Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fossil Rim Wildlife Park

Glen Rose, Texas

Weather: low 40 degrees, high 44 degrees, cloudy, sprinkles, windy

Our plan today was to go to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Park, located just east of Glen Rose. As usual, it was left up to me to organize things and attempt (attempt, that's the key word) to get everyone lined up and ready to go at the appointed time. Well, folks, have you ever tried to herd a bunch of cats? I think herding cats may have been easier than what I went through today, getting everyone out the door and down to the lobby so we could leave at a decent time. Finally, we left at about 1000 hours (that's not too early, is it?) and drove to the park.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Park is located about four miles west of Glen Rose, and is composed of 1700 acres with more than 1100 animals. Most of the animals range freely over land that is a near approximation of their natural habitats. Some of the species we saw are extinct or nearly extinct in the wild, while some of the others have dwindling populations. The park is dedicated to preserving and growing the populations of the species they own, and is cooperating with several organizations toward those goals.

After paying our admission, we drove into the park. The format is based on people driving their cars along designated roads while viewing the animals. Animal feed is provided for a price that can be given to the animals as they come up to the car. Sometimes, the animals stick their heads into the cars, looking for hand outs.

People take pictures and feed the animals along the route, but are cautioned to stay inside their vehicles. Does that mean you can't stick your head up through the sun roof?

Some of the animals are isolated from the others for obvious reasons. This cheetah wouldn't look at me when I took his picture.

Following is a selection of pictures I took of different animals in the park.

Axis Deer

Dama Gazelle

Fallow Deer

Sable Antelope

There were many other species of animals, and I won't bore everyone by putting them all in this post. I will say that we had a good time touring the park, and what they are trying to do as far as preserving the species is a worthwhile effort. If any of you are ever in the Glen Rose area, this would be a good place to visit. The young people really appreciate it.

Snow flurries are expected here overnight. It would be great if we got enough to stick to the ground.

This is the last day of 2009. There is supposed to be a blue moon tonight, which means that there will have been two full moons in the month of December. Remember the old expression about "Once in a blue moon"? That means it seldom happens, and we won't have this occurrence again until 2028.

Happy New Year.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Glen Rose, Texas: 2004 American Dream Town Winner

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Road Trip

Glen Rose, Texas

Weather: low 43 degrees in Bay City, rain, high 56 degrees in Glen Rose, clear skies

Part of our planned activities for this period of time that Terri and Thomas are visiting us was to go to the Glen Rose/Granbury area to show them where we lived for over two years while I was working at the Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant. Today was the day we decided to take that trip, and here we are in Glen Rose. Terri had been to Austin and San Antonio before, but not here. Also along for the trip are Lori and her family.

I'm usually the person who plans our little outings, and everyone was supposed to be ready to leave Bay City at 0800 hours this morning. Haah! It was after 0900 hours before we got on the road. It's a good thing I didn't say we would leave at 1000 hours. Anyway, we finally hit the road, and stayed in the rain until we reached Columbus, where it stopped.

Traffic was fairly light, and we pulled into our hotel in Glen Rose about 1430 hours. Everyone rested up a little, and then we went to Granbury so Terri and Thomas could see what that area was about. I've spoken in the blog in the past about the quirky things that can be found there. One of them is Jesse James' headstone, located in the Granbury City Cemetery. That was the first stop we made, and Terri took some pictures as everyone else wandered around looking at old markers and plaques.

The next stop was near the Granbury courthouse square, which has been dressed up and revitalized as a tourist haven deluxe. Of interest there was the old courthouse.

Also located on the square is an old store where John Wilkes Booth supposedly worked after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. His name while there was John St. Helen, and there is still a store there using the name of St. Helen. Drawing some notoriety is the Old Opera House, which is supposedly haunted.

By the time we finished touring the downtown area of Granbury, everyone was getting ready for supper. We stopped at The Jalapeno Tree, a good Mexican restaurant Carolyn and I had tried last February. It was still as good as we remembered, and by the time supper was finished, everyone was stuffed.

On our way back to the hotel, we decided to go by the courthouse square in Glen Rose to see the Christmas lights. Beautiful!

I think I wore everyone out today. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Granbury, Texas: Where Texas History Lives

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cold Rain

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 43 degrees, high 45 degrees, cloudy, rainy, cold

The rain started about noon today, and has been falling since. More is expected tonight, and in to tomorrow. Just another typical winter day here in Bay City near the Texas gulf coast.

Since I expected the rain to come in, I got my morning walk finished fairly early. When I got home, I dumped our holding tanks so I wouldn't be doing that in the rain. Terri was given the opportunity to learn how to dump the tanks, but declined. Can you imagine someone turning down the opportunity to learn how to do that important task?

After I finished dumping the tanks and a couple of other little chores, I did some reading and surfing on the net. I was getting a little shaggy around the ears, so about 1300 hours I went to get a haircut. Now I'm set for the next 6-8 weeks. While I was gone, Terri went over to Lori's house for a visit, which made for great quietness for some meditation. The only problem was that I didn't advantage of the quietness, watching a movie I had been wanting to see for some time. The movie was Charlie Wilson's War, starring Tom Hanks. I thought it was good, although it has been so long since the events took place that I can't vouch for many of the details that were brought up in the movie. Like I said, a good movie.

Everyone gathered at the RV for supper, which consisted of leftover chili, cream of tomato soup, corn bread, rice, and the rest of a loaf of sausage, cheese, and jalapeno bread. Not much was left this time, and it was good food to counteract the cold weather.

Lori brought me a belated Christmas gift that arrived today. The gift is Stephen King's latest book, Under The Dome. This book has got to be the heaviest and longest one that Stephen King has written, with a weight that must be close to five pounds and having 1,074 pages. Hmmm, I wonder if I can have it read by the end of January?

We've got a trip planned to the hill country tomorrow, so there should be some new adventures to share over the next couple of days.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Abilene, Texas: The Key City

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Glorious Day

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 35 degrees, high 55 degrees, clear skies, breezy

We woke to a chilly but beautiful morning. The sun was shining, and it felt so good to be out in this beautiful day when I took my morning walk. I had to bundle up to stay warm, but that was a small price to pay for such a glorious day.

Since it was such a nice day, we decided to get our laundry washed before the rain comes back tomorrow. In addition to the laundry, I had to go get a bottle of propane ($2.12 per gallon) and fill up the truck with diesel. The last thing I did before going home was to stop at the library to return some books and check out more.

Lori and Terri took their families to the movies to see Sherlock Holmes. They all agreed it was a good movie. I was asked if I wanted to go, but declined so I could get in some meditation. Carolyn hasn't been to a movie theatre in about ten years, and has no desire to go. She would rather watch a movie at home, and I'm getting the same way. Especially when the theatres are full of people who act as though they are at home. People talking, kids running up and down the aisles, sticky seats and floor, and cell phones going off. Not for me.

Carolyn said she was tired of cooking and eating at home, and wanted a change. So, we had supper at the China Garden Chinese Restaurant. The food was good, and everyone had a good time. There was a real variety of food ordered, ranging from hot and sour soup to vegetarian dishes to General Tso's chicken to shrimp..... Plenty to eat and still more to take home that we couldn't eat. Looks like a leftover smorgasbord tomorrow night.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Grants Pass, Oregon: It’s The Climate

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Matagorda Beach

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 38 degrees, high 58 degrees, mostly clear skies

The skies were clearing as we woke this morning, and it was great to see some sunshine. One thing this area doesn't need is more rain. We should be seeing a bumper crop of mosquitoes in about a week.

