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Trip 10 Overview - Texas and New Mexico

In early December, we flew to San Antonio, then traveled to Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks in Texas, and Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Parks in New Mexico before returning home via El Paso. Early December was an excellent time of year to visit these parks, as temperatures during the day ranged from the mid-60s to as high as the mid-80s and none of the parks were crowded (in fact, it felt like we had the Guadalupe Mountains trails nearly exclusively to ourselves). The itinerary also worked out very well, although it also could easily be reversed; we drove about 1,400 miles in total during the trip. We'll describe each park in separate posts.

Our starting and ending destinations (San Antonio and El Paso) offered many options for brew pubs to visit; based on our itinerary, we were able to fit in two brew pubs in San Antonio and three in El Paso, but there are many others to choose from. We stayed near the River Walk in San Antonio and enjoyed beers at Roadmap Brewing Company and Back Unturned Brewing Company. Roadmap had a lot to choose from, so we ended up with a flight to sample Cousin Eddy's Hot CoCo Hot Cocoa Stout, Brewtella Hazelnut Stout, Pal and Confident Golden Stout, and Peyton Manning's Forehead Imperial IPA (with a name like that, how could you not try this one??). Mike also tried the Minivan Dad Double IPA. All very good. Also loved the cute wooden flight holder in the shape of the state of Texas!! Back Unturned Brewing had less of a selection of beers, but we enjoyed their Experimental IPA #1 - American Hazy Baby and the Rio De Leche Milk Stout (10.3% ABV!).

This was also a great time of year to enjoy the San Antonio River Walk, as it was well-decorated for the holidays. The boat ride was well worth the price to hear about the history of the city and see the sights along the river; in addition, the holiday decorations were great and the boat wound through an area where there was a huge Christmas tree with Santa and Mrs. Claus waving to passersby and the Grinch lurking in the background! The holiday lights on the River Walk turn on around Thanksgiving and run until about the end of the first week of January. There are over 100,000 lights that drape over the tall bald cypress trees that line the River Walk. It's magical!

In El Paso, we visited three breweries -- Old Sheepdog Brewery (near the intersection of Route 54 and I-10), Mountain Star Brewing Company and Blazing Tree Brewery (both about 15 minutes from the airport). Old Sheepdog Brewery had a relatively limited selection, but we did enjoy the Nutty Sheep Porter and the Me La Pelas American IPA. We really, really liked the beers at Mountain Star Brewing Company and they had a great selection of excellent-tasting drafts. Mike had the Calavera IPA and with so much to choose from, I did a flight to sample the Mamoo Cream Milk Stout, Naughty Nilla Porter (probably the best vanilla porter I've ever tasted!), La Brooja Pumpkin Spice Ale, and Maple Pecan Porter (also really delicious!). Our final stop in El Paso was Blazing Tree Brewery, which also had a wide-ranging selection of drafts and a very friendly group of patrons who made everyone feel welcome. I again did a flight, with White Rabbit Stout (Mexican chocolate and coconut--like drinking a Mounds candy bar!), Pecan Porter, Peanut Butter Brown Ale (I usually like peanut butter porters, but the ale was not one I particularly cared for), and Jive Turkey Cranberry Ale (which was surprisingly crisp and delicious!). Mike had a Hurry Up N Wait Double IPA, which was tasty. Any of these pubs are worth checking out.

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