Monday, March 31, 2008

Moving Day

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 52 degrees, high 65 degrees, mostly cloudy all day, a few sprinkles late in the afternoon, heavier showers expected later tonight and tomorrow

We moved to a different RV park today, leaving the state park. We felt that since we were going to be here for a while that it would be better to find a place that is better suited for longer stays. The new location is closer to Terri's house, as well as to town. In addition, it appears that the cell phone signal and Internet access are both better. The park we are in used to be all mobile homes, but those are being phased out in favor of RVs. The lots are large, it is quiet and clean, and best of all, everyone we have met is friendly and helpful. We can't think of a better place to be if we have to stay here longer than we anticipated.

Rain is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow. When we were placing the RV on the lot, the ground was soft from rain we received a couple of days ago. As a result, the weight of the RV and truck made some ruts that we will be filling in when the rain lets up. On the other hand, when I set up the satellite dish, it took a total of about 30 seconds to find a great signal. Got to keep that satellite dish working for Carolyn.

We went to WalMart (my favorite store) today for a few things. When we pulled into the parking lot, it looked like the lot was full. For a minute we thought we might have to put the shopping trip off. Then, I noticed over on the far side of the parking lot on the grocery store side that there were hardly any cars parked there. It was strange to see that people were waiting in the traffic lanes for someone to leave so they could park where there was no parking. Yet, on the other side, there was all kinds of parking. What makes people do that?

Gas and diesel prices have gone down a few cents per gallon since we have been here. Are they setting us up for another big spurt in prices? How long will people be able to pay these prices before it throws the economy into a recession, or are we already in one? We have noticed that overall, there seems to be a slowing of speeds, but the traffic is not any lighter. I think these high prices are here to stay. That means everything that has to be transported is going up in price.

As the readers have probably noted, we have not had much to say about what we are seeing. That is because we haven't seen much with helping Terri. However, we promise we will start doing some sightseeing very soon. In the meantime, bear with us.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Astor, Florida: The Jewel of the St. John’s River

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Slow Day

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 58 degrees, high 70 degrees, cloudy all day, no rain yet

We spent a fairly uneventful day, enjoying visiting with Terri and Thomas.

The state park was full of bicycle road racers that were using the park as a staging and starting point for three separate road races today. There had to be at least 500 racers, which was good for the balance sheet of the park, because each of them had to pay a park entrance fee. The bad part of it is that it upset the peace and tranquility which we have gotten used to. The races started about 0800 and continued through the afternoon until about 1700 hours. At least they are not here at night.

One thing I noticed about the riders is that the vast majority of them were young and skinny. I guess that sport is for the young, and if you are serious about it, it maintains your body weight. Personally, I don't want to work that hard at having fun.

Most people who know Carolyn know that she loves flowers of any sort. I think her favorite wild flower is honeysuckle, especially the pink variety, which only seems to grow in the wild in certain places. There are pink several honeysuckle plants along the access road to the park that she loves to see and admire as we pass by them. In addition, there are many dogwood trees in full bloom in the park that she likes, as well as red buds, pear, wisteria, wild plum, etc. This is a great time for us to be here to enjoy the natural beauty.

This area of Alabama has had it's share of tornados in the past. We are approaching tornado season, and we keep an eye on the weather to make sure we can find shelter if a bad storm is approaching. If you know what to look for, you can see where tornados have passed through. Trees will be knocked down or twisted off in a general path, mostly from the west or southwest. Terri's house has a shelter built into the basement which they have used in the past. If bad weather is coming, we will go to her house for safety.

We intend to move to another park tomorrow if an electrical problem with the hookups is repaired. We went by the new park today, and the hookups are still not fixed. The fix is fairly simple, but I am not an electrician, so we will see what happens. If we can't move tomorrow, we'll stay in the state park another day.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Pahokee, Florida: Palm Beach County’s Other Coast

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Car Shopping

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 55 degrees, high 82 degrees, light fog and clouds early, then scattered clouds with thunderstorms beginning about 1600 hours, then light showers until late

Today was the warmest day we have seen since last fall. It sure felt good to me. I went for a walk this morning, and almost worked up a sweat. Highly unusual body activity that I have not seen since October.

Terri asked me to go car shopping with her today. I buy a car about every 10 years. A car expert I am not. However, she felt it was better to take a male with her because car salesmen are notorious for taking advantage of women. Not that they don't do the same thing to men, just not as much. That is, if you can believe what other men say about how they pulled a slick one on a car salesman. I have a feeling you have to get up very early in the morning to put one over on a car salesman. Unfortunately, I don't get up that early, and I admit it.

We arrived in town about 1200 hours and stopped at the first place she wanted to look. As soon as we parked, a salesman walked over to see if he could help us. Have you ever noticed how they don't want you to walk around and look by yourself? Don't you wish you could get that kind of help when you need it in a department store or at WalMart? After the usual greetings and glad handing, he wanted to know what kind of vehicle we were interested in looking at. Terri knew what she had in mind, which was three different models. One was a small car, one was a mid-size car, and the last one was a small SUV type car. Have you ever noticed how small a mid-size car is? Even the SUV seemed small. We sat down in each of the cars as the salesman explained all the great features of them. The whole time, he was asking us to take them for test drives. Finally, we decided to take two of the cars for drives. Just about any new car is going to drive halfway decently, and these two cars did, also.

After the test drive, we asked what the price of the cars was. The salesman told us that they had a no hassle policy, which meant that the price marked on the windshield was the price. However, the factory had a rebate in effect that would reduce the price. Huh? I thought the price on the windshield was the price. Anyway, we asked him to give us a drive out price on the two cars that were driven. What a shock, because the price on the windshield bears no relation to what you actually pay. Sales tax, transfer fees, prep fees, transportation, extra this and extra that. All of a sudden, you're talking serious money. At least to my way of thinking.

Now, this salesman claimed that it didn't matter to him whether we bought the car or not because he was not paid on commission. You could have fooled me, because he sure worked hard to get Terri to buy a car. My experience over the years is that when someone is trying to sell something as hard as he was, it's time for the buyer to back off and think about what is happening. Which is what we did. We told him that Terri needed to look at her finances because it appeared that buying a car from them was going to seriously stress her budget.

After leaving that dealer, we drove down the road to another lot. Now, there was not a doubt about whether the new salesman was operating on a commission basis. However, we did not feel that he was putting the hard sell on, and he showed us several cars that were nice, but just were not right for Terri. Just as we were about to leave, he brought up one other car that might work for Terri. We looked at the car, and were impressed with it. The price was reasonable, it was big enough for the use Terri needed it for, and when we took it for a drive, it drove and handled better than the other ones we had driven. There were no hidden fees until Terri started signing papers, and I noticed that they tried to slip in a $995 extended warranty charge for a car that already had a warranty. After that little item was straightened out, the sale was finalized. Terri now has a car that I think is safer for her and Thomas, and should give them good service for a lot of miles. I'm glad that's over and that Terri is happy with her car.

Whew!! I'm tired, because we didn't get done until 1800 hours. Car shopping wears me out. However, it was a productive day. I'm going to relax the rest of the evening.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Wharton, Texas: The Best of Texas

Not all who travel are lost.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Little of This, Little of That

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 62 degrees, high 80 degrees, heavy clouds until mid-afternoon, then partly cloudy. Light sprinkles that gave us about 40 drops.

Earlier this week, I promised some pictures of Lake Lurleen State Park. Even though our Internet connection is fairly good, it is not good enough yet to send pictures out. As soon as I can, I'll go into town and send out a post with those pictures and others we have taken.

