We had such a good time at Schlitterbahn last year that we decided to go again this year, as an attachment to the Annual Bowling Trip.

Steve went with us this time but wound up on a different plane than we did, going. Just as well, since his plane wound up being 5 hours late (“weather” in his stopover of Houston caused an unplanned landing New Orleans for hours). We would have been stuck in the same “Houston” clusterfuck, but because they were overbooked, Continental had offered us a direct flight to Austin not long after we arrived at the airport (we didn’t even hear the overhead page..we were eating breakfast at the MCO Hilton at the time. Steve heard it, called us, then gave his cell phone to the airline guy to make us the offer). So we got to Austin during mid-afternoon. And waited. And waited. And waited. Joe called our B&B to see what was the latest we could check in and they said 9pm but if we got there later, they’d leave the key and instructions in the mailbox for us. Cool beans.

We finally rented a car (Steve originally was going to rent it but there was NOTHING to do at the airport and desperate times call for desperate measures) and, at the suggestion of the National guy, went to Downtown Austin. Walked up and down Congress Avenue for a while and finally ambled into a wine bar called Cork & Co. Besides offering a small selection of desserts and cheese platters, they also sold wine by the bottle, flight, glass or taste. I got a “thousand chocolate chip fudge cake” (which was fabulous) and a flight of dessert wines…2 moscatos and one icewine. Joe got a gouda platter, as well as a different flight of white wine. After a LONG day of traveling and the stresses that go with it (especially the various changed and delayed flights), it was a nice, quiet, relaxing way to spend an hour.

Steve finally arrived around 8:30pm. After a quick stop at a fast food joint to ward off starvation (wink), we drove the 45 minutes to Gruene, the town outside of New Braunfels where our B&B was. While waiting for Steve, we had discovered on the ‘net that almost every place in Gruene closed at 10pm, but we finally found a restaurant that closed at 11pm. As it turned out, the one place was The Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar, which we had visited last year. At the time, we thought the food was OK but nothing special and not someplace we were planning to visit again. But again, desperate times in a sleepy little town call for desperate measures and as it turned out, we liked the restaurant better this time around.

After dinner, we went to our B&B, the Gruene Homestead Inn. We had stayed there last year and loved almost everything about it. As promised, the keys to our respective cottages were in the mailbox, so with plans to meet up at 9 the next morning, we went to bed.

The Faust House: the main building of our B&B

The Millwood House: the building where our room, Landa’s Loft, was.

Our room was on the 2nd floor, first room at the top of the stairs, #25

View from our porch. Part of Faust House is visible in the distance, the one with the gray roof

Inside our room

More of the inside of our room

Joe looking bored while I take even more shots of the inside of our room. Could be worse…if I had a video camera, I’d have captured the toilet flushing. No, really…I’ve done it before.

No flushing this time…just a picture of the toilet…

…and the sinks

Breakfast at the B&B was not the greatest…we had learned last year that although the buildings in the compound are terrific, the food wasn’t very special or even particularly good. Today was scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, a small variety of danish, cereals, fruit and breads. We remembered from last year that their variety of sweetener for coffee and tea was limited. They still only had white or pink stuff, but we were prepared with our own packets of yellow (me) and blue (Joe) stuff.

After breakfast, we headed out to the reason for the whole trip, Schlitterbahn!

The front of Schlitterbahn West (the main park)

Map of Schlitterbahn. PDF of the complete park can be found here.

The Schlitterbahn West “castle” and Hillside tube chute

Part of Hillside goes through the locker area

Hillside exits into the Lagoon, a large pool fed by the Comal River

Lagoon Hot Tub, Lagoon, Castle

Downhill Racer

Double Loop twin body flumes

Part of the beauty of Schlitterbahn West is how they’ve worked the attractions around the existing trees and included natural shade just about everywhere

Banzai Pipeline next to some of Schlitterbahn’s motel rooms

Me tubing (Sorry for the grainy quality…photo taken with waterproof camera)

Steve fell off his tube!

The Comal River parallels Schlitterbahn West and feeds into several of their pools and tube slides.

The river also helps to transport HUGE piles of tubes from one area of the park to another

Further downriver, another New Braunfels water sport: people can tube down the river itself.

Schlitterbahn West opened in 1979 and they opened the “East” part of the park in the early 1990’s. They offer free tram service between the 2 parks.

