Catching Up – Lightning Round

Time to play catch up here.

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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.

 

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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!

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Ugh.

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday – Supercell

Stormy weather…

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Our First “Adventure” with the New RV

Our trip home in the new RV was a nerve-wracking experience.

Happily, our recent trip to check out the prospective RV this past Friday turned out well, and we are once again happy RV owners.

Our new-to-us RV is an older 38′ GBM Cruise Air, and we are now the second owners.  It was a special order coach from the factory by the first owners and has some nice extras that are not typical on many coaches made around this time.  It is also low mileage and low hours on the big Onan generator, and it is quite possibly the best used RV we’ve ever seen in the price range we wanted.  In fact, it is in much better condition than many newer RVs we’ve looked at over the past few months.

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Hubby gives a wave as we started our drive home with the new RV.

We were the first people to inquire about this RV after seeing the ad online, and the dealer was great to work with us, considering we were five hours away and Hubby was gone on an extended business trip.  We agreed on a fair price at the beginning, and the dealer guaranteed that all of the systems would be in proper working order on delivery.  That is pretty unheard of with used RVs these days in our experience, so we decided to play out the process to see what transpired.

I made a quick solo trip right away to see it in person, and I spent three hours inspecting it with the salesman that worked with us.  The only issue I found was with the furnace not blowing through all of the vents, just those on one side, so he promised to have it fixed for us, which he promptly did the next day.  Last Friday, after Hubby returned from his epic round-the-world trip, we finally made the trip for our final inspection.  Everything was working properly, as promised, so we signed the papers, handed over the money, and began the drive home with our new RV.

It seems we have now established a tradition of having a notable complication on the drive home with a new-to-us RV.  This drive home was no exception, although it was due to a very different reason.

When we bought our previous RV in 2011, we immediately had new tires put on before we started our drive home.  We departed after lunch for the five hour drive home, but about an hour from home, one of the brand new rear tires went flat just as we pulled into a small town that Sunday evening.  Of course, everything was closed, and we were not happy campers.  But as usual, people in small towns seem to come to the rescue of those in need of help, and a kind man with a big truck jack came out to help us put the spare tire on.  The next day when we took the flat tire to be inspected and fixed, we were told that the tire was fine but the valve was not put on securely and leaked the air.  So, while it was very frustrating, especially for us as first time RV purchasers, we were relieved to find out the tire was actually fine.

On our drive home last Friday afternoon in the new RV, we once again has an issue.  This time, however, it had nothing to do with our new coach.  Instead, Mother Nature decided to throw a major temper tantrum in our home area around 6 pm as we were still a couple of hours away.   The storm grew rapidly, producing large hail and a possible tornado on radar.  My good friend alerted me by phone to the weather at home, so we stopped at a truck stop to see what would develop with the storm.  Sure enough, the storm progressed southeast directly toward the town where we were and continued to increase in size and strength.  When it was less than 30 minutes away, a possible tornado showed up right over the highway where we needed to go.

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That red triangle is rotation and a possible tornado over the road where we needed to drive.

 

We were not thrilled by this development.  At all.  It was also Friday the 13th.  I’m not a superstitious person, but somehow we both took note of the date as the storm continued to head right for us, and we just shook our heads almost simultaneously.

We discussed possible options, but by that time, none of them made sense.  The storm was wide, so veering around it wasn’t going to happen.  Backtracking would only put us in the path of the storm as it continued down the highway we had just driven.  Besides, it is just not wise to be in a vehicle in a storm like this.  Period.  And we had both the car and the RV to deal with, as well as both dogs which came along on the trip.

Common sense finally told us that we needed to quickly find a sheltered area for the car and the RV, and it didn’t take long for us to find a small gas station / convenience store that was already closed for the night.  We pulled both vehicles under the awning and made plans to vacate with the dogs to a nearby hotel if the storm looked to be really bad as it approached.  The possible tornado was still showing up on the radar, so we turned on the built-in weather radio in the new RV to stay informed on the storm.

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The dogs waited with us on their comfy spot as the storm passed.

 

I alerted a group of friends to our situation and asked them to pray for our safety.  Immediately, many responded and I kept in touch with them as the storm approached and hit.  We never vacated the RV during the storm, as the worst of it literally veered to either side of where we were parked, with the worst part of the storm veering to the west.  No more tornadoes were reported, and prayers were answered.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief as the only damage inflicted was on my nerves.

