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Rockin’ some Vegan Tacos! 028

Vegan tacos in Austin and Michael celebrates the big 65! The Hill Country was the site of our first Boondocker’s Welcome site. It was amazing!

Podcast transcript

Preview to this episode

Good morning from Austin, Texas! This is episode 028 of Two Vegans on a Mission Podcast. Thanks for listening! We’ve got a great round of reviews for you.

First, a Corps of Engineers Park, then a Texas State Park, and finally a Boondocker’s Welcome site.

Secondly, we’re going to visit three different food spots in Austin that were full of yummy vegan food.

And finally, a review of the wonderful work of the San Antonio Pets Alive organization. It’s been a busy week and we’ll share it next!

Intro to the Podcast

Welcome to the Two Vegans on a Mission Podcast. I’m Louisa and together with my husband, Michael, and our dog, Sugar, we’re traveling and living full-time in a Winnebago Class C motor home; visiting animal sanctuaries and animal rescues all across the country.

Each week, we’ll share what new camping spots we found, what great vegan meals we’ve eaten, and our latest vegan outreach activities. So please join us as we strive to inspire, educate, and support you in your efforts be vegan!

Corps of Engineers Park – Jim Hogg

So we’re going to start of in the Corps of Engineers Park called Jim Hogg, H-O-G-G. It was in Georgetown, Texas, which is just north of Austin, Texas on a reservoir and it’s a beautiful site. So Michael’s going to give us his take.

So we picked Corps of Engineers Park because it was close to Austin. We wanted to experience all the cool vegan sites around the state capital and we weren’t disappointed.

The Corps of Engineers, once again, they maintain dams, and rivers, and they do a wonderful job of that! This beautiful reservoir had at least, I believe, over 100 different sites and it was one of the largest ones that we’ve been at. Our first site was right by the water.

I mean, if you can imagine just paying under $30 to sit by a beautiful site where you overlook, you hear boats, birds, and we walked less than 10 feet. We could walk actually into the reservoir. It’s surrounded by these tall trees, everything was green, it was cool enough so we didn’t have to put on our air conditioning.

The actual site where we stayed was pretty much level. They had electric and water available at all the sites. Also the bathrooms were clean. And what we found in most of the Corps of Engineers sites, they’re really dated. Which means that they usually don’t provide you soap. They have hot water. The shower is known to have places to sit down in them. So we always use our membership with Anytime Fitness.

One of the beautiful things, in addition to the reservoir, there are deer running around all over the place. We saw, I think they call them turkey vultures circling around and making a lot of noise.

And reading the description that the Corps of Engineers puts out, they get 500,000 visitors a year. We were lucky that I believe it was on a Monday or Tuesday when we arrived and it was really slow at that time. From seeing all the sites, you know it gets really extremely busy there.

And just to clarify, we paid $18 for that night. It was a double space. I mean, you could have put a tent and an RV there or two small trailers there. But it had an overhang for your picnic table where you could sit and look at the lake. I chose this site based on a review out of Campendium. Because they told me that site D39, you could sit on the lake practically, which was true! And you had lots of space without having to be side by side with a neighbor. So we really liked that site. And again, this site was only $18.

But this place has a range in prices from $11 to $36. And if you have a Senior Pass, you get to have it at half price. So that’s why the next night that we went back in a week, we stayed at a different site and it was only $11 for us because of our Senior Pass. This one, D39, the double space, was actually $36 if you didn’t have the Senior Pass. So about, for us, it was $18. So that was quite the deal!

We were able to go back again one more night after we left to avoid the storms. We were back in the area and we stayed in a spot that was only $11 to us because it was way far away from the water and it was in the middle of all of the families. It was very crowded, but it was very quiet at night and dark. So you could see the stars and get a very nice, peaceful sleep. So we enjoyed both of our stays at the Jim Hogg Corps of Engineers spot.

We would’ve stayed longer in the Jim Hogg park except for there was no room at the inn. And so I looked on Campendium and I couldn’t find anything in the vicinity. So I also thought we haven’t used our Boondocker’s Welcome yet.

And I knew it was also going to be Michael’s birthday and I didn’t want to just go into a Walmart, or a Cabela’s, or even a Cracker Barrel, which means you are boondocking, dry camping in the back of a building. So I looked into the Boondocker’s Welcome. And sure enough, there are plenty around the Austin area!

Boondocker’s Welcome – an “RV Club”

In case you’re not familiar with the Boondocker’s Welcome site, it is a membership site, a membership group, where you pay $30 a year if you do not have a place for people to stay. For example, the way we travel, we have our RV, but we don’t have a home base where we have a place for people to come and stay at. So what we have to do is pay $30, but then we have access to all of the different sites in the country. And you go onto your app on your phone and you look up what’s available in the area. Very similar to Harvest Hosts.

