Apr 1 Friday
In a daze
Day 11 of my daily attempt to "just do it" regarding something in my Life. It is also the eleventh consecutive day for writing the Daily Journal, something that is getting both easier and harder at the same time. Easier because the more times I write, the easier it becomes. Harder because the more times I write the harder it becomes to not write. Maybe not exactly a love hate relationship, but it is at least one those do like don't like deals as Dale Earnhardt might have said.
All was normal this morning, the new normal that is. Dawn's early light barely appears, the coach shakes, sounds commence, the door to the back closes, more sounds and shaking, door opens, bright smile completely illuminates every corner of the coach revealing Linda is ready for another day. Bob's mouth once again hangs open in astonishment. Life is so grand.
We have really enjoyed our time at Retama Village, but things are changing just as the seasons are changing. Spring is here and it is time for the Winter Texans to be heading back to their homes up north, or if they are fulltimers, to be hitting the road to follow the spring weather as it slowly creeps north. From Retama there were at least six rigs that pulled out this morning over a short period of time and we hear there are a number more leaving tomorrow.
As part of the day's outing we stopped at the Mission Water Department to get the water service at our lot changed over to us. It is always interesting when you are dealing with someone from a government agency as to what kind of an attitude they have. Today we were faced with practiced indifference, and the fact there was a thick glass window between the young lady and us making it difficult to hear her, only added to the separation of customer and Water Department employee.
It amazes me when the time comes to cut costs and the proposal is made reduce the number of employees, how they howl in protest, only to find that most of the public is in favor of their jobs being cut. Then they spend huge sums of money attacking anyone who supports those cuts. I do not know if those type of cuts are necessary or not, but I do know based on my brief encounters with these employees why so many people support cutting their jobs. The sad part is that while some of those employees are fairly worthless and should certainly be let go, often it is not the person facing the public who sets the negative tone for that workplace, it is the supervisors, managers and political appointees who have risen to their level of complete incompetence and whose jobs are safe. Hey, it's been forever since I did even so much as a micro rant, so it was time.
We also did the usual shopping while we were out, but Linda got so excited over this awesome buy that I would be exposing myself to a major editor's comment on her part if I were to leave it out. Me, "Do you want some grapes?" Her, "No!" Me, "Do you want some mangoes?" Her, "No!" Me, "That papaya looks awfully ripe." Her, a steely glare as she places said papaya in the cart. Me, shrugs shoulders and starts to push cart down aisle. Her, picks up mango, looks at cart, looks at mango, looks at price, hesitates and puts mango back down. Me, confident in the knowledge that women are beyond understanding.
Here we were, Real Texans ranchers and farmers, and we had hardly set foot on our vast land holdings all day. But just like the farm girl she was those many years ago in the hills of southeastern Ohio, as evening settled in, Linda was out in her fields checking the crops. It also goes to prove that it is not always the things that you have that makes you who you are, it is the vision of what those things mean that gives you riches that cannot be measured.
This week I have decide to continue with my "just do it" of not interrupting Linda. I have found that I have made more progress than I realized at first. Now I continually find myself pausing before speaking. I find myself allowing others to talk and it allows me to listen. Then horror of horrors, I find myself realizing that what I was going to say is not what I need to be saying. Strange, but I always thought what I had to say was more important than what others had to say. It seems like a bit of introspection is good for the soul.
Apr 2 Saturday
Day 12 of my daily attempt to "just do it" regarding something in my Life, and while the purchase of the lot at Retama Village was before I embarked down the, just do it, path, it goes to prove that just do it is merely the verbalization of many things that we have been just doing for much of our Life. If it weren't for just do it, we might be still planning to someday become fulltimers instead of looking back on over five years of fulltiming and wondering where did the time go?
What a delight it is when, early in the morning as I sit staring blankly at the computer screen, a bare cub comes scampering out of the back of the coach, gives me a big twinkly eyed smile, plants quick kiss on my cheek, and just as quickly scampers back where it came from. Many of these past days I have wondered why the change in morning routine for Linda, but this morning excitement was crackling through the air because it was the day we would be moving into our new house.
Somewhere in all those photos we have accumulated in our decades of Life together, there are photos of moving vans parked at the various houses we owned. With that in mind, it is only fitting that we present a photo of the moving van on the street near our new house. Actually I have never thought of it that way, but one could term a fulltimers RV, a moving van, but one that never gets unpacked, especially all those boxes in the bays that hold the must have but never used things we seem to like.
Of all the moves we have ever made, this one has been the easiest even though we did all our own packing and unpacking. The day we moved into our California house it was well over 100° and it had us wondering what we had done. Today it was over 90°, but even so we were glad to be Real Texans moving onto our vast land holdings. Besides, unpacking consisted of setting our two lawn chairs and folding table out on the patio, after which we enjoyed the cool comfort of the coach air conditioning.