After the storm passed, we set out in the dark for the last part of our drive.  The radar was clear all the way home… for about fifteen minutes.  Then, the storms began back-building once again.  Fortunately, none were severe, but we did hit a few spots with very hard rain, and I hit one water puddle on the road at one point that completely engulfed my car for a few seconds and scared me terribly.  We pulled the RV into our storage facility at 12:15 am, and I was exhausted.  Dealing with storms this time of year is not my idea of a fun time.

We have already started working on the things inside the coach and under the hood that we want and need to do, and I will share more about our new RV soon as we make some progress on it, hopefully with a few “before” and “after” photos.  We really don’t have that much to do, relatively speaking for an older coach, as the coach is in very good condition from being stored under a good cover all these years and seems to have been maintained fairly well, despite the fact that it was seldom used.  We’ve already been down the road with an RV that sat for a long time, so we already know of many things to check out and watch for as we begin to use it soon.  It’s nice that many of these issues have already been addressed with this one.

More to come!

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46 Years Ago Today

Remembering “Tornado Day”

46 years ago tonight, we survived this monster with only minor damage at my parents’ house.  Twenty-six fellow citizens lost their lives, though, and I knew one woman that died.  I was in the sixth grade, and she made regular visits to my school as a volunteer.

My mother, father and I tried to get to a neighbor’s storm cellar across the street as the storm hit, but the fierce wind actually blew my father back into the house when he attempted to walk out the front door to the south.  We took shelter in an interior closet and heard the trademark “train” sound outside as the storm roared over us and blew over our massive maple tree in the back yard, narrowly missing hitting our house.  The wooden fence didn’t stand a chance either.

To this day, I have never been as scared as I was that night.

We had no advance warning until the local news folks broke into the Carol Burnett Show right before the storm hit, showing the simple black/white radar with a “hook echo” on it.  Shortly afterward, the electricity went off, and we listened to a local radio station for news updates on our battery-powered radio from that point and over the next couple of days.  We had no city services until later the next day, a first for me, and it was my first experience in living amid a truly chaotic situation for the first time.

I will never, ever, ever forget that night.  Ever.

It’s still hard to think back on it and talk about it even today, and, like my mother, it’s why I am a fierce “weather bird” just about any time during severe weather season.  I still miss her calls to make sure we are aware of impending weather, too.

If you do not own a NOAA weather radio, please get one and keep it on over the coming weeks. We nearly always have a weather radio on in our RV when camping, and we generally avoid camping during the months of May and June unless we feel that the weather forecast will work for us just prior to our departure day.  That includes forecasted winds, since driving an RV in high winds is not a good plan.  We have good friends that encountered  high winds on their drive home from their RV trip last week, and it certainly played havoc with their plans, not to mention their nerves.

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The massive storm that spawned the deadly El Reno tornado in 2013, as seen behind us after we left the OKC area early, thanks to the early warning from the NWS in Norman.

 

I’ve also found that following the NWS offices directly on Twitter is a fabulous idea, too.  Following the NWS Norman Twitter feed may have saved my life, as well as my nephew’s life, a few years ago on a trip to Oklahoma City when we heeded a early predictive warning about what was likely to come just prior to the tragic El Reno tornado that struck the area where we were a short time later.  We saw that massive storm in our rear view mirror after we departed the area earlier than planned, missing it my about an hour.

What are the chances that I would be in two separate locations where massive tornadoes struck in my lifetime anyway?  I truly hope there are no more, but living in “Tornado Alley” means the chance is always there.

Please remain “weather aware” during storm season.  I’m thankful that we have the opportunity to be informed so much more today than in years gone by.

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Digging Out

We experienced our biggest snow storm in over thirty years!

The historic snow storm hit with a vengeance on December 26 and 27.  The forecasts turned out to be right on target, as we received 11.5″ of the white stuff.

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Today, eight days after the snow stopped falling, we are still covered up at our house.  The melt-off has been painfully slow in our neighborhood, and we have not had any assistance in clearing streets that are not considered “major” streets.  While the overall response initially was nothing short of heroic, in my opinion, the extended response has been very problematic, if not just plain non-existent.

