Saturday, March 24, 2018

On the Roads Around Navasota, Texas

The trip from La Grange, Texas, to our next destination took longer than usual, because we made an interesting pit stop along the way. We were driving through Brenham, Texas, and we just had to stop to see the home of Blue Belle Ice Cream. We saw evidence that this town has benefited greatly from the generosity of this ice cream company. We parked our motor home in the parking lot of the Blue Belle high school football stadium . . .

and we walked beside the Blue Belle Aquatic Center.

We had this little walk because the parking lots at the ice cream factory were far too busy and full to fit in another car--much less a 35-foot motor home pulling a car. It seems that we have once again managed to visit a very popular kid destination during spring break. (This brought back memories of last year's spring break visit to the Jelly Belly factory in California.) There were families every where, and the line for ice cream was long!

We took in the informational items at the visitor center. We learned about the 100-year history of the Blue Belle Company, and the process for making ice cream. But none of the displays were as photogenic as the picture booths they had set up for the spring break crowds.

Denisa is thinking about coming out of retirement to be a taste-tester here!

Next, we headed over to the ice cream parlor next door. Generous scoops cost only $1, and we taste-tested the pistachio almond and strawberry cheesecake. No pictures were allowed, but we also got to watch the packaging production line through a big window into the factory. They were packaging single-serve and half-gallon-size ice cream this morning. These must be lucky employees, as their company logo proudly proclaims, "we eat all we can and sell the rest." If Mark came out of retirement, this is where he wants to work too.

This was an interesting trip today, because we also drove through the town of Round Top. With a population of only 90, this tiny town will swell to around 100,000 for the Round Top Antique Week April 2-7. It has grown into such a success that neighboring businesses and communities have started similar antique fairs. We saw many vendors already in place and more tents going up along this two-lane road in the middle of March.

One of the locals told us they always try to leave during the antique events along this highway. With all the traffic, it can literally take an hour to drive a couple miles. That can be real unhandy if you live here, but it was certainly interesting to watch these tiny towns getting ready for the crowds. We got this clear picture of the long line of tent frames going up along this country highway because we are actually stopped. There's a road crew with a flag-man stopping traffic. They are mowing and getting this road in best shape before the crowds arrive.

The Texas roads crews are careful about where they mow this time of year. They know that mowing too early will cut off the tops of the wildflowers, and not allow them to re-seed for next year. On the drive today, we were pleasantly surprised with the number of wildflowers we got to see.

After an interesting journey, we arrived in our new home town--Navasota, Texas. We picked this town only because they have a city-owned RV park that charges only $10 per night for full hook-ups. But we discovered we were close to much more! For example, we're just 25 miles from College Station, Texas. That's the home of Texas A&M, and we both love touring college campuses. We felt very welcomed as we saw the floral display outside the visitor's center that gave us a warm Texas "Howdy!"

Of course, we have to walk by the football stadium of this Division I school. Texas A&M's Kyle Field looks very nice from the outside, but no visitors were allowed inside today.

The campus was a mixture of old and new buildings, and each one had a different architectural style. This old classic was our favorite, with its green dome visible from afar.

We are visiting during spring break, so there are almost no students on campus. With the parking situation with any large university, we're not sure if we would have tried to drive on campus during a regular school week. To make it even more congested, this year saw a record high enrollment with 68,625 students. It looks like few students try to drive on campus. We saw full bike racks . . .

all over campus. We're thinking that the college application process must include a bike driving test, because students obviously have to have one to survive here.

We found out that a student didn't have to own a bike, because there are these yellow rental bikes available all over campus.

By following the instructions found on the bicycle, a student could unlock the bike, and hop aboard.

When a smart phone reads the QR code on the bike, it removes the lock holding the back spokes in place. The bike can be ridden, then left at another location on campus for the next renter.

The disadvantage to visiting during Spring Break is that most of the buildings on campus are locked. We always enjoy walking through the student center to get a taste of student life. Even though we couldn't go inside today, Mark would have had to remove his cap if it was open. We thought it was a nice token of respect we haven't seen before.

Spring is blooming in some of the flower beds on campus. This was iconic Texas--a bed of bluebonnets with a single yellow rose of Texas blooming in the middle.

Our other reason for making the trip to College Station was to tour the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, close to the Texas A&M campus.

Just in case we should forget, the flowers outside remind us that he was the 41st president of the United States.

We felt like we really got to know George and Barbara Bush while we made our way through the museum. It was almost like sitting down with him for a chat in a comfortable armchair.

We even got to explore the Oval Office, where Denisa was making some top-secret phone calls. 

The docent pointed out the left hand desk drawer. That's where the president kept his baseball mitt in case there was a pick-up game of ball out on the south lawn.

We saw the presidential limousine and a navy plane like the one that young George was flying when he was shot down in World War II. But the historical artifact that we took a picture of was a section of the Berlin Wall, which fell during Bush's presidency.

We have enjoyed exploring the roads around our new home town of Navasota, Texas. Who knew there was so much to see around our new home town?

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