Monday, April 30, 2012

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

  This garden was started in 1933 as a public relief program so the setting is park-like with many large old trees. The main areas are the Adelaide Polk Fuller Garden, the Conservatory, the Texas Native Forest Boardwalk, the Rose Garden, and the Japanese Garden but there are also a number of small gardens scattered around the grounds. Admission to the garden is free. A small fee is charged for the Conservatory and the Japanese Garden – free with a AHS garden pass.

  Most areas are accessible but some sections will require backtracking. The path between the Adelaide Polk Fuller Garden and the Texas Native Forest Boardwalk is surfaced with wood chips which make pushing a little hard. The paths at south end of the Rose Garden have steps, steep spots, or other obstacles so backtracking is the best option. The Japanese Garden has an accessible path that is marked. Wheelchair users may find it easiest to exit the Japanese Garden through the entrance. The exit has a revolving gate which is too small for a wheelchair to fit through. The alternate exit is through the gift shop which has an extremely heavy door.

  The parking lot at the north entrance is very big –RVs can be parked lengthwise across the spaces. There’s also a parking lot at the Japanese garden where small RVs will fit. Check that there aren’t any special events planned on the day that you visit because the parking lots will fill.  Garden
32.7401, -97.36268

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trinity Park Trail Loop

   Trinity Trail is a paved biking/walking trail along the Trinity River. By following the gravel trails through Trinity Park it’s possible to make a loop and end up back where you started. The trails are accessible but a little dusty in dry weather.

   Parking is available along the road inside the park. Trail
32.73758, -97.3588

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Walling Bend – Lake Whitney COE

   The Corp of Engineers operates boat ramps around the lake. Four of the ramps also have small primitive campgrounds – free to stay for up to 14 nights.  Walling Bend has about five sites with picnic tables under shelters  and restrooms. To get to the campground pass the park sign on the right and continue to the boat ramp. The campground is on the left. Large RVs will not fit in most of the sites because of low hanging branches and caution should be used if driving through the campground loop road.

  None of the sites are accessible. The tables are concrete without an overhang. They sit on concrete pads that are not flush with the ground. The parking aprons have large, loose gravel. The restrooms are not accessible. Campground
31.89797, -97.39704

Friday, April 27, 2012

Dr. Pepper Museum

   The museum is located in the building where Dr Pepper was bottled from 1906 until the 1980s. A artesian well was dug inside the building to assure a safe, fresh supply of water for the bottling process. The exhibits include early bottling equipment and old advertising and promotional items.

   The museum is all accessible.

   A free parking lot is located across the street. Large RVs may have to be parked lengthwise across the spaces. There are also spaces available along the street. Museum
31.55493, -97.1296

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Midway Park–Corp of Engineers Campground

   We’re a little spoiled. After camping in COE parks in the southeast  where the sites are very roomy with wide paved parking aprons and the accessible sites are actually accessible we keep expecting all of them to be that good. Even so this is very nice little campground. Most of the sites are shaded by well trimmed trees and there’s a breeze from the lake all day. It’s close to a four lane highway but little traffic noise can be heard in the farthest away sites. has five of the sites marked as accessible. The only difference between them and the regular sites is that some of the sites have steps to the table and the accessible ones do not. All of the tables have long overhangs. They're mounted on a concrete pad. A few have a roof for shade. The pads are not completely flush with the ground. The fire pit doesn’t have raised sides. The parking aprons are surfaced with crushed stone – easy to roll along. The driveways have large loose gravel which is difficult to roll along. The restrooms are not close to the accessible sites.

  Many of the sites are large enough for any RV.  Campground
31.52548, -97.22659

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blanton Museum of Art

  This museum has a large collection of European religious paintings plus modern art and temporary exhibits.

  Everything is accessible.

  A parking garage for cars is located across Brazos Street. There are metered spaces along the surrounding streets where RVs will fit taking up several spaces. If you visit on the weekend the state employees lot located directly across MLK Jr. Blvd. is free to use and big enough for any RV. Museum
30.2807, -97.73778

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Umlauf Sculpture Gardens

   Charles Umlauf , a sculptor and teacher at the University of Texas, donated his home, studio, and many sculptures to the city of Austin. Forty nine of the sculptures are located along the paths of this  small garden.

   The garden is partially wheelchair accessible. The paths are surfaced with crushed stoned which is loose and uneven in spots. The upper section is accessed by steps only. The sculptures have been waxed so they may be touched without damaging the patina.

  The parking lot is very small. RVs can be parked across the street, adjacent to the ball fields. The cross cuts are good and there is a marked pedestrian crosswalk but keep in mind that Texan motorists rarely stop for people in a crosswalk. Garden
30.26288, -97.76647

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

  We missed bluebonnet blooming season but the fields are still full of thousands of Indian blankets, hundreds of other wildflowers, and multitudes of butterflies. The organized part of the garden which is also a research and education center is kind of small so take the trails through the meadows and woodlands to enjoy all of the wildflowers in a natural setting.

