Thursday, April 30, 2009

Doug's New Project

Doug tried out a new hobby today. He loves to cook, barbecue and now use his smoker.

We found a good deal on pork and beef and Doug found an old fashioned meat grinder at a garage sale. So of course, the natural result is home-made sausage.

He started with a simple summer sausage recipe from the little book included with the sausage making kit. The kit included casings for stuffing, a long filler tube and a pusher stick. First, he slides the casing onto the tube.

Then, using the pusher stick, he fills the casings with the seasoned meat. When the sausage casing is firm, Doug ties the top securely with the included string.

Now it's time for the fun part. We had a nice day with little wind and no rain forecast, so Doug fired up the smoker and loaded the six summer sausage into it.

They looked so professional hanging there neatly.

And the final result after a full day of smoking! OMG! Not only do they look beautiful but they taste wonderful. Another successful day. Wish you were here to share!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Day to Remember

We spent most of the afternoon getting the feel of Tyler. Our first stop, of course, was at the visitor information center. Considering the size of Tyler, we were pleasantly surprised at all of the things to see in the area. Next, we found the local post office so we could have our mail sent to us and then we drove around to get the layout of the town.

But, the best part was in the evening. We found our way to Cheddars Casual Cafe where we had the nicest reunion and dinner with my first set of kids, Barb and Theresa as well as their families.

Here we are waiting in the lobby with Theresa and her three angels. Her husband Jimmy had to work, but we'll catch up with him on Saturday.

And this is Barb with her husband David (on the right) and their youngest daughter Chelsea with her daughter Harley. (Hope I spelled those right!)

It's been years since we've been together and what a treat it was. We talked and ate and talked some more for over two hours. Harley was a two year old delight and it was so much fun to catch up with the grandkids I've hardly known. We have all changed so much, but the love in the room was strong with memories and emotions. We just can't go so long between visits!

Since everyone (except us) had to work in the morning, the evening was nowhere near long enough. But we already have plans to get together again.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Georgetown, Texas Sounds Mighty Good

Today was moving day and what a day we had! We were a little late getting out of the Medina Lake Thousand Trails park because the rain decided to dump and we were hoping we would get a break to take care of the outside chores. It never stopped, so we just got soaked and headed north.

The freeways around San Antonio were a nightmare. It's been so long since this part of Texas has had rain, they all forgot how to drive in it. The roads were slick with oil and rain, while the puddles became mini lakes. Nobody was doing the speed limit and it was very difficult to see.

We finally left San Antonio and after a diesel fill, we arrived in Austin. Our new Nuvi directed us off the freeway because of traffic problems in downtown Austin. After several miles of the loop highway, we discovered it's a toll road. Swell! Not having any idea of how much the tolls are here, we scrambled for some cash and twenty miles later, it turned out to be only $2.25. Phew! Soon we merged back onto I-35 and the rain kept pouring.

Finally, just north of Austin, I remembered reading about a rv park just off the freeway that was a Passport America park. (half price) It didn't take much convincing for Doug to cut the day short and pull off the road.

It's called Berry Springs RV Park and is very nice, if not fancy. Our site is a long pull-thru with full hookups for only $12.50 a night. What a bargain. There's grass and trees and best of all......the rain stopped. Our nerves were shot after the drive, so it feels good to be able to just stop when the weather and traffic gets the best of us.

Tomorrow, it's on to Tyler, Texas.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Treasures from the Earth

After yesterday's post, several people wondered what kind of treasures Doug was finding with his metal detector. He's like a modern day archaeologist!

There's 46 cents! And a broken, rusted wrench, dozens of pull tabs and bottle caps, tent peg, a tiny Barbie medalion, a nut, a screw and a rusty key.

I know, a pretty impressive haul for an afternoon of work. Most of the good stuff was found right here in our own rv site. The bottle caps and pop tops came from a picnic area down by the lake.

Doug also took the time to check the tumbling rocks. Some of them are finished! It's hard to tell from the photo, but they are polished shiny and smooth and still rocks. There are more rocks in the tumbler now on their way to perfection. One of these days we'll find some valuable gems!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Back on Track

The good news is.....I'm feeling better. Whatever was keeping me down, has had it's butt kicked. (I hope)

We had planned on attending the the Battle of Flowers parade in downtown San Antonio. Aaron was going to be marching and we definitely wanted some pictures. But, just before we left the coach, Alan called to say that Aaron was under the weather and wasn't going to be in the parade. Disappointment reigned! So, instead, we are seeing them on Sunday before we leave.

