Sunday, February 28, 2010

Getting Ready For Work

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 40 degrees, high 60 degrees, mostly clear skies, breezy

The picture below is of the bridge leading from Astoria, Oregon across the Columbia River to Washington state. Many people are bothered by bridges that rise that high in the air, and this one is way up there. Ocean going ships pass beneath the bridge. I don't know how long the bridge is, but it's an impressive sight to see when up in the air on the bridge.

Since today was my last day before reporting to work tomorrow, I took life easy this morning. That's not to say I didn't do anything all day. Just that I did nothing this morning. We met Lori and her family at K-2 for lunch, and had a great time catching up with what's been going on. The biggest thing is that Julian only has three months to go before he graduates high school. Where did the time go?

When we returned home after lunch, I had several things I wanted to do, but meditation called first. Once the meditation was finished, I returned to the job I quit yesterday, which was putting two pieces of sewer hose together so we could have enough to reach from the RV to the sewer hookup. After about a half hour of struggling and fussing, I finally managed to get the coupler to fit inside the hose and finished the sewer connection. I'm glad that's done!

Normally, we don't watch ice hockey, but decided to watch the USA and Canada play in the Olympics gold medal game. It was an exciting game that was decided in overtime as Canada won, 3 to 2. When the game was finished, I removed our tire pressure monitors from the RV, since we'll be sitting here for several weeks. That should extend the life of the batteries in the monitors. Then, I removed the fifth wheel hitch from the truck and stored it in the basement. I don't see any need to leave the hitch on the truck exposed to the elements when we can store it. While we have it removed, we'll remove any rust and paint it so it will be looking new when we leave here.

The grind starts tomorrow, but it won't be forever. In a couple of months we'll be ready to hit the road again. New roads, new curves, new hills. We can't wait.

More later, be safe

Today's Town - Astoria, Oregon: The Spirit Of The Columbia

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Dastardly Vertigo

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 42 degrees, high 62 degrees, cloudy until noon, then clear skies, breezy

The picture below is of the Grand Canyon that we took in 2004. Note the Colorado River in the upper center of the picture. What a spectacular place to visit!

We hoped for the best, but Carolyn's vertigo reared it's ugly head again this morning after yesterday's long drive to Bay City. In the last few weeks, we have been moving short distances. One reason for the short moves was the hope that keeping her from getting too tired would keep the vertigo under control. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to drive farther yesterday since we needed to get to Bay City. One thing we do know now: 300 miles in one day is too much for Carolyn to be able to control her vertigo. She gets too tired and the visual stimulation caused by the changing countryside doesn't help. So, once this job is finished here, we will make every effort to keep our moves to shorter distances. Like 100 miles or less. We know there may be times when we have to go farther than we want, but we'll deal with that when the time comes.

Since Carolyn's vertigo made her sick this morning, I knew I would have to do everything I could to help her through this tough time. While she was trying to take it easy by hanging onto the couch, I took the laundry to the laundromat and washed our clothes. For some reason, washing clothes is a chore that I find to be relaxing. But, I also don't have a problem with washing dishes. I've heard people complain about how much they dislike those chores, but it's never seemed like a drudge to me.

After bringing the clothes home and putting them up, I took Carolyn's grocery list to the WalMart Mall and bought our groceries. Well, that is, everything that I could. It seems she wanted a two-pound bag of self-rising flour, and would you believe the Mall didn't have it? I stopped at HEB, and they also didn't have it. Does anyone sell little bags of self-rising flour now? There was plenty of plain flour, and five-pound bags of self-rising flour, but not the small bags Carolyn wanted. Anything bigger than the small bags tends to go bad before we can use it.

By the time I brought the groceries home and put them up, it was time for lunch. Then, outside to hook up the sewer hose. A problem popped up right away. The single length of hose was too short. I have a new length of hose, but when I tried to connect a coupler to the two pieces of hose, I found the coupler was the same diameter as the hose. That means the hose wouldn't go over the coupler. A trip was made to the local hardware store for a piece of PVC pipe that I thought might work. Well, the PVC pipe would work for one piece of hose, but not for the other. Drat!! That was it. No more work for today. I'll think about it tomorrow.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Williams, Arizona: Gateway To The Grand Canyon

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Back In Bay City, Texas

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 36 degrees in Proctor, Texas, high 65 degrees in Bay City, partly cloudy skies, windy

The picture below is on the California coast near Crescent City. Just another reminder to us that winter will eventually be finished for this year.

We hit the road shortly after 0800 hours this morning, heading back to Bay City. The cold weather was still hanging on, including a wind that made it seem colder than it was. The trip over to Bay City was uneventful, with the wind behind us most of the way. Most of the time, it seems as though the wind is in our face, tending to slow us down and cutting our fuel mileage. Today was one of those rare days when the wind actually helped us.

