Catching Up – Lightning Round

Time to play catch up here.

I’ve been quite busy lately, so in an effort to catch up here a bit, I will just play a little lightning round question and answer game.

Question:  “What has kept you so busy lately?”

Answer:  Helping my oldest nephew get my sister and brother-in-law (his mother and father) moved to a new mobile home on his property.. and a very nice one at that.  Let’s just say we have all learned *a lot* about mobile homes over the past few weeks!  Interesting stuff, and I’m glad to know a lot more about them now.

2017-02-10-13-37-11smQuestion:  “Why the rush to move them?”

Answer:  My brother-in-law was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a few months ago, and my sister’s health (both physical and mental) continues to decline, not improve.  She has fallen twice recently and broke her elbow and a toe.  Neither of them can adequately care for the other now, it seems, and moving them to a home on their oldest son’s farm will make it easier for him and his large family to care for them when needed.

My nephew and his family are going to earn lots of gold stars in their Heavenly crowns for taking this responsibility on, too.  I’ve been trying to help where I can to make this happen as quickly as possible because it’s been a huge task, and other family members aren’t helping much, if at all.

Question:  “Have you been anywhere in the RV lately?”

Yes, we went on a great little five day trip to Lake Mineral Wells State Park (Prairies and Lakes region) and Fort Richardson State Park (Panhandle-Plains region) a couple of weeks ago to use Hubby’s last three vacation days before they expired the first week of March.  It was our first time to visit these two state parks, and we really liked both of them and the lovely RV sites.

Fort Richardson was a nice surprise and nicer than we thought it would be, too.  The fort site itself was so interesting to see, and our campsite sat right on a little spring-fed creek that was just delightful.  The spring was only about 50 yards upstream, so the water was crystal clear.

This was a bit of a landmark trip for us.  By finally visiting Fort Richardson State Park, we’ve now visited every state park in the Panhandle-Plains region except one, Possum Kingdom, since we started traveling by RV 5 1/2 years ago.  When you look at how large this region is geographically, I think that’s a decent milestone because we only vacation by RV.  (We probably won’t go to Possum Kingdom anytime soon, unfortunately, because a terrible fire struck there a few years ago, but maybe we can just make a day visit there to sometime to check it off our list.)

Of course, we’ve visited other parks outside the region, including state parks in the Big Bend region, the Hill Country region and the Prairies and Lakes region.  But, it’s great that we’ve finally made it to all the parks in our home region now that we want to see at this time.  Lake Mineral Wells is in the Prairies and Lakes Region, and we certainly enjoyed our beautiful lakeside campsite.  Hubby also caught a catfish but threw it back.  I enjoyed just sitting by the lake while he fished, and the dogs joined us lakeside a few times, too.

We both needed a nice, relaxing trip, and this whole trip was great for us for that very reason.

 

2017-02-20-17-13-26-1sm
What a great, lakefront site we had at Lake Mineral Wells State Park!

 

Some day, we hope to actually visit every state park in Texas, so this is a good start for now.

2017-02-28-22-49-52Question:  “How’s the weather been lately?”

Pretty good, nice actually, except for two wild and windy West Texas dust storms that were just hideous.  We had to come home early from our stay at Lake Mineral Wells State Park to avoid driving the next day in one of those two wind storms, too.  When the weather alert mentions “Flaming Tumbleweeds” in the forecast, it’s best to just avoid traveling in a high profile vehicle, I think!

Question:  “Have you been doing anything else?”

Yes, cleaning out *that* closet in the back bedroom.  I got interrupted in the middle of that big project to help move my sister, so everything is just a disaster back there right now.  Ugh.

Question:  “Anything else of interest you want to share before you get back to your urgent tasks?”

Yes, one more thing.  Since my sister is downsizing her home, I worked a trade with her.  I bought them a new bed set for their new home in exchange for all of china and crystal she had from both of our grandmothers.  If I didn’t do that, she was going to sell it off to strangers, and I couldn’t bear the thought of her doing that.  I absolutely did not need any of this, but I wanted to keep it in the family.2017-03-06-08-59-10

I now have FIVE SETS OF CHINA.  Five of them.  Cinco conjuntos de.  My husband just rolled his eyes when I shared this tidbit with him.  Bless his heart.  But when I get *that* closet cleaned out, we will have plenty of room to store all of them for awhile.  At some point, I will have to decide who gets what between immediate and extended family members, but not anytime soon.

I also have a set of Christmas dishes, too… in addition to the four smaller sets of dishes we use regularly.  And what about a few of those interesting depression glass pieces?  Lead crystal bowls?  (Thankfully, I only have one little set of cute Corelle dishes in the RV.)

I may or may not have a dish problem.

