Sunday, April 29, 2012

Friday April 27, 2012-Gulf State Park-Alamissibamasippi rally

Friday morning was another nice one with cool temps until the sun came up over the trees. I went over to Bill and Ornell's place this morning to drink coffee with Bill and plan our day. While there, he offered me some scrambled eggs with sausage on a tortilla, so I got breakfast out of the way too. There were some seminars scheduled for today but Bill, David and I decided not to go to either of them. One was on maintenance of trailer wheel bearings and brakes, but I didn't want to go because we typically stay in parks or resorts that don't allow this type of work to be done there. I know the basics of packing wheel bearings, but since I will have someone with a shop do the work, there was no need to go to the seminar. The second seminar was on boondocking, or staying someplace without any hookups and we simply never do this. To us, boondocking means staying somewhere with on 50 amp electric service so we can only run one air conditioner!

We went to the grocery store with Bill and Ornell and went to a Wal Mart Market. This was our first time to go to one of these. They have about the same selection of groceries as a Super Wal Mart, but that is all they sell. No hardware, sporting goods or housewares found here! It was different but I still prefer a regular grocery store. We only needed a few items, so it worked out pretty well.

We came back home and started to prepare for the big potluck dinner tonight. There were something like 58 people in attendance at this rally, so there was plenty of food to eat. It was delicious as usual, and everyone seemed to have a great time.

So long.

Thursday April 26, 2012-Gulf State Park-Alamissibamasippi rally

Thursday morning I was up early to take my large coffee pot to Jim B's trailer for a potluck breakfast at his place. There was a good turnout for breakfast and we met and visited with a lot of new people. These folks in the Alabama/Mississippi chapter are very friendly and we have had a good time with them. The potluck breakfast started at 9 and we didn't come back home until about 11.

We were supposed to have gone to Lambert's Restaurant today but decided to just stay around here and hang out. We do that very well and I think that all of us got in good naps today. The weather has been spectacular this week. It has been cool at night and in the morning but so far, hasn't got that hot during the day.

Tonight there was an ice cream social in the activity building (rally hall). We met up there about 7 and managed to eat about 7 half-gallons of Blue Bell ice cream along with assorted toppings of strawberries, chocolate and butterscotch syrup, and of course, whipped cream. It was a great way to meet others, and I spent a lot of time talking to new people.

Some friends of mine and fellow blogger, Michael and Kelly B arrived during the social time. They parked their trailer in the parking lot and Jim B. escorted them to their site. Together, Jim, I and other neighbors helped Michael get backed into his site. It was good to finally meet them after having followed their blog for some time. Michael is in the Army and will retire 1 October and they will "hit the road" then. They are already living in their Landmark and cannot wait to get out and go!

We are having a ball here and will return in the future.

So long.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wednesday April 25, 2012-Gulf State Park, Gulfshores ALA.

Today we were up early to drive a short distance to the Pensacola Naval Air station to watch the Navy Blue Angels practice.

Here is a short video of them in flight. Most of my photos didn't turn out that well because they are going by so fast and the sun is so bright that I couldn't really see what I was taking.

Trust me, it was a great time and a wonderful show. I highly recommend it to anyone that is in the area.

This is pretty cool, we are staying in Alabama but about a 30 minute drive away from Florida! We filled in two new states in our States Visited map.

When we left the show, we stopped off at a place called The Crab Trap for an early lunch. The food was pretty good but nothing to write home about. We came on back home and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon before going to LuLu's for supper. LuLu is Jimmy Buffet's sister, so he is the draw for this place. Since we were a party of over 20, there was a long wait for a table. When the food finally arrived, it wasn't all that good but it was filling. We then didn't get back here until almost 10 but at least we learned something about this restaurant and where not to go!

So long.

Tuesday April 24, 2012-Moving day-Poche's Fish N Camp to Gulf State Park, Gulf Shores Alabama

I was up with a couple of cups of coffee in me before 7, ready to hit the road to Alabama! Things went very well, with everything going back in place until we were completely ready to pull out and tried to pull up the jacks. The electric stabilizers had over extended and refused to budge. I worked and worked with them and finally got them started back up, but they only went up a few inches and froze up again. Darn!