Thomas stayed with his cousins Julian and Zoe last night as they spend time together getting reacquainted. It appears they have the same interests: computer games and movies. It helps that they are basically the same ages. Julian is 17, and Zoe and Thomas are 13 years old. Julian suffers silently as the older boy, but he is really good with the younger kids.

I skipped my morning walk yesterday because of having to go to the Ford dealer and rain most of the day. With the clearing skies this morning, I thought it would be a good time to get some exercise. That turned out to be a good decision as the weather was a little warmer and the wind wasn't blowing as hard. The walking was much more comfortable than a couple of days ago. By the time I returned home, I was feeling pretty good. It seems when I don't feel on top of my game, a little exercise usually helps.

Carolyn and I went to HEB to pick up the ingredients for chili for supper. Lori and Zoe are vegetarians, and we spent a little time finding the right meat substitute for their chili. When we got back home, we were so sick of holiday food that we decided to go to MacDonald's for a quick hamburger and fries. Terri was with us, so we decided to drive to Matagorda Beach to show her how the area has changed since she was last here. A new bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway is the most obvious and desirable change. Other changes include new houses along the Colorado River, a nature center, a RV park at the mouth of the river, and a new pier at the beach to replace the old one that was damaged by a storm. For about ten seconds, we thought about taking a walk on the beach, but a nip of the cold air stopped us.

When we got home, we rested until time to make the chili, corn bread, and rice for supper. The chili was a big hit with everyone, and I think we have enough leftovers for supper tomorrow night. After supper, we spent more time just talking, much like we did when our girls were at home. A bonus now is that the grandkids are mature enough to join the conversation. Another good day, spending time with the people who are most important to us.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Beatty, Nevada: Gateway To Death Valley

Not all who wander are lost.

When we got home form the beach

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Late Night Last Night

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 36 degrees, high 50 degrees, cloudy, rain in the afternoon and evening

After I posted the blog last night, I drove up to Houston Hobby airport to pick up Terri and Thomas. I was at the terminal about 20 minutes before the scheduled arrival of their flight. Unfortunately, they were not on that flight because the airline schedules were running at least two hours late because of the snow that hit Dallas a couple of days ago. Have you ever tried to get information at an airport late at night? There was no one to ask about schedules, and the only information anyone was getting was from the people who were flying. Carolyn called me and said that Terri and Thomas would be about two hours late arriving in Houston. They eventually showed up about midnight, and by the time we drove home, it was 0200 hours in the morning. Now, that was a late night. We were all tired last night by the time we got home, and even getting up at 0800 hours this morning didn't help much. We don't have anything planned for tonight other than visiting with everyone, so maybe we can get in the bed a little earlier.

About three weeks ago, I received a recall notice on the truck that asked me to make an appointment to take it to a Ford dealer to have a problem with the cruise control corrected. It seems that there have been some instances where the use of the cruise control led to fires in the electrical system. Even though I was tired today, I had an appointment to go to Angleton to have the recall notice taken care of. So, about 0830 hours, about the time I had the sleep pried out of my eyes, I was on the way to keep the appointment. The dealer wasn't busy and was able to take the truck right in, finishing the repair in about 15 minutes.

On the way home, I stopped at the WalMart Mall to pick up a couple of things Carolyn wanted for lunch. She prepared some cream of tomato and basil soup, along with the leftovers from yesterday. Lori and her family were here to help us keep working our way through the stuff that we are trying to eat so we can get it out of the refrigerator. It seemed like old times: family together eating a good meal, everyone talking at once, and having a good time.

Our daughters, Lori and Terri.

When lunch was finished and the kitchen cleaned up, Lori took the grandkids to the movie to see Avatar. That gave me quiet time for some well earned meditation.

Eventually, it was time for supper. Carolyn and I discussed what would be quick and easy, yet still be a hit with everyone. Pizza won out, so it was back to the Mall for some pizzas and bread sticks. It's amazing how much cooking you can do in these small RV kitchens when you set your mind to it. And, the pizza was a nice change after the holiday food. After supper, we had a fun time sitting and talking about days gone by.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - New York, New York: The City Of Dreams

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 34 degrees, high 50 degrees, clear skies, breezy

Before I go any further with today's post, I would like to acknowledge the people who have to work on holidays like today. Policemen, firefighters, medical folks, and many others that keep our society running. Most important on the list is all the service men and women who ensure our freedoms and security.

The career I had in nuclear power before retiring required me to work most holidays. That meant I missed the usual morning activities that we normally associate with Christmas, such as opening gifts. That wasn't all bad, because it meant that the holiday lasted longer with all the anticipation building until I got home at the end of the day. Along with a great supper, we would open presents and enjoy the grandkids as they tore paper off gifts and looked for the next one to open. Now that I'm not working the holidays, we try to spend the them with one of our daughters. This year, we will have both of our daughters and their families together for the holiday, and we couldn't ask for a better present.

Terri and Thomas will be flying in from Birmingham, Alabama, but won't arrive at the airport until about 2200 hours tonight, when I will be picking them up. In the meantime, Lori and her family came to the RV for lunch, which consisted of baked ham, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, squash casserole, and other goodies, including pecan pie. There were plenty of leftovers, so they came back for supper. Ohhhh, my stomach hurts.

It's time for me to go pick up Terri and Thomas. Merry Christmas, everyone.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Butte, Montana: Copper City

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa's Almost Here

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 45 degrees, high 56 degrees, cloudy and rainy early, then clear skies with winds gusting to 40 mph

In the spirit of the season, I hope everybody's been good. We wish everyone a happy holiday.

About 0230 hours this morning, we had a weather front with lightning, thunder, heavy rain, and high winds pass through the area. It was quite a light and noise show, but at least the weather is cooler, which helps us get in the holiday spirit. Think about it, how much like Christmas does it seem when the temperature is 78 degrees and the mosquitoes are circling and attacking like dive bombers?

Carolyn sent me to the grocery store a couple of times today as she spent some time baking cookies and getting her menu ready for Christmas Day. Before all the cooking started, we worked together to clean the RV, which didn't take long. Small is good.

After my first trip to the store, I went for a walk early in the afternoon. I waited that long because the wind was blowing so hard. With the wind blowing so hard, the walk became more like work than fun. I cut the walk short and returned home, where Carolyn had another list of stuff for me to go get. Maybe it's just Bay City, but I haven't seen the stores overrun as in years past.

With everything I did to help Carolyn, I still found time to change the fuel filter on the truck. That was another little maintenance chore that I've put off doing as often as I should. Our truck runs well, and I need to do these little maintenance tasks on time to keep it running well. Maybe I'll develop a spread sheet to help me stay up to date on things like this.

Merry Christmas.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Charleston, South Carolina: America’s Most Historic City

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Special Bread

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 66 degrees, high 78 degrees, cloudy skies, windy to 25 mph

A lot of people might think I'm kidding about how close the trains are. This picture may be too dark to see the train cars clearly, but that's how close the trains are.

We did some late Christmas shopping this morning before the stores became overrun with the other folks who are also late shoppers. I can remember when I was younger that the holidays were a time of excitement. Now, it's become a time of the year to try to get by and not get too stressed. Part of the reason the excitement is no longer there is because there are not any young children in our family to share the holiday with. Another reason is that the holiday has become so commercial. Christmas stuff starts showing up as early as July or August. Besides, we're old enough that if we want something, we go get it. Why wait when we don't have to? We do still remember the reason for the season, and it's not this mass marketing that we see.

This is a picture of Canadian geese and snow geese that we saw on our way back from El Campo today. This area is a prime wintering location for the geese.