Not that we spent the entire day inside, after all a photo of the new owner standing in front of his newly acquired property is a necessity. It was soon afterwards Linda had me engaged in our very first remodeling project in the coach house. Literally the paint wasn't yet completely dry, the ink on the purchase agreement could still be smudged, the wheels of the moving van had just stopped turning, and here she was telling me to get going on remodeling the coach house. Maybe it did only consist of putting two eye hooks into studs in the inside of the coach house so she could hang some clothes, but it was that first small step down a much steeper slope we will be following in a few years.
I worked hard to get the hooks positioned precisely in the locations the construction boss had indicated they should be place, then stood back to admire my handiwork. The expected compliment was not forthcoming, and when I turned around, the boss lady was nowhere to be seen. Feeling a little neglected at not having her there taking a photo of my efforts, and after putting the tools away, I went back inside the coach.
That was when I looked out the front window to see the Appalachian hill girl had been transformed into a Texas agricultural worker. I had to laugh out loud at this one as a mere chuckle wasn't going to cut it. We hadn't been here a half hour, and already she was doing her thing with "her" plants. I remembered her saying something about the plants looking a little wilted when she took the photo of me in front of the coach, but I just chalked it up to the heat.
She obviously had other ideas, and lovingly gave each plant a big drink of water. Sometime later she once again disappeared, which I guess is pretty easy to do given the vast "incherage" of this property. When next I saw her, she was holding a bucket up in front of my face as she said, "They are much happier now." In response to my puzzled looked, she reached into the bucket and brought forth a handful of what appeared to be a mixture of blooms and dead vegetation. It may be that even if those plants don't want to survive on their own, she may be able to force them to live through sheer will power on her part.
The view to the front is filled with wonders. A fantastic female, fabulous flowers and vacant land, at least at the present. Vacant land that is, the female has always been fantastic. At night there is a soft golden glow from the lights in the distance, and while we know that someday there will be a coach house just like ours across the street, for now we will enjoy what we are given.
With the weather, Linda spent most of the afternoon inside the coach, while I engaged in periodic forays out to the patio where I would read until the sweat got a little too sticky. However, as the sun moved further to the west, it started to cool off and I once again took book in hand. It was great sitting there listening to the many birds filling the air with their songs, but then I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye.
Looking up from the book, it took me a while to spot it, standing motionless, staring at some tall grass back near the drainage canal that is in the row of trees behind our property. It was what appeared to be a feral cat on the hunt, and I watched spellbound as it stalked something hidden from my view. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on whether you were the cat or its prey, what it was hunting got away before it could pounce. With that I took to talking to it, using the same language I had used with our cat, Bit. It quickly settled down, and I got Linda to come take a look at it, and I could see her eyes lighting up with future possibilities. It might be there is not only agriculture in our Retama future, animal husbandry as well.
Even though we had done less today than we have for quite some time, we both found ourselves quite tired, most likely from the emotional high we have been on over the last few days. I guess the fact that the grill was out of propane when I went to lite it for the special hamburgers Linda had made was just to give us a touch of reality. Actually it was for the best as I also fixed some special sweet red peppers and onions in the pan on the stove before doing the hamburgers. Then it was time to sit outside, eat our first meal on our patio, watching and listening to the birds sing a song about their own wonderful day. Life Lived Large.
As I have previously stated, this week I have decided to continue with my "just do it" of not interrupting Linda. And I have found the person most pleased with my progress is Linda, which makes me feel even better for having made her Life better. It's hard to believe that it has been almost two weeks since this little experiment first began, and I must confess to having had no idea it would make such a positive impact in so many ways. I wonder how many times we overlook the the little things in Life that could make an enormous difference if only....
Apr 3 Sunday
Doing next to nothing day
We heard it before we saw, and even then we knew of it before we ever heard it. It being the Border Patrol helicopter that we had heard discussed at various Retama gatherings we have attended during our stay. For quite some time it was busy nearby, though it never did fly directly overhead, rather it was flying a sweeping arc that was east, north and west of us. It probably also flew to the south closer to the Rio Grand when it would disappear on occasion.
I can guess that in the old days all this noise would have disturbed the normal grizzly hibernation pattern, causing it to charge out into the front of the coach wondering what in the world all that noise was. In the new days the cute cub was already up and well into her day, so it was simply a matter of informing me that she was going outside to take some photos. I not only like the new Bob, I also like the new Linda. I think you could say there are no old dogs in this family, what with the new tricks each of us seems to be displaying.
One thing we have been trying to decide is whether or not to put our lot up for rent next winter, and if so, will we include the coach house. For a while we, Linda at least, were thinking about not spending next winter in Florida like we had planned, but possibly coming back here. We finally decided that if we listed it for rent, and it didn't rent, or it only rented for part of the season, depending on which months those were, that would make the decision on our travel plans much easier. The photo is one that Linda took for the listing.
We both also worked on the description and wording for the listing. If we rent the coach house, it being unfinished, it could be used for some storage by the renters. As for sun, it is everywhere, as for shade, it would be just like we and many other owners/renters of existing lots do, look for the shadows cast by the coach house or RV, and there is your shade. Looking at the other listings, none touch on this, which I guess is pretty intuitive once you are here, so I guess we will go with the tried and true wordings with a few changes.