We were in Bay City by 1400 hours, which wasn't bad for time. Thirty minutes later, we were set up, except for the satellite dish. We rested until about 1600 hours, when we met my brother Terrell and his wife Kathy for supper at Pasta Prima, a fairly new Italian restaurant. This was the first time we had been to this restaurant, and it wasn't bad. It seems like I'm a creature of habit when eating at an Italian restaurant, usually having Chicken Parmigiana. I thought about having something different, but couldn't quite make the change. So, it was the old standby again. Don't want to be too daring.

Terrell and Kathy are leaving here tomorrow on their way back to their home in Tennessee. They'll be back in about three weeks as he takes advantage of being retired, yet still being paid to do what he likes. Sounds like me.

When we got home from the restaurant, I set up the satellite dish, and had success within 30 seconds of starting to look for the signal. If the signal was that easy to find all the time, life would be a little easier for me.

We have several things to do tomorrow as I get ready to go to work on Monday. In the meantime, I think I'll say good night, as I'm wore out from today's drive.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Houston, Texas: Houston’s Hot

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Boring Debate

Proctor, Texas

Weather: low 34 degrees, high 53 degrees, partly cloudy skies, breezy

I think most of us would agree that this has been a long and cold winter. The picture below was taken when we were in Brookings, Oregon, and shows us that better weather is on the way.

We spent part of the day watching the health care summit on television. Or, maybe I should say we spent part of the day trying to not be bored to death by a bunch of politicians trying to one up each other with stories about how bad and heartless our health care system is. One thing I kept hearing from the president and his party was how good the health plan is that they are part of as federal employees. I think a way out of this whole problem is for everyone to be given the same plan at the same cost that the president and other federal employees seem to enjoy so much. Do you think the debate would be over? Will we be given that option? I think not.

Tonight, we had bar-b-que from a typical Texas restaurant. That meant the food was good and there was plenty of at a decent price. Brisket, sausage, french fries, fried okra, Texas toast, cole slaw, huge drinks... So much was left over that we have plenty for tomorrow's lunch. I forget the name of the restaurant, but I know how to get back there if we're in the area again.

We'll be heading to Bay City tomorrow, as I get ready to fulfill a commitment at the nuclear plant near there. The past six weeks or so have been great for us as we were able to explore a part of Texas we had not been to before. Canyon Lake, Kerrville, Junction, Ozona, Fort Stockton, Marathon, Big Bend National Park, Alpine, Fort Davis, Balmorrhea, Pecos, Odessa, Midland...... We will be the first to acknowledge that some of these places leave a little to be desired. What we saw in these towns and the areas around them was the friendliness of the people, the history, the beauty of the countryside (at least most of it was beautiful), and some of the mystery we encountered, such as the Marfa Lights. We expect to visit there again, and may spend a month or more in Alpine next winter. To us, the best endorsement we can give an area is to visit it again.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Midland, Texas: The Sky’s The Limit

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Snow Is Gone

Proctor, Texas

Weather: low 25 degrees, high 48 degrees, clear skies

Most of the snow from yesterday's snow fall has melted. Darn it! It was nice while it lasted.

We expect to be back in Bay City on Friday or Saturday, so I called the place where we usually stay to make sure they had a space for us. They did, and reserved the space we usually get. We'll still be by the railroad tracks, but we'll persevere for the time we're there. The trains bother us when we first get there, but eventually we manage to get used to them. So used to them that we automatically turn the TV volume up when a train passes by, then turn it down when the train is gone. When I'm working, there's one that goes by about the time I have to get up to get ready for work. If the clock doesn't alarm, the train will wake me.

I went for a long walk today, trying to make up at least a little bit for not getting any exercise yesterday when the weather was so cold and snowy. As bad as the weather was yesterday, today's was the opposite. Clear skies, hardly any breeze, sun shining, not bad. I can remember times in Texas when the temperatures in Texas were already reaching the 80s at this time of the year. It wouldn't bother us if it stayed cool for awhile longer, because once it does get hot here, it'll last a long time.

We've been fortunate enough to be able to travel a lot since we started this RV lifestyle. When we're remembering places we have been in our travels, one place that always stands out in my memory (along with Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana....) is the Painted Desert in Arizona. This place has very little vegetation in it, but the colors are unreal.

Carolyn doesn't have the same fascination for the desert as I do. Still, she understands why I like it, and there are some things she does like about it. Like these beautiful scenes.

When we visited the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest, the wind was blowing about 50 mph, which made it hard to walk, much less take pictures. After we were finished touring the Forest and Desert, we were forced to stay where we were in the RV because of high winds and dust storms. Dust got inside the RV despite our best efforts to keep it out. Before we left the area, I had to clean the dust out of the RV seals so we could close the slide-outs.

While we were in the area of the Painted Desert, we visited Winslow. Remember The Eagles song about standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona?