When we lived here before, we used to go to El Campo to Prasek's Hillje Meat Market to buy loaves of their special bread made with sausage, cheese, and jalapeno peppers. That stuff was so good, and it had been several years since we had eaten any of it. We decided to drive over to El Campo to see if the bread was still being made, and if so, buy a couple loaves. Well, they are still making the bread, and it's just as good as we remember it being. We had some for supper, and there was just enough jalapeno pepper in it to give a slight bite. Ummmmm, boy! It was good.

Here's a picture of some Sandhill Cranes we saw today. They also spend the winter here.

We used the GPS unit going to and from El Campo. Obviously, there is a learning curve associated with one of these things, but it was fascinating to watch our progress down the road. We knew where we were going today, so there was not an adventure getting lost or being sent down the wrong road. I'm sure that will come.

When we got home, I checked the batteries on the RV and truck. I usually check them about once a month, but it's probably been at least two months since I last did it, and one of the batteries on the truck had not been checked since it was replaced last January. That's not good, because all six cells were low on water. The reason it hadn't been checked is because it is hard to check, and I probably got a little lazy. After what I saw today, I won't make that mistake again.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Sparta, Tennessee: A Great Place To Call Home

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

GPS Unit Arrived

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 58 degrees, high 72 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

This picture of the morning sky was taken at Union Grove COE Park the morning we left there. I don't know about everyone else, but we like to see the colors that sunrise and sunset bring to the sky.

Rain threatened the area most of the day, but we never saw any where we are. That suits us fine because this area is a little water logged from all the rain they received this fall. Oh, by the way, did everyone notice that yesterday was the first day of winter? I forgot to bring it up in yesterday's blog.

After my morning walk and breakfast, I was feeling a little lazy. When I was at the library yesterday, I checked out the movie "The Assassination Of Jesse James by the Coward, Bob Ford". Today seemed like a good time to watch it. I don't have any opinion as to whether Jesse was an unfortunate man caught up in circumstances he couldn't control, other than that he never seemed willing to try to make an honest living. Anyway, this movie purported to tell what happened in the weeks and days leading up to the time when Bob Ford shot Jesse, and what happened to Ford afterward. What makes this most interesting to me was that we saw Jesse's real grave in the Granbury, Texas, city cemetery. Notice at the bottom of the headstone is the legend "Supposedly Killed In 1882." Is this where Jesse really buried? I don't know, but this is more of the quirky stuff I love to find.

After lunch, we went for a short ride on some of the back roads we remembered from when we owned a home here. Nothing has changed of note, other than a few houses being built. On our way home, we stopped and visited with Lori and her family. While we were there, we picked up the GPS unit that we ordered last week. This is a picture of the box it came in. One reason I held off on buying one (other than the fact that real men don't need no stinkin' GPS unit) was the same reason I held off on buying the first computer years ago: waiting until the perfect one came along. Unfortunately, there will never be a perfect computer or GPS unit. If we wait for perfect, we'll never buy. Anyway, we have a GPS unit now, and it'll be interesting to see how lost I can get using it.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Interlachen, Florida: Between The Lakes

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chore Day

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 36 degrees, high 62 degrees, mostly clear skies

Another beautiful day greeted us when we woke this morning, with cool temperatures and clear skies. We're enjoying it while we can because the forecast for tomorrow is for scattered showers. That usually means rain here in Bay City. The longer range forecast is predicting colder weather on Christmas Day, with a high for the day of 53 degrees. That may not seem so bad, but that's cold here. Maybe not cold enough to satisfy Carolyn, but plenty cold for me.

In yesterday's post, I said we had some chores to take care of today. The first thing on the list was to make sure I didn't get up too early, and I think I did a good job of that. It was after 0730 hours before I finally managed to crawl out of the bed, and I forced myself to get up. There was nothing wrong except I slept really well. I wouldn't mind sleeping that well every night. Maybe the trains are starting to fade into the background.

When I was finally awake enough, I went for my morning walk while Carolyn was doing what she usually likes to do in the morning: reading a good book and drinking her coffee. By the time I returned from my walk, Carolyn had gotten a shower and was ready to face the day. We sorted out the clothes and went to the laundromat to wash five big loads of clothes. On the way, we stopped at the local MacDonald's for a sandwich. What a farce that was. I won't go into the problems the local store has, but that may be the last time we stop there.

I helped Carolyn get everything loaded into the washing machines, then I went to the bank to take care of some business there. The library is next door to the bank, so I stopped there to check out some books and movies. By the time I returned to the laundromat, the clothes were starting to come out of the dryers. We finished folding and hanging everything up, loaded the truck, and went home.

By the time everything was put away, it was time for a little meditation. Ahhh, that was so refreshing. Then we went to the WalMart Mall to pick up a few things that we needed from there. On our way home, we took a little detour to check out a road we used to travel to see if anything had changed. Nope, no changes. So, back home and put the few groceries away.

Tonight, we had supper with Lori and her family at China Station, the local Chinese restaurant. This restaurant is good, considering how small the town is. After supper, we came back home to watch television, do a little surfing on the web, and read a good book. It was a good day for us.

While we were at the laundromat, I struck up a conversation with a man who drove up in a truck with Alaska tags. He had lived up there for 17 years and left a few months ago because the economy had gone downhill so much. His work was in the oil fields operating a crane. Apparently, when oil prices started going down, most exploration stopped. Since he came south, he has realized that he doesn't want to be in the cold anymore, so he is looking for work that will keep him closer to the southern states. The only problem is that work is slow just about everywhere. We wished him good luck.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Reedsport, Oregon: Gateway To The Dunes

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Back In Bay City, Texas

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 28 degrees in Salado, Texas, high 60 degrees in Bay City, Texas, clear skies

We left the Salado area about 0900 hours this morning. The weather was perfect for traveling and traffic was fairly light. We stopped in Taylor to pick up a sandwich at MacDonald's, and ate it as we were traveling. We were back in Bay City and had the RV set up by 1400 hours. Due to a lack of what we consider good places to stay in Bay City, we are back at the same RV park we stayed in before going to Glen Rose. At least it is convenient to everything in town, and only about one mile from Lori's house.

The reason we went back to Bay City so soon was to spend the holidays with our daughters and their families. This will be the first time we have had both our daughters and their families together in about eight years. Terri will be here late on Christmas night, and we have a lot of activities planned for everyone. Plus some good eating.

After we were set up and had rested, we went over to Lori's house to see everyone, as well as to wish Zoe a belated happy 13th birthday. We made a date to have supper together tomorrow night. In the meantime, Carolyn and I will be busy tomorrow, washing clothes, going to the bank and library, shopping for groceries, and other chores.

This is a short post, but I'll try to do better tomorrow. In the meantime, bring the trains on!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Charleston, South Carolina: The Big Sweet Grass Basket

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Out After Dark

Salado, Texas

Weather: low 34 degrees, high 62 degrees, mostly clear skies

Even though it didn't get as warm today as it did yesterday, we still enjoyed another beautiful central Texas day. The low in the morning is forecast for about 30 degrees, but that's okay. No rain or snow in the forecast, we can handle this.

Most of the day was spent resting from the hard travels around the area of the last couple days. Since we plan to leave here in the morning, I looked in the basement to see if there was anything I needed to straighten or clean up. I was expecting to have to do something based on past history, but I guess the last time we cleaned the basement up finally got it right. Maybe I need to ask Carolyn to help me every time I do something in the basement.

We had a supper (dinner to some) date with my nephew Scott and his wife Chriselda, so we left a little early to stop at the WalMart Mall in Georgetown for a few things we needed. What a crazy house! The parking lot was crowded, every register was open, people were lined up at every register, and the few things we picked up took much longer to get than I thought it was worth. Is there a recession going on? You wouldn't know it here.

