Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Shut Down Begins Tonight

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 67 degrees, high 86 degrees, partly cloudy skies

The planning is finished, all the people are here, spare parts are staged, and we are ready for the shut down to begin. The facility shuts down tonight, and when I go to work in the morning, we will be working to complete the scheduled activities in 38 days or less. That's an ambitious schedule, but one that is attainable. At least I hope so, because Carolyn and I have several things planned that we want to do when we leave here.

Working the long hours keeps me from taking the walks I usually take. However, this week the increase in hours and activities means that I probably walk as much or more compared to when I don't work. My work does not involve physical activity other than walking or climbing. Most of my work revolves around planning activities and preparing the way for others to do the actual physical work. The hardest thing about the job to me is getting up in the morning. Especially when I get up at 0400 hours in the morning so I can be at work by 0500 hours. Only a little less than six weeks to go. The countdown begins.

We heard from our daughter Terri in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that she slipped on wet pavement last Sunday and hurt her ankle. She thought she had a sprained ankle. When the ankle kept swelling, she went to her doctor on Monday, where X-rays revealed she had broken the ankle. She's going to have a cast on the ankle for awhile. Terri's biggest concern when she talked to Carolyn was how was she going to be able to take a shower with a cast on her foot. Carolyn gave her some tips, but it's like anything else. Only the person suffering from something like that can really appreciate how hard it is to do the everyday things that we take for granted.

Carolyn told me I was cooking tomorrow night, so I guess I'll have to spend some time picking a good place to go. Oh, I know where we'll go. How does Dairy Queen sound, Dear? That was easy.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - New York, New York: The Concrete Jungle

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings......

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 82 degrees, cloudy, sprinkles

The day at work was full of meetings and briefings as we approach the shut down of the plant. The weather has cooperated as we prepare for the major projects that will be accomplished during the scheduled 38 days of work. The facility shuts down every 18 months in order to refuel, perform maintenance, and make repairs. There are two plants here, and the other plant will be shut down in the spring to have the same work performed. I have been asked to help with the spring shut down, and am leaning toward doing it. However, I haven't made a final decision yet. If I came back for the spring shut down, I would have about three months off before having to report, which would give us time for dentist visits, physicals, and visiting the hill country of Texas.

The thing I miss most about not working - in other words, being retired - is not being able to do some meditation during the day. I'm amazed at how easy it was to get used to closing my eyes for 15 minutes during the day. And it was so refreshing to me. I have enjoyed the past few weeks, seeing old friends and co-workers, and feeling as though I'm part of something meaningful and important. It's too bad I can't do a little meditation in the middle of the day. Now, there's a thought. Meditation, much like we used to take a nap when we were kids. I wonder what that would do to worker productivity in this country? I don't think we'll ever get the chance to find out. If a company decided to try it, sooner or later it would start being abused. As in people going to sleep. Not that I would do that.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Waco, Texas: New Zion

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bee Swarms

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 80 degrees, high 94 degrees, humid, muggy, evening showers

At 0900 hours this morning, the temperature was 85 degrees, but with the humidity it felt like 97 degrees. Double yuck!! Everyone working outside was being cautioned to drink plenty of fluids and pace their activities. At times like this, I'm glad most of my work is in an air conditioned space.

Today was spent fine tuning our planning for the upcoming shut down. The night shift people have changed to their assigned times, and my relief was at work early. At one time, it seemed as though I caught all of the night shifts. I'm glad to say that I haven't worked a night shift in about 12 years. There are a lot of people who thrive on nights, but I'm not one of them. When I did work nights, Carolyn used to comment that I might as well be sleeping in a cave because of the way I tried to stop any light from entering the bedroom. It seemed that if there was the slightest sliver of light, it was going to shine on me as I tried to sleep.

I have known and worked with Bill, the person who asked me to help the facility in the upcoming shut down, for about 20 years. Bill likes to work nights, and when he asked me to help him, he let me know that I couldn't work nights, since he was claiming that shift. Talk about making me happy! We've worked together so much, we understand what each of us likes to do, and the strengths of each. In all that time, I can't remember Bill working days in a shut down, although he probably did. At least once, you would think, but not that I recall.

Work in one area today was brought to a stop by a bee swarm. No one was bitten, and as soon as the bees settled down, the work resumed. If the swarm doesn't move on by itself, the site will have an expert collect them. Bee swarms are fairly common here. I remember one swarm in particular when my brother Terrell and I were on the eighth hole tee box at the golf course. Both of us heard a high pitched whine, but couldn't see what was causing the noise. Suddenly, both of us saw a bee swarm headed at us, about head high. We hit the ground and watched the swarm fly directly over us without slowing down. Whew! That was scary.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Jacksonville, Florida: The River City by the Sea

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Last Day Off

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 93 degrees, foggy early, then partly cloudy skies

I was able to do a rare feat for me this morning - I slept until after 0600 hours. It's a good thing that this was a restful weekend, because the long hours start tomorrow morning. I will be getting up about 0400 hours so I can make it to work by 0500 hours, which is when my shift starts. The average work day will be about 13 hours. I think I may be getting too old for this stuff. Oh, well. At least it should only last about six weeks, and I'm supposed to have every Saturday off. That means I will be able to see most of the college football games that I'm interested in.

We went to visit my brother Terrell and his wife Kathy late in the morning. They have bought a house in Tennessee, and plan to put their house here in Bay City up for sale in a couple of months. They hope to be moved by some time in December, just in time for the cold weather to start up there.

Before we returned home, we had lunch at McDonald's in the WalMart Mall. What more could a person ask for - a visit to the Mall and lunch, too. Then we went home and watched the golf tournament. Tiger Woods didn't win the tournament, but he won the Fedex Cup, worth about $10,000,000. I'd say that was a pretty good payday.