We did take a ride into the outlying areas of San Antonio to try out our new Garmin Nuvi gps. Doug entered Washington Mutual Bank from the points of interest and we drove right to where it used to be. Washington Mutual was taken over by Chase, so we weren't too surprised to not find it. However, we did find a Chase Bank nearby and took care of business. Several other entries were made and the gps worked really slick. We opted for the Nuvi 265WT and are very pleased with it.

Doug has been spending some of his "at home" time using the metal detector in our site. So far, the total take is almost thirty cents! And a couple of pieces of junk. We aren't going to get rich this way, but he's having fun.

The weather has turned overcast and windy with a few small showers. But the temperature is between 75 and 80. Can't complain about that!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Feeling Crummy

Hey all! We're not missing in action. I've been fighting an ear or sinus infection or something. So we've just been hanging out here in the coach watching the animals and feeling crummy. Hopefully we'll be back in exploring mode soon. Stay tuned......

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Alan and Aaron

What a great day! One of the main reasons we came to San Antonio was to see my stepson Alan. As a teenager, Alan lived with us for more than a year before he moved back with his mom and then joined the Air Force. I hadn't seen him or his son since 2002.

So today, Alan and Aaron (along with four footed friend Riley) came to the park to visit. We talked and talked and talked for a couple of hours and it was a wonderful chance to catch up with their lives. Alan is still the kind, gentle man he has always been.

We learned about Aaron's interests and hopes for the future. Such a handsome young man! I'm sure he's a regular teenager, but presented himself as polite, responsible, hardworking and quite charming.

We have already made plans to meet with Alan on Friday to attend the Battle of Flowers parade in downtown San Antonio to watch Aaron march with his school band. Yea!!!

One of the wonderful things about this lifestyle is that we can see family anywhere in the U.S. far more often than when we lived in a stick house.

P.S. Thanks Doug for taking pictures!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Boerne Visitor Center

Our destination today was the Boerne visitor center. We have zero maps of Texas and other than the Alamo and Riverwalk, we are not sure of what there is to see. So, armed with a photocopy of a map that that the Best Buy guy gave us, we found our way to Boerne (pronounced Bur nee). This is a small town on the outskirts of San Antonio of german heritage. Many of the old, historical buildings are well taken care of and still in use.

We had no trouble finding the visitor center in the south corner of the Walmart parking lot and had a lovely visit with the two ladies in charge. It was interesting listening to their views of Texas and it's history and secession. After we got home, I read the true history of Texas and it's not quite as glowing or independent as most texans choose to believe. Still, it is so much more than we ever learned in school and a nicer way to learn.

The storm moved into the area in the evening with a few sprinkles and some thunder. It is greatly needed here and very welcome to the residents. To the travelers......not so much.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shopping Day

We visited San Antonio today. But, it wasn't for the purpose of seeing the Alamo or the riverwalk or any of the other historical, fascinating places. Nope, we went shopping. It's been a while since we've been near a big city and while it was fun finding most everything we want, I think I prefer the small towns.

Anyway, we were searching for a navigational gps that we could use in both the coach and car. We have narrowed the search down to a Garmin, but they make about 70 different units. After searching Best Buty, Radio Shack, Auto Zone and several others, we decided more research was necessary.

So, we had lunch and hit the Dollar Tree and Payless Shoes, HEB, Ross and a couple of thrift stores. It was a fun day, but we're tired. I don't think we are cut out to be hardcore shoppers.

By the time we got back to the park, dark clouds were rolling in. The rain and thunderstorms are due tomorrow, so we'll probably be staying home. And that's ok too. We love watching all of the animals roaming through the park.

Monday, April 13, 2009

We Hit the Jackpot

Today was a travel day. We were so glad to leave Fort Stockton with it's horrendous winds and nasty rv park.

I-10 was our route winding through lovely, green hills where wildflowers graced the sides of the highway. Purple, lavender, orange, white and two shades of yellow with an occasional bright red thrown in for contrast. The sun was shining and the wind was manageable.

We passed through miles of windmill farms. And the closer we got to San Antonio the warmer and nicer it became. We left I-10 and headed south in search of the Thousand Trails park where our reservations had been made. Following a number of backroads, we passed through Bandera and Pipe Creek and there were few signs to guide us.