Today, we extended our time in the state park through Sunday. The lot we are renting is available now, but the electrical system needs some work, which we hope can be done
tomorrow.

It was a big day with chores. The highlight of the day for me was dumping the holding tanks. It is actually easy to do, especially when you have a black water flushing system like we have. All I have to do is hook up a water hose to a connection under the RV, turn the water on, and let it flush out the tank for a couple minutes. What could be easier? The last thing I do is open the kitchen tank and shower tank to flush the sewer hose. I have to laugh when I think about the fiasco that took place the first time I dumped the tanks. Fortunately, I did not dump anything on the ground, but it was only through luck that I didn't.

That reminds me of another thing that I thought I would never master, which was backing the RV up, especially into tight spaces. When we first bought the RV, we had a storage building that we kept it in. There was only about 24 inches clearance on either side if the RV was centered in the building. The first time we parked it in the building, it took us about two hours, and wore me out. The second time was only slightly better. Over time, I have gotten better to the point that backing is not an issue at all. In fact, I look forward to backing to see how much better I can get.

One of the big problems with backing is when two people are involved, and one of them is a woman who has different ideas of what hand signals mean. Some of our biggest misunderstandings as RVers has been because Carolyn meant different things with her hand signals than what I thought she meant. With time and practice and Carolyn understanding what I need to know, we have gotten much better at working together to back up the RV.

Do you get the idea that I don't have a lot to talk about today? You would be correct, there's not much going on. With the help we are giving Terri and taking care of our everyday chores, we have not had time to get out and about much. But, I promise that we will start passing on what we see and enjoy before long.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Marshall, Texas: A Texas Treasure

Not all who wander are lost.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

University of Alabama

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 52 degrees, high 73 degrees, mostly clear skies with scattered small clouds, windy. An absolutely beautiful day.

Terri took the day off from work and showed us around the University of Alabama campus. What a beautiful place. The buildings are mostly red brick, with landscaping around them. The buildings are named after famous people who have had an impact on the university, such as Paul Bryant, who is considered to be an icon. The football stadium is named after him, as is a hall and a street. As expected, the athletic facilities are first class. The campus is filled with young people hurrying between the buildings and on the sidewalks. Ah, to be that young again and know what I know now.

We were unable to get any pictures because there was so much traffic and little parking. I'll pass some on as soon as we get them. I'll ask Terri to be my guide, since she is a member of the faculty and can get a parking place easier. In addition, she will know where the most interesting pictures will be.

When we got back to Terri's, we spent some time helping her do some chores around the house and property. The house is so big that if it were to be split up, it could create at least two full size houses if the basement was finished. That area alone is about 2000 square feet. Then there is the attic which would make someone a nice apartment. Big house that takes a lot of care. The property is over 12 acres, with at least two acres having to be mowed. I think we will keep our RV and let someone else do the yard work. This place is the type of home anyone would be happy to live in if they were younger and had the time to take care of it.

Tomorrow is dump day, so that will be one thing that has to be done. The rest of the day will be spent doing whatever comes up. If the lot we are moving to becomes available, we will move there, a whole six miles.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - St. Augustine, Florida: The Ancient City

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We're Moving

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 47 degrees, high 73 degrees, mostly clear skies

It was a little warmer today, and I was ready for it. Scattered rain showers are expected for the next two days. The area has been suffering from a drought, so any rain will be welcomed.

The antenna for the air card continues to do a great job in allowing us to access the Internet. I was too busy to take pictures of the installation, but will try tomorrow.

Since it appears we will be here for a longer time than expected, we decided to try to find an RV park that would serve our needs better. And, coincidentally, be a little lighter on the pocketbook. Near where we enter US 82 is an RV park that we decided to check into. We found the man who owns the park doing some dirt leveling and landscaping with a tractor. He is 85 years old, and doesn't look a day over 84. Actually, he looks pretty good for his age. He told me he didn't have any vacancies, had no idea when he would have one, and when he did have a vacancy, he had a waiting list for it. That was a pretty strong indication that we wouldn't be able to stay there. He was not unpleasant with his answer, but again, there is no question that we needed to look elsewhere.

As we were about to leave, I noticed a mobile home park next door that had a sprinkling of RVs in it. I drove over there and found the owner, a very nice lady who lives next door to the park. In addition, we met her daughter. She told us she would have a vacancy by the end of the week and could have it if we wanted. We told her we thought it would our needs perfectly, since it is a quiet park with mostly older people in it, just like us. In addition, it is actually closer to Terri's house and to town than Lake Lurleen State Park. A cell phone signal is available, which we have not always had at the state park. We will be notified when the lot is vacated. At that time, we will have the power turned on in our name, and move in. The move will only be about six miles. Piece of cake.

After finding the RV space, we went into Northport and took care of a few little items. Then it was back home for a little rest and relaxation (meditation) before we went over to Terri's house to help get some things done over there. After dinner with Terri and Thomas, it was back home to relax and publish the blog.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Micanopy, Florida: Best Antique Shopping Town

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Frost

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 29 degrees, high 60 degrees, clear, light breezes

Unexpected low temperatures are hitting the area with a heavy frost this morning. We hope temperatures will warm up a little before long. On the other hand, the weather has been great in the afternoon.

I installed the air card booster this afternoon, and it has made all the difference in being able to get on the Internet. We went from not being able to get on at all to actually having a good signal. Before, we had at most 1 bar on the meter. Now we have 3-4 bars. Before tonight, I had to use Terri's computer or go to McDonald's to publish the blog. Tonight, the blog is being published from the RV in the state park. As soon as I have time, I'll take some pictures of the installation of the antenna.

The park has had a water leak in a line at one of the sites. Yesterday, the water was off for about half the day, and they had to turn it off again today so they could finish the job. Luckily for Carolyn, a worker knocked on our door at 0830 hours and told us the water was being turned off at 0900 hours. That gave Carolyn time to get a shower before the water went off. I keep telling her she needs to get up earlier. She's really getting into this retirement thing.

After Carolyn got her shower and I did my morning walk, we went into town to the library and got a library card to use when we are in the area. Tuscaloosa has a good library system, with a great wireless system for accessing the Internet using your personal computer. In addition, they have a good geneology section that we have used in the past, and a good selection of books. I'm sure we will make good use of the facility.

After leaving the library, we went to the local Sam's Club to see if they had anything we needed. We found a few things we needed, including the coffee that Carolyn likes. After finishing shopping, we stopped at the in-store food area and got a couple of polish hot dogs for lunch. From Sam's, we went to Lowe's to find the mounting bolts I needed to finish installation of the air card antenna. Then, down to the propane sales store to have a bottle filled, and finally back to the park. Whew!

Carolyn prepared a pot of homemade soup and corn bread for supper that we shared with Terri and Thomas. I'm sure this good food is bringing back memories of childhood to Terri.

We are going to be in this area for the near future. Terri needs some help, and it also gives us the chance to know Thomas better. He's a great kid. In the meantime, we will be exploring this area and out for about 50 miles in all directions. Blog entries will describe what we see and experience, and pictures will be shared when appropriate. As our plans develop, we will pass them on.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - St. Augustine, Florida: The Nation’s Oldest City

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Beautiful Day In Alabama

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 34 degrees, high 53 degrees, clear skies, light breezes

Another beautiful day in west Alabama, and we will take all of these we can get. The weather should stay like this for a few more days. Most of the people who were here for the weekend have left, and the park is quiet.

