Weebles Wobble and They Do Fall Down

For the past few years, my hubby and I have a shared a secret saying about my 92 year-young mom.  While watching her attempt to walk on her own, we smile and secretly say to each other, “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”  Maybe you are old enough to remember that toy commercial?  I certainly am.  That is pretty much what she looks like when she walks these days, a cute little Weeble wobbling back and forth, back and forth.

My mother is not a tall woman and has only grown shorter in recent years as osteoporosis takes its toll on her.  More and more, she is very unstable on her feet, and she has fallen several times with various degrees of injury as a result.  Mom is a very stubborn lady and has never liked to use any kind of device to help her walk more safely, even though she has pretty much every available tool to assist her in getting from one place to the next.  She has a cane, a walker and a power chair, and she stubbornly refuses to use any of them much of the time, with the exception of driving her power chair to meals and to play bridge at the assisted living home where she presently lives.  I think she is agreeable to use her chair at those times only because she can drive faster than she can walk.  However, she has stubbornly refused to use anything to help her walk while alone in her apartment for many years.

That chicken came home to roost last Thursday night.

Yes, she suffered a bad fall around 11:30 pm when trying to get up from her living room chair and walk to the bedroom with nothing to steady her.  She went down hard, resulting in three fractures in her pelvis, a knot on her head, a gash over her right eye, and a skin tear on her right arm.  It wasn’t hard to figure out which side hit the floor by any stretch.  She couldn’t hide those wounds, as hard as she tried to do so when the ambulance folks arrived.

I received the call right at midnight, and I was at the hospital with her until about 6 am on Friday morning.  As hard as I tried to come home and get a little sleep, Little Red would have no part of it.  He was wide awake and ready to play.  So, I just decided to have three cups of coffee and made the best of the day, and all was actually fine.  Maybe that playtime did more good than harm for me.

Over the weekend, the therapists attempted to do a little therapy with her, but they had no real luck in doing so.  On Monday afternoon, she was discharged to a rehab facility and will be there for some time, I’m sure.  She has also had (and is still having) a very severe paranoia reaction to a UTI that was diagnosed.  That was definitely a first for her, too.  I didn’t believe the doctor and nurses when they told me this horrible reaction was most likely due to the UTI, but of course, I came home last night and searched the web for other such stories, and sure enough, UTI’s in elderly women quite often cause such a harsh reaction.  She was literally screaming at the top of her lungs and saying such things that I cannot even begin to repeat here.  God bless her nurses and aides right now.  Seriously.  They need a big dose of it.

My mother is in good and capable hands, and for that, I am grateful beyond measure.  A huge prayer request was answered when a room opened up for her at this particular rehab facility.  This is not our first “rodeo” with the falling routine where she is concerned, but it is definitely a first with the off-the-wall screaming fit paranoia.  She fell and broke her shoulder about two and a half years ago, and it took months for her to recover.  I could attempt to remind her (when she gets back to being herself again) that she could have avoided this entire scenario by just using her walker, but it won’t do any good.  So, I won’t go there.

We will just try to make the best of this awful situation as best we can with the prayerful support of others.  I’m already overwhelmed at the support from many friends and a few (older) family members, but I will admit that there is precious little support from her adult grandchildren in the area that don’t belong to me.  That makes me very sad, mostly for her.  This generation is so focused on themselves that often do not realize what life is really about and what God calls us all to do for our elders in our families.  They don’t belong to me, so I will just let them be.  I sometimes wonder, though, if our society is truly changing in a manner where friends are the new family.  That might be a good topic for discussion later on here sometime.

D
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Springs in the Desert at Balmorhea

A few days ago, I wrote an introductory post about our recent trip back to far West Texas, specifically about our overnight stop at Monahans State Park entitled “Camping in the Sand.” This is the second post in this series that I would like to share about far West Texas, a unique and beautiful area that I just adore, specifically about Balmorhea State Park and a magnificent drive on Texas Highway 17 between Balmorhea and Fort Davis.

