Sunday, December 28, 2014

Had a Holly, Jolly Christmas!!


Xmas Eve Fire
Yup, had a holly, jolly Christmas - it was a great time of the year.  I love to listen to the Christmas carols, and see all the pretty lights - but sad not to be with the kids.  Fortunately we are able to spend most of the summer with them and be able to enjoy much milder Christmas temps.

We celebrated Christmas a few times this past week - a Christmas eve bonfire and a couple of dinners.  That meant turkey twice and more trimmings than one could comfortably consume in one sitting.  It was
great to be able to celebrate with friends.  And Santa even found where we were parked.  While he didn't leave a whole lot of gifts, he did leave a note that said he questioned our behaviour this past year and felt he would give to the more deserving grandchildren.  Next year, I will try to be better!  That means that the old adage is true "he knows when you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake"!

After Dinner
I even tried my hand at being crafty this year.  I had practised making a couple of things earlier but they just didn't turn out like the photos.  This one did so I was pretty proud of myself.

We certainly have been enjoying the sunshine.  Even without really warm temperatures, a spot out of wind makes for a very pleasant place to relax and enjoy the clear blue skies.

It definitely has been a week of little activity, other than the occasional
Enjoying the sun
walk which is greatly needed after the treats of Christmas.  This week will be a repair week as we continue to search for our elusive brake light issue.  Thanks for joining us on our winter journey and I'll be back next week.  Enjoy your week!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's Almost Christmas

Yes, it's almost that time of the year!  It's a time that all the little ones are excitedly waiting for that fellow in the red suit and hope that they have been good all year.

This past week has been very quiet.  We spent a week dry camping just outside of Yuma and then we moved onto a lot in town.  We will be here for a month as we will celebrate the holidays here.

We went to a light parade last night.  This consisted primarily of golf carts and ATV's that were all decorated.  Some folks are so creative when it comes to the decorations.  Santa was cloned many times as the vehicles streamed past.  It was a very impressive light parade with at least fifty vehicles showed their decorations.

As the big day draws near it is time to go out and do some shoppping as well as some baking.  I think maybe that tomorrow is the day.

I hope everyone has a great week, a wonderful Christmas. In closing, I have a little poem to share.

Christmas is full of shiny things
 That sparkle, gleam and glow;
These holiday pleasures dazzle us,
 And yet, deep down, we know...
That Christmas has its special gifts,
 But our year-round joy depends
On the cherished people in our lives,
 Our family and our friends.
by Joanna Fuchs

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Another Week - Another Address




Actually, it should say another week - several addresses.  Our week started by going to a huge Flea Market in Brownsville.  The day was cloudy and threatening rain so it was a great day to go and wander around and look at the many bargains that could be available seeing that most of the vendors were under a roof.  It turned out that there were many duplicates but we did manage to find some bargains that we had to have!

Some of the roadside

Easy to make a lot of miles - pedal to the medal
Then it is Monday morning and time to hit the road.  Since the day was cloudy, drizzly, and some fog, we decided to alter our plans.  Originally we were planning on going down to Big Bend National Park but because of the weather, plans were changed and on to Yuma we were headed.  We had almost 2200 kms to travel but the roads were great and soon the weather cleared and we were just a-motoring.  Diesel has really dropped in price so travelling is becoming fairly reasonable - a great offset to the decline in the value of our dollar.

As we often do when travelling straight through, the

nights are often spent at Wal-marts where every spot is a pull-through - great asset when towing a vehicle.  So in Del-Rio we listened to Christmas carols all night long.  I did say they were convenient, not necessarily real quiet.  We did arrive in Yuma Friday evening so now it will be time to relax, visit, and enjoy Arizona.
Since all week was spent on the road, their isn't a lot to say.  Our touring consisted of following that yellow line down the road.  I am often amazed at the designs that are on many of the overpasses - some are really quite colourful so I have included a couple that were particularly attractive.

