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Happy Friday the 13th, y'all. Here in Central Texas not too many folks that I KNOW are spending their time avoiding black cats or moving their ladders so folks can't walk under them. We certainly aren't at my house because everyone is too busy gearing up for summer vacation.

Next week the Bastrop's will exit Texas for the more temperate weather of New England on this years installment of the Epic Road Trip. Originally it was supposed to include both coasts, heading west to Seattle via I-10 to Los Angeles, but my knee surgery put a damper on that. The knee is great, btw. Walking pretty normally and light resistance at the gym, but Texas to Maine and back is enough for me still this time around. Seattle will have to wait until next year.

Right now I am sitting at the pool outside our lovely suite at the Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort here in New Branfuls, TX at the edge of the Texas Hill Country. Fed by clear, cool water seeping out of the Edwards Aquifer as the Comal River, Schliterbahn is the gold standard of waterparks. This location at the base of the Balcones Escarpment, a natural fault that formed dramatic limestone cliffs, deep caves and other unique geography, is the original waterpark. For people who enjoy this kind of activity it is a great place to be.

Please hold on tight to your inner tube through the switchback orange waterslide and over the fold...

If we didn't have kids, I probably wouldn't be here. Not because I'm a party pooper but I prefer the natural environment to man made attractions. There are also great towns nearby that draw my interest. Guerne, TX is a neat place with very interesting history. A Texas German settlement that exploded with the cotton trade, by fortune connected to TWO separate rail lines, Guerne was a boomtown killed by the Boll Weevil and the Depression. Brought back to life in the 70's and 80's through Texas-Centric tourism, one can get a flavor of old times through lovingly restored architecture. I like that kind of stuff.

Still, Schlitterbahn is a lot of fun and I absolutely enjoy watching my kids and their friend K wring every drop of excitement out of this place. Mrs. B took them earlier to begin day two while I pack the car and check us out. I will then head out to join them and hit any rides we missed yesterday. Such an exciting way to start a summer that promises to be full of great happenings.

There are a variety of rides here, from long slow tubing with little rapids, to an amazing wave pool that I could frankly spend all day cycling around (especially after brownies for breakfast ;), to The Black Knight. TBK is a tall, fast, enclosed two person ride that is over before you know it and totally worth the line to get on. If you can handle sweating sun block into your eyes and walking barefoot on hot concrete (or suffering heel blisters from water shoes) then this place is worth the price of admission.

The Schlitterbahn corporation is in progress on a new ride, to dwarf any existing water slides anywhere in the world. This is unfortunately not in Texas but at their Kansas City location. At 168 ft, The Verruckt ("insane" in German) will open on June 29th and it makes me want to stop in KC on the way east just to check it out. There is some controversy around the safety of this ride. Rumors that test riders were injured or killed. I have no opinion on this and have not provided links. If you're interested use your favorite search engine. The only thing I'll say is if someone was injured or died I believe we would have heard a little more about it. Maybe it's marketing. Who knows. In case you are wondering what a ride like this might look or feel like, check out this graphic. I would post it but my internet connection isn't allowing the uploading of images. Huh.

SO, after Schlitterbahn we will spend the weekend preparing to leave town, getting oil changes and packing bags. My oldest boy's best friend will travel with us this year, something we have long talked about. She's been around since age three and is the daughter I never had. I know lots of parents who would balk at taking a friend along on a trip like this, but we are excited. Whenever K is with us things are brighter.

Anyhoo, I may or may not be around this evening depending. Likely won't be. I will, however, be around KTK far more regularly now that school is out and I am free as a bird. Look for my next KTK from Maine in two weeks. Until then, here is to hoping your summer is full of love and surprises, not too hot or dry, and that everyone you love is in health and good spirits.

I'll check y'all later in comments. Peace, and safe travels.

 - bastrop

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