travel in the fall. But when our dear friend’s daughter announced her wedding would be in Estes Park, Colorado, my husband and I jumped at the chance to share their special day and to visit beautiful Colorado in the fall!

image

From the moment we headed north on Highway 25 from Denver to Estes Park, the astounding beauty of Colorado  began to fill my soul with a peace and serenity that is often difficult to find.  The beauty of the fall colors mixed with the Rocky Mountain backdrop was everything and more that I had hoped to see.

image

Our friends recently bought an amazing cabin ( really it’s a beautiful home ) just at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park.  The views from their back porch are simply stunning!

image

The first morning after our arrival we were awoken by the sound of bugling by the “Great Prince” elk as he kept his “harem” together.   Imagine walking onto your back porch to find some 50 odd elk passing by about 50 feet away.

image

image

My husband took this photo of a “Great Prince” elk in town.  October is rutting season for elks.  The male elk ( or as we like to call him the “Great Prince” ) gathers as many female elks as possible into his “harem”.  The “Great Prince” is clearly in command and does not easily welcome any “competitors” near his “harem.”

Before the wedding, we had a day to explore Rocky Mountain National Park! The only word I know to describe the views is breathtaking!  I have had the good fortune to visit this incredible place before and I promise it never disappoints.

image

image

Travel Tip:  October is an incredible time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. The air is crisp and the birch trees are turning a beautiful yellow gold.  It’s hard to miss the harems of elk as they travel into town and inhabit the local golf course.  The crowds of summer have begun to thin, but there are still many visitors to the park on the weekend.  We arrived on a Tuesday and were able to take advantage of the park before the many weekend visitors.  The weather was cold the day of our arrival, so pack you jacket,  but warmed up to a very pleasant 70 degrees over

image

 Many happy travels to you!  Gerri xxoo