I tried to run them up manually, using a furnished crank handle. Working against the motor was very hard, and I only got a couple of turns on the handle when the shaft broke. Now what can I do! I tried moving the stabilizer again with the switch, but it still wouldn't go, so Bill and I decided to simply remove the whole stabilizer. It was only held on by 6 bolts, but as soon as we started trying to remove them, the heads broke off of the bolts! After awhile we got the bolts removed and the thing taken off. There is no place to store it while traveling, so we decided to go to the office to talk to Verdie and see if I can store it here until we return next week. She said we could, so we carried it to her shed.

Finally! we are ready to pull out! We are only about 30 minutes late, so we're still in good shape. I had not driven very far out of our site before being flagged down by another resident to tell me that our antenna was up. Holy Crap, what ELSE can go wrong?

We were soon on the road again and met up with David and Susan at the truck stop and were on the Interstate soon after that. We made good time through Louisiana and Mississippi and were into Alabama by mid afternoon. We pulled into the state park where the Alamissibamassippi chapter rally is going to be held.

I was very apprehensive about the jacks and how they would work with the stabilizer removed. They are a part of the system when in Automatic Leveling mode but with them removed, the system just sat there, looking for the stabilizers, so we reset the system and manually leveled the trailer using the four jacks. Thank Goodness! We are as level as ever and there is no movement of the trailer, so all is well, at least for now.

We got all set up and met our neighbors and relaxed for the evening. The weather is great here and we are looking forward to a good rally, meeting old friends and making new ones.

So long.

Monday April 23, 2012-Poche's Fish N Camp

We didn't do much of anything at all today, just laid around and visited with Bill and Ornell. We went to the grocery store in the afternoon and to Floyd's Market in Breaux Bridge. Floyd is the actual co-owner of the RV park but his sister Verdie runs it while he runs his small grocery store. He has a ready-made food section with great pies and some of the best bread pudding we have found. We all bought some and returned home to eat with our coffee in the afternoon.

We planned to meet David at a truck stop on the highway about 8:30 in the morning, so we all turned in pretty early to get up and get going in the morning. Guess what happened??

So long.

Sunday April 22, 2012-Moving day-Rayford Crossing to Poche's Fish N Camp

The rally is over, and now comes the work of moving over to Breaux Bridge LA to Poche's Fish N Camp. We started out s little after 7 but with most everyone else leaving today, it took longer to get packed up and put away and visit with all my friends too.

We didn't get away until about 11AM which is a far cry from the "between 9 & 10" that we had planned on. Even with two pretty long stops, we made it to Poche's Fish N Camp about 4:15. Bill and Ornell were waiting for us and made hamburger patties and pork chops for supper.

We've been having trouble with our Level Up system. It seems to have lost it's memory and reverses some of the functions. We have learned to use the system in manual mode, which is still much better than the old electric jacks and putting blocks under the wheels to level. More on this later...

So long.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saturday April 21, 2012-Rayford Crossing RV Resort

The second day of the rally began with a huge caravan of pickup trucks going to the Furr's Fresh Buffet restaurant for breakfast, courtesy of Ron Hoover RV's. We all had a great breakfast, although there were a few problems with the wait staff not getting drinks out as soon as some people wanted them, but it all worked out.

We returned to the park and hung out for the rest of the morning. We had a speaker from Sky Med, a medical evacuation company for RV'ers. It is a good service and we may take advantage of it sometime in the future. The service seemed to be a hit and some people signed up for it.

There was a change of plans for our potluck dinner tonight. Some of the members wanted to have the meat catered, and we decided on barbecue from Pitmasters. We took up a collection to pay for the barbecue and the club had to buy a little more, but we had plenty of meat. Pat and I went down and picked it up and brought it back to the park, and the group loved it!

Ron Hoover gave us some outstanding gifts to give out in addition to the door prizes that we had bought. Everyone was very surprised at the prizes, but we did have an issue with the Bobcat winning the Carryout antenna and then auctioning it off. It was the talk of the rest of the rally, but everyone had a good time.