Today we received the signal booster for the air card, but I was unable to install it because the company we ordered it from did not send bolts that were long enough to mount the antenna. The bolts need to be about an inch longer. Supposedly, our signal should increase by about 20-25%, which should allow us to get on the Internet wherever we have a signal. In addition, it should speed up our downloads and uploads. We'll pick up some longer bolts tomorrow and see if the claims are true. Once it is installed and it appears to be working, I'll post some pictures of the installation.

We have not bought groceries for about two weeks, so today was the day for that. Before buying groceries, we went to the library in Tuscaloosa to see what I have to do to get a library card, since we are in the area at least a couple times a year. It would be nice to be able to check books and movies out. I was told that all I need is a letter with my name on it being addressed to Terri's house. We have that, but did not have it with us. We will be going back tomorrow, and I should be able to get the library card.

Carolyn prepared spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, and we shared it with Terri and Thomas. Tomorrow will be home made soup and corn bread. Ummmm!

We were going to do some clean up on the truck, but the water was turned off at the park for a good part of the day to repair a water line break. I was not unhappy about that, because the weather was really too cool to be putting my hands in cold water. If it is not warmer tomorrow, I'll wait until Wednesday.

We are going to be looking for another park to stay in. The one we are in has a two week limit, and they don't seem willing to change. That's okay, because we can probably find one that is closer to town and not as costly. The best thing about the park we are in is that it is not too far from Terri's house.

Once we get a few things done that we need to do, we will be getting out and exploring. At that time, we will be passing on our observations and pictures.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Burkburnett, Texas: Boom Town

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 35 degrees, high 60 degrees, mostly clear skies

Happy Easter, everyone. A lot of people visited the park today, having picnics and hiding eggs for the kids. There is no telling how many eggs were not found. Thomas, our grandson, and I took a walk this afternoon, and could see several eggs that had not been found. On the other hand, maybe the raccoons will have a feast tonight. This all brings back memories of when our girls were at home and the picnics and egg hunts we used to have for them. Carolyn would dress them up in new dresses that she had made or found in a store that were just right. Ahhhh, memories. We have many pictures of those days.

We went to a Chinese buffet for lunch. I know, I know. I said that we did not want to go to another buffet for awhile. However, when I asked Thomas where we should eat lunch, he suggested this particular Chinese restaurant. It was good food, and we showed a lot of restraint, so the pain was not as bad as the other night. Sometimes, you do things for your grandchildren that you wouldn't do for yourself.

Thomas and I took the camera with us to see what kind of pictures we could take of the park and small wild life that we might see. One bird in particular that we wanted to get a picture of are the blue birds that call the park home. We saw several of them and took some pictures, but I won't know how good the pictures are until I have the time to download them. If I have a good one, I'll share it on the blog. We also took some pictures of the lake and campground that we will share.

What a surprise to wake up this morning with the temperature at 35 degrees. After yesterday, we thought it might continue to warm up a little more. It did not really warm up much at all until the afternoon. At least it wasn't raining or snowing. The next three days are supposed to be more of the same, so we will enjoy it.

Tomorrow will be a busy day for us. I have an antenna for our air card being delivered to Terri's house by Fedex, and it requires a signature to be left at the house. I have no idea what time Fedex will be here, so I'll be ready to stay as long as needed. While waiting, I'll clean up the truck and possibly put some wax on it. If Fedex comes early enough, we need to go buy some groceries. Then, I need to clean and treat the roof on the RV. It's always something to keep me from my meditation.

Once we get some of these tasks out of the way, we plan to do some exploring and picture taking.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Florence, Alabama: Alabama's Renaissance City

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Beautiful Day In Alabama

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 41 degrees, high 73 degrees, clear skies

Today was one of those days that the weather was perfect. Starting out a little cool, it warmed up later in the day to the point that a jacket was not needed. There was not a cloud in the sky, and the sky was a deep blue. Perfect!

We were tired this morning, having been on the road for two days. After getting up about 0700 hours, I took a walk to see what kinds of changes have been made since we were here last. Some road re-surfacing has been taking place as well as painting of signs, fences, and shelters. A general cleanup seems to have taken place, and the park has benefitted. The park has 91 spaces, and only about five of them were vacant. It looks like the people have responded to the changes.
That's good to see, since we have stayed here every time we have been up here with the RV to see Terri and her family. It is convenient and quiet for us. We hope the improvements continue.

After my walk, I set up the satellite dish so we could watch TV. I worked on it a little yesterday, but I was so tired that my heart wasn't in it, so I was finding it difficult to get a signal. Today, I found the signal almost immediately. Maybe that's a sign that I should take it easy a little more.

Terri had to respond to another call-in, so we met her in Northport for lunch. After a nice lunch, Terri and Carolyn decided they wanted to go have their nails done (girl stuff), so I decided to go back to the RV and watch TV. That's another word for meditate, although I did actually watch some TV. It looks like Tiger Woods' winning streak is in jeopardy of ending, as he is three shots back of the leader, and did not play well today. Tomorrow will tell the tale.

I also did some productive tasks, including setting up our sewer hoses, so my time alone wasn't all leisure. I have a lot more things I want or need to do, but next week is soon enough.

While Terri and Carolyn were gone, they went to Birmingham to pick up Thomas, our grandson. I saw him when Terri brought Carolyn back to the RV. I was really surprised at how tall he has gotten since we last saw him at Christmas. All of our grandchildren are growing up, and you can almost see them inching up. They are also the best looking grandchildren.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Williston, Florida: Gateway To The Nature Coast

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, March 21, 2008

We Are In Coker, Alabama

Coker, Alabama

Weather: low 41 degrees in Vicksburg, high 73 degrees in Coker, clear skies, light breezes

After a good night's sleep in Vicksburg, we awoke early and decided to get on the road as soon as we had everything ready. As a result, we hit the road by 0745 hours, which is a couple of hours sooner than normal for us. The road was rough for the first 30 miles east of Vicksburg, but finally smoothed out for the rest of the trip. Just west of Jackson, Mississippi, we noticed that an entrance to the Natchez Trace Parkway was coming up. After a quick discussion on whether we wanted to change our course, we decided to take the Parkway north to just weat of Starkville, where we could get onto US 82 for the rest of our trip to Coker, Alabama, which is where Terri lives.

Taking the Parkway was a good decision, because even though we could only drive 50 mph, the drive was through a park-like setting on both sides of the road. Peppered along the way were wayside areas where drivers can pull over and view historical plaques and sights important to the history of the area and Trace. We saw several instances of the Trace, with some of the ruts being up to six feet deep. Even in the areas where the ruts were not that deep, there were not any trees growing in the Trace. It must have been extremely difficult to travel in those days, even with the Trace showing the way. The route was developed over time as the most direct route from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi, and was used for many years.

Along the way, we saw several examples of the wildlife, including turkeys, deer, bluebirds, squirrels, and much evidence of wiild hogs rooting in the ditches and fields. Trees included oaks, pines, maples, hickory, flowering pears, plum, red bud, dogwood, and others. Traffic was very light, and we were able to mosey along, enjoying the beauty and quiet of the Trace. Someday, we would like to travel the rest of the route. We think the fall time would best.

