Thursday, February 27, 2014

From the Crazy of Houston… To the Quiet of Galveston

This day was fabulous!  This day was exactly what I had in mind when we started this journey. We finish the day very tired, but so happy about our days’ adventures.

We started about 8:30am heading toward NASA-Johnson Space Center.   We made it through Houston without any real issues.  There was, of course, a crazy amount of traffic.  Seriously, where are all these people going???  We were glad we had made the decision to not drive our RV through this city.  As we drove through Houston, we remember how much we really hate large cities and areas of crazy traffic.  Everyone is rushing, seriously did they all wake up late and need to drive like crazy people.   Many drivers think their agenda is more important than yours and they have the absolute right to cut you off, pull in front of you and then look at you, while waving multiple fingers; acting as if you have just insulted them personally by being on their road! 

Anyway, I’m digressing…

We made it to the Space Center no worse for wear.   We start with a Tram Tour of the Center grounds.  It was probably more exciting for me than for George.  The tour guide talked about the room-size computers than ran the space program in the beginning days having the memory of a current day smartphone ring tone, I am amazed.


Much of the equipment we see is very similar to the equipment George worked on at Ford Aerospace/Lockheed.  We see the actual Mission Control center for all of the Shuttle missions, we tour working areas and testing areas.

We see rockets and space shuttles.  The living space seemed like the size of a
high school locker.  Suddenly, our 5th wheel feels like a huge palace!  What a privilege
that we are able to tour and see such technological treasures. 

I think George enjoyed seeing the “Astronaut” holding French Fries on the top of the local McDonald's more than anything.  Although we do not think there McDonald's in space; George dreams of the day...

We finished earlier than expected and so we decided to head to Galveston.   As we
drive into Galveston, we realize we are in for something special with this sweet town. 

Galveston was established in 1817 and many of the original homes are still standing.  We start with a driving tour of several neighborhoods.  Some of the areas have small and big houses next to each other—all held up on 10 foot stilts to prevent homes from flooding during the inevitable storms.  Some neighborhoods live in extreme poverty, while others are huge “Plantation style” homes.

We drove onto the Galveston Island Ferry.  This is a free ferry from Galveston Island to Port Bolivar.  Most people taking this ferry stay in their vehicle on the ride.  Are you kidding...  we are so happy to be at a place in our lives that we are able to get out of our car and see the sights around us.

We do not want to miss any opportunity to see a “treat”.   We do not want to take for granted that every place we are and each sight we see, offers the opportunity for a visual treat from God.

We see pelicans, sea gulls and dolphins.  I am as excited as a little kid!  On Port Bolivar we take a long walk on the beach, relishing the beautiful view, the sound of the waves, watching the pelicans diving for dinner and just enjoying time together.  We have driven our jeep through the mountains, on the trails and roads in Moab and now on the beach.

We head home after a long, but after a really great day!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

GPS… Not Always the Best Directions

Today we say goodbye to New Braunfels, Texas. We have really enjoyed the Hill country so it is with mixed feelings that we leave.  We were able to spend quite a bit of time with family and friends and we saw sights in the area.  It was a very quiet campground and a pretty area.

We decided we would take Texas "Farm to Market" roads to the new campground in Willis.   The roads were good—but they were crazy narrow!  The other challenge we have found in Texas… to get to anywhere in the state the “Farm to Market” roads are the road of choice.   However, these delightful little roads are not marked until you are there... and I mean RIGHT THERE!  

Let me give everyone a hint:  Do not turn a 75 foot long train at 65 mph!  Ok, I'm kidding… we did not do that; but we had to back track several times.  This day was probably our most challenging so far for me. 

We followed the GPS exactly, but it did not seem to have a clear idea of where we were supposed to be going; or specifically how we should get there.  I was so afraid we were going to make a mistake and end up in Houston.  We have had several people tell us they would drive 100 miles out of the way to avoid pulling an RV through Houston. 

I was a nervous wreck by the time we got to the campground.

We are at Bishop’s Landing Resort in Willis, Texas.  We have a beautiful view of Lake Conroe from our campsite.  Normally there would be large beach area directly to the lake from the campground—but the lake is so high the beaches are under water.  It is a nice campground, but everything in the area is wet and mushy. 


