Seminole Canyon

January 8 – 14

Stop number two for 2018 and another place with a nightly sunset show.  We got the best camping spot overlooking the desert, distant mountains, and those gorgeous sunsets.

On The Way

At our last stop, we discovered a problem.  One of Lucy’s rear dually tires had a pretty large, deep chunk gouged out of the sidewall.  It wasn’t leaking, so we decided to head out and stop in Del Rio to get it changed.  Fortunately we had a mounted spare.  Most motorhomes don’t come with a spare at all.  Pat does have the tools to do it himself, but we both agreed that it would be worth it to have someone else jack up big Lucy and do the dirty work.

Once we had cell service again, I googled up tire places and found one right on our way.  We pulled in, and in 30 minutes or less, we’re motoring along on all undamaged tires for a super cheap price.  Sigh of relief since tire or engine issues are worst case for us.  Of course the most fun part was that the spare was in the very back of the largest storage bay, and required Pat to unload it to get to the tire.  Picture chairs, buckets, grill, table, flamingos, etc., all in a pile in the parking lot.

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On the way and getting close.  Jackson is supervising the drive over the Amistad Reservoir.

Interestingly enough, I’m finding this area to have many similarities to our Alaska travels.  The terrain is different, of course, but it does share the climate extreme that will sure enough kill you if you’re not prepared.  In Alaska it’s the winter and here the summer.  Also, lots of derelict buildings and businesses.  We’re not sure if they are just closed or abandoned.  And the navigating isn’t a challenge with just one road to get anywhere.  I tell Pat to take a left and go 130 miles to the next place.  I’m a genius like that.  Plus we’re out of cell range much of the travel time and there’s not a lot of traffic.

Seminole Canyon

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Here we are at check in.

And our grand spot overlooking all there is to see.

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Each campsite has a picnic area like this one.  Since we’re on the end, we don’t see anyone else when we sit and stare out into the desert.  It was quite windy and cold part of the time, so we were choosy about our sitting out.

Thorny stuff here, but a few berries, too.  The prickly pear cactus have the big thorns, but also the little guys on the tops.  And the ranger told us the yellow and orange cactus plants were frostbitten.  Yep, it was below freezing one morning and Jackson’s water bowl had a good layer of ice in it.

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The plants all had rock labels like this one.  The cenizo has surprisingly soft, velvety leaves even though everything else, including the grass, is super prickly.  This is not Jackson’s favorite place since I keep picking burs out from between his sensitive toes.  Those dog boots can’t come fast enough.

Some shots of Seminole Canyon from the visitor’s center and looking back at it.

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You coming momma?  Jackson is concerned that I’m hanging back to take pictures on the windmill trail.

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I looked up from my blogging perch at one point to see this guy in the tree right outside the driver’s side window.  Such a brilliant red contrast to the grey branches.  The plants seem to be all grey in this environment and not brown at all.

Seminole Canyon only has water in it during heavy rains.  Otherwise it’s dry with just a few pools of water.

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In this canyon, you can’t hike without the ranger since it’s home to prehistoric rock art.  The oldest pictographs in North America on the cave walls.  These rock paintings are detailed and date back to the time the Egyptian pyramids were being built.  The painters had to make their paint from minerals and animal fats, and it’s still unknown who these people were, as well as what the pictures signified.

It’s difficult to make out the details in the photo and on some of the rocks at this point.  A couple back in the 50’s painted copies of the pictographs so they wouldn’t completely be lost over time.  I liked the hands the best.

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Look at this texture.  The softer limestone rocks are eroded by the wind into delicate patterns.

More rock texture and color.  Also a several hundred year old Mesquite tree that’s still hanging onto the cave wall and still alive.  Pat surveys the scene from the cave.

Sunsets.  I can’t get enough of them.

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My favorite.

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The sunset perch.

Judge Roy Bean

He was “THE LAW West of the Pecos”.  This justice of the peace handed down judgments using his law library which consisted of just one book – the 1879 Revised Statutes of Texas.  It was a rough time in the West and the judge took care of the legal dealings in the area since the closest Texas Ranger station was over 100 miles away.  We took a ride down the road to the Judge Roy Bean visitor’s center in nearby Langtry, TX to check it all out.

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We got our bag, literally, of tourist info, and took a stroll on the grounds to see the original buildings from the 1880s, including the saloon.

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These should be house rules everywhere don’t you think?

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They also had a cactus garden on site including this example called the ‘horse crippler’.  That middle spine is tough.  I touched it to be sure.  Supposedly this one can cause flats on ranch vehicles, too.

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And purple cactus.  I think these may be frostbitten, too, but love the color.

I Know A Lady

The guy at the visitor center’s desk in Langtry was the best.  So enthusiastic and had been everywhere we wanted to go.  We got some great suggestions for Big Bend scenic drives and hikes, as well as restaurant recommendations.  I asked if there were any hiking trails nearby, since I wanted to get closer to this view….

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He says no.  All those caves and canyon spots are on private land.  But, he says he knows a lady.  He can show us how to get to the only view of the Rio Grande in this area through her property.  She won’t mind.  Now you’re talking!  The guy walks us outside and points in the direction of a dirt & gravel road.  He says to go as far as we’re comfortable in Bitsy and then hike the rest of the way.  Shouldn’t be more than a mile or so.

