Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

For 2015 I resolve to accomplish the following:

1.  Become a licensed driver of this motorhome, and share the driving with Bob.
2.  Weave a couple of shawls on my new 28" Ashford Knitters Loom.
3.  Knit some dishcloths as gifts.  And do more knitting in general.
4.  Spend less time reading and more time creating things.
5.  Exercise daily (I have been trying to walk 1/2 hour each day and would like to increase that amount of time whenever possible.)
6.  Lose some weight and keep it off (can you even make a New Year's Resolution list without that one?)
7.  Visit South Dakota. We missed it in 2014 but I want to see it in the fall of 2015.
8.  Floss daily (I am a bit spotty on this one, so I plan to be more consistent.)
9.  Continue blogging 5x/week, sharing all of our adventures, our travels, and our daily lives.
10.  Do some braiding, some spinning, some sewing, some crocheting...

Happy New Year, lovely blog readers!!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Package Arrived, Thanks to Bob!

Yesterday I wrote about my wait for a package that had been ordered on 12/12/14, and was still in transit.  I was pleased to see that last night it had been scanned in San Antonio and was on its way to me.  Early this morning it arrived in McAllen, TX and was put on the truck for delivery.

So I waited, and waited, and waited.  At about 4:00 I saw the UPS truck fly down the road past our campsite.  It proceeded to travel up and down the small roads of the campground and I could see the truck through the trees as it delivered packages to other campers. A quick check on the computer and OH NO! The driver had entered that he couldn't find us and was on his merry way.  Bob offered to chase the driver down, so he hopped in the car and drove off.  Meanwhile I got on the phone to UPS and the woman looked up the notation and said that our site number was not listed but we could drive to McAllen after 7:30 pm and pick it up.  She claimed to have no way to contact the driver, even though I had had a similar incident about a year ago and the driver was contacted right away.  But just then Bob drove up with this.
He had caught up with the driver who said, "OK," and handed over the package without apology. (Shall I call this UPS man a lazy scum? Of course not, I never stoop to name calling.  But if the shoe fits...And by the way, the address as well as the site number was on the box so the person at the call center was lying to me.  Ah well, I digress.  Shake it off--I got my package!!!)

Inside was this:
And inside the bag was my new loom. A 28" Ashford Knitters Loom.
"What's this?" I hear you say. "Another loom?  Do you really need another one?" "Mais certainment" (as my Canadian friends would say,) "but of course" my devoted blog readers, I really did.  This loom is wider than even my floor loom, yet takes up relatively little space, so that I can weave wider fabric. Bob will add a couple of new cross pieces to my old stand and it will be able to be used with this loom as well as my 12" and 20" looms.  One of the benefits to having such a handy husband. :)

So I took out the loom, did the minimal assembly that is required, admired it, folded it up, and put it away in the loom closet where it fits nicely.  Because tomorrow we start stowing everything away and on Thursday we are on the move to Laredo. And to our road tests on Friday, and now that I have my loom I will be focusing on worrying about the test (the loom has proven to be a lovely distraction up until the time it arrived.)  Or trying not to worry, but who am I kidding? I am nervous about the test.  It will be fine.  But I am really looking forward to Friday afternoon!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Quiet Weekend

We had a nice weekend here in the campground.  On Saturday we had lovely weather, with blue skies and white puffy clouds and temperatures in the high 70's. I was able to take a long walk with Auggie in the morning and later had a nice bike ride with Bob in the afternoon. 

Which was very good, because Sunday was the pits. It poured rain, temperatures were in the 40's, and it was rather miserable.  We barely peeked our heads out of the motorhome; instead we read and did projects.  I took my project off the loom, did a little sewing, and a little cooking.  We ran through the air brakes test procedure in preparation for our test on Friday.  It was actually a nice way to spend a cold winter's day.

Much of Monday was spent planning our route to Casa Grande, AZ.  I research possible campgrounds and routes, being mindful of distances.  I will also check the route against our book of mountain grades to be sure we are not going over steep mountain passes if we don't have to.

