Farewell Flip-Flops

I am wearing my shorts and flip-flops on this fine Monday, as the weather is quite beautiful today.  I actually put away my flip-flops a few weeks ago for the most part, but as I am staying home for most of the day, so I am celebrating this gorgeous day in my own little way.  I’m sure that everyone is already aware that a big cold front is headed across the country this week, and it should hit our area overnight in a very noticeable way.  We will no doubt receive our first freeze, which is actually overdue by about ten days this year.  So, I’m enjoying this lovely day with temperatures in the high seventies, as it will come to an abrupt end in just a few hours.

Flip Flops Farewell
It’s farewell to my favorite pair of Clark’s flip-flops for the year.

I actually enjoy the season changes, and while I’ve truly enjoyed our fine fall weather this year and our much-needed rain storms, I am ready for cold weather once again.  Please remember I said this in a couple of months when we are once again engulfed in a deep freeze, and I am begging for spring to come!  😉

Hubby and I also enjoyed a fun weekend away at our favorite state park nearby – Caprock Canyons State Park.  If we have a “home” park to visit, this is it.  Caprock Canyons is an easy drive that is just under two hours away, and it is such a great place to visit just about anytime of the year, depending on your personal weather preference.  This weekend was a very special one for us in the park, and I will share that neat experience here soon.  It was a “first” of sorts in our visits there, and it will no doubt be one of those special visits that I will always remember and treasure.  Here’s a little hint.

Bison Crossing at Caprock Canyons

Last week, I also upgraded my phone to a Samsung Galaxy S5.  The photos in this post were both taken with the camera on my new phone, and I may have an adjustment period in getting used to the new aspect ratio of .5625 to 1.  How exactly does one use the rule of thirds with such a panoramic ratio anyway?  Anyway, I’m going to continue to experiment with this new ratio to see how I like it, as I can always come back later and hopefully crop images in a more familiar ratio if I would rather do that.  The phone camera takes 16mb images, so I have plenty of photo to work with.  So far, I am quite impressed with the camera on the phone, too.  I thought ever so briefly about changing to an iPhone for the first time, as I could have saved $10 per month on my plan by doing so, but it would have felt like a downgrade to me in several respects.  I also detest iTunes because of the many issues I’ve had with it for my music library over the years.  So, I stayed with my trusty Galaxy phone option that I have truly enjoyed since my last upgrade two years ago to the Galaxy S3.  It is yet again larger in size than my previous phone, and I hope that Samsung is ready to call it good with this size.  I’m not sure that I can handle larger phones going forward time after time.

I am still having fun this month over at Animal Wonder, too!  While I know many people may not be big on birding, it is a fun hobby that I want to learn more about.  Blogging about birding each day this month is truly helping me to grow in my knowledge of birding and gain even more insights on blogging, too.  Daily blogging is proving to be a good challenge in writing for me, and I hope you will stop by there at times for a visit to see what’s happening there.  I’m now 1/3 of the way into the challenge and have met each day’s goal so far.  I’ve also had a nice reception by others and a good number of follows in the first week, and that is always an encouragement for a new project.  Most of all, I am just enjoying the opportunity to finally share some of my favorite bird photos and stories this month.  I am already working on the final birding post for November, too.  It is a gut-wrenching post for me, and I will try to do it justice to convey the feeling I had at the time.  It is more than just a photo of a bird, for sure.

Finally, I added one more link to my previous post, Texas Travel Links.  There is a fun app for your phone that shares information on Texas Historical Markers as you drive past them.  I have used the app for my Android phone on several occasions, but I believe there is a similar app available for iPhones, too.  If you don’t have time to stop and read all the historical markers on the highways, this is the next best thing and a great way to learn some interesting Texas history in the process.

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A Great Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a truly blessed Thanksgiving holiday.  Even though we had a small group of four for lunch at our home, it was a great meal and good company, for sure.  Our son and my mom joined us for lunch around 11:30 am, and we all had our fill of traditional food and pie, followed by watching a few recorded episodes of Duck Dynasty, which I thought might be a hit with our little group.  My hunch was correct, and my 92 year-young mom laughed until I thought she would make herself sick, especially over the episode about the RV road trip.  Who knew that RV stands for “Redneck Vacation” anyway?  😉  Seriously, we laughed more than we have laughed in a very long time, and it was wonderful.  We also went on a little walk around the neighborhood before taking my mom back home.  We also got to talk to our California daughter by phone for about an hour late in the afternoon, too.  I miss having my girl close by, but she and her hubby are doing well.  That is something to definitely be grateful for.

Speaking of pie, I made a new pie recipe, and it was so good!  It was a Caramel Apple Pie, and that recipe is most definitely a keeper.  Of course it is.  It is from The Pioneer Woman.  Here is the link to that recipe, and it is also in her new holiday cookbook, too.