Feel free to see any photos in a larger size by clicking on them.

We left Monahans State Park around 10:30 am and drove west on I-20 to the Flying J in Pecos for gasoline. The huge Flying J is a great place to stop if traveling by RV because it is an easy “off-and-on” from I-20, and it has two dedicated gasoline lanes just for RVs, along with separate lanes for larger diesel rigs and trucks. They also sell propane, which is located in the left RV lane, and they have a big convenience store and a restaurant on site. After filling up the gas tanks in both the RV and the car, we left the Flying J, turned south on two-lane Texas highway 17, and proceeded to drive south toward the mountains in the distance.

Our next stop was Balmorhea State Park, just four miles past Balmorhea. The tiny town of Balmorhea is home to this small and unique park that draws visitors year-round to its natural warm spring swimming pool that is large enough to hold many happy kids and adults at the same time, but in the winter there are far fewer visitors. We opted to enjoy a leisurely lunch break in the park, since we could get in for free with our Texas State Parks pass, and we also wanted to show the park to our son for the first time. The park is located right on Highway 17, with the park entrance literally just off the road on the left just a few miles out of Balmorhea.

PDF map of Balmorhea State Park

The huge pool at Balmorhea State ParkSan Solomon Springs Pool
Click on the picture to see this three photo panorama larger.


Official You Tube Video – TPWD

As I mentioned, the main attraction at Balmorhea State Park is the historic San Solomon Springs pool. It is a huge spring-fed pool with a natural rock bottom that was constructed by the CCC, and it remains a constant temperature year-round of about 72 to 76 degrees.  Twenty million gallons of fresh spring water flow up from the pool springs each day, and subsequently run off into a canal system into the surrounding area.  Parts of the pool are as much as 25 feet deep, and a few adults were testing out their scuba gear as we strolled around the pool just before lunch.   Yes, there are live fish in the pool for both swimmers and scuba divers to enjoy!  I took a series of three photographs from the far side of the pool and merged them in Photoshop into the panorama photo shown above, as I could not capture the entire pool in just one photo, even with my wide-angle lens.

The pool house has large restrooms and changing areas for both men and women, as well as a concession stand that is open during the high season. Big trees and picnic tables are nearby, in addition to the day use picnic area on the other side of the building.

Pool house at Balmorhea State Park
Pool house at Balmorhea State Park

The Texas State Historical Marker is posted on the wall just as you enter the pool house area.

Historical Marker at Balmorhea State Park
Historical Marker at Balmorhea State Park
San Solomon Spring Historical Marker
San Solomon Spring Historical Marker

According to an article on the park’s website, San Solomon Spring “has provided water to travelers for thousands of years.” It is an interesting article and worth the quick read.

Balmorhea State Park has level RV spaces with some of the nicest covered tables that we’ve seen in any state park, and this park would be a great option for a quick overnight stop, since it is right off of Highway 17. Some sites have water only, some have water and electricity, and some have water, electricity, and cable television. There are also both pull-thru sites and back-in sites.  We hope to actually stay here in the RV for at least a night or two on a return trip to the area in warmer weather and finally go swimming here. I love to swim, and that big pool is just “calling my name.” Even though I have a picture of my own below, this picture better shows the RV campground in the non-winter months when things are greener.

RV Campground at Balmorhea State Park
RV Campground at Balmorhea State Park

The park also has several historic cabins to rent that were built in the 1930’s by the CCC. However, a note was posted in the office that all of the kitchen equipment will be removed from the cabins by April, which will no doubt disappoint some people who have stayed there and enjoyed having a kitchen available, but there are some dining options in Balmorhea, as well as at least one grocery store. The cabins are located in a very pretty area of the park, and they are also adjacent to the RV camping area. Both the cabins and the RV campground are within an easy walk of the pool, too.

San Solomon Springs Court Cabins
San Solomon Springs Court Cabins

These historic cabins sit along a canal that leads to a restored wetland area, also called a cienega. According to the park website, there is an underground window at the cienega to view the underwater wildlife, but we still have not taken the time to check it out while on our stops there.