The Rio Grande looking both directions.  We didn’t see the lady.

The Pecos

To get to Judge Roy Bean’s place we did have to cross over the Pecos.  It was the right time of the day for a shadow shot.

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The Pecos River

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We stood here for the longest time trying to figure out where the people were.  We swore there were kids talking and an older man talking, too.  But where were the people?  Pat went back to the car for binoculars and then we heard the unmistakable sound.  Goats!  A whole group of them just on the other side down the rock cliff.  While I waited for the binoculars, I noticed a truck camper up on a hill.  We need to figure out how to get there.  And we did.

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The Pecos River High Bridge – highest highway bridge in Texas.

What We Saw The Most

A few things stand out on our drives back and forth between Seminole Canyon and Del Rio, the closest civilization.  There were more dead skunks on the road than I’ve seen or smelled anywhere.  And then there were the Border Patrol trucks.  They followed behind on the road, parked on the sides of the road, and even drove through the campground.  There was an “inspection station” we had to stop at every time we headed back to the campground from town.  They had a lift to raise cars up to inspect underneath, and a rolling staircase so they could shine flashlights to look on top of the semi truck cabs.  Yes, we are US citizens we’d say, and they’d send us on our way.   I guess you get used to this so close to the Mexico border.

The week is up and time to seek a warmer spot.  It’s supposed to be 19 degrees tonight where we were camped.  Turns out another cold blast is going to get us no matter what.  Next up – Lajitas, TX and Big Bend National Park where we hope it’s warmer.  See you on the way.

 

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Kickapoo Cavern State Park

January 1-7, 2018

Stop number one on the 2018 travel map and another place I hoped we’d like.  I did quite a bit of research to end up with our winter stops, but was still nervous that they wouldn’t measure up.  All the locals tell us we’ve made excellent choices and so far we’re very happy.

New Year, New State Park

Kickapoo Caverns State Park sounded so interesting when I originally read about it.  Here’s what the interpretive guide says about the place. “The park lies at a crossroads of nature…a patchwork of plant and animal life…At Kickapoo, sprawling live oaks from the Edwards Plateau interplay with the Chihuahuan Desert cacti and thorny shrubs of the subtropical South Texas plains.

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You end up with trees, some indeed sprawling, prickly everything, hills, and vast skies.  Sunset on our first clear night.  I say first clear night since we had to leave our Marble Falls oasis on New Year’s Day and it was quite cold and gloomy.  The closer we got to Kickapoo, the smaller the roads became with even some ice a few miles out.  At least we filled up the propane tank before we left town.  Low 20’s was not our idea of great camping weather, but everyone was sharing in the arctic plunge this time.

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Desert sunsets out our window.

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The park was originally a sheep ranch and the owner gave the land to the state back in the 80s.  Evidence of the original farm shows up on the trails.  Jackson drank from the cement water troughs and we picked our way around the old fences taken over by cactus.

We know we’re officially in a desert area now with all the prickly plants.  Anything with any good leaves is armed and dangerous.  Poor Jackson learned that the hard way getting sand spurs stuck between his toes when he ventured off the beaten path.  The sharp limestone rocks weren’t much better for him.  I’m ordering dog boots as soon as we can get package delivery again.

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The boys walking the trails.

Of course it’s not all bad for the J-dog.   With a ball and a good roll in the grass, life is good again.

Wild Cave

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As the name implies, Kickapoo Cavern State Park is home to a sizeable cavern and they offer a wild cave tour.  We signed right up and were told we needed to bring two flashlights each.  Also, helmets were required and we were given a stern safety talk.  The ranger explained that we’re in a very remote area and even with a medical team seated on the rescue helicopter, it would still take 40 minutes for help to arrive.

I don’t think I fully grasped what a wild cave tour really entailed.  We walked on a few smooth spots, but mostly scrambled over rocks and formations for the two hours.  The interpretive guide tells it best: “The floor of Kickapoo Cavern was once its ceiling – a breakdown of jumbled limestone blocks 130 feet thick – the equivalent of a 16-level underground parking garage.”  We’ve now toured several caverns, but this one was unique since it was undeveloped and unlit.  Also, since most of the cavern is considered “dead”, we could touch the formations and pick up crystals.  Touching has been strictly forbidden everywhere else.

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I touched everything I could get my hands on except this guy – a black scorpion.  We actually saw two of them and the second one was not happy to see us.  Although it was in the 50’s on the surface, the cave itself was in the mid-70’s and Florida humid.  And absolutely dark.  We worked up a sweat in there.

Wildlife

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This is Maynard.  He lived in a hole right beside our campsite.  We saw these little guys everywhere and Jackson barked furiously at each one.  I got a kick out of watching them lumber along with a funny little hitch in their step when they ran.  We also saw ring-tailed cats on the dark road into the park.  Elusive and quick, with a distinctive striped tail, and they’re actually part of the raccoon family.  There were black javelinas (wild pigs), and of course more deer.

Just the Two of Us

We’re on our way into town on Saturday night intending to go to 6:30 pm Mass in the closest town 25 miles away.  We get there at dusk, only to discover that my online info was incorrect.  It started at 5:30 pm.  Drat.  So, we get back in the car for 25 miles back and it’s pitch dark by this time.  I’m driving really carefully, though, since the deer are out and I don’t want to hit one in little Bitsy.  I see some lights catching up to us just as I brake and swerve for an enormous buck poised at the side of the road.

It’s obviously a big truck and it gets right on our bumper and stays there for a bit.  Then it backs off and follows for miles.  We’re just a few miles from Kickapoo when the red and blue lights come on and I pull over.  Other than the swerve to miss the deer, I was a law-abiding driver.  We wonder what’s up.  An Immigration/Border Patrol stop, that’s what.  The officer asks what we were doing there.  Said he didn’t recognize the vehicle.  “Yes sir, just the two of us in the car.  Headed to Kickapoo Caverns, sir.”  And just like that, we’re wished a good night and cautioned about the deer on the roadsides.  Guess we were indeed old people from Florida driving a pretty small car for smuggling illegals.  I’m not sure how I feel about that whole encounter.

Other Random Stuff

It’s a world record for us.  We cooked all our meals except one for seven days straight.  We didn’t make it that long even in Alaska.  That’s what camping in the middle of nowhere will do for you.  In fact, when we got to the Houston area back in December I got a call.  It was the ranger from Kickapoo Caverns State Park.  He said the reservation site had a glitch and allowed us to reserve the campground on days that they are normally closed.  We can stay, thank goodness, but we’ll likely be by ourselves in the park.  Is that ok?  Heck yes.  We did have a night or two with just the camp hosts and it was very nice.

And those stars.  It’s so dark out here that the night sky seems so close.  Mind you, I can only identify a handful of constellations, but they seemed within reach.  We’re a week into 2018 and it’s time to head out.  Next up – Seminole Canyon State Park.  See you on the way!

 

Our 2018 Plans

January 2, 2018

Happy 2018!  I hope this year is everything you hope it will be.  2017 was an epic year for us and will be hard to top, but we’re pretty sure more great adventures await.  Every place has something to offer.  You just have to find it.  Before I jump into this year’s plan, I want to share the 2017 favs.

2017 Favorites

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Favorite Photo

We enjoyed some beautiful places and spectacular views, but we both agree that this photo was the favorite taken at Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia.  In fact, we have it in a little frame in the bathroom, and Pat has it as the screensaver on the laptop.  It was Pat’s idea to get the edge of the motorhome in the shot just to prove we were really right there.  It looks fake, but it was oh so real.

Favorite Camping Spots

I say it this way because the campgrounds themselves may not have been the favorite in amenities or sites, but the places certainly topped the list.  This is so hard to choose, mainly because all the locations were so different, so we picked from the lower 48, Alaska and Canada.

Lower 48 – And the winner is…. Steamboat Rock State Park outside of Electric City, Washington.  I said when we arrived here that I’d be happy if that was as far as we got.  After all the places we went in 2017, that still holds true.  Absolutely gorgeous, with hiking, wildlife and breathtaking views.  Check out the Steamboat Rock post for details.

Alaska – We almost have a tie here.  I say almost, because we both vote for Williwaw Campground in the Chugach National Forest for peace at the foot of a glacier, but brand new K’Esugi Ken Campground in Denali State Park cannot be beat for the majesty of the mountains. (check out the Portage Valley  and  The High One posts for these two)

Canada – This is a hard one, too, since we were lucky to spend so much time in our friendly country to the north.  Hands-down it has to be Norseman Adventure RV Park in Atlin, BC.  This is the one we love not for the park itself, but there’s no denying location, location, location.  Rock glacier, float planes, stunning views, and a charming little town.  Being “off the grid” was truly a bonus. (Switzerland of the North)

And just like that the year is over and we look ahead with anticipation for what 2018 has in store.  Bitsy got all new shoes for the occasion, and Lucy had her rims and tires detailed, so we’re ready to roll.

2018 Master Travel Plan

There are a few anchor points in 2018, so we just have to plan the parts in between.  Of course, you know how we like to change the plan as we go.  Don’t hold us to this too firmly.

January

We’re still in Winter reservation mode, and set with 3 locations to make sure we have a place to be.  First up, Kickapoo Cavern State Park outside Brackettville, TX.  (Our current location and numero uno on the brand new 2018 travel map)  From here we go to Seminole Canyon SP near Comstock, TX.  Finally, we head to Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas, TX to be close to Big Bend – National and state parks.

February

Still at Maverick Ranch until mid-month.  Then we head to Davis Mountain SP in Ft. Davis, TX, departing on the very last day of February.  Stargazing anyone?

March

We have three days booked (the max you can stay in a row) at Hueco Tanks SP outside of El Paso, TX.  Looking forward to another sacred Native American spot with petroglyphs and we’ve already got our tour and hiking passes booked.  From here we’re crossing our fingers and having a little faith that weather will cooperate.  Heading north into New Mexico for stops at Brantley Lake SP outside Carlsbad and Oliver Lee Memorial SP in Alamagordo.  Carlsbad Caverns and White Sands National Monument are on the must-see list.  At this point, reservations end, but we have plans for stops in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos on into April.

