Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dallas Blooms at the Arboretum


Great friends, wonderful weather and walks amongst acres and acres of gardens.  Few words can describe this local work of art.   It is amazing! 





















A special day spent with very dear friends.   Thank you., we will see you again next winter.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just another great day

……….   and even a real  smile to boot !!!!  Strokes are a funny thing.   I have asked Bob on numerous occasions to smile for a photo and the connection between  voluntary and an involuntary smile is very confusing and difficult.  
Today, I was bound and determined to get a grin out of him before I put the camera away….Finally, although I was forced to make a few off color comments that I dare not repeat, and now he appears to be crying….  Go figure.
We took a short drive this morning around the North side of Lake Lavon in search of other COE parks for the future.    Unfortunately, most are  seasonal and are not open until April 1  at which time we will have moved on.    The park we are in is quite nice complete with full hook-ups but amongst the sounds of the birds, there is some competition …..
We are thankful the train doesn’t blow it’s whistle, otherwise someone would have to scrape us  off the ceiling of the coach.
The sudden warm up of temperatures along with  heavy rains last week has thrown the area into full bloom. 
The new growth on this tree was beautiful with the bluebonnets in the background…I am still playing with features  and maybe next year at this time the pictures will show exactly what I am seeing through the eyepiece.
I want to thank everybody that has offered their photography suggestions to this old grey mare.   You have given me hope and encouragement in knowing I can shoot, adjust, tweak, or delete and keep on shooting.   Who says we are too old to learn new things……I CAN DO THIS.

Thanks for checking up on us.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Enjoyable Frustration


I have been making an attempt at figuring out how to navigate our new camera.   Yes it is fun, yet frustrating.   I have never owned a telephoto lens which was my first reason for upgrading the camera and  I am having a dickens of a time getting photo’s to focus.   It seems either I have the the settings too far or too close…but never just right.   I guess patience will be needed…though I was hoping for better results.

Last night we did enjoy  a great sunset over the lake and caught a few quick shots before the show was over.



This morning blue skies and warm temperatures lured others onto the lake as well.  There is something special about seeing sailboats on a lake.


As you can see…some things are in focus..while others are not….   Any suggestions and hints are welcome from  the peanut gallery….What am I doing wrong?IMG_0013-001  


Back to the drawing board!!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bone dry…… to floods


Do you remember the pictures I posted of Bob in this tree along side of the Medina River in Bandera?



Here is a picture of that same spot three weeks later. 

bandera flood[3]

Although it may be difficult to see, the tree in the center of this photo…is the one we managed to climb into for the pictures above.   

I was reading  a blog this morning (Lindaxtwo.blog) about a Bandera RV park being evacuated, I suddenly realized this is the same place we enjoyed on several occasions (picture above is from her blog)


This morning we woke to blue skies and promises of warm weather.  With the recent rains and windy conditions,  living in small quarters seems to lose it’s shine very quickly.   Yesterday afternoon we headed to Bill and Roni’s for an overdue visit.   We are very fortunate to have such great friends and we pick up  conversations as if we just lived next door.   What a gift!  

They, too, have had recent health issues which has prompted their interest in building a  home that is “senior friendly”   It is quite an eye opener to suddenly be faced with such decisions.   Getting older is definitely pigeon poop!   I hope all smoothens out for them because they have created a slice of heaven Bill built twenty years ago.  

The day is wasting …time to soak up some sun!    

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rain, Rain…Everyplace !!!


This is getting OLD..  I am thinking that this year was not the year to escape the winter (that never hit).   Many occasions this winter, our temperatures have been cooler where we have traveled than they were at home…but somehow the 25 degree differences this past week is just not right !    This winter has been strange.    As many of you know, Texas was suffering a severe drought…. well, no longer.   It seems to have been raining non stop for the past 6 weeks.   The lakes and rivers are nearly back to their normal levels and I am beginning to see animals traveling “two by two”  

I am not usually your average shopper.  ( this rain has taunted me into spending money).    I had been wanting to upgrade  my camera  and photography skills for sometime.   Following  the blogs of many and really enjoying the photography has only interested me more.    A few days ago my sister, Pat, called and told me about a sale that  Sam’s Club was running on a Canon camera bundle.   I am now the proud owner of a Canon Rebel T3 complete with two lenses,  SD card and a nice camera bag.   I am sure Canon loves us, as we both bought one.!    I am trying my best to read and REMEMBER (that seems to be the current challenge) what I am learning.   I have only taken a few pictures of our new front yard…yet another COE Park.     