After setting up the RV at the RV park, we went to Terri's. She asked us to go with her to Tuscaloosa because she had the duty for her job and had to go in to take care of a problem. After the problem was resolved, we went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner, which was great. Then it was back to Terri's where we visited a little while and I wrote today's entry for the blog. The signal at the RV park is too weak to use the air card. Now, it's time to go home and rest.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Masthiston, Mississippi: Welcome Home

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Movin' On

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Weather: low 37 degrees in Livingston, high 67 degrees in Vicksburg, clear skies, light breezes

The weather for traveling was about as good as a person could hope for. We left Livingston about 0845 hours this morning. Traffic was not bad, and the road was in good shape, allowing us to make good time with few stops. We arrived in Vicksburg about 1530 hours, and after setting up the RV, I helped a new Dish Network system owner set his system up for the first time. I remember the first time I set our system up, it was so hard I started thinking I was going to take it back and get our money back. Then, all of a sudden, I hit the satellite and everything was right with the world. By now, I have set it up hundreds of times, and very seldom have a problem. If I do have a problem, it doesn't take long to get it straightened out. It's a good thing, because Carolyn would be ready to settle down somewhere if she didn't have her TV.

After resting a few minutes and cleaning up, we just had to go to one of the casinos here in Vicksburg and donate a little money to their causes. Before the donation took place, we went to eat at the buffet, which was very good. Eating at the buffet was a mistake, however, because we can't eat like we used to. Here it is three hours later, and I am still so full, even though I only had one plate. It will be a long time before we do that again.

After leaving the trough, we went into the casino so Carolyn could make the donation. You will note that I said Carolyn was making the donation. I believe giving begins at home. However, I don't mind her playing if she wants to, because she always keeps it under control. Once her specified donated amount was deposited, she was ready to leave. We came home and watched TV for a little while, then some reading. We are both tired, but tomorrow's trip should be easier, with our arrival in Tuscaloosa about 1300 hours. That will give us time to set up and rest a bit before seeing Terri.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Carthage, Texas: A Friendly Place To Call Home

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Another Day In Livingston

Livingston, Texas

Weather: low 50 degrees, high 65 degrees, mostly clear, winds to 30 mph

We decided to stay in Livingston another day in order to allow the weather to settle down east of us. Also, the wind is blowing up to 30 mph out of the north, which makes it hard on our gas mileage if we're going into it. Tomorrow's weather looks much better, so we will move on then.

Carolyn wanted to go to the mall, so we went to the Walmart Mall. While there, we also visited the Bank of WalMart to get some money. On the way back to the RV, we stopped and took some pictures of the Polk County Courthouse and the square around it. The current courthouse is the fifth one the county has used, and was built in 1923 to provide more space and "modern conveniences". A memorial to the Confederate soldiers from Polk County says something to the effect that just because they lost did not make their cause wrong. In 1860, there were 600 registered voters in the county, and they sent 900 men to serve as soldiers. Next to the courthouse is the old Courthouse Annex, built in 1905 to provide more space for the prior courthouse.










Note the supports on the left side of the Annex put there to help stabilize the old building.




Below are a couple of pictures of the square and downtown area. Livingston has a population of about 7,000 people, but seems larger with the amount of traffic. Bustling little town.











After getting back from the mall, we (Jerald) had some chores to do. I ordered an air card signal booster that we should have by the weekend. It was time to order some of the prescription drugs that we use, so I took care of that. I looked up the information needed to get an adapter for the cell phone so we have a better signal for it by using the air card signal booster. Many times, we stay in place where the cell phone signal is very weak, so the adapter should help. Then, the real work started, with me washing the truck to get all the road dirt and tree pollen off. Carolyn cleaned the inside of the truck windows and windshield with vinegar and water. We can actually see out the windows now. After all of that, I took a walk while Carolyn was preparing dinner. With the trip to the mall and the work we did, I'm tired. No meditation today. If I'm going to be this busy, I might as well go back to work.

Wrong!!!!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Micanopy, Florida: Florida’s Oldest Inland City

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Weather Stop

Livingston, Texas

Weather: low 70 degrees, high 80 degrees, winds to 30 mph, rain on and off from noon on

We decided to stay in Livingston today because the forecast for the weather was so bad. As I have said before, we don't like to travel when the weather is forecasted to be this way. Tomorrow is supposed to be better as far as rain, but we will have to contend with elevated winds if we move.

Last night when we set up the RV, we noticed that we did not do a very good job of leveling it. In fact, we did a lousy job. We felt like we were leaning downhill when facing the kitchen counter. I found myself putting the brakes on when I walked. Okay, there's a little exaggeration there, but not much. Once we decided we were not moving today, we moved the RV enough to get some leveling boards under the tires on the curb side. What a difference that made. Now we can walk inside the RV without feeling like we're leaning. I think the reason we did such a lousy job was that we were tired. Not a very good excuse, is it?

Since we needed to do a couple errands in Livingston, we decided to eat a late breakfast, early lunch by stopping at Burger King. After that, we drove to Lake Livingston State Park to check out their RV sites. It is a nice state park, and they have about 160 sites. Most of the spaces are too small for us, but we found some on the shore of the lake that look like they will work for our needs. We may want to stay there at some time in the future.

When I picked up our mail yesterday, the registration renewal for the truck was in it. Since we were in the Livingston area, we went by the tax office and got the new registration. It was a relatively painless process, and only took about 10 minutes. Now we're set for another year on that.

Before going back to the RV, we filled up with diesel. It was $3.839 a gallon, and who knows where the price will stop. The good news was that we averaged 12.5 mpg pulling the RV on this leg of the trip, which is pretty good, considering that the newer trucks and motor homes don't seem to do as well.

If the weather cooperates tomorrow, we will be moving on down the road.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Daytona Beach, Florida: The World’s Most Famous Beach

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, March 17, 2008

We Moved to Livingston

Livingston, Texas

Weather: low 70 degrees in Bay City, high 82 degrees in Livingston, cloudy, high winds

We left Bay City this morning after being seen off by Lori and the grandkids. It was great seeing Lori, John, Julian, and Zoe, and also Terrell, my brother and his wife, Kathy. Lori had never seen us get the RV ready to travel, so it was an experience for her to see what we have to do to be able to travel safely. The last thing we did was dump our holding tanks, which meant we had to hook up the truck to the RV and pull around to the dump. A lady just ahead of us actually dumped some stuff on the grass, and everyone got to enjoy the aroma. We made sure that the campground management knew we didn't make the mess.

After dumping the holding tanks and putting everything away, we hugged everyone and said our good byes. It is always hard to leave family, and yet we still have that itch to see what's down the road.

The wind was blowing out of the south at about 20 mph, which meant it was against our side as we were heading east to go around Houston through Dickinson, Kemah, and Baytown. The only time that I really felt the wind affecting us to any degree was when we went across the Ship Channel at Baytown. That bridge is high in order to allow ocean going ships to pass under it, and when we were on top, it was pushing us around pretty good. Once we started moving north toward Livingston, the wind was coming from behind, helping push us.

We arrived in Livingston with no problems and were set up by 1430 hours. Along the way, we saw some dogwood trees blooming, which we had not seen for several years. Other trees and flowers that were blooming included red buds, purple and white wisteria, flowering pear, wild plum, azaleas, blue bonnets, poppies, Indian paint brush, irises, blue eyed grass, widow's tears, primroses, and spirea (old timers called it Bride's Bouquet). The information on the trees and flowers comes from Carolyn.

After eating a light lunch since it was so late in the afternoon, I went to check our mail while Carolyn took a power nap. I never did get to do any meditation because of several little things I needed to take care of.

Livingston is the home of Escapees, an RV organization that we have belonged to for seven years. They also provide a mail service that we use. Every time we pass through Livingston, we usually spend at least a couple of days in the Escapees RV park here. They have parks in several other states that we have stayed in.

There is a good Cajun seafood restaurant in Livingston that we have eaten at before. We decided to try it again, and were not disappointed. Carolyn had the fried shrimp, while I had the fried catfish. Ummm, Good!

