Thursday, March 31, 2016

Long Trip, Long Day

Because Duane was doing important stuff, like playing pickleball, and motorcycle rides, the date to renew his bike license kinda snuck up on him.  That meant that today he had to drive to Kilgore and get his new license sticker or not ride until it showed up in the mail--which comes to Kilgore!  Since the house was already done in December and the truck wasn't due until the end of April, he was going to ride the bike.  Then he decided to take the truck and get that license too while he was at it.  At 8 am we jumped in the truck and took off.  We took I45 (the park is just a little northeast of Houston) to SR 79 and then SR 69 into Tyler.  It was about 11:30 so I called son Jeremy at work and he met us for lunch.   Our time was short but delightful.  We crammed a lot of news in our 45 min.  From there we took ourselves to Kilgore to have the truck inspected, then down the street to get our two license stickers.  The woman in the office knew her stuff and got us back on the road in record time.  Our next stop was Jeremy's house for our mail (hey, he's free!) and to raid the freezer and to reconnect with two of our grand dogs.  Back on the road  at 2:20 we took SR 259 to 59 to 190 then CR 19 to I45.  

7Crossing Lake Livingston 

We liked this way better.  It seemed to have less traffic and prettier scenery.  Ahh, spring with the wonderful green and the bug splats on the windshield!

Just north of Houston on I45 is an exit to Sam Houston Statue Visitor Park.  Here is a Texas-sized tribute to him.

We made the usual fuel stops for the truck and ourselves and arrived home without mishaps at about 6pm.  Of course we had to unwind after our long trip so we headed to the pickleball court.  When we  had warmed up for about 1/2 hr Tom and Paula showed up for some practice games.  We turned on the lights and played into the evening.  It was 9 pm before everyone was tired enough to quit!

Tomorrow is chore day--laundry and phone calls generated by the mail.  Duane also needs to check an oil leak on the bike.  Rest assured we will get in a few pball games, though.

The weather was completely overcast all morning.  By lunchtime the clouds started thinning and by sunset the sky was mostly clear.  After dark the stars showed up in abundance.  It was really nice seeing the sky lights again!

We will have more fun tomorrow.  You will too if you join us here!

Louise and Duane

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Moving Day

We only went 120 miles.  We went to Conroe Lake, the other Thousand Trails park in this area.  We had visited here a while ago on a bike day trip, but this is to be our first stay.    The first part of our route was a repeat of our bike trip on Monday.  This time I was prepared to snap some pix of things that whizzed by me before.  

 Thoroughbred Racehorse farm in beef country

This is the hamlet of Welcome.  It comes and goes so quickly that by the time you read the sign the last house is behind you!

 Bilbo says,"Roads go ever ever on  Under cloud and under star.....

In Benham I saw this rock house (background)  If I ever have to stay put I would like to have a house like this.

This is one of the best TT parks that we have visited.  We have not seen the other sections, but the first one--where we decided to stop--has nice big slots with nice grassy areas between sites.  When I was walking around I saw this little travel trailer.  I didn't know Winnebago made travel trailers.  

The park activities are centered in an area not far from the front gate.  The fishing lake is in the background on the right.  Here are two  basketball courts.  To the left in a line are

shuffleboard and (beyond) horseshoes,

one tennis court and four pickleball courts,

mini golf,

and a playground.  All of these areas look new.

Next to them are the activities center with the kitchen and laundry (behind me), a covered picnic area and the family activity/chapel building with the adults-only lounge on the left and the work out room on the right.

On the other side is a large grassy area then the pavilions around

the swimming pool.

Beyond the pool are some of the nice cabins available for rent.

If I stand outside the pickleball court there is a grassy area, the road and our rig, second on the right.  Our white truck is facing this way.

Just as I finished with my photos, the sun popped out of the clouds for a few seconds.  This doesn't show how it appeared to me--a perfect, glowing, molten orange ball.  Beautiful!!!

This afternoon we went decided to practice some pickleball.  After a few minutes of practicing our wind ball game, Tom and Paula showed up to practice.  Of course we had to have a few games before the rain, which threatened us all day, finally ended our fourth game.  Later after the rain moved on I saw our newest friends out walking their dog and took their picture.  We plan to have many more games together before we leave.  

We have plans for lots of pickleball games and bike rides (Eddie and Gloria, whom we met on Monday greeted us when we first arrived).  The weather is not cooperating until Friday afternoon, though.  

Tomorrow we go to Kilgore and Longview.