You can see I have lots to learn…. 


This park, although it is pretty and offers lakefront property, is not very level which presents  a challenge for longer RV’s like ours.   It is an older park with  30 amp service but has the added benefit of full hook-ups.   I must admit it makes my life easier being able to use our washer/dryer, even though it is quite small, and the grey water tank must be open in order to use it.    I was  surprised Stillhouse Hollow Park near Killeen TX allowed running  of grey water onto the lawn, because most do not.      

Many of our readers in the RV community already are aware of the America the Beautiful passes available to us, however, there may be some that are not.   Lady Bird Johnson was very instrumental in implementing the program that opened Federal Lands for outdoor enjoyment.   Passes are purchased on a yearly basis ($80) which allows very inexpensive stays on Federal Lands.    For us senior’s the deal is even sweeter.   We pay a $10 lifetime fee for the senior pass which allows us the added benefit of 50% camping discount as well as free entrance to many of the Federal attractions.   Ha, there are  some perks to getting older!   Between finding very nice inexpensive RV parks along the way and making use of our senior passes., we have managed to see and do many things these past five months.

Life is good!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Special Longtime Friendships

There is little in life that is more  rewarding than cultivating longtime friendships.   Dave and Shirley grew up in the same town in Michigan  with Bob and they have remained friends for nearly 50 years.   Although I had met them briefly last year while Bob was hospitalized,   it was not until today that we  had the chance to get to know one another.   We had such a wonderful day visiting  and  catching up, eating delicious Mexican food and I especially loved being chauffeured around the  area.     Life is very special celebrating such longevity.
Shortly after Bob’s stroke, Dave suffered a brain aneurism  that I am happy to report was caught and treated quickly.    Life changed very quickly for them and now, they too, are on the road to recovery.  
I know that everything happens for a reason, that often we  never know the whys of, but in my case I know today gave us hope and renewed patience for a full recovery.  What a special day it was.   Thank you Dave and Shirley for the new lease on life!!!
We have found a Corp of Engineers Park on Bardwell Lake, south of Dallas.     The campground is full due to spring break yet somehow we scored another lakefront site.    We are enjoying a great spot, a covered picnic table that looks out onto the lake, lots of trees complete with the sounds of the mockingbird. 
After leaving Stillhouse Hollow Lake, I had made an appointment to have the transmission fluid changed, a new air filter, and service the generator. ( I have come to the conclusion Bob and I both should have been diesel mechanics and RV Techs).    A few dollars later and a whole lot of crying as I handed them the check…we were once again on our way. 

  I  am getting very spoiled only driving 50 – 75 miles a day from one spot to another.    We plan on only being in this spot a few more days and then will head up east of Dallas at another COE park on Lake Lavon to enjoy a few weeks with more close friends.    We are finding we enjoy the Federal Lands much more than the typical RV Parks.  Does that make us Government Gypsies? 
Tomorrow morning we will be joining Dave and Shirley as  guests of their church. 

Life is good!   Happy St. Patrick's Day!        

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Car 54 Where are you ???


Since the weather couldn’t make up it’s mind today as to whether it was going to rain or shine, we headed out to do some scoping out of the back roads before leaving the area.   

It wasn’t long and old eagle eye Bob spotted another gem along side of the road.    Do you remember Car 54 where are you????    Well we found it impounded in Salado, TX.


How cool is that !!!!

We enjoyed poking around  and finding a few other relics back in the lot that I couldn’t capture on the camera.   I believe at one time this may have been an old gas station judging by the signs.


I was surprised to find another sign out on the road that has weathered a few years of sun and wind and somehow has escaped vandals.    Maybe the   sign “keep out or go to prison” has deterred misfits.


Gosh it doesn’t even look like it has been used for target practice.  Just a few yards on down the road was a county sheriff’s vehicle though, ….so just maybe that solves the mystery.


Along the way home we made a quick pit stop at another one of the Corp of Engineer Day Parks, which was tucked in on the backside of the Stillhouse Hollow Dam.    Nice little park with a nature trail that runs along the creek.

P1010398You can see how the rains of this past couple of weeks have washed out the path to the water.  

P1010392    We walked just a short distance around the mouth of the Nature Trail but the humidity seems to take a toll recently.    All in all Bob seems to continue slowly on the road to recovery and for that I am grateful. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bluebonnets have arrived


I had been hoping that the bluebonnets would bloom this year especially after suffering such a hot,  dry summer last year. 