A couple nights ago, we watched the Beach Boys in concert on television. That brought back some memories. The classic rock and roll music like that seems like happy music to us, while most of what passes for music today seems to be angry and violent. Or is it our imagination?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Pasadena, Texas: Strawberry Capital

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

All-World Quarterback Hurt

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 70 degrees, high 90 degrees, fog early

The mosquito wars continued during my walk this morning. It seemed as though the mosquitoes were worse, or else the word got out that there was fresh blood in the neighborhood. Whatever it was, I'll be glad when these pesky critters go away. On the positive side, all the slapping and flailing gets me a good workout.

Carolyn decided I was cooking breakfast this morning, so after my walk I went to Shipley's Donuts and picked up some sausage pigs (kolaches). As usual, they were good. I have to admit, I'm a pretty good cook. Or, as my girls used to say, a good cooker.

Since I won't be off until Saturday next week, we went to HEB to pick up a few groceries there. Then, after bringing those home and putting them up, I went over to the WalMart Mall and picked up a few things that we buy at that store.

In the afternoon, we watched some golf until Florida's game with Kentucky started. Once that game started, nothing else was done until the game was over. Florida won the game easily, but their All-World quarterback, Tim Tebow, was hurt. At this time, there has been no word on how serious the injury is, but he was taken to the hospital before the game was over.

Not much going on today as I take it easy be fore the long hours start.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Cuero, Texas: Wildflower Capital of Texas

Not all who wande rare lost.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mosquito Wars

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 65 degrees, high 78 degrees, cloudy skies

I took a morning walk for the first time in several days this morning. In the process, I received an unexpected whole body workout because of fighting off hordes of blood thirsty mosquitoes. Slapping, flailing, kicking, I was like a kung fu fighter. By the time I got home, I was ready for some rest inside the RV, away from the mosquitoes.

After resting and wiping the blood off from the mosquito battles, we took the laundry and washed it. When I got back home, I dumped our holding tanks. Carolyn said the shower tank was gurgling, which indicated to her that it needed to be emptied. The tank probably was close to being full, but that was planned on my part. I wanted to have plenty of water to flush the sewer hose with after dumping the black water tank. My plan worked to perfection. Now, all of the tanks are empty, and the sewer hose got a good flushing.

A trip to the library was next on my list of things to do. In about five minutes, I found three books and three videos to check out. Then I took Carolyn to lunch, which was a nice break in the chores. After lunch, we watched golf for a couple of hours.

Late in the afternoon, Julian called and asked if we would like to go to Victoria's Mexican Restaurant for supper. We said sure, and met him, along with Lori and Zoe for a nice supper. John couldn't be there, since he is working nights for the shut down at the facility where I am working.

The rest of the evening was spent watching a little television, reading, surfing the web, and enjoying my time off from work. I'm getting ready for the long hours, starting on Monday.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Charleston, South Carolina: Hornets Nest

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hamburgers At Work

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 63 degrees, high 78 degrees, cloudy skies, scattered light showers

The managers at the job site cooked and served hamburgers and all the trimmings for lunch today. That's about 2500 people that were served, as a way of recognizing that everyone is going to be very busy starting next week. This facility is very good at building and reinforcing teamwork, which contributes to the success they have enjoyed over the years. Contractors are treated well here, and many of them come back every chance they get.

I'll be off work for the next three days and go back on Monday. At that time, the hours worked will get longer and the pace will pick up. In five or six weeks, my part will be done, and we'll be getting ready to leave. Then it's back to retirement.

I've been a little under the weather this week, and when I get home, I haven't felt like walking. I hope to be able to get a little extra exercise this weekend, since the long hours the next few weeks will probably keep me from doing anything but working. This weekend, I'll also take care of any chores that Carolyn can't do. Another thing we'll do is spend some time with Lori and her family. And, we plan to visit my brother Terrell and his wife Kathy. Who knows, we might find some adventure over the weekend.

I'll close for now. I'm trying to watch CSI at the same time I'm writing this post. It's not working very well.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Wellington, Colorado: The Northern Gateway To Colorado

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Slower Mosquitoes

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 65 degrees, high 75 degrees, cloudy skies, breezy

Wonder of wonders, we have not had to use the air conditioning in the RV for the last two days. This is almost unheard of for this area at this time of the year. Could the cooler weather last longer? We sure hope so.

Last week, we had a bumper crop of mosquitoes because of the rain several days before that. These mosquitoes seem to have the genetic code that turns them into the great white shark of mosquitoes. For their size, they are the equal of any vicious, blood thirsty monsters I can think of. The cooler weather of the last two days has dampened their aggressiveness a little, and the breeze today also helped. The only problem is that as soon as the weather warms up a little, we will be under siege again.

Carolyn has been preparing our meals since she arrived here over the weekend. Tonight, I decided to treat her to supper. We went to one of our favorite places in Bay City, since we haven't been there since she came back. The suspense about where we went is probably killing everyone, so I'll go ahead and spill the beans. We went to, drum roll, please.........Dairy Queen! Let's face it, folks, there's not many places to go in Bay City.

After supper, we stopped by to see Lori and her family. John was still at work, and we didn't stay long because they were busy getting supper together and doing their house and homework. Still, it's always good to see them, and we made plans to get together over the weekend. Julian loves to go out to eat, so we'll go to K-2 or Victoria's. He doesn't care where we go, as long as it's not a burger place.

Carolyn did some laundry today and met a few of the ladies in the RV park. Most of the people here are working on different projects in the area, with the majority of them working at the same facility as me. She met one lady that is a little ticked off at her husband because he accepted a short term job when he is supposed to be retired. I'm lucky Carolyn is more understanding.