Louise and Duane

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


That thoroughly describes our weather today.  We woke up to threatening overcast.  After lunch we started with light mist that didn't quit.  Not much moved around today except a some birds, a few squirrels, the dog walkers and me.   At 4 pm after a day of sitting around alternately crocheting, reading, working word puzzles, and watching tv, I had to move farther than the bathroom.  I took my borrowed books back to the library as an excuse to make myself go.  I used my umbrella only to keep the wind-blown mist off my face--can't stand specks on my specks.  At 7 I walked down the street to dump trash and recycle cans.  The one good thing for the day, we got the bad tire replaced. The tire changer man said that when it was put on they had cut the bead on the tire causing it to separate. We hope that is the only trouble we have with the tires for a while.

In the Washington-On-The-Brazos State Historic Park yesterday, I bought a book called Games From Long Ago by Bobbie Kalman.  Here's one you might try on your kids/grandkids during icky weather.  It's called the Cudgel Game, and was a favorite among boys in the 1800's.  Two blindfolded players are given rolled-up newspapers.  They lie on their stomachs , head to head, holding each other by the left hand.  One player calls out "Are you ready?"  When the other player replies "yes", the first player tries to swat him/her with the newspaper.  They usually miss.  The second player repeats the action.  Ms. Kalmer comments, "There is no point to this silly game, but it is fun to play and watch. I decided that the game sounded too civilized.  I would shout "GO" and let them beat the tar out of each other!

On the subject of cards I learned that in the early 1800's most children's card games were designed to be educational to help children learn about school subjects and household chores like cooking.  In the 1850's people began to play card games for fun.  Decks of cards were very colorful.  Old Maid and Old Bachelor were lively card games.  Parents did not allow their children to play with regular playing cards because they did not want to encourage gambling.

Board games were popular also.  In most board games the number of squares moved was determined by a teetotum or a spinner on a numbered disk.  A teetotum was like a dreidle  (little top) with six sides numbered 1--6.  Many people did not use dice because they were associated with gambling.

One  holiday game was called Bag and Stick.  We call it break the pinata.  One game I had not heard of was the Cobweb Game.  A beautiful spider made of wire and other materials hung from the ceiling.  Long pieces of string or ribbon--one for each player were attached to the spider, then wound around the room in a tangled web.  The strings reached under the furniture, through doors, and even up and down stairs.  The object of the game was to follow one piece of string from the spider to the end, where a Christmas present was waiting.  (That sounded like loads of fun to me!)

Under Team Sports, I learned several things.  Settlers had a game called Shinny.  This game eventually became Field Hockey, but started out  in open fields and empty lots.  Most players used tree branches for sticks, and everything from a ball of yarn to a crushed tin can for a ball.  In some places, organized shinny teams hit leather balls with well-made sticks.  Football is actually a combination of two older sports--soccer and rugby.  In the 1800's football was similar to modern-day soccer.  According to the rules, the team that scored two out of three times was the winner.  In the 1870's university football teams had rules that allowed players to carry the ball.  Defenders tackled anyone carrying the ball so that they couldn't take across the goal line.  These new rules made football the game it is today.  In the mid 1800's, baseball became a popular sport in the United States.  Professional teams played in cities throughout the country, bu it remained a favorite pastime for boys.  The rules haven't changed much since the 1800's, but there are a few differences.  In the past, the batter was called a striker or batsman, and he could hit the ball in a variety of ways.  Some batsmen hit the ball over their head, others hit the ball on the ground, similar to the way a golf ball is hit.   The bat was often homemade:   sometimes it was just a big stick. Of course players did not wear helmets or gloves.

One of the inside games mentioned was pick-up sticks.  I remember playing this game a lot as a kid, and wanted to introduce my grandkids to the game, but am unable to find it.  If anyone has any information on where I can get it, please let me know.  If anyone wants to know of some more relatively quiet indoor games, I will be glad to share more info from my wonderful book.

To further lighten your day, I will leave you with a groaner.    A famous general dies, and his ashes are to be taken to Arlington National Cemetery.  All airlines are booked, and no other planes are available.  Someone comes up with the idea of using a helicopter.  It arrives at 5 am.  The newspapers report the incident with the headline, "The Whirly Bird Gets the Urn."

Yikes! That was really bad!

Louise and Duane

Monday, March 28, 2016

O Frabjous Day!

I thank Louis Carroll for the perfect description of this day.  The weather was wonderful, the scenery was beautiful, our companions were entertaining, the ride was relaxing.  Put it all together and the result is that everyone had a great time!  

RJ and Liz dressed for the cool weather

As we rode, we played a game called Lost and Found.  Duane led the first part of the trip and got lost, then found his way--twice.  After an hour we stopped for a stretch, then RJ led the way.  He got lost in Benham.  Before he found his way again, I had time for some interesting pictures.