They have arrived! 




I don’t believe I ever get tired of seeing these wonderful little gems.   It is probably my all time favorite flower.    Years ago when I lived in Dallas,  I remember the thousands of blooms mixed  with Indian Paintbrush along the roadsides and it was such a pleasure seeing them as I drove to work.   I am happy to be able to enjoy them once again before we have to head North again.    I really enjoy the texture of the blooms against the limestone and driftwood.    The grey of the driftwood almost made them appear more blue. 


As we were meandering through the countryside, we also happened across a field of small yellow flowers which made the texture and color of the cactus just pop.   Naturally, the camera doesn’t do it justice.




Do anyone of our blogging friends and  readers have a suggestion of software available for stitching panoramic photo’s?   Has anyone used the freeware program Auto stitch successfully?


We are enjoying our final days here at Stillhouse Lake near Killeen TX.    The lakefront campsite has been so extremely relaxing for us that  we actually  did very little site-seeing.   I had hoped to check out a few of the museum’s and to pay a visit to Ft. Hood Army Base but between the winds and heavy rains….we just became “bumps on a log. ” 

Thursday we begin our journey in the northbound direction once again.   Although we take our good natured time along the way, (we will not be back in Michigan until late April) it still is  sad for me knowing that this season of being snowbirds is soon coming to a close.   We have driven many miles of back roads and enjoyed many many different places.   It isn’t until I look back through the photo’s I have on Picasa that I marvel at everything this country has to offer.   We feel extremely fortunate to have the means as well as the energy to travel given Bob’s health challenges.   God has been good and has kept watch over us during our travels.  

Life is good      


Friday, March 09, 2012

Spring Break ???? Really????


My bet is that there are many very disappointed folks spending spring break in less than desirable weather across Texas.   To all of our family and friends  back in Michigan, Wisconsin  and Minnesota you can now take comfort in knowing your temperatures are close to, if not warmer than, the temperatures we are enjoying (NOT) here in the sunbelt.     Within the last week I believe the severe drought Texas has experienced, is well on it’s way back to the positive levels.    Rain, Wind, Cold, Dreary conditions have kept the coach rocking and gone are the days of sleeping better and listening to the rain.   What a winter this has been.


We have not gotten out the last couple of days due to the weather so I decided the only picture that I have to share would have to come from  my blooming dashboard.  


I have enjoyed the blooms on my orchid more than ever this winter and it has done very well  sitting on the dash.


I am tickled to say that I won a drawing for a book that is making the rounds within our blogging friends.    Last week I entered our name into a book drawing that Donna K (Travels in Therapy)  was offering.   Much to my surprise, our name was drawn for the recommended reading of “The art of racing in the rain”.   We want to thank you very much for the gift and I will be reading it to Bob as we make our way back to Michigan.   I will, in turn, pass it on to another blogger friend.   Thanks again for your thoughtfulness, Donna .

Life is slowing down  as we  enjoy our lakefront property we recently have called home.  Hopefully we will have other photo’s to share as the weather improves.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Texas Tumbleweeds


Wow, first the wind blows from the North nearly pushing us off the highway, and now it has quickly shifted from the South nearly rolling  us into the lake.    The sudden changes in wind direction reminds me of the old, dried up tumbleweeds rolling back and forth across the highway.  Could that be our fate?  Turkey Vultures are already circling.

Yesterday was a picture perfect day as we sat in the sunshine  with Floyd and Cindy, who were parked next to us.   Last evening they invited us to join them with their daughter celebrating Floyd’s birthday.   Floyd’s choice was  BBQ.  Great food!   Bob managed to eat nearly a pound and a half of ribs along with all of the trimmings, Cole slaw and potato salad.   Needless to say  I am serving him meals on the lite side again.   We had such a great time talking and laughing.   It is always a wonderful gift when friendships bloom as if we had been friends for years.  

Today, on the other hand, the sun is gone and the wind is howling at 30 MPH.   Thankfully, the temperature is still near 70 so it is tolerable.   I am  glad we are not at one of the other Corp of Engineer Parks across the lake.   There has been a constant dust storm kicking up over there.

P1010369I don’t know if you can  see the sand blowing easily in this picture,  I think it looks worse in person than this picture really shows.   I  imagine those RV’s are getting a good ol’ sandblasting. 

