Sunday, November 22, 2020

Another History Lesson about Texas Independence--A Visit to Gonzales and Surrounding Areas

Despite the torrential rain when we arrived, Dad backed us into our lot in Livingston with greater ease than usual.  This was attributable to the fact that the lot next to us was vacant.  Hence, Dad didn’t have an obstacle course to maneuver around our neighbor’s vehicle, which usually is parked haphazardly, encroaching the road and affecting Dad’s turn radius.


Greeted with sunshine, we started in early the next day with cleaning and unpacking, which included removing the motorcycles from our truck garage.  We received warm welcome home wishes from folks in the neighborhood, and we caught up on Park news.


We enjoy being in Livingston in the late fall.  The temperatures are much more tolerable (though humidity is still high).  We keep busy with hobbies like hiking at Livingston State Park, Mom taking line dancing lessons, Dad attending Lodge, and us honoring military members by participating in several motorcycle missions with the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR).

Sunset at Lake Livingston

A Patriot Guard Rider (PGR) Mission

Being back home also provides us fun, food, and fellowship with friends Lisa/Jim and Romalee/Tim.  Since arriving back, we enjoyed dining with them about a half dozen times, patronizing Shrimp Boat Manny’s, Patron’s Mexican Grill, Pueblo Viejo Mexican Restaurant, and the 1836 Steakhouse, which was my personal favorite.  My family sets high standards for steakhouses having eaten of some of the highest-rated nationwide.  So, we were pleasantly surprised with 1836.  Their 14-oz NY Strip was the proper thickness and cooked perfectly for medium rare.  Dad the non-carnivore enjoyed a plant-based burger option that was huge (equivalent to a half-pounder) and tasty, too.  Located within a home built in 1872, complete with fireplaces, wood floors, and candle sconces, the restaurant offers a quaint, historical ambiance.  We had such a positive experience, my family returned for a second terrific meal several weeks later.     


Lisa/Jim and Romalee/Tim are regular dining companions of my parents while in Livingston 

Big Boomer, our medium duty truck, had to visit the International dealer in Houston for treatment of several medical issues--new water pump, new brakes, rotors, and the 125,000-mile scheduled maintenance, which came with a price tag of $6,104!  Add to this the new “shoes” we put on him in Idaho to the tune of $3,102, and Big Boomer cost us nearly $10K in the last 6 months.    These are the types of unexpected costs that come with full-time travel and fall under the category of “it’s always something” (the prophetic words of the Roseanne Roseannadanna character on Saturday Night Live).  We are blessed to have the funds in savings readily available to resolve these issues expeditiously.


In fact, while Big Boomer was undergoing “surgery” and out of commission for a week, we rented a car, booked a hotel room, and headed to Gonzales, TX, to get another lesson in Texas history.  We took all back roads to avoid Houston morning traffic.  Traversing in the crisp, clear early morning air along the Texas Forest Trail, the Brazos Trail, and the Texas Independence Trail, we were treated to bucolic scenes like cows grazing in pastures and hay being baled.

Mamma moo cows with their calves in the pasture

We passed through Round Top, home to all things antique, reusable, and recyclable, from old gas station signs, scrap metal sculptures, and pottery to distressed furniture and reclaimed planking.   Round Top may only have a population of 90, but it is a hopping town on weekends (pre-COVID anyway).   Outside La Grange, we crossed the Colorado River.  Nope, not the one that runs through CO, UT, NV, AZ, and CA.  This Colorado is the 5th longest river in TX, with the distinction of being the only river in TX with both its mouth and source within the state.


We arrived at the historic Alcade Hotel.  Built in 1926, it was the first hotel with indoor plumbing in Gonzales.  We stayed in the same room that Elvis Presley did in 1955 when he was hired by the town’s Quarterback Club (today’s Booster Club) as a fundraiser.  Can you imagine that you could have seen the King of Rock and Roll perform for a mere $1 for adults, 50 cents for kids.  Better yet, if you bought your tickets in advance, you would get in for half price!  It was sooooo cool to see all the memorabilia:  records, autographed photos, even a full-size Elvis cutout!  Mom was quite thrilled to be sleeping with Elvis’s face nearby—if only a print on a pillow.  Dad had a lot of competition in the hunka, hunka burning love department!


