Schulenburg, Texas, is often on our travel route to and from southern Texas. It's a good place to stop to eat. The Pilot travel center is a good place for RV services -- to empty tanks, and get fuels.
As we were traveling north through Texas on Highway 77, it was time for
lunch, actually a late lunch. In Schulenburg, just past the intersection
of Highway 77 and Interstate 10, on the west side of the road is the
Oak Ridge Smokehouse. We pulled around the side, to the back, and found
plenty of parking for the motorhome in the back.
The Oak Ridge Smokehouse offers traditional down-home foods, sauerbraten, and other German favorites. They also have barbeque sandwiches and German sausages. They are famous for their lunch buffet.
After we entered the restaurant, we were seated, told about the buffet,
and asked if we would like to see the menu. We chose the buffet. We were
informed the buffet includes a drink. We both chose milk. We got large
glasses of cold milk; it was good. Unlike most restaurants, they offered
refills on milk, also.
We proceeded to the buffet. One end was a bountiful salad bar. I first took a large plate of salad, with a lot of fresh fruit. Beside other salads, it included beet salad and cucumber salad. Coleen says her grandmother, who was German, often served beet salad and cucumber salad just like these.
Then, there was the hot food buffet. It had German sausages, fried chicken, ribs, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, black-eyed peas, sauerkraut, zucchini, yellow squash, green beans, and a whole lot of other good foods. It also had a beef casserole that Coleen said was German goulash, and she compared it favorably to her German grandmother's.
Finally, there was a dessert bar. It had chocolate cake, warm fruit cobbler, and bread pudding with vanilla sauce.
Our server was pleasant and efficient. She was there when we needed her, and not bothering us when we didn’t need her. The buffet was busy, but they were constantly refilling it with fresh food. We had a very pleasant, very good lunch.
Just across the street was a fairly new Pilot truck stop. We had been boondocking and needed to dump, fill propane, and get gas.
First we pulled up to the dump station. It was a new fangled,
semi-automatic, electronically controlled, dump station. This looked
intriguing. I read the instructions. I decided to go inside and get more
information from someone in the know. I waited in line at the counter
until someone could talk with me. After a long wait, I talked to a very
pleasant gal, who sent me to talk with the manager because, “I don’t
know anything about that stuff.” After an equally long wait at the truck
desk, I talked with the assistant manager, and was assured if I paid my
money the dump would work.
I paid, got the code, and went out to try my luck at dumping. I got out my sewer hose and hooked it up, ready to insert it into the sewer dump. I was allotted one minute during which the cap would be unlocked after I punched in the code. I also got out a water hose to flush with. The dump station had a frost proof hydrant, but no hose.
When I was all set up, I punched in the single use code, and heard the locking solenoid click open. I opened the sewer drain with the foot pedal and put in my sewer hose. I proceeded to dump as normal, both black and gray water tanks.
After my valves were closed, I used my water hose to flush out my sewer hose. I put my foot on the pedal to open the cover wide, and took my sewer hose out. I closed the sewer dump and heard the locking mechanism click. I checked; it was locked. I wasn't sure if one minute was going to be long enough to dump or not, but I got the job done.
It would have been nice if there were clear instructions at the dump station. It would have been nice if there had been a wash down hose to use. And, it would have been nice if after spending all the money to install the fancy dump station, they would have spent a little more for a credit card reader out at the dump. It would have been nice to be able to dump without going into the building several times. But, I got the job done.
I put away and pulled forward to the propane-filling pump. Again, I had to go inside, wait in line, request someone to fill propane, and go outside and wait. While waiting, I turned off all the propane powered appliances, shut the main valve at the propane tank, and had Coleen and NeeMo exit the motorhome.
After a short while a courteous attendant appeared and filled our propane tank. All went fine, and I was handed a slip to take in to pay. I did so, and patiently waited in line.
When I got to the cashier, after some fumbling with the computer, and some consultation with another cashier, I was told that station wasn’t set up to handle propane transactions. I would need to go over to the cashier across the room. I did. This line went quickly and I paid for the propane.
I expect to wait for propane. However, a call button would have been nice, and meant one less trip inside. But when the attendant showed up, she were courteous and competent. There have been times in the past when I feared for the safety of myself and my RV while having the propane filled. I felt OK there.
I went outside, got in the motorhome, and pulled to the gas pump. I swipe my card, punched in my zip code, and pumped my gas; no problems. For this, I didn't even need to go inside and wait in line for the cashier! While I was there, I also washed my windows; they had a nice, long handled squeegee.
That was our stop in Schulenburg, Texas. When you read this, it may seem frustrating. But it sounds worse than it really was.
Sometimes getting RV services isn't as straight forward as we'd like. Even self proclaimed, “RV friendly” businesses, don’t always perform as we think they should. I try to remember that RVers are a minority. Many of the day to day people who are dealing with us have no idea how our RVs work or what we need. I expect it will take some extra time, try to be patient, and most things work out well.
We filled our tummies, emptied our black and gray tanks, filled our gasoline and propane tanks, and had a few laughs in Schulenburg, Texas.
Coleen's comments: My husband, Bob Nilles, wrote this article about our stop in Schulenburg, TX. One thing he didn't mention is that the front part of the Oak Ridge Smokehouse is a store. They sell what I consider German meats -- sausages, jerky, and cold cuts. They also have a baked good case with strudels, kolaches, and German pastries. Not only do we never leave there hungry, we always have bounty for the following days.