I have been waiting since December 12 for a package that was originally supposed to arrive via UPS on December 19.  Unfortunately, the person labeling the package was rushing and she put our old address in Pemberton, NJ on the slip, and off it went in the wrong direction.  It went all the way to NJ before it could be re-directed to south Texas.  And because of Christmas and the sheer number of packages shipped all at once, my package has been taking its sweet time. Unlike another package that arrived today, whose driver apparently checked in every time he or she stopped for a cup of coffee, this package has been traveling without being scanned for a whole week.  This has made me very nervous. If it does not get here by the 31st, we will be gone and it will have to be returned. So here's hoping it comes tomorrow or the next day!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Day

Christmas Day was very peaceful. I enjoyed talking with each of the children.  Bob worked on projects around the MH, and I did some weaving and read a bit.  The weather was a bit chilly with strong winds, overcast skies, and temperatures in the lower 60's.  In the evening we joined some others for Happy Hour, before returning home for a steak dinner with homemade apple pie for dessert.

Friday was a perfect weather-day, with blue skies, a soft breeze, and temps hovering near 80 degrees. I took a nice long walk with Auggie in the morning, and Bob and I ran some errands later.  

We have had a project planned for a while; that of insulating the upper cabinets in the slideouts.  These areas are not insulated very well from the factory, so we can feel the cold coming through on a chilly morning. Bob picked up a roll of insulation that has foil on both sides and what feels like a squishy gel in the center. 

It cut easily with scissors, and we used carpet installation adhesive to attach it to the outer walls and ceiling of the cabinets. I think it came out quite well, and should make a difference in hot or cold weather.  We got one salon wall of cabinets done today, with more to be done tomorrow.

You can also see the shelf Bob made for this cabinet. The space is 20" deep and 16" high, so there was a lot of stuff just crammed in there.  We can organize it much better now. I am so lucky to have such a handy husband!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Eve

We enjoyed a quiet Christmas Eve. The wind blew and temperatures dropped to a chilly 64 degrees so we stayed in, apart from walking Auggie. I made microwave caramel corn to share at our Christmas Eve Social in the clubhouse.
There we saw a couple of familiar faces, sang Christmas carols and met some new people. It was a fun evening.

Today should be sunny and 70 degrees...a nice day.

My friend, Jill sent me this poem.  I hope you like it.

Twas the night before Christmas, 
And the scarves were not made. 
The threads were all tangled, the cookies delayed. 

The stocking weren’t hung, the pantry was bare. 
The poor weary Weaver, was tearing her hair. 
Cones of plied cotton, tipped over in streams. 

Visions of Log Cabins, had turned into dreams.
When what to her wondering eyes should appear, 
But a bus full of weavers with all of their gear. 
They went straight to work with just a few mutters, 

Sorting and warping and brandishing cutters. 
The patterns emerged from all of the clutter, 
Like magic the fabrics arranged in a flutter. 
Log Cabins, Hounds Tooth, Over Shot & Plaids,
Each scarf was a beauty-even the salvages. 
Her house how it twinkled, her scarves how they glowed. 
The cookies were baking, the stockings were sewed. 
Their work was all done, so they folded their frames, 
And packed up their shuttles, without giving their names. 
They boarded the bus, and checked the next address. 

More scarves to be made, another weaver in distress. 
She heard one voice echo, as they drove out of sight, 
Happy weaving to all and to all a good night! 
Author Unknown re-worded for weavers by KT Easter

Merry Christmas!!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Retrospective

This has been a difficult yet satisfying year for us. This is my list of our accomplishments in 2014:

Bob and I re-homed 95% of our "stuff", renovated one house and sold two houses.

We retired from our careers.

We stayed healthy.

I turned over the reins of the Small Looms Group (which I started with April) in 2009 to Ellen and Susan.

I learned to drive a 37,000 pound motorhome.