Gonzales is known as the birthplace of the movement for Texas’s Independence from Mexico.  It all started in the Fall of 1835.  Worried about unrest amongst the Gonzales settlers against the government, Mexico sent 4 soldiers to collect a cannon that was given previously to the settlers as protection against Indians.  The “Old Eighteen”, as the brave settlers became known, refused to turn over the cannon.  In fact, they buried it in a peach tree orchard to keep it out of the Mexicans’ hands, taunting the Mexicans to “Come and Take It.”  This resulted in the Mexican government sending 100 dragoons to facilitate retrieval of the cannon.  Meanwhile, reinforcements were coming from other areas of Texas to assist the settlers.  It all culminated on October 2, 1835, when the settlers unburied the cannon and used it to fire the first shot of the battle for Texas independence.  Interestingly, the “Come and Take It” flag was designed by Gonzales settler Naomi DeWitt, using her own wedding dress.

Gonzales is also home to the “Immortal 32”, the only men to respond to Lt. Colonel Travis’s desperate plea for reinforcements from neighboring towns during the battle of the Alamo in March 1836.  These 32 brave men (several of them part of the “Old Eighteen”), ranged in age from 16 to 48.  They gave their lives for the cause of Texas independence.


After the fall of the Alamo, Sam Houston saw the writing on the wall.  Realizing Mexican troops would soon be heading to Gonzales, he burned the town, leaving no shelter or supplies for the enemy.  He headed to San Jacinto and succeeded in defeating the Mexicans in a mere 18 minutes on April 21, 1836, earning Texas its freedom.


We walked throughout the town of Gonzales, visiting every square, avenue, cemetery, and historic marker.  We treaded lightly on the sacred and hallowed lands where freedom fighters and Mexican soldiers alike lost their lives.  A small grove of newly-planted peach trees commemorates the orchard where the “Come and Take It” cannon was hidden. Though it now resides on private property, we glimpsed the oak tree where Sam Houston camped before heading to San Jacinto.    

Newly-planted peach trees and a monument commemorate the site where the "Come and Take It Cannon" was buried

The oak tree under which Sam Houston camped before departing for San Jacinto

There are few historic buildings left in town.  But we toured the Memorial Museum, where the original “Come and Take It” cannon is on display.  We also visited the jail that was used from 1887 to 1975, at which 3 hangings took place.  We popped in to the Memorial Library for their 2 especially interesting exhibits:  one of the largest private collections of guns in the US and the largest private collection of documents from the Texas Revolution.  We walked along mansion row, homes built for the rich and affluent of the mid-19th and early 20th century.  Unfortunately, these homes are not available for touring since they are all private residences, even the structure that housed Gonzales College in 1851.

Memorial Museum and Reflecting Pool

The original "Come and Take It" Cannon

Monument honoring the "Immortal 32"

Monument honoring the "Old Eighteen"

The gallows at the jail where 3 hangings took place

Part of the Gun Exhibit at the Memorial Library

The Gonzales College of 1851 is now a private residence

More examples from mansion row...

Texas Heroes' Square

Gonzales’s economy relies heavily on tourism and oilfields, industries that are both hurting right now.  Most of the merchants in town were consignment shops and antique stores, which is where Mom found something Dad has wanted for quite some time:  longhorns for Big Boomer!

Dad proudly installed his "Hook 'Em Horns" on Big Boomer

There is slim pickins’ when it comes to eateries in Gonzales, especially places to meet Dad’s plant-based requirements.  Our hotel normally offers lunch and dinner options, too, although the cook had resigned abruptly during the second day of our stay, so no vittles for us.  Hence, one night we ate at the Come and Take It Bar that had a bean burger for my non-carnivore Dad.  And another night we dined at La Bella Tavoli.  Not on par to East Coast Italian, but for being in a Texas border town, the food was quite decent.  Service was pleasant and efficient, too. 


On another morning we visited nearby Palmetto State Park, which was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s.  While hiking along Oxbow Lake Trail and the San Marcos River, which runs through the Park, we spotted a bald eagle and a flock of turkey vultures that were sitting in a tree with their wings extended.  It was a hot, humid day, so I guess the vultures were airing out their armpits—I certainly was! 

The Park's namesake, the palmetto palm


The vultures airing out their pits

When we were in Ohio earlier in the fall, Mom informed Dad that we had to go to Columbus to visit the Santa Clause Museum.  Dad had to set her straight that the Museum is in Columbus, TX—not Columbus, OH.  So she was thrilled to learn Gonzales is only an hour’s drive from her desired destination.  Due to COVID, visits at that time were limited to Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays by appointment only, and Mom called to book our tour.  Our docent was pleasant and allowed us plenty of time to peruse the vast assortment of Santa items from decades past:  cookie jars, PEZ dispensers, needlepoint, even a Santa jack-in-the-box.   It was a very cool place, and I saw several items on display that are in my Mom’s own collection!