After WalMart, we went on over to Chili's to meet Scott and Chriselda. Arriving early, we went inside to wait on them. We were having something to snack on when Scott called and said they were running a little late. No problem, we were having a pleasant time sitting in the restaurant. A little later, we started getting text messages, and eventually Scott and Chriselda had to cancel due to circumstances beyond their control. We were sorry we didn't get to see them, but we expect to be passing through here next month, so maybe we can get together then.

We had a nice meal, which was the first time we had eaten out in about a week. When we came out of the restaurant, it was already dark, much to our surprise. Obviously, we don't get out much after dark, so this was a different experience. On the way home, we drove into Salado to the post office to mail a letter. It was a beautiful drive down the main street, with all the Christmas lights and decorations. There were many people walking on the sidewalks and across the streets, enjoying the shops and restaurants. We need to get out after dark more often. There's another world out there then.

Our granddaughter Zoe turned 13 years old today. She is a beautiful and smart young lady with the world ahead of her. We are proud of her. Happy birthday, Zoe.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Coos Bay, Oregon: Oregon’s Adventure Coast

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Population Center Of Texas

Salado, Texas

Weather: low 38 degrees, high 62 degrees, clear skies

It was a glorious day, with clear skies and warmer temperatures. Carolyn wanted to get out for the second day in a row, so we decided to drive down to Taylor to pick up our mail. The reader might ask why did we go to Taylor for our mail. The answer is that for a time, we thought we were going to be moving to a COE park on Granger Lake, which is near Taylor. We changed our mind about moving, but had already asked our mail forwarding service to send our mail to Taylor. So, that was the motivation behind going there today.

We looked at the map and found a way to go that was new roads and scenery for us. From Salado, we drove east toward Holland, a little town about nine miles away. When I did some research on the area later in the day, I found that Holland is considered the population center of Texas. What an interesting fact, considering how small the place is, with nothing else of interest that we saw or found in my research. That's exactly the quirky little things that we look for, and I stumbled upon that little tidbit.

When we left Holland, we turned to the south on Texas 95, passing through the towns of Bartlett and Granger before arriving in Taylor. We were in Taylor in March of this year, and it still seems as prosperous now as it did then. After stopping at the post office and picking up the mail (it arrived today), we stopped for lunch.

On our way home, we retraced our path to Holland, then kept going north to Belton. From Belton, we went west on US 190, turning south and going across the dam for Stillhouse Hollow Lake and back home. A nice little ride with some quirky trivia discovered.

By the time we were back at home, it was time for some rest and relaxation. We had planned to go out and eat, but decided to wait until tomorrow, when we'll meet my nephew Scott and his wife Chriselda for supper in Georgetown. It's been about nine months since we've seen them, and we're looking forward to it.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Holland, Texas: The Friendly Community

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lampasas, Texas

Salado, Texas

Weather: low 42 degrees, high 48 degrees, rain until mid-afternoon, then clearing skies

This is a picture of the Lampasas County Courthouse, located in Lampasas.

We woke to rain this morning, which was unexpected. We had not seen or heard anything about rain in the forecast, so when I heard it doing a pitter patter on the roof, I said to myself the weatherman missed it again.

Another surprise was that Carolyn was ready to get out and see the countryside. We decided to ride over to the Killeen-Fort Hood area and see where the road led us. It was raining and cold, but nothing bad enough to make us want to stay inside. Taking US 190 through Killeen, we passed through town and into Copperas Cove. All of these little towns have been affected by the importance of Fort Hood to the national security effort. The growth is obvious, with a lot of new construction being built.

A picture of the inside of the courthouse in Lampasas.

After going through Copperas Cove, we continued west, eventually reaching Lampasas, the county seat of Lampasas County. The county was formed in 1856, and the town was settled about the same time. The area had a notorious feud erupt between the Horrell and Higgins families in 1877, which eventually claimed several lives. The Horrells were suspected of being thieves, rustlers, and murderers, and in one shootout with state police, they killed four state policemen. In time, two members of the family were being held in the local jail, when vigilantes took them out of their cells and hanged them. That seemed to stop any more evil doings by the family, and some of them even moved out of the area and to Oregon. I guess the local folks were tired of all the meanness.

In the early days of the county, it was renowned for the alleged health benefits bestowed by the springs in the area. The Texas Bankers Association was formed here in 1885, and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas held their first meeting in 1892. A lot of history took place over the years here, as you can see.

By the time we finished our exploration of the town, it was time to head back to the RV. A nice trip to a little town that still treasures it's past - just what we like to see.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Lampasas, Texas: There’s Always Something Going On In Lampasas

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More On Belton, Texas

Salado, Texas

Weather: low 32 degrees, high 43 degrees, cloudy windy

I went back to Belton to do some more exploring this morning. I asked Carolyn if she wanted to go, and she said it was too cold to get out. See what I mean about her liking cold weather, but not wanting to get out in it? My first stop was at Expo, the location of the Central Texas Fairgrounds. The reason I stopped here was to tour the Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, located in the big building, which is where most of the events for the fair take place. I expected more than what I found as far as the hall of fame was concerned. The entire hall was composed of pictures and newspaper articles of past rodeo cowboys and the dates they were added to the hall. Not quite what I thought I would see.

On the way from the Expo, I passed this old windmill and water tank sitting in a field. The water tank is built of stone. Think about the stories these things could tell if they could talk. I drove around in town, checking out what the area has to offer. There are some nice residential areas, as well as a number of new businesses and buildings.

This is one of the refurbished older homes I found. There were several I found, but this one stood out the most.

After I finished exploring, I stopped at HEB for a couple things we needed. Then I went to the local library to check it out. They had some magazines they were giving away, so I went through them, looking for the ones we might want to read. By the time I left there, I had found eight new ones that we hadn't seen.

Remember in yesterday's post that I had problems finding the location of the 4th Armored Division's Museum in Killeen? Well, those problems should end soon, when Amazon delivers a brand new GPS unit for us to use in the truck. I finally gave in to the demands of technology and Carolyn getting on to me for allegedly getting lost. I keep telling her that I've never been lost. Apparently, that doesn't impress her, because every time I have problems with the directions I get off the Internet or from the corner gas station, she tells me I wouldn't have those problems if I had a GPS unit. We'll see how well this new fangled technology works when we get it. I have a feeling that some of the sense of adventure will be lost.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Sevierville, Tennessee: Your Hometown In The Smokies

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Belton, Texas

Salado, Texas

Weather: low 34 degrees, high 45 degrees, windy with gusts to 30 mph

The cold weather has returned, and it looks like it will hang around for awhile. That's fine with Carolyn, but I would be happy with 70 degrees all the time. I don't care for the cold weather that much.

The cold kept me in until about mid-morning, when I asked Carolyn if she would like to go do some exploring. She said it was too cold. Now there's the paradox with Carolyn and cold weather. She likes it cold, but doesn't like to get out when it is cold. She said I could go and she would stay home. So, I decided to just see where the road led me, starting out by going to Belton to see what was there.

Belton is the county seat of Bell County. The current courthouse was built in 1885, refurbished in the 1990s, and is still being used. The square around the courthouse is rather small, but most of the buildings date back to the time when the courthouse was built. There are many historical plaques placed around the square. Like many of the hill country towns, the Chisholm Trail went through here.

This picture is of the inside of the Bell County Courthouse. Nice tree, isn't it? Are you surprised to see a display of Christmas in a public building? I think it's great.

One reason I went out in the cold was to check out a couple of COE parks on Belton Lake. The first one I visited was Live Oak Ridge, located just north of the lake dam. The other one was Cedar Ridge, located west of Temple, just off TX 36. Both of the parks have what we look for, including scenic views, decent cell phone signal, well kept sites, and the sites were spread far enough apart for some privacy. Oh, and there are not any trains nearby, so both of them should be quiet.