The writing part was somewhat ho-hum, but the picture part was a thrill packed adventure. For the front, we both took numerous photos from different angles, with Linda being certain that my angles were wrong, or that I was definitely not focusing in on the right area if it was a tighter shot. That made my work easier, I just went around back and started to get it ready for her photos she would be taking back there.
I knew what she now wanted on the patio, though getting to that point took a few meanderings. At first it was just a bare patio. Then she decided she wanted some chairs, etc. on it, thinking she would borrow Roger and Dianne's, which would give a more inviting and homey look to it. That went out the window for some reason, though I believe a dose of sanity may have been involved, then it was to have our two chairs back there. I suggested the addition of our small aluminum table, to which she readily agreed. Her arrangement of the three pieces was so tight that there was no way you could have squeezed into one of those chairs. I politely suggested they be separated, plus the caladium be set on the table. I liked it, however she said it needed a pad under the plant, to which I added the book I had been reading when all the started.
It had been quite windy this morning, and the caladium was getting whipped a little, but Linda said it was okay. I wasn't about to bring back that grizzly that has been gone for some time, so I just took my photos, knowing that they would never be used, but a least I was doing something. In the middle of this is when it happened, and as luck would have it, it was at the precise instant I was taking a photo.
Fortunately luck was with us and the pot only tipped over onto the table and did not fall off. I think it was the quick action on my part that was responsible for keeping it from being any worse, as Linda could only stand there staring as her caladium was about to become her former caladium. I took the plant inside, only to return to find her with broom in hand, sweeping off her patio. To finish this little saga, the soil had dried out making the base very light weight, which meant she later gave it a healthy drink of water. I found it interesting when I finally came back into the coach and saw her mopping up all the water that run over the counter from the plant being given more water than the soil could hold. Being the new Bob, I never said anything, and in fact, never even cracked a smile. However, I did get to think of a whole lot of things I could have said. Afterwards I learned that the pot hadn't overflowed, she'd actually missed the pot when she started to water it, making me even more glad I didn't say anything.
Today's Appalachian hill girl gardening photo is a puzzler. There I was, reading out on the back patio, when Linda walks over to the Satsuma Orange tree, kneels down and starts going around it in a circle, very gently raising the mulch a few inches, leaning her head down to look, and then gently lowering the mulch back into its original position. I guess the title might be: Love of Nature. [Editor's comment: What was I really doing? Well, I was looking for the irrigation lines, just to make sure my satsuma was getting water, but Bob's rendition makes a better story.]
Great neighbors, great fun, great food, Great Life.
Another day where the thoughts of "just do it" took me to places I have rarely gone, thinking of the flower pot incident and how I reacted to it. "Just do it", satisfaction guaranteed.
Apr 4 Monday
There's a hot wind blowing
Day 14 of my daily attempt to "just do it" regarding something in my Life, and it is hard to believe it has been 2 weeks since I began this journey. Already there have been significant changes, one of which has in a small way impacted the Daily Journal. Thanks to my emphasis on not interrupting Linda, the number of "interesting" exchanges between us has decreased, mean fewer opportunities for a she said, I said entry. Maybe I should revert on occasion just to liven things up, though something tells me that is one sleeping grizzly I should just leave alone.
I had an early morning visitor, a cardinal that just would not take no for answer. For some two hours it bounced back and forth between the awning arms beside me, and the two front mirrors of the coach. After our little party last night, Linda was a little less than her usual up and at them girl this morning, yet when she did emerge, the cardinal was still at it. I think it really was looking for Linda, because once it saw her sitting there pointing a camera at it, it changed its flight pattern to include landing on window at the front end of the slide. The very same spot Linda was at trying to take its photo, a task at which she utterly failed.
Since we are going to be driving a goodly distance in the next week, I believe Linda has it figured at over 800 miles, it was time to do a little checking of the coach. Of course it was hottest day of the year, actually of any year ever for this date, with a high of 103° which made it a perfect day to work outside in the morning. The coolant level of the coach was down so we added some, but the oil was well within the full zone, so it was looking good. While I was doing this, Linda was busy giving all her plants a drink, a job she will surely miss when we leave, which now looks most likely to be on Wednesday.
Remember that episode yesterday with the photos of the lot and tumbling pot. Well it turns out she didn't like any of the ones either that one of us took. That meant we had to cart everything back out today to take the photos all over. The problem had been that she placed the chairs and table so close to each other that one of the chairs hid the table in the photos. I noted that there was a very wide spread between the three pieces today, and with the wind hardly blowing at all, the caladium could be safely placed on the table. Still, I'd be willing to bet that she will find something wrong with the photos she took today.
Today was also the day to get the last of the coach house items taken care of. Here is the contractor finishing up the installation of the door, so hopefully when the paint dries and the weatherstripping is reinstalled, we can sign off on the last of the paperwork. That's the glad side. The sad side is it means it will be time to leave and begin our travels towards the north. Not sad because we have to leave, sad because we will miss being here with the best neighbors anyone could ask for.