We came back to our site and sat out by a fire in the firepit until after 10 o'clock! I was exhausted by the time the festivities were over. All the hard work was worth it!

So long.

Friday April 20, 2012-Rayford Crossing RV Resort

Today is the first official day of our Chapter rally here in Spring. I spent all day greeting new arrivals which was very tiring. There were several new people that were attending this rally, so it was important to meet them as soon as I could after their arrival.

Friday night, we were supposed to have had a cookout in my site, using the gas grill that is furnished but it began to rain and we had to move into the Rayford room. We used the two grills there and everyone that came seemed to have a good time. I was a little disappointed at the turnout but since it was raining, many decided to eat in their trailers or go out, and we had a pretty good showing. We sat around chatting until everyone got tired and went home. It was a good first day!

So long.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thursday April 19, 2012-Rayford Crossing RV Resort

Coffee with the guys again this morning began my day. I'm really going to miss this when we leave...

As a follow up to yesterday's destruction of my satellite dish, I got a call from Joe, owner of the lawn service that had damaged mine, this morning and he said that he had found another dish identical to mine at Ron Hoover RVs in Katy at a price that he could afford. I told him to make the purchase and I would save him the time and trouble of picking it up by going over to the store to get it. There was a method to my madness because they are sponsoring the rally this weekend and I wanted to talk to them about that. Texas Bobcat, one of my club members offered to ride with me, so we went over and picked up the new dish, along with some other assorted items that we needed. Bob also needed to go to the Camping World store so we made that short drive. It took us most of the day but we got back to Rayford before the traffic got too bad.

When we got back, a good group of us went to the Casa Imperial mexican restaurant for supper. It was a very nice way to end the day with some very good food with friends.

So long.

Wednesday April 18, 2012-Rayford Crossing RV Resort

The main thing we did today was to ride down to Texas City to get some things out of storage that I needed. Also, Jeremy had called last night to tell us that Kim had been in a traffic accident yesterday and although she was all right, her car was totaled. We wanted to go by and check on her, especially since our storage is right around the corner from her house.

She was fine when we got there, and we didn't stay very long before heading back to Spring. While on our way, I decided to call our old friend Harry so we could go by and check on him while we were in town. He and Judy recently moved to a new park and we wanted to look at it for a possible location to stay in the future. Harry was fine and we didn't stay long and managed to miss most of the bad evening traffic in Houston.

When we got home, we found a note on the front door from a guy named Joe, who was sub-contracting for the company that has the contract with Rayford, telling me that his lawn service guys had cut the cable to our satellite dish. I called him before I checked the dish and told him that a cut cable should be no problem, but I soon found that not only had the cable been cut, it had torn out the power plug into the satellite and bent the cable plug, in effect destroying the dish. I called Joe back immediately and gave him the bad news. He was shocked when he learned the price of the small antennas, and told me that he didn't have the money to buy a new one, nor did he have insurance. I knew that the park requires all workers to have insurance, so I went to visit with the office to let them know what had happened. Melissa and Gwen were surprised when they found out what I had been told, and told me that it would be taken care of for me. Joe called me back and promised to find a replacement antenna and that he would call me tomorrow. We'll see how that works out...!

So long.

Tuesday April 17, 2012-Rayford Crossing RV Resort

Tuesday began as another laid back day, with coffee with the guys again. Today there were 11 in, and most were residents at Rayford instead of Heartlant friends.

Pat took Lori and Stella to shop for door prizes for the rally today. While they were gone, I got an email from Marti inviting us to go eat with her and Tom at Mel's Country Kitchen in Tomball. I invited Bob & Pat and Berry & Janet to go along, so we had a good group! We all enjoyed our meals and were stuffed when we left. Tom and Marti invited Pat and Lori and us to their house, and we sat outside in their back yard, enjoying the night with our friends.

It was a great day and we can't wait for our other friends to begin arriving for the rally.

So long.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday April 16. 2012-Rayford Crossing RV Resort

I went to morning coffee again with the guys here for the first time in a long time. There were only about five of us this morning, but we're expecting more every day. I don't know why Rayford stopped having the morning coffee, but we got it started again.

