Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black Friday

I used to do Black Friday big time. I'd set my alarm for 4:00 am and be one of the first people on the road. Had to hit those stores for the best stuff! Now, having taken a year to get rid of all our stuff, I approach Black Friday with much more nonchalance. Not that I totally ignore it, but the pressure is definitely off.

So, I slept in until my usual 6:00 am on Friday, and surfed the web on my iPhone for a bit. About 10:00 Bob and I took a drive to the local Walmart to check out the $2 videos. We found five plus a $4 one that we liked, as well as some yarn to weave a lap blanket ($2/skein) and a couple of grocery items.  I was satisfied.

We then went to the Post Office and a nearby Starbucks to upload some blog posts.  I really miss having wifi.  In the last two weeks we have used 13.6 GB of data on my cell phone, mostly surfing the web. AT&T is throttling my data after 3 GB so even though I have an unlimited plan the service is very very slow.  Not to mention that I am unable to upload my blog via cell phone. Thus the long gaps between clusters of posts.  In Mission we should be able to load posts daily, if the campground's promise of "free wifi" also means "wifi that has a strong enough signal to actually work."

We did what we needed to do, then headed back to the campground. Unfortunately, upon arrival back at camp I realized that I had left my purse hanging on the back of the chair at Starbucks. <sigh>  A quick call was made.  My purse was still on the chair and the manager promised to hold it safely for me, so back to Starbucks we went.  Nothing seemed to be missing. I was very thankful!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing at camp. It was a beautiful day, and I sat outside and read for a while in the sunshine until I got cold, then went inside. I am fighting another cold ( must be getting used to a whole new set of viruses) so I didn't do too much else.  Fortunately my Kindle is full of books to enjoy! We had turkey, stuffing, and gravy for dinner, and later I made turkey stock in my pressure cooker while Bob and I watched another couple of episodes of Northern Exposure

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day

Well, we already celebrated Thanksgiving Day yesterday, but it was so good we decided to do it again! Gail and Mark came over with Caryn's two little ones, as Caryn was not feeling well. They brought leftovers from the night before and we had a nice feast for lunch, before going out for a walk around the campground. It was a perfect day for a walk; temperatures were in the mid to upper 60's and the sky was blue. Thanksgiving always featured a family walk around the block when we were growing up so it just felt right.

I Face Timed the kids, gathered together at Kristen's house, and it was so nice to see them with spouses and grandchildren. The men were gathered around the after-dinner table playing Magic cards and they seemed to be having fun. Wish we could hug through the phone, but what a blessing to be living in a time where we can see people as we talk to them.  We live in an amazing world.

The rest of the day was for relaxing, which felt good after the last couple of hectic days. Bob watched a little football in the bedroom while I read a book in the living room.  I am pleasantly surprised how well sound is contained in another room when TV is on.

Our neighbors here are feeding the local deer, so there are almost always a few hanging out where we can watch them from our front window.  They are fun to watch.

Moving Day and an Early Thanksgiving Feast

What a busy day! I started my day roasting a 10 lb turkey in our little convection oven at about 9:00 am. I had been a little nervous about using our convection/microwave oven in the MH when we first got on the road, but I am starting to feel more comfortable with it. It does not seem to cook any faster than a regular oven, which surprises me, but I am fine with that.  It did a fine job with the bird, and it was done about noon time as we were getting ready to move to a different campground on Belton Lake.  I also made a brown rice "stuffing" with walnuts and cranberries, and some mushroom gravy to go with it.  The stuffing and gravy were vegan and gluten free so the vegetarians in our family could enjoy it. We brought some turkey to share with Shawn for dinner.

We drove the 10 miles to our new campground without difficulties and soon were settled into our new site.  We have a view of the lake from our living room, and have seen many deer already.  They come really close and don't seem very afraid at all.

At 4:00 we headed for dinner.  What a wonderful meal and visit we had at Gail and Mark's house! The table groaned with a variety of yummy dishes, so much so that some didn't even get sampled.  It's a good thing we are getting together for leftovers on Thursday to eat more.  Gail, Mark, and Caryn are vegetarians (Gail and Mark are also vegans) so it was a little challenge coming up with food that fit the criteria of vegan + gluten-free, but where there's a will there's a way, they say.

