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.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thursday November 30, 2017-Inks Lake state park

We will begin with our neighbors (across the street) bringing in their new Heartland Bighorn model 3870FB. Like us, they also bought their trailer from our friends at T & S Enterprises in Navasota. They left here on Monday and returned yesterday after making their trade.

Just backed into their site.

Getting everything hooked up after arrival.

Side view-boy, this thing is long!

Our Landmark on the left and their new Bighorn on the right. 

Now to the fun stuff, the deer hunt. This is our first hunt of the year and is a disabled-person hunt, one of two. These hunts are always a lot of fun because the disabled folks that are excited about being able to hunt-anywhere- and are grateful to have a nice hunting area with excellent hunting blinds. Most of the hunters are confined to a wheelchair but a couple were able to walk, but with very limited mobility.

We always begin the hunts by putting out warning signs on Park Road 4. We also place barricades at the trail crossings including the Longhorn Caverns state park, which is nearby and on all gates into the hunting areas. 

There were 7 hunters, which is the maximum number of hunters here. The hunter that I was assigned to was named Freeman, driven by his son, Nathan. Freeman is one of the hunters in a wheelchair. He was able to harvest a nice 8 point buck on Tuesday evening, but missed a shot on another deer. His deer ran out of sight, so according to the rules, Nathan didn't pursue the deer. Chip and Jim, another Park Host, came out to track the wounded deer and I helped them. I acted as the "blood marker", standing at a point where blood was seen and giving them a reference point to return to, to resume their tracking search. We only tracked for bout 50-60 yards before finding the deer. We returned to the park, where the deer was gutted in preparation for processing at the Griffith Taxidermy in Burnet. Later in the evening, I rode in to drop the two deer that had been gotten today off with another park host, Don. I believe that Mr. Griffith was donating the deer processing for the disabled hunters. Thank you for your donation Robert! Mr. Griffith's daughter was the first hunter to hunt on a disabled hunt here at Inks Lake, three years ago. 

Wednesday was a two-hunt day, but unfortunately Freeman didn't see another deer on the morning hunt. He chose to return home after this hunt and give up for this year. He did the same thing last year, but I believe his son had to work. Only 1 more deer was taken tonight, but there were several shot fired, but none connected enough to bring the deer down. One deer was wounded but not found. I didn't have a hunter, but came down to be of assistance and ended up picking up Mitchell, Chip's hunter. Chip had gone to track the missing deer, and I went to get him.

Corey Evans, the superintendent of the park, furnished a chili dinner for the hunters and all of us that were involved in the hunt tonight. The chili was very good and really "hit the spot" on a cold hill country night. We spent a lot of time around the campfire!

This morning I was able to sleep in, since I didn't have a hunter. I went down bout 6:30 this morning to hang out with my friends and in case I was needed to help. Again, it was good that I was there because I rode with Don to pick up his hunter. His hunter, also named Jay, has quite  wheelchair and apparatus to fire his rifle. He sits up much higher than a normal chair and Chip had to go out to modify the blind to accommodate him. Jay's rifle us fired electronically somehow, although I didn't see it in action. 

I am in awe of these hunters. They all have such an outstanding attitude for their various conditions, and they stay in communication while in the field by telephone or text, so they know what is going on around them. We can hear the shots in the park, but these guys know what was shot and by whom, even before we do. I want to continue to assist these folks for as long as I can. 

So long.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Wednesday November 15, 2017-Inks Lake State Park

Here's a quick catch-up post to let you know that we're still around. We're kind of in a rut, with work days being Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Cleaning cabins isn't too bad but I wouldn't want to do it all the time. We were taken by surprise when we were told that we had to clean cabins, but then it was explained that they (park management) want all hosts to be able to clean cabins. This is a vital job and must be done daily because of turnover of guests using the cabins. If everyone has some knowledge of cleaning the cabins, it is easier to find someone in case of some sort of emergency. The only problem with this plan is that it isn't distributed evenly. Some hosts work on cabins one day per week, others (like us) do two or three. One couple that I know refused to work on cabins completely! I don't know how they got away with that, but it's what I was told. This doesn't include doing "deep cleaning" which is all caught up right now. We worked hard getting the cabins deep cleaned at the beginning of our stay, and I don't like it! It is much harder to do and more time consuming. I guess I'm not a house cleaning guy.