After going through the Cedar Ridge Park, I went back into Belton and took US 190 west to Killeen, which is the city closest to Fort Hood. As might be expected for a city that close to a major military base, Killeen is a busy place. All the major stores are found here that might be expected to be found in similar cities. My reason for going to Killeen was to visit the 4th Armored Division Museum. Unfortunately, I had some problems finding the museum, and when I called them to get some directions, I could hardly understand what the person was saying. I did get the fact that the museum was being moved, so maybe I can visit there at some time in the future.

Did this buck think I couldn't see him?

The park we're in at this time is Union Grove COE park, located on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir. The COE developed this reservoir in 1968, and it was designed for flood control, as well as for drinking water and irrigation. Equally important are the recreation opportunities created by the reservoir, such as camping (naturally!), fishing, boating, swimming, and fishing.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - New Ulm, Texas: Life In New Ulm Is Wonderful

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Harker Heights, Texas

Salado, Texas

Weather: low 54 degrees, high 73 degrees, fog early, mostly cloudy skies

We slept so well last night. The quiet and darkness out here really helps us sleep. I'm getting so lazy with these late mornings. Like, staying in the bed until 0600 to 0700 hours. I may be getting too sorry to go back to work.

It was 0800 hours by the time I finally managed to get out for my morning walk, and the first thing I saw was a big group of about 20 deer only about 50 yards from the RV. The farther I walked, the more deer I saw. By the time I was finished, I counted at least 50 deer, and at least a dozen of them were trophy class bucks. Carolyn loves it.

When I got back home from the walk, Carolyn had prepared a late breakfast for us. I was ready for something, so it was a nice treat. Eventually, we decided to go roaming to see what was around us. We headed west, and saw a sign pointing north for Harker Heights. This town is a suburb of Killeen, which is where Fort Hood is located. Little did we know that Harker Heights was as big as it is, with 25,000 people and growing. After checking the town out a little, we backtracked and headed west again, across cedar and oak covered hills.

Eventually, we made it to the little town of Florence, where we turned to the east and drove back roads to Jarrell, where a tornado hit the town a little more than two years ago. A lot of damage was done, but Jarrell seems to have recovered well. According to information I found, 16 new businesses were started in 2009.

When we left Jarrell, we hopped on to I-35 and headed north. A few miles down the road, we entered Salado and drove down the main street of town. Back in the 1800s, the Chisholm Trail followed the main street. Now, the street is lined with artist studios and touristy stuff. I have a feeling that the town is covered up with tourists on the weekends and during the summer. At one time, we would have found a town like this to be something we would want to walk around in. Not so much any more.

Eventually, we made our way home, where I decided to clean up the truck. It was so dirty that I had to go over some parts of it 3-4 times to get all the dirt off. While I was at it, I wiped down the inside. The truck looks like it belongs to us again. It probably went ahhhhh when all the dirt was gone.

When the truck was finished, the RV started calling for a bath. By the time that was finished, it was starting to get a little dark, and time for supper. Before I went in, I took some pictures of the deer that were feeding less than 100 yards from the RV.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Harker Heights, Texas: The Bright Star Of Central Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Salado, Texas

Salado, Texas

Weather: low 45 degrees, high 67 degrees, fog early, then clear skies

We left Holiday Park COE campground, located near Benbrook, Texas about 1000 hours this morning. Our tentative plan was to travel south on I-35 toward Waco and Austin. Looking at COE sites near Austin, we found one near Salado that sounded like it might work for us. We pulled into Union Grove COE Park, located on Stillhouse Hollow Lake about 1300 hours. The travel time included us stopping near Temple for lunch. This is a picture of our site, located near the lake. A little note for those who pay attention to those types of things: this is the second park in a row that our site number has been #13.

We don't know anything about this area, so we may spend a few days exploring. It's not that far from the Marble Falls and Georgetown area, where we spent some time last winter. It's also close to Fort Hood, so we may check out that area, especially some of the museums. New territory to explore - it doesn't get any better.

While we were dumping our holding tanks this morning, Carolyn was talking to an older gentleman of 79 years old. He was from England, and had traveled all over the world. He liked the US so much that he settled down in Missouri. He has been to 40 states, as well as most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. He lost his wife of 49 years several years ago, but married again about five years ago. His biggest concern with life was that his health would deteriorate to the point that he couldn't travel again, and would have to depend on his children to take care of him. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Salado, Texas: The Best Art Town In Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Azle, Texas

Benbrook, Texas

Weather: low 41 degrees, high 47 degrees, cloudy, foggy, misty

Since we've been away from Bay City, I seem to have straightened out my sleep habits. Not so long ago, I was waking up well before 0500 hours. That was probably due to having to get up so early to go to work. Now, I don't seem to have any problem staying in the bed until well after 0600 hours, and sometimes until after 0700 hours. The cold weather may have something to do with sleeping better. Whatever it is, I'm glad my sleep habits have improved. I wonder if the trains in Bay City will mess me up again?

The weather was a little warmer, and that encouraged me to do a little work in the basement. I pulled everything out, placed it on our picnic table (which has a cover), and went through each box. This time, I asked Carolyn to lend her help in an effort to streamline the packing and placement of everything back into the basement. We were able to get rid of two boxes, and we think that the way everything is packed now will make it easier to find something when we need it.

Another little chore I did was to vacuum out the truck, which has been needed for awhile. I put this off longer than I like because it was so cold. If it warms up enough, I need to wash the truck and RV.

After all the work was finished, we took a little ride for more exploring. This time, we drove over to Azle, a town north of Weatherford and west of Fort Worth. Azle is not that far from Fort Worth, so it has become a bedroom community for Fort Worth. We didn't really see that much of the town, staying on the main streets. It's growing, but not to the extent that Weatherford is. To us, the primary reason for going there was the beautiful hill country on the way.

Tonight, we watched a show on television, March of the Penguins. Wow, what a hard life these penguins have when they mate and hatch out their chicks as they strive to carry on their species.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Azle, Texas: Community & Opportunity

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winter Cleaning

Benbrook, Texas

Weather: low 36 degrees, high 43 degrees, cloudy skies

The temperature was a little warmer today, as in about 15 degrees warmer, and it felt much better than the cold weather we've had for the last few days. After taking a morning walk and breakfast, we decided to do a little winter cleaning, even though winter is not here, officially. Of course, with the weather we've been experiencing, it sure has felt like winter. Anyway, it was time to do a little cleaning of storage areas in the bedroom, so we took care of that little chore. After all these years of full time RVing, we're still finding things to get rid of. Some of them were thrown away today, while some others were saved to be given to a charity.

By the time we finished in the bedroom, we were ready to get out and about. We didn't know where we were going, but before we turned around and started back home, we had made it to Weatherford, the county seat of Parker County. Like many of the counties in Texas, the county has made an effort to preserve their history and heritage, as can be seen by the courthouse.

Weatherford is about 25 miles from Fort Worth, and it doesn't appear the recession has touched this area. There is a lot of construction going on, including roads, and there appears to be some control over what is happening. In other words, planned chaos, versus helter skelter chaos. It would be easy to dismiss the growth as a consequence of Weatherford being a bedroom community for Fort Worth, but I think it goes deeper than that.

