Sunday, January 21, 2018

Monday January 15 and 16th, 2018-Moving days-Bay Colony to Cottonwood RV Park, Mission TX

We left cold Dickinson this morning to what we hoped would be warmer temperatures in Mission. We got bad information (go figure!) from the weather-guessers on television about the expected weather this morning. We were told that temps would still be in the 30's and when we woke, it seemed that cold, so we didn't get in a hurry to pack up and leave. There was not that much to do and we didn't get started until after 8, but when I went out, expecting cold, I was pleasantly surprised at the warmer weather. I had also worried about the traffic in Houston and wanted to delay our leaving to give the morning rush to finish. I didn't think about it being a holiday (Martin Luther King) which had eliminated some of the traffic, so with our getting started later, we had no problems with traveling through Houston. We breezed right on through without even a slowdown.

We made the mandatory stop at Buc-ee's in Wharton for a bite of breakfast as well as a pit stop in the "cleanest rest rooms in the world". It was only a few miles to our overnight stop in Victoria at the Gateway to the Gulf RV park. For some reason, we were both tired and after a quick set-up, we were both napping in our theater seats. We ate a quick supper and were again down for the count. It started raining and got much colder during the night, so when I went outside to begin preparing to leave, I was surprised to find sleet falling and ice covering the drivers side of the truck and trailer. The wind was blowing hard, making it miserable to be outside, so I completed my job and went back inside to decide what we were going to do. We knew the park was supposed to fill up tonite, so since the ice wasn't sticking to the pavement, we decided to go for it and push on to Mission.

It continued to rain/sleet on us and the temps never went about about 33* on our way down. So much for warmer weather in the Rio Grand Valley! We took the suggested (Garmin) route of a shortcut to US 281 to go into Mission. I was surprised to find the U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint (southbound) was closed. The northbound side was open for business but everything on the southbound side was gone. I guess they finally figured out that the illegal aliens are going INTO the United States, not back into Mexico.

The rain had tapered off into on again/off again, but when we got to Cottonwood, it began to snow! How crazy is this? After dodging around some orange and tangerine trees, we finally got backed in. It seems much easier to get set up but the only difference is that I don't have to set up the satellite dish now but it does seem to go faster.

I told you it had been cold on the way down. To demonstrate, it was 47* inside the trailer when we went in and set up ALL the heaters and furnace! it didn't take long for the temp to come back up and we could thaw out. There wasn't much visiting with our friends that are already here, but we will start catching up with them soon.

Later in the afternoon, after the snow stopped falling (not sticking, we drove over to Martha's restaurant in Donna. This has been one of our favorite restaurants since we first came down here in 2009. We had stayed next door at the Casa Del Sol on our very first trip to the Valley. Good times...

It's good to be here with friends and many things to do.

So long.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Saturday January 6 thru Saturday January 14, 2018-Bay Colony RV Resort and Mailing Center

This will be another catch-up entry to bring things up to date on a week that we spent at "home" in Dickinson.

Saturday January 6th we just stayed home and rested from our trip down from Inks Lake. 

Sunday January 7th we drove up to the Rayford Crossing RV Resort in Spring to visit our friends Tommy and Susan. They took us to a tiny Oriental food restaurant, whose name escapes both Stella and I. The food was good and the service as well. We will try to find it again the next time we are in the area.

Monday January 8th, Stella had to go to the cardiologist for tests to be run. While she was in the office being tested, I sat outside in my truck reading my Kindle. 
Monday afternoon we drove to Stafford where we met my good friend Emile for lunch at the Sweet Tomato in Stafford. Sweet Tomato is one of my favorite restaurants and I try to go there as often as I can find one. They specialize in salads but they also have a nice selection of Italian dishes and a good selection of soups and breads. 

Tuesday January 9th we both went to doctors. We went to Dr. Dorothy Merritt in the morning for routine wellness checkups. All of my numbers were good and when they checked my vision, mine was better than Stella's! We both had to go to the cardiologist in the afternoon, me for  routine checkup and her for results of her tests. We both passed with flying colors and were told to return in 6-9 months, which we were glad to hear. At least now we don't have to make a flying trip down for an appointment with him.

Wednesday January 10th Stella did some shopping at the JC Penney's store and some others in the mall that is nearby. After shopping we went to Gringo's Tex Mex restaurant in Texas City to meet an old friend and classmate, John Maisel. John had damage to his home and wanted to buy a travel trailer to live in temporarily while his house is repaired and I helped him choose one. John and I lived close when we were in grade schools in Galveston. It was good to spend some time with him and catch up.

Thursday and Friday we just ran errands and got some things caught up. It rained some and the weather turned cool, but we got some things done that needed doing, so we made good use of our time.

