Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wild life and geocashing

In the last  blog I promised to take you geocaching, so here we go.  For those of you who don't know what that is, geocachiing is using a handheld GPS unit or your smart phone to find something someone has hidden using GPS coordinates.  The coordinates, a general description of the location and some cryptic clues can be found online at www.geocaching.com.  The caches can be very tiny, just big enough to hold a thin strip of paper to sign to large ammo cans filled with trinkets, writing utensils, action figures, jewelry or anything else anyone wants to swap.  Some caches have trackable items to see how far things travel.  Some have specific instructions for a particular.item.  Once we picked up a Canadian beaver Mountie stuffed animal and took its picture in front of several police stations before depositing it a couple of states away for someone else to further its travels  These caches all have logs to sign with your caching name which you also use to register your finds online.  Some caches are visual such as a sign, a certain landmark, a particular man made structure.  These don't have a log to sign, but usually require a picture to register.  Some of the caches are easy to find, while others are so diabolically clever that to find them it takes a seasoned cacher or a newbie with a lot of luck.  Sometimes the caches have been found by muggles (non cachers) and destroyed, stolen or otherwise messed with so that they can't be found.  We have a few DNF's (did not find) but we have managed to find 289 caches.  The whole point of this relatively cheap hobby is to get you and your family/friends outside to visit places you ordinarily wouldn't go.  The caches are never in National parks or sites.  They are often in state or city parks or privately owned businesses or property, but the hider asks permission of the owners before hiding the cache.  Below are some we have found around Oyster Creek.

Yes, you are looking at the caches.

No caches here at the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, about five miles from Jesse's house.  Established in 1966, this 44,000 acre expance of marshes, sloughs, ponds, prairies and forests protects critical castal wetlands for migratory birds and other wildlife and offers exceptional wildlife watching.  

Another day's caches

Push on the button where the bird would go into the house and it pops out. The back screws off to revel a strip of paper to sign.

 The cache was in the whole in the tree. It was a locked box with combination lock. There was a key with it. You had to figure out how the key opened the box.  There were numbers all around the box. After messing with different combination, we discovered that the key stuck to some of the numbers. AH HA we used the magnetic numbers and the box opened.

 The pier has a bunch of pvc pipe fishing pole holders attached to it. One of the holders had a plug on the bottom of it. We unscrewed the plug and a bottle with the cap glued to plug was inside holding the sign up sheet.
This was the hard one. The clue mentioned a bolt. We looked and looked at all the poles,the bench and the lights in the area, no luck. I was walking around this pole and noticed the bolt and nut but no bolt head on the other side. The nut was a magnet with the bolt screwed into it. When you unscrewed it, the bolt was hollow with the signup sheet in it. Finds like this makes it challenging and fun.

Stay tuned for more fun in south Texas!

Louise and Duane

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fun and Games

Everybody knows that part of the fun of rving is learning new things.  One of our new lessons came from sons Jeremy and Jesse--how to make venison sausage.  First you get some venison and chunk it up.  Then you get some fresh port and chunk it up too.  Seems the venison is too lean and needs pork fat to help it along.  You mix the two together in a big cooler, then mix up a bunch of spices like salt, black and red peppers, fajita seasoning, garlic, vinegar, jalapenos, --whatever floats your boat.  Mix the spices into the meat chunks, then  put them through the meat grinder.
Jeremy and Duane grinding away!

Jeremy and daughter Allie doing their spice thing

Now you decide if you want sausage links or bulk sausage.  The boys like both we made both.

Jesse loading casings onto the grinder.

One person feeds the meat into the grinder while the other catches the finished links.

What a pile of sausage!  Cut the long links into the length of your choice.

The last step is to package for the freezer.  I made small mounds, Jeremy wrapped in plastic wrap, Jesse wrapped in freezer wrap.  Duane cut his finger pretty badly early on so he took pictures and cut tape.  Allie mixed spices and marked the contents on each package.  Brother Luke carried meat from the cooler to the grinder and helped mix spices.  Jeremy's wife Jennifer helped clean the kitchen and keep dishes done.

Sausage making is fun work, but sometimes you need a break.  Here Allie and Luke are are tasting the vinegar.

Always time fora game or two

After our visit with Jeremy's family, Jesse, Duane and I headed back to Oyster Creek for more adventures.  Geocaching comes to mind!

Louise and Duane

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chillin' at Oyster Creek

Not much doing while we continue to wait for our parts to arrive and work to begin on our house.  We pass the time pleasantly, though, keeping busy with whatever pops up to entertain us.  We are welcome and comfortable in son Jesse's house in Oyster Creek, TX,  southeast of Houston.  The weather has been chilly, wet, and overcast but has been behaving for the past couple of days.  We walk every morning.  Duane keeps up with our friends on Facebook and has been watching the Olympics.  We like the snowboarding, the new ski event with all the tricks, and the pairs skating.  I have been making quilts I didn't get done for Christmas, playing word games and reading.  I didn't have space in our little room but Jesse has a nice enclosed porch room that is perfect for my work space.  Jesse works a lot and is pursuing another degree but we manage to have time together.   

Jesse's 'back yard'  canals that lead into Oyster Creek which goes into the Gulf

Front of the house  very typical building style

Nice workspace

Studying and puzzling

Time to jump the Mexican Train

When Jesse isn't working or studying he does some upgrading on his house.  Here he removed a door and window between the porch room and the main living area.  We were able to help him finish the framing.

We always have time to meet friends in the area.  Our friends Paul and Marsha Weaver are staying in Houston for a while.  They had never been in this area so they decided to meet us here.  We enjoyed lunch at The Purple Cow, a friendly little place in the small community of Surfside Beach.  The weather was too raw for touring so we skipped the walk down the pier and opted for a driving tour of old downtown Freeport.  You can follow the Weavers by clicking on their name.

One cold day, to get out of the house, we drove to Houston for the big RV show  I got a good  (if a little foggy) shot of the Houston skyline.  

Next up, the joys of making sausage!  

Louise and Duane