Thursday, February 25, 2010

Routine in Houston

Location, Houston, TX

We are in our Huston routine. We use the mornings and early afternoons to do computer stuff and read, Clyda does some scrap booking and I have been scanning old slides on to a hard drive. This slide scanning looks like a life long project. We also run errands in the morning. Yesterday we went to Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Costco. Today we went to H.E.B. for groceries and then to a used book store. I love H.E.B. It is the premier grocery store in this area I think. There is also a Kroger’s and a Randall’s nearby. All have their good points.

We each got in a walk although the wind is blowing but the temperature is 62 degrees. It would be real nice out if the wind wasn’t blowing.

I am using the Wifi here in the RV Park. It is run by Tengointernet which is a Good Sam company. I have used it in a couple of other parks on this trip. It is of course a pay service. I bought a months worth for our use as it was cheaper than the weekly rate. So far, we have had a good connection.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Happy birthday Ivy!

Location, Houston, TX

Happy Birthday Ivy!

Today is the big 9th birthday for our granddaughter. We were here for her birth 9 years ago. Hard to believe that much time has passed. More on the birthday celebration later.

We arrived in Huston Monday morning after an easy drive from College Station. It did rain most of the way but mostly sprinkles. We wanted to get checked into Traders Village before the big Sunday swap meet crowds arrived. Fortunately, we did arrive early as the crowds later in the day were the largest I have seen.

The change in temperatures was much appreciated after the cold up north. It has been cloudy and over cast most of the time with very brief sunshine in the afternoon. Today however, we are back to the old ways with rain and possible snow showers later today. Hopefully, it will all stay to the north of us.

We plan to be here for three weeks before going south for a week of camping around Rockport and then heading west for home.

Friday, February 19, 2010

George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Library.

Location, College Station, TX

A much warmer night last night. We are in a short warming trend right now but it will moderate by this weekend. It has been over caste all day today which keeps the night temperature up some.

We visited the George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Library today. It is an impressive building located on the west side of the Texas A & M University campus.

The inside is laid out in a series of partial circles which chronicle Bush’s life. It is well done with a surprising amount of materiel displayed. The red rug was a gift from Kuwait after its liberation during Desert Storm.

Outside of the library is a statue which represents the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. The horses are depicted jumping over the wall signifying the dash for freedom. The Berlin wall came down during Bush’s time as president.

We spent several hours touring the museum.

We will watch the Olympics on TV again tonight.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

College Station, home of Texas A & M University

Location, College Station, TX

We left Fredericksburg on Sunday and drove east on Hwy 290 to Johnson City and then north on Hwy 281 to Evant before turning east on Hwy 84 to Waco, TX and the Riverview RV Park on the southeast side.

It was a little disconcerting to drive the road to the RV park as there was water standing everywhere from all the rain the week before. It was very cold when we arrived so I rushed through the setup.

We drove back to town and through the Baylor University campus where our daughter-in-law Diane went to college. It is a very nice campus.

We were close to down town so Clyda suggested we go to the original Dr Pepper bottling plant. I thought it wasn’t open on Sunday but people were going in so we did also. For a $5 fee you can do a self guided tour of the old plant. Afterwards we had a fountain Dr Pepper in the little refreshment area. I think there was more syrup in this drink than normally found in a can of Dr Pepper as it was quit good.

On Monday morning we drove north to Greenville. The Temperature stayed in the 30’s all day. We parked in Bill and Marilyn’s driveway and partook of their hospitality for the next three days. We always enjoy spending time with them.

The temperatures at night were 28-29 degrees and in the 40’s during the day. We kept a small electric heater on most of the day in the RV so it wouldn’t be so cold when we went to bed at night.

Still snow in the neighbors yard this morning. It is what's left from the 10.5 inches last week.

This morning we drove back south to College Station where we will be for 3 days. College Station is the home of Texas A & M University and also the George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Library. We will visit it tomorrow.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Texas driving.

Location, Fredericksburg, TX

What’s with Texas driving? The first thing you notice when you exit a freeway is the quick and sometimes sharp exit to a frontage road paralleling the freeway. As you exit you need to watch for traffic on the frontage road coming in on your right while trying to maneuver into the correct lane to make your turn up ahead. It really throws people the first time they encounter this. Entrances to a freeway are the reverse of the exit maneuver again from a frontage road.