We said good-bye to our children, grandchildren, friends, and old lifestyle (although we will be back to visit in the summer.)

I started blogging.

I don't know what 2015 will hold for us, exactly, but we will be taking the road test for our CDL so that we can legally drive our motorhome in Texas on January 2. We would like to spend a couple of days in San Antonio. And we have reservations at a campground in Casa Grande, Arizona from January 12 - February 12. We will work the Good Sam Rally in the end of February in Phoenix. And we may be visiting Disneyland in March.  I am excited about the road ahead of us! 

I appreciate all of my blog readers and wish you all Happy Holidays and a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous 2015

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Biking on a Perfect Day

Monday was a gorgeous day, one of the nicest weather days we have had so far. Gail came over to the campground, we had our lunch al fresco and we borrowed a bike for her to ride. 
She got to see the dog park and agility area, and to see Auggie show off his agility skills. Then we rode through the state park and saw some native birds including a roadrunner, green jays, and a flock of chachalacas which look almost like small turkeys. 

After that, we rode around the neighboring development and did some house tours. We agreed that if we won the lottery we would consider buying a winter home here. Hey, it could happen!

Bob and I sat outside under the stars in the evening, getting some use out of our Little Red Campfire, which is a small propane fire ring. It was so nice out.  We kept hearing something behind us though; it turned out to be one of the purebred Brahman herd that abuts our campground. I love to watch them.
It was a really nice day.

Early Christmas with Family

Sunday was the day we had chosen for a family Christmas dinner, with my sister Gail, brother-in-law Mark, niece Michelle, and her fiancé Danny. We had a delightful meal together, with chicken, roasted veggies, and homemade soup. I brought a fig pie that was yummy and satisfied everyone's dietary preferences; not easy when you have a combination of omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free eaters at the table! Here is the link to the recipe.

After dinner Michelle treated us to a medley of oboe songs. She has been playing since grade school and was in the All State band in Massachusetts as a youth. She's still got it!

We met Danny's parents, Cynthia and Roy that evening, along with Danny's brother Ray.  Lovely people!  They took us to the town of Hidalgo, where there was an amazing display of Christmas lights throughout the town.  Sponsored by local businesses, the lights are along a route where they may be viewed while you drive.  

Along the way we stopped a couple of times to get a better look. The displays were amazing. 

One private home was decorated with lights in incredible detail, and as music played about every 40 minutes the lights flashed along with the song. 

It is interesting, because Christmas decorations are not as common in this area as they are in NJ or New England, where I grew up. Even local businesses often have no displays. Yet I have never seen a display to rival Hidalgo's.

It really put us in the Christmas mood. :)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mail, and Family

Probably the most common question we get from people who are curious about the full time RV life is, "how do you get your mail and pay your bills?"  Well, first of all we cut out a lot of bills just by selling our house! We have no more electric, gas, or cable bills.  We don't get Colorado Prime (meat) deliveries any more.  We don't have a car payment, and only have a small Motorhome payment monthly.  We  pay all our bills online, and have arranged for e-bills rather than paper bills to be sent to us.  Wherever possible we opt for payments to be paid automatically each month by our bank. So the only monthly payment we typically have to deal with is one credit card payment.

Our mail is handled by a mail service run by the Escapees in Livingston, TX. A couple of times each month I call them up and ask to have our mail forwarded to wherever we are. We pay an annual fee for this service plus pastage to send our mail. It has been nice being in one place for December because we have a mailbox here at the campground where we can receive mail directly; in other places it is sent to general mail at a local post office.

Yesterday Bob and I got together with sister Gail and brother in law Mark for some thrift store shopping. I was able to find a tiny electric rice cooker, like new for $6.50, and I love it. It takes up little space and makes three cups of rice at a time. Since we don't pay for electricity at many campgrounds this will save on propane.  I also found a tiny vase for cut flowers--perfect for my bathroom.

