Tuesday, November 24, 2009


We're still at Canyon Lake near San Antonio. We were driving to the grocery store in Spring Branch, Texas. Driving down the road we saw these creatures. Not what you'd expect to find in Texas!!! Gnus, Scimitar Oryx and Zebras!! Pretty wild - in any sense of the word....

Thursday, November 19, 2009


We're still at Randolph Recreation Park. Only 2 other RVs are here. It fills up on weekends, but is still a very quiet place. Some wild storms. John calls them "Blue Northers" and says they are common in the hill country. The RV rocks from the wind; the rain comes down in torrents. There's thunder and lightening! Then it's over. And everything is quiet again. Canyon Lake is way down and, after the rain, the dirt road is dry as if the rain never happened. This place needs more rain, but I can do without the wind! Daytime - getting some Christmas shopping done and working on our genealogies.... Another photo of our neighbors! He makes me think of Bambi when he became Prince of the Forest. Remember? Lighting's tough because it is dusk and the natural light is funny... I'm aiming into the dark trees and it is bright all around us. A young doe "challenged" us yesterday when we were starting down the road in front of the RV. She just stood there and looked at us as if to say, "How dare you!"

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Well, we picked the wrong day!!! The air show was Saturday & Sunday. We decided to go Sunday and to go to the Officers' Club for Sunday brunch. Great idea, but the weather did not cooperate! Saturday was balmy with morning fog, but sunny in the afternoon. Sunday, very foggy, overcast, very low ceiling and rain, at times heavy.

Brunch was great! Lots of good food! The static displays at flight line, awesome. The air show, so-so. First off, because of the low ceiling, the most exciting parts of the show were cancelled. Then, the announcers never shut up!! And there was an annoying, unsyncopated music track always running loudly in the background!! There was a show of remote controlled planes that teased at what the real planes could do! Actually some of those little ones are pretty darn big. The C5A is humongous and is built to carry 2 tanks or our 42-ft RV plus our towed Prius. They can also carry a couple hundred troops at a time plus the tanks. The C130 John remembers from Viet Nam as "Puff the Magic Dragon" It has a 105 mm howitzer and a gatling gun on its side. When the gatling gun is fired at night, it displays a stream of fire - like from a dragon's mouth. It is still providing gun support in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We finally gave up as the rain drops got bigger and got on the highway as it started to pour - which it did for a few hours once we were home...

Thursday, November 5, 2009


We are spending November (yes, one whole month!) at Canyon Lake, Texas. It is the Randolph Air Force Base Recreation Area and overlooks a large and very pretty lake formed by Canyon Dam. It is heavily wooded, very rural (translation: no trains and no superhighways) and very pleasant. Our neighbors are all deer. And I mean "deer" not "dear". They are nibbling the shrub and grass around the house pretty much all day. It is quiet! The city of Canyon Lake - not much happening; next town, New Braunfels - larger, but still pretty quiet. Then, the big city of San Antonio - which is about 40 minutes away.

New Braunfels, whose early settlers were German and Czech, had a Wurstfest last week that we attended. Lots of different sausages, lots of frothy beer, ompabah bands, polkas and nachos. Hey, it is Texas! It was fun and loud!

One problem with this locale - internet service. We're in the boonies and reception is iffy. John is still refining his jury-rigged antenna system. He's tried out various antenna and amplifiers plus an adjustable pvc pole attached to the RV ladder. In other words, he's enjoying himself! He loves gadgets and tinkering!!

The lake is really lovely and has a good sized marina. On the weekends the view is beautiful - clear, blue sky splashed with white sails! You can see from the photo how far down the lake is and how badly this part of Texas needs rain.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We checked out about 9:30am, but our flight didn't leave until 8:00pm. That left us a whole day to explore the island. Kailui-Kona is on the leeward side of the island and is drier and the landscape is lots of lava rock from the still active volcano, Mauna Loa which is currently sending streams of lava down the side of the island. It also spews a steady stream of gases that form a haze (smog or "vog") over the leeward side. We drove up (4000+/- feet) the mountains and over to Kona which being windward is lush and green and rainy. Our destination was the Hawaiian Botanical Gardens. Just incredible!! It is in a gulch that leads down to the ocean. Steep gulch!! The scenery is so lush and with so many gorgeous flowers and shrubs and a stream meandering down the hill to the ocean. The climb back up was - strenuous! Panting, we made our way to the car, a place to sit down and cool off. The is no way we could ever remember the names of all the flowers. I'll be putting a majority of the pictures in a slide show to the right of the blog. We took a couple hundred!