Columbus bills itself as a “City of Live Oaks and Live Folks” and boasts having the largest live oak tree in all of Texas.  Not only is it big at 75 feet tall and 300 inches in circumference, it is OLD, celebrating 500 years of life.   Columbus was the center of Steve Austin’s land grant colony previously known as Montezuma on his map of 1835.   Today it is the Colorado County seat.  We took a self-guided walking tour of the City.   Unfortunately, many museums and historical sites were closed to tours due to COVID.  We did get inside the restored Courthouse and the 1836 cabin of Abram Alley, one of Steve Austin's colonists.    


Columbus's 500 year old live oak tree

Colorado County Courthouse

Dome ceiling with beautiful skylight in the Courthouse

Abram Alley cabin circa 1836...

We departed from the Alcade Hotel on Friday morning and checked in to the Best Western in Hondo, TX.   We had plans to meet up with friends Sherry/Matt, who have a lot at Escapees Alamo Area Lone Star Corral Co-op.  We were to meet for lunch at Hondough, a new pizza joint in town that our friends said received excellent reviews.  According to Hondough’s website, they were open 11-2 and 5-9 on weekdays.  We arrived at 12:40 on a Friday, with Sherry/Matt already seated.   After doing our greetings, Sherry broke the bad news she just learned:    pizza is not offered for lunch.  What!  A pizza joint that doesn’t have pizza available all day long!  This is a foreign concept and almost sacrilegious for those of us from the East Coast.  And we even brought Dad’s plant-based cheese with us!  Disappointed, we all perused the small but tempting lunch menu.  That’s when the proprietor informed us he was pretty much out of all the lunch options.  What!   How does an eatery run out of stuff to eat?  Thankfully, the proprietor is very customer-service oriented.  He offers to break from his business plan and make us pizzas, even though it is lunchtime.   Terrific, since this is what we wanted to eat anyway! Our veggie pie came with a light, thin crust baked to perfection (with amble bubbles but not burnt on the bottom), topped with onions, olives, spinach, and Dad’s fake mozzarella.  It was DE-LISH!   Add in the terrific company, and I’d say it was a Rambling RV Rat 5-cheese experience!  After lunch we returned to the Lone Star Corral Co-op to see Sherry's/Matt’s lot and check out some that might fit our future needs.  Then we talked and laughed the day away, having so much fun we forgot to take a photo.  (This seems to be a common occurrence for us, especially when food is involved.)


Wish our stay at the Best Western in Hondo was as satisfying as our lunch, but it left much to be desired.  People were partying in the parking lot until almost midnight.  Then the “grab and go” continental breakfast that was offered was pathetic.   It consisted of a tangelo and a small-size granola bar in a brown lunch bag.  The bag probably costs them more than the contents!     


Hondo’s slogan is, “This is God’s Country—Don’t Drive Through It Like Hell”, and they were celebrating their annual “Christmas in God’s Country Days” while we were visiting.  We walked the downtown to check things out.  Normally they have a parade and lots of festivities.  Not so this time around thanks to COVID cancel culture.  Only a few vendors set up their wares to sell on a gloomy, overcast Saturday.

We had a great mini getaway.  But it was time to return home to appease our perturbed putty cat and retrieve post-surgical Big Boomer.  But I did convince Dad to stop at Buc-ees.  A combination of rest area, department store, fuel station, and food stop, Buc-ees is a true Texas treasure.  I even did some Christmas shopping there!


Buc-ee took me for a spin in his pickup!

How do you like my new Buc-ee Christmas PJs!

Well, time for me to sign off.  It's just a few days before Thanksgiving and my family’s official kickoff to the holiday season!  Talk to you again soon!