The pace at work has been picking up every day, but it seemed to kick into a higher gear today. By the time the facility shuts down, we'll really be getting after it. Bring it on, I'm ready.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hot Springs Village, Arkansas: America’s First Resort

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First Day Of Fall

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 81 degrees, cloudy, showers all day

The temperatures were reversed today. Usually, the low is in the morning, and the high is in the afternoon. Not today, with it being 81 degrees at 0530 hours, with high humidity. About 0900 hours, black clouds started rolling in with rain falling shortly thereafter. The temperature began falling with the rain, and by the time I arrived at home this evening, it had fallen to 73 degrees. The first day of fall came in with rain and cooler weather. It's looking good! And I didn't have to wash the truck to get rain.

The pace is picking up at work, but the rain is slowing critical preparations for the shutdown that have to be performed outside. Luckily, all of my work is inside at this time. It will be about three weeks before I have to do anything outside. By then, maybe the weather will be dry for a few days until the work outside is finished.

Carolyn is getting used to being back in the RV after being at Terri's house for about a month. I think she may have forgotten how little room we have, even with the new, bigger RV we bought in March. One thing she continues to like about an RV versus a house is that the RV is much easier to keep clean. She also likes how easy it is to get ready to hit the road when we're ready to go somewhere else. One thing I'm liking about her being home is that I've eaten good the last two nights. Pretty basic, isn't it?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Kingsport, Tennessee: The Model City

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lost Satellite Signal

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 79 degrees, high 93 degrees, partly cloudy skies

Just when I thought the weather was going to be cooler, we had a day like today was. It seemed hotter than the actual temperature, but the start of the fall season is only a couple of days away. The forecast is for cooler weather, and it can't come soon enough for me. Have I said lately that the fall is our favorite season of the year?

When we woke up Saturday morning, Carolyn had a stiff neck that gave her a lot of pain over the weekend. It was better today, mainly because she has been careful about what she has been doing. She felt well enough to prepare supper for us. Today was the first home cooked meal I have had since I came back to Bay City. Pork chops, potato salad, and green beans. Ahhhh, that was so good.

While waiting for Carolyn to finish supper, I turned the TV on to see what was going on in the rest of the world. There was no signal, and Carolyn said the maintenance person for the RV park had been weed eating today. It appears he got too close to our cable leading from the satellite dish to the RV. I went out and checked the connections, thinking he might have disconnected them and forgotten to reconnect them. Nope, that wasn't the problem. By that time, Carolyn had supper ready, so I stopped my troubleshooting so I could enjoy that home cooking.

After supper (which was very good), I resumed my hunt for the problem with the satellite signal. I found that the maintenance man had moved the cables around so he wouldn't cut them. Moving the cables caused the place where the cables are connected to the satellite dish to have a break in the connection. It wasn't anything that was caused deliberately, just use and age. We've had the same cables for about seven years. It might be time to replace them, since I've been having a few problems lately when setting up the dish.

There's not much going on here, except getting ready for the shut down at the job. That starts next week. Until then, I'll be busy at home getting things done around the RV that I won't have time to do when the longer hours begin.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Columbus, Texas: City Of Live Oaks And Live Folks

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Grocery Run

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 90 degrees, partly cloudy

We woke later than normal this morning, probably because we were still recovering from the long trip on Friday and Friday night. Even though we didn't do much yesterday, we were still tired. As I write this post on Sunday night, I'm feeling much better and more rested. Just in time to go back to work tomorrow. Have you ever heard people say they went back to work to get some rest? That's the way I feel.

We made a run to the WalMart Mall to pick up some groceries. As might be expected, I didn't keep many groceries in the RV while I was here by myself. Carolyn said she needed more than what I had if she was going to do any cooking. Needless to say, I offered no argument at all. I told her to get whatever she needed, and I tagged along to push the cart. With what we bought today, we should be in good shape for the next week.

Late in the afternoon, we went over to visit Lori and her family. The kids were at home, but Lori and John had gone to the movies. We'll see them later this week.

The refrigerators in most RVs are fairly small, especially when compared to a refrigerator for a house. The one we have now is about ten cubic feet. The last refrigerator we owned in a house was 21 cubic feet. Quite a difference, isn't it? In keeping with everything in an RV being smaller, the freezer in our refrigerator is also small. We have to be careful not to buy too much food that requires freezing. As a result, we tend to go to the grocery store more often than people that live in houses. One thing that does impress us is how well these little refrigerators perform. A negative, other than the small size, is the cost if the refrigerator has to be replaced. A new one like ours will cost $1200 to $1600, which I think is pricey. Luckily, we have never had to do that.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Healdsburg, California: A Town For All Seasons

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Carbon Credits And Guilt Feelings

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 72 degrees, high 87 degrees, mostly clear skies, breezy

We were a little slow waking up this morning after getting home late last night. Once we were finally awake, I went to Shipley's Donuts and bought some pigs (sausage kolaches) for breakfast. I thought Carolyn would like a jalapeno pig, so I got two of those in addition to a couple of regular ones. She thought about it for about two seconds and said she would rather not have jalapeno peppers for breakfast. That meant I ate both of the jalapeno pigs. Think of the sacrifices I make. Not really, because the jalapeno pigs are good.

As I was traveling yesterday, I heard a news bit on the radio about people being able to buy carbon credits to offset their carbon production while traveling. Now, think about where this story originated, which was San Francisco. Some machines have been set up in the airport there so people who feel guilty about the pollution they cause by traveling can buy these carbon credits. The money is allegedly used to plant trees and buy land to remove carbon from the air. An interesting thing that came up in the article was that the airport is charging about 60 times the going rate for carbon credits. That should take a lot of guilt away from people. I though about how much carbon I was producing in my trip. Then I thought about whether I would feel better about it by buying some carbon credits to offset the carbon I was producing. For about two seconds I agonized over this moral dilemma. Then I decided, naah. If my conscience is not bothering me, then there's not a moral dilemma.