Lodging options are also available a few miles away in Balmorhea. On my first trip to this area several years ago, I actually stayed in a small motel in Balmorhea for a quick overnight stop when no lodging was available in Fort Davis that night, and I would stay there again, if needed. I learned a valuable lesson on that trip, too. Always, always have a confirmed lodging reservation when visiting Fort Davis. Always. I will never make the mistake of traveling to Fort Davis without a reservation again, even for a campsite.

We parked the RV in the day use area in the park, and we enjoyed dining outside for lunch on one of the covered picnic tables nearby, which had a scenic view of the mountains in the distance and the pool next to us. This area was also a good place to walk Girly Girl and let her stretch her legs, even though she was not permitted in the pool area.

Day use picnic area at Balmorhea State Park
Day use picnic area at Balmorhea State Park

One special memory from our lunch stop here was pulling out the Christmas cookies that were leftover from my holiday baking escapades. After we ate a sandwich, we enjoyed a few cookies as well, especially the lemon cookies which were so amazingly good. We then discussed how to ration the lemon cookies that were left, so that we would have some for the rest of the trip. It was pretty funny, as we had plenty of the other cookies left. The battle for the remaining lemon cookies was officially on! Somehow, we managed to ration the lemon cookies over the next few days, leaving one last cookie for our son to enjoy on his birthday on Saturday. He was quite proud to officially claim that last cookie, and I also took his picture holding his “birthday” cookie.

We have only visited this small park in the winter months on our way to Fort Davis, but I have also seen pictures and videos of it during the warmer, greener months, and it is quite pretty, especially if the area has received some beneficial rains. It is truly a little oasis in the desert. Even in the winter, though, I love the uncrowded beauty of this unique and remote area.

After enjoying an hour-long stop here, we then drove out of the park and back onto Highway 17, straight into the Davis Mountains, over the top of Wild Rose Pass, and on to our destination at Davis Mountains State Park. The drive from Balmorhea to Fort Davis and back is one of the prettiest drives ever, and I look forward to driving that particular stretch of road on every trip. If traveling to this area, I highly recommend that travelers driving either direction from Balmorhea to Fort Davis on Highway 17 make this drive during daylight hours to see the magnificent views. I personally think the best time to make this drive to maximize its scenic beauty is when the sun is high in the sky around noontime to properly illuminate the mountains and unique rock formations all around. It is also beautiful during golden hour just before sunset, but it is also more difficult to see the interesting and unique detail in the mountains. I always love a good sunset drive, though, and this one is pretty epic.

I was driving the car on our most recent trip, so I could not take pictures. Below are some of the pictures of this beautiful drive that I have taken on two previous trips over the past two years, including the somewhat famous view of the mountains from Wild Rose Pass, as seen on the return trip from Fort Davis back to Balmorhea. These pictures can’t begin to do justice to the impressive views, but I gave it my best shot.

Texas Highway 17
Leaving Balmorhea, driving into the mountains shortly before sunset on a previous trip.
Texas Highway 17
The sky tosses golden hour hues on everything at sunset.
Texas Highway 17
Occasionally meeting another car, this a scenic and memorable drivel
Highway 17
Driving at sunset, the mountains become silhouettes against a pink and blue sky
Highway 17 h
Right at sunset, the vast open sky steals the show away from the mountains
Texas Highway 17
The detail of the mountains and rock formations are best seen when the sun in high in the sky.
Texas Highway 17
A red mountain against a blue sky
Texas Highway 17
The somewhat famous view traveling back north on Highway 17 from Fort Davis to Balmorhea, coming down from Wild Rose Pass. It is worth it to make this drive just for this view alone.
Highway 17 c
One of many interesting rock formations along the drive
Texas Highway 17
More interesting rock formations

Thanks for stopping by and watch for more posts here on this unique and scenic area of Texas!

D
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Wordless Wednesday – Sleeping Puppy at 5 am

Little Red 1

Little Red 2

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Little Red

We have a new four-legged family member!