Saturday we went to the Lakewood Yacht Club for a retirement party for Frances Carter, a long-time secretary for the Hall family that owned the Citizens State Bank where she and Stella worked for many years. It was good to see many old friends. Stella saw many people that she hadn't seen in years, after her retirement from the bank. Oh, the stories that those two can tell...!

Sunday we met Kim, Ray and Tyler for a late lunch at the Topwater Grill to celebrate my birthday. Kim had invited Cameron, who has moved out of her house to live with his dad, and he declined to come. His loss...
We had a delightful meal and visit with them. Tyler just turned 21 years old and I'm pretty sure that he will be venturing out on his own soon. I miss my boys.

That about sums up our boring week. We spent time with friends and family, got some errands done and most important of all, took care of our medicals, so we are clear to travel. Rally season will begin soon.

So long.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Friday January 5, 2018-Moving Day-Inks Lake state park to Bay Colony Resort and Mail Center

Today was the day that we dreaded. It is necessary for us to leave a couple of weeks early to make some doctor's visits in Dickinson, and today is the day. I always have such a good time with the deer hunters, and it's hard to leave, but it's important to take care of our health. 

We woke and began getting thing done inside. I went outside a little before 8 but since we don't have very far to go (275 miles) we weren't in too much of a hurry. I made good time outside with my chores, but several of our friends came by to say goodbye and I was probably delayed by an hour or more. I'm not complaining because it is so good to have many friends to say adios to. Stella's inside work went very well but we were still late in getting away. 

It was about 11 before we pulled out of our site, but we got flagged down at the headquarters by the parking crew. Our friends Bill, David and Dean came out to flag us down because our brand new Traveler television was still up! We had both forgotten to "stow" it in the travel position. We stopped on the road and tried to put it away, but soon learned that it takes 110 volts to operate the antenna, which meant that we had to turn around and go back to our site to hook up to power. I don't have the adapters to go from 50 amp to 15 amp any more. I had them when we had the house and kept the trailer plugged in at home, but that was 9 years ago. It didn't take long to get the antenna down, once power was hooked up, and we were again leaving, but it was about 11:30 when we pulled out of the gate. In our defense, this was the first time we have had to put the antenna down. When we left T&S, where we bought it, they hit the necessary buttons to stow it and today, each of us thought the other was taking care of it.

There was a bad accident with an overturned gasoline truck in Bertram, in the route that we had planned to take, so we took another route down U.S. highway 71 as an alternate route. The problem with route is that it took us through Austin and lots of traffic! As we drove, I noticed the estimated time of arrival on the GPS kept getting later and later. We were making good time (I thought) and going the normal speed but the time just kept slipping away. Maybe they were taking all the traffic into consideration... We hit Houston during the evening rush hour, which slowed us even more, but we finally pulled into the Bay Colony RV Resort about 4:30. Actually, this is about the normal time for the distance we traveled, so I guess it's not so bad. I was soon backed into the site and in a short time we were hooked up and home again! It's nice to hit a button and the TV antenna searches and locks automatically.

There is still a lot of damage and closed businesses in town from hurricane Harvey. We had planned to eat at either Whataburger or Monterrey Tex-Mex but both of them are still closed. Bummer! We ended up going to the Whataburger in League City and had a great meal. It's good to be back in our home area, but things have changed. Traffic is just as bad in little bitty Dickinson as it is in Houston. During rush hour, it's not unusual for it to take 10-15 minutes just to get out of the park parking lot! I guess that's life in the big city...

So long.

Thursday January 4, 2018-Inks Lake state park

This post will be the last one from Inks Lake for this year. I will show you some of the deer blinds but only the ones that I take hunters to. I will also show you some projects that are going on at the state park.

The main entrance sign. 

This is the truck that I have used for several years to take hunters out in.

Longhorn Caverns is another state park that is managed under the control of the Inks Lake staff. It is also on Park Road 4 and a short distance away.

The public areas along Park Road 4 are known as the Hoover Valley.

I will begin showing you the blinds in numerical order. This is #10, a regular, single blind. 

A view from in front of the blind. Look closely and you will see the deer feeder.

Blind #14 is an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) certified blind. It is designed for two people, the hunter and his/her assistant. There is a bard surface area, suitable to supporting and allowing a wheelchair to navigate. Also notice the ramp, and inside you will find a carpeted floor and a shooting able with a padded rifle rest. All of the ADA blinds are similarly equipped.

A view out into the pasture where the feeder is. It's about 80 yards to the feeder. 

#15 is another single blind. These are about half as wide as the ADA blinds.