The weather is supposed to be nasty tonight and tomorrow with high winds, rain, and a chance of hail. We will not make a decision on whether to move on tomorrow until we see what the weather looks like when we get up. I don't like to travel with the RV when bad weather is in the forecast.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Liberty, Texas: First City on the Trinity

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Good Chinese Food, Bad Service

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 56 degrees, high 72 degrees, mostly cloudy, winds to 20 mph

I woke about 0230 hours this morning, and could not go back to sleep. Finally, about a half hour later, I decided to get up and read some until I got sleepy. Reading helped, and I was able to go back to sleep. When I was working and had a problem like that, it seemed that I could not go back to sleep. Now that I am retired, there is less pressure to get up at a certain time so I can go meet work obligations. I know if I don't sleep well, I can always do some power meditation later on that will fix me up.

We went to a Chinese restaurant with Lori and her family for lunch. This restaurant was closed for remodeling, getting rid of their buffet line, adding new furniture including booths, new wood flooring, and new decorations. The remodeling looks good, but I think they made a mistake in getting rid of the buffet line. Today was the first time they have been open in several weeks due to the remodeling, and it was like they had forgotten how to prioritze tasks and serve people. We arrived at 1115 hours, our orders were taken right away, and our meal arrived in bits and pieces for the next hour and a quarter. The final dish was taken home as a carryout because it never was ready until we decided to leave. I received my order about 15 minutes after ordering, Carolyn received hers about 15 minutes later. Lori's family received their food over the course of about 20 more minutes. Food was left off our orders, which we had to ask for. I never received the egg drop soup I ordered. On the plus side, the food was very tasty, but the service was as bad as I have ever seen. This restaurant has been open for quite a while before remodeling, and it was like they forgot everything they had learned about serving food to the public. Several people got up and walked out because of the long wait. When we left, there were still people there who got there 10 minutes after we did that had not gotten their food. I hope they get their act together. If they don't, that will be one more business biting the dust in Bay City.

Later in the afternoon, Lori and Zoe came over and worked on scrapbooking with Carolyn. Lori helped Carolyn create a scrapbook with pictures of Carolyn and her mother. While they were doing the crafting, I was watching Tiger Woods play golf in Arnold Palmer's golf torurnament. Before it was over, a man came to the door and asked for help in setting up his satellite dish. That took me away from the golf match, but that's okay. Tiger won his fifth PGA tournament in a row, and tied Ben Hogan for the most wins in a career. Oh, and by the way, we got the man's dish set up and operating.

If the weather does not change drastically tomorrow, we will be leaving here on our way to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to visit our daughter Terri and her family. We expect to take our time and get there Thursday or Friday.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Atlanta, Texas: A Great Place To Live

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Market Day on the Square

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 67 degrees, high 87 degrees, clear skies, light breezes

After my morning walk, we went to the K-2 Restaurant in town for lunch with Lori and her family. In days past, we went to this restaurant a couple times a week because it was considered the best in town. However, our tastes seem to have changed, and the restaurant does not have the same attraction for us as it did. One constant about the restaurant that we do still like is that they have a - guess what?- Saturday hamburger special for lunch that includes a nacho bar. Now, this is something we can get our teeth into. The nacho bar allows you to make your own nachos, and they have all the trimmings to make a memorable plate of nachos.

While driving to the restaurant, we noticed that Market Day on the Square was ongoing. After lunch, we all went to the square and walked around looking at the different crafts, candy, beggars, and other things that we have no need for. I did buy an outdoor plant as a companion for Abe and Mabel. When we get a better Internet connection, I'll share a picture of the latest addition to our collection of flowers and plants.

Once we got home, I did some power meditation. Then, I decided to wipe the outside of the RV down, since it has rained on it a couple times. That took about an hour. While doing the wipedown, I met our next door neighbors, who are Canadians from the province of Saskachewan in Canada, eh. They are nice people who have spent the last four winters in Texas. They like the US and especially Texas. After that, I met a couple from Wisconsin, who own a farm up there that they are trying to sell so they can hit the road fulltime. They have been coming to Texas in the winter for the last three years. Before that, they went to Florida for several years.

Most professional people have a business card that they hand out to acquaintances and people who may have a need for it. During my working life, I also had business cards. Now that we are retired, we think we need a card that we can hand out to people. The card will have the usual information, and will list us as Professional Retirees. When we get it done, we'll show everyone what it looks like.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Gulfport, Mississippi: Where Your Ship Comes In

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ice Cream

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 70 degrees, high 81 degrees, cloudy early, clear in the afternoon

Today was one of those days where we didn't have much going on. I went for a long walk this morning, then caught up on the e-mail. We have an Internet connection through our air card, but it is very slow in the campground because the signal is weak. After I got tired of the computer being so slow, I went out and cleaned up the outside of the truck. The park does not allow washing vehicles, but I have found that a bucket of water and a rag work well when the dirt is mostly dust. Today's dirt on the truck was mostly dust, but also had some tree pollen. The problem with the pollen is that it can cause respiratory problems.

After cleaning up the truck, we had lunch. By then, a little meditation was in order, which I have gotten very good at practicing. By the time meditation was over, it was about 1530 hours. We decided to go to Dairy Queen and get some ice cream. It just happened that they were having a special on the 12 ounce Blizzards, which we thought would hit the spot. Carolyn got the Oreo Cookies Blizzard, while I decided to go whole hog and got the one with all the chocolate. I wish I could think of the name. Anyway, it was good, and hit the spot. It was the first ice cream we have had in about three months.

After the ice cream, we went to Lori's house and visited with her and the grandkids for a couple of hours. She gave us a movie (No Country For Old Men) to watch. Since we had eaten the ice cream fairly late in the afternoon, we didn't get hungry until late. After dinner, we watched the movie, and it was a good one. No fluff in this one. Tommie Lee Jones is one of our favorite actors, and most of the time, we like movies filmed in Texas.

The park seems to be filling up with weekenders. Spring break started in this area today, and I'm sure many of those folks will be here. I hope they know and practice common camper courtesy.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Chiefland, Florida: Gem of the Suwanee Valley

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

We Moved

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 55 degrees, high 77 degrees, cloudy, winds to 20 mph

We made an extremely hard move of at least four miles today. It had to have taken every bit of 15 minutes. Actually, the hardest thing about the move was breaking camp and setting up again. And even that was not hard. This is the shortest move yet for us.

We moved to Riverside Rv Park, located on the Colorado River. The park is owned by the city of Bay City, and is not anything to brag about. However, it will do us until we leave here. It is hard to believe, but every park in the area is full or close to it. One good thing about this park is that it is not close to a railroad. In the park we just left, our space was located about 75 feet from the railroad tracks. There are several crossings in the area, and the engineer has to blow his horn at every one of them. Even though we would be expecting the horn to blow, it still jolted us. It even startled us when we were in a sound sleep. Sometimes, it sounded as though the train was coming through the RV.

After moving and getting set up, it was time to go to the RVers' mall, WalMart. It had been almost two weeks since we bought groceries, so it was time to stock up. While at WalMart, we took advantage of the food court, which consists of MacDonald's and their dollar menu. Can you believe we ate lunch for $4.87? What a deal! In addition to taking advantage of the food court, we got some cash from the Bank of WalMart. Isn't WalMart a great store? If they don't have it, you don't need it. By the way, Carolyn doesn't share my enthusiam for WalMart.