Caryn, Shawn, and the two little ones were with us as well, and we had so much fun hanging out together. What a joy to be able to "live" close by this part our family for a couple of weeks, even if we do miss our children and grandchildren.

Weaving and Antiquing Tuesday

Here is a picture of the project on my loom at the moment--dish towels for a certain someone in the family who just got married. Not sure if you read my blog, Bernie, but here is proof they are works in progress! Today I finished warping them and started to weave. They are an eight shaft structure and will look different on both sides.  I have been warping the loom in small stages, taking my time and enjoying the process as I go.

I have to be creative when using accessories.  I attach my bobbin winder to the back of a dinette seat, because the countertops and table are too thick for the clamp.

As I played with my loom, Bob ran errands in preparation for Thanksgiving. Gail called to ask if we would mind moving the meal to Wednesday evening so that our nephew Shawn could join us.  Of course that was fine! I was happy we could spend some time with Shawn because he is working 7-7 on Thanksgiving Day.

Later, Gail and I went to a couple of antique stores in Belton that we had missed last week, and enjoyed poking around the shops.  What is it about antique stores that I love so much, especially now that we have no room for "stuff?" I couldn't tell you. But I still like to look!

We also stopped at an H-E-B, a local grocery chain.  Outside we saw some interesting lawn art.  Metal chickens!

Meltdown Monday

Monday was a tough day for me.  I was feeling punk, as my dad used to say, with a little post nasal drip and the beginnings of a cough.  Bob and I took a drive to run some errands, leaving right before lunchtime. We went to the grocery store, then to the library to use their wifi.  We did some business, then headed home.  

My personal goal for the day was to somewhere, somehow find a Texas motor vehicles (called DPS here) to schedule our road tests. At least if we are stopped while driving our MH with only learners permits we can show that we have appointments. I have been told that many DPS sites are not taking road test appointments until February of 2015. Since we are leaving TX in January, this was not good news, because without a valid license we would not be covered by insurance in the event of an accident.

It's not easy to schedule appointments under the conditions we have. We had a list of DPS offices, but phone calls to them resulted in the caller being told that "due to unusually high call volume we are unable to speak to you at this time--please call back later."  I was unable to find a list anywhere of offices that offer road tests for CDL licenses, and using my cell phone with the tiny buttons and sloooooooooow loading of pages was frustrating in the extreme.  I finally called the Escapees (a traveling club for RVers that we belong to) and the woman I spoke with was very helpful. And calming, because I was really starting to stress over this! She gave me a number to the Livingston, TX DPS and after (no exaggeration) 36 tries, I got to a real person. This agent told me how to figure out which offices had the test and was sympathetic, and said the only way to do this was to go online and try to register for a road test for each town in which we could possibly take it.

At this point I was ready to scream.  What a stupid system!  A bad word or two MAY have fallen from my lips.  I don't know. I have blocked it out--you'd have to ask Bob. 

I put on my big girl panties and soldiered on, sitting with a map and figuring out the general route we'd be taking from Mission to Arizona.  McAllen, the closest to Mission, was making appointments for mid-February.  Five or six others were also a no-go.  Then I tried Laredo and BINGO! Morning openings for Friday January 2 for both of us. It took well over an hour just to make those appointments on my iPhone as it kept freezing on me, but we got them!

Laredo is an easy 136 miles from Mission, so it fits perfectly with our schedule of leaving January 1st.  Hopefully we will both be all set with our licenses before leaving Texas.  Keep fingers crossed for us!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Birthday Weekend

This weekend we were busy busy busy! On Saturday (my birthday) the four of us took a drive into Austin, TX for the day.  We stopped at Mothers Cafe for an early lunch.  Mothers is a vegetarian restaurant we discovered on our last trip to Austin two years ago, and I have been looking forward to revisiting it ever since.  Gail and Mark are vegans and I eat gluten-free.  It can be a challenge to find places to eat that cater to both eating styles, unless you don't mind limiting yourself to salads.  We were all able to order different platters at Mothers that were yummy and filling. As a bonus, a harpist sat near our table and entertained us with beautiful music.  