April

More New Mexico and at some point we’ll head into Utah to catch some national parks.  I visited Bryce Canyon as a teenager with my parents and would love to re-visit that one.

May

More Utah and hopefully Grand Junction, Colorado.  I follow a crafty blog written by a GJ resident and her photos look spectacular.  So, it’s on the “list”.  We’re finally to an anchor spot and a holiday weekend which requires reservations.  We’ll be back in Cheyenne, WY over Memorial Day and for Pat’s nephew Tyler’s high school graduation on June 1st.

June

Adding the state of South Dakota to the mix to visit the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore.  Another anchor point during the 4th weekend for Pat’s family gathering at Rush No More RV Park in Sturgis.  More SD until month end.

July

Moving on up into Montana since we missed it in 2017.  Hopefully no fires this year.  We’ll spend the 4th of July at Lewis & Clark Caverns in Cardwell, MT. (holiday reservation)

August

Finally we’ll get to Glacier National Park since we bypassed that, too, in 2017 due to fires.  From there we’re loosely following in the footsteps of another traveling couple’s previous trip, and will head west to Washington state.

September

Washington and Oregon are on the list.  I’ll likely fly from Portland back to Florida for a crafty weekend with my buddies Barbara & Patti later in the month.  We do need Labor Day reservations, but we haven’t gotten that far just yet.

October & November

We’ll be making our way south and catching Northern California and Nevada on our way to our winter reservations.  Lassen National Park is on the list for a California stop.

December

Christmas in Tucson this year!  We have this booked, and just need to work on the rest of the winter.  Ah, but that’ll be 2019 and a little too far out to think on just yet.

That’s the current plan and subject to change.  Sound like fun?  We’re open to rendezvous-ing with friends and family along the way, so if any of this grabs you, let us know.  We can make you an anchor point and set a date!  See you on the way.

 

Marble Falls for Christmas

November 28 – December 31

Doesn’t that sound like something out of “It’s a Wonderful Life”?  We choose this spot for December based on the recommendation of nice strangers we met in Pensacola waaaaay back in March.  I was having a hard time finding a reasonably priced place that fit our preferences in the hill country of Texas.  I was worried all the way here that I committed us to a whole month somewhere and we wouldn’t like it.  We weren’t sure on the drive in, but this turned out to be the perfect spot for us to finish out 2017.

The Houston Stop

Of course we have one short stop before unwinding in Marble Falls.  Our friends Steve & Ann who moved from DeLand are in Houston with their son Jason, so we only needed to make a slight detour to visit.  We wanted to meet Jason’s wife Phuong and new baby Noah.  So great to catch up with old Florida friends and count fingers and toes on such a sweet child.

 

 

They came to visit us at the campground on Lake Conroe just outside of Houston.  That was as close as we wanted to get to Houston in Lucy.  Ann and I took turns sitting in the big chairs they had in the park.

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Here’s Pat on the campground ‘Jumping Pillow’.  We’d never seen one, but essentially it’s a huge trampoline mound even with the ground.  Felt kind like jumping up and down on a giant kickball.  We took off our shoes and laughed.

Sunset Point on Lake LBJ

After the quick Houston stop, we finally make it to our last destination of the year and campsite number 100!  It’s been over 14,000 miles of travel for us since we began our roll in 2017.  We’ve decided being stationary is the goal every December.  For this year, Sunset Point on Lake LBJ will be “home” and we’re looking forward to the downtime.

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From the top of our rock at Sunset Point.  The name doesn’t lie.  I took some pretty good sunset shots, but there was one night that was truly stunning.  No phone or camera, so I just had to practice being in the moment.

 

A few more to showcase our serene setting for December.  We’re not close to trains, planes or automobiles.  In fact, this park sits right next to the Wirtz Dam with an access road 2.5 miles long off the main highway.  So quiet and peaceful at night and the park is such a nice size.  Not too big, but big enough for a good walkabout with Jackson.

 

If Jackson could rate our stops this year, I’m guessing this one would be at the top of his list.  Lots of wildlife to watch including deer, cows, horses and coots, plus a swimming hole.  He was so very happy plunging into the lake to fetch sticks.

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All that swimming wears a guy out.  We did our share of resting, too.

 

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It really is a beautiful spot, but a different kind of beautiful than the rest of the year.  A rugged, desert-y kind of beauty with lots of prickly pear cactus and pink granite.  In fact the whole area is granite.

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This is Granite Mountain, right down the road from Sunset Point.  You’re looking at the 866 foot tall dome on 180 acres and it’s the largest quarry of it’s kind in the United States.  They’re cutting slices of pink granite like pieces of birthday cake.  Every restaurant in town has granite tabletops.

Austin Roller Derby

One of our favorite movies is ‘Whip It’ and tells the story of a high school girl who lies about her age and joins an Austin roller derby team.  It’s a coming of age movie about the women who aren’t afraid to get bruised and bloody playing this contact sport.  Anyway, we decide we really need to go see the action in person, and it goes on our list of things to do in our travels.  What do you know!?  The Texas Roller Derby House Cup is being held in Austin the day after we arrive in Marble Falls.  We are so there since it’s only about an hour away.

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I’ll say in advance, the pictures stink, but I’m putting a few in anyway.  Here are the team flags for the TXRD league.  Also, this is not an event for feminists.  These gals all about low cut tops, short shorts and fishnet stockings.  If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and use it to shove the opponents around.