Ahhh, memories. They'll help sustain us while I'm taking care of my commitment at the nuclear plant for the next 6-8 weeks. Then we'll be back on the road making more memories.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Winslow, Arizona: A Great Place To Visit, A Great Place To Live

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Proctor, Texas

Weather: low 30 degrees, high 34 degrees, snow

We were expecting the snow to start late last night. When a little shower passed over about 2300 hours, I thought we would be covered by snow when we got up this morning. Not to be, because the snow didn't start until about 0600 hours this morning. When it did start, the snow was heavy and continued all day and into the night. To our uneducated eyes, it appears as though we received about four inches of the white stuff. This picture was taken about mid-morning, and shows about two inches of snow on the truck. As this post is being written Tuesday night, it's still coming down, but lightly.

This next picture shows a field nearby, about noon time. If you look closely, you can see the snow flakes in the air.

I know most of the readers have probably seen more snow than they wanted this winter, but we're still like kids, getting excited about seeing something that we never saw when we were much younger.

With the snow and the chance of bad road conditions, we stayed at home. Sometimes we need to have a stay at home day forced on us so we get some rest. The snow day helped us take care of some record keeping and bill paying. Our mail caught up with us here, so today was a good day for going through that and taking care of business generated by the mail. And, there was still time for reading, watching TV, surfing the Internet, meditating.... Now that I think of it, this was a great day for us, snow and all.

When I was working, there were several instances where winter storms caused real disruptions in people going to work or to school. The funny thing about all that bad weather was that I never missed a day of work because of bad weather. I always managed to get to work, and never felt I was placing myself in danger. In fact, I have been at work when bad weather struck, and had to work another 12-hour shift because people couldn't get in to relieve us. Now, here I am retired, and we're staying at home because we don't have any urgency to be anywhere. It's nice to not have to go out.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Orange, Texas: The Fruit

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Proctor, Texas

Weather: low 28 degrees in Coleman, Texas, high 38 degrees in Comanche, Texas, cloudy, windy

When we decided to move from Coleman, we were not looking for a place where there was not going to be any snow. The intent was to find a new place where we could settle in for a few days until the snow and rain passed, and do a little exploring if the weather allowed. We knew there was another COE park on Proctor Lake, located eight miles north of Comanche and two miles west of Proctor. So, even though it was below freezing while we were getting ready to leave the COE park near Coleman, we still felt like moving was what we wanted to do. Could the wanderlust be rearing it's head?

The current weather forecast calls for rain and snow starting tonight, with the snow continuing all day tomorrow, and accumulations of 3 to 5 inches. I have a feeling that this will be the last of the bad weather for us this winter, since we will be moving to Bay City this weekend.

Why are we going to Bay City? Our daughter Lori and her family live there. In addition, I have committed to work on a project at the nuclear plant down there for about two months. NOT FULL TIME, folks.

Once the project I'm working on is completed, we will be moving to Florida (slowly) to visit family. Then it's up to Alabama to visit our other daughter before we start a search for cool weather for the summer. We've been kicking around a few ideas on where to go for the summer, with nothing decided yet. Who knows, we may end up in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Wow! it's fun to write about what we may be doing.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Queen City, Texas: A Place You Can Call Home

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Rest Day

Coleman, Texas

Weather: low 48 degrees, high 64 degrees, rain early, then clear skies, windy to 25 mph

We were wakened about 0530 hours by some quick rain showers that passed through the area within about 15 minutes. Carolyn was awake by then and got up, but I was able to nap until a more respectable hour of about 0730 hours. I felt good!

After our short drive around Coleman yesterday, Carolyn had a little episode with vertigo. She decided she didn't want to go anywhere today in an effort to get the vertigo under control, so we stayed in the RV park. Except for me going into Coleman to the laundromat to wash our clothes. This counts as a rest day for us, and we'll be moving on tomorrow. The weather forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday is calling for cold weather with rain and snow. We'll probably find a place to hunker down for a couple of days until the weather gets better. Not sure where that place will be.

One thing I did today was get a couple more pictures around Coleman. This first picture is a bunch of cattle brands on the wall of the Chamber of Commerce in Coleman. It was fun to look at the brands and try to figure out how they would pronounce the brands - Lazy S, Rocking T, etc. It was my impression that these are local brands used by area ranchers. Cattle ranching was important in the early days of the county and it looks like it still is.

This next picture is of the first library in Coleman. It was run by an unpaid volunteer for over 40 years, and when the new library was opened, it was named for the volunteer. I would think that would be the least they could do.

When we were down in Pecos and looking around the area, we saw from a distance what looked like an impressive building. The building is in Toyah, south of Pecos and just off I-20. Toyah may have been something in the past, but it almost looks like a ghost town now. There are a few people living there, but most of the houses are old and decrepit. We found a way to get to the building we had seen from a distance, and discovered that it was an old high school building. This building really stands out on the desert. There are no trees to speak of, and no other big buildings near it. The building must have been something to see back when it was being used. It sure caught our attention.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Robert Lee, Texas: The Playground Of West Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Look Around

Coleman, Texas

Weather: low 45 degrees, high 68 degrees, cloudy until noon, then partly cloudy, windy

Even though the temperature warmed up today, the wind still made it feel a lot cooler than it really was. A light jacket felt good whenever we were outside.