But these places are people’s homes or people’s property that have opened it up for you to come and stay. But what you do is you contact them through the app and then you have a profile that you set up and they look at your profile and hope that you’re a decent person. And then they accept your request to stay at their place.

Now if you have a place to stay, for example, when we stayed at this one, these people are members also of the Boondocker’s Welcome group. But they only pay $15 for the year and then they could stay at other places that they find along their route.

So, I put our information into the app and I requested the night of the 27th, which is Michael’s birthday. And within, I would say a few hours, I received a message, by text message, that we had been accepted. So then when I clicked on the link to the site, I was able to get more information.

I got the names of the people as well as the phone numbers and the address…and a little message from Lynne who said that she would be out of town but her husband would be there and he would meet us to guide us where to park. So that was very nice.

We called him about an hour before we were going to arrive, we thought, since we were coming from Earth Day in Austin. But it took us a little longer than that because of the traffic. But Jay was so accommodating and so gracious that he said not to worry, he would be there when we got there, which was true.

And if we’re going to judge our Boondocker’s Welcome experience in the future and base it on this experience, we have high expectations! This was one of my favorite places we’ve ever stayed.

The property is gorgeous! There’s a creek that runs through it. And Jay has landscaped it and made it so peaceful and so welcoming that we really, really enjoyed our stay there. He also had some electric hookups and we were able to have a bottle of wine on the patio as we sat in the coolness of the evening because the day was pretty hot. It did cool down in the evening  and I’ll tell you, this was my number one favorite spot so far!

So it felt like we made a new friend. Jay was just so accommodating, making us feel comfortable. I did not expect to have access to electrical hookup, running water, the pleasantry. I thought we would just sit around and reminisce about the old days of our being. And we talked about every subject around. The extra warmth of having a bottle of wine, snacks that were provided, and he showed us inside of his home, beautiful artwork, architecture. He also took us around to his garden. He’s planting lots of edible fruits and vegetables out there. And he allowed us to walk on the property. He has a beautiful stream and we did some star viewing at the end of the night.

And, to top it off, they also have an Air-BnB section of their property. So, if you’re all inclined to bring some friends in your RV or have them stay in the Airbnb, you can look that up on the Airbnb site. This was an outstanding time for us and we are not going to forget our first ever Boondocker’s Welcome experience and we loved it. Thanks Jay and Lynne!

We’re going to switch gears here for a moment and tell you why we were in Austin and why we were in the area. So we’re going to take a little break. And when we return, you’ll hear all about Earth Day and our vegan experiences in Austin.

Earth Day in Austin, Texas

We came to Austin specifically for the food because we knew that it was a big vegan place. But we were also lucky to be able to go to the Earth Day celebration because it had been postponed for about two weekends because of weather. So, it just coincided with our ability to be there.

We headed over to the university and took part in their Earth Day celebration, which I want to say, was not as big as I expected it to be comparing it to the celebration over in San Diego, which was happening on April 28th. This was not anything near what was going on over there, I’m sure.

We did see some people who were celebrating ways to help the environment by going solar, and saving bats, and doing some other things for outreach, but there was no vegan outreach at all. They said that the vegan people couldn’t be there that weekend because they had postponed it from the two weekends prior. Which we understand, but we were disappointed.

Capital City Bakery

We left there though, it was Michael’s birthday so we headed over to the vegan street, I like to call it. We went to Capital City Bakery, which was 100% vegan. And I want to shout out to Foxx and Kate for helping make Michael’s birthday special! Now Michael’s going to tell you what he had.

So it’s always wonderful to have another birthday and to be able to celebrate it with vegan food. I had a blueberry cheesecake that was delicious, 100% vegan. And I could’ve eaten three or four slices, but that would’ve overdone it. Just absolutely delicious! Hopefully, when we go back through Austin, we’ll stop in and try something different in that store.

“Vegan Nom” – Restaurant Review

So then we walked across the street to a place called Vegan Nom. It specializes in 100% plant-based tacos. It was in a Airstream, which was really a throwback. I had a taco that had, what I always call “un-chicken”. But it was a soy-based chicken. It had cabbage, it had avocados, and it had a spicy sauce on there. And I had two of those. and they were just delicious! I won’t say absolutely delicious because it was. Once again, we were like,

“Oh my goodness, this whole street has so many vegan choices. We just don’t see that in Texas when we travel around.”

We’re going to pass back through and maybe try to experience a couple of the other vegan restaurants in the area.