Little Red
Little Red

On Saturday morning, we picked up our new puppy, and I am already in love with him.  Little Red is so nicknamed because he is an 8.6 lb red standard poodle puppy.  He is our third standard poodle and our fourth poodle, as we began our life with poodles back in the 80’s with a miniature apricot-colored poodle when our kids were small.  Our first standard was Big Ol’ Baby, apricot-colored, who passed away back in October after being a beloved family member for 15 years, and our second standard poodle is Girly Girl, who is now 2 1/2 and is light brown, almost a taupe color.  Color is not that important to us, but we think it will be neat to have a red dog for the first time.  Red is a relatively new color for this breed, and his parents were both gorgeous.

Over the course of our married years, we have also fostered a few dogs that have lived with us for shorter periods of time, and all were strays that we took in until we found good homes for them.  The most recent foster was Charlie, a sweet and feisty beagle who hit the jackpot as far as a permanent home a few years ago.  I actually fell in love with him and wanted to keep him, but when a good home with some people that we knew personally came open, we decided to let him go to them and get Girly Girl.  This couple was absolutely devastated after losing their long-time pet, and Charlie has been living like a king with them ever since.  It was a good decision, and we still enjoy getting pictures of him from time to time.

Little Red passed his puppy check with flying colors, and right away, he started doing his business out in the backyard regularly.  It seems that the breeder has already done some work with the puppies, as this is the easiest puppy transition we’ve ever had, at least so far.  Little Red had a rough night of separation anxiety on his first night on Saturday night, but last night was a completely different story, as he slept from 10:30 pm to 6:00 am in his crate without an accident.  He also has no fear of Girly Girl, and she has been good to play with him gently most of the time, with only a few reminders from us to “be easy” on occasion.  It’s so good to see her back to her level of play that she had before we lost Big Ol’ Baby, and I’m sure these two will enjoy many fun times together over the years.

We will be keeping Little Red at home and inside as much as possible until mid-March when he completes his final round of shots.  Both the breeder and our vet insist on doing this to hopefully avoid any unnecessary sickness, especially Parvo, which is deadly and, unfortunately, is very prevalent right now.  This means no weekend RV trips for a while for us, but this time frame actually works well for us, since hubby is out of vacation days until the first week of March anyway.  Girly Girl has grown up going with us in the RV, since we purchased our motor home shortly after she came to live with us.  She loves going camping, and I’m sure Little Red will love it just as much, too.  I’ve never met a kid or a dog that didn’t love to go camping, and having the RV makes it easy to bring the dogs along for the fun.

No doubt, Little Red will likely be nicknamed Big Red in a few short months, as he should be about six to eight inches taller than Girly Girl at the shoulders and the largest dog we have ever owned.  I’m not going to wish away these puppy days, though.  For people like us that have large dogs, the privilege of just being able to hold a dog in your lap for a few short weeks is a very special time, for sure.  Little Red likes to cuddle in the evenings just before bedtime, and I’m going to definitely take advantage of that as long as possible.

I’m very grateful today for the blessing of a new puppy, as well as the special love of so many wonderful dogs over the years.  I highly recommend sharing the love of a dog (or two) in your life.

Edit: WordPress informed me that this is also my 100th blog post.  How fun is that! 😉

D
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Camping in the Sand

We had a fabulous trip to far West Texas once again last week.  There are so many interesting things to tell about our trip, and I plan to do that over some upcoming posts to try to give more detailed information about some of the places we saw and things we did.  It was nice to have a car along for this trip, instead of just the motorcycle, since our son joined us this time.  He rode in the motor home with hubby while I followed in the car so that we would have a way for us all to get around once we parked the RV at camp.

We visited Monahans Sandhills State Park for the first time and spent one night there in route to the Davis Mountains.  This allowed us to not only see a “new-to-us” state park for the first time but to also break-up the drive as well.  We nearly always prefer to stay in a state park, if that option is reasonably available to us and because we have a yearly Texas State Park Pass.  We are spoiled to nature camp sites over urban RV parks, for sure.  However, in the Midland/Odessa area, RV campsites are mostly full now with oilfield workers anyway.

