Road Tripping: San Marcos/Gruene

One of the main things that I wanted to check out while I was in Texas was the Texas State University campus at San Marcos.

I’ve been seriously considering grad school, and TSU has a program in Technical Communication. I figured if I could visit the campus, maybe it would give me a better idea if I could actually see myself going to school there.

So, my aunt and I took a day trip to San Marcos with plans to stop in Gruene on our way back.

San Marcos

It’s about two hours from her home near Medina Lake. The drive was kind of fun. We just talked a lot and listen to 80s music. We took the scenic route (on accident), and there was this beautiful spot on the road where the trees just sort of fell away and we found that we were on the top of a hill looking down into valleys on each side.

We got a little lost in San Marcos while trying to find the campus. I was surprised that there weren’t signs everywhere directing visitors to it. My experience with Oklahoma schools has been that the town boasts about the college like none other so that it’s impossible to miss.

San Marcos is a very old town. It’s nothing but hills really so the streets are narrow and windy. I half-expected brick or cobblestone streets like you get in OKC’s downtown area. Anyway, it was really pretty.

We did eventually find out way to TSU, and a very friendly parking lot attendant let us park for free in a back lot. Everything was crowded with visitors for the campus tours as well as some sort of summer program that was going on for younger kids.

Now, the campus was extremely beautiful. It was also extremely steep. I mean, there were stairs everywhere. It was hot as balls, so that made the treks up and down stairs, even with the shade from the abundant landscaping, a bit arduous to say the least. Despite the large number of cars, there really weren’t that many people around.

The campus felt huge to me, but I think it might have just been all of the stairs. I wish I’d gotten some pictures of the campus, but I’m sure you can see for yourself on the university website.

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I did, however, obtain a traffic and parking map.

I’m not sure if I’ll be trying to get into the MA program at TSU or not. I’m not entirely sure that I want to live in Texas for one thing. I liked the campus, and I know that I would be in fabulous shape if I went there. Still, visiting didn’t have the effect of making me automatically decide one way or the other as some of my previous campus visits have done.

(For instance, Stony Brook was an instant yes, and Cameron University was an instant no.)

After leaving San Marcos, we stopped at that giant convenience store Bucky’s. It was kind of neat, but I’m not sure that I really get all of the hype around it. Most of the items were weird and/or overpriced. But then, it is just a tourist trap.

Gruene

Gruene (pronounced “Green”) is actually a historic district in New Braunfels. It was originally settled by German immigrants in the 1840s. Now, it’s a pretty kitschy place with boutique shopping, restaurants with great river views, and one of the oldest original dance halls in Texas.

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I look so tiny!

We had a beer at Gruene Hall. It’s the dance hall which has no A/C for the summer or very good insulation for the winter because it is the original building built in 1878. We sat out in the shady back garden to sip our Dos Equis and chat.

Then, we grabbed lunch at the Cantina Del Rio. It’s a mexican restaurant. Sort of. They serve chips and salsa, margaritas, tacos, and enchiladas. But about half of the menu is actually burgers. It was a neat place, though. Brightly painted with a back deck and yard surrounded by trees. The food was good, too.

We then headed to the Winery on the Gruene. I love wineries. I love wine. You can taste four wines and get a souvenir glass for $5. The wines themselves are fairly cheap, too. They have the classic grape styles, but their real specialty is the fruit mixes.

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Not sure about the point of the metal lizard, but I like him.

I picked up a bottle of Peach Chardonnay (which went really well with the stuffed jalapenos) and a bottle of Blueberry Shiraz. I wish my budget had allowed me to bring home more because there were several others that I would have liked to try.

We finished up the visit by strolling through some of the shops. I don’t really remember any of the names, but I loved the metal statue garden behind one of the antique shops. It was all homemade metal and ceramic animal pieces painted in bright colors.

En Fin

The road trip within a road trip was quite the success, I think. I wish I had taken more pictures, though. I’m terrible at taking pictures when I travel because I just don’t think about it much.

Not sure if I’ll end up at TSU, but if I do, at least the surrounding area will be fun to explore.

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