After lunch the skies opened up and poured rain. We drove to the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum and made a mad dash for the door.  But even with the bad weather we were so glad we went.  

There are thirteen presidential libraries in the U.S. And three of them are in Texas.  Bob and I are hoping to visit all of them.  I find it fascinating to view a president's term in office through their eyes, for that is what you see at these museums.  In a way, it is a way that a president is able to explain decisions and the circumstances in which they were made. In the case of LBJ, what I remember as a teenager was the Vietnam War, the protests, the unrest.  I was impressed this weekend at the changes LBJ made in this country: Medicare, the Civil Rights Amendment, policies protecting the environment, college grant programs, all were his doing. One thing I am starting to see that, no matter what their political party, our presidents work hard to try and make this country a better place for us.  It is easy for us to be critical of decisions for which we don't have all the facts. 

We finished up at the Museum and headed home.  Saturday was my birthday and Gail and Mark had baked me a yummy cake that we all enjoyed back at the motorhome. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

Sunday dawned sunny and warm, with high temperatures in the 70's. This is why we came to Texas!  In the afternoon we met up with Gail, Mark, and their dog Lily for a walk along the Pepper Creek Trail in Temple. The trail is a wide, paved walkway through the woods that boasts waterfalls and beautiful scenery. Very memorable.

We then followed Gail and Mark home for a visit with our niece a Caryn and her two adorable children, who joined us for dinner. What a lovely time we had!

And Then We Passed on Friday!

Ok, today was a much better day! We studied hard and headed over to the DPS a little after eight am. The nice woman at the front desk remembered us from the day before and gave us lots of encouragement before retaking the written class B test.  And we both passed! Now our brains are full of such important information as the maximum width of a cotton-transporting vehicle with special permits, yet we weren't sure if TX drivers could talk on a cell phone while driving. Turns out we can but not in a school zone. Funny the things that TX thinks is important for us to know!

After returning home, my sister Gail picked me up to have an afternoon of girl time. I got two pairs of jeans in a consignment store in Temple, then stopped for lunch at a wonderful Mexican restaurant in Belton, overlooking a river.  There are several antique stores in town and we scoured a couple of them for treasures.  I got myself a coffee cup since I only had two and it's nice to have an extra.  By 3:30 we decided to call it a day and save the other antique stores in town for another day. 

The weather cooperated with threatening skies but no rain, and temperatures in the high 60's.  I could get used to this weather!

Failing the Test on Thursday

We spent Thursday spinning our wheels, so to speak.  Bob and I had read through the required chapter in the Texas Department of Safety drivers manual for our class B license, and decided to go take the test.  Bob had to turn in his NJ license for a TX one, thereby becoming legal only to drive a car ( NJ does not require a special motorhome license, just a regular one.)

I took the test first, and promptly failed it. Bob did the same. We were a bit bummed, but were told we could take it three times before having to pay another fee.  We decided to study some more and retake it tomorrow.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wednesday at the G. W. Bush Library in Dallas

What a fun day we had today! Gail and Mark picked us up at 8:30 this morning to take us to the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas, TX, about 2 1/2 hours away.  Bob and I had visited the JFK Library in Boston earlier in the year, and since there are only thirteen presidential libraries we thought we should try and visit them all.  Three of them are actually in Texas, so we might be able to see all the Texas ones on this trip.

We stopped in to a little restaurant before going to the museum, Cafe Brazil.  They offered a coffee bar with a nice selection of coffees.  I had a coconut chicken salad that was divine!

We can only compare Bush's library to Kennedy's.  Bush had the luxury of planning his, as well as five more years in office to attain memorable moments.  So much of the Kennedy exhibits dealt with the way life was during the time of his presidency, in addition to the Cuban missile crisis and his assassination.  It seemed quite a bit smaller than the GWG Library.  Bush dealt with 9-11, the war on terrorism, No Child Left Behind, and the financial crisis.  Of course, Bush's exhibits presented his side of events, with little or no mention of his unpopularity during his presidency (Bush had at different times the highest popularity ratings and the lowest ratings of any US president during his term of office.)

