Friday, November 26, 2010

This is Lynette. She is 7 years old. She and her Grandma (actually great-grandma!) pulled in to a campsite just down the row from us. Grandma needed some help getting their trailer unhitched and set up, as she was getting over a very painful collar bone injury. Lynette latched onto us in a New York minute. We were very OK with that, because we were missing our grandkids a LOT!

Lynette is gaga over the deer. She brought corn to feed them.

she learns all about the piles of poop. She is less enthusiastic about that.

But she loves the babies.

And she loves having Poppop next door. (She is delighted that she is allowed to call him Poppop ... she doesn't have a Poppop of her own. Sad.)

Lynette is tickled to take hike with me and Poppop. We get her decked out with a trekking pole and my spare camera. This is truly an adventure!

I had to explain that flip flops were not gonna work on a trail like this.

We saw lots of interesting things.

No Jihadists .... but we did see things like ........

Colorful berries .......

colorful insects ...........

and UNDERPANTS???!!!

Good Grief.

We ran away.

But not before I took this picture.

The End.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Salt Lick ...... Mmmmmm!

After a long day of learning all about LBJ, we were in need of some good ol' Texas BBQ. The Salt Lick is a family owned restaurant with 3 locations ... and we were not all that far from the one in Driftwood, TX. Really ... just 45 miles or so ... and in Texas, that is right around the corner.

So, off we drove into the Texas twilight, arriving fashionably early at about 5:30 PM. Lucky for us!! In a very short time, the place was PACKED.

It is very rustic ... family style tables and benches with minimal decor. when we arrived there were only a few folks seated.

About 15 minutes later, the place was jumpin'! It filled up very fast!

This fellow was busy whacking sausages into pieces, slicing brisket and portioning ribs and turkey.

The staff is very accommodating and let you get right on up to the BBQ pit.

Merciful heavens! This is why they are famous all over Texas. Look at those mounds of meat!

The waitress brought out plates of pickes and onions ... slabs of fresh bread ... a big tumbler of Sweet Tea ...
and THEN my heaping plate of Brisket, sausage, ribs, German potato salad, coleslaw and Pinto beans.

Conversation ceased. All attention was focused on alternating one wonderful flavor with another. Smoky, tart, spicy, creamy, crunchy, meaty, juicy, savory ..... sublime.

And then .... there was this.

Homemade Peach Cobbler with a good vanilla ice cream.

I died .... in a good way.

I loved everyone. My world was balanced and there was harmony in my universe.

We managed to walk to the car and drove home in the very dark, very starry night.

The End

LBJ Ranch

I needed to get out of the coach and act like a tourist. Jeff promised me that we would do whatever I wanted. I always take statements like that with a very skeptical attitude. We will do whatever I want ... unless he doesn't feel like it. You hear what I am sayin'.

In Texas, folks just Looooove LBJ, and I can easily see why after the visit to the Texas White House and his Ranch between Johnson City and Fredericksburg, in the Texas Hill country. Each section of Texas has it's own sort of beauty. The Hill Country has stretches of grassland, rock cliffs, sturdy live oaks and cedar trees and rivers and creeks that wind between the hills that give it it's name. It is truly a pretty place.

We decided to spend the day sightseeing, so we drove north towards Fredericksburg ... stopping in Johnson City along the way. the LBJ Museum is a worthwhile stop. It is not a large town, by any means, and one can easily see why the folks sat up and took notice of a guy like Lyndon Johnson.

The buildings in Johnson city have not changed a lot. You can still see the outlines of some of these storefront.

No plumbing, no electricity, unpaved streets. No place to buy a loaf of bread or a pound of meat. a cafe that sometimes hung out a sign that said,"Closed for Lunch". the Courthouse, a cotton gin, a ramshackle hotel. Three churches.

His father and grandfather had both been men of note in the area ... but one of his first accomplishments as a freshman Congressman was to convince the people of his district that the costs of electricity would be far outweighed by the benefits. He helped illuminated the area for the first time in 1939.

The Family Cemetery is quiet and peaceful. the monuments for Lyndon Baines Johnson and Claudia Taylor Johnson are solid but understated.

The ranch house itself is not enormous ... but it is roomy enough. It has a really homey feel that I was not expecting. I could easily imagine myself living there very comfortably.

This is Air force One Half ... LBJ used this jet to get back and forth to the Texas White House.

He entertained heads of state and important people at the Ranch ... he was famous for the barbecues that they would hold to entertain dignitaries from all parts of the world. NOT your typical Washington DC function!

He had a German made Amphicar that he used to scare the bejeebers out of unsuspecting guests. He would careen off the road into the Pedernales River screaming,"The brakes gave out! We're going in!"

Then, as people were screaming, he would laugh hysterically. He particularly liked to pull this stunt on newlyweds ... and said he could predict which marriages were going to last by the reactions of his passengers. Nice.

The cattle were impressive.

The Hill Country scenery was peaceful and lovely.

I came away thinking that I wished I had paid attention more when LBJ was in Office. But I was 13 years old when JFK was killed ... totally immersed in my own wretched self in the next 6 or 7 years ... it is hardly surprising that I have only general impressions of the events of those years. There were so many hard things happening at once ... the Viet Nam war ... Civil Rights marches ... Woodstock ... the Beatles ... High School ... ohmigod ... High School.

I learned to drive, I got kissed, I had "best friends", I learned that I had a talent, my "best friends" shunned me for no reason ... then suddenly they were my friends, for some reason (I never knew what I had done), I learned that my parents were clueless, I lost a classmate to a childhood disease, I lost grandparents to old age, I lost beloved pets .... All these things loomed larger in my small life than the guy who was in the White House.