 The center is accessible but has rough stone paving and crushed stone paths so pushing is a little hard in some sections. The John Barr loop trail, which winds through the meadows, is accessible but most wheelchair users will need to have some help due to loose gravel in some spots. The Savanna Meadow Trail and The Woodlands Trail are not accessible because of roots, steps, and rocks in the paths.

There are a few parking spots for buses and RVs. Small RVs will fit in the regular spaces and larger ones can be parkrd across the spaces if the bus spaces are full. Garden
30.18601, -97.87144

Zilker Botanical Garden

   The thirty acres of this garden have interconnected paths winding from one themed garden to another. Very little was blooming when we visited and parts of it looked a little neglected.

  Although the path leading to the rose garden is marked as accessible we found this to be one of the most inaccessible gardens that we’ve visited. A long, slightly sloped downhill, paved path dead ends at the rose garden so turning around and going back up by that path is the only option. The other paths through the gardens are inaccessible due to steps, loose gravel, narrow passages, and uneven stones.

  The garden parking lot is large enough for small RVs parked across a few spaces but some of the tree branches hang down too low. The parks division is aware of this but it’s not a priority at the moment. Overflow and large vehicle parking is located on Stratford Drive.  Get directions and park across from the back entrance. The back entrance has a very steep hill that must be navigated to get to the gardens and  I would not recommend it for wheelchair users. Ziker Park is very popular and on this beautiful Sunday the whole park was packed. A weekday visit would probably be better.  Garden
30.26889, -97.77214

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum

  Three stories of exhibits tell the story of Texas history in this excellent museum. Especially interesting are the artifacts from a sunken French ship, the Belle. The Belle sunk in 1687, part of a failed expedition led by Robert Cavelier, sieur de La Salle to establish a colony at the mouth of the Mississippi.

  The museum is all accessible. Some areas have concrete floors textured to resemble mud or sand so rolling around is bumpy. There are small theaters throughout the exhibits. All have extra space alongside the seats where wheelchairs will fit.

  Parking is limited. If you have a car a parking garage (7’2” clearance) is located across the street. There is a small amount of metered parking on the streets. We parked along the street behind the Blanton Museum of Art where there is a section of handicapped parking spots. If you park in the handicapped spaces follow the sidewalk west  then go left through the little park which will take you to the crosswalk and the museum entrance. If you visit on the weekend the state employees lot located directly across from the front entrance is free to use and big enough for any RV. Museum
30.28012, -97.73892

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cathedral of Junk

   This place is so cool! Vince Hannemann, above, started a little backyard art project that grew into a two story tower of creatively assembled junk. Look hard enough and you’ll be able to find at least one of everything ever made by man buried somewhere in the creation. To see the tower walk up the driveway, bang on the gong or call the phone number. If he’s home, Mr. Hannemann, who is very accommodating, will open the gate and you’re free to wander around as long as you like.

  The bottom level of the tower is wheelchair accessible. It’s possible to weave through the passageways around the legs of the tower. Some areas have little steps but you can see everything by taking a different route.

  The cathedral is located on a quiet residential street and the houses are close together so there isn’t a lot of parking. Small RVs and vans are fine but there really isn’t any room for large RVs. Cathedral
30.21871, -97.7717

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

  There are five Spanish missions along the San Antonio River. The first, Mission San Antonio de Valero, now known as the Alamo, is a museum managed by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. The other four are part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and are still active churches. Visiting all of the missions in the park is very easy to do because they are only a short distant apart and the entire amount of traveling is less than 10 miles. Even so we only managed to see two of them. The most northern ( right off of I-10 ), Mission Concepcion, is the oldest unrestored stone church in the United States. The next one on the trail, Mission San Jose, has had extensive restorations after many years of  total abandonment. This is also the site of the park’s visitor center.

  Both Mission Conception and Mission San Jose are fairly accessible. The main pathways around the grounds are paved. A few of the doorways are too narrow for wheelchairs to fit through but there are other wider doorways. The chapels at both sites have a very steep short ramped section into the pew area. The visitor center is completely accessible.

 The parking lot at Mission Conception is pretty small but there are some spaces for buses or RVs.  Mission San Jose’s lot is large plus there’s another lot just for buses and RVs.  Missions
29.41722, -98.48291

Monday, April 16, 2012

Institute of Texan Cultures

   This museum has exhibits focusing on almost two dozen different cultural groups who have settled in Texas. There’s also a short film and an outside area with five buildings typical of Texas in the 1800’s.

