Friday, January 30, 2009

Four For Geocaching?

First, thank you for all of the wonderful messages, comments, cards and wishes for a happy birthday. They all made me feel very special and blessed to call each of you my friend!

Today has been another great day on the Texas Gulf Coast. I got a good walk in this morning, 2 miles. That is 4 laps around the campground. There are quite a few people who walk here, almost any time of the day someone is doing laps. Some people walk briskly while listening to music, some people walk in pairs, some have dogs, and some walk slowly. I love to watch the different styles - it's nice to know so many people get out for the exercise.

Jim spent most of the morning trying to rest and get through this head cold that he seems to have picked up. I think this is a similar virus to one we had a few months ago. So far, I've avoided this one, knock on wood! By noon, he felt better and we went to the HEB grocery to get the shrimp and other goodies for our SuperBowl gathering on Sunday.

When we got back from the store, we had a quick sandwich and then the four of us took off to do some geocaching. Dortha and I had both downloaded several caches in our GPS units. Today, I drove the Saturn and the guys got to sit in the back seat. Our first stop before getting started with our geocaching was for Dortha to stop at the UPS store to ship a book she just finished painting. Then we were on to our adventure.

We each were the "first spotter" on at least one or more caches today, and we made five finds. There was one we didn't look too hard for, but I didn't have it in my GPS. We've found that we really need both GPS units to do this! Dortha's Flo provides us with our driving directions, but doesn't seem to zoom in to the exact coordinates very well. My GPS doesn't have any streets or driving directions, but does get us right on target.
Can you see the container in Jim's hand? This was the smallest one we've found!
Mark, Dortha and I discuss what to take and what to leave in this cache:
Jim and Mark, having a good day!
The view from one of the cache locations:

Jim and Mark kept asking where we were going to eat out, since we were having so much fun out geocaching and no one really wanted to go home and cook. We ended up going to a Chinese Buffet. Dortha and I were able to find some reasonable selections.

Then it was time to get back home and log our finds on the geocaching web site and wrap up this fun day!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reflecting on Birthdays

A while back, our friend, Jo Wishnie celebrated her 60th birthday. In her journal she wondered what 60 is good for. Jim, ever-wise (maybe that's wise-cracking), wrote her a note to explain that being 60 is necessary to get to 61. Yep, today, I've reached that big 60! And, I am just darn happy to be here.

I get to do as I please, say what I want, go around frumpy or fancy, made up or plain. I've reached a point in my life where I can help when I'm needed, give my opinion (mostly I wait until asked, but not always), or keep quiet and watch what's going on around me without worrying about what people think of me.

I'm living my life as I want to, and not how my boss or co-worker thinks I ought to. And that's worth all the years I did listen to bosses and co-workers.

Thank you for all the birthday well-wishes, cards calls and greetings! I've had a great day so far, and need to head to the RV-Dreams Chat Room in a little while with my glass of wine and enjoy the party. They love any reason to party and I can't wait to find out what fun we'll have.

Dortha treated me to a pedicure this morning, ahhh, the luxury! Jim cooked burgers on the grill, and we enjoyed a decadent chocolate brownie-pudding-cool-whip dessert that Dortha made. I got lots of e-cards and Facebook greetings, a ring from Jim, and a Smithosonian Handbook of Birds from my dear friend, Karon.

It's been a fabulous birthday!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

After my walks this morning, the four of us decided to take a drive to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, then to come back and grill some of the shrimp we bought last week.

The weather was supposed to be warm today, but a cold front is on the way, scheduled to arrive tonight. Many of our families and friends are socked in with very cold weather! It won't get that cold here, probably down to the high 30's or low 40's tonight, followed by a chilly day tomorrow. I'm really hoping to see some rain, as it's very dry here.

As we started out, not far up the road, I spotted some roseate spoonbills and asked Mark to stop and turn around. They were quite a distance from us, but we took pictures anyway. Those little pink dots on each side of the picture are the spoonbills, fishing.

We caught this great blue heron flying in front of the spoonbills:

We continued on our way north on Highway 35. Just a couple of miles on the north side of Copano Bay Bridge, I spotted 2 large white birds a little ways off the road. I once again asked Mark to stop and turn around. I couldn't imagine they were anything but whooping cranes by their size and color, but I also couldn't imagine seeing them so close to the highway. Sure enough, there were 2 whooping cranes in a field, about 300 yards away. We all got out and started taking pictures. While we were there, a woman in a pick up truck traveling south turned around and stopped to look at them too. I talked to her, and she told me the cranes are having a very hard time finding food this year. The bay is too salty for one of their food sources, blue crab, and because of the drought, the berries that the cranes eat are also scarce. She said it's not too unusual this year to see the "whoopers" in different places.