We bypassed the historic downtown area.  We didn't pass any courthouse.

Back on track we finally made it to our first stop.  This Park preserves the history of this historic town.  At its founding, Washington on the Brazos was the first town in the sovereign nation of Texas.

In the parking lot we met Gloria and Eddie, who rode from Lake Conroe Thousand Trails Park to spend the day with us.  They are friends of RJ and Liz and will be our riding buddies when we move to Lake Conoroe on Wednesday.

Gloria's vest conveys her personality.

RJ and Liz unmasked

The Park consists of several different historic areas.  We visited the Texas history museum where we learned how the nation of Texas was formed and eventually became the State of Texas.

We learned of the lives of the people who settled this wilderness.

We were all interested in this material  even though only Liz is a native Texan.  RJ is a Hoosier (Indiana), Eddie is an Oklahoma transplant and grew up in Texas, Gloria is from Iowa, and Duane & I are Ohio Buckeyes.

After an hour of school, we were all pretty hungry.  Eddie offered to lead us about 20 miles to a really good b-b-q place in Snook.  He also played our game of Lost and Found.  He was not exactly lost but missed a turn and took us the long way around (40 miles).  No one really minded.

Eventually we found Snook (never found out about that name).  First we stopped here, but this was the wrong place.  Eddie led us around the corner and found the place--but it was closed.  Back to this restaurant which was open.

Yes this is Sodolak's,

and this is chicken fried bacon.  It wasn't as bad as it looks.  I thought it better without the breading.

After a delightful 1 1/2 hours of steak and conversation, we bid goodby to Eddie and Gloria.  With RJ in the lead we headed back home.  He only got lost once by missing a turn, but of course found the way again eventually.  We rode about 200 miles round trip through some wonderful scenery.  This picture kind of sums it all up.

Back at the park we dropped RJ and Liz at their 'house' and took ourselves home.  We took an evening stroll around the campground.  Duane took this pic of a bluebird with his phone.  Not bad.

We took the hike/bike trail this time and found some different flowers.  I don't know what this is but it smelled very perfumy--like lilies.

Tomorrow is our last day at this park.  We didn't make any plans because a tire guy is coming to rid us of our dangerous defective tire.  I'm sure that we will end up doing something interesting, though, so come back and visit again.

Louise and Duane

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter (mostly)

Two weird things happened this morning: 1 Duane woke up without the alarm and after church, when we stopped for breakfast, 2 I had breakfast for breakfast!  Usually I eat lunch, but the restaurant offered eggs Benedict.  Couldn't pass that up! They were pretty good as was Duane's ham and cheese omelette.  Back home we celebrated Easter with the usual nonsense.  I produced the blue lips which only come with Whopper malted milk eggs.  My kids are passing this wonderful tradition on to their kids.  

Duane ate half his bunnies during the day and I made inroads on the chocolate.

About 2pm we had to have the Wegley ham and homemade cheese n mac.  Silly me--I almost totally spoiled dinner by adding sauteed squash and onions and green beans.  After dinner we chatted with family members then hauled ourselves up the hill to work off dinner with a little pickleball practice.  
The day was sunny and bright--and very windy.  Our wind game went like this:  Duane hit the ball, I chased the ball, I hit the ball, Duane chased it.  Mac n cheese worked off!

Duane remembered he wanted to tighten the hinges on the tailgate.  While he was on the ground he noticed something not quite right.  He said it would scare me to death.  He was right!!!!!   This one of our inside duels on the trailer.  Yeesh!  I hate think what would have happened if he had not seen this.  These tires are less than a year old!

After our shock we had to go inside and calm ourselves with chocolate and reading and bunnies and computering, and enjoying the nice breeze and birdsong pouring in our open windows.  The birds sang their hearts out all day--mostly robins and cardinals.   Just before sunset we we decided to stroll around the campground.  The day gradually wound down into a beautiful evening.   

The birdsong grew less and less, shadows lengthened.  Most birds were tucked in except for this mockingbird and a few vultures.

Evening settling in.  We found a few deer grazing hear and there in places like these.  (no pix of them tonight.)

A few vultures enjoying one last ride on the thermals.

The wind died down to a gentle breeze, just enough to keep Old Glory waving.

We strolled the entire campground enjoying the changing light and the winding down of the day. It reminded me of something Anne Frank said:  "The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Only then does one feel that all is as it should be...."  
 We rounded out our Easter celebration by having ice cream for supper, and a few cookies for dessert.  Everything was as it should be!

Tomorrow we have planned a long ride with the neighbors. See you then,

Louise and Duane