Finally, we stumbled upon Medina Lake Thousand Trails. The car was quickly disconnected from the coach and we drove through this gorgeous park to find a site that was perfect for us.

What a find! All of the sites are surrounded by trees and grass and deer. We were extremely lucky to find one at the end of a row with a big "front yard". There are two picnic tables and a barbeque and no one next to us.

And the entire park is full of deer, jack rabbits, squirrels, ducks and birds. At one point, there were seven deer in our "yard" and close to 60 in the field across from us. Doug sits at the picnic table and practices his deer whisperer routine. It's amazing how close they will come to him.

It is so quiet and peaceful here, that we are hoping to extend our stay to two weeks. There is so much to see in San Antonio and we would like some time to just relax and enjoy the wildlife and greenery. We hit the jackpot with this park!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Paisano Pete

We braved the winds and took a ride into town to see the sights. It turned out to be far more interesting than I anticipated.

Our first stop was to see Paisano Pete. He's the world's largest roadrunner at 11 feet tall and 22 feet long. Hilarious!

The visitor center was closed on weekends, so we just followed the signs for the historical tour of Fort Stockton. We had a brochure that described the route and the various stops.

The military presence began here in 1858 with the establishment of Camp Stockton. The post protected travelers and settlers that used the many roads and trails that crossed the Comanche War Trail. By the early 1880's, the indians were no longer a threat and gradually the town evolved around the fort. This is an original guard house and there are also officers quarters and some barracks remaining.

These are the remains of the oldest house that was known to have existed in 1859. It's in total disrepair and is said to house ghosts and spirits. They have erected shelters over the top, but it is still crumbling.

Nearby is Pecos County's original jail built in 1883. Some of the buildings are not marked as historical and at first we were not sure if this was the jail. It's a striking building, but the bars on the tall windows gave it away.

We also visited the town park, the fort cemetery, the oldest remaining school and the Comanche Springs. It was the largest spring in the system and flowed 65 million gallons of water a day.

By this times, the wind was truly howling and we beat it back to the coach. The weather deteriorated throughout the evening and as it got dark, the thunder and lightning storm began. We watched the sky light up over and over while the rain pelted the motorhome. Hail was also predicted but thank heavens, it never arrived. After a couple of hours, the storm subsided and the wind died down to about 35 mph. It was a loooooong night!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Not Too Sure About Texas

We managed to leave Edgington RV Park by 10am. It's a good time to start our travels because the morning traffic rush is over and we can have the roads fairly uncongested. The trip took us south on Hwy 54 through some very barren, uninteresting terrain. About 85 miles later, we crossed the border into Texas at El Paso.

The navigation through this huge city was relatively easy and soon we were in the foothills. The scenery improved dramatically! The hills were green with new growth and there were some interesting rock formations.

Traffic remained light, so we stopped at a couple of rest areas. In Texas, the rest areas are very nice. (so far)

They aren't huge, but we had no trouble finding a place to park right next to a covered picnic area. We stretched our legs and continued on. Soon, we crossed from Mountain time to Central time and instantly lost an hour. The day got shorter as we went instantly from 2pm to 3pm.

There are a few small towns on I-10 in west Texas. We stopped for diesel in Balmorhea and considered spending the night there. The price was right ($10) but the park was a wide open space with lots of wind and we had very poor phone reception. We can deal with most obstacles, however being able to stay in contact with family and friends is a high priority for us.

So we continued east until we came to Fort Stockton. It's a decent size town that we will explore more tomorow. Tonight, we are tired of driving and I found a park listed in our Passport America book for $10 a night. As we drove into the park, we weren't too impressed. We booked three nights because we didn't really want to be driving on Easter Sunday, then drove to our site.

Ouch!!! It's terrible. We had a heck of a time getting level and then discovered broken glass, nails and garbage everywhere. We cleaned up what we could and kept repeating it's only until Monday. Then the party at the neighbors started. Loud, obnoxious, rude are just a few of the words describing their antics. Despite the rules clearly stating "no open fires", they had a huge blaze next to their rundown rv. By 10:30pm they were really going strong and we are rethinking our stay here.

Unfortunately, this place will be getting very poor reviews from us.'s the deal......we are having a tremendous windstorm of 41mph winds. I can't upload any photos for this entry. But, if it all dies down tomorrow, I will add them to this blog post. Check back soon........