After seeing his home, the places he loved and the views he cherished ... I sort of felt that we would have had something to talk about, if we had been neighbors.

Worth the visit ... I think he was a pretty good man.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Canyon Lake

We are staying in a very nice military Recreation Area about 50 miles north of San Antonio. The Fort Sam Houston Campground is right on Canyon Lake ... an artificial body of water that was created by damming up the Guadalupe river. The Army Corps of Engineers maintains the dam, the lake and all 8 parks and campgrounds in the area. The RV sites are all full hookups, so that meant that I can play with my washing machine!! Don't laugh ... it is a new toy for me!

Our most consistent "neighbors" are the deer. This is the "Prince" of the crowd. All the "ladies" follow him around the campground. He is rather bold, but he will only come soooo close ... even for a delicious Triscuit.

They are indiscriminate poopers, however. It is all over the place.

I like deer. Deer are graceful. They are quiet. They are soothing to watch. The young ones are cute.

But poop is poop. This is almost like living in a barnyard.

But, like I said, they are soothing to watch ... and I try not to think of things like ticks and lice and videos of "When Deer Attack".

The world gives me enough to worry about as it is ... like North Korea and Jihadists and Recession and how I am going to make the trip home for Christmas.

We don't know whether we will fly home and leave the coach somewhere for 7 or 8 days ... or maybe we will drive. If we run into bad weather we can always just park and wait it out. Dunno.

It is making me nervous that I don't have a plan in place! But Jeff is keeping mum. He likes to drive me crazy. I think it qualifies as a hobby of his.

Speaking of Jihadists ......... there were several car loads (actually, I think just 2 cars with 1 family in each) of Middle Eastern people here this weekend. Maroon luxury cars ... identical ... with temporary tags. I am reading a spy novel, so all my powers of observation were on high alert! It was in the high 80s ... pretty humid, too. I was taking a hike with the little girl who arrived earlier that afternoon with her grandma. We were taking pictures and looking for stuff to notice and report on. I felt like "Harriet the Spy".

Mr. Man #1 (in his T-shirt and plaid shorts with the Seven UP) ... and Mr. Man #2 in the dress with his Pepsi) were on one side of the marina under a shaded picnic area enjoying a breeze.

Mama #1 and Mama #2 and Daughter were on the opposite side of the Marina ... on a rug on the grass ... wrapped up in layer upon layer of jeans, ankle length robes, head scarves, face masks and sunglasses. I felt so overheated looking at them I almost fainted there on the spot. Even the baby girl!! Really. Just not necessary. Modesty can be maintained without multiple layers. I made note of it all for my Spy Journal.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

School is Cool!


Jeff and I returned from our stay at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir in time to stake out a spot in the Foretravel parking lot. We knew it was going to be filling up fast, because the Ladies' Driving School was due to begin on Novenber 9th. I was pretty excited ... I wanted to be able to feel more confident driving this larger coach. Yikes!

There were 2 days of classroom instruction ... films and powerpoint images ... lots of discussion, question & answer AND 2 coach walk-arounds with some of the Foretravel guys who know how all the systems work. We learned a LOT!

THEN, on day three, we divided into groups of 5 and got behind the wheel of coaches supplied by 2 of the instructors and Foretravel. They let a bunch of women ... some of whom had never even planted their butts in the driver's seat ... get behind the wheel of machines that collectively were worth a minimum of a MILLION dollars. No joke.

So, here is L.D. Chatworth ... my On-The-Road instructor. He has worked at Foretravel for something like 38 years. VERY calm guy. Nothing rattles him, and that was just what most of the ladies needed. He was our guide as we took turns driving the obstacle course that the folks at Foretravel had set up at various spots on the Factory grounds ... to help us get used to where the 4 corners of the coach are located as we snuggled up to various cones, back up for several coach lengths, back into a standard campground spot (using the proper hand signals from a spotter) and navigating a slalom course. THAT was hard! You don't get a lot of room to swing a 45' coach back and forth to get around cones ... AND not crush anything with the tandem back wheels! But I made it. We all did! No cones were killed in the completion of the course.

So, here is the monster that my group drove. HUGE! The following day we went out on the road around Nacogdoches. L.D. took us all around the city. There is a "Loop" around Nacogdoches ... takes about 40 minutes to complete the whole route. We made right turns, left turns, went over railroad tracks, through school zones ... you name it. I have a great deal more confidence now, and I KNOW that the women who had never even turned the ignition key were totally inspired by their experience.

We met a number of new friends at school and while we were "camped" in the parking lot.
Here are Maudie, Joan and Janice. We are riding down the road with Joan behind the wheel. Not a bad place to hang out while you are waiting to take the wheel of a 26 ton machine!
Here is sweet Peggy from Georgia. she and her husband have just "upgraded" from a big 5th wheel pulled by a Freightliner truck to a 40' motor home just like ours. She has never driven anything bigger than a minivan until today! She is scared witless!Peggy does just fine, and can now relax and take painkillers for her tension migraine! We were all glad to finally get this part over with. There was a very creditable banquet that evening and we all now have certificates that attest to the fact that we passed the course.

Jeff is not convinced, however. He needs a course that teaches him to be a better passenger!

We are heading for San Antonio and a joint military Recreation Area ... Fort Sam Houston campground on Canyon Lake. Can't wait to settle in and relax for a while!