We took things easy after the hard trip of yesterday. I left home to pick up food, and Carolyn stayed home all day. The rest of the day was spent resting and recuperating from yesterday's hard trip. Maybe we'll feel better tomorrow so we can get out and about a little bit.

One thing we did do was watch the Tennessee and Florida football game. It was a well played game by both teams, and it looks as though Tennessee has a team that they can build into something to be proud of. They are some kind of tough on defense. Florida won the game 23 to 13, but it was not a runaway game by any means. As I said, good game.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Cincinnati, Ohio: The Blue Chip City

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Carolyn's Home

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 72 degrees in Bay City, high 89 degrees in Meridian, Mississippi

What a day! It started so early I don't want to think about it again. I will say the time I got up was the time I used to get home when I was younger and more stupid. The reason for getting up early was to make it through the Houston area before the morning rush hour started. That part of the plan worked to perfection, and I was able to get through Lake Charles, Louisiana, before the sun was up. So why was I up and about so early? I was on my way to pick up my sweetheart and partner!

The weather was good, traffic was fairly light, and there were no holdups until I got past Baton Rouge on I-12. Then the traffic was heavy, but kept moving. Once I turned onto I-59, traffic became light again. There was some construction, but it didn't hold me up. About the time I entered Mississippi, Carolyn called and asked where I was. I told her, and she said Terri was picking Thomas up at school early, and then they were going to meet me on the road. That meant I was able to cut about 200 miles off the round trip. We met in Meridian, Mississippi, where we had lunch and I caught up with what's been happening with them. Then we loaded Carolyn's things in the truck and said our good-byes to Terri and Thomas. It was a sad time, because I think everyone knows how devoted I am to my family. I need to persuade Terri to move to Texas so she can be closer to us and her sister Lori.

One of the things (of many) I treasure about my marriage to Carolyn is how easy it is for us to talk about just about anything. Today was no different, and we had a real gab fest all the way back home. When we left Meridian, the plan was to stop and spend the night somewhere along the way. Eventually, we realized that neither of us wanted to stay anywhere but in our home, even if it did mean a long day. Needless to say, it was late and the finish to a long day, but we made it home. We'll rest over the weekend and buy some groceries. Carolyn's going to cook. Yes!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Meridian, Mississippi: A Carousel of Culture

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Loooong Meeting

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 87 degrees, partly cloudy skies

Most of the day was spent sitting in a readiness review for one of the groups that has a big part in the shut down at the facility where I'm presently working. I have been in so many of this type of meetings in the past, and they're still hard to sit through. The voices drone on, and the breaks are few and far between. To top it off, lunch is usually served, which makes that couple of hours after eating a time of fighting off sleepiness. Luckily, I'm not the only person that feels the same about these meetings. I'm not saying that nothing is gained from the reviews. What I'm saying is that they are too long and boring. Shorten and liven them up, and people will probably get just as much out of them. Who knows, they might even start to look forward to going.

I talked to Carolyn when I got home this evening, and it looks as though she will be coming home this weekend. I'll leave early in the morning and get to Tuscaloosa late tomorrow afternoon. We have talked about whether we will start back Saturday or Sunday, and we'll decide that when I get up there. It's too bad she can't fly because of the vertigo problem. Driving to Houston to pick her up is a lot easier than going to Tuscaloosa. At least she's coming home. I'm ready to get my partner back.

Today is our daughter Terri's birthday. I can still remember the first time I saw her. Back then, we did not have any way to know whether we were having a boy or a girl, so there was always a little suspense. I guess there's something to be said for knowing the sex of your unborn child, but I'll never forget the thrill of finding out when our babies were born. Happy Birthday, Dear. I hope all your wishes and dreams come true.

I know we will be tired when we get back from Alabama, so I washed my clothes after work today. That's one little chore I won't have to do. Everything is packed and ready for the trip except for putting the computer in the truck. I'll do that after I finish writing this post. The RV is vacuumed and dusted, and everything is picked up so it will be clean when we get back.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - San Francisco, California: Shaky Town

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Red Faces

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 70 degrees, high 91 degrees, partly cloudy skies

The title of this post is Red Faces, and it's not due to something embarrassing. Some of my co-workers had to spend most of the day outside supporting a vendor at the job site. The vendor is providing a big crane that will be used to move some components that will be changed out as part of the modifications on the project. My co-workers didn't actually do any work, but were there in the event the vendor needed support that the co-workers could arrange for them. The sun was bright, there was a little breeze, no shade, and the next thing you know, red faces. I saw one of my buddies after work, and his face was even redder since he had gotten home. In about a week, there will probably be a few folks having peeling skin on their faces.

On the way home from work, I was thinking about what I wanted for supper. I didn't have much at home to prepare, and have not been eating out much. It occurred to me that I hadn't been to Dairy Queen since last winter. Their hamburgers and fries are usually pretty good, so I decided to stop at the local DQ. It was almost 1800 hours, so a lot of other folks had the same idea as me. However, I didn't have to wait to place my order, and I assumed the burger and fries would be ready soon. Well, 25 minutes later, I finally got my food. By that time, I was ready to go home, so I asked them to put it in a bag. My plan was to sit in the restaurant and eat my hamburger, but after sitting there as long as I did before getting the food turned me off on staying. So, I brought everything home and ate. Even though I had to wait as long as I did, it wasn't bad. Of course, when it comes to hamburgers, it doesn't take much to satisfy me.

