Saturday, November 27, 2010

Following the weather

Many full-time RV'ers do a good job of "following the weather", a term used for staying in moderate temperatures all year.  The snow-birders do that to some extent when they spend 6 months in the north and then migrate to Florida or Arizona during the colder months.
Although we do take temperature into account when we travel, that's not always possible when we want to go somewhere.  Last night was just a bit nippy here in Willis, Texas.  It got down in the 20's.  Here is a picture of the frosty view from our rig.

The cold weather didn't stop these guys from diving and splashing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends.  We may not see you during the holidays, but we want you to know that we think about you all.  Often.

We are staying this week outside of Houston on Lake Conroe.  Its a smaller park, but Val picked a nice site that looks out on a pond and a grassy field.  Not bad at all.  We had a little trouble the first day with our electrical management system cutting power to our rig several times, and after figuring out that it was low voltage and not our system, we called the ranger who came and replaced the circuit breaker and 30 amp receptacle.  The problem was solved which was nice because it was in the 80's and we needed the air conditioner.  Today (Thanksgiving) it was cloudy and very warm with some occasional spitting rain, but Val and I managed to get in about an hour of pickleball practice before we had to get back to put some home-made rolls in the oven.  Then it was to the activity center where we shared a wonderful meal with about fifty other RV'ers.  We had met two couples yesterday so we sat with them.  Lot's and lots of food.  No one left hungry.

After lunch we debated on a nap, but decided to hit some more pickleball, but the court was so wet that we went to the adult lounge and played some pool; something we haven't done in a few years.  When we went back outside, the temperature had dropped almost 20 degrees and the already windy day had really started blowing.  Val and I attempted about 20 minutes of pickleball which was quite a sight as any high shot was easily blown 6 to 10 feet sideways. We were relieved when it started to drizzle, and we headed  back to the warmth of the RV and the football games.  That's where we sit now, cozy and content.

Here are a few pictures from where we were the past three weeks.  Val took the sunset picture and you can guess who took the other two.

Val made a friend when she had a few corn chips while sitting outside.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nimitz Trip

Val and I took the bike to Fredericksburg yesterday to visit the Nimitz Museum complex that our friends Russ and Jodi told us about.  The trip to Fredericksburg, about 90 minutes away, took us through new sections of the foothills, so it was a beautiful although chilly ride.  We started at the Admiral Nimitz Museum which detailed his life and career, then spent some time on the grounds looking at the memorial plaques and the Japanese Peace Garden and finished with 3 hours in the George H. W. Bush Gallery (which easily could have been stretched to double that).
The George Bush Gallery was one of the best museums we've ever seen.  It chronicled what led up to World War II and then detailed the Pacific conflict from start to finish.  We learned how each major battle developed, how our troops and the Japanese forces were deployed and how we eventually won.  I wish history classes in school had been so fascinating.

 The Admiral Nimitz Museum was originally the Nimitz Hotel.  It was quite a contrast to the modern George Bush Gallery building.

One of the walls of plaques dedicated to ships and individuals.

 I found a plaque dedicated to the ship that my father served on during the war.

A solid bronze propeller from a carrier.  It was one of four on the ship.  Can you estimate the weight? 
(Just a bit shy of 25,000 pounds.)
The Japanese Garden of Peace which was a gift from military leaders in Japan.

Inside the Bush Gallery:

A Japanese dive bomber.

An Australian tank that took a direct hit in the front.  The video monitor above the tank showed an interview with the commander of the tank who described how he survived the attack and helped a member of his crew.
An exact replica (sans plutonium of course) of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

Beware.  An editorial comment follows....

As we left the complex and walked the streets of Fredericksburg, Val and I talked about what we had seen and heard and wondered if our country would have the same resolve today that it had during World War II.  We know that circumstances are very different now, but it was interesting to note that less people were killed at the attack on Pearl Harbor than at the Twin Towers.  Civilian casualties during the war were accepted as part of the price that had to be paid, up to and including two nuclear bombs.  Today, our military personnel are forced to worry what will happen if any civilian is killed during a conflict. What a shame that our brave men and women who risk their lives every day for all of us have to worry about such matters due to "political correctness" and fear of a small minority who don't understand the principles this country was founded on and what it takes to protect our country from those who seek to destroy our way of life. 
There.  I said it.
God Bless America.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Goings On

On Monday we had our carpets cleaned so we decided to take a ride on the motorcycle while they dried.  We headed north and west into Bandera which is the cowboy capital of the world (although we didn't see any cowboys) and then headed to Medina for some lunch.  We stopped at Keese's Bar-B-Que for some excellent brisket and chicken with some potato salad, beans, pickles and onions.  We saved room for what was the waitress's favorite dessert, German chocolate upside down cake.  It was more like pie than cake; thick rich chocolate, cream cheese and coconut cooked in a cast iron skillet.  Val tasted it first as I finished my brisket, and when I looked at her face, well, it was the face of joy.  It was that good.   