I may need to even write a post soon with photos of all the dishes in my life, as well as the crystal sets, three nice sets of stainless and one very nice set of silver.  Oh yes, I have silver service pieces, too, all pieces that belonged to family members, and I’m determined to make sure they all stay with family members that will not sell them off, if possible. And speaking of those silver pieces, it’s time for a good polish.

Yes, as one dear friend put it, I am now the family museum.  I know these treasures will only be mine for a little while, so I will enjoy them while I can and do my best to keep them safe in the process.  They are just stuff, but they all bring such special memories with them, and that’s what is most important to me.

That’s it for today’s lightning round!  It’s time to get busy again on this Monday when the wind is supposed to once again roar with flaming tumbleweeds!

flaming-tumbleweeds

Ugh.

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoying Autumn

My favorite season of the year

Autumn is flying by for me, and it’s been a most enjoyable season at home and for traveling in the RV.  The leaves are just beginning to turn, nighttime temperatures are flirting with the freezing mark but not yet giving in, regular fall activities returned, and my favorite farmer’s market vendor has closed for the season after another good run this year.  This is by far my favorite season of the year, and we now consider it to be our “summer,” since it is our preferred season for travel and outdoor fun now.

Since returning from our week-long vacation to the Enchanted Circle area in early September, we’ve made three more shorter trips in the RV, all to state parks closer to home.  We’ve also enjoyed some nice times right here at home, including our annual visit to the fair and enjoying the great food there on opening night, none of which was on my diet, but hey, it’s a tradition… right?

2016-09-23-20-03-32smfs
We always enjoy our yearly visit to the fair

At the fair, we once again dined at the same place I used to take my mom for lunch each year, a charitable organization’s restaurant that I’ve always enjoyed supporting and one that also serves reliably good food.  I guess I will always have my mom on my mind every time I go to the fair now, remembering how much she enjoying it, and that’s ok.  Those are good memories, but it still gets to me each time I go now.

In late September, Hubby and I returned to Lake Brownwood State Park with another couple who also joined us in their RV for four days and three nights, the same couple we met at Caprock Canyons State Park in August on a weekend that was cooler than normal.  It was our first time to visit Lake Brownwood in September, and we managed to get adjacent sites with awesome lake views in the Council Bluff campground.

2016-10-08-12-19-09smfs
View of Lake Brownwood from Texas Oak hiking trail… one of favorite trails

We enjoyed acquainting our friends with the park, and we also had fun hiking and geocaching together, dining outside in the evenings, watching college football on Saturday evening outside on their RV television and driving into Brownwood to dine at one of our all time favorite places to eat, Underwood’s BBQ.

We also celebrated Hubby’s birthday with our traditional family birthday cake, a Texas chocolate sheet cake that I made, and we even made him blow out candles.  Once again, I ate that yummy cake, even though it wasn’t on my diet, a most familiar tale this fall.

2016-10-08-10-56-33smfs
View from our campsite at Lake Brownwood State Park. We enjoyed a nice campfire here on Friday night with our friends.

In late October, we made a quick weekend trip to Lake Colorado City State Park to just get away and relax.  Hubby’s nephew surprised us and met us there in his big, new pop-up camper on Saturday afternoon.  The guys had fun checking everything out on it a little more, and we all enjoyed a great visit around the campfire together on Saturday night and even made Nutella s’mores.  (Yes, we used Nutella instead of chocolate bars!)  We had the campground mostly to ourselves, which was so nice for a peaceful weekend away.

2016-10-22-09-01-56smfs
View from our front door at our pull-thru site at Lake Colorado City State Park
2016-10-22-12-24-01smfs
The site we scoped out for Hubby’s nephew. He wanted a site that was level and had a little shade, if possible, and he was quite happy with this one.
2016-10-22-12-25-21smfs
Another view of his site – lots of room and green grass
2016-10-23-15-27-52-1smfs
Big Red was waiting patiently on us in the RV as we were getting ready to leave on Sunday

Last week, Lake Colorado City finally received some significant rains, and the lake is now up at least eight feet since we were there.  We have never seen this lake with that much water in it because we started traveling by RV during the big drought in 2011.  This lake was hit hard and has been very slow in recovering.  Hopefully, it’s made some nice progress now, and I’m anxious to return soon to see it.

Our most recent long-weekend trip took us to Palo Duro Canyon State Park in early November for three days and nights.  We’ve visited this well-known state park off and on for most of our lives, but this particular trip was by far our best one to date.

img_3605smfs
We enjoyed the gorgeous scenery at Palo Duro Canyon State Park once again, as well as some great weather and fog

I plan to write a separate post soon to share more about that trip and some of the pictures I took.  Palo Duro Canyon State Park just keeps getting better and better, especially since it was named the top state park in the nation a couple of years ago, and I’ll try to share more soon about the most recent improvements and expansions in the park, which are newsworthy, especially to campers!