Another Texas traffic oddity is the practice of driving on the shoulder on a two lane road where no passing is possible. Slower traffic moves to the shoulder which is as wide as a regular lane, while traffic passes. This also takes some getting used to as the shoulder in some places is not wide enough to drive on especially when encountering a bridge. It is more like Russian roulette.

I won’t even try to explain how to get from one side of the freeway to the other at an underpass. That one really throws people the first time they encounter it.

It is hard to get moving in the morning here as the sun doesn’t come up early in the central time zone. It has been 8 AM most days before I am up. Of course, it is also cold so that keeps me in bed longer.

After getting going this morning we drove to Kerrville to visit the Western Art Museum. We had tried to do this on one of our first trips to Fredericksburg years ago but it happened to be closed that day. Our recollection was that the museum was a cowboy museum; however, it is an art museum. Nothing spectacular on display but then again we didn’t pay for admittance as the local grocery chain H.E.B. paid for all of February.

A large bronze casting in front of the museum.

After lunch we drove north of Fredericksburg to Enchanted Rock State Park. This is a granite dome much like those in Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately, this was not the weekend to visit as it is Valentines weekend and Presidents day, hence a three day weekend with the park jammed with boy Scouts, and families camping and hiking. The entrance fee was $6 each and every parking spot was filled.

We got one of the last spots and decided to hike the shortest trail to the summit. This trail is only 0.6 of a mile but most of it is up. The summit is 1825 feet and is a classic dome. Clyda made it to the base of the dome and decided to stop while I went up further to take a few photos. There really isn’t much to see except more Texas brush and post oaks in all directions.

Crossing the river on the way to the Rock.
The Rock.
Seepe up hill from here.
Looking back down.

We returned to town and topped of the fuel tank in the truck and picked up a few groceries at H.E.B.

More Olympics tonight.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Burger Heaven!

Location, Fredericksburg, TX

Today was burger heaven, but more on that later.

The rain stopped shortly after we arrived at Fredericksburg RV Park but it was cold. The temperature hovered at 36 degrees until we went to bed. It was 33 when we got up this morning. It stayed in the forty's all day but the sun did come out in the afternoon.

After breakfast, we slowly got our act together and headed out for the day. Our first stop was at Wal-Mart to get some photos printed. They were so un-busy that we had the prints in 8 minutes. Probably a record.

We topped off the fuel tank in the truck at $2.71 per gallon and then drove to the Wildseed Farm east off town on Hwy 290. We have been passing by this place forever as there are no plants growing at this time of year. This place is more than plants however. The architecture of the buildings made from recycled wood is spectacular. The farm grows and harvests all kinds of wild flowers and these are packaged for sale. They also sell lots of garden “gee-gaws”.

There is a small restaurant and a wine bar in one of the buildings and a large outdoor area used for gatherings. Oh, there are 8 cats on the premises as well.

On the way back to town we stopped at a store which had lots of large western style antiques. Inside were two western chuck wagons. One looked to be authentic with lots of tools and boxes attached to it. The other was a recent copy made by an Amish craftsman while authentic looking, lacked the ageing and attached tools. The owner told us that the authentic chuck wagon had been recently sold to a local ranch.

Jail for sale, 2 cells, $6500. This one is sold. 

The August 2009 edition of Texas Monthly featured and article on The 50 Best Burgers in Texas. The number 3 place is near Fredericksburg. It is called the Alamo Springs Café and is located 10.5 miles south of town on the Old San Antonio Road next to the Bat Cave. No kidding!

We drove down in mid afternoon for a late lunch hoping for less of a crowd. There were people but no crowd. After getting our own drinks and table service we got a table immediately. The building is nothing to write about, just a building. It was moved to the site from Fredericksburg according to the owner who by the way, is related to the people who started In-and-Out Burger.

Everything is ala carte so we ordered an appetizer of breaded portabella mushrooms (on a recommendation from a neighbor table), a burger to which lots of extras can be added (we shared), and a basket of fries.

The burger was excellent. Meaty, tasty, and half was enough. No dinner tonight I think.

This is another Texas institution I can check off my list. I think a repeat visit is in order the next time we are through here.