As everyone prepares for the holiday season, I hope you have a great week! 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Another Week in Texas

Another hour down the road and we arrive at our new address - Rockport, Texas.  We check into our campground, get settled in and it's time to go exploring.  We drive along the shore and see these trees that look rather peculiar.  Well it turns out that they are oak trees and are simply responding to the prevailing
winds.  Obviously the prevailing winds are rather constant and fairly strong.

We stop to see some sculptures near the marina and then take a drive over to Corpus Christie, along to Padre Island, Mustang Island and back to Aransas Pass.  It is a great day
Pelicans waiting for lunch
and a wonderful drive.  Being along the coast, we cross many long and marvelous bridges.  Then we are to take a ferry.  Fortunately, we drove up to the ferry and drove right on.  We get out of the jeep and get ready to enjoy the ride, but oops - it's over.  It was quite a surprise to be on a ferry for such a short ride.

We went over to see the "Big Tree" which is an oak tree determined to be over 1,000 years old.  What a huge, gnarly tree.  Nearby were several other old oak trees that have branches all over.  We remarked on what wonderful climbing trees they would make as they have huge branches that often hang down almost to the ground!!

Now it is time to move again and off to Brownsville we go - a three hour drive.  Along the way we discover a problem with out brake lights so we stop along the road trying to determine the cause.  Well we had no luck so off we go and check into the River Bend Resort.  The campground portion is very small - about 10 sites and it is a lovely campground.  While here, we spend some time trying to determine our brake light problem to no avail.  We will try again!!

The weather is hot and humid.  This morning at 10:00 a.m., the temperature was 23C (74F) and the humidity was 91% - nothing will dry but when there is a little breeze, it is very lovely weather.  We went over to Port Isabel and South Padre Island.  It was a beautiful day for sightseeing.  We climbed to the
Recognize this guy??


top of a lighthouse (74 steps).  Once we reached the top, the balcony is not accessible but it was a great view at the top (although somewhat like a sauna).  We drove over to South Padre Island and toured a couple of beach areas.  This is an area where RV's could park along the beach.  While there was very little wind, there was quite a high surf.  I don't think I would enjoy listening to that surf pound endlessly.

Sand Castle on South Padre Island
While in thearea, we watched a lighted boat parade.  Unfortunately there weren't very many boats but the ones that
were there have a great display of Christmas decorations.  And what a great evening to sit out and watch a parade - just a light breeze and mild temperatures.  On our way home we decided to make a quick stop at Chick-fil-A for a quick bite to eat.  Now this is a fast food place but the service was better than many restaurants.  We must have looked a bit puzzled as to what we should order so we were asked if this was our first visit.  Since it was, perhaps we would like a sample.  The next question was where we were from - we said Saskatchewan (brought a bewildered look) so we said Canada.  Well one of the staff members was from Canada - over he comes to say hello.  He was a very nice young man who used to live in Victoria and moved back to Texas with his parents.  Then they proceeded to bring out our order, get the ketchup and napkins, check to see if we need anything, and then at the end of the meal bring a hand wipe and a mint.  As we leave they say good bye and thank us for coming - if this is typical, it certainly makes one plan on stopping back.

The ant trail!
As we went for a little walk we came across an ant colony.  They created a very visible trail to and from the ant hill - something we had not seen.   Who would have thought that they too create a game trail.

As we start a new week, we hope that everyone has a great week so until next weekend - enjoy your week!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hello Texas!




