We are camped in the town of New Braunfels, Texas. We decided on this location as it is between San Antonio and Austin, just off the Interstate that runs between them -- I35. New Braunfels was established in 1845 as an area to receive German immigrant settlers to Texas. New Braunfels retains some of its historic charm and German heritage with a German Bakery, advertised as the oldest bakery in the state of Texas, and with an attractive sandstone courthouse. There are German restaurants. We went to one and enjoyed our respective meals of rolled beef and schnitzel, with the schnitzel being Texas schnitzel which means it had jalapenos in the gravy. While not authentic to German traditions it was tangy and tasty.
Nearby within the greater New Braunfels area is the historic district of Gruene. There is reportedly the oldest dance hall in the state of Texas and still in operation. Back in the day, Gruene was a center of cotton processing.
A bit further north on I35 is the town of San Marcos. It also has a vintage courthouse and a vibrant downtown eating and entertainment district. It is the home to Texas State University. President Lyndon Johnson graduated from there when it was known as Southwest Texas State Normal School, a college to teach teachers which was LBJ’s first profession. The campus is set up on hills overlooking the rest of the town and I35.
We are a bit worried about just what is happening to the quaint towns along the I35 corridor. Not only does I35 connect San Antonio and Austin, it continues on south to Laredo on the Rio Grande and the border with Mexico. It is the major truck and train route for any goods that are moving in or out of Monterrey and Mexico City, the two major industrialized cities of Mexico. This area is growing rapidly. Austin has been the fastest growing city in the country for the past three years. San Antonio’s growth rate puts it in the top 10 also. I35 between these two cities is three lanes each way and constantly busy with traffic. There are also two lanes each way of “frontage roads” running almost the entire 75 miles from downtown San Antonio to downtown Austin. As such, virtually the entire corridor has been built out with commerce of all kinds including more shopping than you can imagine. It is easy to see the day when San Antonio and Austin will be just one giant metroplex with everything centered off of I35. The freeway is so congested that a new toll road has been opened up to bypass Austin with a speed limit of 85 MILES PER HOUR.