After thrift shopping we went to our niece and her fiancé's home, before heading back out for a bit of grocery shopping and to pick up dinner from Casa Messa, a local Mexican restaurant.  Ooh, good food! We had quesadillas with cheese, flautas, guacamole, salsa and fresh tortilla chips, rice and beans, chicken, and fried zucchini. Gail and I also picked a couple of oranges from an orange tree that hangs over the wall.  How cool to have oranges growing in your yard!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dish Cloths

A few years back I taught myself to knit. One of the things I enjoyed knitting in those early days was dish cloths.  I found that they were perfect learning projects, quick to produce and a good way to learn new stitches. I also enjoy using them for dishes or face cloths, depending on how bulky they turn out.  Yesterday I spent a few happy hours making this one.
It has a seed stitch border (knit one, purl one to end, finishing with a knit stitch. Then knit the purl stitches and purl the knit stitches,) and an inner lace border.  It has been a while since I knit lace, so I had to fuss with it a bit (in other words, rip it back a couple of times) until I got it right, but I did get it. I like the pattern; it is a bit of a challenge which I enjoy but is not hard if you have done any lace work before.

A good learning piece.

I figure I'll whip up a dish cloth when I have a couple of hours and use them if I need a quick gift, since I have lots of dishcloth cotton in my stash.

The pattern may be found here:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tzeitel and the Gerbils

When I was a teenager my sister Cheryl had a cat we called Tzeitel, named after a girl in the movie "Fiddler on the Roof." Tzeitel was solid gray in color and she walked with a slight limp ever since kittenhood when she was caught in a closing door and suffered nerve damage.

She was a sweet cat with a pleasant disposition, getting along well with my West Highland White Terrier, Tami.  She also loved my two gerbils (whose names I have long forgotten.) I kept my gerbils in an aquarium tank with a lid to keep them from escaping, as one of my mother's greatest fears was rodents loose in the house. 

I had a hamster ball so that my gerbils could run around and get exercise, one at a time.  They were so cute in that ball and really enjoyed having play time out of their tank. Sometimes I would leave them in the ball for an hour or so to allow them some freedom.  But I didn't always watch them, and one day I returned to my room to find the gerbil missing, having escaped somehow from the hamster ball. I was terrified that Tzeitel had eaten my gerbil, but I needn't have feared. I found the cat sitting next to the gerbil, staring at him and clearly fascinated with the little creature. 

From then, on, Tzeitel spent her time trying to get closer to the gerbils.  My dog Tami knew instinctively that gerbils and cats did not mix, and she became the family tattle-tale. She would race over to me, stare into my eyes, click her jaws and race upstairs, clearly wanting me to follow her. There upstairs I would find Tzeitel in the gerbil tank, curled up like a momma tending her "kittens."  She purred and watched the gerbils crawl over her and play between her curled-up paws, occasionally picking one up and moving it to another spot if the little creature nipped her too hard.

Animals don't always act as we would expect them to act. Neither do people, for that matter. Sometimes they will surprise you, and this is one of life's joys.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Butterflies and Bunnies

My day started with some crafting. I pulled my sewing machine out from under the bed and started cutting a bunny out of some handwoven fabric that I had designed for niece Lori's baby. My friend Darcy arrived for a knitting lesson, so I switched gears and showed her how to cast on and do a knit stitch. She picked it right up. I had finished knitting my butterfly washcloth yesterday, and started another one.

Darcy left after a bit and I finished up the bunny. I love the way it came out!

On Tuesday afternoon a produce vendor brings his truck into the campground, and Bob and I went to see what he had. There was a full assortment of fruits and vegetables and we bought a variety of them. I found myself wishing I had bought more oranges--they were just picked and the best I ever had.

Bob has been working on installing a sprinkler-type fire extinguisher under the bedroom floor, over the Diesel engine. It took him a couple of hours yesterday and another couple today, but it's in.  Now if we ever have an engine fire the extinguisher should put it right out, probably before we even know it's on fire.  Makes me feel a lot better to know it's there!