While we were in Weatherford, we found a new Mall (as in WalMart) that had recently opened, so we stopped and got our WalMart fix. We needed a few groceries, and happened to find the Mall just before we started back home. By the time we were back at home, it was time to settle in for the rest of the day.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Weatherford, Texas: Cutting Horse Capital of the World

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Baaaaad Hamburger

Benbrook, Texas

Weather: low 21 degrees, high 40 degrees, clear skies

As the reader can see, the cold weather is hanging on. It did get a few degrees warmer in the afternoon, but it's plenty cold for me. Carolyn's loving it.

Do you ever have debates with your significant other about what the plans should be? Like, should we leave here today and move toward the hill country? Or, should we stay here another day or two while it warms up? After we debated those two little questions to death, we decided to stay here a little longer. Actually, I whined long enough about not wanting to get out in the cold in order to get everything ready to leave that Carolyn took pity on me. So, we're here for a couple more days. Sometimes, whining does work.

By the time we decided what we wanted to do, it was mid-morning. We went to the library in Benbrook, where I went through the magazines and bought an armload for $1.00. Before we left the library, I signed up for a library card so whenever we're in the area, I can check out books.

From the library, we went through part of the backstreets of Benbrook. This is a nice little town, with all the conveniences of a large city just a short distance away. The route we took led us back toward the park where we're staying, but we kept driving, checking out the area. The next stop was at Dutch Branch Park, which is a day use area on Lake Benbrook. Since they don't have camping at this park, we kept on driving, taking a back road toward Crowley. We found two other campgrounds on the back road, including Mustang Park and Bear Creek Park. I can't remember which one it was, but one of them only offered tent and dry camping. A beautiful little park, but not useful to us. Carolyn says camping to her is what we're doing now, having electricity and water, but not having a sewer hookup at our site.

We saw a lot of deer during our drive, including two big bucks with beautiful racks. The deer seemed to be looking for the sunshine, with a lot of them lying in the grass next to fence lines.

Eventually, we made our way back home, where I decided to try out the new waste water transport system, more commonly known as a "Blue Boy". The one we bought is a 25 gallon model. Does anyone know how much 25 gallons of water weigh? I can tell you by experience that it's really heavy, weighing more than 175 pounds. I emptied the shower tank of about 30 gals, and added another 15 gallons or so from the kitchen tank. That means I filled and emptied the blue boy twice. It wasn't hard to do at all, and was certainly easier than moving the RV to dump the tanks. As Carolyn will be quick to remind me, we should have bought the blue boy a long time ago. She's right.

Tonight, we decided to try out a fairly new bar-b-que restaurant at Cresson. The name of the restaurant is Tumbleweed Bar-B-Que. Every time we have been by there, the parking lot has been full. Since we needed a bottle of propane and the restaurant was on our way home from getting the propane, this seemed like a good time to stop.

The best thing I can say about what we had is that if you're going to a bar-b-que restaurant, don't buy a hamburger. As most of the readers know, we're always looking for the ultimate hamburger. The menu had an item for a Tumbleweed Hamburger, made with a half pound of twice ground brisket. Well, how could we resist that? I only wish we had. When the food came, the meat patty looked like it was about the size of a slider (know how small those are?), the meat was burnt, there were no condiments, and there was a huge piece of lettuce, a couple rings of onion, and one slice of tomato that was so thin I could see through it. When I say the meat was burnt, I mean it tasted like charcoal. This has to be the worst hamburger I have ever had, and Carolyn agrees. In addition, we were charged extra for french fries, and the catsup in a Heinz bottle was watered down. Want to take bets on whether we'll stop there again? I would be surprised if they stay in business another six months.

The question that can be asked is if I was so disgusted with the quality of the food, why didn't I complain? Simple answer: I was so ticked off, I didn't want to take it out on the server. My revenge is that I won't go back, and there's always the blog.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Buffalo, New York: Bison City

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wrong Tires

Benbrook, Texas

Weather: low 21 degrees, high 32 degrees, clear skies, breezy

The weather turned cooler than we expected, and our outside water hose almost froze. It ran slow for a couple of minutes before it finally opened up like it should. I noticed that several other RVs had problems with their hoses freezing. The owners had set the hoses out in the sun so they could thaw. It would have probably been faster to take the hoses inside the warm RVs to thaw them out.

My last doctor's appointment was this morning in Granbury. After being poked and prodded longer than I cared for, the doctor pronounced me to be in good health. This last visit was to a specialist that our family doctor wanted me to see. The only thing we have left now is to get the last results of Carolyn's tests, but we won't have to stay here to get them. We had planned to leave this area tomorrow, but with the cold weather, we may wait another day or so to allow it to warm up a little.

Yesterday, I went to a tire store in Granbury to have a tire with a slow leak on the truck repaired. When the worker at the store went out to move the truck inside for the repair, he noticed something strange about the tires. When I bought the tires in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, back in the summer, I emphasized to the workers at the Sam's Club there that I needed light truck, load range E tires with ten plies, and pointed out the ones I wanted. While the tires were being put on, I asked if the right tires were being put on, and was assured that they were. Well, yesterday the worker who was going to repair the slow leak noticed that I actually had passenger car tires that were only four plies, and were rated for much less of a load than what we had been carrying. What?!! Needless to say, that was unexpected news. We checked, and all four tires were the same. It was a miracle we didn't have a blowout or an accident caused by these tires.

When I finished with the doctor this morning, I went to the Sam's Club in Benbrook and explained the situation. Sam's Club took full responsibility for the mess up, even though it happened in another state. I was given a full refund on the inferior tires, which I applied to a new set of tires that Sam's installed. You can bet that both Sam's Club and I double checked the tires this time to make sure the right ones were installed. This was a lesson I learned that hopefully will not be repeated. Can you imagine what might have happened if an accident had occurred because the wrong tires were installed? Whew!!

We met our friends Tim and Vivi tonight for supper at Pasta Fina in Granbury. We usually get together with them whenever we're in the area for great food and conversation. Tonight was fun, and we're looking forward to the next time. We enjoyed it, guys.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Port Aransas: Always In Season

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sunshine And Warmer

Benbrook, Texas

Weather: low 40 degrees, high 60 degrees, clearing in the afternoon

The weather was a little strange today, with misty rain and cold early. After lunch, the skies cleared and it warmed up to 60 degrees. Tonight, another cold front passes through here, with the low in the morning expected to be about 25 degrees. What a change in 24 hours.

We spent the morning staying warm and cleaning out the junk from a couple of cabinets. I don't know how this stuff accumulates on us so fast, especially when we make an effort to not let it happen. If we have time tomorrow, we'll do some more clean out and clean up.

When we got tired of cleaning, we went to the laundry and washed our clothes. I left Carolyn at the laundry while I ran a couple of chores, including returning books to the library. While I was at the library, I asked if they had any used magazines for sale. The assistant showed me where the used magazines were and said I could have any of them I wanted. What a deal! By the time I finished looking through the different magazines, I had picked out about 20 that we hadn't read.

The next stop was at the post office to mail a stack of Christmas cards. I was surprised at how slow business was at the post office. Has everyone already mailed their stuff? I think not. Busy days are coming for the post office.

By the time the laundry was finished, it was time for our friend Denise to get off work. We met her, and I left Carolyn with her as I ran a couple more chores. The ladies did some shopping and hanging out with each other. Eventually, we started home, where we turned up the heat and settled in for the night.

I have a doctor's appointment in the morning. If everything goes well with the appointment (I have no reason to think there's anything wrong), we will probably be leaving here in the next couple of days. We're not sure exactly where we're going, but the direction will be primarily toward the hill country.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Petaluma, California: Chickaluma

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cold Hanging On

Benbrook, Texas

Weather: low 35 degrees, high 38 degrees, cloudy, misty, fog, breezy - Cold!!!

