Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Northward Ho!

We are heading to Custer, South Dakota for our work-camping gig at Crazy Horse Memorial.  Thankfully, we missed the tornado that landed on the other side of town in Livingston, Texas just a day after our departure from Escapees Rainbow Park, where campers sustained heavy rain, hail, and loss of power.


We stayed at Council Road RV Park in Oklahoma City on Sunday night to facilitate having some recall/warranty work completed on our Montana Fifth Wheel on Monday.  Older park, smaller sites very close together, but terrific Wi-Fi and cable!  We arrived bright and early Monday at Oklahoma RV Center in Moore, Oklahoma (where they had those terrible tornadoes in 2013).   Great service and fine folks!  Work was completed much sooner than we expected, so we decided to alter our travel plans, making reservations at Cedar Pass Campground in Badlands National Park in South Dakota before leaving the RC Center and rambling down Interstate 35.  Within a short 5 minutes on the road, we hear someone beeping at us frantically—apparently smoke is coming from our rear tires!  Daddy goes to pull over and learns he has no brakes!  Turns out the emergency brake disconnect came out of the plug!  Since we became aware of the problem quickly (thanks to the unknown Good Samaritan who alerted us), we did not sustain any permanent damage.  Truly scary stuff, though—good thing Mommy wasn’t the one at the wheel!


Other than that, our travels have been quiet and serene, stopping at Wally-Worlds and seeing some beautiful pastoral countryside of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, not to mention some breathtaking sunrises/sunsets.

Sunrise in Kansas

View of Downtown Oklahoma City from I-35

Cattle Grazing in Nebraska
Talk to you soon!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Garden Parties

Flowers are abloom everywhere, and the sweet scent of honeysuckle is making my nose tickle!   But that didn’t stop us from visiting the Ruby M. Mize Azalea Garden in Nagadoches, TX, home to Stephen F. Austin State University—Go Lumberjacks!

The 8-acre garden contains 7,000+ azaleas among more than 500 varieties, earning the distinction of “largest Azalea garden in Texas”.  Who knew there were so many colors and varieties of azaleas!  There are also azalea trails within Nagadoches for hiking, strolling, or just sitting on a bench to admire nature at work.  We thoroughly enjoyed the visit!

This butterfly enjoyed the gardens as much as we did!

We’ve had some very wet weather here—over 8 inches of rain in the last week or so.    But Mr. Sunshine finally came out yesterday, so off we went for a motorcycle ride.

Now that we have completed our residency business in Livingston, we have extra “free” time.  So we’ve been doing some volunteer work here at Rainbow Park.  We assisted with grounds keeping by pulling weeds, cultivated gardens, and raking leaves.  We saw all kinds of cool insects and reptiles, too!  Web worms (they look like caterpillars), a soon-to-be- Mommy spider (see the eggs on her back!), even chameleons and assorted lizards.   Dad and I enjoyed watching them—Mom not so much.


Speaking of cool critters, check out this live video stream from the Pennsylvania Game Commission of two bald eagle fledglings in Hanover, PA. 


We've been watching these babies for the last month.  They were so funny looking and awkward when they first hatched—and they still are!  

We also volunteered for several days at the C.A.R.E. (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees) Center’s semi-annual “Garage Sale”.  The event was quite successful, raising more than $5,000 to go towards the purchase of a transport van!  I’m glad I was a part of it.  Although I won’t tell you how many times someone tried to buy me--I know, I’m hard to resist!

I know I'm cute, but I'm not for sale!
Earthshattering news here in Livingston—our local Wal-Mart is one of the five nationwide that closed down due to plumbing problems.  Local folks are in a panic and uproar, with all sorts of stories and theories circulating through the rumor mill.  As Gloria Gaynor said, “I will survive”, with or without Wal-Mart.
Oh well, got to run—going to the Livingston Community Band Concert at the Activity Center.  Talk to you soon!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sam Houston - a Hero Larger Than Life

Road Trip today to Huntsville, TX, home to everything Sam Houston!  Soldier and statesman, he was a true man of honor.  Houston led the fight for Texas’ independence from Mexico, served as President of the Republic of Texas, U.S. Senator representing Texas, and Governor of Texas.
Sam Houston Memorial Museum
We visited the campus of Sam Houston State University (Go Bearkats!), which includes The Sam Houston Memorial Museum, a comprehensive collection of artifacts that chronicles the life and times of Sam Houston.   Departing the museum through the “Wilderness Trail”, you are transported to another place and time, a tree-covered grove containing The Woodland House, the residence Sam Houston built in 1848 where 4 of his 8 children were born; his law office, where he spent many a day discussing Texas politics; The Steamboat House, the place where Sam Houston died in 1863, and various other structures.  The nearby pond and gardens contain period flora and fauna. 