Hubby and I shoveled snow for three days last week in an effort to clear our driveway, part of the street and some of our elderly neighbor’s driveway and sidewalk so that we and/or her family could get to her, if needed.  Our street does not have thru traffic on it, so it is going to take a very long time for it to melt off at our present prevailing temperatures.  Our house faces north, so our front areas caught the brunt of the drifts that were caused by brutal winds of up to 60 mph at times.  I also had to buy a new pair of boots more suitable for this type of snow activity, after I pretty much ruined my one pair of Uggs in the snow.  Fortunately, I found a great pair of Michael Kors lined rubber boots on sale on New Year’s Day and even had a $20 off coupon to subtract from the sale price.  If you have to wear rubber boots, these are a great option, for sure.

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Michael Kors “Devenport” Rain Boots

All of the bad stuff aside, though, it was a truly beautiful snowfall with some epic drifts all around.  As a hobby photographer, I was so sad that I was unable to get out of the house to properly photograph some sights in the area as they were covered by the largest snowfall here in over 30 years, the third largest snowfall in the history of our area.  We ramped up feeding the birds in our yard, so I was able to take some delight in photographing them in the backyard as they dined on their feast of birdseed amid the rare snow-covered beauty.

We also had fun with the dogs, especially watching them maneuver the snow in their familiar backyard turf.  They had such a great time, once they got over some initial hesitation about maneuvering around the drifts.  They were like kids in a candy store, and we laughed and laughed at them throughout the week as they played hard outside in the white stuff.

The largest recorded snowfall here was in 1983, and we personally experienced that 16.9″ of snow and all of the many issues caused in our area at that time.  The second largest snowfall was in 1956 before we were born, so we can only personally compare this storm to the ’83 storm.  The main difference in the two historic storms was the wind.  The ’83 storm did not have the high winds to cause such problematic, but beautiful, drifts like this most recent storm caused.

The damage from the storm here is extensive, and Hubby’s company was just one of many that were hit hard.  Like many other businesses, including our big mall, sections of roofs collapsed under the large drifts that were caused in areas of roofs that were uneven, causing the snow to pile in up certain areas where it was trapped.  I heard this morning that some assistance may eventually be available to those that suffered storm damage, but so far, nothing has been made available, except coverage in effect from private insurance.

If such a historic snow storm had to hit, at least it hit during a week when schools were out of session for the Christmas holidays.  I doubt that schools here could have opened at all last week, due to the poor road conditions.  The snow started falling on Saturday evening, and we were not able to get out in our car until the following Thursday, and it was still problematic that day, too.  We just do not have the same snow removal resources that other northern areas have, nor does it make financial sense to have them to that degree.  However, we do need more than we have at this time, and that fact was made perfectly clear when so many emergency vehicles got stuck in the first two days of the storm.  Many individuals with four-wheel drive vehicles had to literally come to their rescue.  And, as to add insult to the injury in all of this, the city manager left town for the week, and the deputy city manager apparently never even showed up to the emergency operations center while it was activated.  There are already calls by prominent people in the community for their removal from their positions, which is quite understandable.

City officials anticipated that 20-30 people would die in this massive storm, but only one person died.  A homeless man was offered shelter by several different people and one care group, but he refused to come to the shelter anonymously.  There is not much that can be done in that situation, as he could not be forced to go.  Our elderly neighbors were appreciative of the fact that we had our motor home in front of the house, prepared to fire up the generator and take care of as many neighbors as possible in the event that we lost electricity.  Many areas suffered from outages, but thankfully, our neighborhood was good throughout the storm.  One neighbor across the street told us that she thought it might even be fun if we all had to bail out to the motor home together, and she even offered to bring food!  Who knows, it might have been pretty fun after all.

One more tragic result of this storm was the loss of many cattle throughout the panhandle area.  Dairy farms to the north have tragically lost thousands of head of cattle.  Closer to home, many cattle broke free from their fences by walking over them on drifts of snow or through them when they fell.  They took to the roads and even the freeways in town, and one herd was seen on a main road very close to where we live.  Another herd  showed up at a friend’s house that lives just outside of her small town not far away, but she was able to locate their owner through social media.  A group has now been created on Facebook to help reunite cattle with their owners in the area, too.

So, to sum things up at present, we are able to get out in our cars, even though the neighborhood streets are pretty problematic.  City and area officials have a lot to think about and change in their respective responses.  Many homes and business are dealing with extensive damage to roofs and water inside.  But, I’ve never been more proud of the private citizens here that came to the rescue of anyone that needed help during this difficult time.  So many people, especially farmers and ranchers, own 4×4 pickups, and *many* of them just spent those first days after the storm towing out stuck cars and transporting doctors and nurses to work.  We helped as we could, primarily helping our little elderly neighbor “weather the storm.”  Maybe someday, some nice person will do the same for us, if needed.