Your tacos were called Birdie Sanders, which were “chicken”. Very clever in the name there. Mine was called Del Rey (pictured above) and that’s because they were mock fish kind of tacos. Both of them were tasty. They were about $5 each and they were kind of on the small side. So we got two each, but then that was very, very filling. So maybe a little bit bigger or just take three-quarters of two of them and then have a little bit of a snack later. But they were very tasty, very yummy, and we appreciated having a vegan option, again, in the heart of Austin!

“Conscious Cafe”  Restaurant Review

But that’s not the only place we had vegan food in Austin. We stopped on our way through the first time up past Georgetown at a place called Conscious Café. Michael found it on his Happy Cow app again. The Conscious Café was really a food truck! And there are two of them apparently. So Michael, tell us what you had.

Well, we are in the south and I didn’t believe it when I saw that it said spicy. But I had the spicy chickpea burrito, which also had lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a spicy sauce. And it really lit up my mouth! Very, very spicy! And I thought, a little bit overwhelming for the whole sandwich. I got more spice out of it and I couldn’t taste the individual flavors. But it was 100% plant-based vegan. It definitely was spicy!

Yeah, yours was too spicy. Mine was pretty much bland. It had avocado, and some lettuce, and it was tasty enough, but it wasn’t over the top. However, we got the rosemary french fries. They were the best of the meal and we could’ve eaten probably another serving of those! It was wonderful! We enjoyed it. If you’re in the area, they have a Farmers Market Wednesday evenings and then this place is open until eight o’clock. So go to the Conscious Café.

So that concludes our vegan reviews, but when we come back to this episode, we’re going to tell you all about a surprising find at PetSmart and then our final campground review at the State Park in and near Austin. So stay tuned.

“Thai Vegan” Restaurant Review

You might be wondering how is it that we find these different animal shelters or rescues in the areas that we visit. Well, what I do is I go to Google and I say, “animal rescues near me”, which you can do, too, if you’re in the market for a new pet! Just go to an animal rescue or an animal shelter and find the perfect pet for you. Much better than looking online at one of the puppy mills. And you never know which ones are really puppy mills.

But what we did was we found a place called San Antonio Pets Alive. It sounded very, very interesting! So as we drove into San Antonio, we of course, had to have dinner. So we stopped in at the Thai Vegan Restaurant. We had dinner with Brandon and Caitlyn. It was super fun! So Michael, tell us about the dinner.

So Thai food is generally non-vegan. But the owner said that they wanted to be different. So they opened their restaurant and made everything 100% plant-based vegan. I had a wonderful spicy soy-based shrimp. And also it had all kinds of vegetables in there and it was placed on top of spicy noodles. I really enjoyed that meal. The only problem that I had with the restaurant was the location of it. If you’re in the San Antonio area, it is just on the outskirts. And if you live within the city, traffic can make it difficult getting to this restaurant. Very unique to have a Thai restaurant be 100% plant-based!

I agree. We had a wonderful meal of chow mein with some kind of chicken substitute, I think mine was. And yours was a shrimp substitute that looked just like shrimp. In fact, Brandon didn’t believe it was a substitute because it looked so realistic. I really enjoyed the edamame we had for an appetizer. And the spring rolls were delicious! So I enjoyed the meal, the vegan meal at the Thai Vegan Restaurant in San Antonio. So, if you’re so inclined, just go over there. You won’t be sorry!

“San Antonio PetsAlive”

So now we’re going to talk about our visit over to the San Antonio Pets Alive Organization, which was quite a surprise to me! I found it using Google and as we drove in, I noticed that it was right next to the PetSmart store.

So I’ve been inside a PetSmart store several times because we have our little dog, Sugar, and we buy our food there. But I didn’t realize that they had another aspect to their store. Of course, you see the cages on the sides of the stores where they have the cats. And so I looked over there. And yes, indeed, there were some older cats and cats to adopt at that point were $30. Not a bad price to adopt an older cat. If you are in the market for one, you should go to PetSmart and see if there are any cats in the windows. Those are usually cats that have been given up by their owners because the owners are no longer able to take care of them, which is unfortunate.

But then I walked around the store looking for the dogs because I had seen on the internet that there were some dogs available. Well, I walked around the entire store, and low and behold, I found them! They were in the back of the store, in a whole area, all to their own. And this area was called Pets Alive, San Antonio Pets Alive. There were a couple of volunteers working there. I saw one of the gentleman was taking some blankets and towels out as if he had just taken them from a washer or dryer and he was folding them. And so I said to him,

“Where are the dogs?” And he said,

“Oh, you could go right through that door right there.”

So I went through the door and yes, there were probably, I want to say, 30 animals in cages in this back room. They were all in cages that were clean and didn’t smell like dog feces or dog urine. The dogs weren’t barking like crazy, so it was very well-maintained.