The word is out that I took a job, and I'm getting other offers. It's nice to be wanted, but I'm supposed to be retired. I'm not going to make any decisions right now, but if I do any other projects, it would only be for short periods of time. I don't want to get back into the long jobs where the hours are endless and the job seems as though it will never end. Sure, the money is good, but there comes a time when there are more important things. Such as spending time with Carolyn, visiting family and grandkids, RVing..... Don't worry, Dear. No decisions will be made without talking to you.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Lafayette, Louisiana: The Heart Of Acadiana

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mosquitoes Are Here

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 71 degrees, high 85 degrees, partly cloudy skies

Those pesky mosquitoes are out in force, as I predicted last week. As I was walking from the truck to my work location this morning, I was slapping and swatting at the mosquitoes that acted as though they hadn't eaten in months, and they were going to make up for it on me. I looked around, and everyone I saw was doing the same kind of swatting that looked like a weird pantomime. I know there are many products on the market that are supposed to repel these things, but I've never found one that really worked. Not even the one from Avon that's supposed to make your skin soft. I do have to say it smells good, but I think the smell was made for a female. We'll suffer through them until it dries out a little.

Today was a nice, pleasant day as far as the weather is concerned. Cooler in the morning, a reasonable high temperature, light breezes, and lower humidity. The fall season should only be about a month away here.

One thing I miss when I'm working is the long walks I usually take. When I get home in the evening after working ten hours, I don't have as much ambition as I usually do, so the walks are cut to about half of what I usually do. On the weekends, I'm able to walk my normal distance. In less than two weeks, the longer hours will start here, with the average day being about 13 hours at work. Needless to say, there won't be any extra exercise after work until the longer hours are finished. By then, the job will be finished and I'll be back in that retired drifter mode. I won't have any trouble getting back to my real job of retirement. Doing something different is nice, and I have enjoyed seeing and working with everyone again, but I need to remember that my calling now is to relax and enjoy the full-time RVing lifestyle.

We had another good day at work, with more progress toward the start of the shut down. The place is bustling, with people hurrying and trucks and delivery vehicles moving equipment around. It is amazing the amount of work that is planned and performed in such a short time, with the facility going back into production on schedule.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Crowley, Louisiana: Rice Capital Of America

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, September 14, 2009

No Rain Today

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 89 degrees, partly cloudy skies

The big news for today is for something that didn't happen. It didn't rain for the first time in a week. The mosquitoes should be out any day. Time to find the mosquito repellent, if there's something that actually works.

We had a productive day at work, and the area where I'm working is in good shape for the upcoming shut down and major modification project. We could use a few more people with particular skills, but overall, we're ready.

When I got home, I took my daily walk before eating supper. I have to be careful to walk before eating because once I get some food in my belly, I'm ready to settle in for the evening. After the walk, I prepared another salad and watched some of the news until I got sick of the trash that passes for news today.

After supper, I took care of the dishes and did some light cleaning. There's a chance that I may go pick up Carolyn this weekend, and I don't want to have a mess here when she gets home. I know which side my bread is buttered on.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Shreveport, LA: River City

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

No Washing Of The Truck

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 90 degrees, cloudy with showers in the morning, then clearing up to partly cloudy in the afternoon

Over the last few weeks, I have been washing the truck on the weekends in an attempt to help these folks down here with their drought. This last week, it appears the drought is over, at least for now. As a result, I didn't wash the truck. Let's see if the rain holds off a little, because the next problem we'll have will be a bumper crop of mosquitoes. I don't know what to do for those pesky little devils.

I was caught by the rain when I took my walk this morning, but was able to use the store overhangs in town to stay a little bit dry. By the time I got back home, the rain had cleared away, and the sun was shining brightly. Then it got muggy and hot. Yuck! Did I ever say how much I don't like the high humidity in the south and along the gulf coast? Give me 20% humidity any day.

After resting from my walk, I finished up the housekeeping that I didn't do yesterday. Plus I did a little ironing of my work clothes so I won't look like I slept in my clothes. This afternoon, I cleaned out the inside of the truck, including vacuuming the carpet, a wipe down of the seats and dash, and treating the leather seats. Now I really have to strap myself into the seat belt so I won't slide around on the seat.

The rest of the day was spent watching some golf, surfing the net, reading, and watching another movie I picked up at the library. One thing I didn't do was watch pro football. I guess everyone knows my feelings about that.

Tonight, I prepared a large salad for supper, along with a chunk of meat. We like salads, and since I have been here by myself, I haven't eaten as many as I normally do. Today's salad went a long way toward correcting that situation.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Dundee, Florida: Doorway To The Ridge

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Supper With Family And Friends

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 85 degrees, cloudy with showers all morning, then partly cloudy in the afternoon

It was cloudy when I got up this morning, but the rain held off until I had finished my morning walk. Then the skies let loose again with showers that lasted until the afternoon.

After my walk, I did some light housekeeping in the RV, and then went to the WalMart Mall to pick up a few things - groceries, razor blades, dental floss, etc. Then down to the library to return a dvd that I watched last night titled Valkyrie, with Tom Cruise. The story, which was based on historical facts, was about a group of Germans that attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944 in an attempt to negotiate an end to World War II in Europe so their country would not be destroyed by the Allies. The attempt failed, and most of the people involved were executed by the Nazis. This was the 16th attempt on Hitler's life, and the last one before he committed suicide in 1945. I thought it was a good movie.

This afternoon, I watched a lot of college football, with a little golf viewing from time to time. I think I have spoken about how much I like college football. It's so much different than watching the overpaid and over-privileged spoiled brats we see so prevalent in professional football.

Tonight, I had supper with Lori and her family, as well as a couple of friends from my working days at the facility where I am now. It was good to see these folks again, catching up with what's been going on with them. I have to say they're looking good. Lorna lives on the shores of Lake Okeechobee in Florida, and invited us to visit and go fishing. I may take her up on that. Elsie still works at the facility.