Today is December 7, the date of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In today's world where all the values that made our country so great are under attack, it is even more important to remember the sacrifices that others made to help make this greatest country in the world.

The cold weather is hanging on here in Holiday Park COE campground, located near Benbrook, Texas. To show how tough I am, I took my morning walk as usual, but I made sure I was bundled up good. Shirt, sweat shirt, two pairs of socks, heavy coat, knit cap, knit gloves - if I had found my wool scarf, I would have used it, too. I don't have any interest in getting sick because of the cold weather.

To show how young we still are at heart, when we were at Sam's Club a couple of days a go, we bought one of their pizzas for supper. This morning, we still had two pieces of cold pizza left. Guess what we had for breakfast? That's right, leftover pizza. We did make one concession to age by heating the pizza up before eating it. We like leftovers, and pizza is one of the best leftovers. Anybody else like it?

We stayed inside all morning until we got bored. Then we decided to drive down to Granbury to the library to see what books they had on sale. By the time we left there, we had found 15 paperback books for $3.00. Carolyn asked about magazines, but they didn't have any. Still, not a bad haul of books for a very reasonable price.

On our way back home, we stopped at an RV parts store to pick up some light bulbs for our spot lights in the RV. Wow!! The price has really gone up on these little bulbs. In the last couple of years, the price has doubled. I think we'll start doing some online shopping for things like that. Besides, the RV stores are notorious for the prices they charge.

As if we didn't spend enough for the light bulbs, I finally gave in with Carolyn constantly getting after me about not having a portable container to dump our holding tanks in when parked in places like we are now. A little explanation: Most of the COE parks have water and electric hookups, but not sewer hookups. That means that if you're parked there long enough, eventually you have to move the RV to the sewer dump to empty the tanks. With a portable container, commonly known as a Blue Boy (because of the color of most of them), the tanks can be emptied into the Blue Boy and the container can be taken to the sewer dump, where it can be emptied. The RV stays in one place, and the only thing moved is the container. Anyway, while we were at the parts store, she found a Blue Boy. I guess she caught me in a weak moment, because we brought it home with us. She was right, we needed the Blue Boy, and should have bought it sooner.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Houston, Texas: Clutch City

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cracker Barrel

Benbrook, Texas

Weather: low 34 degrees, high 43 degrees, cloudy, fog, misty, windy

Here's what the weather looked like across the lake today. We could barely see the other side of the lake with the mist and fog. Not that anyone would want to be out on the lake, with the weather so cold and windy. The wind chill was in the 20s, so it took away any ambition I may have had to do anything outside other than take my morning walk. Several times I found myself walking backwards against the wind because my face was so cold.

When we were in Clifton last week, I took a picture of a statue of a cowboy and his horse in the town park. I like to see these types of scenes because it gives an idea of how much people appreciate their history and what they may perceive as the legacy that was left to them.

Our friend Denise came to the RV today for a visit. We spent some time catching up on what had been happening with her and us. At lunch time, we went to Cracker Barrel for about the best home cooking you can get outside the home. I had my favorite of meat loaf, while Carolyn picked the chicken fried chicken. What's the deal with chicken fried chicken? Is it fired chicken or is it double fried chicken? Why not just call it fired chicken fillet? Am I missing something here? Anyway, Denise had the chicken fried steak. Now, that makes sense to me. But chicken fried chicken? The food was good, and it doesn't matter where you get it, everything tastes the same.

After we ate, we went back home for more visiting. Eventually, Denise had to leave, but it was good to see and visit with her. I think she and Carolyn are planning a little get together for the two of them in a few days.

Later in the day, I did some reading and meditation while Carolyn was catching up on some genealogy. All in all, it was a good day when the weather outside was not fit to be out and about.

More later, be safe.

Today's State - Texas: The Lone Star State

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cooooold - Brrrrrrr!!

Benbrook, Texas

Weather: low 24 degrees, high 47 degrees, clear skies, winds to 30 mph

We're surprised at how quiet the new RV park is, considering how close we are to a major metropolitan area. This morning while talking a walk, I saw the sky line of Fort Worth in the distance to the north. It was so quiet that we didn't wake until 0600 hours, and it was probably the aches and pains of these older bodies of ours that woke us then.

Speaking of taking a walk, this park is one of the best we've been in for walking. I could probably walk 6 to 8 miles here without retracing my footsteps. By the time I finished tromping up and down the hills in the cold wind, I felt like I was back on the stress treadmill. There are a total of 105 campsites here, with some of them being primitive and most of the others having water and electric hookups. Some of the sites have 50 amps of electricity hookups, while others have 30 amps, and some have no electricity at all.

We stayed inside most of the day, keeping warm and watching college football (at least I was watching football) while Carolyn did some genealogy research. Eventually, we decided to go to Sam's Club and pick up a pizza for supper. If any of the readers have ever been to Sam's, you know how difficult it is to just go in and buy one thing. I know we've never been that focused, so by the time we left the store, we had bought tomatoes, salad greens, and calcium tablets for Carolyn. Of course, I had to do some grazing, checking out all the different food items that the store was promoting. It's a good thing I didn't eat lunch before we went over there. Otherwise, I might have gotten too full. As it was, I had just enough.

The football game I was most interested in was the SEC championship game between Florida and Alabama. Unfortunately, my Gators forgot to show up for the game, so Alabama won it, 32 to 13. The Tide was obviously the best team today, and I'll be pulling for them in the national championship game, where they'll probably play Texas.

Another cold night with a low of 25 degrees is forecast for tonight. Carolyn loves the cold weather. I could do without it. We've got to get our schedule straightened out so we go to the cool weather when it's hot, and to the warm weather when it's cold.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Fort Worth, Texas: Paris Of The Plains

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Moved to Benbrook

Benbrook, Texas

Weather: low 30 degrees, high 39 degrees, cloudy early, then clear skies in the afternoon

We decided we wanted to move to new territory this morning, so here we are outside Benbrook at the Holiday Park COE campground. We left Kimball Bend COE park about 1120 hours, and were parked and set up at Holiday Park by 1300 hours. That set up included the satellite dish. Two minutes after the dish was hooked up, we had a signal.

Based on last night's forecast, we were expecting snow this morning. No luck, as it appears there wasn't enough moisture in the air for any type of precipitation at all. Even without the snow, it was plenty cold for us. The snow passed south of us, and blew up the coast into the Houston area. I hope the grandkids were able to enjoy the snow. The temperature here is supposed to be the coldest tonight that we have seen this season at 25 degrees.

We'll be here the next few days while I wait on a medical appointment. We have been through this area many times in the past, but never did much exploring. This gives us the time to check out the area and see what's here. Fort Worth is only about 15 miles away, and there's much to see there.

After we were set up and rested a few minutes, we went to McDonald's for a late lunch. On the way home, we had to stop and have a propane bottle filled. I don't want to run out of propane with this cold weather hanging on.

Carolyn was happy with the move we made today. When we were at Kimball Bend, the closest shopping of any kind was about 20 miles away. Here at Holiday Park, we're only about five miles away from a lot of stores. If she gets a yen to go somewhere, we're only ten minutes or less away.

We're going to stay warm tonight as we settle in for the next few days.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Rockport, Texas: The Texas Riviera

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Picking Up Pecans

Blum, Texas

Weather: low 31 degrees, high 45 degrees, mostly clear skies, windy

We didn't see any snow yesterday when the bad weather went through, but there is a good chance we'll see some tomorrow. If the weather's not too cold and there's not too much snow, we may move to another campground.

Carolyn had two more medical tests to take care of today, and she passed with flying colors. She's finished with her medical stuff, but I still have one more examination next Wednesday. If I do okay with that, we'll be moving south next Thursday.