This is a pond that is almost dry this year. For the last couple of years we haven't been able to use this blind because of high water in this blind. 

This is #16 and one of my favorite blinds. Many deer have been taken here and this year one of the largest deer was harvested here.

A close up view of the feeder.

When I walked up this morning to take these photos, I saw a group of three deer, a 6 point buck and two doe that ran off together. Then this pretty little doe, who was alone and stopped to check me out, ran from the area right in front of the deer blind. A split second after taking the photo shot, she too ran away.

On the way back to the park, I am always awed by the sight of the Falkenstein Castle. I can only guess at the breathtaking views from the upper stories from the castle.

The LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) has begun to drain Inks Lake for maintenance. The park will use it to repair the docks and boat landing while the water level is low.

I don't know if the entire lake will be drained but suspect that there will be small holes that will hold water. The lake is only about 800 acres but seems much larger. We were told that the fish in the lake will be able to go into other bodies of water along with the water.

No boat launching for awhile!

I always thought the water was deeper in front of the pier.

This is a group of LCRA employees that are searching for fresh-water mussels. The are aaaaall the way across the lake, but no one is safe from the zoom lens.

I certainly thought it was deeper here!

A view of the store from across

Construction crews are working on a new bathroom on the north end of the park. They haven't been too active this week, but I guess they want some time off between Christmas and New Year.

This is about the only ice remaining after all the cold weather. This is the back side of our trailer and is mostly in shade. I left a small Y-valve partially open to prevent freezing in my hose and this was the result. I hope that we've had the last of extreme cold weather for this year. I am ready for warm weather.

So long.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tuesday December 26, 2017-Inks Lake State Park

I'll begin with the deer hunt from last week. It was the youth hunt but for me, there was something lacking. As you may know, there has been some major changes here at the state park and not for the better as far as I'm concerned. The two people that are now "running" the deer hunts are inexperienced and uninterested in the hunts and seem to be in a holding pattern until they can hire someone new to deal with the responsibilities. There was a hold on hiring some months ago when the changes were made, and now we are in dire need of some help.

The kids didn't seem as excited this year as in the past, and I don't know why. Perhaps they have sensed something? The fact that things are run so loosely by people that have little knowledge of hunting? I just don't know...

Onward through the fog of the Christmas weekend. We drove down to Blessing to visit with Stella's family this holiday season. We haven't been down here for about three years, so we made the trip. We decided not to take the trailer down but to stay in a small motel near niece Jana's house in Midfield, which is a tiny little area just outside of Blessing. The little motel, the Bay Prairie Motel and Lodge (link will take you to a short video of the motel) is a very small, family run motel that is more commonly used by hunters that come to the area. When we checked in, the man in the office told us he had a room on the front side with a queen size bed that he could put us into. Actually he could have put us into any room in the place because we were the only ones there! The bed that he thought was a queen, was actually a double bed, but it was so comfy that we decided to stay in this room. Everything else in the room worked well but it was sure hard to get used to a 32" television without HD signal. We have a 55" with Hi Def-almost Ultra Hi Def- reception, but we made do with it. We were only there for a few days, so it wasn't that bad...

We had very nice visits with the family on both Christmas Eve when, the children opened their presents and on Christmas day, which was aimed more at the adults. We played a crazy game using a huge ball of cellophane wrap and a pair of dice to win prizes. Jana and her helpers wrapped lots of different prizes. lottery scratch-off tickets, different denominations of money, coins, tiny liquor bottles and candy into an enormous ball. The prizes were donated by the people that played the game, so it wasn't real expensive to anyone. 

Someone rolled the dice, trying to roll a double, while the person to their left unrolled the ball and keeping any prizes that they uncovered. It was a very fast-paced game that must have taken an hour to wrap up, but was over in minutes. I won a $5 bill and a couple of liquor bottles, so we came out okay. It was fun and made all the kids squeal when they won a prize.

As usual on a holiday, we all overate but it was a good time with family that we don't get to see very much. There was plenty to eat Sunday night, from homemade chili and tamales to several kinds of pies and cakes. Burp!!

I've gotta talk about the weather. We left Inks on Saturday to chilly temps but beautiful blue skies. Stella and I went over to nearby Palacios, where we ate at one of our favorite restaurants, the Palacios Mexican Restaurant. When we came out, it had turned quite chilly, so we hurried back to the motel where it was nice and warm. The cold front came through Saturday night and it was cold for the rest of the weekend. We had made arrangements back at home to keep things from freezing up and turned off the water and drained the lines. We set the furnace to come on to keep thing from freezing up, but set the thermostat at 50, not the normal 70's when we are there. It apparently worked because when we returned home, everything was working fine.

There are no hunters this week but they will return the week after. 