Not much else going on today. One of those easy days I treasure before the longer hours start in about two weeks.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Iowa Colony, Texas: Where We Make It Happen

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Day Of Remembrance

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 88 degrees, cloudy, rain

We had a real gully washer of a rain storm pass through the area this afternoon. It rained so hard that it was difficult to see trains passing by about 50 feet away. The rain continues tonight, but not as hard. I'm beginning to have second thoughts about washing the truck last Monday.

Today is the eighth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, where so many Americans were killed when two airplanes were flown into the buildings. In addition, more Americans were killed when another airplane was flown into the ground after the passengers fought hijackers who had taken the plane over in an attempt to fly into another target. I'm sad that so many were killed in these attacks, but what makes it even worse is that our nation seems to be forgetting what happened that day. I have a feeling that we are beginning to let our guard down, and that it is only a matter of time before another terrible attack takes place. What is it with the people in Washington that they want to put people in the CIA on trial for following orders that had been approved at the highest levels? How does this witch hunt make us stronger as a nation? I wish someone could explain it to me, because I'm not seeing it.

Seeing the coverage on TV today about the events eight years ago brought back to me where I was and what I was doing when the attacks took place. It was the kind of event that seems to stay with you the rest of your life. Another one I remember vividly is the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. There are other moments I remember, but those are the most vivid.

Since today was a day off from work, I had several chores I wanted to get done. After a nice long walk this morning, I got the laundry together and went to the laundromat to wash my clothes. Next on the agenda was a trip to the dentist for my six month checkup, which I passed with flying colors. Our dentist, who I call Doc (that's original, isn't it?) said to keep doing what I'm doing. Then, in a kidding way, he told the dental hygienist to schedule me for my next checkup in about three years, because he couldn't make any money off me with the way I was taking care of my teeth.

When I got back home, I put the clothes up and did some light housekeeping. This afternoon, I watched some golf on television. The mail came, and the only thing of consequence was the bank statement. Carolyn has forbidden me from trying to balance it, because she says I mess it up. Can you imagine that? I've managed multi-million dollar budgets, and she doesn't trust me to balance the checkbook. That's fine, I'll save it for her so she can do it when gets here. Besides, that's one thing less I have to do.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's State - Kentucky: Bluegrass State

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dentists and Doctors

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 87 degrees, cloudy, showers

The rain making I performed last Monday has led to not being able to take my daily walk for the last three evenings. As I write this post, there is the soft patter of rain drops on the roof of the RV. It takes me back to my childhood and listening to the sound of rain on a tin roof. I really liked going to sleep to that sound.

I'm hopeful that I'll be able to take a long walk early in the morning. I'm off work the next three days, and maybe an early start will allow me to get the walking completed before the rains begin. The forecast is for continued rain through Saturday.

We still use the same dentist in Bay City that we used before going on the road as full time RVers, and I have an appointment tomorrow for my periodic checkup. Fortunately, we have only had one problem where we needed to see a dentist at any time other than our checkups. That one problem was when Carolyn needed to see a dentist when we were in North Carolina in 2007. Since we didn't know who to try to see, the owners of the RV park where we were staying recommended their dentist to us. The recommended dentist did a great job, but he didn't accept our insurance. That wasn't a problem for us, as we went ahead and paid the dentist, and then filed a claim with our insurance, who paid us within two weeks.

Our doctor for many years also lived here in Bay City, and we still used him even after leaving. We considered him to be a friend, and he lived across the street from us. Every time we were in Bay City, we would stop by to let him check us out and catch up on what was happening with him. In time, he began having serious medical problems and eventually had to retire. We were lucky enough to find another doctor that we liked in the Glen Rose area that understands our lifestyle and the unique needs we had as far as being able to obtain the medicine that we use for health maintenance. We plan to be in the Glen Rose area in November for our yearly physicals and other stuff that he thinks we need to do. It's going to be about time for me to do another stress test. At least I won't need to have a colonoscopy! I'm thankful for small favors.

Since tomorrow starts my weekend, I have several chores that I'll be working on. Laundry, dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, grocery shopping, wash the truck... Scratch that last one about washing the truck. I think we have had enough rain for now.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Denver, CO: Paris On The Platte

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mosquitoes Are On The Way

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 78 degrees, high 89 degrees, cloudy, showers

The rain inspired by washing the truck on Monday continued today. The grass is turning green for the first time all summer. In about a week, we get to enjoy a bumper crop of mosquitoes. A lot of benefits from this badly needed rain.

It was a productive day at work, as we prepare for a major shut down and maintenance work at the facility I am currently working at. The shut down will begin on September 30, and end about 35 days later. To assist the normal facility staff, approximately 1100 additional workers will be brought in to help perform thousands of activities, including some major modifications.

All of these additional people coming into the area is a big economic boost. The hotels are full, restaurants are busy, and the WalMart Mall is even busier than normal. Many of the businesses in town depend on these events for much of their profits for the year.

Once the maintenance work and modifications are completed, the facility will go back to work producing electricity for more than one million homes in Texas. Isn't that amazing?

The president gave a speech to Congress tonight about the need for medical care reform in the US. This topic has caused much debate in the last few months, with people feeling strongly about their views on the subject. I have a feeling that the problem is not so much the need for medical care reform, but a perception that the care may not be as widely available as it can be. I'm not going to push my views on anyone, but I would not like to see the medical care we have here become a thing of the past. Much of the world comes to this country for health care when they can't get it in their home country. Where will we go if our system becomes second rate because of something that comes out of this debate?

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Boston, Massachusetts: Beantown

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wash The Truck And It Shall Rain

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 75 degrees, high 88 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, heavy showers off and on

The old wash the truck trick has worked again. This time, it was at the request of my brother Terrell, who asked me to wash the truck at his house. Now, I wonder if he was trying to stack the deck in favor of his yard getting some rain on it? We had several showers today, and as I'm writing this post, it's sprinkling again. I wonder if there's any money to be made with this rainmaking thing?