The life size reproduction of the Oval Office as it appeared during Bush's presidency was fascinating.  We were allowed to walk around it and even sit in (the reproduction of) his chair.  Gifts that the Bushes had received from dignitaries all over the world were displayed.

There were many interactive exhibits with cool technology.  And the docents were wonderful in answering all our questions.

Mark behind the desk.

The 9-11 exhibit was very moving, and featured a timeline with short films of events throughout that morning. It was very well done. 

We really enjoyed our visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and look forward to seeing other presidential libraries.

Belton Railroad Museum on Tuesday

Today Bob and I met Gail at the Temple, TX Visitors Center and we had a look around.  We found loads of booklets and brochures of places we'd like to visit in the area--there's just so much to see! We were able to find out more about the George W. Bush Presidential Library, and made plans to see it tomorrow.

Then we toured the Temple Railroad Museum above the Visitors Center.  It had a very interesting exhibit on a Route 66, which started in Chicago, IL, passed through the north part of Texas, and ended in Santa Monica. The rest of the museum was dedicated to old-time train travel.  Definitely worth our time to see!

The rest of the day was spent diligently relaxing. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it

Monday November 18, 2014

We had a quiet weekend here at our campground. On Friday Bob and I went to our niece's house to see her and my adorable grand niece and  grand nephew, 2 yrs and 8 months old respectively.  We had a nice visit and had fun catching up.

I spent some time warping my Baby Macomber loom for dish towels. Not done yet-- I am enjoying the process in short bursts rather than a marathon warping session.

Yesterday my sister Gail and her husband Mark came to the campground for a visit.  It was great to see them!  We made loads of plans for the next couple of weeks, and took a walk around the campground. 

Later, Bob and I secured everything and drove the MH to an RV repair place for an estimate on the damage to the body of the coach done by the blowout. We should have a quote later this week hopefully.  

After dumping tanks on our return Bob and I went to the Belton Visitors Center to check out the area activities.  There is a lot to do and see around here, and we look forward to some new experiences.

We have had our bedroom smoke detector go off every other night since it was installed. Not exactly conducive for a good night's sleep! We think it is too close to our ceiling fan--time to move it!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday, Who's Too Old to Drive?

Too Old to Drive

Yesterday we woke up to cold temperatures and grey skies.  It was 34 degrees today.  But we did just fine.  Bob and I took a ride into a Temple to run some errands.  Later, Bob put the Texas plates on the motorhome and I spent some time setting up my Baby Macomber loom.  I got about half of the reed sleyed before I decided to do a little reading.  I can work on it some more tomorrow--there is no rush.

When we were in the DMV a week ago we saw a man renewing his license.  He required a walker to get around and had an aide to help him.  He wore hospital socks with no shoes.  When it was time to have his vision checked he was at first unable to follow directions for the task; then could not see the line he had to read.  The DMV worker had infinite patience with him, and acted like this kind of driver was a normal experience.  In fact, only the fact that he was unable to see kept his license from being renewed.  I was rather glad he was not out on the road!

A few days ago an elderly woman came up to us in the WalMart parking lot.  She was leaning heavily on a cart that held her purse.  "Excuse me," she said with a trembling voice, "but I've lost my car.  Can you please help me?" She held out a key fob to her car, and after pushing it we could not hear her car horn.  She seemed disoriented and confused.  So Bob stayed with her while I went and found a store employee who came back with me and promised to help her.  Afterwards I found myself looking at all the busy traffic in the area and wondered how safe she was on the road.

Driving is such an important part of a person's life, giving them the freedom to go anywhere at will.  So when a person is unable to safely drive, it is difficult for society to take the keys away.  I think about what will happen when we are unable to continue to drive, and it's a scary thought.  Hopefully we won't have to deal with that for a long, long time!

Thursday, Weighing In

Brrr! It's a chilly 34 degrees this morning in the Temple, TX area, actually colder than our old hometown of Pemberton, NJ.  There's something wrong with this picture!