The Woodland House, Circa 1848

The Steamboat House, Where Sam Houston Died in 1863

The Pond Area
The Pond Area
We strolled leisurely through Oakwood Cemetery, where Sam Houston is buried.  Originally laid to rest with a modest tombstone, the current memorial depicting him on horseback riding to battle victory was erected in 1911.
Sam Houston Tombstone - Front
The inscription on the back of the tombstone had the word "governor" misspelled as "govrnor"--guess they didn't have spell check back then!  To save face, they chiseled down the "r" and made it an apostrophe, forming "Gov'nor" of Tennessee (he was only man to ever serve as governor of two states, Tennessee and Texas).

Sam Houston Tombstone - Back

We finished our Sam Houston tour with a visit to Sam Houston’s statue.  All I can say is, WOW!  I know he was a big man of stature at 6 ½ feet tall, but this statue is Herculean, standing 67 feet in height!  Made of 60 tons of concrete and steel, it can be seen from miles away on I-45!
Sam Houston-A Hero Larger Than Life

 We satisfied our hunger with a Herculean late lunch/early dinner, then headed to Huntsville State Park, where we completed a 6.8 mile hike around the lake and through the woodlands.  A busy, but enjoyable day that ended with perfection:  A gorgeous sunset over Lake Livingston taken in Onalaska, TX.

Sunset on Lake Livingston, Onalaska, TX

Time to hit the sack!  Sweet dreams!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Special Occasions

If you are a Christian, today is a glorious day, one that gives us hope for eternal life.  Happy Easter!

Even though it is just Mom, Dad, me and the pets, we have our holiday traditions.  Mom cooks a four-course dinner and bakes us tasty treats for dessert.  We watch the movies, “King of Kings” and “The Ten Commandments”, and Dad never disappoints us with his annual reenactment of Yul Brynner’s role of Ramses.  With his bald head shining and his hands on his hips, Dad sucks in his gut uttering, “So Let It Be Written, So Let It Be Done.”  We color eggs, and I decorate ones for my Grandma and Grandpa in heaven and for all of us.

I even decorated one this year for my Aunt Laurie.  Looks just like her!

Egg Decorated Especially for Aunt Laurie

Today is a special day for another reason:  It’s my birthday!  Well, truthfully, we don’t know when my actual birthday is.  But we celebrate it on April 5, the day my Dad rescued me from that lonely toy store shelf, purchasing me as a gift for his then girlfriend Mom.  Yes, most people think I’m just a scruffy stuffed rat, but I am really a love story.  But that’s a tale for another day…

Hoping My Birthday Wish Comes True

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Exploring Lake Livingston

The sun was shining brightly and a gentle wind was whispering in the trees, so what better time to hop on the motorcycles to explore Lake Livingston and the Lake Livingston State Park area.  The scenery was very bucolic—lots of fields with cattle, horses, and sheep.

Lake Livingston is one ginormous lake!  Constructed solely for water supply purposes, it has over 450 miles of shoreline across four counties (San Jacinto, Polk, Walker, and Trinity). 

The park offers a variety of amenities:  swimming, fishing piers, nature trails, picnic areas, campsites, even horseback riding.

We Cross Paths With the Horse Back Riders
We completed the 3-mile Livingston Trail, which runs through all of the campground areas.  Many of the campsites have water and electric hookups, and all of them are in wooded areas for that authentic camping experience.  We also did the 1-mile Pineywoods Nature Walk through wetland habitat.  This turned out to be a very bad idea—it was a mosquito haven!  I must be a very tasty stuffed rat based on the number of bites I have!

When we stopped for fuel, Mom noticed this poignant 9/11 mural on the local American Legion building.  Originally from New Jersey, my parents remember this tragic day vividly: the fiery destruction, the desperate feeling of helplessness, the deepening sadness of learning of the losses of childhood friends’ family members, yet the patriotic sense of unity that our country had not experienced in decades.  We will never forget—and we thank the American Legion Post 629, Cold Springs, TX, some 1500 miles away from New York City, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, PA, for remembering all these years later.
American Legion Post 629, Cold Springs, TX