It was a rainy morning today, so we came on back home and hung out for awhile with Pat and Lori. Lori wanted to see some of the sights in the area, so it wasn't very long before we were on our way to the Prison Museum in Huntsville. It is an interesting place, and special to me because of all the people that I put in prison in my career.

We came on back home and relaxed for a bit before eating a supper of shrimp and pasta fixed by Lori. It was a nice way to end a day with friends and the beginning of the Heartland rally for us.

So long.

Saturday and Sunday, April 14 & 15, 2012-Sims RV Village, moving day

We went over to the Ford field baseball complex to watch Cameron's team, the Houston Bengals, play baseball this weekend.

Here is Tyler and Kim. Notice that 15 year old Tyler is a head taller than his mom!

Cameron only pitched one inning but he did great! He struck out two batters and a ground ball that was hit back to him was an easy out too. They let a different boy pitch each inning, but Cam was the best pitcher today and I don't understand not letting the best pitchers keep on pitching. Maybe that's why I was never a coach.

Cam is also a good hitter. He hit two all the way to the fence and scored runs himself as a base runner.

On Saturday, they tied the first game but came from behind and won the second. On Sunday morning they won their first game but lost the second. We watched the first game on Sunday but had to go back to Bill's house to pack up and leave for Spring.

We made an easy drive to Houston, and even though rain had been forecast, we only went through a couple of small showers. These only cleared off some of the dirt and bugs off the front of the trailer, and we pulled into Rayford about 3:30.

Several of my old friends that are still here came by and we made plans to have coffee again in the morning. It was good to be back among friends!

So long.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Friday April 13, 2012-Bill and Ornell Sims' house

We had a very laid-back day today. We woke and then went with Bill to run some errands around Beaumont. It was nice to just ride with him and not have to drive! I have been driving for most of my life and since we retired, I have been the only driver, so it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the view as we drove around town. I have always loved to people-watch.

After completing the errands, we went to the grocery store to pick up a few items and then returned home. Bill and I could hear our recliners calling us to come spend some time in them, so we did! I got about an hour of naptime but I'm not sure how much time Bill got. He's got a new puppy (Sophie) and she is a ball of fire!

Ornell has been working nights this weeks, so when she woke up, we decided to go eat some Mexican food tonight before she had to leave for work. We went to the Taco Rey restaurant in Nederland. This is an old family run restaurant and the food was very good. They have a small 3 man band on Friday, and it was enjoyable to sit and listen to the music after our meal.

We have spent a lot of time sitting outside while we are here. The weather has been very pleasant but I'll bet it won't be long until it warms up and makes sitting outside impossible. We'll take it while we can though..

So long.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thursday April 12, 2012-Moving day-Caddo Lake NWR to Bill and Ornell Sims house

The day we have anticipating has arrived. Since we didn't get anything done yesterday to prepare for moving, we had to get a pretty early start. I went down and opened the gates for the last time about 6:30 and came back home, intending to get started early but went back to sleep in my chair. Imagine that! Stella woke about 7:30 and we after a quick bite of breakfast, we began working a little after 8. Jason came by to tell us goodbye, which was nice of him. I drove down to put our trash in the dumpster, intending to tell Josh goodbye, but forgot that he took off on a weekend vacation and was gone.

The pack-up went well and by about 10 we were ready to go.

Stella drove the Tahoe back to the office and dropped the keys in Gary's office. While there, she met up with Mark and he walked her out to tell me goodbye. The employees here are so nice!

The trip to Bill's house went well with no problems. We took a break in Carthage at a truck stop but were there longer than I wanted to be. Oh well, we're not in a hurry. We made it to Bill's a little after 3 or just about right on time. I had told him that we'd be there between 2:30 and 3, and if we hadn't stayed longer at the truck stop, would have made it.

We got all set up without incident except that the satellite dish wouldn't lock in. I'll have to work on it tomorrow, I was too tired to fool with it any more today. We tuned in to the local channels, so we had TV to watch. It's good to be back at our friend's home for a few days.

So long.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wednesday April 11, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

I was sleeping very well in my recliner this morning about 6:30 when one of those darn trains woke me with a very weird horn. I've never heard anything like it before. It was very loud of course, but the sound was kind of a tone sound that rose and fell like a siren. When it woke me, I thought it had to be something like a warning, like a fire or bad weather alert or something. I even looked at the radar app on my phone to be sure that a tornado was bearing down on us or something. I finally realized that it was just a train, but it sure surprised and alarmed me!

We decided to go into Marshall to buy some groceries and as it turned out, it was a good thing that we did. Stella was almost through with her purchases when my phone rang. It was Jason from the refuge, asking if we could take another bird to Barbara, the bird rehab lady in Lindale. I told him that we could, so Stella had to cut her shopping short and we blew off some other errands that we were going to do while in town, and returned to the refuge. I called the lady that had found the bird, Amy, and got directions to her house in Jefferson. By the time we finally got on the road with the owl that she had picked up, it was after 2 in the afternoon. We made the almost 90 mile drive without any problems, and were soon pulling up at Barbara's house with the owl. She came out and said it was a juvenile Great Barred owl that had suffered a broken wing. She said that it was not a life threatening injury, but that the bird would never fly again. It was an old injury and the bone had dried out and died at one of the joints of the wing, but she would care for the bird until she could find it a home. I told her that Amy had been advised by the sheriff's department that she had called, to just leave the bird alone and "let nature take its course". She said she has heard that so many times, even from game wardens but it makes her mad. Now she and other bird and animal caregivers are people that need support! Their costs for food and medicines have to be out of sight! I can only imagine...

We had a nice little chat with Barbara before returning to the refuge. She is a retired Police Officer too, so we have a lot in common to talk about. She is very envious of our lifestyle and said her sister and her husband full-timed until their deaths. We told her of our plans for the rest of the year and that we would think of her in July and August when we will be in Colorado and it's 110 degrees in east Texas.

If you would like more information about donating or giving support to Barbara, please leave me a message or email me and I will find out for you.

So long.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday April 10, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Todd and Sue were ready to leave about 8 this morning, so we went outside to see them off. They have about 1200 miles to get home to Michigan and want to get an early start. We sent them on their way with hugs and handshakes and it was sad to see them go. Who will we have drinks with in the afternoon now?

I decided to mow this morning because it is looking pretty shaggy around here. I went to the shop and talked to Josh a little bit before getting the Kubota Zero Turn mower and starting out. It took a while to get the hang of using "joysticks" instead of a steering wheel but I got it figured out and about five hours later, I was through!

Todd called about 5:30 to tell me that they were in Illinois already! Wow, that's much further than we would have driven in one day, but they are excited about getting back home after being gone over three months. We just stayed inside and did nothing for the rest of the afternoon, because I was tired and sunburned and of course, there was no one else to hang out with.

Tomorrow will be our last full day here too, so we will begin our preparations to leave then. We are excited to be leaving, but dreading having to put everything away after being here two months. I know we'll get 'er done!

So long.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday April 9, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Today was a very laid-back day for all of us. The refuge was taking all the employees and volunteers out for lunch to honor us and to thank us for our work. They gave us certificates with our hours that we worked on them along with a lapel pin showing the hours. Our totals showed that we had worked almost 40 hours a week between us for the two months that we've been here. We got certification for the classes we took on invasive species that can be used at any U.S. facility. I also received training in operating the John Deere mower and the Kubota "Zero Turn" mower that can also be transferred to other locations. See, I'm already qualified for another volunteer job!

We went to Cajun Tex again because it was the only restaurant that had a private room available today, and the food was very good. I had the chicken fried steak, and even though it was the lunch size, it was HUGE! We all enjoyed our meals and visiting with the refuge employees. They are very nice and I can assure you that we will be back here as soon as we can work it into our schedule.

We returned home and Todd and Sue began preparing to leave tomorrow. We will miss them when they're gone. We have come to like our afternoon happy hours! We did get together with them and Josh and his fiancee Jennifer. Todd and Sue had promised to take them out for an engagement dinner, but the timing had never worked out and tonight, everyone was still full from lunch, so we just made snacks and had drinks on the pavilion. It was a very nice way to end our last night together.