Then we were off to Akaka and Kahuna Falls. And, an even steeper walk!! Kahuna Falls is pretty. Akaka Falls is just gorgeous!! Kahuna is not as dramatic and is further away and inaccessible. The walk back up the hill - gawd awful!! I was thinking about crawling up the last few yards on my hands and knees!! Was it worth it? YES!!

Mmm, now I just have to figure out why my yellow border does not always show up when I import the set-up....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


We snorkeled on our scuba trip; we snorkeled on our rubber zodiac trip and in between times snorkeled on our own at a beautiful beach about 3 miles from our condo. If you haven't snorkeled, I can't explain how peaceful and awesome it is to float along watching the sealife below you and around you. The fish are such beautiful colors and designs. Some look like pieces of modern art.

The fellows in the photo below became my "buddies" and swam circles around me for awhile! They were beautiful to watch - swarming around me, swimming to and from. Totally awesome!! As you can see, it is not all the same type of fish and, at times, was joined by more colorful fish. Oh, that's not fair! These fish were beautiful - an irridescent black/blue with a neon blue stripe along its spine and on its tail!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Well, John has gotten into the swim, so to speak. He always refuses to wear shorts! Today changed all that! He not only allowed me to get him a pair of shorts, but even suggested we get him a 2nd pair!! Plus, drum roll please, went for a pair of crocs!! This is big stuff!! And I was impressed when he got rid of his pocket protector at his retirement luncheon. He is now officially retired!!

Easy going day... just spent a couple of hours breezing around on scooters and admiring the scenery! Fun!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The word is incredible - again! I use it a lot, but we've seen and done some wonderous things this past year. This is one of the top adventures! We boarded the boat at sunset and joined several other boats out in a cove somewhere north of Kailua-Kona. Lots of lights are dropped into the ocean to draw the planketon which draws the manta rays and mackeral. We donned wet suits and snorkel gear and went over the side holding onto a floaty ring. We waited a short while and then --- these creatures swam up and around us, doing barrel rolls. Some were about 12 feet wide and there were about 20 of them. Amazing!! As one comes toward you with its mouth open you can see inside it! They came close enough that we had to pull back to keep from touching them. Touching them is a big no-no. They are covered in a slime of sorts that protects them. Touch and disturb the slime and they become vulnerable to disease. Just so amazing!! It was hard to get a good photo as the contrast between the black as night water and the lights shining on the white undersides of the mantas is so high plus the speed they travel at make it difficult to adjust to when you are trying to stay afloat!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Well, the idea was that I would receive an intro lesson in scuba diving and the instructor would go down with me and watch over, guide me. All I had to do was to be able to clear my mask and pressurize my ears. Got all suited up; tank on; drove in and tried to go down - 3 times!! No can do!! Rather than hold up John and another diver, I gave up after 3 tries and went back topside and snorkeled. It was no sacrifice as the water was beautiful, but I would have loved to been below on the Davy Jones locker level. John really enjoyed his dive - after a 15 year hiatus. I will try again since John enjoys it so much and it is something I'd like to share with him. Below are 3 views of John... 2 scuba diving 60 feet down and one snorkeling along the top! Yeah, he got sunburnt on his back!! Big time!!!


Well, we're in Hawaii!! No, we did not bring the RV. (2 things it does not have - a garbage disposal and pontoons!!) Did not bring the dogs either! Dogs and RV are back in Livingston, TX. We flew out of Houston on Thursday. Very long flight, about 8 hours! Never been to Houston before and our short overnight stay did nothing to encourage a longer visit. It is steamy!!