 

This event was actually a fund-raiser and the normal league divided up into the four Harry Potter Houses.  Gryffindor was the winner this year after a hard fought battle against Hufflepuff.

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Here’s my best shot showing just how fast-paced this is.  Most of the time I was still trying to figure out what happened in each jam.  We ate tacos from the food truck, watched the action in a warehouse, and had the full Austin experience.

Longhorn Caverns

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Our second outing was to Longhorn Cavern State Park.  We took a 1.5 hour walking tour in the cavern and marveled at the geology of the area.  This limestone cavern was named for the longhorn cattle skeletons found below ground when the caves were cleared back in the 1930s.  The cattle fell into sinkholes, and if they survived the fall, couldn’t get out of the caves.DSC00347

Here’s a little girl we met on the tour.  She’s an Eastern Pipistrelle bat and likes to hang out alone.  We saw a few scattered throughout the cavern.  The male bats have a different “man cave” according to our guide and they really don’t know where are at this time of year.  We were going to to bring Jackson to walk the above ground trails, but they were closed for hunting season.  Jackson is deathly afraid of loud noises, particularly gunfire, so we don’t want any part of hunting season.

Remember The Alamo

Pat’s never been to San Antonio, so it was high on the list of outings.  After we wear out Jackson for the day we take off for the big city.

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The Alamo is our first stop and we tour the grounds.

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My favorite quote of the day was from Davy Crockett, who was at the Alamo.  He was there after losing his re-election bid to congress.  During the campaign he told his constituents “You may all go to Hell, and I will go to Texas”, that is if they didn’t vote for him.  True to his word, he went to Texas, and there he died.

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After our Alamo history lesson, we had dinner under the colorful umbrellas on the river walk.  Another Mexican food dinner with lots of spectators.

 

They want our tortilla chips – they really do.

 

After dinner we walked back by the Alamo on the way to the car.  It’s lovely lit up at night along with the gigantic oak tree on the grounds.  I liked the night view best.

Enchanted Rock

Everyone told us we needed to see cute little Fredericksburg.  We were done with our holiday shopping and didn’t feel like walking around town, so I found an outdoor outing close to Fredericksburg –  Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.  That sounded like just the ticket to get some real hiking in.

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Enchanted Rock – a pink granite dome rising up in the hill country.

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Up we go on the summit trail.

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Our shadow photo at the top.

 

The views from the top of the granite dome.  A fantastic day in December and a great hike, followed by a steak dinner in Fredericksburg.

Christmas 2017

 

 

It’s the Christmas season, so we’re able to see lots of pretty light displays.  It seems like every town around has a walkway of lights and Marble Falls is no exception.  We had to wait through several bad weather days, but finally had our chance for the walk complete with hot chocolate and apple cider.

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We’re all decorated for Christmas and it took a lot less work than in the big house.  We got the three ceramic trees at a town holiday craft fair.  The potter had so many beautiful things.  We also bought two small plates so we can eat our sandwiches and remember Marble Falls.  The tiny pewter nativity scene is from a gift shop at the National Harbor.  The large nativity scene was one of the few decorations that made the cut for RV travel, and the smaller angel is my Alabama clay souvenir from Montgomery.

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And here is Pat grilling out by our tacky attempt at a light show.  We kept three strands of lights from the sticks and bricks house.  Somehow it’s not quite what I had envisioned.  We’ve taken them down now and donated them to the RV resort.  Next year we’ll figure out something more Lucy appropriate and pleasing to the eye.

Auld Lang Syne

This has been a perfect stop for us.  We’ve met some nice fellow travelers and completed a few upgrades to Lucy to make ourselves more comfortable.  Pat swapped out the front speakers, we installed a magnetic shade on the windshield, installed “faux” tile in the bathroom, sealed a leak in the shower, and Lucy got a spa day.  The guys that washed and waxed her accused us of off-roading.  (We told them it WAS off-roading in the Yukon.)  Jackson even got all his vaccinations up to date, including the rattlesnake vaccine.  I think we’ll miss this place where the carillon across the lake plays ‘Joy to the World’ every hour on the hour, and the birds come sailing in to roost every evening.

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Yes, pelicans and geese.

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Day is done, gone the sun.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year and are looking forward to new adventures in 2018.  See you on the way!

Deep in the Heart of Texas

October 29 – November 28

We were Texans once.  In fact, Ethan was born in the Lone Star State.  Our goal for Winter is to spend some quality time where we used to live, and then stay as warm as possible in the hill country.

Oklahoma

Before we can check off Texas on the camping map, we need to scoot through Oklahoma.  Our reservations in the DFW area don’t begin until November 1st, so we have a little time to kill.  Our token Oklahoma stop is a two night stay in the Turkey Flats campground in Arrowhead State Park.  A very nice lake and another peaceful spot with hardly anyone about.

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Tucked back into the trees of Turkey Flats

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“I Smell Bacon” is a cute little diner in Eufala, OK.  It looked to be our best bet for lunch one day and yes, we did have bacon.  (Sorry for the weird crop job on the photo.  Making them smaller to save space on the blog website sometimes results in things getting chopped that aren’t intended and I’m too lazy and too far behind to go back and re-do them.)