Thursday, April 09, 2009


We are really excited about tomorrow. After sitting still for a full month, the road is beckoning us. We have spent the day putting stuff back where it belongs, stowing the outdoor stuff in the basement and loading the car.

In the morning, all we need to do is the last minute chores, stow the satellite dish and power cable and hook up the car. We are heading east towards Texas. We don't have a good idea of where we are going to stop or how long we will drive. But we aren't too crazy about long days behind the wheel, so we probably won't get too far. And that's ok too.

Our friends and neighbors, Dennis, Wayne and Sue are leaving a couple of hours ahead of us, but going the other direction. Stay safe friends!

The weather has been gorgeous all day. Just like we pictured when we headed to the southwest.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Back Online!

Hooray! The equipment we ordered yesterday showed up today thanks to the Fedex overnight shipping. We're only going to be here for a couple more days and wanted to make sure the order arrived while we are at this address.

Here's what we got. An antenna! Doug spent quite a while getting it anchored firmly on the roof and then ran the cable down through the window. We need to find an extension cable so he can bring it through the roof properly and connect it inside. But this works for now.

We also got this. An amplifier! The antenna cable comes through this lovely box to amplify the wireless signal to our router.

What router you ask? Our new cradlepoint MBR1000 router. Isn't it a work of art? And finally.........the new Verizon USB760 modem, that plugs into the router and gives us blazing fast internet access.

This all came with mountain of paperwork and manuals and tiny parts. It wasn't long before I was on the phone with the 3G Store (from whom we purchased our treasures) for technical support. The modem wouldn't install on the computer and the software didn't work. But thanks to the wonders modern technology and a patient support technician, we were able to get everything up and working. I am posting on a stable, quick signal now.

Life is good! (with a little bit of patience)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Geeks on Tour

Since our fulltiming adventure began in 2005, I have been reading blogs of other fulltimers to get ideas of places to see, things to do, tips for living in small spaces and one of the biggies.....connecting to the internet world without land lines. It's a huge challenge for nomads to maintain wifi connections, as well as maintaining computers and staying in touch with family and friends.

One of our go-to websites for all of the above is Geeks on Tour. This neat couple, Jim and Chris Guld, host a blog and a free (also a subscription) newsletter about using computers and software, give seminars at rv rallies, and help park owners with wifi equipment and usage. Their website for computer information is here and is chockful of information for any computer user, not just rvers.

So, we were shocked to see this coach pull into the very park in which we are staying. It's the Geeks! We have never met, but I feel like we are old friends.

This morning, we paid them a visit to introduce ourselves and let them know how much we appreciate their blog and knowledge. We had a nice conversation and then they were going to do some sightseeing. But first, Jim held an impromptu seminar in the middle of the park with the owner and a couple of us wifi neophytes, explaining why the park wifi isn't working as well as it could. And he gave us some great (and needed) advice regarding our equipment and internet access. We were so thrilled that we immediately made a couple of calls and ordered a new antenna, amplifier and router for the coach.

This will make a little extra work for Doug as the antenna will need to be mounted on the roof and the wires run to the amplifier inside the coach. But I have complete confidence in his abilities.

Once all that was accomplished, Doug started reorganizing the basement compartments. He wanted to move the rock tumber down below to eliminate the noise inside the coach.

But that involved moving several other heavy items to make room for the tumbler. It all worked just as he planned.

Another busy, satisfying day at Edgington RV Park. Nice people, nice weather, good advice and what more could we ask for.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Clear Skies

The weather has turned beautiful again. It's so nice to see the mountains in the distance and the sunrises and sunsets again. The fine, white sand has settled on everything which means cleaning.

Doug spent a good part of the day washing the car and I did my taxes. (You probably thought I was going to say that I dusted and cleaned the inside of the coach. Ha!) I'm doing my part to bailout the banks by sending the government a nice check. We'll have to work on Doug's in the next couple days. But, it felt good to get that behind me.

We visited with the neighbors and watched the nascar race in our spare time. So much to do and so little time. (chuckle, chuckle)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ground Zero

What a fascinating day today was! We were out of the house (coach) at 6:45 this morning and on our way to the meeting place for the Trinity Site tour.