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Nice visit with Jeff and Rhonda and their family

We spent a couple of days this week shopping and hanging out with Jeff and their daughter Mandi.  What a beautiful young woman she has become.  It was delightful spending time with them and getting to know her as an adult. She is deciding what her next steps in life will be; it will be exciting to watch and see her future.

We spent this weekend with Jeff and Rhonda and Donovan and his precious daughter, Laurlynn.  We had not seen them for about 10 years.

We really have had a very nice visit with all of them.  We spent hours just visiting and catching up a little. 

Jeff and Rhonda have moved into their dream house in Taylor, Texas.  It is a great house.  The house was one of the original homes in Taylor from when the area was a pecan orchard.  There are beautiful architectural features throughout the house.

Donovan and Laurlynn came over a couple times to visit.  He is such a good daddy.  He lives in Hutto, Texas; where he grew up.  It was such a treasure to spend time with him and his little sweetie girl.  I love the man he has become; he seems to be working to be a good man and a good father.  By the end of our visit Laurlynn was happy to have me hold her, she is a doll.

I really need to mention Jeff and Rhonda’s dog, Lady.  She is a Rottweiler. As a general rule, I am not especially fond of big dogs.  These dogs have a reputation for being protective and aggressive—so I was not looking forward to our “dog introduction”.  But... this dog rocks.  She is a beauty and once she was familiar with us, was friendly.

Jeff and Rhonda gave us a tour of their area.  We had been seeing cotton fields since we entered Texas, George wanted to get a piece of raw cotton directly from a field;

Jeff knew where to take him to get this “treasure”.   George was so excited; you would have thought he was getting a new pair of shoes.   (OK that would have made me excited--not him.)

 We also wanted to get pictures of the famous Texas longhorn cattle.  They are an impressive animal.

Sunday Jeff made a beef brisket for us.  We were able to enjoy a true Texas BBQ.  We said our goodbyes in the early evening, promising we would not wait another 10 years before out next visit.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Catrina.

Today is Catrina's birthday.

This is the first birthday I have been away from her in 25 years. 

It has been a rough three or four days, every time I turn around I am in tears.  In the past I would take the day off work and we would hang out all day.  We would start by having coffee someplace and discussing what we wanted to do with our day.  I would have presents for her all throughout the day.  Generally, we visit at least one Goodwill and sometimes multiple stores around town.  We see who can get the best deal.   At some point we will end up at a make-up counter, where we can spend an hour or more just looking.  

We often hang out or shop until dinner and then we meet the family someplace and enjoy a Mexican dinner.  It’s great to have a daughter that is also a friend.    

Catrina is a precious treasure to us.  She is a beautiful example of a woman that seeks the Lord.  She is always moving toward being the very best person she can be.  She has raised three fabulous children that today love the Lord.  She has created a home that is not only one of beauty, but it is one that feels safe and secure to those who enter. 

She feels and loves deeply and completely. 

She works very hard trying to make everyone happy, often at great sacrifice to herself.  We are proud to be her dad and mom; it brings us great joy to call her our daughter.

Since we started on our journey we have missed family and friends.  In fact, we regularly say our time would be PERFECT if we had the ones we love with us.  This is the first time I have really been homesick and wished we were back in Colorado.

As the day comes to a close we are left the realization that we are blessed to have such a great daughter—that we miss.  We are blessed to have a relationship that causes our hearts to hurt when we are apart.

Happy Birthday, Girtie Girl.  WE LOVE YOU, SO MUCH!


Saturday, February 15, 2014

It's True...Everything is Bigger in Texas

Truck-Sized cactus
We have been seeing these gi-normous cactus' since we came into Texas.  Some of them are as big as a minivan.  Many are more than 6 feet tall.  Many times we have seen what appears to be a "cactus farm".  They grow like weeds here.

When they say everything is bigger in Texas--It didn't dawn on us that meant cactus.

One of the things we looked forward to was seeing the different landscapes across the country. We are already seeing different plants and animals and we have only gone a short distance. 

In Dallas George looked forward to seeing the five-level highway interchange.  When there is not enough area for roads to work side by side; they have nowhere to go but UP.  And up they went... five levels high.  I was overwhelmed by all the traffic moving and circling around; it is an amazing design.  George thought it was an "engineering marvel"--but was OK getting out of the heavy traffic, so we didn't linger. 

