Wednesday, May 27, 2009

God Bless the German People

Specifically the ones who settled central Texas, for they introduced my world to beer, brats, and Schlitterbahn.

We've just returned from a relaxing five-nighter in the blue collar Riviera of Texas, New Braunfels, known for rolling hills, river sports and THE water park that started it all.

When I was growing up in that big family, most of our vacations were spent camping in the great outdoors. We had a groovy 70's VW camper (orange) with a pop-top sleeping loft and a built-in fridge and sink. We'd pack that baby to the brim: kids, tent, Coleman stove and hit the road. It must have been chaotic with the country music playing while kids fought in the back seat to pass the time, all the while, the wind whipping through the orange plaid curtains mom made for the camper that dad called "Betsy." But I only remember the good times.

I realize my memories are only just sprinkled with reality because Betsy was, in fact, a lemon and I'm reminded by my siblings how much trouble she often gave us on those romantic road trips. My brother assures me that camping was hot, uncomfortable torture once he hit his teen years but was still too young to stay home alone. I think we have photographic evidence of his misery somewhere.

Yes, hotels and a/c are not to be replaced, but what about roasting dinner on a stick over a campfire and waking up at the first sunlight to the smell of coffee brewing and bacon frying outdoors? What about chasing frogs and lightening bugs and peeing behind trees in the dark? What about learning to pitch a tent, or roll up a sleeping bag, or start a campfire? What about looking out at the night sky to discover all the stars that are washed out by city lights? And what about all that together-time with no movies or computers to entertain ourselves with? When you camp, you hang out and you talk and you eat, and you get dirty and go swimming to wash off the sweat. To me, camping evokes good times, simple times. And I want that again, for my boys.

Once out of college, MMA and I enjoyed many wonderful trips to places I'd only dreamed of going as a child. I thought I had arrived. Why drive somewhere and camp when you can travel like this? Or so I thought.

But as we were leisurely loading up the car last Sunday (no plane to catch, no danger in drinking the local water) for the drive to our rustic cottage with all the comforts of home, just three hours from home --I'm almost six months pregnant remember, let's not get crazy-- I finally got it. I understand now why so many generations have been vacationing in New Braunfels with their kids. Even those who could have gone somewhere more exotic.

Fancy Camping?

Only now do I get it, that when you travel with little ones, it really is all about what they want and need because taking care of them first affords us some R&R, too. Those wonderful Germans must have surely understood that when they fashioned the perfect, affordable family vacation spot smack dab in the middle of all the biggest cities in Texas. An easy vacation in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, what's not to love!

I came to these same caverns as a kid

You should have seen me floating along the lazy river, butt-up, at Schlitterbahn with my big pregnant belly resting so pleasingly in the inner tube. I felt like I had re-arrived, further evolved. Only Child was giggling and bouncing along beside me under the watchful eye of his daddy. I knew he would be worn out and ready for bed extra early.

Forget about expensive drinks at the swim up bar or going back to the room to fix my wet hair for an evening out. I was looking forward to hanging out on our rented couch to watch TV and read in peace and quiet. That last night, a whole pack of deer came to graze right outside our cabin in front of the river.

It was so pretty and peaceful and I thought to myself what I always think on vacation, (no matter where) "This is the life, right here. This is it!" (And of course, "How much is real estate around here?)

So, God Bless you, German settlers of central Texas!

Gettin' his Facebook on


Anonymous said...

Oh Schlitterbahn! That brings back some great memories. You should take Only Child to Blue Hole in Wimberly too. We spent many a summers there camping out.

Girly Stuff said...

How cool! I love be some Germans as well!

It is all about the hotel pool when you have kids!

I would like to see the Schlitterbahn butt shot! I'm sure some passerby has blogged it already!

Tooj said...

Holy crap, you described my childhood growing up! The camping, the sleeping bags, the kids fighting and teenagers wallowing. The campfires, swimming, peeing by the trees, bacon in the You've just handed me a HUGE dose of nostalgia. Phew. *tear* Thanks.

Aggie2percenter said...

BTW, I was not facebooking. I was working.

Great post. You should sell this to the Hill Country Chamber of Commerce, if there is such a thing.

Live.Love.Eat said...

I LOVE camping & I LOVE that cabin. Good times. Such an awesoe looking vacay!!!!!

Life with Kaishon said...

Your trip sounds like so much fun! I just stopped over from Live. Love. Eat and I laughed out loud because isn't it funny how we romantascize all of our childhood memories : ). The camper does sound nice though. I always wanted to be a family with a camper. We never got one...

Megan said...

For the past 22 years, my parents have been vacationing on the same lake in northern minnesota. When Drew was 1 year old, we took him. I totally know what you mean! But, it is a 13 hour drive so we have not attempted it with 2 littles. Great post.

Jill said...

The Texas Hill Country is SO fun. The cabin is so cute!

Bonnie said...

That looks like a wonderful vacation. I hope you are feeling well in your 6th month! It's funny how camping sounds good in theory buy it's really exhausting for the parents!

Jill said...

Ha Ha... I'm cracking up at it "didn't translate." That's SCARY.

Together We Save said...

Sounds like you had alot of fun.

Kellie said...

We lived in San Antonio for 18 months in the late 90's. You took me back to-the-day with the word Schlitterbahn!

Its a Texas classic!