“Blastenhoff” area of Schlitterbahn East. Yellow = Wolfpack, Blue = Master Blaster (predecessor to Typhoon Lagoon’s Crush ‘n’ Gusher), Black = Black Knight. Surrounding water = The Torrent (tidal wave river)

Found this video of Master Blaster on YouTube

Steve exiting Wolf Pack. He had his own float because he had FALLEN OUT of ours at launch (miscommunication with ride operator) and, sliding without a float on a slide that requires one, got stuck a few feet down the slide. Lifeguard dude had to bring him a float, help him in and send him on his way down the slide. Meanwhile, Joe and I had gone down the slide, not knowing if Steve was OK or not, since the last we had seen him was when he said, “This is not good” and slipped out of our float. Once we knew he was OK, we laughed at him (wink)

I told Joe to stick his head in the water for this picture. When he tells the story of what happened after this picture was taken, keep in mind that I DIDN’T tell him to keep his eyes open.

Steve kept his eyes closed

Nice eyewear, dude! Next time keep your eye closed!

Me in the Kristal River…a VERY not-so-lazy river

The alligators that float in the Kristal River are VERY popular. I had to beat up 3 six-year-olds to finally get this one (wink)

Hopefully this will be the only time Joe is attacked by an alligator

Joe on Dragon Blaster

Found this video of Dragon Blaster on YouTube

Boogie Bahn and Family Blaster

Someone on Boogie Bahn

Steve on Boogie Bahn

Me on Boogie Bahn (forgive the poor cut of the picture. Damn waterproof camera!)

Another angle. It was SOOOO much fun and my new favorite thing at the park!

Here’s a short video of Boogie Bahn that I found on YouTube

The power from Boogie Bahn gets converted into a strong flow of water called Backsplash (sort of like surfing, but sitting, without a board), which empties into Kristal River

After about 6 hours at the park, we were pretty exhausted so we went back to the B&B and took showers and naps. I was SORE after waking up, hehehe. After getting dressed, we went to Huisache Grill, which Joe and I visited last year and LOVED.

Joe going into the restaurant

We shared the Chips & Three Salsas appetizer, after which Steve and I both got the Mixed Grill, while Joe got….something else (I forgot, blush). The guys got dessert but I was way too full to think about anything beyond a spoonful of ice cream off Joe’s hot fruit crisp a’la mode.

We went back to the B&B after dinner and although Joe watched TV for a while, I, for one, pretty much fell asleep within 10 minutes of getting back to the room.

Monday’s breakfast at the B&B sucked (wink). Monday was also our check-out day. The B&B staff allowed us to keep our “stuff” in their office while we went to the park, with the promise that we would come back to reclaim it before they left at 7pm. Before we left, I took some pictures of Steve’s room:

His room, The Garden Room, was part of the back/side end of the Faust House

View of Steve’s room

Monday at the park was a repeat of Sunday, with avoidance of our less-favorite and/or longer-lined attractions and repetition of the ones we liked more. We also walked through both parks with the digital camera, specifically to get shots of the park itself, which was something I regretted not doing last year. Most of the better pictures we took are above.

After we agreed we were done with the park, we stopped back at the B&B to gather our stuff, then made a quick pit stop at Freddy’s Frozen Custard. Next was a 45-minute drive to our next hotel, the Hilton Austin Airport Hotel (link here), which was located, of course, at the Austin Airport.

After taking showers, we were on our way to an Austin icon that some GE friends had recommended, the Iron Works BBQ restaurant.

Outside of the restaurant

The food at Iron Works was OK, but not the greatest BBQ I’ve ever had. It was definitely a lot spicier than I’d prefer (yeah, I know…it was Texas; what did I expect?). I’d take Bubbalou’s ANY day.

It was only about 9pm and we decided to get dessert at Cork & Co. again, since we were nearby. While looking for a parking spot, we noticed hundreds of people on a bridge on Congress. Being maudlin me, my first thought was that someone had jumped. But Joe said he read about some famous bats in Austin who fly out of a bridge downtown every night…so we decided to go check it out. Apparently they hadn’t made their appearance that night yet, so we hung out with everyone for about a half an hour.

Still no bats (not even calls of “Here batty batty batty” helped), so we gave up and got our dessert and wine flights.

We drove the car back to National, then took the shuttle back to the hotel. At 11:30pm I called for our 4:30am wakeup call (4:30am kill me now). Our 7am flight took off on Tuesday without a hitch and, after a 2.5-hour stopover in Houston, made it home in time to pick up the car from my in-laws, who were on their way to Reno.

The vacation was a short one and went WAY too fast. But we had a really nice time. One of these years I’d like a little extra time in Gruene and New Braunfels…both are charming little towns, with more than just Schlitterbahn to hold interest. One of these days…