The weather report had said we would be faced with unusual weather conditions this afternoon, the wind shifting directly out of the north at 20 to 25 mph with gusts up to 50 mph, and it would also be extremely hot with temperatures near 100°, meaning extreme fire danger. It was amazing, because we were both outside when the wind suddenly shifted, greatly increased in intensity. The much stronger than usual winds continued throughout the afternoon, and while Linda decided she had enough, I stayed outside reading. Then I smelled smoke, not barbecue smoke, fire smoke, which on a day like today is bad, very bad. Walking around to the front of the coach it was easy to see where a grass fire was burning to the north of us, which meant the winds were blowing everything south towards us.
The smell of smoke was certainly in the air, but we were spared the most of it. However the other end of Retama Village didn't look to be so fortunate. The fire, as we were to learn when Roger drove up to check on it, was actually on the other side of the road coming down here, and they were doing everything they could to prevent it jumping across the road. They were also moving in heavy equipment as Linda saw a large dozer being hauled by at a very high rate of speed, I believe she said it zoomed past.
While the fire was never close at its height, by even a wide stretch of the imagination, that didn't mean that people who know what a fire like this can do weren't taking precautions. Our neighbor Marv, up the street, was out hosing down his new palapa, not that there were ever any sparks in the air, but why take chances. It wasn't long after the dozer went by that we noticed a major decrease in the amount of smoke, and at the same time there was a significant decrease in wind speed. Nothing like a little excitement to enliven our last days here.
I wonder what the next two weeks of "just do it" will bring? I guess I will have to "just do it", and see. "Just do it", not a whim, but rather an interesting approach to Life when applied to someone typically as laid back as yours truly.
Apr 5 Tuesday
Sits with Whippet
Beginning the third week of the "just do it" daily self help and improvement work in progress where I have learned that looking at the little things in my Life that so easily go unnoticed and changing them can yield far bigger results than what one might think. How true that famous famous Pogo quote.
We had an early morning visitor, the Border Patrol Helicopter, that just wouldn't take no for an answer. The must have spotted something in the drainage ditch back behind our property, because it hovered over, just above treetop level, slowly moving to the west as if herding someone. We never did see what happened as we needed to get some shopping done, but there was a patrol car coming into the Retama Village as we were leaving. Who needs those TV shows when it is happening live only 100 feet from where you are.
Driving out we got to see where the fire was that was causing the excitement yesterday. No structures involved as they were just to the north of where it burned, and it only got out to the road for a short distance. As we drove past the site Linda was relieved to see there were large agricultural fields on both sides of the road would serve as a fire break for anything coming from the north, even though the winds usually seem to blow from the east.
We spent most of the morning shopping, which is not very exciting, but still is necessary. Lowe's, WalMart, Sam's, that kind of thing. We did find the reflector, bubble insulation Home Depot was out of, but carting that around the store was easy compared to what Linda put me through at WalMart. Back to the insulation for a moment, we had to check on it first, then when they had it, it being rather bulky, did we do our other shopping in the store and then pick it up last? Of course not, one party in our group was sure it would be gone when we came back and if it was, you know who was going to be in big trouble for not getting it when we first saw it. At Walmart a certain member of our party was needing some diet tonic water. That is the other party moving all the improperly stocked regular tonic water out of the way so he could reach to the very back of the shelf and get that un-named person what she wanted.
Back at the coach house I engaged in playing at Mr. Homeowner, though mister shed owner is probably a better term. The winds here are prone to doing little things like blowing the doors open or shut, or simply deciding to bang them against the wall. Linda is certain ours will result in a hole being knocked in the wall even though none of the other coach houses have suffered this fate, so here is our wall mounted door bumper being installed by the family master craftsman.
Another job was the installation of the bubble wrap on the windows of the coach house. It is one of the recommended closing procedures, and so we were going to do it, though what purpose it serves other than blocking someone's view of the interior of coach house I was not seeing. I'll look at it as practice for when we do finish the coach house interior and it is necessary. I will say that Linda might have come up with a great may to fasten it to the door, using Command Strips on the glass. Of course if the adhesive is degraded by sunlight it might not be so great, but at least we won't be there to know.
Linda is very much going to miss her plants. This photo could be captioned, my first orange. Actually what she is doing is stripping all the little Satsuma oranges off the tree which she says will make put its energy into growing bigger rather than growing fruit.
It wasn't a day of all work and no play, and in the early evening, I was able to sit out on the patio and enjoy a book. Sitting there enjoying Life, my buddy came over from Roger and Dianne's to spend a little time with me. Chaplain is famous, being part of the source of the title and oftentimes mentioned in Roger and Dianne's great blog, Travel With Whippets. I got in lots of ear scratching and general petting, while Chaplain got to soak up all the attention before turning his attention to soaking up the heat while I resumed reading. Chaplain and I may be new friends, but we are great friends and I can readily understand why the blog was named what it was.