Folks are starting to roll in slowly and this place will most likely be full by Friday when spring break starts in this area.   I am really thankful that the park enforces the 10pm all-quiet rule and will probably REALLY develop an appreciation by Saturday morning.  

We hear that tomorrow is still forecast to be warm again with 30 mph winds, but then on Thursday the potential is in place for severe weather depending upon what time the storms roll through the area.  There is absolutely no shelter here which may make for an uneasy day.   We will see!

There are deer around  this park but nothing like the herds of them that were around us  in Bandera.   We miss them sharing our space.  They were so relaxing to watch, but then of course, the water is now our relaxation.

Thanks for checking up on us, have a good day. 


Monday, March 05, 2012

Morning Calm


The storm systems have moved to the East once again being replaced by sunny skies, warmer temperatures, but most of all no wind like we have been experiencing this past week.  

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see the lake so calm.   There are fish jumping all across the lake as far as the eye can see.   Yesterday morning by this time, the lake was quite crowded with fisherman.    Today on the other hand, I have only seen a handful of fishing boats float  by our little piece of Heaven.   The Mockingbird is busy singing his list of songs and  wondering why this yankee doesn’t have  any food to offer him, afterall, where is my southern hospitality !   (I definitely will be bringing a bird feeder along next year.)   

Judy (travels with Emma) I want you to know that I joined in on your double dare.   I sat outdoors in my pj’s with a cup of coffee and soaked in the beautiful sunrise.   Thankfully for all of my blog readers, I don’t have anyone else to man the camera…so you are spared the visual pollution.  Take my word for it, there is a whole lot more beauty in this world than seeing me in my morning-do.

I am celebrating a victory of sorts today as well.  It is often times difficult to feed Bob as he has become somewhat picky.    Over the course of our trip he has discovered he enjoys yogurt.    This morning I threw a fruit smoothie together in hopes that I had found another healthy option and secretly added wheat germ.   Shazam, he asks for more!  I think my next step is to make homemade yogurt without the sugar and use the added fruit to sweeten naturally.   I love yogurt and it has gone along ways towards helping digestion.   If I could only interest him in some homemade granola….(that occasion is coming sooner than he realizes.) 

While here at Stillhouse Hollow Lake COE we have enjoyed meeting and visiting with the couple parked next to us.   Floyd is also battling disabilities, however they have a wonderful dry sense of humor that I am thrilled to say has had Bob laughing once again.   Life is on the upswing!   Although traveling this winter has presented challenges and some obstacles,  for the most part I am tickled with the  therapy that the both of us have received for different reasons.   I have to believe this will be a much better year than last year. 


Here is hoping there is sunshine in everyone’s back yard.   Take care




Saturday, March 03, 2012

Oh the Life !


Tax free lakefront property complete with electricity and water, sunshine, no crowds,  covered dining room table, outdoor grill, private sunrises, wake up to the sounds of birds and water.    Does life get any better?  


Although we have enjoyed wooded areas, cactus, rocky hillsides, wildlife and wide open spaces for the past six weeks, time was moving on and we needed to move with it.   I have experienced  a bit of sadness with leaving each place that we have called our home and yet we look forward to another adventure around each corner.    Life can be  full of emotions, memories, change and happiness all within minutes.    It is no wonder why we need to stop and smell the roses in order to recharge our internal batteries.


Our new front yard is certainly a 180 degree change from what we have been enjoying recently.   The Ocean in Gulf Shores was very enjoyable, however, in some ways the constant crashing of waves onto shore didn’t offer the peacefulness that the Corp of Engineer lands provide  for us here and now.  



Our plans have changed a bit.  As we left the Hill Country, our plans were to shoot up to the Dallas area in order to catch up with folks.   Sorry dear friends, but I couldn’t pass up the temptation of relaxing in the sun and sand around here in  Killeen, TX for the next couple of weeks.   I had no idea there were so many Corp of Engineer parks to choose from in this region.    This may prove to be great “snowbird” territory for our bucket list next year. 


My daughter Jen called last night and sent a picture of the golf ball sized hail that hit the Nashville area.   She was breathing a little easier about the fact that she currently is not a homeowner, and we are breathing a lot easier knowing that we were no longer camping there.  


This is what fell in the area…and that is after melting indoors for 10 minutes.   Yikes..that could do some serious  damage  to anything it strikes.   It just goes to show….don’t fool with Mother Nature.


Thanks for checking up on us, have a good weekend.