After getting home and putting everything away, I changed from long pants into walking shorts, loaded my golf clubs into the truck, and went to the golf course. Terrell and I played another 18 holes, and it was good fun. I found more rust, chipped more rust, and seemed to accumulate rust where I didn't expect it. But you know what they say? A bad day on the golf course is better than a good day at work.

I'm not sure what we will do tomorrow, but it will be interesting to see how we sleep without a train coming through the RV.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Perry, Florida: Share Our Good Nature

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Old Friend Bo

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 50 degrees, high 72 degrees, clear, light breezes

Tonight I went out to dinner with an old friend from my working days, Bo Garrett. He is working on a project in the area, and may be here for another couple of years. We went to dinner at a seafood restaurant in Van Vleck, and caught up with what is going on with each other and common acquaintances. The food was excellent, but the company was outstanding. Thanks for dinner, Bo, and I look forward to getting together with you in the fall when we pass through here.

This morning, I talked on the phone to Ray Richardson, another working buddy. Ray is a great person and I always enjoy talking to him. After talking to Ray, we drove down to Palacios to see if things have changed down there. The drive from Bay City to Palacios did not show much change. In Palacios, it seems like there is more traffic and construction. We almost saw a little traffic congestion, where there were about 15 cars in a wad. There seems to be more energy in the town. There were some vacancies in the RV parks, but we don't want to be that far away from Bay City while visiting family and friends. We plan to spend some time in that area in the future.

Carolyn says I need to talk a little about the flowers and trees that are blooming. Wildflowers we have seen include blue bonnets and Indian paint brushes. The azaleas are really something this year. The tulips, daffodils, lotus trees, wild plum trees, flowering pear trees, peppermint lilies, star lilies, primroses, and red buds are all beautiful. Spring is such a beautiful season. For those in the Granbury area, you would be amazed at the amount of rain the area has had, and how much water is standing in the ditches and fields. Can a prime hatch of mosquitoes be far behind?

Our rent at the RV park runs out tomorrow, and there are not any vacancies due to all the work in the area. We have been looking for another spot to light for another four days or so, but were not having any success. Finally, Carolyn asked whether there might be some vacancies at Riverside RV Park, which is owned by the city of Bay City. We drove out there today, and they do have some vacancies. We made reservations for a spot that will carry us through Sunday night. We will be leaving Monday morning, making our way (slowly) to the northeast.

This afternoon, we went over to Lori's house to visit. While I was gone with Bo, Carolyn went with Lori and the grandkids to Victoria's for dinner.

Tomorrow we will make a hard pull of about four miles over to Riverside Park. For a long pull like that, we will have to be ready to go early, like by 1000 hours. Just kidding. Once we get moved and set up, Terrell and I are going to take another try at golf. Should be interesting to see if I remember the good things I did on the golf course on Monday, and forget the bad things. Looking back at the past when I used to play more. it seemed like the bad habits always seemed to dominate.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town -Brookings, Oregon: Where Flowers Meet The Sea

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Grilled Hamburgers

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 50 degrees, high 70 degrees, cloudy in the morning, mostly clear in the afternoon

Today was a day to get some chores done that we needed to do. First thing was to change the bed clothes. After that, we went to the laundry for that drudge job. This time it wasn't too bad, since the laundry was not busy and there were enough machines so we could wash all our clothes at one time. Then, we brought the clothes home and put them away. After the clothes, I took the truck to the Ford dealer to have the transmission serviced. While there, I had a recall item (cam position sensor) taken care of. I asked if I could have the old part, but they said they had to send it back to Ford. That's too bad. I was not having any problems with the old one, and I thought if the new one went bad, I could put the old one back in.

This evening we went to Terrell and Kathy's house for grilled hamburgers with all the fixins. We had a nice visit and laughed a lot. We enjoyed it.

Tomorrow night is the last night we are paid for in the park. If there is not a vacancy, we will have to either move to another park or move on to the north on Thursday. If nothing opens up here, I will try the Palacios area tomorrow. Either way, we will know what we will be doing by this time tomorrow. We wouldn't mind spending a few more days here.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Poughkeepsie, New York: The Queen City on the Hudson River

Not all who wander are lost

Monday, March 10, 2008

Golf

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 59 degrees, high 62 degrees, cloudy early, rain on and off from noon until dark

It rained like cats and dogs here Thursday afternoon after we arrived. Today, it rained, although not as hard as it did Thursday. We had forgotten how humid and wet everything gets when it rains here. We're hopeful that the next few days will be drier.

When we lived here before, my brother Terrell and I used to play golf together a couple of times a week. Since we moved away, we had not played together since the summer of 2005. I had not played at all since September of 2005 because of a shoulder injury. I saw a doctor about my shoulder back then, and he sent me to a physical therapist in an attempt to not have to perform surgery on it. Luckily for me, the therapy worked and I was given some exercises to do on a routine basis to ensure that my shoulder continued to feel good. Today was the first time I have played golf since the injury, and it was fun. My game, as expected, was rusty, but by the end of the round the rust was starting to flake off. It was a fun round. We finished just as the rain started.

We had several tasks we wanted to get done today, but the golf and weather got in the way. Of course, there is always tomorrow. I'm retired. Yeahh!

The park we are staying in is full, and if nothing changes by Thursday, we will either have to move on down the road or find another place to stay. There is nothing available in Bay City or Matagorda. We may be able to stay in Palacios, which is about 30 miles away. I'll check on that tomorrow. If nothing comes up, we'll move on Thursday.

Among the unique things we like about the little towns are the hardware stores that some of them have. Bay City has one of the old style stores that I like to browse through and see what they have that I might need. It has been in business for about 60 years, and has survived in spite of the WalMart Super Store that has been built. Here's a picture of the one in Bay City. Note the mural on the side of the building.


Tonight we went to the Waterfront Restaurant, located at the Boat Harbor in Matagorda for dinner. We try to go there everytime we are in town. While there, we checked the RV parks to see if they had any spaces available, but they don't.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town -Buffalo, New York: American Masters, American Treasures

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Pictures of Bay City, Texas

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 55 degrees, high 72 degrees, partly cloudy, windy

Today was another quiet day in Bay City. Carolyn, Lori, and Zoe went to the scrapbooking store located on the square in town. While they were gone, I watched a basketball game on TV. After that, I set up our sewer hose, since we have not dumped our shower and kitchen tanks for a few days.

This morning when I took a walk, I took the camera along to take some pictures of what I thought might be interesting. Below are a few pictures of some of the nice old houses in town.






















Did you notice that the azaleas are blooming? Below are some pictures of the courthouse square. The courthouse is more modern than the courthouses in most small towns. I like the old ones best.




















Here's a memory of the past.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Folkston, Georgia: Gateway To The Okefeenoke Swamp

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Old Friends

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 45 degrees, high 60 degrees, clear skies

I am still having problems with the Internet connection, but hope to have some help with it by the end of the week. In the meantime, I was able to finally add some pictures to the post for 3/6/08, if anyone would like to see them.

This was a fairly quiet day for us. After all, it is the weekend. Carolyn went to Lake Jackson with Lori to shop, but did not find anything she wanted. While they were gone, I went to the Bay City Service Center and donated blood at today's blood drive. I try to donate when I can, but with the traveling and so on, it has been almost a year since I did. After visiting the blood drive, I came home and happened to see two people in the park that I used to work with. It was great talking to them and finding out what they have been doing. I don't miss work so much, it is the social interactions I miss associated with work. I expect to see these two fellows again, plus others that I worked with before we leave.