We traveled yesterday from Livingston, TX without difficulties.  First thing in the morning we secured everything and unhooked our connections.  We then proceeded to the weigh area for our appointed weigh-in, something I have been dreading all week.  Don't you just hate being weighed? Even though it was our rig being weighed, there was still angst.  Secretly I worried that my stuff might have contributed to the blowout we had.  Perhaps the two bins of weaving and knitting books I was unable to part with, or the (eight) looms, the spinning wheel and marudai, and the bins of very heavy cones of yarn put too much weight on the tires.  I did have the books stored in the closet in the back center of the coach, not in a slide, so I was hoping that would be OK.  

Well, our results of the weighing showed that the back end was almost perfectly balanced, but there is a difference of about a thousand pounds between the front drivers side and the front passengers side, so we will have to rearrange what we can in the basement and increase the tire pressure on the heavy side.  Whew! No big deal, really, as long as we deal with the tire pressure.  Overall we were within the allowed weight limit.

After the weighing we drove into town and had the motorhome inspected and got Texas registration for it. It was easier this time around, knowing what to do in what order.

Our trip from Livingston to Temple was very pleasant, with pretty scenery and good roads.  We were on a two lane highway most of the time, which went through towns and was much more interesting than an interstate. We are settling in for the next two and a half weeks, which will be nice.  And we can't wait to see my sister and her husband, our niece, her husband and their two adorable children!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wifi Woes

Yesterday we were able to get our two tires replaced (two, because when one of a set of dual tires is bad, it has stressed the partner tire and must be replaced as well) so all that has to be done now is to secure the side panel that was ripped off in the blast.  Then we will be road ready again.  We should be able to stay on our schedule--yay!

Wifi has been very frustrating at this campground.  We reluctantly paid for Tengo Internet ($15 per week) and have received very poor Wifi.  I have been on the phone regularly with their customer service without the issue being resolved.  We will have it for a few minutes, then suddenly we are off and can't get back on for hours.  Not fun.  Apparently the problem is with the tower here, which needs some kind of troubleshooting to fix.  And they don't seem to be in a hurry to fix it.

We have some errands to run today, and will be getting ready for a busy day tomorrow, getting weighed and heading out to Temple, Tx.  We will see if there is enough time to register the motorhome tomorrow, but Bob thinks there may not be enough time.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Big Boom

While we were not able to be home for birthdays, we were kept extremely busy this weekend.  Bob and I attended an Escapees Boot Camp, which is a three day workshop for rookie RVers.  We had sessions on RV systems and maintenance, personal safety, safe driving, fire safety, towing, choosing an RV, weight management (of the rig, not our bodies,) and tire management.  We got to calibrate our tire sensor, and I was able to put out a fire and actually use a fire extinguisher.  We have an appointment to have our rig weighed on a huge scale that also weighs each tire and will show us if we need to redistribute our "stuff."  There was so much to learn, and learn we did! We also met some of the nicest people we have ever met. It was a really great experience.

Sunday's session ended at lunchtime, so Bob and I went back to our campsite when it was over.  Bob wanted to check our tires, armed with his new knowledge and a newly calibrated tire pressure sensor.  He was very concerned after checking because one of the inner back tires read zero tire pressure, not a good thing.  He added some air, waited an hour to see if it lost any pressure (it hadn't lost any,) then added some more.  I was inside the rig when all of a sudden I heard a very loud explosion that shook the coach, like the sound of a propane tank exploding. I ran outside and around in time to see Bob stagger away from the side of the motorhome.  People from neighboring campsites ran over to see what had happened and to offer aid if needed, some with fire extinguishers in hand, the noise was that loud.  Well, the inner back tire had blown out, and actually blew out the side of the motorhome around the tires as well.  Bob only had a couple of small cuts on his arm, and was incredibly fortunate that it was the inner tire and not the outer one that had blown out because he could have been killed.  God was watching over him, that's for sure!  The living area inside was not affected.  But he was pretty shaken up and so was I. We cannot see what kind of damage there may be under the rig yet--that is to be determined.

I'll tell you, it was really great to see people so ready to help total strangers.  It ended up being a real ice breaker, with folks stopping in all afternoon to offer advice and hugs.  This morning we contacted our roadside assistance company and will see what they will do for us.  We will need at least two new tires and some repair on the side of the coach, so hopefully this won't mess up our trip to the Temple, TX area this week.  We were supposed to leave Wednesday, but all is up in the air now.