While the woman and I were visiting, the cranes sensed our presence and began their distinctive calling. In a few moments, they flew off:

What an awesome sight!
Finally, we arrived at the refuge and stopped at the visitor's center. I could tell right away that we were going to see the sad effects of the drought, as the places where we saw a pond and marshes right by the visitor's center last year, are now dry and dead looking.
We went in and looked around in the center, paid our entrance fee and headed out. Not far into the loop, we noticed that the air was getting very smoky from fires off to the south, and the clouds were getting thicker. The drought became very real and very evident when we stopped at Jones Lake, only to find no lake, only a small mudhole! We saw turkeys, deer, armadillos, buzzards, alligators, and a few small birds as we drove along.
At the end of the loop we came to the ramp that leads to the observation tower:

From the tower, we could see another pair of whooping cranes, but they were way too far away to get any pictures. We also saw several wild hogs, also too far away for pictures.
On the way out of the refuge, we got a good look at this hawk:

By this time, we all realized we were getting very hungry, so that was the end of our birding and wildlife adventure for the day. We headed back to the rv park to put together a delicious dinner of grilled shrimp, baked potatoes and vegetables.
What a day!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday in Rockport, Texas

Yesterday, Dortha and Mark stopped by to let us know they were going to Walgreens to pick up some type of cold medication for Mark, seems he was having an issue with either a cold or allergies. We talked for awhile and ended up deciding to go to Corpus Christi to do a little shopping when they got back with the medicine. The weather was chilly and cloudy, so it wasn't a great day for being outside.

So we got ourselves dressed and ready to go. We started off in Bed, Bath and Beyond and found a few things, the most important is a particular type of measuring cup for Karon. Then we went to Ross to see if they had any blouses or shirts we liked, but didn't find anything there that we wanted. After that, we walked over to Best Buy, and didn't buy a thing, thank goodness!

Time for "Linner" at a Mexican restaurant recommended by friends of Dortha and Mark's. Familiar sight, watching Jim and Mark head for the door! The meal was very good.

It's extremely dry in this part of the country, and on our way home on Padre Island, we came across this large grass fire, burning between the highway and the dunes next to the gulf. I heard on the news last night that it was about 50 percent contained.

Today was still cloudy and cool, so we didn't plan to do much. Jim has been wanting to reorganize the spice cupboard, so he got busy this morning on that. While he did that, I cleaned out my bathroom cabinet and cleaned the shower.

Some friends of Dortha and Mark were going to meet them for dinner this evening, and invited us to go too. We hesitated at first, but finally decided to go.

Before we met their friends, we went to Conn Brown Harbor to see if we could find anything to photograph. We watched this tug pulling a barge, which turned out to be carrying a long, long, long pipe!

We usually get a lot of pelican pictures, but today we saw this osprey:

After our little tour around the harbor, it was time to head off to dinner with Dortha and Mark and their friends. We went to our new favorite, The Big Fisherman again.

On our way out after dinner, Jim took this picture of the palm trees outside the restaurant with the light behind it.

We sure are enjoying the slow pace of the last couple of days!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Karon!

Today has been a very special day to me -- Karon's birthday! I first met Karon in 2005 through a Weight Watcher's online community forum where about 20 people or so who follow the WW progam and love RV'ing and camping post each day.

We met in person just after I retired in May 2006, when Jim and I took our first RV trip to the Grand Canyon. She introduced us to the RV Dreams website, which has led to us meeting many great friends. She and her husband were already fulltimers by that time, and their experience had a lot to do with influencing us to go fulltime. We hit it off, and have been friends ever since. Ours is the kind of friendship where we each will travel great distance if we're needed by the other. She's a very special friend.

Karon, I hope this day has been a happy one for you!

This picture shows us doing one of our favorite things - walking the "Schnauzer Brigade":

It's been a busy couple of days here, sleeping in, having coffee, and enjoying the warm coastal weather! Yesterday, Dortha and I attended a Weight Watchers meeting at noon. We usually try to find a morning meeting, but the closest one around here is in Corpus Christi, so we decided to try this one. The room was packed! I guess it's a combination of Winter Texans and New Year's resolutions, we'll see if it stays that crowded throughout our time here. Both of us lost some weight this week.

After the meeting, we headed off to The Big Fisherman for their lunch special. Deb and Rod joined us, and we had a great time. We extended our lunch to include ice cream at Dairy Queen. Gee, after losing weight, a girl's gotta celebrate, right?? Well, actually, after waiting to eat until after the meeting, we were hungry!

A short visit to a farm market was next on the agenda, then we invited Deb and Rod to come over to the RV park and visit some more. We sat outside until the chilly evening air drove us in, what a fun day it was!

Today was even warmer than yesterday. After a nice, slow start, we decided to try a little geocaching on our way to the store for a few more grocery supplies. Dortha wanted to try Flo out and see how she does with finding geocaches. She was able to download the coordinates from the geocaching website, so we took both Flo and my handheld gps. The guys came along, and we headed out.

Success! We found 2 of 2 for our first outing. There are a lot of geocaches in this area, I think we could spend every day finding some and still not get them all.

We went to the store after getting a quick lunch at Subway, and got home in time for me to put together a meatloaf for dinner. We had a great Southern comfort food dinner planned, and managed to stay within our points allowance. Besides the meatloaf and gravy, we had collard greens, rutabagas, salad and banana pudding. Yum!

Following our wonderful meal, we got out the Wii Bowling and played 3 games. Dortha and Mark wanted to see Guitar Hero, so we had a little concert with that before calling it a night. What a great day!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Catching Up

When I last posted, day before yesterday, we were just about to go out to dinner and meet Deb and Rod, Keeping Up With The Kendalls, at The Big Fisherman, a local seafood restaurant. I've been following their blog since they sold their house and got on the road, so it was fun to meet them in person. We had a great time visiting and getting to know them, and we hope to get together with them again.

This is the requisite dinner picture, starting from the left, Dortha, Mark, Jim, Rod and Deb:

Yesterday we spent most of the day like millions of other folks, watching the inauguration of President Obama. Jim managed to get the laundry done though, and while he was gone, I did the usual cleaning.

After lunch, Dortha and I made a trip to Walmart to get stocked up on groceries. She made a great King Ranch Chicken Casserole for dinner and I put together a salad. She also made a wonderful dessert! After dinner, we took a little tour of the Rockport area, but it got dark too fast, so we called it a night.

Today we decided to take a little drive to Goose Island State Park. Here's Mark, waiting for the rest of us to be ready to go:

Dortha and I, "Ok, we're ready, let's go!"

Interesting shot of what I think is a Willet:

One of my favorite birds, a Long Billed Curlew:

This armadillo was totally unconcerned about how close we were. He was absorbed in burrowing into the shells at the shore:

A Great Blue Heron found a little snack:

After our drive this afternoon, we came back home and got ready to go to the campground potluck dinner. We enjoyed tasting lots of different dishes!

Tomorrow, well, we'll just have to see what adventures wait!

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Major Landscaping Project

Travel days are always interesting, but today, ours involved a big landscaping project! We said our "'See Ya's" to Sandra and Gordon, and headed out of Powderhorn around 10 a.m. this morning. Since our journey was only going to be a little over 50 miles, we did not hook up the car, rather we drove separately, with me leading the way.

We arrived at The Last Resort in Rockport around 11 or so, only to be told to just leave the motor home parked by the office. The guys needed to do some tree trimming before we could park in our site. So we got in the car and drove to our site. Mark and Dortha were already here and set up. Mark had already talked to the guys, who were getting chains for the saws in order to trim the branches hanging over our site.

You might remember that we visited here last week, and I said we might have a challenge getting in. I talked to the manager of the park early this morning, and mentioned that I was a little concerned about the branches overhanging our site. I guess he contacted the maintenance workers and they were ready to get the job done.

Here is Roger with the pole saw, working on the branches. You can see Mark and Jim in the background with a rope, helping. They already have a big branch down!

Another view:
While they were working on the trees, Dortha and I went to the local Subway Sandwich shop and got us all sandwiches for lunch. We ate while the guys finished trimming.
And we're in!

You can see how the tree in the foreground is leaning, there was another huge branch that hung way over into our site. They had to take out that one, plus some from the tree on the other side. They were great, got it done and cleaned up for us!

Mark and Dortha had quite a bit of trouble getting a satellite signal, so they pulled up their jacks, put in their slides, and worked to get placed in exactly the right spot to get their satellite signal. It took Mark climbing up on top of the motor home with my special satellite finder compass, so he could tell just where they needed to be. Dortha was doing the backing up and going forward until they got it.
Finally, we all got settled in to our new home for the next 6 weeks. The sites we are in have just recently been added to the rv park, so we are the first to be parked in them.
It's been a beautiful day, and we're ready to go out to dinner at The Big Fisherman.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lazy Day

Another day of sleeping in, I love it. After I walked the dogs this morning, I went to Walmart and that was about the most activity I accomplished the whole day. I did manage to put together a beef stew for tonight's dinner. The weather was warm and sunny, but I didn't get out for a walk, other than several short dog walks.