Have you ever woke in the middle of the night and had trouble going back to sleep? I had a night like that last night. I woke up about 0100 hours, and wasn't able to sleep. I got up for awhile at 0200 hours and finally went back to bed at 0300 hours and was able to go to sleep. As a result, it was almost 0800 hours by the time I got up this morning.

We went into Coleman for the first time this morning, and were surprised by how busy the little town (population 5100 people) was. Coleman is the county seat of Coleman County. The courthouse was built in 1884, and completely remodeled in 1952. The original building had a mansard roof and a central tower. I suspect that the original building was more attractive than what they have now. I also suspect that original building would have been a better tourist draw.

This is the Coleman County jail, located just behind the courthouse. The style is probably what the courthouse resembled before being remodeled.

In the past, I've written about the Chisholm Trail, used to drive cattle to market from Texas to the north. Unknown to me, there was another cattle trail used for many years, the Great Western Trail. The Western Trail passed west of the Chisholm Trail and went through this area. It started in the Bandera area, and ended in Dodge City, Kansas. Cattle were driven up the trail from about 1867 to about 1892.

After a little more looking through town, we stopped at the local little grocery store and picked up a few things we needed. I wouldn't want to have to buy all our food there, but it'll do in a pinch.

When we got home, we noticed that the USA was involved in another curling match. Well, that decided what we were going to do for a time, as we watched the USA win an overtime match. Exciting stuff in a sport that we never paid attention to before this Olympics.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Coleman, Texas: Life At A Different Pace

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hord's Creek Lake COE Park

Coleman, Texas

Weather: low 38 degrees in Midland, Texas, high 65 degrees in Coleman, Texas, clear skies, breezy

Two days in the hustle and bustle of the Midland area was enough for us. We looked for the closest Army Corps of Engineers campground, and found Hord's Creek Lake, located near Coleman, Texas. Coleman is about 175 miles east of Midland. Coming here serves a couple of needs: we're back in a COE campground, which we like, and we're making progress in getting back to the Bay City area, where I have a commitment starting March 1.

We left Midland about 0930 hours, taking Texas 158 through the little towns of Garden City, Sterling City, Robert Lee, Bronte, and Winters. At Winters, the GPS (Ms GPS) led us across country on Texas 153 and right to the COE campground. I think we're getting used to using the GPS unit.

We pulled into the campground about 1330 hours and were set up by 1400 hours. The biggest problem we had in setting up camp was that the gate attendant, in his zeal to be helpful, gave us a pull through site. No problem with that, usually, but in this case, the site he gave us was not really adequate for the RV. The site would have been great for a 30 foot RV, but ours is 36 feet long, and just a tad too long for the site. We made it work, but I would rather he had given us a back in site. Oh, well - if that's the worse that happens here, that's not bad.

One thing that has impressed us in our travels in Texas is how much energy is produced here. Oil, gas, hydroelectric, and now wind energy. It was interesting to see oil wells and electricity producing windmills side by side during our travels today. We saw hundreds, if not thousands of windmills during our trip today.

We haven't watched much of the Winter Olympics. One of the sports that we have watched is curling, which we had never paid attention to before. I don't know why we hadn't watched it in previous Olympics, but one day last week, we saw the USA in a match that was close. As we watched to see if the USA would win, we started noticing the strategy that was being used, plus the finesse that is involved. Since then, we have watched it whenever the USA has a match. Unfortunately, the USA men's team has not won some close matches until today when they defeated the French team, 4 to 3. It's kind of strange that we would pick up on a sport like curling, which certainly wouldn't qualify as one of the glamor sports of the Winter Olympics.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Bozeman, Montana: The Most Livable Place

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Confederate Air Force

Midland, Texas

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

We slept a little later than the usual 0600 hour today, which shows that the 100 mile trip we took yesterday must have wore us out. Just kidding about being wore out, but it was quiet here in the RV park, which helped us sleep.

I waited a little while to let the weather warm up some before taking my morning walk. There's plenty of attractions for us to see here, but we don't have the time to see all of them. I chose to go see the Commemorative Air Force Museum, formerly known as the Confederate Air Force until politically correct thinking made them change the name to what it is today. I asked one of the volunteers if the PC police had made them change the name, and he basically said that the cost of maintaining the airplanes and museum had caused the folks that run the museum to change the name after certain sponsors said they wouldn't help underwrite the costs unless the name was changed. That's a shame, because the first time I noticed anything about the museum was several years ago during an air show when some of their airplanes were part of the show, and the name was Confederate Air Force.

The museum has a large building where several exhibits are arranged, primarily consisting of exhibits from World War II. There are some good collections of memorabilia from that time period, which I'm sure would bring back memories for anyone that can remember those times. Uniforms, weapons, newspaper headlines, film clips, and other objects are used to good effect to recreate battlefields, especially the beaches of France on D-Day.