On Saturday it was Kristen's (my eldest daughter's) birthday.  I think all of my children take after me of course, and it has been a joy to see her become the woman she is now.  Like her mom, she is a devoted mother and wife, loves to cook, to read, and knows how to squeeze a nickel until it cries "uncle!" She is passionate in what she loves to do, and will not let fear hold her back. I am so proud of her. Happy birthday Kristen!

My daughter in law, Bernie, celebrated her birthday on Sunday.  November is a big month for birthdays for us.  Bernie is married to my son, Tim, and we love having her as a part of our family. She fits right in with all the craziness!  Happy birthday Bernie!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Texas DMV Day

Thursday was spent getting the car registered in Texas and obtaining a Texas drivers license for me, so I could drive the car. Doing this involves a bit of running around.

Step 1: find DMV, 10 miles from campsite, and discover you have to go to tax assessors office for forms.
Step 2:  go to tax assessors office, get forms, and find out car must be inspected first.
Step 3:  go to local auto body shop to get car inspected.
Step 4:  realize we have lost the current proof of insurance form that the inspector needs, and only have the one dated December 1, 2014-December 1, 2015.  Return to campsite, 10 miles away, grab computer and go to managers office to get a paid wifi account so a new proof of insurance form may be downloaded and printed.
Step 5: go back to local auto body shop (another 10 miles of driving) with new proof of insurance form, have car inspected which takes 2 minutes.  How much can they inspect in 2 minutes? Pay $15 for inspection.
Step 6:  return to tax assessors, fill out forms, pay $182.50 for new registration.
Step 7:  go back to DMV with Texas registration, get plates for the car, and show 5 different pieces of ID for Texas drivers license for me. Pay $25 for license.  Return to campsite victorious, another 10 miles back.

Next, we have to do it all over again for the motorhome as we are leaving Livingston.  Bob also will take the written class B exam ( the man at the DMV assured us that everyone who studies passes the written test) and will then have to take a road test with the motorhome. I will go through the process at a later date.

Today Boot Camp starts!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Behind the Wheel

Our time in New Iberia, Louisiana came to an end yesterday  morning, when we got ready to drive to Texas.  After securing items in the motorhome, we disconnected our hookups and got ready to leave.  Before we left, however, I got behind the wheel.

Bob has always done all the driving of the RV.  He had his first travel trailer years before we met, so he was an experienced RVer right from the get go when we bought our first Nomad together. The thought of towing a trailer really spooked me, so I never tried.  It is important, however, for both husband and wife to be able to drive a motorhome in case the primary driver becomes injured or ill.  So I have known for a while I would eventually have to learn.

About a week and a half ago someone at the campground mentioned that Texas residents who drive a rig 26,000 pounds or more must get a class B drivers license, which in TX is for commercial truckers.  Yikes! So there's no two ways around it, not only must I learn to drive our rig, but I will have to take a behind the wheel exam.  The problem with practicing, however, is that it is not a simple thing to just hop in the motorhome and go for a daily drive, like I did as a teenager learning to pilot a car.  It takes a lot of work to get ready, the pets have to be secured, hookups disconnected, etc.  

So yesterday morning I suggested that I take a spin around the campground before we hooked up the car.  There were very few RVs in this campground, so I didn't have to worry much about hitting anyone.  I was able to practice my turns and stopping.  It felt good, actually! Now I just have to get up the nerve to take to the road.  I'm hoping to find a behind the wheel course here in Texas.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tabasco and the Historic District

We had one more full day in Cajun country, so yesterday we decided to start out at the local hot sauce factory.  I always assumed that Tabasco sauce was a generic type of hot sauce. Not so, mes chers amis! Tabasco is only made here in Avery Island, which is an island only because it is surrounded by a swampy river. The island is also a pile of salt that is supposedly as deep as Mt Everest is high. You might also assume that nothing would grow on top of a pile of salt.  It must be quite a bit below the surface because Avery Island is a lush paradise of greenery, and part of the island is a nature preserve. We started out at the factory...

...where we saw a brief film of the history of the company.  Then we saw the hot sauce being produced and bottled.  Did you know it takes over a year to make Tabasco sauce? Or that the country that uses the most Tabasco sauce per capita is Guam? Fun facts to know and tell!

