Sunday, March 5, 2017

South Central Texas East of I 35

     PREFACE:   I have to add that before we left Canyon Lake we had to go back to the village of Gruene and pick up some more Pecan Roca.  As a kid I used to love to eat Almond Roca, something we used to sell for fundraisers when I was in school, but Pecan Roca is SO MUCH BETTER.  I told Barb that this time she needs to hide the container from me. 
Photo courtesy of Lockhart Chamber of Commerce
      On the heels of our financial 'reawakening' in the Hill Country the final stop to our Texas Real Estate Adventure winds up in what I call the South Central Area including Lockhart, Lulling, Fentress, Gonzales, and LaGrange, Texas.  These smaller towns are located easily within the San Antonio, Austin, and Houston triangle on a map, but still very much out in the country. Property taxes here can be an adventure.  As we learned prior, it is important to seek out properties with Agriculture Exemptions.  This is a dry region with plenty of cactus, mesquite, farmland.  We have been here a couple of times before.  We timed this visit with my Annual Wild Hog hunt in Gonzales as we stock up the RV pantry for this summer's trip back to Alaska.
      One of the biggest draws to this area is the cuisine.  BBQ is King in Texas and 4 of the Top 10 Rated BBQ joints in the state are in this county, many more within an hours drive.  There is also plenty of good Tex-Mex and home cooking in many local eateries within the area.  The cuisine is EXCELLENT. 
Photo courtesy of Black's BBQ
      Nothing is very far away if you seek the convenience of the BIG CITY with San Marcos at 30 miles, Austin at 40 miles, San Antonio at 70 miles, and Houston at 150 miles (range approximate).  Yet, you are in the country with exactly that 'country feel'.  Small towns, friendly folks.   Besides the busy I-35 corridor there is also Texas 130 Toll Road which begins near San Antonio and Seguin, heading north and detours 130 miles around the greater Austin Metroplex.  There are no toll booths, everything is done electronically with cameras and the US Mail.  We have used this is the past, $13 from Lockhart to north of Georgetown. 
      We set up camp for a week at Lockhart State Park and then another 5 days at Palmetto State Park near Gonzales.  Reservations are getting tougher with the increasingly nice weather.  Fortunately this state park has it's own very nice 9 hole golf course; unfortunately this state park has no WiFi. 

Our findings for 5 acres of land (without utilities) average:
Lockhart:   $120.7K    Taxes:  $1690
Bastrop:      $102K   Taxes:  $1890
LaGrange:  $96K    Taxes:  $1160
Gonzales:    $106.5K    Taxes:   $1440

      All the realtors for the above areas are located in the Lockhart, Kyle, or San Marcos area.  Besides driving and visiting these communities we chose many of our listings out of the these Realtors Offices and Guide.

The nearest VA clinic is Austin (40 miles) and the nearest VA hospital is in San Antonio (70 miles).  Both are reasonable distances.
      During our stay I prepared Alligator Etouffee, Jambalaya, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Cajun Mac n Cheese, Chicken Shrimp Creole, Finger Food Night, and Crab Salad to name a few.  On the night I made Jambalaya we were joined by our good friend, Jesse Shanks who brought some of his famous Jalapeno Cornbread......Yumdoggees!  Of course we had lunch at several of the local BBQs. 
Alligator Etouffee
Hickory Grilled Baby Back Ribs

Quick Crab Salad w/Mango & Eggs
      Before we left we restocked whatever little onboard freezer space we had with more chorizo and Southside Market Sausage Slammers.  These delicious treats are cheddar stuffed jalapenos stuffed inside sausage wrapped with bacon and finally smoked over oak.  They are wonderful sliced finger food snacks or even for breakfast or dinner.  Barb worked very hard to accommodate room in the freezer.  Next up for us is 4 days of wild boar hunting near Gonzales before finally resetting our sails.
      As we will soon begin to turn the 'rig' back north slowly but surely I don't really know where this leaves us for now.  We knew this winter was a fact finding tour; investigating prices, taxes, demographics, and location.  We plan on working with a realtor seriously next winter, but for now?  We do love the Hill Country.  In fact Barb has her heart set on it.  I am sure that we will be discussing this for several months to come.  It's a start.  Diesel prices in this area ran about $2.29.  Propane was a flat $22.50 per 30 lb. bottle. After our hog hunting sojourn we will head north on I-35 towards Oklahoma City. 

"Not all those who wander are lost" 
                                                                         J.R.R. Tolkien

WiFi courtesy of Verizon MiFi

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