Today was windy, with highs in the 70's. Quite pleasant. It sure doesn't feel like December in NJ

Monday, December 15, 2014

Butterflies and Company

On Saturday Bob and I decided to borrow the campground's pass to visit the Butterfly Centerand check out the bike path through it. We were told by a fellow biker that it was a good place to ride, and that dogs were allowed. It was a beatific day with blue skies and white puffy clouds, highs in the upper 70's. We took our time riding to the Butterfly Center, Auggie in his bike basket, the breeze blowing our faces. When we arrived we were greeted by a sign that said " no dogs."  <sigh>

We took a side road next to the center, but soon turned back because my bike really did not have the right size tires. It's a cruiser rather than a mountain bike, so traction is not great on dirt or gravel, especially with 12 pounds of "Aug Dog" on the front end.

We rode back to the campground office and I reached for the pass hanging from the lanyard around my neck. The pass was gone, having fallen off sometime during the ride. I headed back along the bike path to retrace my route while Bob took the car and drove along the road. No sign of it. I returned to the office and confessed that I had lost their pass; I really felt bad about losing the pass but the man in the office took it well; not that there was much I could do about it. :/

On Sunday Michelle and Danny came to see our MH and to visit the Butterfly Center.  We drover over (leaving Auggie back home) and took a walk through it.  We saw a lot of Monarch Butterflies, and met Spike, the facility's African Spur Tortoise.
We also saw a quilt show with beautiful butterfly quilts, an exhibit that will be touring the U.S.

Next we took a bike ride, borrowing two bikes for our guests.  We also borrowed a pass for the State Park that got us all in free. The office had no problem lending us the bikes or the pass, despite the previous day's loss of the Butterfly Center pass. We had a great ride through the State Park, riding on paved roads throughout the park.

Monday was a quiet day. A little bike riding, a little knitting, and a little socializing with another campground resident who wants to learn to knit.  We will try and meet up tomorrow or Wednesday for a lesson.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Costumes of the Americas and Christmas Decorating

I have had some problems uploading yesterday's blog because of Wifi problems, but I think I have it now. Sorry for the delayed post!

On Friday Bob and I took a ride to Brownsville, TX, to see what we could see. We started out with a drive around town. Brownsville has some lovely areas and some not so lovely areas. We stopped into the Visitors Center to find out some more about the area. A very helpful woman suggested Lola's for lunch, a nice place to eat overlooking a pond. The food was excellent and reasonably priced.

The woman at the Visitor's center also suggested we check out the Costumes of the Americas Museum located in the Children's Museum, so off we went. They had a lovely exhibit of women's clothing in the Americas, including wedding raiments.

This dress is interesting. The poster next to it states that designs depict coyotes, armadillos, and dead turkeys called chompipes muertos. The dead turkey is significant because the bridegroom's parents decorate a dead turkey with flowers, place it in a basket of goodies and give it to their in-laws. The turkey is then eaten on the day of the wedding, and the complete skeleton is saved. The skeleton of the turkey is hung in the kitchen of the newlyweds to protect the excitement and sacred bonds of the marriage. 


Many of the pieces were handwoven and embellished with beading, quills, and embroidery.  Bob is a trooper to let me drag him to these places and I really appreciate it!

I pulled out the Christmas tree and ornaments after we got home. It took me about fifteen minutes total to set up, quite a difference from the hours of decorating I used to do.  It's nice to have it up without spending all day. And I think it looks quite festive :)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kayaking the Rio Grande

What a thrill! This morning at 8:45 a.m. we met with two guides at the RV park, who take guests out on the Rio Grande for kayaking trips. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that these trips are offered free of charge to people staying at our campground.  Bob and I were the only ones who signed up for this trip, and we have been anxiously watching the weather reports all week because they had been calling for rain. But the day dawned cloudy and in the 70's, perfect weather for our outing.

We are only a couple of miles from the border here, so five minutes on a dirt road and we were at the parking area, which was a farmer's field. A friendly burro hung out by the gate, and I volunteered to be burro whisperer and keep him on the right side of the fence while Bob and the guides carried the kayaks through to the boat ramp. I didn't mind at all.