We then walked around the Tabasco store, where we sampled jalapeño and raspberry jalapeño ice cream, jalapeño soda, and some delicious chili.  The ice cream was quite good, actually, sweet but with a little heat to it.  We could also purchase any number of Tabasco products, like this camouflage holster to take hunting with. I had to hold myself back!
A quick stop back at the motorhome and we went out again with Auggie this time, to walk around New Iberia's historical district.  I love seeing historical architecture, and these houses were gorgeous.

We have had a very nice time in Louisiana, and I will want to come back and see more next time.  Today we are off to Texas!  Yee haw!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rice Mill and Alligator Balls

When we first pulled in to this area on Sunday, Bob and I were not impressed. The area is very flat, the homes and businesses we passed seemed low, small, and a bit run down.  A train track ran through the entire part of the town that we drove in on. And the campground itself, a very reasonable $15 a night using our half-off Passport America rate, was essentially a parking lot with hook ups.  We were one of five rigs here, and the place looked like what it was--an overnight spot for visitors and competitors for the rodeos, horse shows, 4-h shows, and car shows that happen here on the weekends in which to stay.  It does have a beautiful pool, but no trees or areas of natural beauty.  

So, armed with a Visitor's Guide we ventured out to see the Konriko Company Store, and to tour America's Oldest Rice Mill.

Our guide was a Cajun woman who was very knowledgable about not only rice production but Cajun culture, the foods and the history of the area.  Two other couples toured with us.  One couple from Michigan were on a camping trip from Michigan with their two collies (who joined us on the tour) and the other couple were from the UK and were traveling the southern states. The Company Store contained local foods produced and distributed by Konriko, and provided free samples of some of their products.  They featured types of Konriko Rice, Cajun and other types of seasonings, and rice crackers.  Our tour guide was happy to answer all of our many questions about the area, and recommended stopping in at Tres Amies for Beignets (a kind of Cajun doughnut) and the Little River Inn for Alligator Balls.  She hastened to tell us that alligators had no balls, but that this treat was similar to crab cakes in how they were made.  That was enough for me--I had to try 'em!

So after our tour we headed out to find us some Alligator Balls.  And were they ever good!

They were a little lighter and fluffier than a crab cake, and served with a remoulade, a kind of sauce, on the side.  I could have eaten a whole serving myself, but Bob and I split an appetizer serving.  I then had seafood gumbo, and Bob had chicken and sausage gumbo.  What a tasty lunch!

We drove through the other side of town afterwards which instantly changed our minds about what the area was like.  Beautiful homes, some tiny and perfect, others spacious and palatial, lined the streets.  Trees dripped with Spanish Moss; some of the trees were unbelievably large and ancient looking. We want to spend some time just "walking and gawking!" This was what I had imagined when I thought about Louisiana!  There is really a lot to see around here, and there won't be enough time to do it all, I am sure.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Speak, Auggie!

Monday November 3, 2014

We traveled a little over 300 miles yesterday, from The Escapees Park in Summerdale, AL to New Iberia, LA.  It would have been a pleasant ride except for the bumpy route I-10 that we were on for hours, ka-chung, ka-chung, ka-chung.  We look forward to seeing a bit of Louisiana since we will be here for three nights. Sure are pretty sunsets here.

There's not a lot more to talk about today so I am turning the keyboard over to our dog, Auggie. This is his perspective.

I live in a magic bus.  I know busses, because I used to live in the city of Philadelphia before Mom and Dad found me. They are big, scary-sounding things that people ride in.  Our bus isn't so scary, and we are the only ones who ride in it; Mom, Dad, and that CAT they call K.C. Ooh, I'd like to show that CAT what's what......but I digress.

Our bus is magic because when we get inside, the walls move out and it gets so big that we can live in it.  Mom even has room to set up her "loom".  I still haven't figured the appeal of that thing, but she likes to sit and step on it and make noise with it.  Humans.  Go figure.