The state park system has definitely spent some money on this great park in recent years to improve the roads and add campsites, both of which were sorely needed.  Now, if they could just figure out a way to make that 10% grade road going down into the canyon not so steep and narrow!  😉

Since our last trip, we have been cleaning and sprucing up the RV as we begin to transition it for colder weather camping.  Hubby wanted to do some exterior caulking, and I opted to rent a Rug Doctor and clean the carpet while the weather was nice.

Even though we began winterizing in late October at our campsites before heading home, we also started switching out some supplies to prepare for winter camping… loading our heated water hose, electric blankets for us and a guest, extra blankets for us and the dogs’ beds and our good space heater with a thermostat.  Right now, though, the weather is still very nice and looks to stay that way, at least for the near future.  We’re hoping it stays that way next week for Thanksgiving, too.

Wordless Wednesday – Foggy Canyon

img_3605smfs

Wordless Wednesday – Found in a Geocache

2016-09-09-14-41-10smfs2016-09-09-14-41-01smfs2016-09-09-14-43-41smfs2016-09-09-14-45-12smfs

Memorial and Memories

The very first memorial honoring Vietnam War veterans is in New Mexico

In early September, we were fortunate to be able to spend a lovely week in the Enchanted Circle area of northern New Mexico, and one of the most memorable sights we saw during that week sits atop a hill near the small community of Angel Fire.  In fact, we could see it off in the distance from the RV park where we stayed during the week.  When I researched sites to visit in this area ahead of time, this one stood out as a “must-see” spot, so we planned our visit for Wednesday.

img_3274smfs
Sign at the highway entrance to the memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park at Angel Fire is actually the very first memorial to honor Vietnam Veterans and was also the inspiration for the large memorial that now resides in Washington D.C.  Over time, people have placed red bricks here to honor family members and other loved ones that served, and they border the sidewalks throughout the memorial.

img_3231smfs
Memorial bricks

I have always had a personal connection to this war because my brother served in it for two consecutive years.  My brother was fourteen years older than me, and I was a young child while he served.  I remember writing letters to him regularly, and we also put together a box of goodies for him every other week and sent it by mail.  In later years, he often shared how much he looked forward to receiving those care packages, too.  I lost my dear brother back in 2007 to diabetes and congestive heart failure, but this visit brought back so many memories of him and this time period in history.

Many specific memories of my brother’s service came flooding back to mind as I toured this beautiful memorial.  It’s amazing how things like this can go dormant in our minds until something prods them back to the forefront so vividly.  As I looked at the various exhibits in the small museum, the memories continued to return, especially seeing those red, white and blue air mail envelopes that we always used to mail our letters to my brother.

The story of how this memorial came to be is so special and so touching, and I encourage anyone to read more about it on the memorial’s website.  I won’t take the time to try to share it here, but it is well worth the time to read about it.  You can also make a contribution to help support the memorial, if you would like to do so.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial, David Westphall Foundation

The weather was overcast on the day of our visit, and while the conditions kept me from capturing better quality photos, it provided the perfect setting to match my rather somber mood while I toured the facility.  Before we finished our tour, I also made the decision to order a brick to honor my brother and have it placed there in his honor and memory.  I look forward to returning to the memorial again someday to see his name and service honored along with so many other veterans.

I’ll just let my photos share the rest of the story about this touching place, and I’ve opted to share quite a number of them today because this placed touched me so much.

img_3217smfs
Main entrance
img_3218smfs
Main entrance
img_3219smfs
Blue Star Memorial Garden
img_3220smfs
Entering the memorial
img_3223smfs
Touching tribute – please read
img_3226smfs
Fountain features provide a feeling of serenity
img_3228smfs
View of the mountains from the amphitheater
img_3229smfs
View of the mountains from the amphitheater
img_3232smfs
Huey helicopter that was flown in the war
img_3233smfs
New Mexico, United States and POW/MIA flags
img_3234smfs
Flags
img_3235smfs
Angel Fire Ski Resort in the distance
img_3236smfs
Entrance to the museum
img_3237smfs
The RV resort where we stayed in the distance
img_3241smfs
The views from that meditation bench are amazing.
img_3248smfs
The tall tree honoring the founder’s son was very small when the memorial was built but stands tall now, a striking reminder of a life lost.
img_3250smfs
Another view of the memorial tree
img_3255smfs
The architecture and sweeping lines are beautiful.
img_3256smfs
Native flowers adorn the landscape.
img_3258smfs
The small and simple chapel is an amazing sight.
img_3268smfs
Another view of the Huey
img_3271smfs
Burial site of the memorial founders
img_3272smfs
One of many small memorial flags along the walkways

I would highly encourage anyone visiting this area to visit this beautiful memorial for an hour or two or even longer if you want to explore the museum in more detail.  I’m so glad we took the time to visit this special, yet somber, place.  It is free to visit.  Donations are accepted from those that would like to make a contribution to help with upkeep of the memorial.

 

%d bloggers like this: