Reconnecting With Friends

Once again, life seems to be in just a bit of upheaval here again, but thankfully, it is nothing like we had back in the winter when my mom fell and broke her hip.  It is more a confluence of little things and slightly larger things that are taking my precious personal time that I try to guard as much as possible until circumstances demand some of it.  I am missing my quieter mornings right now, for sure, but hopefully things will return to normal soon, too.

I managed to take some time off earlier today to reconnect personally with a high school friend who is in town for a couple of weeks to see her elderly parents.  We have not seen each other in person since 1976, although we reconnected a few years ago on Facebook.  My friend and I met for a tentatively scheduled two-hour coffee visit at Starbucks, and four and a half hours later, we had to finally cut off our visit with the hope that we will be able to get together one more time before she leaves to return to North Carolina.

On my drive home, I felt especially blessed to have been able to reconnect recently with so many long-lost friends from my younger days, and I have been truly amazed at how we have all been able to pick right up where we left off.  The love and caring concern is still there in every reunion, and I realized that I have so many dear friends, even though we have been apart for decades.  I have also been amazed at how similar a path many of us have walked in our respective lives as far as life challenges, too.

Today, my friend and I discovered that we share several similar family struggles, including one that is quite unique.  This certainly helped to fuel the discussion for our extra long visit, but we also found that the friendship that we enjoyed in high school was founded on such a solid foundation that we will likely be dear friends the rest of our lives, despite the fact that we live hundreds of miles apart.

There are days that God sends such a special treat my way when I need it most, and this was one of those days, a special reunion with a dear friend that blessed me in such a wonderful way!  I am especially grateful today, and I have cried tears of joy… always a good thing.

This beautiful song has been a favorite of mine for decades, and it expresses my heart so perfectly today where my friends, both new and old, are concerned.  May it bless you richly today.

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Our RV Trips Map

My new permanent page is now up!  Even though this is just a start for this page, I think it is a good start.  This page can also be found going forward at the top of my site, just above the header.


Our RV Trips Map

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am working on this permanent travel page that is mostly related to our RV trips, and here’s why.  It is pretty common to find such a map on blogs of people who are living full-time in their RVs and even on some that just take a number of extended, long-distance trips.  As you probably already know, we are mostly RV weekend “warriors” and longer RV vacation travelers, but we have attempted to visit as many state parks as we could over the past three years since we purchased our RV.  We live in a part of the country that is too often bypassed by tourists, based on our sometimes well-earned reputation for harsh weather at times, but I believe that is an unfortunate situation because there are some absolutely stunning places to see in our part of the country.  Actually, visitation is on the rise, as more people discover the epic beauty of some of these places for themselves.

For instance, the #1 rated state park in the nation, as rated this year by Fodor’s, is Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which sits just south of Amarillo.  Amarillo is located right on I-40, one of the busiest interstates in the nation, yet I am amazed at how many people in other parts of the country have never even heard of Palo Duro Canyon.  It is the second largest canyon in the United States, and it is just a magnificent sight to see anytime of the year.  So with this one example in mind, over time, I hope to share a little more about this greater West Texas region for those that might consider adding it to their travels plans at some point in the future.

I recently read listened to Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck, narrated by Gary Sinise, and I would highly recommend that book, especially this audiobook, to anyone that has a bit of wanderlust in the soul.  One quote really jumped out and stuck in my mind concerning the big highway systems, too.

When we get these thruways across the whole country, as we will and must, it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing.
John Steinbeck

I. could. not. agree. more!  Even with all of the travel resources at our disposal these days, most of them for free online, we are still drawn to these super-highways and away from the real parts of our country that, to me, make it so very special and unique.  I also look at many of the commercial RV parks and how RVs are literally just crammed side by side, and I know in my heart that this part of the RV lifestyle will never be for us, except for a short-term stay at times.

From the very beginning three years ago, our desire was to get away from the urban centers more during our limited vacation time, and travel to state and national parks as much as possible.  Since then, we have visited over twenty such parks, and we have made some fabulous memories with friends and family, just doing simple things together, such as hiking, biking, cooking over real campfires, playing games, looking at skies full of stars that took our breath away, seeing and listening to some really wild animals, watching breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, meeting people from just about everywhere and talking with them at length, and most of all, seeing so many of the “little” places that we would never have seen otherwise.  Even on our most recent trips to Kauai and Big Sur, we once again found ourselves in the middle of some exquisite state parks, as that almost seems to feel like “our thing” to do now.

I adore seeing more and more young families in their tents, pop-up campers and small trailers doing the same thing, too.  I have never seen a kid that didn’t like to go camping, and I hope in some way to also encourage more families to give camping a try, in whatever manner you are most comfortable.  We camped in a tent for years in our early married life, and those were some of the best memories ever.  I’m probably beyond tent camping days now, but I wouldn’t trade for those fun times either.

Hubby travels extensively for business, and over time, he has grown quite weary of airline travel.  It has lost its’ appeal to him for vacations now, and that is yet one more reason why we made the decision to buy the RV.  We certainly still enjoy the occasional trip to places further away, for sure, but we absolutely adore getting away regularly in the RV now and bringing our two special four-legged pals along with us.

While more detailed information on my travel page is still in process, I finally have the map ready to share.  I hope this will be a good start for anyone that might want more information on places to visit and camp in this greater West Texas area.  I have only listed the places we have personally visited to date, though.  Hopefully in a few weeks or months, I will finish the page with a little summary of each place we’ve visited, too.  As we visit new places, they will be added to this same map.

Unfortunately, the map is quite large and will be best utilized by opening it up at the “View Larger Map” link, shown just below the map on the left or by simply clicking the link provided here.

Our RV Trips Map
(click here)

Learning to create and use this interactive Google Map has been a bit of a challenge, but it seems to work very well when the full map is used.  So, please… check out the full map!

The map has three main categories, which is the most I can create for free apparently, and they can easily be toggled on and off on the map, as desired.

1.  State and national parks/forests where we have camped (Must-see places are denoted by *)

2.  Other campgrounds where we have camped

3.  Places of interest for any visitors (All places on this list are highly recommended. I have also included a few restaurants in several areas, too.  We all have to eat, of course, and if you dine out of the RV for one meal in an area, you have my recommendation on where to go. Please check to see if reservations are suggested, too.)

While I had RV travelers somewhat in mind when creating this map, it can certainly be a little travel guide to these areas for others, too.  These beautiful parks are certainly not just for campers, especially since many of them have other lodging options inside the park or very close by.  There are many more points of interest that I could share on the map, but for now, I felt it prudent to just stick with the more popular ones that I would most recommend to visitors with limited time in the area.  Of course, that is just my opinion, too.  Over time, I think I will add more points of interest, featuring more of those “little” places we’ve discovered.

One way to quickly “tour” the map is to just click down the list of each of the places in the box, and a small box will pop up with a photo and a web link to the internet site for that page.  You can also click directly on the map icons to bring up the information boxes, too.  I personally selected the best photos and link online for each place just under the photo, along with any posts that I have written about that park and a few brief comments about it.  Again, please use the larger map for this feature.

Map Information

We hope to continue to explore new parks over time, with a goal of visiting at least one new park each year.  We have grown so fond of several of the parks we’ve already visited, though, that it is a little tough to pull ourselves away.  But, Texas has so many wonderful parks that I’m sure we will continue to push on out to explore even more of them as time off from work permits.  We have certainly enjoyed really getting to know several of these parks and their staff members so well that they feel like our home away from home now, too.  I’m anxious to share even more about so many of these great places here as well.

While I continue to work on the travel page, I am happy to answer questions about any of these places shown on the map.  Just leave a comment below with your question.  If I cannot answer it, I’ll try to find an answer for you.  😉

The greater West Texas area is a special and unique and often quite wild part of the country with some amazing scenery to share and some special stories to tell to those that take the time to see and hear them.  I can tell a few myself.  I hope this map helps to begin to share just a few of those stories to you, too.

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What I am sharing today is probably more for me personally than for you, dear reader. I was a part of this wonderful conference this past weekend, and I want to share it here for keeps.

We laughed together, especially about salsa.

We cried together, when many women accepted Jesus Christ.

We worshiped together, in loud and perfect harmony.

We prayed together.  I will never forget Mary’s prayer.

We hugged together. A total stranger totally blessed me.

I fell in love with Jesus all over again, and I have been powerfully reminded once again of whose I am. God works in mysterious and not-so-mysterious ways each and every day, and my cup of gratitude absolutely overflows once again today.  I can only imagine what Heaven will be like one day, after singing along with 7000 other women in unison praise this past weekend.

Our lesson for these two days was based on the first chapter of John, and it was a timely one for me.  May it never leave my mind or my heart.

“You’re all I need to feel alive.  This heart has FOUND its’ home.”
— “Found” by Travis Cottrell

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Wordless Wednesday – Ruins


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What’s Old Is New

Dear fellow RVers, have you seen the new Winnebago Brave for 2015?

I am a big fan of retro RVs and trailers, and while we would still likely pass on this one for now, I think Winnebago may find huge success with it.  Some fellow RV friends told us about this new model while we were on our trip this past weekend to the mountains, and after Red chewed up the magazine page they gave us with all the information on it, I looked it up online and found this video.

What do you like and dislike about it?

I really like the layout of the cab, living room and kitchen areas, as it is very similar to what we presently have in our motor home but a little more functional, especially the sofa that converts several ways, even to a long table.  We also have the pull-down bed over the cab, just like they show in the video, although ours is not electric.

About the only thing I don’t like is the main bedroom configuration, but I think there is another model that has both a slide-out and a better bedroom arrangement, the 27B model.  If we happen to find one of these 27B models in good shape a few years down the road, I would definitely consider buying it, if we think we could live with a 26 foot RV instead of our 31 foot RV.  I would also prefer one of the other colors, not the Mellow Yellow.  The 27B model is so similar to our present configuration, and I think that is why I like it.  Having the shower separate from the rest of the bathroom has been so handy for us on so many occasions, especially when our son comes along on a trip.  I can see where this model is likely too small for those that travel more than we do or full-time in their RVs.

We are so happy with our present motor home, though, it may be hard to ever part with it, especially since it is completely paid in full and feels like our home away from home now.  It’s always fun to look, though!

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