Jim got several things done in preparation for travel day tomorrow. The tanks have been dumped, the tires checked and lawn chairs put away. He's spent the rest of the day watching the football playoff games.

Karon and Dan took his mom home today, after she'd been visiting them for a week. Since they were passing nearby, they stopped in for a quick visit. It was good to see them, although it was only for a few minutes.

I really enjoyed just sitting quietly this afternoon, taking in the view and the warm air. We've really liked being here. This morning, "Grandpa", the owner, stopped by and told Jim he was glad we came and hoped we would keep this place in mind for future visits. Now, I don't think we've had that happen very often in RV parks! I know we will miss this view.

On to the next adventure!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Walk and A Ride

We didn't wake up until around 7:30 this morning, which is a little unusual for us, but it was so nice to sleep in a little. It was warm when we got up, nearly 60 degrees. I took the dogs for their usual walk. When we got back, I decided it would be a good day to walk over to the Matagorda Bay area, so I got my little camera, walking poles, and phone and set off.

About three quarters of a mile from the rv park, I came across a little bridge, where I saw a group of birds. Included in the group were a few Roseate Spoonbills. I watched them fishing for quite awhile. They are so interesting to watch. Their bills are designed to sweep back and forth through the water and grab on to whatever they can. I had to see if I could get any decent pictures with the little camera.

Spoonbills at breakfast:

In the reeds:

I also saw some Sandhill Cranes, but since I got some better pictures later on in the day, I didn't post the pictures from this morning's walk.
I ended up walking 2.8 miles, a good morning walk!
After I got back, we ate a little breakfast and hung out for awhile. I had some e-mails to return, and talked to a couple of friends on the phone. We talked to Sandra about a day trip we'd been discussing. She and Gordon had suggested going on Sunday, but there are a couple of football games then, so Jim preferred going today. That worked out for Sandra and Gordon, so off we went.
Just up the road from the rv park is a resident family of 3 Sandhill Cranes. Here are 2 of the 3:
The first stop was at the little village of Seadrift, the only town on San Antonio Bay. The harbor is a busy place for gulls and pelicans:

After our short tour of Seadrift, we headed over to Port O'Connor, a few miles away.
We stopped at a harbor there to take a few pictues. Sandra went to see about the hours at a shrimp house (on the left) and found it is closed for the winter. Then she took a picture of the harbor area:
This flower was in front of the restaurant:

This man had a rapt audience of several pelicans and an egret who all followed him around the harbor, waiting for any extra fish he might catch in his seine:

This is the egret:

And of course, we seem to need a daily picture of a pelican!

We had a good time seeing these two small towns in the area, thanks again for the tour, Sandra and Gordon!
I didn't feel like cooking when we got home, so we just put out sandwich fixin's for dinner, works for me!
Now we're all settled in for nice, quiet evening after a fine day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Least Favorite Task, Then a Fun Event

It was chilly and very windy this morning, so I spent my exercise time inside, doing Wii Sports and Wii Fit. After that, I faced my least favorite task in the RV life - defrosting the freezer.

If you're curious about how I do this job, read on, if not, you can skip this section! Our freezer has two separate compartments, so I start by moving all the food from the ice maker section to the other section. The ice maker section ices up faster and more than the other one, so I start with it. I turn off the fridge and get started. I use a pan of hot water and a cleaning cloth to get the ice melting. I do use my hair dryer too, but very sparingly and carefully, so that I don't cause any damage to sensitive parts. I never put the hair dryer into the freezer, and only use it for a few seconds. Mostly I rely on the pan of hot water. Once I have that section done, I move all the food over to it and do the other section. I always end up throwing out food that's been in there too long - and if I don't remember when I put it in there, it's likely to be gone. Since I really don't like doing this job, I put it off until I just have to do it, then I get it done as fast as possible!

Once that was done, I could look forward to the rest of the day.
These are the flowers that Sandra and Gordon brought last night:
Jim took this picture of two birds taking off:
The fun event today was a shrimp boil this evening, provided by the campground owners. Here is the set-up for the cooking, just outside the recreation hall:
The meal was held in the recreation hall. We walked over with Sandra and Gordon at 5:30.
This was my plate:
Yum! Besides the shrimp, corn and potatoes, there were was sausage, macaroni salad, rolls and several kinds of dessert.
In the rec hall there is an arial picture of the rv park, showing the little harbor. I took this picture of the picture. We're in the first space on the left of the lower loop and Sandra and Gordon are in the space next to us.