So long.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sunday April 8, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

Happy Easter!!

We drove over to Tyler this morning to Doug and Linda's house to meet Janie and Gail and other members of the family to celebrate Easter. They attend the Green Acres Baptist Church that we've been to before. It is by far the largest Baptist church that we've ever been to.

Today the church was exceptionally packed with the seldom-goers, like us! I always say I will go back to church soon, but something always seems to come up and I don't make it.

We went back to Doug and Linda's house for lunch of cold cuts and sandwiches and had some really good visiting time with the family and enjoyed our visit. When we got through with lunch and chatting after, six of us went over to cousin Butch's house where we met with him and his wife Cathy. Butch told us that he is going on a mission trip to Asia soon and we all wished him well.

We returned to the refuge to find Todd, Sue and Gary just finishing up their Easter feast on the pavilion. We sat outside talking to them for awhile before turning in for the night. It had been a great day with family and ended with good friends.

So long.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Saturday April 7, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

This morning, we went to work around 10 and by the early afternoon, the kiosk was FINISHED!! You have been hearing me talk about working on it, so here it is:

The plan is to put some peg board or glass enclosed displays that may house both notices and the sign-up sheets for the equestrian trails. There is also a plan to add a bench that is under the overhang for people to sit or to take shelter from bad weather.

Here are Todd and I, tired, but feeling good about our project. Todd worked much harder that I did, but he is the experienced carpenter and I was just his helper. I did take part in the construction, cutting boards, nailing, fitting etc. and I learned a lot about carpentry. The A frames conceal large braces that made the structure much more stable. We covered them with cedar, as well as the feet under the walls just to make it look more "finished". We are very proud of our work.

Here are Todd and Sue, our friends that you've heard so much about. They will be returning home to Michigan a couple of days before we leave. We hope to return here again when they are here.

After finishing up the work on the kiosk, we put away all the tools and the excess lumber and cleaned up around the new structure, put the trailer away and parked the service truck inside the shop, so we in fact done!

We came home and rested for a couple of hours and then went to Marshall to The Jalapeno Tree restaurant where we bought Todd and Sue's supper as a send-off present. The meal was good and we all had a good time.

So long.

Friday April 6, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

We woke to cooler temperatures and nice weather. It turned out to be a great day here. Hope your Good Friday was good too!

Our "place" at the refuge. We back up to a wide grassy area with woods behind. So far, we haven't seen any "critters" in the woods, but the dogs won't go into the grass after dark.

Here is Stella with our "kids" Cassie on the left and Tramp on the right. She is standing in front of Big Red, the four wheeler that we have been using.

One of the many trails in the refuge. This one in particular is on the equestrian trail and was built on an old railroad bed that the army took out. As you can see, they took out not only the rails and cross ties, but also the rock bed, leaving the dirt which was leveled and packed down to make this trail.

I don't quite understand why the army demolishes everything when they leave a base. It seems to me that some other government agency will likely take over the installation and could possibly use some or all of the buildings. I know that some of the building that were built back during the 2nd World War were built with asbestos and used lead-based paints, so it is less expensive to just tear them down, but not all the buildings were built this way. Maybe this is a small part of why the government is BROKE!

Todd and I were supposed to work on the kiosk again this morning, but he still didn't feel well, so we put off the work until this afternoon. Our friends Gene and Linda were coming by today to visit us. They are staying at the Brushy Creek COE park that is nearby. When they arrived, they decided to take a bicycle ride through the refuge on the auto-tour route. I was very impressed when they returned and told me that they had ridden all the way to Starr ranch on their bikes. It's about 2 miles of rough gravel road down to the ranch but they made it! And that's not to mention the four or five miles driven on the roads to get to the gravel road. It's been so long since I've been on a bike, I wouldn't remember how to ride one. Beside that, bicycles and I don't have a good history. My first two got stolen and I got hit by a car on the third and almost died. Seriously. But, enough about my past history.