When I went for my morning walk, I tried to look at everything from the perspective of a new person in town, rather than someone who lived here for 15 years. Based on that new perspective, I saw beauty and things of interest I had never noticed before. Tomorrow I will take the camera and share what I see with everyone.


Tonight we went out for dinner with Lori and her family. Pizza was the choice today, and was not bad. As usual, we had food left which we will eat tomorrow.


On Wednesday when we did some sightseeing in the La Grange area, we found a Catholic church which is one of The Painted Churches. This is a group of four Catholic churches in the area that are considered to be decorated beautifully. They are functioning churches that are very much a part of the communities, and are open for the public to view and admire. Below are some pictures of St. Mary's Church, located in High Hill, Texas.





The pictures don't really do justice to the beauty of the church.



More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Lakeland, Georgia: The City of Murals

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Taxes

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 41 degrees, high 50 degrees, winds up to 35 mph, cloudy early, clear after mid-morning

The weather was colder than we expected this morning. When I went for a walk, the wind made it seem even colder, with a wind chill of about 31 degrees.

I saw our CPA this morning about our tax matters. We had a nice conversation, since we have known him about 18 years. He always seems interested in what we are doing and where we are going next. Nice fellow.

After seeing the CPA, I went home and we had lunch. Then I went to the Bay City library to see if I could send some pictures out on the blog. I was able to use a computer, but they do not have cd drives, so I struck out in the effort to send pictures out. I'm still working on it, even to the point that I have starting looking for a signal booster to add to our air card. Supposedly, the air card and wi fi signals are enhanced with the booster. I'll probably decide in the next few days on which way to go. The slowness and lack of dependability of what I am having to work with at this time is frustrating. One thing I did find out at the library is that they expect to be upgrading their computer and Internet systems within the next two years. That means they will be joining the rest of the world with up to date technology.

We ordered our mail to be sent from our mail service provider, since it has been two weeks since we have gotten it. Our mail service is through the Escapees RV Club, located in Livingston, Texas. Livingston is also our address of record.

This afternoon, we went to see my brother Terrell and his wife Kathy. She looks good, especially considering the battle she has been having with cancer. Terrell retired from his job a week ago, but will be doing some consulting after they take a few weeks of vacation. We wish them a long and happy retirement.

Tonight, we went to dinner at Victoria's Mexican Restaurant with Lori, John, Julian, and Zoe. The food was good, as was the company. After dinner, we all went back to the RV to visit for a while. It was nice to reminisce about old times. The grandkids are growing up fast.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Lakeland, Georgia: Small Town Living At Its Best

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Storms

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 57 degrees in La Grange, high 72 degrees in Bay City, cloudy early, strong thunder storms in Bay City

When we got up this morning, we checked the weather to see what effect it would have on us leaving La Grange. After discussing the different scenarios that the weather folks talked about, we decided to leave La Grange and travel to Bay City. The primary reason for leaving was that the winds are supposed to be up to 35 mph tomorrow, and I don't like to travel with that much wind. Overall, driving conditions were good, with mostly light winds and scattered showers around El Campo. We made good time and were set up in Bay City before the rain started. Late in afternoon, the sky opened up with high winds, heavy rains, lightning, and thunder. I am glad we were not on the road.

We expect to be here at least a week, and may have to move after that time because all the RV parks are full because of pipe line work and outages occurring at the different plants in the area. In the meantime, I have an appointment to see our CPA tomorrow about some tax matters. UGGGHH!!

After dinner, we went to our daughter Lori's house to see her and her family. It was great to see them again, and everyone is doing well. Zoe seems taller every time we see her. Julian was working on his algebra homework. Good kids. We will see them more later on this weekend and over the next week.

Yesterday, I promised I would tell you about our visit to the Monument Hill/Kreische Brewery State Park. As I mentioned yesterday, a young lady named Dorothy at the park welcomed us and told us a little about the park. We had a nice conversation with her, and we found out she is the mother of twins that are 16 months old. Wow!! That is great.

The state park is actually two parks combined into one. The Monument Hill part of the park is devoted to the memory of early Texans who died at the battle of Salado Creek, a battle that was carried out to push the Mexicans out of San Antonio in 1842, and the Mier Expeditions. The Mier Expeditions were Texans who were captured by the Mexicans in 1843 and transported to prison in Mexico. Approximately 180 of them escaped but were recaptured. General Santa Anna decided that all the men involved in the escape would be executed. The governor of the Mexican state refused to carry out the executions. At that point, Santa Anna modified his command and placed 17 black beans in a bag along with approximately 163 white beans. Each escapee had to draw a bean. The men who drew a black bean were executed before the day was over in what became known as The Black Bean Episode. The leader of the escape did not draw a black bean, but was executed later on by special order from Santa Anna. The bodies were buried in Mexico, but were returned to Texas later on. The state placed them in a mass grave at Monument Hill with a monument to mark their sacrifice.



Here's the view from the monument. It is a great view of the Colorado River and valley.








The other part of the state park is the Kreische Brewery, the first brewery in Texas and was built in the 1860s. The site includes the ruins of the old brewery, which stopped producing in the late 1880s, and the Kreische homestead, consisting of the old house, smokehouse, and barn. The house is situated on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River and the valley below. The first floor of the house is built into the side of the bluff. It was fun imagining what everything would have looked like when the farm and brewery was a busy place. Below is a picture of the ruins of the brewery.

Next is two pictures of the old house.








More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Bainbridge, Georgia: Georgia At Its Best

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fayette County Courthouse

La Grange, Texas

Weather: low 45 degrees, high 78 degrees, clear skies, light breezes

Today was a great day for getting out and seeing the area. Our first stop was at the historic Fayette County Courthouse, located in La Grange. We went inside and admired the craftsmanship that was obviously used in erecting this beautiful building. A new courthouse was erected in 1890 because the one being used at the time was in such bad shape that it was a hazard to the people who used it. The cost was $90,000. Four types of Texas stone was used, along with granite. The building is still being used today, and business was being conducted in the courtroom when we were there. Check out the floor, which appears to be granite.




















A unique feature of the courthouse is an atrium in the center of the building. This was something that had been done very little when the courthouse was built. Now you see them in hotels, malls, office buildings, etc.

















Across from the courthouse is Hermes Drug Store, the oldest drug store in Texas. It was built in 1856 and has been in use since then.









After touring the courthouse, we walked around the square. We noticed a bakery and couldn't resist walking in. They advertised pigs in a blanket, so we bought a couple, plus coconut macaroons made in the store. We were disappointed in the pigs, since we are used to smoked sausage links wrapped in biscuit dough and baked. These pigs consisted of ground sausage in a roll and baked in bread dough. The sausage was dry and did not have much taste, and the bread was chewy. Not what we expected. On the other hand, the macaroons were very good.

Continuing our walk around the square, we found a plaque that showed the high water mark for a flood that devastated the town in 1913. The high water mark was about four feet up on the buildings, and even the courthouse had water in the first floor.

In our drive around town, we noticed a house that seems typical of some of the finer homes in the area. In addition, it appears that the town is trying to save their old oak trees. Several of them are in the roads.
















There seems to be quite a number of houses based on this type of design. I'm not sure if this is something that the European settlers brought with them, or if it was developed to suit the types of building materials available.



We went to Monument Hill/Kreische Brewery State Park this morning and had a nice conversation with a young lady named Dorothy who works there. Since it is getting late and I have already put a lot into this post, I will tell you about our visit to the state park tomorrow. Some interesting history there.
More later, be safe.
Today's Town - La Grange, Texas: Hometown, Texas
Not all who wander are lost.