Of course just like all the other Winter Texans, we had to have a little goodbye get together. Tonight the weather just wasn't co-operating as the wind turned chilly, which brought out the long sleeved shirts and such. It didn't help that it was a dessert get together with Linda making black bean brownies with ice cream. I guess if it had been hot apple pie with melted cheese the temperature would been hovering around 100° or so. As always it was a great time, and rather than dwell on the sadness of parting, we will happily look forward to our next winter together.
It was just about a month and a half ago that we arrived in the Rio Grande Valley where "just do it" brought about some interesting changes in our Life. Now I wonder what affect "just do it" will have as we continue on our summer journey to the north, and what changes in plans are just waiting for us. Life is wonderful when Sara N. Dippity is your guide.
Apr 6 Wednesday
Departure day, and the early morning cub was up and at it before dawn's first light, no alarm needed. Here she shows the plants out front some tough love, clipping off all their blooms and buds to help them grow better.
Something tells me that this is not going to be towering over her the next time we are back, but she wants it to know that it will be missed.
Another tree, her beloved Satsuma orange, and a gentle hug from mother nature just to make sure it won't forget her while she is gone. How did I ever get so lucky as to find Linda?
While it is nice to have a place of our own, the open road is where we live, and today we are looking at it once again. Currently our plans are spend a couple of nights at each stop as we head towards Mississippi, doing some sightseeing along the way, for our first stop, tonight is Goliad State Park where tomorrow we can immerse ourselves in early Texas history.
The trip was uneventful, the only stop during the first part of the drive being at the Falfurrias checkpoint. One wonders, do they work, do they really find drugs and discover undocumented aliens?
We came thru here on February 23 on our way to Dallas to get our MCD shades installed. The difference between the two signs provides the results of their efforts.
Two questions, and we were waved on through, though we probably had a dog walk around at the same time.
Goliad State Park turned out to be even better than described, and if we weren't a little rushed to get to Mississippi so Linda can catch a plane, we would be staying here for several more days.
This is one of the little things that go into making Life what it is. Because of getting ready to leave, the travel and just being a bit worn out from all the excitement, I got a little behind in the Daily Journal. That is where "just do it" took over, the resulting being this abbreviated post, but you know something Bob, the Daily Journal is once again current, and just because this wasn't up to your usual self imposed standard, you don't have to worry about getting it written.
Apr 7 Thursday
Immersed in history
We were both zonked out after the drive yesterday, with Linda falling asleep on the couch in the later afternoon, and me taking my turn in the early evening. The end result being that this morning we were both up on the early side of dawn, though a peek outside lead to the discovery that we were not the only us up. We couldn't be sure which squirrel owned this tree, but there was definitely a serious dispute between two of them regarding that matter. Up and down, chattering away, stretching out full length and in the end, proclaiming victory, it was quite a show.
The day's plan called for history in large doses, Texas sized history for a couple of new Texans beginning in the park where we are staying. Right at the start I was semi-derailed in my history quest when, as we walked up to Mission Espíritu Santo, Linda exclaimed, "Bluebonnets!" So much for a mission constructed in the 1700's and rebuilt by the the CCC in the 1930's. It has been her aim to find bluebonnets growing wild where she could get amongst them, and this was her chance.
We weren't in the museum long before Linda found something else to capture her attention. Back in the days when the mission was active, they distilled spirits for drinking by the friars as well as some medicinal uses, and one of the artifacts on display was a remnant of one those early stills. Now I have to be careful here with a tie-in to the fact of the where and how Linda grew up, but for an Appalachian hill girl, she sure did seem very interested in that still.
The mission itself is a reconstruction of the original, but the fact it is not the same as the one which stood here some 250 years ago does not detract from it. It also gave us a look into history that we had not seen before. What made it so interesting wasn't the mission itself, it was all the little architectural details, the icons and recovered relics from the past. By the time we walked out, we had a new understanding of the spanish influence on Texas, something that consumed much of the morning.
In the afternoon we drove a short distance across the San Antonio River to Presidio La Bahía, a spanish fort built in the mid 1700's that, while not part of the State Park, was still quite interesting. It seems a curious juxtaposition of what and who in that the mission is part of the State Park, and the fort is run by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria to us today. But since at the time they were built the church and the state (Catholic Church and Spain) were practically one in the same, in the context of history, there is no juxtaposition. And after reading about what they did to the native peoples in the name of religion to subjugate them to the state and visa versa, it is easy to understand why our founding fathers took the separation of church and state so seriously.
The interior of the fort is a large open area, with the largest structure of the fort being the chapel which is still used for services today. And while that is all interesting, the fort is best known for its part in what is known as "The Goliad Massacre", when in 1836 during the Texas War for Independence, Colonel Fannin and over 300 of his men were held prior to them being executed at Santa Anna's order. Everyone remembers the Alamo, but the number of men murdered/executed by Santa Ana at Goliad was more than twice the number who lost their lives at the Alamo.
Nearby is the towering pink granite memorial to those who died here at Goliad in cause of Texas independence.
