A day trip (AKA wandering, exploring, out and about, vagabonding) was long over due. COVID, chilly weather, and Christmas had interfered for too long. I planned the trip early in the week with an eye on the weather, but determined that I was going, rain or shine. The question was where to go. I didn’t want to spend too much time driving and I didn’t want to go anywhere where there would be a crowd of people. Even as I left the house I still kept the option of changing plans very open, but for once I stayed with my original plan: New Braunfels and San Marcos.
As I arrived at my first stop the temperature was 44 degrees, but the sun was shining brightly in a cloudless blue sky, giving the feeling of warmth. I knew that while the trees were leafless it would be the perfect time to make pictures, but quickly discovered that since I had not popped the camera card in the camera I would be using just my cell phone. In spite of the cold I began by walking about in New Braunfels.
Long ago, when I was a wife and a young mother, I lived in New Braunfels for 5 years. At that time, in the late 1970’s, NB was still a small, German town. But it was beginning to embrace the modern world and opening up to new businesses and development. We enjoyed the years there, but missed the benefits of living in a larger city with more amenities. Today, NB is almost a suburb of San Antonio due to the growth of the surrounding area and there just as many businesses, restaurants, and hotels as in SA. NB has done a wonderful job of opening itself up while preserving its heritage. There are only a few dilapidated structures while most are well preserved and occupied. The main streets are still filled with local businesses just as they were 40 years ago; a perfect job of preserving and reinventing a small town.
After parking, my first stop was at the First Protestant Church. When I lived in NB it was just the church building, the parish hall, and the old house next door which housed its Mother’s Day Out and Preschool. Today the campus features many new buildings, including a large school building. I never attended a service at this church, nor a wedding or funeral during the years I lived there. I seem to remember at that time that it was a small, very German church community yet I was always charmed by it as I drove by countless times. I’m intrigued by the stain glass windows and may have to visit there someday to view them from the inside.
Every Saturday morning NB hosts a local Farmers Market that is one of the best in the area. The fresh vegetables all come from farms in the area; most are organic. Vendors sell meat, pickles, soaps, breads, coffee, etc. It was a little crowded, but everyone was wearing a mask and trying to maintain distance. I was pleased to come home with a small cauliflower, a small cabbage, broccoli, and a nice bunch of small carrots – all for $6.50.
I enjoyed time walking around downtown and making photographs as best as possible. Traffic was heavy and being patient to catch a shot was a must. My last stop before lunch was the Old Post Office, now an upscale seafood restaurant. The façade has been restyled and I need to see if I can retrieve a before picture to compare. While I’m glad it has been repurposed, it also made me feel like it had been defiled in a way. After all, these old post offices are almost sacred to me. I remember going up those steps countless times with a baby on my hip and my young son’s hand in mine, sweet memory.
After lunch at a local restaurant I shuffled slowly north on I-35 to nearby San Marcos, county seat of Hays County. Of course, I was seeking the Courthouse! It has an interesting history and I’m looking forward to sharing it soon. The square was delightful and, again, every shop was occupied. Just to note San Marcos is home to Texas State University and is very much a college town. It has been many years since I left I-35 and ventured into town and I was pleased to find a new place to explore. To me, San Marcos has always just been a way marker on the journey north or south on the freeway, the outlet mall, and exit 205 where I turn to follow Texas 21 east to Bastrop or beyond to eventually catch I-20. I’ve been missing a lot and since it is just 45 minutes from home will be coming here more frequently, I’m sure.
By this time the wind had picked up and clouds were quickly gathering, so I decided to call it a day – a very good day – and start home, feeling refreshed and renewed knowing that I had new things to research and more things on my exploring list!