There wasn't much going on here today. Work went well, and I continue to renew acquaintances with old friends and co-workers. It continues to amaze me with old these folks are getting. Surely I don't look older to them. Do I?

Most of the people who know me know what my feelings are from a political view point. I try not to make it too obvious on the blog, but I probably get carried away sometimes. The last couple of weeks, there has been a controversy swirling about the president speaking to our school kids. I think there was some misinformation put out, and the president's people probably made some mistakes with what they were trying to do. However, other presidents have spoken to our young people before, and they seem to have survived it. I think the message the president presented today was appropriate with him asking them to study hard and stay in school. Who knows, maybe his message will encourage a few of the kids to do better and stay in school. That would be a good thing.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Tallahassee, Florida: Tallaclassy

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jalapeno Pigs

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 73 degrees, high 92 degrees, partly cloudy skies

After my morning walk, I decided I wanted a pig for breakfast. Not a full sized pig, as in a hog, but a favorite from Shipley's, the local donut ship. What's a pig, you say? Well, it's what a lot of people call a kolache with smoked sausage in it. The difference is that it tastes better than the ones that we get when we're in the hill country of Texas. I decided to go all the way this morning, and bought a pig that was also filled with jalapeno peppers. Ummmm, boy, it was good. I should have bought two.

Speaking of jalapeno peppers, we had never tasted these peppers until we moved to Texas almost 20 years ago. They can be pickled in vinegar, which is the way we eat most of them, but you can get them fresh in salsa. Other ways to fix them are as uniquely Texas dishes, such as Texas toothpicks (fried strips), Armadillo eggs (stuffed with cheese and deep fried) or even jalapeno jelly. We haven't tried that type. Either way, their taste is unique. We try to have some with us when we leave the state because we can't always find them in other states. When we were in Alabama last year, our friends Ruth and Marsha gave us some green jalapenos which we pickled. Sad to say, but we're opened the last jar.

Since my brother Terrell knew of my rainmaking prowess, he called me yesterday and asked me to go to his house today and wash my truck so he could get some rain on his yard. In yesterday's post, I mentioned that just the mere threat of washing the truck seemed to have caused a shower to pass through the area. When I arrived at Terrell's house today, it was apparent that he had gotten more than a shower. Not a deluge, but a good rain. I still washed the truck, so now we'll see what happens. The weather for the next few days is for 30-40% chance of rain. One thing to remember is that the fall season is typically dry here, so I don't know if the magic will work.

Not a lot going on here beyond trying to make rain. I took care of a few little chores, watched some television, did some reading, surfed the web..... Just taking it easy before going back to work tomorrow.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hattiesburg, Mississippi: The Hub City

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Port Lavaca, Texas

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 72 degrees, high 91 degrees, partly cloudy to mostly cloudy, showers in the afternoon

When my morning walk was finished, I started thinking about what I would do today. The decision was made to drive down the coast to Port Lavaca, a place we have not been to in almost seven years. Our first time out in an RV was to Port Lavaca, and we were as green as grass when it came to setting up the RV. We couldn't get the RV off the truck hitch because I had it in a bind. Luckily, there were some people there who knew what they were doing, and they helped us out. If we hadn't gotten the help and advice we received that weekend, we might have had short lives as RVers.

We stayed that first weekend at the city-owned RV park located on the bay as you go into town from the direction of Bay City. That turned out to be a good choice, because we had two of our grandchildren, Julian and Zoe, with us. They were able to go fishing and play in the playground, and the experience made them want to go with us more. So I guess the weekend was good for them.

Since this is the last holiday weekend of the summer, all the RV parks in town seemed to be full. There was a lot of fishing going on, but I didn't see any fish being caught. The glare from the sun and water was bad, and I imagine a lot of people had headaches from it before the day was finished.

The first picture is of a mural painted on a wall in the Olde Town part of Port Lavaca. The second one is of Olde Town Port Lavaca. There's not much to it, and it appears that the town is trying to develop the area as a tourist attraction. I think they've got a long way to go.

Most of the business activity appears to be taking place on Texas 35, which is the main road paralleling the coast from Houston down to Corpus Christi. Since the route is along the coast, the terrain is about as flat as it can get. A railroad crossing might be the highest point along the way.

Has there been much in the way of change since were here almost seven years ago? Not really. A few more businesses, and that's about it. Of course, change may not always be good.

My brother Terrell is in Tennessee for a couple of weeks. He called me today and asked me to go by his house in Bay City. He wants me to wash my truck so he can get some rain on his yard. I guess he's familiar with my rainmaking skills. Well, it rained today with just the thought that I was going to wash the truck. It wasn't a downpour, but anything is better than what they have been getting here. The yards are brown, crops are dying, pastures are down to dirt, and the situation is not getting better. Maybe if I wash the truck tomorrow, I can help these folks out. Stayed tuned for an update.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Port Lavaca, Texas: It’s A State Of Mind!

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

College Football Begins

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 72 degrees, high 89 degrees, light shower in the afternoon, mostly cloudy skies

I took a longer walk than usual this morning, like about 50% longer. I didn't set out to do that, but felt so good that before I knew it, I was farther away from home than I meant to be. At that point, I had no choice but to keep walking. I've got to be careful doing that.

After I got home and had a good rest, I took care of some light housekeeping. Dusting, shaking the rugs out, sweeping where there wasn't any carpet, vacuuming, and other little things.

At lunchtime, I met Lori and her family at K-2 Restaurant for lunch. This restaurant has a special on Saturdays which I like a lot. Big hamburgers, nacho bar, salad bar, and more. I loaded up on the nachos and brought my hamburger home for supper. While I was eating, I had a nacho or two for Carolyn.