The museum also has a hall of fame section where American airmen and military units who have distinguished themselves are remembered with plaques and pictures. Each year, seven more airmen and another unit are added to the hall of fame.

The museum allows pictures to be taken everywhere except in the nose art area. The nose art area displays nose art recovered from airplanes, and shows the individualism that the aircrews used to create images for their airplanes. This picture of nose art is outside the prohibited area, and is on the B-24 bomber that is flown on a routine basis.

Unfortunately, many of the airplanes that the museum owns are one of a kind, and spare parts are becoming hard to find. The cost of maintaining any airplane is expensive, and these are even more so. If a reader is in the area, a visit to the Commemorative Air Force would be time well spent.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Odessa, Texas: The Right Place In Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Midland, Texas

Midland, Texas

Weather: low 25 degrees in Pecos, high 58 degrees in Midland, Texas, clear skies

We left Pecos late this morning, taking as much time as possible to get ready to leave so the weather could warm up a little. There's not much to see or do in Pecos, and we may have stayed there a day too long. Anyway, we're now in Midland.

We traveled on I-20 today, passing through some of the most productive oil producing property in the US. The Permian Basin of North America encompasses an area 250 miles wide and 300 miles long. More than 15 billion barrels of oil have been pumped out of the area. Apparently, it's still pumping a lot of oil, because we saw more oil pump jacks along our route than anywhere we've been. At one time, Carolyn tried to count the pumps she saw at one time, and lost count around 50.

As might be expected for an area that produces this much oil and gas, the area is heavily industrialized, with most of the industry devoted to supporting the petroleum industry. If the oil was to run out, this area would probably become similar to a ghost town. There's not much here that we can see that would cause people to be here for anything except jobs in the industry. I'm not trying to offend anyone from the area that reads this, but that's the way we see it.

We didn't do anything after arriving at the RV park. I seem to have caught a bug of some sort that makes me feel tired and washed out. If I feel better tomorrow, there are a couple of places I'd like to see - the Confederate Air Force Museum, and the Petroleum Museum. In the meantime, that gives me a chance to catch up on posting some pictures I took recently that I haven't had the chance to post. Check these out.

This is a picture of a typical sotol plant. It was used by the Indians that lived in the area of the Big Bend for food and fiber.

Here's a picture of the train depot in Pecos. It doesn't appear to be used for anything at this time. Perhaps it could be used for some type of tourist draw. The area needs all the help it can get.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Marathon, Texas: Gateway To Big Bend

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Balmorrhea State Park

Pecos, TX

Weather: low 28 degrees, high 50 degrees, clear skies, light breezes

We got a fairly late start this morning, which was due to a good night's sleep. I love it when the sleep is uninterrupted. Pecos is a quiet town, and where we are staying, it's even quieter.

Since we had seen what we wanted here yesterday, we decided to take a trip about 40 miles southwest to Balmorrhea. What would attract us to Balmorrhea? Well, we had never been there before (good reason to go there), and Balmorrhea State Park is there. What's the big deal with the state park? There is a large spring there that feeds a concrete lined swimming pool with water at the rate of 1,000,000 gallons an hour. In my book, that's a lot of water.

The water stays a constant 76 degrees year round, so I guess the swimmer we saw there this morning when the air temperature was 40 degrees felt warm. In the summer when the air temperature is 110 degrees, the water probably feels cold at 76 degrees.

The park has an RV camping section that is really nice, and we can see that we would stay there someday. In fact, if we had known how nice the park is, we would have stayed there this time. Ah, well. Next time.

The water that flows out of the spring feeds into Lake Balmorrhea, a few miles away. Before it gets to the lake, some of the water is taken off for irrigation. The mountains in the background are the Davis Mountains.

These ducks were in the swimming area at the state park. In looking on the Internet and in our bird books, the closest I can come to identifying them are as Scaups. Anyone out there who might know?

Late in the afternoon, I noticed some drips coming out of where we hook up our water hose to the RV. I found that a connection that goes to the city water connection had loosened slightly. I pulled everything out of the basement, mopped up the water, and tightened the connection. It looks like the leak has stopped for now, but that's something I'll keep my eye on.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Willits, California: Heart Of Mendocino County

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pecos, Texas

Pecos, Texas

Weather: low 24 degrees in Alpine, high 48 degrees in Pecos, clear skies

Brrrr, it was cold this morning! The faucet froze because I forgot to cover it up last night. Using a hair dryer, it only took a couple of minutes to thaw it out.

I wrote in an earlier post that we had a tire on the RV that had a slow leak. Well, while we were parked in Alpine, the leak got worse. I made it down to a tire store, where the tire was removed, checked out, and repaired. It seems we had picked up a nail in our travels. I was more than happy to pay what was charged for the repair.

Leaving the tire store, we took Texas 67 north to I-10, where we picked up an FM road north to US 285, which took us into Pecos. We're staying in the Escapees RV park while we're here. We were parked and set up by 1230 hours.