We're staying on the island of Hawaii in Kailua-Kona at a timeshare. It is very nice and very comfortable. We met friends Leo and Claudia from the desert for dinner last night. So far we've been snorkeling and scuba diving. Well, I didn't quite make the scuba. Tried, but couldn't clear my mask and couldn't pressurize my ears. So, I went back up and snorkeled. I will try again sometime as John is certified and loves it and wants to do more! Tomorrow we snorkel with the manta rays.... that should be terrific!! John took a lot of pictures when he was scuba diving, but he's having a problem with the flash. Plus, the fishies swim really fast!! We're getting into a Hawaiian mood - I'm wearing crocs and John promised to try on a pair of shorts!!

Monday, October 5, 2009


Well, we arrived at Escapees safe and sound and are all set up! We'll be here until 10/30! Whoopee!! I've got out all the "stuff" - photos, plants, giraffes.

Now, just a few catch-up photos.... Kayaking in Florida.... We just got the photos. It was such a serene place!! Okay, with a few alligators barking.

And, an Italian sub that had been visiting Mayport Naval Station as it was towed out of harbor. Yeah, I know. All those jokes about the Italian Navy!! And, yes, it is very small even for a sub! I can't imagine being under the sea in a sub, never mind one this small.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Well, we're in Texarkana, Texas, waiting out a rainstorm. We spent one night at Tom Sawyer RV Park overlooking the Mississippi in West Memphis, Arkansas. Nice RV park, but West Memphis... well, not on our return visit list. Then we planned to spend two nights here at Shady Pines in Texarkana. It stormed all night and John decided that, since we didn't need to be anywhere and we're in a really nice RV park, it would be wise to spend another day. We shopped yesterday at a local place that carries Amish breads, pickles, etc. Homemade cinnamon raisin bread -- so good!!

Tomorrow onto Livingston and a one month stay!! Wow, a whole month in one place!! Won't have any excuses for not doing so all those pesky little household chores. Maybe even some ironing! Nah....

Thursday, October 1, 2009


We left Jacksonville and headed north back toward Columbus for a short 1 day visit with our grandsons. Got to see Branden's 1st football game. Now, he's 9 and a little guy and plays on and against teams with 9-11 year olds with his team comprised of medium sized boys, 15 of them. (Remember there are 11 players per team always on the field.) They played against a team of all big kids (noticeably so) and the team had 32 players plus a squad of cheerleaders!! Maybe it is just the grandma in me, but something is wrong with that. Needless to say, Branden's team was creamed. They were exhausted and, even when they got to hit an opposing player, there was no way they could bring him down. Funny stuff going on with some of the refs, too! We were not happy! Hopefully some parents complained and were listened to, but I doubt it.
Next day we headed out again for Fort Campbell to see little Miss Eva!! We spent the weekend there and then went to Cynthiana, Kentucky, for 2 days to do some Boyd family genealogy research at the local library. That part of Kentucky is just gorgeous with one field after another of beautiful horses! Lots of black barns, too- with hex signs. Saw 2 barns that had the upstairs finished for living quarters complete with chandeliers hanging in huge windows in the peaks! Back to Fort Campbell to spend my birthday with Hans, Andrea and Eva. We went to dinner and Miss Eva was just the perfect little girl. Of course!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


We left Columbus driving south to Florida and stayed at a really nice RV park at Mayport Naval Station. We overlooked the St. John's River and had to go just around the corner to the Atlantic Ocean. Just beautiful!! For most days we had good weather and a continual ocean breeze. Walks on the beach, playing in the surf...just perfect!! This is the longest we've stayed in one spot for a long while (almost 2 weeks). The purpose of our visit here is a Class of '66 West Point mini-reunion.

While the majority of the attendees played golf, John and I went kayaking on a marsh on the road to St. Augustine. It was very tranquil. The only sounds were the barking/growling of the mother alligators checking on their babies. The babies had all hatched about 2 weeks ago. They have no fear and do not submerge or race away from the kayaks. (But, they are very hard to see in the water. They are small and look like little bits of wood. No good photos to show you.) Lots of pretty blue herons, cormorants, egrets. Kayaking is fun and we will do it again. I'd like to try it in the ocean!! That would be exciting!!