We did check out the bat cave viewing area but the bats are not here until April. It is a nightly happening to come watch the bats leave the cave to feed about dusk.

After checking out a few stores in downtown Fredericksburg, we returned to the RV and prepared to watch the opening ceremonies of the winter Olympics.

Rain and cold!

Location, Fredericksburg, TX

We have made a great leap east in the last two days and now are at Fredericksburg RV Park. We have made this our home park for the last several years as we pass this way. I am looking forward to eating at the Alamo Springs Café tomorrow. It was voted the third best hamburger in Texas recently.

Our trip from Deming to Balmorhea, TX was uneventful. It was very cold in Deming when we left in the morning. We passed through El Paso about 11 AM which is about the best time as the traffic isn’t too bad. In fact, I think there was only about a third of the traffic as other years. The economy I guess.

This trip we decided to stay at a different RV park than the State Park at Balmorhea. We used Passport America and stayed at Saddleback RV Park east of Balmorhea. There is not much at the off ramp but a greatly diminished gas station, a truck parking lot in the back, a defunct bar and the RV Park. Pay at the gas station and choose a spot for $10. The RV Park was well kept with water, electric and sewer, long pull thru sites, and lots of space between sites. Certainly ok for a one night stop.

It sprinkled during the night but was only overcast in the morning as well as cold. About Ft Stockton we ran into the rain. Not much rain, just enough to use the wipers occasionally. Until we got near Junction, TX where it did come down and lasted until we turned south towards our turnoff on Hwy 290 to Fredericksburg. The temperature today never got above 40 degrees as we traveled. At one point it was 34 degrees within 20 miles of here. I expected snow at any time.

I had calculated that we had enough fuel to get to Fredericksburg but forgot about all the hills on 290 so I stopped in Harper and put in $20 worth. I probably should have filled it as the price was $2.869 per gallon. I think it is $2.77 or so here.

I set up in the rain which was mostly sprinkles so not to bad. The TV said that it is all snow to the north of us. I hope it goes away before we leave for Greenville east of Dallas on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wine tasting in Deming

Location, Deming, NM

We finished up our stay in Benson at Cochise Terrace yesterday with a pot luck dinner at the club house. We met some great people while we were there. Our hosts, Mike and Candi went out of there way to make our stay enjoyable.

Our drive today was uneventful, just as we like it. We arrived in Deming at “A Little Vineyard RV Park” about 12:30. After setting up and lunch we ran some errands. I needed to fill a tank with propane and Clyda needed to go to the Post Office. After doing that we drove east of town to the St Clair Winery. I had read about this winery on Semi-True Tales of Our life on the Road, a blog by Laurie Brown. They are a large winery with the capability of producing 500,000 gallons each year. They are increasing their plantings by 20 acres a year and now produce over 32 different wines. They are the 14th largest winery by volume in the USA.

One unique thing about this winery is that they sell bulk wine in half gallon jugs. The customer can call for a blend of reds or whites suiting their palate. The jugs are of course refillable.

As many times as we had stopped here in Deming we never thought to check out this winery. It is truly a hidden gem.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

Location, Benson, AZ

We had a down day yesterday with the rain lasting most of the day. Last night we watched the Super Bowl game which I thought was one of the better played games in recent history. At least it had some excitement.

It was very cold overnight with temperatures around 32 degrees. Lots of frost on everything this morning.

Today we went to the Tucson Gem and Mineral show. The show is really huge and is spread all over the city. In parking lots, hotel ball rooms, hotel rooms, grass fields (which after the rain yesterday were mud today), anywhere a tent or sales table can be set up. We spent all our time at the Electric Park display area east of Tucson.

Mike, Candi and Ed having a tailgate lunch.

While much of the materiel for sale is jewelry or things to make jewelry, there are also lots and lots of rocks. Rocks by the pound or by the ton. There are also lots of other crafts and artifacts. An endless variety of stuff. I was very good today, I didn’t spend anything. Clyda, however did buy some things.

Wine rack anyone?
Actually, this is what is left after cores are cut from which slabs are then cut for coasters.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Busy in Benson

Location, Benson, AZ

Plans for today are on hold as it is rainy and windy. We were going to go to the Dragoon Mountains and visit Cochise’ stronghold. Maybe tomorrow.