Sunday, November 1, 2020

Touring Kentucky and Oklahoma

We arrived at our Harvest Host site in Kentucky, an organic vegetable producing farm, where we would spend two nights.  Dad was super excited to restock up on fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and zucchini.  The owners were very welcoming, inviting us to walk the trails and relax by the lake on their property.  Even more fun was getting to visit with their horses, who immediately befriended me when I bestowed them with carrots.   Most importantly, the farm was within a 45-minute drive of our destination:  The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky.   What a magnificent project!   Built to the specifications noted in the Book of Genesis within the Bible, the replica Ark is ginormous!  Despite the scope and magnitude of the project, I was astonished to learn construction was completed within 6 years! The explanations and depictions provided on “kinds” of animals in Biblical times and how food storage/animal waste were handled make a compelling argument for the authenticity of Noah’s Ark and the Great Flood.  We spent hours within the Ark plus we visited the outdoor petting zoo and partook of lunch at Emzara’s Kitchen.  Afterwards, we attended the gospel music show.   Visiting the Ark Encounter is a fun, educational, and spiritual experience which I highly recommend, though it don’t come cheap:  Adult tickets are $49.95 each plus tax.

When you carry carrots, its is easy to make friends with horses!



Scale model of the 3-tiered Ark

Housing for some of the smaller animals.

Food storage/preparation area.

One of the "kinds" (vs species) of animals in existence at the time of the Great Flood

One of the exceptionally interesting exhibits, this time about DNA and skin pigmentation.  We are all of one race--humankind.

I just had to ride the Camel!

Some lazy joeys soaking up the afternoon sun.

Thoroughly enjoyed the gospel music show.

We departed early the next morning to glorious weather and the sweet smell of corn in the air, which was emanating from the Buffalo Trace Distillery.  Originally built in 1792, it has the distinction of being the oldest continuously-operating distillery in the U.S.A., earning its place on the National Register of Historic Places and its designation as a National Historic Landmark.  Because of COVID, the distillery limited the number of tours offered, it restricted group sizes, and it required advance reservations. So, we were not able to do any touring/taste testing this time around.


We visited Mill Springs National Cemetery in Nancy, Kentucky.  Originally, it was the site of a January 1862 civil war battle that signified the first significant Union victory.  The casualties of the battle were buried en mass on site.  After the Civil War, the site was one of the very first National Cemeteries created.


We spent the night at another Harvest Host location, an apple orchard.  The 450-acre orchard has been in business since the late 1800s, and has been operated by 5 generations of the same family.  Mom was disappointed that the U-pick season was over.  But we purchased a variety of apples:  Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, and my favorite Jonagold.  The store sold everything apple, from fritters, pies, and turnovers to  cider and salsa.  I’ll take one of each, please!


As we traversed Kentucky, I enjoyed the pastoral scenery.  Rolling hills, silos, cows in the fields—all embraced by earth’s blanket of fall colors.


The next day we arrived at Paducah, Kentucky, home to the National Quilt Museum.  In honor and in admiration of our quilting friends, we just had to tour the museum.  Wow, what works of art and labors of love!  The special animal exhibit was amazing.  These quilts were so detailed, they were almost like photographs!       


Paducah was first settled in 1821 and named Pekin.  In 1827, William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) surveyed and laid out the town, renaming it Paducah.  Located at the confluence of the Tennessee and Ohio Rivers, we watched the barges come downriver during the sunset.   I didn’t realize that Western Kentucky has the most navigable rivers in the world.  We walked along the seawall, admiring the many murals that depicted the history of Paducah.   I can’t imagine the flood of 1937 when the Ohio River crested at 60 feet above sea level!  A large section of Paducah is on the National Register of Historic Places, so we strolled through the historic district which consisted of restaurants, boutiques, and novelty shops.  But COVID has been cruel to these small business owners.  Despite it being a Friday, most places were closed.  We walked outside the historic district and found Branch Out, a small vegan restaurant, open for dine in.  Among its menu selections are Mediterranean bowls, bean burgers, and falafel, all of which are tasty, freshly made, and satisfying.  We topped the evening off at Craving the Curls, which offers a unique rolled ice cream dessert.  And best of all, it has a vegan alternative!  The process used to create these scrumptious delicacies is very cool to watch, too!  Craving the Curls is a Rambling RV Rat 5-cheese award winner for sure!


While in Paducah, we stopped to visit Whitehaven Hall.  Not only is it a Welcome Center for I-24 travelers, it is a stunning restoration of antebellum architecture.  It was closed to tours (due to COVID) when we visited, but we took the time to peek in the windows like the kids at Higee’s Department Store (if you read my last blog, you know this is a reference from A Christmas Story).  Pre-COVID, Whitehaven Hall also offered special holiday tours, adorning the home with period decorations.  