Our next outing was a Segway tour of St. Augustine. FUN!! But, riding a Segway is not easy. A Segway is a 2 wheeled scooter with a platform that you stand on. To go forward, you lean forward; lean right, go right; lean left, go left. Sounds easy... not!! It is a delicate balance and not easy to stay upright right away. St. Augustine is the oldest city in the USA having been settled by Ponce de Leon. Must admit we didn't really see a lot as we were too busy trying to stay on our Segways, but we put St. Augustine on our list of return visits along with riding Segways and kayaking. And John is stuck with me forever & ever. We kissed until a tree that is entwined with a palm tree. Supposedly if you kiss under it, you are bound to one another into eternity. No way out for him now!!

Also, while in Jacksonville, we got to visit with my niece Natalie and her family. I had never seen Cole who just turned 3 and have seen Megan & Madeleine only a few times before. Cute kids! My niece is into jogging and recently did 10+ miles. Don't know where that gene comes from! This was not our first West Point mini-reunion. We attended one in September 2006 in San Diego. This one went much better. John did not pass up and wind up in the hospital for 3 days!! Much more fun!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


We stayed at Lake Pines RV park again. Nice place, if only the train tracks were a little farther away!! But, it is not an active track; no trains hourly like at some places. It was good to see Lance and Branden. They had a busy summer with their Mom and her family in Bogota, Columbia. The boys got to see a lot and were treated warmly by their Colombian family. They must have eaten non-stop as they both grew a lot. While we were there, Clara baked me an early birthday cake shaped like a purse and, since it was Labor Day, decorated it in red, white & blue. That's not lipstick on John's lip. It's red icing!!

Partly as an excuse to get the boys to ourselves, we took them to Andersonville National Cemetery and Memorial. If you recall your history, Andersonville was the site of an infamous POW camp during the Civil War operated by the Confederate Army. It was really horrific, but we Northerners should not be smug. Ours weren't much better! (I was surprised to learn that there had been a POW camp for Confederates in Elmira, NY - that is just down the road from where I grew up!) Andersonville was in existence for only 14 months, but, within that time, 13,000 Union prisoners died. One of the prisoners wrote "it takes 7 of its ocupiants to make a Shadow". Some 12,000 of those who died here are buried at the adjoining National Cemetery. The site also serves as a Memorial to American POW's from all wars. The museum was very interesting showing the various places of imprisonment through our many wars. We then went to the adjoining National Cemetery looking for ancestral history. (I did find some Grogans & Connollys, but not sure if they are related.) Plus seeing all those white headstones kind of puts it all in perspective. Finally, kids, dogs and adults had enough of the heat, humidity and GNATS!!

Friday, August 28, 2009


Well, we're wending our way to the East Coast again! From Mount Rushmore in South Dakota we travelled across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania to New York. We spend a few days there to see my Mom and sister Mary Jane. Mom's doing okay, but had been feeling poorly. She's feisty and toting oxygen hasn't dampened her enthusiasm. Well, maybe some... Got to do some "home" things like visit Wegman's (a local grocery store chain that is the best in the world!!) and eat speidies (a local marinated kabob type thing that Broome County is famous for). Then we head out again across Pennsylvania where we stop to photograph some old, old cemeteries where various branches of my family are buried. You would not believe some of the roads we've gone down in our little Prius!! On this jaunt we would never have found the Dymond Hollow Cemetery had we not talked to a neighbor at Fitch. Fitch was really interesting for me as I have so many ancestors there. John and I are both working on our family trees and these stops help us validate our research. They are also very interesting. We photo other gravestones, too, to post for others who are researching their families.

Then, onto Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to see the beautiful 4 month old Eva Grace! Eva started off a month early, tiny and not an eager eater. Well, any worries are over. She is a lively, all smiles little butterball. She's learned how scootch backwards and is ready to get moving. Eva had her first sleepover at Oma and Opa's RV. John and I had forgotten how busy a little person can keep you... feeding, diaper changing, burbing!! But, we sure enjoyed it!

