Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy (Cold) Boxing Day

Ok, so by typical Northerner standards, 29 degrees is not really cold. But for us Snowbirds who like to dress in shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops year round, that’s cold! And that’s what we woke up to on this sunny Boxing Day. Since we Americans don’t officially celebrate this day, I had to do a little research to find out exactly what it’s about. Celebrated primarily in Canada and Great Britain, its origins may be related to the Feast of St. Stephen, Dec. 26, when King Wenceslas gathered food and wine for a poor man. Through the ages it has traditionally been a day to help the poor. These days it has become like America’s Black Friday, a huge shopping day.

We have still been busy enjoying our time here in the San Antonio area. Of course there have been the usual happy hour gatherings in the afternoon, we’ve been taking turns with Deb & Rod and Brenda & John hosting.

Deb is making sure we have some healthy veggie snacks:

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John enjoys a conversation with Jim and Rod:

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Thursday evening the six of us went to dinner and a stroll to look at the lights along the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio.

Brenda and Deb get settled at the table on the balcony overlooking the Riverwalk:

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We celebrated a quiet Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here at home. Brenda and John joined us both days. On Christmas Eve, we had a happy hour with snacks. For Christmas Day, Jim roasted a turkey and baked the most wonderful pecan pie; and I made a few side dishes. Brenda brought more side dishes plus her amazing buns (we call them dinner rolls) made from Canadian flour that she brings with her. What a great meal, and wonderful company! It made the day more special.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Warm First Day of Winter

Finally, we’ve reached that magic day, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of sunlight and the longest night of darkness.  Now we can begin the process of watching the days grow longer, minute by minute.

We’ve been enjoying very nice days here in San Antonio, this morning when we got up it was 63.  It was cloudy, almost foggy, but by noon it had cleared up and the sun was shining brightly.

Jim was having a conversation with a friend who had been asking about my blogging habits.  He told this friend that it’s hard for me to write a blog every day when we’re not doing much of anything, who wants to read about us drinking coffee for a couple of hours while we wake up, then go do laundry, clean the house, fix meals and read.  We’re told there really are people who are interested in these mundane activities, so I’ll try to pick up the blog writing pace a little.

Actually, we have been getting out and doing a few things.  A couple of days last week we spent polishing the Castle, I even asked Jim to find some metal polish so I could polish the wheels – I have 2 of them done, 2 to go.

On Saturday, we decided to take the day off and go for a drive.  We ended up doing a “Texas Wine Country” tour, up to Johnson City where we visited the Texas Hill Country Vineyards:

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Ah, choices, choices!!

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Along Highway 290 from Johnson City to a few miles past Fredericksburg, there are about 10 vineyards – no, we didn’t go to all of them.  We stopped at one more along the way, William Chris Vineyards, then skipped ahead to the Chisholm Trail Winery.  It’s located about nine miles west of Fredericksburg, then another 2.5 miles down a narrow, almost dirt road through cattle and horses until you think there can’t possibly be anything down there, but finally come to the sign:

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Where we were greeted by “Pick-up” the Santa-costumed dog (sitting pretty in her chair by the tree):

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After our wine tour we stopped back in Fredericksburg at a local German restaurant before coming back home.

Brenda and John arrived Sunday, so we all gathered at Deb & Rod’s for dinner.  Deb made a fabulous casserole with turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing and gravy, and I made a big salad.  Brenda managed to save a bit of peanut butter pie she’d made, so we enjoyed that for dessert.  It’s great to get together again!  

Yesterday, Jim & I had planned to visit the missions here in San Antonio, but the morning was overcast so we decided to wait for a sunny day to get better pictures.  Instead of the missions, we ended up going to the Market Quarry Shopping Center, where there is a Whole Foods market.  One of our favorite stores to browse!  We found some goodies to cook for our “Dinch”. Of course, as soon as we went shopping, the sky cleared and the sun warmed us up!  After we ate, Deb called to let us know Happy Hour was at Brenda & John’s, so off we went for that.  We sat outside, enjoying the warm weather.  When it got dark and chilly, we came back home.

Today, we got together for lunch in Boerne with another group of friends who are staying at Buckhorn Resort near Kerrville.  We picked out a restaurant “about halfway” between our respective locations.

Below (left to right ) are Steve, Cathy (she’s behind Paul so you can’t really see her), Paul, Mary, Rod and Deb.

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And on the other side of the table are Brenda, John, the other John, and Sandy, and another view of Steve.

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After lunch we gathered outside the restaurant, “The Dodging Duck Brewhaus” which is located across the street from the city park along Boerne Creek.  Below, Mary prepares to hug friends.  Jim has his back to the camera, and John is on the left:

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What a fun time – it was wonderful to meet new friends and reconnect with Sandy & John and Mary & Paul.  We hope to catch up with them again before long!

After we got home, it was already time to get set up for today’s Happy Hour, which took place at our home.  Again, we sat outside until it got dark and started to get chilly.

Not a bad deal for being winter!  We’ve been on the road for 4 years now, and this is the warmest we’ve been at this time of year, we’re loving it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Yes, We Still Have a Blog

I knew it was time to get busy and write a new entry when Jim made a comment the other day, “this would be a good picture for the blog, if you still had one.”  Hmmm….has it been that long?

What have we been up to, where are we now and what are we doing?

The last time I wrote, we were in Livingston.  Much of our time there we were visiting with our friends, Mike and Rhonda and their family.  We were blessed to be invited to their home for Thanksgiving.

Below are four generations of the Heath family. On the right is Mike, one of Jim’s best friends from high school.  Next to Mike is Polly, his mom.  Jeremy, next to Polly, is Mike’s son.  He’s holding his younger son, Ryan.  Next is Gene, Mike’s brother who is holding Jeremy’s older son, Landry.

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While we were in the area, we also went to Old Town Spring, where we visited with another of Jim’s friends from his high school days.  Donny Hickmott owns an art gallery there, The Walking Stick, where he displays his fabulous paintings.  If you find yourself in the area, we definitely recommend a stop there.

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Rhonda, Mike’s wife and I stopped at the Wimberly Wine shop to pick up a couple of bottles of Texas wine.

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At the Escapees Rainbow’s End park, we also got caught up with our list of cleaning and sorting through some of our “stuff” and took care of some much needed financial planning.

Our time in Livingston was busy and productive!  But of course, it was soon time to move on and we pulled up our jacks and rolled the Castle on to Braunig Lake RV Resort just outside of San Antonio.

Deb and Rod were already here, and we went out for dinner with them our first night here.  We’ve had some fun times with them over the last week or so, including a day trip down to Rockport to buy fresh shrimp.  While we were in town, we met Donna and Nolan for lunch at The Big Fisherman.

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We’ve also made a couple of trips over to the San Marcos area to investigate the massive outlet malls there and visit the Camping World with Deb & Rod. 

Yesterday, we drove and the four of us went to lunch in Lockhart, known as the Barbeque Capital of Texas.  We chose Black’s Barbeque, owned by the same family continuously for over 80 years. 

Deb and Rod heading for the door:

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Our reviews were mixed, Deb didn’t care for the sausage, but we all thought the brisket and turkey were great.  I think we were all most impressed by the sides, though!  Our day trip also included a few other stops, as well, including the outlet malls, Sam’s Club and Spec’s, a Texas discount liquor outlet.

I’ve been busy learning and living the new Weight Watchers program.  While we were still in Livingston, I attended the roll-out meeting and got all the new materials, calculator and so forth.  The entire “points” system was changed, so there is a lot of learning and re-learning involved.  Everyone I know says they really like that fruits are “free”.  The new program really does steer our eating in a healthier direction.

We have plans to get together with more friends over the next couple of weeks while we get ready for our next move.  We’ll be making our way to the Arizona desert, and yes, there are boondocking plans!