Now you have to admit.  That looks good...

We headed west again after lunch to Vanderpool about 20 miles over the foothills.  Then it was north to Lost Maples State Park.  We were about 80 miles from home, so we only had time for a 60 minute hike since we wanted to be back before dusk (too many deer!).  But we lost track of time and ended up hiking longer than we expected.  The ride back was beautiful with the sun setting over the foothills and thankfully the deer stayed clear of the road.  All and all a great day.

It's hard to tell, but this was a fascinating rock formation.  It looked like half mushrooms jutting from the rock.

And a couple more from the park. And yes, the water was that color.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day Trip

We decided that we needed a few things at Costco on the outskirts of San Antonio, so we hopped on the bike and headed in to town.  The GPS took us straight in to downtown, and I commented that the area didn't look like where a Costco would be.  Val agreed and seemed a little worried since I've been known to get a little peeved at the Garmin when it steered us wrong (it's done so on several occasions).  We kept going and we were suddenly right by the Alamo, exactly where I had programmed the GPS to go.  I thought that I would surprise Val and it worked.  So we spent some time on a history refresher at the Alamo and then walked a bit downtown.  I must say that the street where the Alamo is located is somewhat odd.  Here you have such an historic structure and across the street are all types of attractions like Ripley's Believe It Or Not or a house of wax. It really doesn't fit.  The Alamo is the most visited spot in Texas, and maybe because it really doesn't take too much time to see, they figured people would want to do something else close by.  Who knows.  It's definitely worth a trip no matter what.

Today, (Saturday) has been a nice one.  The weather was cool this morning (32 degrees) but quickly warmed into the 60's.  After an unusually large breakfast for us that included a spinach and cheese omelet, sausage and home made bread, we took about a five mile walk. Then we decided to head up to the activities center to see what was going on and ended up staying for a lunch of tacos and onion rings.  After another short walk, we returned to the activity center for one dollar banana splits.   Nothing like a banana and three big scoops of icecream topped with chocolate chips, nuts, pineapple, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry to take away any good that we did with the walk. (But Val and I agreed it was absolutely worth it!  And we'll do it next Saturday too...)

Self-portrait in front of the Alamo.

Alamo grounds.
Sculpture dedicated to those who died at the Alamo.

On another note, Val is really getting good at pickleball.  We've been practicing every day or two, so I think we'll be ready for competition in Florida when we get there in January.  Good times.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pipe Creek

We arrived in Pipe Creek late Tuesday afternoon after an eight hour drive.  We both agreed that that should be the last of that kind of day.  From now on we will try to stick with  4-5 hour drive at most.  It just wore us out.
But we arrived at a beautiful campground in the Texas hill country on Medina Lake, walked around a bit to find a suitable camp site and got settled in with no problems.  For reference, a suitable site for me includes access to the DirecTV satellite.  Fairly level with a view is also required.  But we're paying for TV, so we might as well get it.  In this case we can see some of the lake from our RV which is a nice touch.

The main oddity at this campground is the number of deer that walk around.  Lots.  Like everywhere.  Some people buy 50 pound bags of corn and feed them so they are not afraid to walk close to us.  Yesterday we heard a noise by our door and saw that a deer was eating our basil and mint plants that we grow along with thyme and rosemary.  I chased the deer away and put the planters on top of the picnic table.  But deer don't mind climbing up on the table to eat plants evidently.  One of them grabbed my planter and pulled it off the table.  I replaced it and put it in the center of the table.  This morning a buck decided to see what they tasted like so I threw open the door and he just looked at me like "isn't this for me?"  I went down the steps and walked closer expecting him to run, but he started nibbling again.  I yelled and he ambled off.  My plants are inside now.