And, lest they think they are forgotten, we enjoyed our visit with her parents. I stayed a few extra days while John drove on to Red Bay, Alabama, to get our windshield replaced. It was a nice, relaxing visit with Eva, Hans & Andrea.

Life doesn't get much better than this... travelling around the USA with John and getting to see family and all the grandchildren. We leave here to head to Columbus, Georgia, and Lance and Branden for Labor Day weekend!! Got to see Rennie and Tess in Northern CA before heading East.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The Park newspaper calls Mount Rushmore the "Shrine of Democracy". I don't agree. I think that should be Congress - even if the inhabitants there sometimes forget it. Even still this is pretty impressive. Did you know that each face is 60 feet tall; each eye is 11 feet wide; noses are 20 feet long except Washington's which is 21 feet and his mouth is 18 feet wide. It took about 14 years to do and, get this, cost under $1million ($989,992.32). Any bets what that would be today?
From the NPS website and the newspaper we learn over 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved by using dynamite. Dynamite blasts removed approximately 450,000 tons of rock from the mountain. The 4 images represent Birth (Washington - Revolutionary War), Expansion (Jefferson - Louisiana Purchase), Development (T. Roosevelt - New Century) and Preservation (Lincoln - Saved the Nation during the Civil War).
Betcha didn't know all this!! And, it is a very pretty drive with at least one 10% grade!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Well, I am very behind with this blog. It is now Sept. 17th and I am just starting on Custer State Park which was early August. It was a beautiful spot. South Dakota in general is a pretty place, a lot of greenery and nice people! We really enjoyed our drives through the park. The biggest thrills were the prairie dog village, the closeness of the buffalo and the wild burros. I thought I was over my buffalo fascination, but, needing a restroom and not being able to get to it because of buffalo in the way, rekindled the interest. The burros were a hoot!! They have no fear of humans or cars. You just better have some carrots or apples for them!!!

The prairie dogs are really cute! They can dig SOOO fast and are fun to watch! This was a small "town" of maybe 15 holes. At one time, there were 1000's of these towns all across the prairies. They are rodents, related to ground squirrels.

As true for so much of our journey, the vistas are incredible!! I just cannot describe how expansive and pretty all the mountains are. And, pictures just don't measure up to the reality!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Remember "Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind"? Well, this is THE rock. It really looms over the surrounding countryside. Then, there were one or two areas with these reddish rocks. Everything else was grayish. Really strange! Very pretty drive here. The Black Hills area is just gorgeous. We stayed at a really pleasant RV Park. It is on our return list.

Friday, August 7, 2009


After leaving Grand Teton and a beautiful drive we arrived at Yellowstone!! A truly wonderful place!! We were here 4 days and didn't see 1/2 of it!! Saw lots of antelope, elks and buffalo, but no moose or bears!! We'll have to go back just for those! And, of course, we had to go see Old Faithful!! All throughout the park, the mountain backdrops are spectacular!!

Buffalo are huge!! Amazingly, a buffalo skin is very soft and very warm. You know those massive heads they have. Well, by swinging their heads back and forth they clear away snow drifts to get to the plants and grass buried in the snow. Buffalo also stand motionless for hours at a time. And, they don't care where that the middle of a field or the middle of the road!! There were nightly traffic jams as buffalo posed for photographs and crossed the road!!
The elk are everywhere! They love the park and thrive there. Ample food and water plus lodgepole pine forest to shelter the newborn calves in May & June. A massive fire in 1988 destroyed huge expanses of the pine. It also caused the new growth of acres of new pines. The effect on the elk is still being watched. Oh, we also saw a nesting bald eagle. We couldn't get very close as it was a restricted area, but we did get 1 0r 2 photos from just outside the restricted area. The prettiest part was our drive and quasi-hike around the North Rim. We wanted to go down to see the waterfalls and river, but it was over 600 feet down a steep incline and we were at about 7000 ft. altitude. We got halfway down when the pups and I said, "That's it!" To be honest, I stopped before they did....

A wonderful visit...despite cool weather (high 30's at night) and awesome thunderstorms nightly!! No moose! No bear! Gee, we have to go back...