Unfortunately, I was not able to take pictures of the river because I was afraid to get my phone wet, but here is a picture that I ganked from the Dallas News.

We were on the Rio Grande for about two hours, and our guides entertained us with stories the whole time. They recounted finding a body, seeing alligators, and having Mexican soldiers with assault rifles suddenly appear on the banks, shouting orders which the guides could not understand.  We did see Border Patrol boats twice while we were on the water.  They were careful to slow down and not capsize us, and waved when they passed.

We learned a lot about illegal aliens today.  Apparently most of them are Guatemalans and Haitians, as the Mexicans can get one day shopping passes and just come over whenever they want. The cartels take all the money these people have and then point them across the river. Our guides spent a bit of time looking for life jackets that are used in these crossings and then simply discarded.  Other times the aliens will string jugs together and float across holding the jugs as a flotation device.  Since there are cameras all up and down the river, the Border Patrol simply sends out a helicopter and picks the unfortunate people up, processes them, then sends them back across the border to Mexico.

There was little current on the river and a light breeze, so paddling was easy. While we saw no alligators (or dead bodies, thankfully!) we did see Kingfishers and a heron. The water was too silty to see past about a foot into the water. All along the banks were tall reeds and cat tails. It was a lovely ride. I found myself thinking of my Dad and how he would have enjoyed this trip along the Rio Grande. It's a day I'll never forget.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Signs and House Tour

We see some interesting signs in our travels. Like the ATM Beer sign in Temple, TX ( I wish I had gotten a picture of that one!

Or how about Beep Beep Gas here in Mission? NJ friends and family will appreciate this one since they get a lot of ribbing from out of staters who make fun of WaWa convenience stores.

And how do you feel about Wienerschnitzel Tastee Freeze? Yum!

We spent a few minutes this morning on housework before deciding to go on a bike ride. Bob wanted to visit the development next to our RV Park. We took Auggie in his basket and rode up and down the streets before stopping at the model home. A very nice couple showed us through the model, and were we impressed! If we were in the market for a retirement home this one would have fit the bill. It had a private courtyard with outdoor kitchen, a nice kitchen, two bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths plus a den and a garage with workshop area. The development has a nice pool and clubhouse. Some of the models have tall covered driveways big enough for a MH or fifth wheel. Maybe some day, but right now we want to keep moving.

I worked a bit on the woven dish towel project, while Bob dealt with our insurance agent (I think I had more fun than he did.)

Wednesday nights are $1 Margerita nights, so this time we brought a tray of cheese and crackers which entitled us to fill our plates with snacks. Free dinner! And we won a door prize again, a bag of bakery cookies. Score!!!

Tuesday Weaving, Jillian's Poncho

I started a weaving project a few days ago to make a poncho for my granddaughter Jillian. I wanted to use my Ashford Sample-it Loom, known as an ASIL, which weaves about 8" wide max. To use this loom I needed to weave the fabric in two panels, so the warp needed to be five yards long. A bit of creativity was needed to find a spot in our MH to put the peg for direct warping.  I clamped the cross piece from a stand to a tiny counter at one end of the lounge (FYI, a living room in a coach is called a lounge) and attached the warping peg to the cross piece.
Then I positioned the ASIL clamped to my bench/stand all across the room, backed up against the driver's seat. I had exactly five yards between them.  If I hadn't had enough space I would have had to place another peg in the room where the path of the warp could jog and give me the length I needed.

Weaving went well, and I kept weaving until the warp was done. My roll of cloth on the cloth beam became so large that I had to advance the warp very frequently, but it fit with room to spare. Good to know that I could fit so much on this little loom!
I used a random sequence of stripes using a variegated yarn and a solid, carrying the yarn not being woven up one side.