The other reason our bus is magic is that sometimes the walls move inward and the space gets small. Mom and Dad put me on a short leash on the couch where I have my bed and monkey doll and I have to sit there for hours while the bus rumbles and trees and houses move past us. When this stops, IT LOOKS DIFFERENT outside! Smells different, too. I don't know how the bus does it, but what can I say? It's magic.

Mom and Dad like to take me for lots of walks now, and boy is that fun! You wouldn't believe all the dogs I meet and get to play with.  I get to go other places, too, like dog parks, the grocery store and Walmart.  When I go in stores I ride in this little bag Mom made for me, and people don't even see me!  It's like I'm invisible or something.

 I like the bag. It's way better than being left alone with no one but the CAT to talk too.  He's not the best conversationalist, if you know what I mean.

Mom says she's not going to walk too close to the pond that's here, because there might be an alligator in it.  Not sure what that is, but it sounds scary so I'll pass on meeting one, thank-yew-very-much. I hear there's lots to see and do here, and I can't wait to see and do it all.

Well, that's about it for now.  Time to go outside and pee on a tree.  I know, it's a rough life but someone has to live it!

Hobby Lobby and Big Daddy's Grill

Friday October 31, 2014

On Thursday I took a drive into Foley, AL to visit a Hobby Lobby and check out their yarn selection.  I found it very much like Michaels Craft Stores, which abound in NJ.  I was able to find some 85% bamboo, 15% silk worsted weight yarn that I just had to try out on my loom.  I also picked up a magnetic door stop for the bathroom door.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my iPad to upload yesterday's blog.  I'm looking forward to having wifi again in our next campground. 

Today Bob and I went to Big Daddy's Grill, a place that was highly recommended by a fellow camper. We sat outside on the deck by the Fish River, and enjoyed baskets of seafood with hush puppies, onion rings, and sweet potato fries.  It doesn't get much better!  Bob and I eat 99.9% of our meals at home, so it's nice to go out once every couple of months.

In the afternoon I warped up my 12" wide Ashford Knitters Loom with a pale blue bamboo/silk yarn I had bought yesterday, and wove it all at once.  The whole scarf, from warping to weaving, took under 2 1/2 hours.  Another half hour for twisting fringe and it was done.  I love this yarn with its silkiness and sheen.  I used a variegated weft which made a nice design. Sometimes it's just nice to weave and not think about color changes.

October 30, 2014

October 30, 2014

Yesterday Bob and I took a ride to find a spot to launch our kayaks.  There's a nice little boat launch on a lake about five minutes away from here, and hopefully I will be over my cold in time to take a kayak ride before we head out.  We then drove into the nearby town of Foley, AL to find a thrift shop.  Bob needed some leather strapping to fix something on the motorhome and decided that an old leather belt would work just fine  he found a perfect one for $1.49 and was able to make the repair.  I also got some sheets at Job Lot to cut into side panels for extending our top sheets.  We really prefer generous top sheets on the bed but I don't want to have to buy King size sheets--I will cut foot-wide panels and see them to the side edges of our Queen top sheets.  For $10 I got enough fabric to extend a couple of our old top sheets.  

While we were put we stopped to upload Monday's, Tuesday's, and Wednesday's blog posts at McDonalds.  

Back at the campground I took a few minutes and removed the last of Bob's sutures on his nose.  His incision is healing nicely.

I had fun weaving on my Ashford Knitters Loom in the afternoon.  I love weaving outside!  

Our next door neighbor gave us a couple of DVDs on RV driving and RV life.  Since we will both have to get a class B drivers license in TX next month, the driving one should be very helpful. We hear that there is a lot of studying to do on hazardous materials and commercial driving, stuff we won't need but have to know about for the test.  In NJ we did not need a special license, but in Texas if your rig is over 26,000 lbs you do need one.  If we were not going to become TX residents it would not have been required.  Ah well, we can do it! I know that a portion of the Boot Camp we are taking next week will deal with driving, so that will be helpful too.  My concern is that there is very little chance for me to actually practice on the road, since it's kind of a big deal to just go for a drive in a Motorhome.  Everything has to be unhooked, loose items stowed away, the pets contained, slides in, etc before doing any driving. So really the only time I can practice is when we are driving down the road! So far it hasn't happened.  I may just sign up for a driving course with behind the wheel time.