The Pioneer Woman – Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

Around 5 pm on Thanksgiving Day, my husband and I left in our RV for a long weekend of camping at Caprock Canyons State Park.  The snow storm that hit earlier in the week apparently caused some other campers to cancel their holiday camping reservations there, so we were able to secure a reservation on Wednesday night for the holiday weekend, which was a big surprise for us.  We had just about given up hope of finding an open campsite for the holiday weekend, but when we checked online on Wednesday night, there was one 50 amp site available.  We reserved it right away and spent Wednesday evening loading a few more supplies for our trip.

Caprock Canyons is such a great state park, and fortunately, it is within a reasonable drive for us for a quick little getaway trip most any time of the year, as long as we can plan far enough ahead of time to secure a reservation for a water and electric site.  The more I go there, the more I love it, too.  It is a uniquely beautiful and secluded place, and it seems we learn more and see more with each return trip.  The park seems to be drawing more visitors from distant places now, as we note when we say “hello” and are greeted in a foreign language, which is always a treat for us.  One family greeted us in German on this trip, or at least we think it was German.

I will write a follow-up post with more details about Caprock Canyons sometime soon, but for now, I want to share some things about this particular trip that made it so special.  God surely knew how much I needed a sanity break right now, I think.  We camped next to a very nice family from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and we enjoyed visiting with them.  It’s always fun to have nice neighbors, and we’ve found this to be more the rule than the exception when we go camping, thank goodness.

We made two long hikes (for us), one that was three miles and another that was four miles, and on each hike, the scenery was just breathtaking.  Girly Girl loved hiking with us, as always.  Our first hike was along the Canyon Rim Trail near our campsite.

At our turnaround point on the Canyon Rim Trail
At our turnaround point on the Canyon Rim Trail

The view below is only a ten minute walk on an easy trail from where we camped in Honey Flat campground.  This panorama photo just does not do it justice either.

View on the Canyon Rim Trail
View on the Canyon Rim Trail. We call this “Hidden Canyon.” Breathtakingly beautiful!

We also hiked on Eagle Point trail for about a mile into the canyon for the first time.  Unlike the Canyon Rim Trail which is flat for about over a mile at the beginning, Eagle Point trail starts at the top of the canyon and goes down into it.  The weather was cool and wonderful, and we just kept going down and down into the canyon and enjoying the hike so much.  Of course, what goes down must come up when hiking, so the climb back out of the canyon took a little longer.  My legs “talked” to me a bit afterward, but it was totally worth it all to make that beautiful hike.

We also went on several shorter hikes, especially in the evenings just before sunset, and the stillness, the beauty, and the sounds of the birds and wildlife all around almost made me want to cry.  It was so very peaceful and good for the soul.  I took the photo below while taking a hike with Girly Girl while hubby was getting our fire ready to cook steaks on Saturday evening.  No one else was around, except a few birds and a coyote that was pretty far away but howling nonetheless in the distance.

On the Canyon Rim Trail just before sunset
On the Canyon Rim Trail just before sunset

We also enjoyed a nice, long motorcycle ride one afternoon, and we were even able to drive to another small town in the area for a quick visit with some friends that were there on their own holiday getaway.  As we rode back to the park, we made a quick detour to Monk’s Crossing to take a look at the “rail to trail” path there that leads to Clarity Tunnel.  This is an epic bike ride that we would like to make sometime, hopefully sooner rather than later, and it is also a part of the state park, even though it is several miles away.  On our way back to the park, we saw yet another amazing sunset.  Again, the photo doesn’t do it justice, but I had to give it a try.

Sunset near Quitaque
Sunset near Quitaque

Finally, on Friday night, a family with some children that were camped nearby built a campfire at their site, toasted marshmallows for s’mores, and sang Christmas carols around their campfire.  They sang very well, too.  We could see and hear them as we sat outside by our RV under the stars, which were amazing on that clear night with no moon.  We drank some hot apple cider as we star-gazed and listened to our wonderful carolers nearby, and it was as if God was saying that it was finally time to begin celebrating the Christmas season once again.  That was one of those special moments that I will likely remember for a very long time, too.

I also found myself missing our Big Ol’ Baby once again on this trip.  I will probably always remember him when we go camping, I guess.  I saved the last picture that I took of him and Girly Girl in the RV back in September when we camped in New Mexico, and I brought it up on my phone to look at it a couple of times as I sat inside and looked at the empty place on the sofa where he would usually sit.  Girly Girl is doing pretty good, but it is obvious that she is more insecure now, too.  This is the first time in her life that she has been alone, and we are not happy with how she is behaving since losing her buddy.  So, we will be getting a new puppy pal to join her in early January when he turns six weeks old.  We finalized the deal last week, and he will be our mutual Christmas gift.  Now, we just have to decide on a name for him, but fortunately we have five weeks to do it.  We are looking forward to adding another four-legged family member, too!  😀

This was our third consecutive year to go camping during Thanksgiving after our family meal, and I think it’s safe to say that this is probably now a new tradition for us.  I hope we can do this for many years to come.

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