Drawbridge swings out
Homes and boats along the river
Pot of Gumbo
Before we could say "Good-bye" to Louisiana we attended a Gumbo cook-off.  We both thought that gumbo was like a thick kind of soup and were pleasantly surprised to learn that there is quite a variety of flavours.  For five dollars, you got a wristband and could taste to your heart's content.  We did manage to try ten or eleven of them - seafood (crawfish and/or shrimp), chicken, duck, sausage, turkey, or all of the above.  It was served plain, on rice, or potato salad.  Some were thick, some weren't.  Some were delicious, and some weren't.  There was also a sampling of fresh buns, apple butter, and honey butter.  To say the least, we came home absolutely stuffed.  We went for a walk over a bridge which had a drawbridge - it swung open sideways rather than up.  And the boats in the marina and the houses along the river were pretty amazing.
Raised road for 30+ miles
The star of Texas
A Helicopter at the Visitor Centre
on a trailer

It's Monday morning and time to move to a new address.  We stopped at the Texas visitor centre - got some information and before we left we discovered an air leak.  Of course problems are never fun.  Gerry crawled underneath and discovered what the problem was.  We had an air brake system installed seven years ago and a regulator is held on to a canister by a nipple - which broke.  We had to replace the same broken part five years ago.  Off to a hardware store we went (there was one just a few miles down the road) and bought two - we will be prepared next time.  Now we only hope we first - remember that we bought a spare, and second - can find where we put it.  Fortunately we were back on the road in good time.  Once the old one was taken off, we were able to get the part and be back on the road in about an hour.  
Power box was full of geckos


The fields were full of deer

We arrived near Cleveland, later than we had planned but still in good time.  We had booked a spot at The Preserve of Texas.  It is an area of over 2,000 acres along a river.  While the majority of the area is set out as permanent spots it had three campgrounds - each with about a dozen sites, and each with a pool.  For a couple of nights, the campground we were in had only two of us - needless to say it was quiet, and certainly no traffic.

Tribute to the immigrants

Old store with brick road
We drove over to Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas.  Some of the firsts are first ceiling fans (fan blades turned by a mule drawn treadmill outside), first oil well, first two story building, first wine cellar, among other things.  We did a walking tour of the town - visited some old buildings, the cemetery, and walked down the brick streets.

We didn't celebrate the American Thanksgiving but instead did some much-needed chores thathad been left to multiply I think.  We did, however, get quite a chuckle about the pardoning of Cheese, the turkey.  We watched how a turkey farmer from Ohio had been grooming a couple of turkeys, named Mac and Cheese, to be pardoned by the President.  And after some rather luxurious travel to Washington, Cheese was pardoned so he was able to escape the oven and instead live the rest of his life on a farm in Virginia.  

I had planned on going shopping on Black Friday.  But Black Friday came and I decided that I really didn't want to fight the traffic or the crowds.  Instead I went to Walmart and picked up a few things and that was my shopping trip.

While the weather has been nice, yesterday (and today) was warmer and more humid than it had been.  Well, along come the lady bugs - everything was covered.  We couldn't even sit outside.  The worst was that a whole bunch found their way inside and I never thought they were so hard to get rid of - they seem to hide in all nooks and crannies.  I think by tonight, we got them all - at least until another one shows up.

Driving through Houston
Today was moving day again  so we drove through Houston on our way to Rockport, on the Gulf Coast.  My goodness - the highway infrastructure is absolutely amazing.  Driving through on a Saturday morning was a great choice - quick and easy.  Tonight we are settled in as city owned campground in Victoria, TX.  You can't beat $12.00 a night with full hook-ups and 50 amp service.  I just hope those two trains that went through, blo-o-o-o-wing their whistles is not a sign of the the night.


Until next week, you folks back home stay warm!













Saturday, November 22, 2014

Welcome to Louisiana


While still in Mississippi last weekend they had predicted some fairly severe weather - heavy rain, strong winds, and the possibility of tornadoes - fortunately, we only have two of them.  The tornadoes did not materialize where we were staying, but the strong winds were certainly evident as they knocked those big pine cones off the trees.  You sure did hear them when they hit the roof of the motorhome.

On Monday we travelled (a whole 160 kms) to Abita Springs in Louisiana.  Here we called home the entire week.  And it certainly was a week of activity.