We've had a couple of visitors since we got here. Some old friends of mine, Leonard and his wife Gail from La Marque came up to Johnson City where they were visiting friends there. Leonard is the retired Fire Marshal from La Marque and I knew him early in my law enforcement career. We met them in Marble Falls at the world famous Bluebonnet Cafe for supper with their friends Jim and Sylvia. It was an enjoyable time, reminiscing over the "olden days" with Leonard. Leonard and Gail came up to the park the next day to see our new Landmark and were very impressed. They have a trailer, but it is older and they have no intentions of buying a new one. 

The day before yesterday, some other old friends came by to visit. Bill and Karen have worked here at Inks Lake as park hosts a few years ago, and we stayed next door to them. Bill had done some driving with us on the deer hunts when they were here  before. We had a nice but short visit with them but our new neighbors, Rob and Vickie arrived for their stay here and we had to help them get backed in and situated. They will also work on the deer hunt, as well a other things.

We've also gotten into a routine of going out to eat while we are here. On Tuesday nights we all go to the Hoover Valley Country Store and Cafe for $5.00 burgers and fries. This place is a local favorite, with a small convenience store, gas station and little cafe, but the food is good and who doesn't like a $5 burger? They have no website, but there are reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor if you are interested.

On Friday's we have been going to the Dam Grill which is located near the Buchanan Dam, and another local favorite. We go there on Fridays for the catfish basket specials but we were served cold food twice, so last weekend we went to the 2300 Cafe in Burnet. The food was hot and tasty but we may give the Dam Grill another try before giving up on it. This Friday, we have plans to go to the Bluebonnet for Bunky's birthday. I know it will be good and we have some errands to run in Marble Falls. That's the thing about being in a park that is 10-12 miles out of town, you must plan your trips well or spend a lot of money on fuel. 

We're only a couple of weeks until the deer hunt begins, and that means more work for me, but it's also lots of fun. 

So long.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Saturday October 28, 2017-Inks Lake State Park

Our first week of work has gone by without any further mishaps. Our little group deep cleaned another cabin on Tuesday and I began cleaning the outside of another, getting  good start on the process, It's not that physically demanding to deep clean a cabin but it is time consuming. The last couple of days we have done regular cabin cleaning and it is much easier. All hands will be on deck tomorrow (Sunday) but then we'll be off for a couple of days. We've been working a lot already, and have gotten over 30 hours in already. I expected to get a lot of hours in during the deer hunts, but not this early. 

We had some campfires at our friends Chip and Bunkie's place. It was nice last season because we were only two sites away and we had a fire just about every night unless there were high winds or it was raining. Unfortunately, all the sites on their rod were taken when we arrived, but we'll get some new neighbors soon and may have our own fires up here.

Stella and I went out to eat one night at the Highlander Restaurant. The food was as good as ever and I'm sure that we'll be back here. We also went out with a small group to a place called the Dam Site Grill, which is located near the Buchanan Dam. We ate there just about every Friday night with our little group of friends but the food seems to have gone down in quality. The restaurant changed hands last year and tonight everyone complained that the french fries were cold and the catfish seemed to be tougher than we remembered. We'll probably return, but will keep an eye on these food issues.

The deer hunts will begin in about a month, so hang in there with me.

So long.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Monday October 23, 2017-Inks Lake State Park

Over the weekend I spoke with Stefan, the new Lead Ranger here at the park, about what job(s) he needs for us to fill until the hunt begins. He asked that we clean cabins this week because he has some abscensses that he needs to cover and I told hi that we would be happy to help out. We were to meet him and other cabin-cleaners in the morning at 8am.

We were right on time and were told to use one of the carts that are reserved for cabin cleaning. I immediately forgot that the golf carts don't have a transmission like one of the Gators do, and will start in gear, so when the thing started up, it lurched forward into the back wall of the storage building. I immediately threw it into reverse and before I knew it, I had bumped into a support pole. There was no damage done, except to my ego, but I had learned a valuable lesson.