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Wordless Wednesday – Shelf Cloud

( I recommend clicking on these images to see them larger!)

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Welcome to Seattle, Ya’ll!

Enjoying the unseasonal cloudy and cool weather and an update on the wonderful rains!

We enjoyed a glorious, relaxing and fun week in Maui.  But more on that later when I get the pictures done.

 You may recall that it started raining in Texas well before we left on our trip and a series of thunderstorms *quickly* filled up the reservoir that supplies some of our water.  It hasn’t stopped raining since then except for a few periods lasting no more than about three days at a time.  While we were in Maui, I kept getting severe weather alerts on my phone for our home area, and several friends shared about the downpours we were receiving.

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As I’m typing this post this morning after my first cup of coffee, it is 47 degrees with 90% humidity, and the high today will struggle to reach 60.  Normally, the average high for late May should be around 85 degrees, but it’s not uncommon for the temperature to go well above that, too.  So, I decided to check the average weather in the Pacific Northwest this time of year, and it seems we are right on track with Seattle’s weather in May!

So, if I never visit Seattle, at least I now what it feels like to be there in May.  And it is “loverly!” 

With more severe storms in our forecast for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, we have decided to scrap some tentative plans to go out in the RV for a little getaway, hopefully with our son coming along.  I’m not into camping during super-cell storms at all, and we are having an epic load of them these days.  Some friends of ours went to Copper Breaks State Park two weekends ago with their trailer in tow, and not long after they arrived that evening and set up, they found themselves running to the bathroom/shower building nearby to dodge an oncoming tornado.  Apparently, it absolutely rained buckets of water during that storm, along with some small hail.  We were flying out to Hawaii that day and receiving regular text updates about what “dogs” we were while they were trying to not die at Copper Breaks!  It is funny now…  😉  Glad they, along with their trailer and truck, are fine most of all.

You have to be tough to camp in Texas in May and June at times, and there are lots of tough people out there.  I’m just not sure I’m one of them, but kudos to them for being brave souls!

More lakes are rising dramatically, and it’s an amazing thing to witness.  “All droughts end with a flood” seems completely spot-on at this time.  Just check out a few of the lakes that have seen a dramatic increase over the past few days and weeks, especially the first one.

Lake Alan Henry

Lake Arrowhead

Lake Brownwood

It’s amazing what the rain has done for the spirits of the people in our area.  It’s like hope has finally returned and the doom and gloom of the drought may actually be behind us, at least for a while.  And right along with the lifting of spirits with the return of rain, it seems my own spirit is finally on the rise after several long, depressing months following my mother’s death.  I swear she is up there levying God to make some good things happen for me and for this area that was her home for 93 years because everything just seems to be making a 180 degree turn right now in so many ways.  It would be so like her to do that.  Always thinking of others.

I enjoyed several hours alone at a lovely spa in Hawaii while Hubby played golf, and it was a great time of reflection and peace for me.  God felt so very close as I had the unique opportunity to spend time with him in this gorgeous place.  The various health treatments must have helped the blood start flowing to my brain again, literally, and I have felt so much better physically since that day, and walking quite a bit while we were gone certainly helped, too.  The quiet time with God helped me to realize that it’s time to start moving on while remembering Mom and our good times together.  I had one teary time as I sat alone amid the beauty, but I have not cried a single tear since then.

There is too much of life left to live, and it’s time to quit wasting it on being sad.  I’m not sure what all that will mean for me going forward, but I’m ready to see what life has to bring my way.

One thing that became clear was that it is time to pursue my photography hobby once again.  I’ve put it away for too long, and the passion that God has given me for photography is going to waste in some way.  This happened *before* I even mentioned this small revelation to my Hubby.  When he told me on my birthday, the day we flew home from Hawaii, that he wanted to upgrade my camera equipment when we got home, it confirmed my earlier revelation.  God works in mysterious and glorious ways, and the blessings are flowing all around right now, for sure.  The new camera and lenses are already in hand, and I’m looking forward to new photographic experiences with them and hopefully improving my skills significantly.

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The drought is finally over.  Spring has returned in so many ways, and my heart is grateful for the sustaining power that saw me through it all once again. ❤

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