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The funniest part of that stop?  I looked at the gas station next door as we were leaving.  Yep, it’s really and truly named “I Smell Gas”.

Texans Again

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Pat and Jackson at the Texas welcome center on I-35.  We picked up sacks full of hill country tourist brochures.

For lunch that day we saw a billboard that perked us both right up.  And I heard those three little words every gal longs to hear….”Welcome to Moes!”.  Yes, the long Mexican food drought is officially over.  I know it’s fast food Mexican, but that’ll do for now.

We decided to stop at Lake Ray Roberts for our first night in Texas and camped at Isle Du Bois Campground right on the lake.  That left us with about 70 miles to our Arlington destination in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex.  We need a short drive and our wits about us to navigate that spaghetti mess of highways in big Lucy.  I studied hard and figured out the least painful path to Treetops RV Resort in the heart of the city.

Friends, Food & Retail

This is the shopping mecca we’ve sorely needed.  The RV park in Arlington is only a block from a Super Target, three blocks from a huge mall, and close to every restaurant and craft store I can name.  Normally we wouldn’t want to be that close to so much commotion, but it gets us near to lots of friends and reasonably close to Wendy and her family.  I need me some Wendy time, and she’s hosting us for Thanksgiving, too.

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But first, some of my favorite work buddies who live in the area meet me for a Mexican dinner.  Celeste, Ann, Kelly & Rayna all pose for my camera.  Ann took a pic with me in it, but my eyes were closed.  This one was much better since all the friends were included.  I haven’t seen them since my retirement party, so it was good to catch up and hear about all the current projects and stuff I’ve worked hard to forget.

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We were lucky enough to be in town for Wendy & Dave’s wedding anniversary and they invited us to join them for a night out in downtown Grapevine.  Such a fun couple. They were so good to me back when I was in Texas and Pat was still in the Navy in Virginia.  I was at their house all the time back in the early nineties.  On this particular evening, we sampled wine flights, ate fru-fru snacks and enjoyed live music at a local wine bar.

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This stop was also a chance to reconnect with our old friend Nancy.  We met her at church in Irving at least 25 years ago.  Ethan came along after that and then her lovely daughter Lauren.  We have such cute pictures of them playing and smooching as toddlers.  This is a shot from our bowling outing.  Fortunately we all stink at bowling, so it was great fun.

This month-long stop also involves LOTS of eating out.  Taco Cabana, Saltgrass Steakhouse, Cheesecake Factory, Pei Wei, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, Blue Goose Cantina, Mi Cocina, Firehouse Subs, Jimmy John’s, and the list goes on.  We love it, and the dining out budget is blown.

And then there’s retail.  I make the rounds to all the craft stores – Michael’s, Hobby Lobby & Joann’s.  Wendy even joins me for a card making class at Michael’s.  We’re also able to finish off Christmas shopping and visit Kohl’s and the Amazon pop-up store at the Parks Mall.  (I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas).  This is also our opportunity to binge on Amazon Prime orders, and we’re able to finally buy a replacement convection oven at the local Camping World.  Now we can bake cookies, cakes, and biscuits again without firing up the propane oven.

Our biggest purchases, though, are a new mattress for us and a new memory foam bed for Jackson.  I’m much less anxious about purchasing Jackson’s bed online than purchasing our own.  Unfortunately, Jackson doesn’t really like his new bed, but at least we love ours.  Here’s the thing.  Just how do you get rid of an old mattress in a campground?  Toting one to the dumpster is a little obvious, so Pat hatches a plan.  He buys a $10 bolt cutter at Harbor Freight and we proceed to dismantle the mattress spring by spring.  A few hours and two contractor bags later, we are rid of the old mattress.

Jackson’s Time

The RV park didn’t have a lot of places to walk Jackson, so we ended up strolling through close by neighborhoods.  Veteran’s Memorial Park in Arlington turned out to be the best place for him, with both paved and dirt trails, a duck pond, and some beautiful memorial statues.

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Jackson also makes a new friend at Wendy’s house.  Grace’s new puppy, Heineken, is even more shiny than Jackson and full of energy.  She’s crazy energetic!  Grace is on the floor in this picture since she’s recently had knee surgery and this is the safest way to play with these two nutty dogs.

Crafty Day

Once upon a time, Wendy was a scrapbooking buddy of mine.  It’s been a while since we were able to do any crafting together, but we’re able to set aside a Saturday for some creative fun.  I agree to bring the stuff we need and she’ll provide the kitchen table.  Her daughter Grace joins us, and together we all try a technique called a dirty pour.  With a You Tube video and acrylic paint at the ready, we get messy.

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Here’s the mess we made with our acrylic pours.

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Here’s Wendy’s canvas….

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Here’s mine…

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And the hands-down favorite created by Grace.  Loved this purple canvas so much!  We also made a bunch of cards and had a great time.

Thanksgiving

Over a year ago I’m on the phone with Wendy while we’re RVing in Florida, and I have a brainstorm.  This is when I proceed to invite ourselves to her house in Texas for Thanksgiving.  We’ll even fly Ethan in I say.  And the date is set.  Thanksgiving 2017 is finally approaching and we’re awaiting our boy for a week.