We picked up some gear and proceeded over to cabin #13, where we were doing a "deep cleaning". After introducing ourselves to the other workers, and we began removing the mattresses and other items for cleaning. I grabbed one end of  mattress and we took it outside, but my feet got tangled up in a door mat that was laying beside the door, and down I went! I wasn't hurt, but scratched and poked my right arm in about 6 places and, being a free bleeder from the blood thinners I take, I soon had blood all down my arm. Stella drove us home where she dressed the wounds and put Band Aids on my arm and I was as good as new, with some new bruises and the bandages on my arm. Again, very sheepish when I returned to the workplace. Stella didn't return because I had forgotten that I had made an appointment with the local Dish Network store to come out and install some new equipment to our antenna and televisions so we could receive signals on the bedroom and outside TV's.

I worked on cleaning the outside of one cabin and we started working on a second, but we were all tired and knocked off about 2PM. We worked for about 6 hours today and accomplished a lot and I learned about deep cleaning cabins. We will continue tomorrow, and this time, Stella will come back with me. We'll have our required hours in by Wednesday at this rate! 

So long.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Friday October 20, 2017-Moving Day-T & S Enterprises to Inks Lake State Park

We were up at our normal time because we thought that we only had 172 miles to drive today. We ended up taking the wrong, longer way through Seguin that was 263 miles, and not only was it 100 miles further, the traffic was very bad, which slowed us down A LOT!! We got stuck behind some big ol' wide load going through New Braunfels, and on top of that, it was rush hour to boot!

We made the usual pit/refreshment break at the Bucc-ee's in Luling, where we took the above photo. Don't worry about the apparent sag between the truck and trailer, we were stopped on top of a huge parking lot drain, which is in a dip in the lot.

We were first assigned to site 306, but found it difficult to get into with the new bigger coach, so I found site 293 that fit us much better.

The Host sites are much larger than the normal sites, and of course, have full hookups. Sewer is not normally offered at the state parks, although a few have it.

Our Glowstep Revolution steps that were transferred from the old Landmark to the new one. We love them, so stable and flexible to any terrain.

We have a nice view of Inks Lake from the back window.

I imagine that we'll spend some time sitting outside with the lake in the background. We'll be here for about 3 months...wish you were here with us!

So long.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tuesday October 17, 2017-Rayford Crossing Resort to T & S Enterprises

We got up this morning to drive the 68 miles back to T & S, where we had bought the trailer. They had ordered a Winegard Traveler antenna for us to be installed on the roof and we had been told that it is in. We made the drive over without incident  and arrived here about noon.

John, our technician, began working on the antenna installation and Tim, one of the owners and our salesman, began working on a hydraulic leak on one of the jacks. Tim, of course, was very busy with sales and didn't have much time to spend on my repair, but handed it off to John to complete.

As you can see, the Traveler almost matches the paint on the Landmark, like it was made for it!

As far as I'm concerned, the best job that John did was re-installing our stained glass window in the new trailer. He took his time and sealed it completely and it should last a lifetime.

Our old friends Mike and Patrice were here on Tuesday when we arrived, after we told them where we were buying. We thought they were going to buy another Oshkosh, just like ours but at the last minute, they changed their minds and bought a Newport. 

On Wednesday, our Missouri Chapter Leaders came by to look at new Bighorns. We took them on a short tour around the lot when Tim was tied up with other matters. Tim soon took over and Stella and I relaxed at home while they spoke with him. They came by after finishing up with Tim, the proud owners of a brand new Oshkosh, like ours. the only major difference is that theirs has a dishwasher that Stella didn't want. We went to lunch at the Mallet Bros. Barbecue and chatted about options and add-ons that they may want. That will be up to them, and of course, Tim. It made Stella and I very happy to have two good friends that purchased here. 

I can't say enough good things about T & S. They are so cooperative with their customers, fulfilling their wishes and satisfying their desire for a good deal. It is truly like buying from your brother-in-law. And John, our tech! He pays such attention to detail, even the tiniest thing. He truly treats every customer's unit as if it were his own. The closet rod fell while we were on the road, so he replaced the flimsy rod and support that the factory had put in place with a 1" wooden rod and bracing to hold our clothes. He put in a block of wood to hold a center brace and then went to the trouble to paint the wood to match the wood stain in the closet. I'm not sure that I would have gone to that extreme if I had done the work myself. After all, no one will see it except Stella and I.