The college football season officially started Thursday night, but most of the teams started playing today. As I'm writing this post, I'm watching Florida play Charleston Southern, a small school out of South Carolina. An obvious mismatch, and I wish the major colleges would not schedule these types of games. Of course, the small schools love to play the big schools because they get a big payday for it. And, I'm sure they like the exposure their schools get that they wouldn't have gotten. Anyway, at this point in the third quarter, Florida is winning 48 to 3.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Dahlonega, Georgia: A Better Hometown Community

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Varner-Hogg Plantation

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 90 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

I had several chores to do this morning: laundry, a little housekeeping, go to the library, and that sort of thing. After the chores were finished, or at least the ones I wanted to do today, I decided to go to West Columbia, which is about 22 miles away, to see the Varner-Hogg Plantation.

We have been through West Columbia many times over the years, but never took the time to stop and see the plantation. The first picture is of the house, which was built in 1834 with bricks made from the mud of the Brazos River. The style is Greek Revival, which was popular in that time period. The second picture is of the beautiful pecan orchard on the property.

The plantation was developed to grow sugar cane for sugar, and a sugar mill was constructed in the 1840s for refining sugar. It must have been quite a large brick building, with two floors. The mill was destroyed by a hurricane in 1900, and the only things left are the kettles and brick foundations. It's important to remember that all these buildings were built with slave labor, which also raised the sugar cane until the Civil War was finished.

A barn on the property was filled with different tools and wagons from the era, including this John Deere wagon. Looks good, doesn't it? As I was walking around the property, it occurred to me how quiet it was. The plantation is less than two miles from town, but it almost seems like another world.

The holiday coming up is the last one of the summer, and it looks like people are taking advantage of the long weekend. I saw many RVs on the move today, heading to the beach and different campgrounds in the area. I hope they have a good time.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - West Columbia, Texas: First Capitol Of The Republic Of Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Four Day Weekend

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 91 degrees, partly cloudy

When I got home this evening, it looked as though the area received a little bit of rain. There were some small puddles along the edge of the road, and a few places where the road was still a little damp. I know most people want good weather when they have a holiday, but I think they would trade a little good weather the next few days to get more rain here. It is so dry that......

The job site works four 10-hour days a week, which means that today was the last work day of the week. Combine that with the Labor Day holiday, and it's four days in a row off work. If it wasn't so far, I'd go back to Tuscaloosa to see Carolyn. Just thinking about driving 750 miles one way wears me out.

I have several things planned to do over the long weekend, including the normal things like house cleaning, washing the laundry, buy a few groceries, and several other things. I also plan to do some things that I will tell you about as I do them. There should be some pictures to share.

I'm a little tired tonight, so I'll cut this post short.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Atlanta, Georgia: City Of Peace

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Loud Pounding

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 70 degrees, high 91 degrees, clear skies

More acquaintances were renewed at work today, and so far I've only seen a fraction of the people I used to work with. I'm glad I made the decision to come work for a couple of months, and I'll probably be glad when it's over so I can go play. Don't tell anyone, but this seems like play to me. And I'm being paid!

I talked to Carolyn this evening, and it looks as though I won't be going to pick her this weekend. Terri still needs some help, so we're thinking that I'll go get her in about three weeks. At least I hope so. I'm ready to have my partner at home with me. There are times, however, when parents make sacrifices to help their children, and this is one of those times for us. As I've said before, it doesn't matter how old your children are, when they need your help and you're able to help, you've got to do it.

A strange thing happened last night about 2330 hours (11:30 p.m. for those who can't read military time) when I was awakened from sleep by a loud pounding on the RV door. At first, I didn't know what the noise was, but as I became more awake, I realized someone was knocking on the door. I went into the living room and asked who was there. There was no way I was going to open the door to see who it was. A female voice said it was a name I was not familiar with, so I asked her to repeat it. Still not recognizing the name, I told her I didn't know who she was, but as far as I was concerned, she had no business knocking on my door that late. She apologized and apparently left. I tried to see who was outside, but never did see the person. Needless to say, it took awhile for me to go back to sleep. Don't you hate it when that happens? I wonder what she was up to? No good, I'm sure.

I've been here for two weeks, and I'm finally starting to sleep good at night. I hardly hear the trains, and when I do hear one, it just registers in my subconscious, instead of making me sit straight up in the bed.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Missoula, Montana: The Garden City

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Touch Of Fall In The Air

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 76 degrees, high 89 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

In many areas of the country, the temperatures I listed above would seem hot. Here, they feel almost balmy, with a touch of fall in the air. Okay, so the touch of fall is wishful thinking, but does everyone realize that today is the first day of September? Time sure seems to fly when you get older.

I went to a meeting at work today, and I knew everyone there. That's amazing, considering that there were about 20 people in the meeting. They welcomed me back and thanked me for coming to help them. It's not hard to come to a place like this that is so sincere in their welcome.

After work, I was so hungry my stomach was gnawing at my backbone, so I ate supper before going for a walk. The cooler temperatures make walking a lot easier. I felt so good that I walked a little farther than yesterday. Once the longer hours start in about four weeks, I probably won't have time to walk, so I'll enjoy it while I can.

In yesterday's post, I mentioned that I liked the murals in Eureka, California. Here are a few examples of what I saw while we were there in 2004. The colors are varied and bright, and as I mentioned, by the time I found all of the murals, I had seen most of the town. We wouldn't mind going back there someday.

That's about it from here. The Labor Day weekend is coming up, so we'll try to find some ways to enjoy the last holiday of summer.

Good night, Dear.

More later, be safe.

Today's State - California: The Golden State

Not all who wander are lost.