 

The whole Iverson family on Thanksgiving Day.  Also, Ethan and the girls – Grace, Marina & Erin.  Finally, me and my good buddy Wendy.  It was a grand day at her house with the whole family.  We ate like kings and she did her best to school me on making gravy.  I was able to make a sweet potato casserole and a corn casserole in the new convection oven to contribute to the meal.

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I think Ethan’s favorite moment of the day was driving Wendy’s Tesla.  That’s his dream car.

Our Family Christmas Outing

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Starting when Ethan was four, we got season tickets to the children’s theater at Casa Manana in Fort Worth.  It was his first exposure to live theater and we all loved it.  He used to say we were going to an “act out”.  When I started planning our Thanksgiving week of activities, I noted that the children’s Christmas play was opening for the season.  He was game for attending so I got tickets.  The rest of the families were bringing their children, so here I am with my boy.  What fun we had at ‘Santa Clause the New Musical’.

Ethan actually got to spend 5 nights with us in the motorhome and we had such a great visit.  We relaxed, ate out, and we even did a little shopping.  Ethan and I always enjoy clothes shopping together.  Jackson was thrilled to have his boy “home” for the holiday, too.  It’s a little cozy in Lucy with the three of us and Jackson, but seems to work fine for short visits.  Plus, Ethan seems to like small spaces just like we do.  It’s our first Christmas without Ethan this year, but such a grand Thanksgiving surely helped.

Next up, we bug out a few days early to head down to Houston to meet up with old friends and a new baby.  See you on the way!

 

Top of the Rock

October 24-28, 2017

Back in Springfield from our quick junket to Maryland, and back in our RV home.  We wondered what it would be like in a hotel room after over nine months of full-timing.  We found ourselves sitting in corners because we weren’t used to such space.  We could let the water run as long as we wanted in the shower, but other than that, we’re happy being back in Lucy.  Our tiny house is still the favorite.

Top of the Rock

For this stay in Springfield, we have some time to do a little sight-seeing in the area.  My friend Catherine recommends a trip to Branson to the Top of the Rock and it sounds perfect.

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A great view of Table Rock Lake awaits.  This is the goal on the Lost Canyon Cave & Nature Trail.  For this trail you get a golf cart and ride through a cave and past waterfalls and rock formations.

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And away we go.

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This is really a beautiful place and the rock layers never end.

Here’s the entrance to the cave complete with a bar for imbibing while you drive past the cave waterfalls.

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They were decorated for halloween, so we had a little fun with the decorations that distracted a bit from the beautiful spots.

A few more views from the trail.

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Waterfalls, waterfalls, and more waterfalls.

The Spoiling of Jackson

We were so grateful to Dee and Kurt for watching our baby puppy for the week.  It did come with a price though.  They spoil their three dogs rotten and Jackson was included in the routine.  Dee cooks up chicken every night to add to the food bowls.  Beau, Sophie and Taz let Jackson join the fray as long as he let them get first dibs on the treats.  And now that Jackson is back with us?  He expects some sort of meat topping for his kibble.  He loved it at their house and I think he would have happily stayed with them.

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield & Lunch

Jackson needed a new place for walking, so we took him to Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.  It has a nice long driving loop with stops along the way with historical battle information and short trails.

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I didn’t take many pictures, but did shoot a few of the colorful leaves.

After our walkabout we looked up a close-by lunch spot.  We didn’t realize it but we found a permanent food truck.  Turned out to be some of the best sandwiches we’d had in a while.  The cook carmelized the cheese on top of our sandwiches and they were delicious!  We ate in the car with Jackson and passed him gooey cheesy bites.

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If you’re ever in Battlefield, MO, stop by the BillyNeck Food Station and sample some great sandwich creations.

1984

Before we headed out of town, Dee & Kurt took us to 1984, a vintage video game arcade in downtown Springfield.  My old favorite is Moon Patrol and I won at that one.  Pat won all the shooting and race car games.  I tried my hand again at Qbert – still stink at it.  I also played a little Pac Man and Frogger.  It was like being transported back to the 80s and tons of fun.

Ah but winter is still chasing and I think it finally caught up with us this time.  The weather is dropping into the 20s at night and we have to disconnect our water to prevent freezing of the lines.  It is definitely time to head farther south.

Next up – we’re back in the Lone Star State.  See you on the way!

Springfield & Checking On Our Boy

October 15-28, 2017

This is our second time around in Springfield and it’s a town we really like.  Not too big, not too small and a good campground for visiting with Pat’s sister Dee, brother-in-law Kurt and their dog pack.  We’re looking forward to it more than ever since the temps are falling and winter is chasing us in earnest.

Peculiar

Our original plan was to leave the historic bridges behind and make our way to a nice RV resort in Peculiar, Missouri.  I just liked the name of the town and the distance was about right.  We arrived only to find the place completely full!  We’ve only had that happen one other time in our non-reservation travels.  Fortunately they recommended a place just 10 miles down the road.  The Woods at Plaza Drive turned out to be a weird campground with no office at all in an industrial area.  Looks like we got some “peculiar” after all.  The whole check-in and payment took place over the phone and we never saw a soul in charge.  Just for the night, so we went with it.