When they got back we loaded up in our truck and went over to Jefferson for lunch. We ate at Kitt's Kornbread again and it was very good. Gene and Linda had salads but Stella and I had the cornbread sandwiches and we all enjoyed our meals. We'll spend more time with Gene and Linda in September in Colorado, and I told them that I would get Stella to experiment with some cornbread recipes so she can make us some sandwiches when we all get there.

We returned to the refuge and took Gene and Linda on a tour of the refuge. Now keep in mind that this is a part of our duties here and I wasn't just trying to get out of helping Todd to build the kiosk. Driving around with my friends is important too!

I took them to some of the historic places on the refuge and they enjoyed the tour. I took them to the INF area where the Pershing missiles were destroyed, showed them where the Russian delegation stayed while the missile destruction was going on and then showed them the original trailer where the Russians lived.

When we got through with the tour, we returned here and they soon left for Brushy Creek. Todd had gotten help from Will but they were through for the day, so we went inside and relaxed until a late happy hour with Todd and Sue.

Here is a link that Todd sent me on the revitalization and rebuilding of the Starr ranch. You probably won't want to read the entire article but there are some good photos of the ranch and some of the employees that are still here. I would love to have seen the ranch property when it was still being used.

So long.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday April 5, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

We went out this morning with intentions of finishing up the kiosk in a few hours, but when we got started nailing up the front fascia board, Todd hurt his back and we had to stop for him to rest his back. He ended up going to the Urgent Care hospital in Marshall. The doctor (actually a PA) there gave him some muscle relaxants and he felt immediate relief.

On their way back to the refuge, they decided to stop at the KFC to pick up some chicken for all of us, so when they returned we had a nice meal out on the pavilion. It was a good way to end a bad day, but Todd should be back to normal tomorrow. We'll see...

So long.

Wednesday April 4, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

We woke to a rain-soaked refuge. It had rained all night long and there was lots of water everywhere. We needed to get some good work-time in on the kiosk because both of our times here ending in a week or so. Todd and Sue leave next Tuesday and we leave Thursday, so we've got to get this thing built!

We got everything on the ground level completed today, leaving only the roof and roof trim to do. We were both getting tired of working on this thing but it will be worth it when we get done. I'll take some photos of it when it's through.

This afternoon we learned that tomorrow we need to go to Longview and pick up the Bobcat that Josh took in for service. WE went down to check the truck and trailer but when we got there, neither the truck nor the trailer had tail lights, brake lights or turn signals. This one is out! We thought about taking the service truck that we had been using all week but Gary changed his mind and told us not to go. It was just as well with us because we really want to finish the kiosk tomorrow. The weather should cooperate so we should finish with no problem.

So long.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tuesday April 3, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

We woke this morning to cloudy skies and a further threat of rain. We decided to just hang out and wait out the weather, so we ran some maps over to the Caddo Lake state park for them. We ran some other errands and checked out the auto tour route for downed trees but didn't find any.

We came back home and waited out the rain, since it had begun raining a couple of times. finally, a little before noon, the weather turned and the sun came out and so we went down and loaded up our tools and went back to the kiosk to work some more. We worked for about four hours when the winds came up and the clouds returned, so we put everything away and came back home. Just about the time we got back home, it began to rain in earnest!

I came inside and learned about the tornadoes that were hitting the Dallas area. I called Jennifer and Melissa and found that they were fine but a bit freaked out by the tornado warnings. Satisfied that the kids were safe, all we could do was sit inside and listen to the rain. Tramp and Cassie got real excited over the thunder but we didn't have any trouble until I had to go out and lock the gates. Let me tell you, it wasn't a good night to be out in the weather. It was everything I could do to get out and close the gates and I was almost immediately soaked, but I got 'er dun! I came back home and hung up my wringing wet clothes and snuggled in wearing my warm sweats. It continued to rain all night but we didn't have any really bad weather and that's a relief.

So long.

Monday April 2, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

We got to work pretty early this morning, again trying to finish up the kiosk. We went to the shop to get the service truck and trailer with our equipment on them to start and talked to John, the forester here at the refuge. We had a chat with him about any new projects that need to be taken care of before we leave and future projects that are planned. As we got ready to leave, I told John about a suspected alligator nest at Starr ranch so we drove down to see it. John said it did indeed look like an alligator nest but was a little small but it could still be under construction and not yet in use. I guess we'll keep an eye on it and take some action when it is verified.