Goliad has other reason's to be famous and one of those is because it was the birthplace of the famous Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza who defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Many American's may not know of the general, what he did or where, but most know on what day he won that battle, May, 5th, which is celebrated every year as Cinco de Mayo.
Another of those little things that go into making Life what it is, smashing a penny for our grandson Zachary. I should also add that Linda treated herself to some earrings patterned after the decorations on the doors of the mission, but she more than earned them, putting up with my reading of every display we saw. There is far more to Goliad that this, and in the late afternoon I ventured out on my own to explore the historic downtown area of Goliad on my own while Linda spent some well deserved time relaxing in the couch. Goliad, we'll be back.
Apr 8 Friday
The plan for the day was to drive from Goliad to Livingston, which looked to be approximately 270 miles and about 6 hours, the way we travel. The direct way is to head to Houston then north to Livingston, but it wasn't the way we were going. Instead we were angling northeast on some less frequented state highways, missing Houston and driving across some more of Texas that we have never been through before. I always find it interesting to read on someone's blog about how they always hate driving through one big city or another. Maybe they have no choice in their mind than to drive through it. We always seem to have choices, and while some may entail a longer drive, it's a choice we gladly make.
We were leaving a little earlier than usual today since the drive was longer, still Linda had a job she wanted to do before we left. I had to laugh at this one because of what she called, runny bugs. Whatever they were, the bugs that decided to fly into the windshield yesterday must have been full of a clear liquid that decorated her side of the windshield. Usually it is my side that gets the bug splatters, but for once I had none in my direct viewing area while her side was plastered.
Not wanting to bother me to get out the ladder for her while I did the various outside tasks attendant to leaving, she put water on her floor mop and discovered that with a few rinsings, it does a great job of washing the window. Goes to prove that just because you've been doing this fulltime thing for over 5 years that you can't learn new ways of doing old things. It also goes to prove what a smart guy I was for marrying such a brilliant girl.
For the longest time I was on the side of those that said anyone who would blindly follow a GPS down some road that got them into trouble and then sued the GPS maker was a fool. No more. And no we did not follow it somewhere that we shouldn't have. I don't know what maps the GPS makers use, or how they develop their routing systems, and quite frankly I do not care, I only want them to work. For what ever reason our GPS was trying to take us on roads that not only did we not want to go, we probably shouldn't have been on them had we taken that route.
Besides that it insisted on calling roads by a name or route number that certainly wasn't on any of the signs for that road. We did have one small, going in the wrong way event, but luckily it was on a major multi-lane state highway, so other than losing a little time it was of little consequence. Linda puts in waypoints to set the route, but the GPS keeps wanting us to go back to where we came from when we get to a waypoint and then go via its route even though it is far longer and more time consuming. Sure people should be responsible for making sure they know where their GPS is taking them, but when it insists on going there despite their efforts to the contrary, maybe it is time for the maker to pay for those mistakes that they make their money from. Wow, another mini-rant, maybe I'm really beginning to enjoy writing the Daily Journal again. Or maybe it was all the totally unnecessary frustration Linda went through yesterday because of that Garmin GPS we have and guess what GPS brand we likely won't be buying next time.
But it wasn't all bad. Normally, okay, to save the editor from having to make a comment, ALWAYS I would tersely tell Linda that I was driving and for her her to figure out what was wrong. The end result being the veritable spousal verbal ping pong game that solved nothing, got each of us upset with the other, and accomplished nothing in the end, except hurt feelings. Today, 'just do it' took over. Just do it, as in keep your mouth shut Bob and give Linda a chance to figure out what to do. Just do it, as in when she first told me to exit for another route, I didn't, but neither did I say anything when I received my well deserved tongue lashing.
Just do it, as in finally listening to her and turning around to try and find an alternate route since the GPS wasn't taking us on the one she was trying to get it to take. Just do it, as in taking the exit she said to take on the return even though the next exit had a sign saying it was what we wanted. Just do it, as in after driving a distance on that road and she announced that somehow we had found the road she wanted in the first place, I smiled and said, "You did a great job of navigating us." The return smile was worth far more than it took to keep my my mouth closed. "Just do it", it's not just words, it's a whole new way of looking at Life.
Traveling the routes we do, we don't always know what the roads are going to be like, but isn't that part of the journey that many people refer to. Eventually we arrived in the piney woods of East Texas, and sure some of the roads were narrower and not perfectly flat or straight, but I have come to the conclusion that a bad road in Texas is far better than a good road in many other states.
Our entrance into Livingston offered a reminder as to why we don't hurry, and why we try to keep a large distance between us and the vehicle in front of us. From being here in December, we know this is a bad stretch of highway with too many entrances and exits to businesses coupled with the four lanes of road. It's not only the journey, it's the safe journey that makes this Life so great.
Then we were back home, at Rainbow's End where we found two people in the office that had less personality that a dead cat and even fewer people skills. I know they hire these people and pay them to do this work, but surely there are far more qualified people than these two available. The other thing was that there were only three sites left in the park because of all the Winter Texans heading north, something that was a bit of a surprise. Maybe they are staying to save on gas money, though the way it looks, when they do leave, they will be paying more.