Bridge over Lake Ponchartrain
Marie Levau's tomb
A row of tombs
The Cathedral
Ceiling
On Wednesday we went to New Orleans (or as the locals would say - Naw-lins).  To get there we took the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway (technically a viaduct) which is the longest continuous bridge in the world at 38 kms (24 miles)First stop was the St. Louis cemetery.  Because of the altitude (or lack of it as the city is 6 - 20 feet below sea level), everyone is buried in above ground vaults. Since most of these tombs date back to the seventeen hundreds, there are many in various stages of disrepair.  We did see the tomb of Marie Levau - queen of voodoo.  Many people draw three X's on the tomb and many leave offerings - small stones, candy, ornaments, flowers, etc.
Altar


One of the stained Glass Windows
French Quarter
The Pepper Palace
From there it was to the French Quarter where we visited Basilica of St. Louis built in 1721 - what a magnificent Building.  From there it was a tour of Bourbon Street and Royal Street and then off to the French Market.  As we walked around there were various entertainers from musicians to mimes.
Many of these rides around

As we toured we did a little shopping as there were a couple of things we just needed to buy.  We even had a chance to visit Cafe du Monde which was established in 1862 and make the original beignet, which we sampled.  I bought a mix they sell so when we get back home I'm going to try my hand at it.  I bet you are wondering what is a beignet - well it is a type of doughnut although square rather than round and served warm with heaps of icing sugar on top.   We also sampled pralines - mmmm good - we didn't buy any because I said "I'm going to try making those" - we will see!

Beignet





Didn't try these!!
Next it was a day of some maintenance.  The panelling around our skylight was peeling making it a real eyesore.  So Gerry (I held the chair so he wouldn't fall) scraped it all off, and we varnished it - looks much, much better.


Along the interstate
Then it was time for another tour.  I wanted to tour a plantation so off we went.  On our way, we took an interstate for about 50 miles which was amazing.  It was built through a bayou and pretty well the entire distance, it was built as a bridge. The views were great and it was an amazing drive.



Before we arrived at the plantation (which was a working sugar cane plantation) we came across a field where they were harvesting sugar cane.  One of the workers was waiting for someone so Gerry took the opportunity to chat with him to find out the process.  The harvester separates the leaves and chops up the cane into 12 inch lengths.  It is then hauled away to be processed. 

Front of the house
Back of the house
kitchen - separate from the house

Road to the house


Row of slave houses
Yup - 47 yrs a slave
Now off to the plantation.  While the main homes look huge, the original homes were not.  The main floor was originally open (because of floods) and were only closed in after the dikes were built along the Mississippi river.  The plantation we visited had 22 houses for the slaves where up to 10 lived in each. Something rather interesting was that in order to own slaves, you had to be Catholic and you had to make sure they were baptised as Catholics.

Cypress trees
A cabin in the bayou
We were done rather early so maybe we could get to do the swamp tour we had planned to go on.  Well we get there and guess what - they are all booked up.  But, they say, stick around and we will see what we can do.  They did get us on the tour which was excellent.  The boat operator chatted the entire time - described how they hunt alligators, how people have lived in the swamps, and so on.  And we got to see the alligators.
View from the boat



An Osprey




 



This week has been absolutely amazing.  We got to eat beignets, tried po-boys (similar to a sub but with french bread and much different fillings) We both had a shrimp po-boy and Gerry had an alligator.  That is an interesting taste - very similar to chicken in looks and taste although the texture is different.  I had a real tough time getting past the idea of what I was eating.  We also had etoufee which is a  thick sauce made from shrimp and crawfish and it was served with rice.  It was a bit warm and tasted very similar to clam chowder (I thought) but oh, so tasty.


Gator Po-boy
Etouffee

Today we bought some fresh Louisiana shrimp - tomorrow (maybe) we get to try some.  See if it is as tasty as what we have sampled this past week.

Our week is winding down.  Tonight they are predicting a round of rather severe storms again - hopefully they will not be as predicted.   This week's blog is rather lengthy but it has been a fun, full week.  That will make up for the weeks when it is quiet and I almost have to make something up.  I hope you enjoy sharing our fun and may you all (or is it yu'all) have a great week.