But as I looked at each of the kennels, there were names of the dogs, and their breed, and how old they were, and what their temperament was like. But each one of these dogs looked so sad and looked at me like,

“Please, take me home with you.”

They were older dogs, probably four years old, and their adoption fee was about $60, which again, was surprising to me. And then I came around the corner and I saw a girl named Randy and she gave me the scoop. She is also a volunteer with San Antonio Pets Alive. She gave me a flier that says this,

                      “We are San Antonio Pets Alive, a life-saving organization that solely reduces dogs and cats

                       selected for euthanasia at the San Antonio City Shelter. We save these animals after all other

                       options have been exhausted. Our vision is to make San Antonio a no-kill community.”

Now this organization has four different locations and this was just one of the locations…and it happens to be inside the Windsor Park PetSmart which was very cool! I didn’t realize that PetSmart supported these places. But Randy was telling me that what they do is they have a group of people that stay over at the Humane Society and they pick out the dogs that are set to be euthanized. They pick out the dogs that they think can be saved and then adopted out. They bring those over to the Pets Alive Organization and they give them opportunities to be adopted out!

These are very kind dogs. These are dogs that are very adoptable. These are dogs that have been given up by their owners or they’ve been found on the streets and good citizens have brought them into the PetSmart location or one of those other three locations. And then what Randy says is they have to go through the city animal shelter before they can be given over to their organization, which is very sad. Because if they don’t make it out of the city community kill facility, which is the Humane Society, then those animals eventually will be euthanized because there’s just not enough space. So they will have to euthanize them instead of saving them. (Note: after further research, I learned that the Humane Society is a “no-kill” facility but the city-run Animal Rescue shelter does euthanize animals after too many days if they need more space).

So this organization goes to that place, picks out the dogs that they think can be adopted, and saves them from imminent death, which is a very cool thing. I highly recommend that you go to your local Pets Alive Organization if you’re in San Antonio and check out their group of dogs and cats that they have. Because these are animals that are very adoptable. But they also said that sometimes people in San Antonio don’t like older dogs. So they say they just let them out on the streets. And then a good meaning citizen will say,

“Hey, I’ll rescue that dog.” They pick them up, bring them to one of these shelters, and they say,

“Oh, sorry. You got to go through the city first.” And then you bring them to us if we can rescue them and save their lives.

So please, go spay and neuter your animals before you let them roam the streets so that we don’t have any unwanted animals roaming around and then having to be put to death in the city animal shelters! It’s a big problem, they say, here in San Antonio. So, thank you Randy, and volunteers, and all of you who are working with Pets Alive. And let’s go out and save some more animals!

Pedernales Falls State Park

So it’s been quite a week for these Two Vegans on a Mission and we’re ending it in Pedernales Falls Sate Park, which is in Hill Country in the center of Texas. So I have the description of the park right here from their wonderful guide. This is what it says,

” A clear, spring-fed river flowing down gently sloping limestone creates the lovely falls. We don’t allow swimming, wading, or tubing for the first three miles, including at the falls. However, other areas of the river are open for play. Quiet pools beckon anglers, while trails through tree-shaded hills draw birders, bikers and hikers. The park is home to the endangered golden-cheeked warbler in the spring and the indigenous rufous-crowned sparrow year-round. Bird watchers can seclude themselves in a covered viewing and photography blind with feeders and a drip bath.”

So this is a really cool little park that we found east of Austin and is part of over 90 Texas State Parks in their system. We finally bought a pass which costs $70 for the year. This gets you into any of over 90 parks, like I said. And then I believe the second night, you get half-price camping. So the first night here is costing us $20. And what’s nice about these, as compared to the Corps of Engineers Parks, is you can walk up and reserve a spot that day. Where in the Corps of Engineers you cannot do that. You have to reserve online. But, at this place, you can reserve it if there’s a space available. So we’re here!

The only thing that I would say is a negative about this place so far is there is absolutely no internet. We cannot get any cell service, so we’re doing our recording, which is not a problem. We don’t need cell service for that. But I would love to stay here for a few days, but we do need to have our internet service. So we’re going to head out tomorrow to go a little bit more west and head into Fredericksburg where we’ll check out the latest happenings over there. But in the meantime, from Pedernales State Park in Austin, Texas area Hill Country, we are having a ball! And go see our pictures on Instagram @HeavenInAClassC. Or join us on our website at www.vegansonamission.com.

Thank you for joining us! Save animals, don’t eat them, and,  “be vegan!”

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We are a retired teacher, Louisa, and a retired physician assistant, Michael, married for 39 years, who want to help busy travelers begin and maintain a healthy life-style while on the road.

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