The park entrance is just off of I-20, a few miles east of Monahans, which makes the park a great stop for RV travelers.  I called ahead of time to make sure that we would not need a gate code to arrive after hours and to ask a few questions about their RV spots.  Many of their spots are pull-through, which was perfect for us for a quick overnight stop.

While the park entrance is located just off of the interstate, the RV campground is much further back into the park and away from the traffic noise, maybe about two miles back as my best guess.  We found that the distance of the campground away from the road, along with all the sand dunes, made for a decent buffer to block the noise.  We were a bit surprised to see how many overnight campers were already there, and we got one of the last pull-through spots.  We arrived about 8:30 pm, leveled the rig with the hydraulic jacks, plugged in the electricity, had a quick snack and visit, and called it good for the night.

Monahans Sandhills State Park
RV campground at Monahans Sandhills, taken after other RV’s had left the next morning

The next morning, we could finally see the park around us.  We were surrounded by sand dunes, and the table at our campsite was also in the sand.

Monahans Sandhills Picnic Table
Picnic table in the sand at our campsite

It was very pretty, especially as the sun cleared the dunes to the east.  We had a leisurely breakfast and visit, then took Girly Girl for a quick walk before packing up to continue our journey.  She is pretty spoiled to “going” on grassy areas, but I was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t seem to mind going in the sand.  I guess when a girl’s got to go, a girl’s got to go!  I can relate.  😉

We always clean up after our dogs, just for the record.  Doggy poop bags are a must for campers with dogs.  I don’t want to see leftovers from other pets, and I don’t want other campers to deal with our pets’ leftovers either.  It is no trouble either.  I wish more campers would do this, but if I have an extra poop bag in my pocket, I will usually pick up poop from other pets in the campground, too.

Monahans Sandhills Campground Road
The campground road behind our RV
Monahans Sandhills Dune
Sand dune in the RV campground

On our way out, we stopped at the park office to officially check in for the night and to look around the small museum, which was pretty interesting.

Monahans Sandhills park office and museum, decorated for Christmas
Monahans Sandhills park office and museum, decorated for Christmas

The park staff was very friendly, and we bought our obligatory state park magnet and hiking stick medallion for our respective collections.  We noticed that the park also had disks to rent for anyone that wanted to surf in the sand, and I could just imagine how fun that must be, especially for kids.  (I could also imagine how much sand would end up in the RV, too.)

Recently, the park staff posted on their Facebook page for visitors to not rely on GPS units to direct them to the park entrance.  For some reason, some GPS devices take visitors all the way into the town of Monahans.  The park entrance is very easy to find, and they recommend just taking Exit 86 off of I-20, as that is right at the entrance to the park.  There are also signs on I-20 that show the park at Exit 86, too.

I wish that we could have had more time to look around this neat park and also find the official park geocache, but we really needed to move on to our final destination and set up camp before dark.  Hopefully we can come back for a long weekend visit sometime.  I don’t think that I would want to come for a visit when our good ol’ West Texas wind is howling, though.  I can only imagine how the dust might kick up there.

We left the park later that morning and drove to the Flying J in Pecos, where we filled up our gas tanks before turning south toward the mountains for the remainder of the week.  Gas is much cheaper in Pecos than in the remote mountain areas, so we took advantage of those cheaper prices while we could.  In hindsight, we should have topped off our propane tank there, too.  More on that little issue later.

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Wordless Wednesday – Vacation Pictures

Astro Photography

Balmorhea State Park

Campfire Cooking

Davis Mountains State Park

Fort Davis National Site

Fort Davis Texas

Geocaching Travel Bug

Hiking

Hotel Limpia Restaurant

Hotel Limpia

Indian Lodge

Joyriding

Marfa Texas Courthouse

McDonald Observatory Frank Bash Visitors Center

Mexican Food

Monahans Sandhills St Park

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