After I rested a few minutes, I went into Pecos to check out the town. This is a town of about 9,500 people, located in west Texas on the high desert. The terrain is flat and rocky here, with scattered mesquite and creosote bushes. Dry, dry, dry.

Now, don't get me wrong. Even though it is dry here, the area produces some of the best cantaloupes in the world, the famous Pecos cantaloupes. We can say from personal experience that they are good. In addition, the area grows onions and cotton.

This is a picture of the Reeves County Courthouse. The architecture is a combination of Classical Revival and Mediterranean. This is the second courthouse, and was completed in 1937. Unfortunately, this is the best picture I could get because of the trees. That's kind of funny, since there are not that many trees here.

Continuing on with my tour of the town, the next stop was at a replica of Judge Roy Bean's Saloon and courtroom. Judge Bean was considered to be the law west of the Pecos River, including Pecos. Apparently, it didn't matter that he had no law training. He didn't allow hung juries in his court, and during recesses, the spectators had to buy rounds of drinks in his saloon.

Normally, I don't put pictures of graves and headstones in the blog. In this case, I couldn't resist. This is the grave and headstone of Clay Allison, a famous gunfighter of the old West. His headstone had the following on it:
SEP 2 1840
JUL 3 1887

In addition, a separate stone had the legend "He never killed a man that didn't deserve it." I think the actual truth may be a little murkier than that. Supposedly, he killed about 20 men, and was considered a real bad man, in every sense of the word.

Well, I'm a little tired after all the excitement. I'm going to relax a little before bedtime.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Pecos, Texas: Home Of The World’s First Rodeo

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Little Catchup

Alpine, Texas

Weather: low 29 degrees, high 54 degrees, clear skies, breezy

Happy Valentine's Day to all the sweethearts.

Carolyn's vertigo was acting up a little today, so that was a clue to us that we needed a day off from sightseeing. We've learned that if we don't heed the warning signs, it takes longer for her to recover from an episode.

When we were in Big Bend National Park this past week, I saw a gas pump that brought back memories of how people used to pump gasoline into their cars. How many people remember these? Even better, how many people have used them before?

When I went to the blood letting at the university last week (donation), I had a nice conversation with a lady who told me her grandfather had lived in the area of the park for many years. He built a house there that was adapted to the extreme temperatures found in the park, and raised a large family in it. While we were driving on the road that rattled my fillings, we found the house that the lady told me about. The park has identified it as Luna's Jakal. Check it out.

Gilberto Luna lived until he was 108 years old. He built the house partly underground and supposedly raised about 50 family members here. The house was built of earth, rocks, and plant fiber. He farmed in the area with water diverted from a nearby stream, although we didn't see any sign of water when we were there. These were some tough folks that lived down here.

The lady I was talking to said that she knew the history of the jakal, but had never seen it. That's a shame, considering how close she lives to the park.

We have an appointment to have a tire repaired on the RV in the morning. The tire has had a slow leak for several days, but we've not been able to find a place to get it repaired until now, due to the size of the RV. I know, I could have taken the tire off and taken it to a place to be repaired, but I didn't want to work that hard. I'll let the repair people do it, since they are set up for it.

After the tire repair, we'll be back on the road. New adventures coming.

More later, be safe.

Today's State - Louisiana: Pelican State

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Picture Stitching

Alpine, Texas

Weather: low 30 degrees, high 58 degrees, clear skies, light breezes

After the great adventure to Big Bend yesterday, we needed some down time to rest. About the only things I did of consequence was to go for a walk and took the laundry to wash it while Carolyn did her thing on cleaning the RV. Whenever she gets started with that, I try to find something to do that keeps me out of her way.

Our digital camera has the stitch application, where I can take pictures in a panoramic type of sequence. Then, the edit program will stitch the pictures together so a series of pictures will be added together seamlessly. That allows a larger picture to be taken, giving a better idea (hopefully) of what we see in our adventures. I've learned how to use the stitch program, and the pictures have turned out great. Only one problem: the blog program trims the pictures down so much that I still lose the scale I'm trying to share. I'll keep trying. Anyway, here's my first effort, and from a distance, it shows the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park.

With all the talk about being environmentally friendly and using resources in a green
manner, I noticed that the folks here in southwest Texas are way ahead of most of the country in saving energy. Not to speak of money. This wind mill is typical of many that we see on farms and ranches. What's surprising to us is how many homes have them, pumping water to a large holding tank. In addition, many of the houses have a rain collection system, where the rainfall is directed from the roof to holding tanks for use as needed. There are many houses that use the sun to heat water, as well as solar panels that provide some or all of their electricity. To top all these energy saving devices off, a lot of people use solar clothes dryers (also known as clothes lines). Of course, it helps that they live in a part of the country that has abundant sunshine, even in the winter.

Okay, enough of that.

How would you like to stumble into something like this? The desert is full of plants with thorns and stickers. Even though we've not seen much of it, we know there is a lot of animal, bird, reptile, and insect life here.