Ah, that photo of the south end of a woman heading north, what is it all about? Linda got to do her favorite thing shortly after we arrived, get the mail, and so here she was sorting through it. The best thing about a mail service like this? No junk mail, only first class. We plan to spend two nights here, doing some shopping at the local stores, it is our home town so why not spend some money while we are here. And while here we will also be doing a few things to help Linda get ready for her trip back to California, like teaching me how to operate the washer/dryer. Another day where we looked at Life and saw ourselves being part of the moving world, rather than sitting a chair watching it go by.
Apr 9 Saturday
Enjoying the day
I do not think Linda is feeling the love of Livingston. When we were here in December it was cold and she stayed in the coach, now it is hot and she is staying in the coach. Too many years of the low humidity in the west during the summer can do that to you. One interesting note is that our current site is directly across from our December stay site so in a way we can see what our neighbors saw then, even if it is a 5th wheel parked in our former spot.
While she may not have been into spending time outside, she definitely was into getting up early, possibly setting a new record for a, no reason to get up early, Saturday morning during the 21st century. Later, but still early morning, I suggested we go do our grocery shopping before the usual Saturday crowds, something she readily agreed to, so off we went to H.E.B. which helped confirm that Livingston is a small town.
Can you even imagine a grocery store not carrying natural, nothing added, almond butter, swiss style muesli, or organic toasted sesame oil? The Livingston H.E.B. doesn't, though the fact we have been looking for the muesli and oil for almost two months either tells something about how widely available they are or the size of the towns we like to stay in are. They did have loads of great fresh vegetables though, which is why we like H.E.B. stores in the first place.
Linda's original 10 day trip to California, having now grown to a day or two shy of three weeks, meant it was time to train Bob in another line of household work. It was funny as Linda carefully showed me each step as she did the first load, with particular emphasis on how to read the blinking lights so as to know when it was okay to open the door. It wasn't me that broke the latch the first time with a display of Amazonian strength, but she was going to make sure I didn't repeat her feat.
The lesson taught, we waited for the cycles to complete, whence I was instructed in the proper way to hang certain things to dry on hangers and return others to the machine to be dried. Then came the second load where I said I would do it all and for her to say something only if I was doing it wrong. There were only two comments from her during the entire sequence, and both were after I was finished.
"Good job" and "I enjoy doing the laundry so don't think you need to keep doing it when I get back." That second one was interesting to say the least, though I don't think it harbors any latent desire on her part to reacquire the cooking duties. Maybe I should try to sneak in doing the laundry every once in while after she gets back just to see what might happen. Upon instantaneous reflection, I'll just let the playful cub alone, as I've discovered I like her much better this way.
It's not just anything, it's a milestone of sorts. The slightly blurred screw at the center of the photo represents my latest effort in fixing the broken lawn chair I've fixed, or more accurately, tried to fix, before. For all I know the fear of sitting in this thing and having it collapse may be one of the reasons Linda is hesitant to sit outside. The pop rivet I fixed it with last time was too short, so it quickly pulled apart again. This time I tore my tool box apart looking for a screw that would work, and I believe I found it.
Now comes the problem of convincing her that it is actually fixed and will stay fixed. I can just see her searching the news items when she is in California for a story about me. Something about a camper found trapped in lawn chair at campground, where death was caused by starvation as he couldn't get out of the chair that collapsed around him, trapping him just feet from his RV and the food he needed. Maybe I should just use the other chair while she is gone.
Parents are proud of their children, even if those kids are old people themselves, and while mid-thirties may not be exactly old, it is fun to tease them on occasion about it. This is proud mom talking to our son who falls in the above age category about the fact he finished third in his first ever attempt at an open water swim competition. He has been practicing for his first ever triathlon, so this one was a trial to give him an idea of what it was like to swim a half mile in open water. I believe he now realizes it is going to be much harder than he had thought, but at least he's not going to be someone sitting and watching the world go by, wondering if he should try to do it.
Two things, first, the GPS has been programmed and Linda is holding it near the window so it will find the satellites. The second is the pose she has struck, the fist buried in the hip, arm out thrust and jaw set. At this moment this is not a woman to be trifled with, and I sure wasn't saying anything, but in the end the GPS route looked to be acceptable, so all was okay. Tomorrow morning we plan to leave Livingston and drive over to Mississippi near Natchez where, if things go according to plan, I'll be staying while Linda is off to California. I've been told to wake her at 6:30 if she is not up, full report on that tomorrow. Today was just another day in paradise, also known as Life.
Apr 10 Sunday
East of the Mississippi
Even though we'd only been in Livingston for a little over a day and a half, it was like leaving home, which in fact it was. It is also unreal how our little world has changed since we were here back in December, freezing our hind ends off some days, soaking up the sunshine on others, and thinking that there has to be somewhere warmer than this. Four months later we were leaving the valley thinking there has to be someplace cooler than this, living the wonderful circle of Life.