Is it a Gas Station or a Mini-Mall
We have seen truck stops across the country.  Buccee's, a gas station only found in Texas, is a destination.  There are 64 gas pumps that can fill 128 vehicles at a time!  When entering this Wal-Mart sized convenient store, you are given a shopping cart to fill with whatever your heart might desire.  Inside the convenience store are 8 cash registers.  There are isles and isles of treats.

There is an entire isle of jerky--every meat and every flavor imaginable.  Every kind of snack someone would desire--salty or sweet.  There are clothes, jewelry and home design items throughout.

We are SO excited about the new things we are going to see.

Even as we see giant cactus, sky-high highways and giant gas stations; we are grateful for the opportunity to see new... anything. 

Who knew cactus, highway flyovers and giant truck stops would be such a hoot to us?? 

It's true... everything is bigger in Texas.


Friday, February 14, 2014

San Antonio: The Alamo and The Riverwalk

Today is Valentine's Day and we would like to do something fun. We decided to head toward San Antonio to see the sights.  

Every new city we are in presents its own set of challenges.  San Antonio is no exception—the streets are not square and there is a lot of road construction being done in the downtown area that we are planning to spend most of the day.   

We finally find the Alamo and even find parking very close.   Our first stop of the day is the Alamo.  We didn’t know what to expect; which was probably a good thing.   The Alamo is full of history—but we are not familiar with any of it, so we are always anxious to learn new things.    There is essentially a fort area with several main buildings.  The gift shop is the largest building.  The shrine is the primary destination building of the Alamo.  This building is basically empty and has a few small areas with limited displays.    There is a pretty little courtyard and then you are done. Bottom line… we were glad it was free, because there is not much to see.   We wish there had been more information about what happened here.

The Riverwalk is only about 2 blocks away from the Alamo, so we decide to walk down and have lunch on the Riverwalk.    This area is an area 15 miles long that has shops and restaurants to enjoy.  The shops were fun to see, but mostly expensive so we did not do any shopping.  We found a little Mexican restaurant that had seating outside.  We shared nachos and watched people for a couple of hours. 

There are gondola type boats floating down the river.  Ducks and birds walked freely in and out of the restaurants, which was cute and yet somewhat disturbing.

After lunch and enjoying a short walk down the Riverwalk, we decide to head toward our car and leave San Antonio trying to beat rush hour traffic.  Ok, can I remind you that I said the challenge with San Antonio is the streets are not square! 

We were sure we knew where our car was, we even paid special attention to where we were when we left it.  With each block we walked we realized we really had no idea where we were and there were no real landmarks to find since we were in the middle of downtown where the buildings block everything except right in front of us.  Although we did not figure out where we really went wrong, we finally figured out how to get to our car.  We retrieve our trusty jeep and head out of town ready to be back in our RV home, a place that everything is familiar to us.

We enjoyed visiting San Antonio because we have never been here.  We realize again—large cities and big crowds and just not "our thing".  But the people are really nice and we always love seeing new sights.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

We Plan, We Drive, We Conquer

We move toward our new campground Sun Country in Whitney, Texas.  In trying to find the campground, we ended up in a tiny little town with dirt roads and very narrow streets.  We called the campground to get better directions (than the GPS was giving us).  We are learning the GPS is often not absolutely correct.  The campground sites are level and the campground is basically empty.  The parameter of the property is full of permanent resident mobile homes and campers.

It is colder here than we had hoped, but we can stay in on the cold days and go exploring on the nicer days.  We were thrilled that we missed the Dallas ice storms.  We hear constantly that Texas is having the worst winter in memory.  The ice storms last for days and even a week or longer.  Highways have been shut down and major vehicle pile ups, so we do not take our safety for granted.  We are always thankful when we reach our destination with no real issues—safe and happy.  We are glad we are still able to ride together, pulling the jeep behind the 5th wheel.  Although we are quite a sight at 75 feet long—we feel safe because we have the power to pull and the brakes to stop.  When we get past Louisiana, I will drive the jeep following George in the truck & 5th wheel.

There are so many details we need to be aware of as we travel.  We have to plan and watch the weather—snow, ice and even rain are not our friend.  We have adjusted our travel days several times to avoid upcoming bad weather.  We also do our best to know where we are going and the route that we take to get there.  That being said, the GPS has led very far off track in the past—so we take the directions cautiously.  We have to make sure we either have enough fuel for the entire trip or we have to know exactly where the major truck stops are to fill up.  We have been forced on two different occasions to used our extra gas cans to make it the last few miles--it is not a good time.

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