We enjoyed the outing, and came back home to enjoy the evening.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Half and Half Day

The first half of our day took place on the way to Victoria for me to attend my Weight Watchers meeting. Jim decided to take me and wait for me. We got there pretty early, but I saw that people were going into the meeting, so I went on in. Good thing I did, by the time the meeting started, all the chairs were filled. It's that New Year's Resolution thing - it will be busy at Weight Watchers this month, but will gradually go back to smaller meetings as people fall by the wayside.

I lost weight again, I'm losing slowly and steadily, which is just right. After the meeting, we went to I-Hop for breakfast. I don't much like going out to breakfast, but since I don't eat before going to the meetings, it was a good idea today. I didn't eat much, even knowing that today would be just a 2-meal day.

We went to Academy Sports after breakfast because I wanted to see about getting a pair of "wind pants". It seems that we are not going to escape all of the cold air of winter, and since I need to take the dogs out pretty early every day, I want to have something that I can wear that might keep me a little warmer than the clothes I have. We'll see how these work.
Only in Texas - we saw this truck ornament in Victoria today. Every time the driver hit the brakes, the deer's front legs wave!

We came home then and got ready for the second half of our day. We'd invited Gordon and Sandra to dinner tonight. I put a pork roast in the crock pot this morning, so I needed to finish the planned sides and get the house straightened up. Jim escaped to the store so I could run the vacuum.
He took these pictures while he was out and about. These red berries or seeds look just like jelly beans!
A great blue heron, just hanging out:
What good looking dogs!

Gordon and Sandra came over at 5:30 and we had a very enjoyable evening. They brought a pretty bouquet of pink roses, I'll have to take a picture for tomorrow's blog. Thanks, Sandra and Gordon!

The weather was fairly nice today, it got up into the 60's, with some wind, but not bad. It's been another great day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gone Geocaching

I got in a good walk this morning with the Nordic poles, my first time to do 2 miles with them. I'm working to increase time and distance, and let the intensity build up in time.
After the walk, I talked with Sandra and we decided today would be a good day to go geocaching. We agreed to go out after lunch.
Jim got busy washing the outside of the Castle's windows. I have a feeling this salt air isn't really great for the Castle, but I sure enjoy the view here. By the time we leave next Monday, I'm sure we'll need some polishing and cleaning the whole Castle.
Sandra came over with Miss Pinky and we took off to find the few geocaches near here. There aren't many traditional caches in the immediate area, but there are several virtual ones, so we were able to find those with no problem. Virtual caches usually involve either sending a picture of yourself in the specified location, or emailing the answer to a question that you have to find at the location. Our first find was the one traditional cache nearby. Included in this one was a travel bug, Sandra's first. She's going to take it with her and make sure it gets placed in Canada.
Our next 2 finds were virtual. Below is Sandra in front of our third find.
This is a lighthouse in Port Lavaca:
Our 4th find was at this historic site, several miles from Port Lavaca. The cache was in a waterproof match holder, hidden in one of the trees pictured below:

We finished up with our 5th find on the way back to Powderhorn Lake. We were 5 of 5 today, a perfect geocaching day!

I made quick Mexican Pizzas for dinner before we got settled in for the evening. Just another great day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grooming Day!

Grooming hubby and dogs is usually an outside job. But, at 4:50 this morning, I already knew if it was to happen today, all grooming would be taking place inside. A gust of wind hit like a wall, and it didn't let up all day. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, but the wind kept the temperature down in the 50's all day.

A few weeks back, just before we went to Burleson, I had a professional groomer do both Jasmine and BoJangles. She did a good job, but didn't trim them as closely as I usually do, so they were both looking pretty "fluffy" by now.

I decided to get Jim's hair done first, since I knew it wouldn't take very long, and he could then be on with his day. Then I started with Jasmine and got her all prettied up. By the time I started with Mr. Bo Jangles it was 12:30. It took me until almost 3:00 to get him done, then they both got showers.

Of course, then I had to clean up all the mess, just in time to fix "lupper". Luckily, we had leftovers so it wasn't much work to put the meal together.

While I was playing dog groomer, Jim went out with both cameras for a bird run, and came back with a few pretty nice photos.

An egret, watching for his next meal to swim by:

A pier that is disappearing:

And a sandhill crane with a nut in it's beak:

I didn't get a walk in today, other than the usual dog walks, but I think I got some exercise with the grooming. It'll have to do, anyway!