Tuesday, March 4, 2008

We Made It To La Grange, Texas

La Grange, Texas

Weather: low 32 degrees in Waco this morning, high 70 degrees in La Grange, clear skies, light winds

Today's weather was totally different from the last two days in Waco. It was cold this morning, but clear. It was the type of day that makes a person want to be on the road. We left Waco a little after 1000 hours this morning and were in La Grange with the RV set up by 1300 hours. The RV park we are staying in is Colorado Landing RV Park on the Colorado River. The park is combined with a mobile home park, but it is clean and quiet. They have a room for activities with a large screen TV, DVDs for rent for $2.00 each, books for trade, newspapers, and magazines. It looks like this park will serve our needs adequately while here.

After eating lunch and resting for a short time, I walked five blocks to the Visitor's Center for information on what the area has to offer. The Visitor Center and Chamber of Commerce are located in the same building, which happens to be the old jail. When I first saw the building, I thought it might be an old courthouse because the architecture seemed so distinctive. Imagine my surprise when I asked the lady who helped me what the building was used for and she told me it was the old jail.

This is a picture of the outside of one of the old cells. The inside was only about five feet wide and eight feet long. Most of the cell was taken up by the bed.













This is a picture of another cell door in the
old jail. I have a feeling that prisoners' rights
did not mean as much at that time as they do now.









I walked around the courthouse square, checking out the old buildings, which are still being used. As I have said before, I really like these old Texas towns. Below is a picture of one side of the square.

When we arrived at the RV park, the manager suggested a Mexican restaurant, Las Fuentes, for dinner. He said it was the best restaurant in town, with good service and great food. We followed his suggestion, and were glad we did. The restaurant is clean, bright and cheerful, the service is excellent, and the food is outstanding. We ordered the mixed fajitas with chicken and beef for two. The meal included the usual chips and two types of dips as appetizers. The chips and drinks had not been on the table more than five minutes when the fajitas arrived with a sizzle and great aromas preceding them. Along with the fajitas, the meal included pinto beans that were more like bean soup ( they were very good), Spanish rice, all the trimmings for the fajitas, and handmade tortillas that were so thin that you could almost see through them. This meal was so good! We ate all we could, and still had a carryout box full of food to take home, along with a box of tortillas and chips. Whew!! I am still full. I was tempted to get a margarita, especially since they were only $.99. Next time, a margarita will have my name on it.

Tomorrow, we will be doing some sightseeing in the area. The main focus of the next post will be about the beautiful old courthouse, which is still in use.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - La Grange, Texas: A Hand On The Past, With An Eye On The Future

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, March 3, 2008

No Service

Waco, Texas

Weather: low 35 degrees, high 47 degrees, rain most of the day, winds to 35 mph, cold

We woke at 0500 hours this morning to the sound of thunder, high winds, and heavy rain. A front came through with winds up to 60 mph. At that time, the temperature was 47 degrees and it got colder as the day passed. There is a forecast of snow showers tonight. Since the weather was so nasty with heavy rain and high winds, we decided to stay another day here in Waco. The weather is supposed to be better tomorrow, and if it is, we will be moving on.

With the weather so bad, we stayed indoors all day, keeping warm, reading, surfing the net, meditating (at least I was - Carolyn took a nap). By the late afternoon, we were getting a little stir crazy, so we decided to go to Red Lobster for dinner. It has been a long time since we went to a Red Lobster, and we were really looking forward to it.

We found the Red Lobster easily enough, and found a good place to park. We went inside and were seated right away. The table was not clean, so it had to be wiped down. We sat there for 10-15 minutes waiting for someone to at least take our drink order. Finally, we got tired of waiting, and walked out. The restaurant wasn't busy, so I don't know what their problem was. We have decided that we don't have to put with bad service, and won't do it anymore.

We were still interested in eating out, so we started looking for something we might like. We found a bar-be-que restaurant named the Rib Crib that looked interesting. Total turnaround from the service we received (or didn't receive) at Red Lobster. We were seated as soon as we walked in and our drink orders were taken at the same time. Since we had never been there before, it took us a few minutes to decide what to get. The waiter came back every couple of minutes to see if we were ready to order. I ordered the pulled pork, which I had not had since leaving Florida, and it was terrific. Carolyn had the sausage and smoked turkey (not chicken fried steak), which was also good. We brought about half of our dinner home because we couldn't eat all of it.

After dinner, we came back home and settled in for the night. Tomorrow we should be able to move on. We like Waco, and can see us spending more time here in the future.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town -Texarkana, Arkansas: Twice as Nice

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Windy

Waco, Texas

Weather: low 64 degrees, high 73 degrees, cloudy, winds 20-30 mph from the south, with gusts to 35-40 mph. Heavy rain is expected tonight with high winds continuing. Tomorrow's forecast is calling for the possibility of snow.

We were going to leave Waco today, but the high winds out of the south helped us to decide to stay at least another day. We don't like to drive into winds as high as what we saw here today. When we do leave, we plan to go to La Grange for a couple of days.

Since we have been fairly busy the last few days, we decided to stay at home today. However, in the afternoon, we went for a short drive east on state road 6 to see what was out that way. Not much, at least for the distance we drove. Then we drove down US 84 toward Gatesville. Once we got to McGregor, which is so typical of the many little towns we have been to in Texas, we turned around and drove the back roads back to the RV. Driving through the countryside helps us to understand how this area was so desirable for farming when the first settlers moved in. The land is obviously very fertile, and there is still a lot of farming being done.

That's about it from us. If the weather is good enough for us to get out some tomorrow, we'll try to have something of interest to write about.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hartford, Connecticutt: New England’s Rising Star

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Dr Pepper

Waco, Texas

Weather: low 48 degrees, high 83 degrees, cloudy in the morning, partly cloudy and windy in the afternoon

We went to the Dr Pepper museum today. One of the things we learned in the tour was that the correct way to spell Dr Pepper is to leave the period off the Dr part. The museum is located in the same building that Dr Pepper was bottled in the early 1900s. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Charles Alderton created the flavors for Dr Pepper while working at the Old Corner Drug Store in 1885. When local people wanted one of the new drinks, they asked for a "Waco", because it could not be bought outside the city of Waco. Later on, the drink acquired the name Dr Pepper and started being sold everywhere. The formula has not changed over time except for the sweetener used. The original, which is still being bottled in Dublin, Texas, uses Imperial Cane Sugar, while the drink being sold elsewhere uses corn sweetener.

The museum concetrated on the history of Dr Pepper, but it also had exhibits remembering the history of the soft drink industry in general. One poster we liked was about RC Cola and a Moonpie. How many people remember that? The first soft drink that was a success commercially was Hiers Root Beer, and of course root beer is still a big favorite. How many people know that it is flavored with sassafras?

Dr Pepper is owned now by Cadbury/Schweppes, a company in England that is famous for their chocolate. Many personalities have been spokespersons for Dr Pepper over the years, including John Wayne, Garth Brooks, David Naughton, and Barry Manilow, among others. Barry Manilow wrote the theme for Dr Pepper.

Dr Pepper is especially popular in Texas. When we were at the museum, most of the visitors were young people. If Texas had a National Soft Drink, it would be Dr Pepper.

Our Internet signal is still not strong enough to upload pictures we took today. I'll try to send those out when we have a better signal.

After visiting the museum, we drove around the town, getting familiar with where everything is. Before going home, we went to WalMart to pick up a few things. Since the truck needed servicing, I had that taken care of. After all that fun, it was time to go home and rest.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town -Gainesville, Florida: Where Nature and Culture Meet

Not all people who wander are lost.