We've enjoyed our time here, but it looks like we'll be leaving on Monday, starting a circle back toward the coast.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Umatilla, Florida: Gateway To The Ocala National Forest

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Road Trip To Big Bend

Alpine, Texas

Weather: low 29 degrees, high 58 degrees, clear skies, light breezes

The weather was so nice today that we decided to go down to the west entrance of Big Bend National Park and tour the parts of the park we had not seen yet. So, getting an early start, we were on the road by 0900 hours. It may not seem early to some folks, but believe me, since I'm not working, that's an early start for us.

The west entrance to the park is about 80 miles from Alpine, but the road goes through some beautiful countryside with few people living there. That meant very little traffic.

After about 60 minutes of driving time, we started seeing scattered places where people were living. RVs, mobile homes, small houses, and other types of buildings being used for people to live in. Many of them appeared to be vacant. We've wondered what brings people here to live in a place that is so far from the conveniences that most of us take for granted, and to us the attraction is the weather in the winter and the natural beauty of the area. We think that everything probably changes in the summer, when the heat is probably oppressive.

Before getting to the park entrance, we drove through the small towns of Study Butte and Terlingua. Put an emphasis on small. Not much there at all, even though there appears to be a new school.

Since we had seen much of the eastern part of the park last week, our emphasis on this visit was to go to the Castelon Visitor Center, located a short distance from the Rio Grande River and the US/Mexico border. Obviously, we took this picture from the US side. There's not much there to stop illegal aliens from crossing the river, with most places we saw shallow enough to wade across.

That's footprints on the other side of the river.

The Castolon Visitor's Center was first used by the US Army to patrol and protect the area from bandits until about 1920, when conditions in Mexico stabilized. People from the two countries moved back and forth across the border with little or no interference until the events of 9/11 caused the US to close the border. As a result, the little Mexican town across the river has almost died.

The next stop after Castolon was at the Santa Elana Canyon overlook. The canyon was created by the Rio Grande River over the course of millions of years.

By the time we reached the overlook, it was starting to get late enough that we began to make plans to head home. The big question was which way to go: backtrack the same way we came, or take Old Maverick Road, a gravel road that would help us complete a circle in the park. Carolyn was feeling adventurous today, so she voted for taking the gravel road because it would be about 15 miles shorter in distance. Well, now. Shorter in distance doesn't necessarily mean shorter in time. The gravel road was 14 miles long, and it took us about two hours to drive it because it was so rough. I'm still looking for a filling from one of my teeth. The picture truly does not do justice to how rough the road was.

Eventually, we made it off the graded road and back to civilization in Study Butte. Then it was back home, with a short stop at a Border Patrol checkpoint so they could make sure we were US citizens and weren't carrying any contraband.

There's more to today's adventure, but I'm wore out. I'll finish this adventure tomorrow.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Terlingua, Texas: Chili Capital Of Texas

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Not So Lazy After All

Alpine, Texas

Weather: low 34 degrees, high 45 degrees, light showers, mostly cloudy skies

Here's a typical fence that we have noticed around homes here in west Texas.

We have found that we can't see a place to it's fullest potential when the weather is like it was today. So, we used the day as an excuse to do a bunch of nothing. Except for.... Wait a minute. Now that I think about it, it wasn't such a slow day after all.

I went for a long walk in between the light showers that came and went all day. The showers were such that I would have had to stand out in it all day to get wet. After the walk, we went to the public library used book store to check out their selections. With about 20 minutes searching, we found 12 books we haven't read. That helped us stock up again.

Carolyn was looking for some craft materials, so we stopped at a couple of stores. The first one didn't have what she wanted, but the second one did, and she was pleased with what she found.

Once I had Carolyn back home, I went to Sul Ross State University to donate blood. There seems to be a real shortage of blood, especially O negative and O positive. It was good to see the response of the university and community to the plea for blood. I had to wait about 45 minutes before I could make a deposit, but that was fine.

When my blood letting was finished, I stopped at the Museum of the Big Bend, located on the university campus. I really didn't know what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the exhibits. As expected, the museum concentrated on the history of the Big Bend area, the people who played such an important part in the development of the area, the geology, and the animal life. If any readers are in the area, the museum is well worth a couple of hours.

When I was back at home, I has another chore to take care of. Over the last couple of weeks, we have had a slow leak in one of the RV tires. Unfortunately, we haven't found a place to get it repaired until today. There is a shop here that can do the job when we get ready to leave. In the meantime, the tire had leaked down a little, so I used our air compressor to pump the tire back up to 80 pounds. I'll check it in a couple of days and thereafter until we get ready to leave here. Then we'll get the repair done.

So, I guess it wasn't such a lazy day after all.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Boulder City, Nevada: Home Of Hoover Dam

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fort Davis, Texas

Alpine, Texas

Weather: low 31 degrees, high 45 degrees, cloudy

We were expecting a little snow, but it looks as though it has passed us by. Drat! I know the folks up north have gotten more than enough this winter, but we would like to have seen a little. Plus, it aggravates the grandkids when we get snow and they don't.