So long.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday December 16, 2017-Inks Lake state park

To begin today's entry, the third deer hunt went well. This was a novice hunter event, meaning all the hunters were adults with no experience in hunting. Their first day (Tuesday) was spent training at a gun range and getting in the "Hunting 101" course offered by TPWD. It was cold again this week but there was no rain. I neglected to take any photos of the hunters, but it was a good experience for all of them. I drove for Tony and his son Bobby and Jai. Tony and Jai were mentored and advised by Dustin and Clay who both work for TPWD.

Yesterday, Stella and I drove over to the Canyon of the Eagles Nature Preserve just outside of Burnet. This property is owned and operated by the LCRA (Lower Colorado River Association), and although we have seen the signs for this place for years, we have never been here. We drove about 15 miles out to the preserve, which is at the dead-end of Ranch Road 2431. We thought it was worth the drive to see some eagles. A day pass cost only $6, and we were directed to the park store on the banks of Lake Buchanan to see the eagles, but they were all the way across the lake! We went down but didn't see any eagles, but with the recent weather, we weren't too surprised. We also drove to the Eagle Observatory, but it was a night-time star viewing area. Bummer...

The grounds are very pretty, there is a resort with cabins, an RV park with full hookups and several picnic areas, so it might be worth a weekend to check it out.

Yesterday was the annual Park Host Appreciation dinner. In the past, the park employees had prepared all the food and one time, they acted in a skit that was fun to watch. This year the Friends of Inks Lake group had bought the pork loins and chicken thighs to be barbecued by Darryl a park employee but Hosts were asked to bring side dishes and desserts. The food was all good but we ran a bit short on side dishes. 

Last Sunday, we went with Don and Linda to visit the Fort Croghan Museum and grounds for their Christmas celebration. They had lots of folks dressed in 1800's costumes in each of the houses on the grounds and it was a nice night. We ate some period cookies, drank some hot cherry cider and looked through the museum first and the grounds after. We love museums and it was nice to see the costumes in the old buildings. 

While there, I met Millie the Director of the museum, when I asked about their hours. I learned that the museum closes for the winter months, but she agreed to meet me here today (Saturday) so that I could take some pictures. Don came with me, and we enjoyed hearing Millie talk about the museum and the history of this area.

This was a cabin that housed a man and his wife and eleven children! Wow, 13 people in a very small building.

This is called a dog-trot building. The left side is the kitchen and the right side is the living and bedroom. Remember, this was in the 1850's, so there was no electricity, and obviously before the days of television. Maybe that's the reason the other couple had 11 children...LOL

This tiny building is the schoolhouse.  


I hope that you can blow this Rules for Teachers up enough to read it!

What would a school house be without a bathroom. 

This is a list of soldiers that were lost in 1852-1853 while serving at Fort Croghan.

Millie told us that they had a "brush arbor" but now they have an outdoor meeting area. They had a wedding here a couple of months ago.

Every village needed a blacksmith shop. It was more impressive the other night, when there were people inside, working on blacksmith projects.

Inside of the blacksmith shop.

We had a very nice visit with Millie today and we are thankful for her to have opened for us to take photos.

It began to rain as we left, and now a few hours later, the temperature has dropped, so we are warm and snug at home. The deer hunts will continue next week, so please stay tuned.

So long.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday December 8, 2017-Inks Lake State Park

This was the second week of ADA (disabled hunter) deer hunts here at Inks Lake. This program has been going on since 2015, when a local business owner wanted to find a way for his adult daughter who had been in an ATV accident, resulting in her being a quadriplegic, to deer hunt again. He sponsored the first deer hunt here at Inks and it has blossomed into a much larger hunt with a total of seven custom-made deer blinds that are ADA-compliant, complete to a hard packed surface around the blinds, suitable to supporting a wheel chair and a carpeted interior that is large enough to allow full movement of a wheel chair and still allow room for an office-type chair for another person if the hunter wants or needs another person with them.

Here are our for hunters, Michael, Jason, Shane and Bryan. 

A very nice 10 point buck that weighed about 140 pounds.

A very happy deer hunter!

The hunt was successful, with five deer harvested. The weather did not cooperate very well, turning off cold and rainy on the last two days of hunting, but everyone still enjoyed it.

Next week will be a Novice Hunter event. This is adults that have never hunted or haven't hunted in several years. We began this hunt last year and it was a lot of fun as well as instructional to everyone. I'll tell you more about it next week.

Yesterday was our anniversary. (38. Long. Years.) We celebrated with our friends Chip & Bunky and David & Diane at the Bluebonnet Cafe in Marble Falls. As usual, the food and service was great!

So long.