We had a couple more chores to take care of while we were away from the RV, and it was almost 1500 hours by the time we arrived home. After resting a little, I went out into the campground and picked up some of the pecans that are covering the trees and ground. They may be small, but these pecans have a taste that is outstanding. In addition, their shells are very similar to the paper shell type. That makes them easy to shell and eat. By the time I stopped because I was so cold, I had picked up about five pounds. That should last a few weeks.

Another RV moved into the campground while we were gone. They parked about 500 feet away, so we won't even know they're around. That makes two RVs here, including ours. Do you think the cold weather might have something to do with the lack of campers?

The campground we're in has 36 spaces at this time. According to one of the camp hosts, the COE has a long term plan to add another 50 sites, another bath house and restrooms, an equestrian trail, and hiking trails. All of this for a campground that only has two campers at this time. I wonder if they know something I don't?

Here's hoping we get some snow tonight and tomorrow. Carolyn's like a kid when it snows. I kinda like it, too.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Granite Shoals, Texas: City Of Parks

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cold Weather

Blum, Texas

Weather: low 37 degrees, high 45 degrees, cloudy, rainy most of the day

Snow flurries were in the forecast for this area, but didn't quite get to us. According to the radar, the snow got to within about ten miles of where we're parked. It rained all night and up until after noontime, when the clouds cleared up. Tonight should have the lowest temperatures of the season for us. If a big, bright moon is an indication, we should be in the 20s because the moon is so bright that we can almost read by it's light.

Even though it was cold and rainy outside, we decided to get out and about again. There was a blood drive going on in Glen Rose, so we went there so I could make a deposit in the blood bank. On the way into Glen Rose, we passed several exotic game ranches. How can we tell? The fences are at least six feet tall, and we saw several types of animals that aren't native to this area.

Since we hadn't gotten a WalMart Mall fix for about a week, we decided to drive over to Cleburne to the local Mall. We picked up the few things we needed from there, which didn't take long.

The RV park is located on Texas 174, and we knew that the road went through Cleburne. Driving into the center of town, we found the road we wanted and headed south toward home. We hadn't been on this part of the highway, so everything we saw up to Blum was new country for us.

When we got home, the temperature was down to 57 degrees in the RV. We turned the furnace and two electric heaters on, and ten minutes later the RV was nice and warm. We can tell that this RV has better insulation than the old one did. At night, we leave the electric heaters on, with the furnace turned down. So far, we have been comfortable with just the bedspread on the bed for cover. If needed, we have an electric blanket that we can use.

The rest of the day was spent reading, surfing the net, watching a little television, etc.

Carolyn has two medical tests scheduled for tomorrow, so we'll see what else we can find to do then.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Clifton, Texas: Norwegian Capital of Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Little Road Tour

Blum, Texas

Weather: low 43 degrees, high 47 degrees, rainy and cold

The rain started here about noon, and is still falling as I write the blog. Not to worry, though. We're snug and warm in our RV home.

After our busy day yesterday, I thought we would probably stay around the campground today. However, it's hard to keep us down when there's countryside to be explored. About 1000 hours, we decided to go see what we could find around Meridian and Clifton. We have been through those little towns many times in the past, but never explored around them.

Our first stop was before we got to Meridian, at the site of what used to be the Union Hill School, built back in the 1800s to serve the farm and ranch families that lived in the area. All that's left are the front steps and a slab. A plaque at the site gave a brief history of the school, including the fact that the students kept their horses in a barn at the back of the school. I can imagine at that time, the school, along with the local churches, was the center of social life for the area.

As we drove along after leaving the school site, we saw a flock of about 12 turkeys as they were feeding their way across a field. The next wildlife was several deer at different locations. This area is loaded with deer.

The first little town was Meridian, the county seat of Bosque County, with a population of about 1500. Like many of the towns in Texas, they have made an effort to preserve their history, including the courthouse, which is still being used for everyday business. We drove around town, checking out some of the old houses and buildings. Many of the older houses are being refurbished.

When we left Meridian, we drove out to Meridian State Park to check it out. The park is located on Meridian Lake, and has RV sites. The sites are a little small for our RV, but would do in a pinch.

The next stop on our tour was Clifton, the largest town in Bosque County, with about 3600 people living there. The town has a Norwegian influence due to the people who moved there from Norway in the 1800s. It appears to be rather prosperous, with a couple grocery stores, hardware and lumber stores, and several fast food restaurants. After driving through the downtown area, which seems to still be alive and vibrant, we drove west into the countryside a short distance. Apparently, without realizing it, we blundered into the area that was settled by the Norwegians long ago. Following signs, we found the community of Norse. Isn't that a fitting name for the area? A Lutheran church and graveyard was there, with many Scandinavian names on the headstones.

By this time, it was after lunch, so we decided to stop at Bunkhouse Bar-b-que. Good choice, as the lunch of brisket, sausage, potato salad, cole slaw, and Texas toast was all excellent. Even though we ordered the half order lunches, we had plenty left for supper, and it was just as good tonight. On the way out of town, we stopped at Sulak's Czech Bakery and Meat Market to see what they had. The only thing we found that appealed to us was the Jalapeno Cheese Bread, so we bought a loaf.

By this time, the rain was falling steadily, so we decided to go home and burrow in. We had a good day, doing the things we like to do. Simple, but fun.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Meridian, Texas: Top Of The Hill Country

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Good Medical Results

Blum, Texas

Weather: low 43 degrees, high 56 degrees, partly cloudy to clear skies

The wind blew hard all night, but we were snug and warm in our home on wheels. The forecast has rain and snow showers for tomorrow, so it looks like we have found winter.

What a busy day! We were up at our usual early time, and at our doctor's office by 0800 hours. The first thing to do was pick up the lab orders and go register with the hospital. Next was the bloodletting that takes place when we have our physicals. I think the technician must have taken a pint. Wonder if that would qualify as a blood donation? Free shirt for that?

When the blood taking was finished, we went across the street to the local Burger King for a late breakfast. The breakfast was good, especially with the hospital being so busy after the holiday weekend and having to wait as long as we did.

The next thing we did was drive west on Texas 67 to the rest area and overlook on Chalk Mountain. This overlook is one of our favorite places in the area. It was even more beautiful today, with all the colors of fall spread out below us.

At 1100 hours, I had a heart stress test conducted as a followup to the one I had two years ago. Talk about a workout! I didn't have a chance to take my morning walk, and the doctor said I wouldn't need one after he was finished with me. He was right, because I don't think I have had a stress test to equal how hard he worked me today. The good news is that no problems were found, and I'm good to go with my heart for another 2-5 years.

Since we still had some time before our physical examinations, we visited our friends Jerry and Joyce while we were waiting. They are doing fine as they get ready for the holidays at their business, Midway Pines RV Park.

Finally, it was time to see our doctor. I was the first person in, and got a very good physical with excellent lab results. The only problem is that the doctor wants me to have another test run next week in Granbury. Carolyn saw the doctor after me, and her results were also good. Guess what? She still has two tests on Thursday in Granbury. So, we have these things to do, and are thinking about what we can do and still make the appointments. We may take a short trip and come back.

One thing I forgot in all this medical stuff was that we carried our laundry with us and washed it. Thinking ahead, we knew we would need to do laundry this week, so today was a good one for that since the appointments were spread out so much.

By the time we got home (back to the RV, which is home, wherever it is), it was almost dark and turning colder. Both of us are tired, but feel good about what we accomplished and the positive results from all the medical stuff. Since the weather is supposed to be bad tomorrow, it may be a day of staying snug and warm in the RV.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hico, Texas: Home Of Cowboys And Legends

Not all who wander are lost.