We reached our next Harvest Host site, a family-owned dairy farm.  Once again, our hosts were friendly and accommodating.  After a fitful night’s sleep, we awoke to watch the cows being milked.  What a fascinating operation!   The farm had lots of other animals, too, like chickens, pigs, turkeys, and adogable canines!


The girls lined up waiting for the automated milking process to begin.

Just one of several of the property's canine hosts.

I should mention that our travel path back to Texas was a bit strange.  Dad rerouted us due to anticipated hurricanes/tropical storms in the Gulf.  I didn’t mind the change.  It gave me an opportunity to see more of this great Country.


So we found ourselves heading back to Missouri with Mom at the wheel and white knuckled as we entered St. Louis.  She was praying Gretchen the GPS didn’t route us through the middle of downtown (a situation that occurred many years ago when we were just RV vacationers rather than full-timers).

Soon we were at a Harvest Host brewery off historic Route 66.  These friendly hosts provide a huge, flat, dry, open field for parking.  We enjoyed the locally-brewed beers and live musical entertainment.   And we chatted with the car owners at the brewery-hosted Corvette Show. 

Some fine looking Corvettes on display!

Our re-route also brought us back to Branson, Missouri.  Instead of staying near Branson Landing again at Escapees Turkey Creek RV Park, we opted for a Harvest Host site about 20 miles outside the City.  The hosts were super welcoming. They have multiple RV sites on their farmette, so they are flexible to letting you stay an extra night.  And most of the sites are equipped with electric hookups for which the Hosts charge a minimal fee should you require pedestal use.  With only a pair of baby moo cows on their property, they have no gift shop or country store from which we could make reciprocating purchases.  We noticed, however, they were motorcyclists like us, so we presented them with new Harley Davidson T-shirts. 

Adorable baby moo-moos

Mid-October is shoulder season in Branson, so tourism is minimal.   And most of the shows were “dark” (sure glad we got to see “Noah” and “Anthems of Rock” when we were here in early September.)   Hence, we visited Table Rock State Park and Dam.  As we have found with most government-operated recreation areas, the Visitor Center was closed due to COVID.  But we strolled along the hiking/biking trails, enjoying the scenery and area inhabitants--insects, reptiles, and amphibians.




Common buckeye butterfly

A rather large lizard-type creature.

My motto is never mess with perfection!    Therefore, after our hike at Table Rock we partook of another delectable meal at Billy Gail’s.    We stopped for dessert at the Fifties Diner, a retro eatery complete with jukebox, poodle skirts, and an Elvis impersonator.  He sure rocked us around the clock!  They also show old TV shows at their drive-in movie, so it was a hoot to watch favorites like The Little Rascals and The Three Stooges.


The next day we departed to a crisp, autumn morning, but that didn’t last long.  Temps increased significantly as we entered Arkansas.  We stopped at the Christ of the Ozarks statue in Eureka Springs, which Dad found on the Roadside America website.  What we didn’t realize was that in addition to the magnificent statue of Jesus, the site includes a replica of the Holy Lands and a Passion Play.  Unfortunately, our timing was off.  The Holy Lands tours didn’t start until 2 p.m. and there was no Passion Play scheduled that day.  We will definitely have to return here in the future.  There are dozens of hiking and biking trails here as well, so we got in a quick 2-miles.  There is also a section of the Berlin Wall on display.


Section of the Berlin Wall

Set for the Passion Play.  You can see the statue peaking out above the trees in the right background.

We entered Oklahoma and began getting our kicks on Route 66.  We toured the Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum in Sapulpa, where I found several vehicles that would suit my needs just fine!  We remained on Route 66 all the way to Oklahoma City, passing through Depew, Stroud, and the Sac and Fox Nation Reservation.

The Remains of the  Rock Service Station

Rock of Ages Hay Farm

This vehicle was the perfect size for this stuffed rat!

In Acadia, Oklahoma we visited other roadside attractions like the Red Round Barn.  The original structure was built in 1898 using all hand tools.  Its circular design protected it from tornado destruction.  You see, flat sides would be blown down by the impact of tornado winds.  But the circular design allowed the winds to go around the structure.  We then stopped to view the World’s Largest Soda Bottle.  Truthfully, this was a bit anticlimactic, but it was fun to go inside the old-school luncheonette and gift shop to see all the varieties of soda pops.  Of course, Mom had to get one for the road.