This was going to be a long day of driving by choice, and so we wanted to get an early start. We couldn't checkout until the office opened at 8:30, but Linda wasn't taking any chances when she asked me last night to wake her at 6:30 if she wasn't already up. This is one of those tasks that can make a person feel the same fear that a lion tamer does the first time he goes into the cage alone. The gentle nudge to her foot came at 6:35, I having learned over the years that those few extra minutes does a world of good for her disposition.
Along with the command to awaken her at the appointed time had come a comment about breakfast never getting fixed on time as to why we seldom left on time, and as you should know by now, being on time is her thing. A late breakfast wasn't going to happen this morning however, as demonstrated by the just do it boy being in the midst of fixing breakfast when her Ladyship, Ursa Minor, finally appeared. At 8:30 I was hooking up the Explorer in front of the office while Linda was inside settling the bill, proving that it can be done if I actually pay attention to what she says. And in the whatever floats your boat category, her "I knew you could do it" accompanied by one of her million watt smiles when she came out, more than made my day right there. Yes, I'm one of those men that are putty in the right woman's hands.
Interesting trip, especially when the GPS directs you to drive your 12 foot 6 inch high motorhome down a road that has a 12 foot 3 inch high bridge on it. It was east of Livingston on the straight route towards Alexandria that we saw the signs, big signs, a number of signs, saying warning, low bridge on Rt 63, if you don't want to be driving a convertible with the top down, take the road to DeRidder. Well maybe that wasn't the exact wording of those signs, but I knew what road I wasn't going to be driving on.
This was a good news bad news thing, especially as far a Linda was concerned. She works so very hard at making sure I take the right road that the GPS is trying to take us on, that when something like this happens, she sort of has a short circuit in her wiring, and goes up in puff of smoke, she being Linda, and not the GPS. Really, it's about the only time she ever loses her cool in a frantic/angry way, and at the moment she was anything but cool.
After the third or fourth, "I don't know where this road goes", and "Are you sure it was the other road we weren't supposed to take and not this one" I found a wider spot in the road and turned around. Back we went, seeing no signs, I chiming in with "You we probably right, I don't see any of those signs", as we approached that intersection. A right turn, a few hundred feet down the road and a yellow warning sign, 12 feet 3 inch ahead, came into view. Saying nothing I found a wide spot in this road and turned around again, and still saying nothing.
Sometime later, with Linda having figured out a new route, one that added some 45 minutes to the day's drive, we were crossing the Sabine River and leaving Texas. Now all we'd done was drive a few miles and cross a river, but in a way you'd of thought we had entered another country. The roads were terrible compared to Texas, the speed limits made utterly no sense and it seemed as the towns liked to save money by taking two lane roads and marking them as four lane roads. Lots of people like Louisiana, it's just that from what we've seen our two times here, we can see they may have a few great places, but by and large for us it's just something to drive through not a place to stay. Of course the same could be said of Mississippi by a lot of people and we plan to be there for a month, so it just depends on what you like or don't like.
Another town, another low bridge, all of which is no doubt just serving as preliminary training to any travels through New England we will be doing this summer or fall, One thing I never could understand was why if concrete roads go thump, thump thump, trying to shake your teeth out, do they use it. Not a single concrete road or street we traveled on was smooth, yet virtually every asphalt one was very smooth. Not sure if it a case of just plain stupidity or money being passed back and forth, though there are probably a thousand reasons put out by the concrete road people as to why concrete is superior. Superior in making money for them that is.
Interesting scenery along the roads we traveled, a mix of small towns, strung out commercial strips, and country. I enjoyed the stretches like this, the road elevated above the surrounding semi-swampy area, the vegetation closing in along the sides of the road, the smooth asphalt highway unwinding in front of the coach, all of which was leading us ever closer to the Mississippi River and out of Louisiana.
What we had been looking for, the Mississippi, shown in one of Linda's traditional bridge photos. Before I say the wrong thing, let me compliment my dear wife regarding the talent and training it requires to always, not usually, but always have part of the bridge directly in the center of a photo of whatever river we are crossing.
The Natchez Trace, and why we chose to drive it, even though it has a lower speed limit than the nearby state highway. Interesting day's drive, wild flowers along Texas highways, wild flowers along Mississippi highways, Louisiana highways: nothing to see, nothing to say.
At last we arrived at out destination, Grand Gulf Military Park, where the on site hosts were fellow Texans. We were warned about the steep hill to the upper campground, but really, if you have stayed at the Queen Mine RV Park in Bisbee, AZ, this wasn't bad at all in comparison. We had our pick of sites and decided on site 2, which we could pull into and have a great view out the front window, plus it looks as if we could get both internet and DirecTV, which proved to be the case.
Trees all around, miles from the main road, near the Mississippi River, on the site of a Civil war battle, the birds serenading us, fresh air surrounding us, it is our kind of place. A place Linda wants to stay at for a while longer when she returns from California. A place to just set a spell, far from the maddening crowd, a place to enjoy Life.