There were approximately 125 cars and a bus gathered at the Tularosa High School parking lot to caravan 65 miles onto the White Sands Small Missile Range. We followed the US Army police cars north across the barren range and arrived at the Trinity site about 10 am.

The Trinity Site is a National Historic Landmark comemorating the spot where the first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945. It was this 19 kiloton explosion that led to the quick end of the war in the Pacific and ushered the world into the atomic age.

This tour is only provided twice a year and the huge parking lot near the site was packed with cars and buses. From there, it's a short 1/4 mile walk to the actual test area. There are lots of warnings about radiation, however there is less radiation here than the average airplane traveler incurs in a cross country flight.

This obelisk marks the exact, ground zero where the bomb was attached to a 100 foot high tower and at 5:29:45 am Mountain War Time was detonated. The blast destroyed the tower and could be felt as far as 160 miles away. At the time, the government claimed that a munitions storage area had exploded and the first atomic bomb test was kept secret until a little over a month later when it was used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.

When the blast occurred, the desert sand was scooped up into the fireball. The melted sand fell as molten glass and formed puddles of Trinitite that was then further heated and formed a smooth glasslike surface in the crater-like desert surface.

Only a very small area has been preserved from the actual blast. The rest of the area has been filled in and the Trinitite removed. It is illegal to remove any of the tiny bits of Trinitite that can be found nearby.

It was very touching, experiencing the history and story of this moment in time that would lead to such devastating loss of lives within a few months time. Most people were laughing and joking and jostling for position to have their pictures taken at the Ground Zero obelisk, but I could hardly keep from crying. So very sad.

After the visit at Ground Zero, we boarded an army bus that took us a few miles down the road to see the McDonald House landmark.

It was in this one story, adobe house that the Manhattan Project personnel assembled the plutonium core of the bomb.

We wandered through the house and adjoining building and corrals, some of which have been restored and others allowed to deteriorate. Afterwards, we took the bus back to the parking area and our car.

Leaving the missile range at the Stallion Center entrance, we took a different route home. The first town we came upon was Bingham where there was a rock shop advertising Trinitite for sale. Curious as cats, we stopped to price it and were horrified to find it was almost $50 a gram. No thank you.

Continuing along the highway, we came upon the Valley of Fires. The lava covers 125 square miles and is more than 160 feet deep at the center. We stopped at a roadside pull-off and marveled at the "land of frozen fire". Vegetation is gradually taking hold but, the lava field seems to go on forever. We didn't get to the lava tubes and caves as the day was getting late and we were already tired.

It felt good to get home and put our feet up after a very long, busy day. With about a zillion pictures to sort through, it takes a while to p0st a blog.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Hold That Thought

We are sooooooo tired after a very busy day. I'll get a post up tomorrow with lots of pictures.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Indian Campsites

Today, our neighbor, Dennis, took us out into the desert near the two sisters mountains. It was quite a four-wheel drive through deep ruts and then sandy material. We followed the dirt road past the mountains and finally parked in the middle of nowhere.

Dennis told us that the indians used to camp in the hollows of the hilly desert and to look for rocks in a semi-circle or what might look like a campsite. Many arrowheads and pottery shards have been found around these campsites.

So, armed with water and hats, we started on foot into the desert. It was amazing how hilly the terrain was. Within minutes, we could no longer see the cars. But Doug had his gps and Dennis had been here many times and both felt very comfortable about finding their way back.

We spent close to an hour and a half wandering and searching. The sun was hot and there was little breeze and we began to get tired. Heading back to the cars, we covered new ground but never found a single artifact. Still, it was a fun afternoon with a good visit. Thanks Dennis!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Enough with the Wind!!!

Everything is coated with a layer of fine white sand. Every window ledge, table, computer and everything inside as well as everything outside. And the wind keeps blowing.

Normally, we can see the mountains in the distance from our windows. I showed this picture so you can see how gray and sandy the sky is. Gritty, gritty, gritty! Tomorrow is supposed to be clear, though.

Yesterday, Doug smoked some of the tuna that we have been carrying in the freezer. The wind died down enough to use the smoker outside and the tuna turned out great. He's already been sharing it with the neighbors.

But, the best news for today is ....... our mail arrived! The registration tabs on the car and the coach expired today and we have been waiting for the blizzard in South Dakota to let up long enough for the airport to open. Fedex arrived at our door this afternoon and all is well in our little world. Now we can drive the car without getting a ticket.