  The museum is all accessible. We didn’t have enough time to see the outside area. There’s a ramp from the museum to the outside area but I don’t know if the buildings have ramps too.
A small parking lot at the museum has spaces large enough for vans and small RVs. Larger RVs can be parked along the street, taking up several spaces.  Museum

Sunday, April 15, 2012

San Antonio River Walk - North

  The northern section of the River Walk was completed in 2009 and is much more tranquil than the downtown loop with beautiful landscaping and water features. Art installations are spaced out along the walkway and it also goes past the San Antonio Museum of Art .

  Since this section of the walkway is new all of the access points have ramps along with steps. The bridges that cross the river are all accessible. The pavement is mostly smooth concrete. Watch the edges because many sections do not have railings or edge guards. The river taxis venture as far as the lock and dam.The boats are wheelchair accessible with a flat spot at the front of the boat next to the driver.  River Boat 

  Parking is available along the streets at the far north end of the River Walk near the old Pearl Brewery.

Parking may also be possible in the brewery lot.  River Walk
29.44382, -98.48124

Pearl Farmers Market

   It’s still a little too early for summer produce so the market has mostly root and cabbage family vegetables. One vender has a good selection of grass fed beef, goat, lamb, and venison. Since we were looking for grass fed beef we are very happy! Other venders sell buffalo, chicken, eggs, and prepared food – no craft stands.

  There’s a small amount of parking at the market and many spaces along the surrounding streets. The sidewalks and curb cuts are in good condition.  Market
29.44413, -98.48096

Thursday, April 12, 2012

San Antonio River Walk

  Every city should have a walkway like the River Walk!  Five miles of walkway along both sides of the river allow pedestrians to meander along past bars, shops, restaurants, and also through quieter areas with beautiful old trees.

  The walkway is accessible but wheelchair users should be prepared for some bumpy surfaces, narrow areas, congestion in the downtown loop, and sections without railings or any type of guard edge next to the drop off into the river. There are many elevators down to the walkway but they may not be at a good location to access the restaurant or shop that you wish to visit. It’s hard to get from one side of the river to the other side because there are few accessible bridges. Most of the bridges are a high arch with steps.

  The flat bottom boats that cruise the river offer three types of experiences - guided tours, hop-on taxi service, and chartered dinner cruises. The boats are wheelchair accessible with a flat spot at the front of the boat next to the driver.  River Boat

  As in any large city parking is limited, especially for RVs. We found a parking lot on the corner of Broadway and 4th Street which allows RV parking. The fee for anything larger than a pickup is $10.00 for all day parking. There are also metered spaces along the street, free after 6:00 PM. Walk north on Alamo St. a few blocks to get to the River Walk and the Alamo. This is also the best path for wheelchair users.   River Walk 
29.4256, -98.48862

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Free eBooks

    There are so many free eBooks! Many are public domain classics and first person narratives. It’s fun to read personal accounts from the correct time period when you’re visiting a historic site so I’m adding links on the blog posts when I find an appropriate book. I haven’t read most of them yet so they might be really awful! ; D

   The links all go to Amazon just because it’s so easy to load books onto a Kindle from Amazon but you can find the same books on Many Books or Project Gutenberg.

 Update - Many of the free Amazon books had broken links because the books were no longer free so I've switched a bunch over to Gutenberg. I'll probably just use Gutenberg in the future to solve this problem even though it makes loading the books onto a Kindle more cumbersome.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We Love Free Stuff!


  Any fun free places to go in your hometown? Please leave a comment below!


   Finding interesting places to stop at while traveling  is fairly easy – stop at any state or city information center or just Google. Finding interesting places to go that are also free is a little more difficult because the pamphlets and magazines that are available at the information centers are often just glorified advertisements. Google will bring up the most popular and well known places on the first page while cool little out of the way places are hidden several pages in. Searching for free things to do , free campsites , trails and museums often yields some great places. But the best way to find  places are by asking the locals – all of you!

    I’ve marked free attractions on the maps with an asterisk. They’re complete free , no parking fees if they have a dedicated lot and no need for any type of pass.

   We’ll be visiting relatives in Texas for the next couple of weeks so posts will be infrequent for awhile. Thanks a lot for visiting and check back in a few weeks!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sherwood Forest Faire

   The performers are what makes a faire and these guys are great. Everyone is completely into playing their character and seems to love what they’re doing.  The costumes are fabulous – fairies, knights, pirates, gypsies, peasants, Merry Men plus the mixture of fantasy outfits worn by people attending the fair.

  The fair grounds are not accessible due to soft sand , large stones, hilly terrain, and rutted roadways. Some of the shops do not have ramps. Anyone using a manual chair will need to have an energetic helper. A power chair or scooter user may be able to navigate around the worse areas.

  The parking area for RVs is fairly close to the entrance. There’s also a tent and popup camping area a short drive away- $10.00 per person for the weekend. We asked if we could stay overnight in the RV lot and were given permission so we stayed but I don’t know if this is their normal policy.  Faire
30.23459, -97.16685