We were held up for a bit this morning (Thursday) and decided not to leave until tomorrow for Inks Lake. Out adventures will continue then.

So long.

Saturday October 14-Tuesday October 17-Rayford Crossing Resort

We were met by Gwen, the owner of the Rayford Crossing Resort when we checked in. It was really good to see her again. We used to live here and became good friends with Gwen and her husband Billy and it felt good to be back.

We had told our friends Tommy and Susan that we were coming by for a visit but didn't tell them that we had bought a new coach, so they were very surprised when we were only a few sites away from them. They came down and were shown around our new home. They both liked it and were glad we got a new one. 

We have some other friends in the area, Dan and Connie who wanted to talk to us about our new rig. they came by for a few minutes to see the new rig and expressed interest in buying another trailer for them. Dan had a 12 volt converter that I needed for the old Carryout antenna in case I ever have to use it instead of the Traveler, so Tommy and I went over to his house on Sunday to pick it up. We went to El Palenque Mexican restaurant with them and had the usual delicious meal there. El Palenque us one of our favorite restaurants when we are in Houston.

Kim, Ray and the boys came up Sunday afternoon to see the new trailer and we had a nice visit with them. We all went out to Red Robin (Yummm) which is one of the boy's favorites. We spend a lot of money on specialty burgers for our kids and grandkids, but considering how seldom we get to see them, it's worth it.

Monday morning, I went over to men's coffee in the break room at Rayford. This is a tradition that I helped to start back in the day, and I was proud to see that it is still going on. There weren't as many there as there once was, but it was nice.

After coffee, Tommy took me to eat breakfast at Compadres Texas Cafe that is nearby. We decided to go by the Timber Ridge RV Park but when we got close, we got caught up in the traffic at an intersection, so we turned around and went back to Rayford.

Ted and Donna came over this afternoon to see our new coach. They have been traveling this summer and had just returned but will be leaving again soon. It was good that we hit town while they were here! Tommy fixed us some hamburgers with all the fixin's and we had a delightful meal with our friends. We sat outside in the nice night air. 

Our last night at Rayford was quiet and uneventful, and I suspect that we'll be back. Tomorrow we go back to T & S in Navasota to have a few things fixed and to have our Traveler antenna mounted on the roof. Should be a good travel day.

So long.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tuesday-Friday October 10-13-T & S Enterprises

This blog entry will document the trading in of our 2011 Landmark Grand Canyon for a 2018 Landmark Oshkosh. We bought this coach from T & S Enterprises in Navasota Texas, and couldn't be happier about this dealer. They do what they say they will do, call back when necessary and always answer their telephones. It was refreshing to deal with an owner of the company who is so willing to make their customers happy.

The Oshkosh is a remake of the Grand Canyon, except it doesn't have the storage! I have lost room for a couple of large items in the underbelly and Stella is still trying to find places to store items in the interior. 

We love the colors, and the simple fact that the entire trailer has been painted should add to the value over the years of ownership.

One thing that I don't like is the white front end and the white ends of the slide-outs. It seems to me that it wouldn't cost that much to paint these items one of the main colors of the coach and it would make it look so much better. I have griped about it for years to no avail, so I guess I'll just have to live with it.

They will be changing my steps out to my beloved Glowstep Revolution steps.

I'm still using the Carryout antenna but will be getting a new Winegard traveler on the roof soon.

Now we will get into the working part of this week. I set our porch/steps up at the door of the new coach and they backed our old one up very close beside it, making it much easier to walk between the trailers, carrying packages.

 It seems to be a large gap between the porch and the doorway of the new trailer, but it really wasn't. I didn't have any trouble negotiating the walkway and never stumbled. Many folks have to "walk a plank" or walk on a 2 x 8 board when they buy a new rig, but this one worked out much better.

I must have gone on a serious diet to get in between the two trailers. Actually, there is more room that there seems and we all made it without problem.

This shows some of the custom work they did for me. The television started out on the wall on the right, or right out in the storage area. DJ, with T & S moved it to the opposite side and then cut down on the retaining wall that protects the television. All of my junk will soon be rearranged and probably put into boxes for storage.

Pretty nice looking rig if I say so myself!

So long.