We worked steadily on the kiosk all day but the skies began clouding up and it started to rain lightly, so we put everything back on the truck and trailer and barely got the trailer backed into the shop when the bottom dropped out. It rained hard for an hour or so, and the four of us met up in the pavilion to plan the rest of the afternoon. We decided to go over to Marshall to eat at Cajun-Tex and then to go shopping.

I tried the Cajun food, etoufee and some kind of mystery meat fried pies. Everyone else had the wings, but my food was very good. We all enjoyed our food and then went our separate ways to do our shopping. We went to Tractor Supply and bought Tramp a new halter. His old one is now too tight, so we fixed him up with a new one that fits him.

We went on back home in another light rain, but it had stopped by the time we got back here to the refuge. I guess we're still catching up with last year's drought. Doing it in a big way up here!

So long.

Sunday April 1, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

We all decided to take today off because we were tired from working every day, so we all just stayed inside for most of the morning. Around noontime Todd decided to take his four wheeler back to the shop because he thought John might need it but Stella and I decided to go for another ride on Big Red before we put it away. We rode down the equestrian trail but stopped after only going about half way and decided to go back home for a bit.

Todd had decided that he needed to do some more work on the kiosk today, so he and Sue had gotten the service truck out and hooked the trailer up to it and were working on it. Not only did Stella and I get to ride on the four wheeler, we picked up an ice chest that was full of water that had been left out on the trail for the horse people yesterday and removed a few small trees and limbs from the trails, so everyone got in a little work today. We got the Tahoe and took Big Red down and cleaned and gassed it up later in the afternoon. For a day off, we had all gotten in a few hours of work today. We met for our usual happy hour om the pavilion, closing out another nice day.

So long.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Saturday March 31, 2012-Caddo Lake NWR

We were up and on the move early this morning for the dedication of a new sign on the equestrian trail for Doc Stevenson. Doc is a member of the "friends" group here at the refuge and was instrumental in establishing the trails here. I met Doc a couple of weeks ago when he dropped by for a visit. He is a very nice man and a retired physician that lives some distance from the refuge.

I drove the auto tour route very early this morning when I went out to open the gates, checking for down trees or other obstructions in the roads but found nothing. We wiped the two side by side four wheelers down again and took them to the dedication site. Todd and Sue set up a small tent and the flags. When we got through with the last minute preparations, we returned here for a last cup of coffee before it was time to go.

There were several people already in attendance when we got there, but many soon arrived. A lot of horse people arrived with their horses for the scheduled ride after the dedication. I met the Sheriff of the county, Tom McKool and one of his Chief Deputies, Jay Webb. Sheriff McKool and I had a very nice visit and I learned that we have a common friend, Ken Head. Ken and the Sheriff were State Game Wardens but both are now retired.

When the dedication was through, Mark, the refuge director, asked me to drive one of the four wheelers to take one of the two reporters for a ride around the trails. I met Jane, a reporter for the Arkansas-Louisiana-Texas magazine out of Texarkana. We enjoyed the ride out in the country along the equestrian trails and only ran into a couple of problem spots, but the Rhino four wheeler did well and we didn't even come close to getting stuck. Jane took a lot of photos, many more than the editor will use, but she is prepared to do follow-up stories about the refuge. Please look for the article in the May edition of the magazine which is published on the first Monday of the month.

When we finished our trail tour, we returned to the visitors center and took a break. The friends group had furnished hot dogs and chips for everyone but we only got something to drink. I then took Jane and Gail, another friend of the park, on a tour of the park grounds. I pointed out several historical sites in the park as well as the Starr ranch to the two ladies. They enjoyed the drive and Jane took more photos. I will be very interested in what appears in her article in the magazine.

We returned to the visitors center and had a hot dog as the party dwindled down. It had been a very nice day and I enjoyed meeting Jane and spending the day showing her around.

So long.