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Hooking up Bitsy to leave our “peculiar” spot.  Bizarre is perhaps a better term.

Springfield KOA Take Two

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Back at the Springfield/Route 66 KOA.  All settled in at site 10 and we are very comfy.  We get caught up on laundry and take a walk on familiar trails near the Rutledge-Wilson Farm.

They are all decked out for Halloween and the haunted hay rides.

I’m able to visit with my high school/college buddy Catherine again at dinner.  Our little mini 35th HS reunion since we both missed that in DeLand this year.  We also give Catherine and hubby Randy the grand Lucy tour while we’re in town before a dinner outing.  And we are such fools and all forget to take any pictures.at.all.  Just means we’ll have to go back.

Dee & Kurt host us for dinner at their house so we can drop off Jackson.  They have graciously agreed to adopt him for the week so we can take a trip to Maryland to see our boy.  I’m soooo happy since we haven’t seen Ethan since Christmas 2016 due to our vagabond ways and his busy schedule.  This will be the first time since January 1st that we’ve slept or showered anywhere but in Lucy.  I’m a little worried we’ll be too spoiled from the hotel experience.

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Ethan gives us the grand tour of his virology laboratory at the University of Maryland.  Actually it belongs to his primary investigator/professor, but he is her first grad student and helped to set up the lab and order the equipment & supplies.

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We are so very proud of this young man.  Ethan indulges me and poses in front of the scientific poster that features his name first on the author list.  Hopefully a first of many posters and publications to his credit.  He’s able to show us the special cell lines they’re growing for experiments and we get a peek through the microscope.  Brings back memories from my med tech days.

Sloth Bears

Our big outing with Ethan and his girlfriend Stephanie is to Washington, DC to see the sights.  Stephanie really wanted another crack at seeing the sloth bears, so we headed to the National Zoo.  Those bears have been hard to spot in recent visits since they don’t like it too hot.  Fortunately we get there just in time for a feeding and get a grand performance from the female sloth bear.  She sucked termites through this long hose.  Amazing suction!

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You’ll have to settle for this sign about the bears.  She bear was behind a big plexi-glass wall, so photos didn’t turn out.  She’s getting a male companion soon, but he was in quarantine at this time so we couldn’t check him out.  She’s apparently VERY interested and knows he’s in there.

The zoo was closing soon for a halloween event, so we didn’t get to see much after the sloth bears, but we’re considering it mission accomplished.  The cheetah says don’t look at me, but the gazelles were a curious bunch.

Smithsonian Art Museum

We hop back on the Metro and head to the National Mall.  I just want a quick spin around one of the art museums and we settle on the National Gallery of Art West Building.  I’m sure the kids weren’t overly enthused about this stop, but when you start seeing such famous pieces by the great masters, you can’t help but get into it a little.

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Monet and ‘The Japanese Footbridge’.  Both Pat and I like the impressionists and Monet is one of the best.

A few other favorite images.  I didn’t know they have Van Gogh’s self-portrait here.  I just assumed it was in the Louvre.  Of course my earliest “schooling” in the masters comes from the kid’s game Masterpiece.  I remember playing it, and the goal is to get the million dollar painting and avoid the forgeries.  Each painting card in the game tells the artist and a bit about the paiting.  Here’s one I was delighted to find on the walls here…

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Renoir – Girl With a Watering Can

We asked one of the docents to tell us the most famous artist on display.  Leonardo da Vinci, of course!  And just like that, Stephanie is on the hunt.  It was exciting to see one of his works up close and personal.

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Leonardo da Vinci – Ginevra de’ Benci from 1478.  It’s not the Mona Lisa, but it is the only da Vinci on display in the Americas.

The Mall

We’ve been to the National Mall before, but you just can’t get enough of the bigger-than-life monuments and views you’ve seen in the media all your life.  A fast and furious day, but we managed to get in a few favorites.

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The Lincoln Memorial has always been my favorite and especially at night.  So astoundingly huge!

These two cuties posed for me probably more than they wanted to.  Just so nice to be here and with them.

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Our Nation’s Capitol

Last time we were here the building was covered in scaffolding and it really marred the beauty of the view.  I felt like it finally got its braces off and what pretty teeth it has!  And food trucks.  That really is America for you.  A contrast of the grand capitol surrounded by food on a stick.

I make Pat pose, too.  And then there’s the view from where Mr. Lincoln sits.

National Harbor

One more big outing with Ethan and Stephanie and it’s to the National Harbor.  We’re meeting up with Pat’s nephew Andy who’s stationed in DC for a year with National Guard duty.  Speaking of impressive young men, he definitely is one.

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Stephanie gets photo credit here for the family shot with “Marilyn”.  I don’t know why those two goobers on the left insist on leaning.  They do that in every picture when they stand together.  Andy and I try to act natural anyway.

So many cool statues on the waterfront.  The Awakening, Churchill, FDR, and Stephanie “can do it”!

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My favorite of the day with the harbor behind us.  Ethan and Momster.  I now have this one framed and on my bedside shelf.

Alas, but all good things must come to an end and we have to head back to Springfield.  Our “vacation” is over.  Stay tuned for the next post to finish off Springfield and the return to RV living.  See you on the way!