10 min read

New Orleans & Texas Hill Country

New Orleans & Texas Hill Country

Hello! We're officially almost a month into full-time RV travels, round two. It feels like it's been longer since leaving home – probably because we've covered a LOT of ground in the past few weeks.

Our goal was to get to the southwest quickly, so we skipped over a lot of cool-looking places in the south along the way (which we'll hopefully go back to someday). Last week, we camped in Big Bend National Park on the Texas/Mexico border (which was awesome) and on Saturday we arrived in New Mexico! Now that we're out here, we plan to take our time exploring New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah over the next few months.

But first, here's a recap of our first two weeks crossing the south, stopping in two very different places – New Orleans, Louisiana and Canyon Lake, Texas (near San Antonio) – along the way.

(If you're ever curious about where we are or the route we've taken, check out the "Where's Waldo" page!)

New Orleans 🎷

After leaving my parents' house near Charlotte on January 21, we drove across South Carolina and Georgia, stopping at a nice Harvest Host campground (Bama Bison Farm) just over the Alabama border. We didn't see their bison or really do anything here – it was just a place to stay for the night – but loved being the only campers in a wide-open, peaceful field.

The next day, we made it to Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville, Louisiana, which is on Lake Pontchartrain across from New Orleans. This was a really nice park; we had a great pull-through site backing up to the woods, further away from most other campers.

The state park is super pretty – but unfortunately we had terrible weather the whole week. It rained almost nonstop, and was gray and foggy the few times it wasn't raining. We still tried to get out and explore a bit, but didn't get to take advantage of all the walking and biking trails like we wanted to.

But it was still cool walking along the road and on the pier. The fog added a creepy atmosphere which seemed to fit the vibe of the park, with its huge trees with twisting arms and dangling Spanish Moss, and the gray beach and pier extending out onto Lake Pontchartrain.

An unexpected wildlife encounter: armadillos! We were walking Hollie our first day in the park when I suddenly spotted one in the grass, digging around for food. We kept Hollie away from him and took turns going up close – he let us get right next to him and didn't seem bothered. They're surprisingly cute! We saw another one right by our camper a couple days later.

After a couple really heavy days of rain, much of the park was flooded. Luckily, the RV sites themselves were all okay, but the grassy areas all around us were underwater. We were driving in a sudden torrential downpour, and the roads were getting pretty bad too. People's entire front yards were submerged. I imagine this happens with almost any heavy rainfall there – it's crazy. By the end of the week, everything in the Airstream just felt damp from all the rain, warmth and humidity. We were ready to get to a drier place.

But first... a night out in New Orleans!

We drove into the city on Friday after work – it was about 45 minutes from our campground, taking the looong bridge that crosses Lake Pontchartrain.

We were a little nervous about parking the truck downtown, A) because it's big and cumbersome to park, and B) we'd heard/read that there were sometimes truck break-ins in the city – people trying to steal guns. (We don't have one, but if you're in a truck you look like you do). Since a LOT of our stuff is in the back of Tex (the truck's name) we wanted to avoid this happening. I'm sure we were being overly cautious, but you never know.

So we found some recommendations to park across the Mississippi River at Algiers Point and take the ferry across to the French Quarter. This ended up being awesome because:

  • It felt safe
  • It was free street parking
  • We got to ride the ferry, which was only $2

So if you're ever in New Orleans and worrying about parking, do this. :)

Anyway, after we rode the ferry, we walked along the riverfront, watching the big ships on the Mississippi. It was a really nice and quiet area.

Then we explored the French Quarter. Such a unique place! I loved the narrow streets and the old buildings and architecture. And of course, Bourbon Street, which yeah was like a mini Vegas, but it was fun. It was a few weeks before Mardi Gras, and there were already some small parades and decorations and lots of people walking around or throwing beads off balconies.

We stopped by Jackson Square and found a place to eat that had balcony seating – Royal House Oyster Bar. It was fun eating on the balcony (we got lucky with the weather and it was clear and warm outside) but it was really slanted and slightly precarious, lol. I had a shrimp po boy and Joey had a sampler of classic NOLA food – gumbo, rice & beans, and jambalaya.

After that, it was dark, and we walked around the French Quarter trying to find a cool place to hang out for a while. That place was Fritzel's European Jazz Pub, which was an old dark bar with string lights hanging from the ceiling and a bunch of tables grouped around a small stage, where a 4-piece jazz group (trumpet, banjo, upright bass, drums) were playing. We ended up staying for their entire set – they were so good! We drank hurricanes and had a lot of fun there.

When the band finished playing, we walked down Bourbon Street again, carrying hurricanes to-go and enjoying the people watching. Finally, it was almost time for the last ferry to leave, so we ran to Cafe Du Monde and grabbed beignets. (It was funny – we were in kind of a rush and I was confused looking at their menu options, so I just handed the lady at the counter a $5 bill and said "We want beignets!" She took it and just handed me back a paper bag of beignets. Easy.) They were delicious and hit the spot – a perfect way to end our quick trip to New Orleans.

Texas Hill Country 🤠

We didn't even know we were going to Texas Hill Country before we got there. When trip planning, we thought stopping in San Antonio would be fun, so I found a lakefront campground that looked nice, about 45 minutes north of the city.

So it was surprising when we started climbing up and down hills with the RV as we got closer to the campground. We didn't expect the area to look like this at all – tree-covered but arid, rolling hills, rocky canyons. It was beautiful as we drove through the cute town of San Marcos and over the hills at sunset.

Our campground was Potters Creek Park in Canyon Lake, Texas. We really liked it; the sites weren't too close together and we were right on the lake, with a covered picnic table and lots of open grassy space. (They also had nice showers, which was a bonus).

We didn't do much this week apart from work, hang out at the campground, and watch the sunset most nights. It's definitely an area worth coming back to, though – there are a lot of cool towns, wineries, BBQ places, etc. We did get San Marcos BBQ one night for Texas style brisket and pork ribs, which were amazing.

The Guadalupe River is nearby, which is apparently a super popular place to go tubing in the summer – we drove along it one day and there were tons of outfitters, campgrounds, and rental houses (including this crazy multi-story treehouse cabin).

On Thursday, we drove into San Antonio after work. First we visited the Alamo, since it's right downtown. It was definitely interesting for the history of it and cool to see, but it's a quick stop. :)

Our neighbors at the campground recommended visiting Historic Market Square, a Mexican market, so we walked several blocks through downtown to get there. I think either we were there too close to closing time, or they're busier on the weekend, because it was pretty dead. There was an open-air square with some shops selling touristy stuff, a couple restaurants, and enough extra space for a farmers market or extra stands throughout the square (which I think they do at times), but no one was there when we went. At the end was this indoor mall with a bunch of other individual shops. Joey's impulse buy was a big, comfy poncho.

Finally, we walked along the San Antonio River Walk to find a place to eat. The River Walk was super cool! You walk on sidewalks right next to the river all the way through downtown (and I think it goes further), with restaurants, bars, and shops along the way. It's really pretty, especially the more park-like areas with trees and art. Colorful tour boats pass by all the time. We ate right on the river at Casa Rio, which was really good and has been there since 1946!

That's about it for our first two weeks back on the road. We'll be back soon with a Big Bend post!