Yesterday, we packed a picnic lunch and Mike and Candi picked us up for a trip south to Rattlesnake Ranch and the old town of Gleason. We drove south of Benson on Hwy 90 to Sierra Vista then to Tombstone where we drove a dirt road for 11 miles to the entrance to Rattlesnake Ranch.

This is a really unique place with collections of old artifacts grouped by kind and type. An old trailer holds all the rattlesnake items for sale. Rattlers are caught by the owner and the skins are processed into consumer items. Things like belt buckles, cell phone cases, belts, purses, hat bands, ear rings, etc. Payment is left in a box along with a description of the item bought. All on the honor system.

From Rattlesnake Ranch we drove to the old town site of Gleason where we discovered the recently restored jail was now opened as a museum. It is only open on the first Saturday of each month. Our lucky day!

After a short tour and conversation with a local we had a tailgate lunch.

Candi, Clyda, and Mike.

Later, we explored the old school house and nearby old buildings. All of these are on private property but you can drive by.

Old mine cable used as rebar.

We then drove towards Interstate 10 but first stopped at a wild life viewing area where hundreds of sandhill cranes were resting next to a small slough. We had earlier seen a large flight of sandhill cranes flying overhead while at Rattlesnake Ranch. The birds migrate each day to southern feeding grounds and then return back to the sanctuary. It is estimated that 26,000 cranes spend the winter here.

We visited the old town of Cochise as well as a small RV park on Triangle T Road near Texas Canyon summit on I-10. At night we can see traffic coming down I-10 from Texas Canyon in what the locals call “The Snake” named for the S-turn the highway makes on its way to Benson.

Last night we attended a steak and salmon dinner at the clubhouse and then were treated to an evening of stories and music by Ralph Grasso who played guitar for many of Hollywoods movies and musicians. Ralph is famous for creating the music for the Pink Panther, Peter Gunn, and many more. Look him up on the internet. If you are interested.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Moving on to Benson, AZ

Location, Benson, AZ

We left Casa Grande Friday morning about 10 AM after spending 3 days with Clyda’s cousin Rodney and his wife Claralyn. It was a very nice visit. I caught up on some of my computer stuff using Rod’s Wifi.

The drive to Benson was quite easy even with all the trucks on I-10 going into Tucson from Phoenix. We arrived at Cochise Terrace RV Park about noon. This is a very nice park with three separate sections. There is the RV Park, a lot owners section and a home owners section. Our friends Mike and Candi live in the home owners section in a very nice manufactured home.

We were invited to attend a birthday celebration at 1 Pm in the club house for one of the park residents. A local band had been hired for music and cake was served. It was a nice way to meet lots of people.

Mike drove us around Benson and then down to Tombstone and back showing us all the local high lights from the old west. We had been to Tombstone before but Mike really knows the local history so it made for a nice day. Later, we had pizza at their house.

This morning we went to breakfast at the club house. We have packed a lunch for a day trip with Mike and Candi. Hopefully, we will have pictures to show later.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

In Casa Grande

Location, Casa Grande, AZ

Yesterday we moved on to Casa Grande and are camped at the Elks Club. They have only eight back-in sites available with no utilities but water. Then again, the price is right at $5 per night. The club is located on Florence, the main street in town and is somewhat noisy. The trains also ran all night with whistles at every crossing and there are a lot of crossings.

We had intended to leave yesterday morning but my RV batteries were giving me problems so I had an appointment for 2 PM at Discount Solar in Quartzsite to replace them. We arrived just be 2 and within a half hour were ready to go with two new Trojan T105RE batteries and a lot lighter in the wallet.

We arrived in Casa Grande at 6:15 PM just as the sun set. It was meeting night at the Elks so I was worried about access to the RV sights as the parking lot is usually full for that. No problem however as I could easily pull down a row of vehicles and back straight into the site.

After paying, we drove to Clyda’s cousin’s house for dinner. They only live 3 miles from the Elks Club. We didn’t get back to the RV until almost 11 PM.

Today is laundry and grocery shopping and dinner tonight with cousin and niece.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Moving on

Location, Quartzsite, AZ

Just a quick post as Wifi in Q is spotty at best. We are fine, weather is good, we are leaving tomorrow for Casa Grande. Will post when we have better internet.