The restored Red Round Barn

The domed ceiling of the barn

World's Largest Soda Pop Bottle

A small sampling of the HUGE selection of soda/pop brands and flavors

We arrived at Roadrunner RV Park, where we would put down our jacks for a few days of touring Oklahoma City (OKC).  Sure hope no tornado comes through here and destroy rigs like it did in 2015!


We visited the OKC Memorial, purchasing tickets in advance for our specific-timed self-guided tour.  Like visiting the 9/11 Memorial in New York City and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, it was a heartbreaking tale about the decimation of human life and yet a poignant tribute to the victims of terrorism.  After seeing remnants of 1995 technology like cassette tapes, clunky cell phones, and bulky computer monitors, it is hard to fathom the tragedy was only a quarter century ago.  We refrained from taking photos of the bombing exhibits inside the Memorial, respecting the lives lost and recognizing these as hollowed grounds.


Hard to believe amidst the bomb's blast, the elm tree (left foreground) survived and now thrives.  

Reflecting pool and Field of Empty Chairs

Jesus Weeps Statue across the street from the Memorial

We were emotionally spent after completing our tour.  We began walking through the City, eerily quiet for noon on a Friday, compliments of COVID.  Nothing soothes the soul better than some comfort food, and Dad’s Happy Cow app directed us to the Sunnyside Diner.  There are several plant-based options from which to choose, but they offer eggs, burgers, and sandwiches for us non-vegans as well.  Everything was tasty and cooked fresh to order.  Daniel our server was friendly and super attentive, making a great meal even better.  Nice sized portions and reasonable prices make this a recipient of Rambling RV Rat’s 5-cheese award.


The next day we toured Bricktown, which is the entertainment hub of OKC.  Celebrating OKC as the  birthplace of legendary Yankee Mickey Mantle, Bricktown has baseball fields, sports arenas, eateries, breweries, even a boathouse row.  What it didn’t have was anything going on.  For a Saturday, the place was dead, obviously heavily impacted by COVID closures.  We returned to Sunnyside Diner for lunch, getting Daniel as our server once again.  Needless to say, we enjoyed our dining experience immensely.


The American Banjo Museum provides a great history lesson on the roots and progression of the instrument and music.  But the Museum touches the hearts of my family on a deeper and more personal level because its outstanding collection of banjos on exhibit includes those manufactured by my Mom’s ancestor! (In fact, there is one on exhibit just like the one my Mom proudly displays in our home on wheels.)  The detailed inlaid and carvings on some of these instruments make them true works of art in my humble opinion.  Pre-COVID, banjo players would come to the Museum to play for patrons in a small, intimate setting.  I sure wish we could have participated in that!     

Look at the details on the backs of these banjos!

One of my favorite pieces.

We were so excited to find banjos created by Mom's ancestor included in the Museum's exhibit!

The Museum room where we could have enjoyed listening to banjo players before COVID reared its ugly head.

We left OKC early on a dreary overcast morning.  The sun fought long and hard to break through the cloud cover, but was unsuccessful—until we entered our beloved state of Texas.  We overnighted at a Harvest Host alpaca farm.  We learned quickly through our tour that alpacas are very loveable and friendly, but they are as bad-mannered as llamas when it comes to spitting.  The gift shop has gorgeous, fine quality alpaca-wool items for sale. You will be hard-pressed to spend only the recommended minimum $20 at this Harvest Host.  Mom dropped $150 of my cheese inheritance on a gorgeous blanket.

Mother and child


Loving couple

Well, we were glad to be on our last travel day.  We had learned from friends/neighbors that Livingston had a very dry summer and had no significant rainfall for several weeks.  I don’t have to tell you that we arrived at our lot for the first time in 5 ½ months in the midst of a torrential downpour and thunderstorm.


Despite COVID cancellations and restrictions, we had a healthy and fun-filled post-shelter-at-home travel season.  Since leaving Texas on May 6, we towed Suite Retreat 8,382 miles through 15 states!   And for my Aunt Laurie (our personal “COVID police”), we followed the rules in effect within each state, locality, and attraction we visited, which varied widely.  With COVID, as with all decisions we make, we evaluate the detriments and benefits of each situation.  We don’t criticize folks who exercise their freedom to choose nor do we get abusive towards employees/management who enforce their establishment’s rules.  If we don’t like a rule, we simply do not visit that establishment.  Ditto if we “don't feel safe” with a lack of compliance at a business.  Our ultimate goal during our travels was to support the various local economies and small business owners, and we feel we were successful in our mission.