Yesterday, we took a short drive of about 25 miles north to Fort Davis, located (where else) in the Davis Mountains. I seem to be able to home in on the nice old courthouses, so here's the one for Jeff Davis County. It was built in 1910, and is designed in the Classical Revival style. I don't know much about styles, but I know what I like, and this one is nice.

Can you guess who the county is named for? That's right, Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy. Before he was the president of the Confederacy, he was the US Secretary Of War before the Civil War.

Fort Davis is a small town of about 1,000 people, while the county only has about 2,500 people. Not thickly settled at all. Tourism is important to the economy, and there are several natural attractions in the area that draw people. The beauty of the mountains, the climate is cooler in the summer with an altitude of about 5,100 feet, Davis Mountains State park, and McDonald Observatory, operated by the University of Texas and located a few miles away, all combine to create a great place to visit. This picture of the observatory was found on their website. I hope to have some that I take of the observatory in the next few days.

It was fascinating to drive through the side streets of Fort Davis and suddenly realize that most of the streets are not paved. In this day when it seems the entire world is becoming one continuous piece of concrete, we happen upon a little town that bucks the trend.

When we sere finished in the little town, we drove on through town about a half mile to the site of Fort Davis National Historic Monument. The old fort was placed here in 1854 and served to protect the area from Indians and bandits until 1891. It was named after Jefferson Davis (I wonder if he named it?) while he was still the Secretary of War for the US. The old fort is probably one of the best remaining examples of what the forts in the west were like. The following are some of the pictures I took while there. Note the terrain.

This is one of the enlisted men's barracks.

This is the post hospital. As I was looking at some of the tools the doctors used, I was glad that medical care is so much better now. Although, if you listen to some of the talk out of Washington, they would have us believe that we have a third world medical system in the US.

This is the commanding officer's house. It was furnished nicer than I thought it would be.

When the fort was at it's busiest, it had over 100 buildings. Today, there are 24 buildings that have been refurbished, with foundations and ruins of about 50 still visible. An interesting side note: This fort was manned by the famous Buffalo Soldiers.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Indianola, Mississippi: I-Town

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Marfa Lights

Alpine, Texas

Weather: low 28 degrees, high 45 degrees, cloudy with some sleet until about noon, then clear skies

Today is a special day. Our youngest daughter Lori was born several years ago (can't say too much so I don't give her age). Happy Birthday, Dear!

Did you see what I wrote about the weather? Sleet? I didn't know there was enough moisture in the the air for sleet. The forecast is calling for a mix of rain and snow tomorrow. That should be interesting.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we were going to Marfa last night to see the famous Marfa Lights. The sunset was so beautiful, I had to get a picture to share. Before we went to the Marfa Lights viewing area, we drove into Marfa to check out the little town. It has a population of about 2,100 people, and is the county seat of Presidio County. The town was established back in the 1880s as a watering stop for the railroad.

It amazes us that some of the places that we go to have some of the smallest populations, yet have some of the most beautiful and well-maintained public buildings, such as the county courthouse in Marfa.

We didn't know it, but it seems that Marfa has been the location for several movies being filmed over the years. Examples include "No Country For Old Men", and "There Will Be Blood". The most famous movie filmed there starred Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Sal Mineo, Carroll Baker, and Dennis Hopper. Care to guess the title of the movie? I wouldn't have known, either, but the title of the movie these big stars were in was "Giant". The stars for "Giant" stayed in The Paisano Hotel, located just off the courthouse square.

By the time we finished in Marfa, it was close to dark. Presidio County has erected a viewing area for the lights just east of Marfa on US 67, near an old Army air base that dates back to World War II. We had been advised earlier to dress warmly, since the desert tends to cool off rapidly at night. Well, we were dressed in a way that we though was going to be warm (three layers including a heavy jacket, gloves, and hats). It wasn't enough, as the wind was blowing about 25 mph. It was cold!!!

Eventually, it was dark enough that the stars began appearing. And, I have to tell you that star gazing here could be world class. There are so many to see, and I hadn't seen stars like this since I was much younger.

Since this was our first time to see the lights, we didn't know what to look for. Suddenly, we saw lights start appearing that didn't seem to have any origin that we could see. Most of them were well above the ground, and lasted for a second or two, with some lasting longer. Some of them were just flashes that we caught out of the corners of our eyes.

What was our impression? An interesting phenomenon that we're glad we saw. Many people have tried to explain what causes the lights, but so far, no one seems to have found a satisfactory explanation. They have been appearing since about 1883, and show no sign of going away. We're glad we went to see them, but would have liked to stay longer to view them. It was just too cold to spend a lot of time there. Maybe we'll be back someday when the weather is warmer, and can spend more time watching the famous lights of Marfa.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Alpine, Texas: In The Alps Of Texas

Not all who wander are lost.