And here is Jillian's poncho! I made the neck opening large enough for a toddler's head by folding down a collar front and back. I really like the way it added detail. I also added faux fringe where there was none, because it balanced the design nicely. My friend, Meg, from the South Jersey Guild of Spinners and Handweavers had inspired me a long time ago to make a poncho; it took a while to actually make one (and a weave along from Jill Sanders' Saori group on Ravelry for the push) but it finally got made!

Details on construction: the fabric started as 6.5" wide and 3.5 yards long when removed from the loom. I cut the piece in half, zigzagging the raw edges with my sewing machine, and hand whipstitched the panels together to make a piece 13" wide. I twisted fringe on one end, then cut two panels 18" long. I machine stitched the butt end of one panel to the side of another, then did the same to the cut end of the other. It's hard to explain but here is a picture.

I added fringe all around because I liked the effect. It's going to be big on Jillian, but she'll grow into it!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Our Weekend

I'm sitting here listening to a coyote yipping--what a cool sound!

Our weekend passed in a blur.  On Saturday Bob and I went on a long bike ride with Auggie in his new basket.  I'm getting better at steering safely with the extra weight on the handlebars, and Auggie was in heaven.  This is his kind of transportation!

Later we got together with my niece Michelle and her fiancé Danny at their lovely home. Bob and I loved the Spanish style of their house, with a courtyard, a great room with soaring ceilings, and a large, private backyard pool. I've never seen a house like it.

After dinner we went for a swim and a soak in the hot tub, then decided to call it a night. It had been a busy day, to be sure.

On Sunday the weather was damp and warm, with temperatures in the high 60's. I started a new weaving project, a poncho for my granddaughter Jillian.  I love how it is coming out, but I'm going to wait to show pictures.  It was a good day to weave, and I worked on the dish towels I had started, too

Later we went to the grocery store, then to a  surprise 70'th birthday party for our next door "neighbor" Brian. Everyone brought a dish to share and there was loads of good food and new friends to meet.

Today the weather continued to be damp and rainy, and Bob was feeling sniffly.  I wove much of the day again. Tomorrow should be better weather and hopefully we can get outside a bit.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Traveling in Style

Last night when we arrived back at the rig after dinner there were two packages waiting by our door. One was a Little Red Campfire which is a small portable propane fire ring that can be used even in areas where log campfires are not allowed due to fire restrictions.  We'd been talking about getting one for a long time now, so Bob bought one for me as a birthday present. 

The other package was Auggie's Christmas gift, a doggie bike basket so he can ride along on bicycle trips. He fits in it perfectly. Directions suggested taking it slow to get the dog used to it.  Well, Auggie took to it like a duck to water. He'd been wanting one of these for a long time, apparently! He never once tried to jump out; just sat there as the world spun by him. This was his kind of outing!

I have always loved biking more than walking, so the three of us had a fun day, going out several times. We found the bike trail that starts near the office and runs along the main road.  From there we could turn off onto a side road for a nice long trip. We witnessed a hapless fisherman getting a ticket from the local game warden and saw a Border Patrol vehicle speeding along the road.  We see a lot of Border Patrol cars around here.

Later we took a drive to Walmart to pick up supplies, then stopped in at a vendor fair for local tourist trips and health clinics, adding to our stash of pens and post-it notes. Even though I didn't win a door prize in the raffle, it was still fun.

After dinner we walked Auggie and could hear a coyote yipping in the field beyond the fence surrounding the campground. We were glad to know that fence was there. Coyotes can be a danger to small pets around here, even when the dog is with you on a leash.

Weather today was in the low 80's, with a nice breeze.  Just beautiful.  We'll take it!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Running With the Big Dogs

Today I completed the second half of my driving course from the RV Driving School. I learned how to parallel park, worked on backing in to a site, and drove through some pretty narrow turns and streets.  I felt pretty confident at the end of it and now I know I can drive our motorhome. I'm pretty proud of myself, truth be told. Bob has been very supportive and encouraging which also helps a lot. And my instructor Glyn was wonderful.

The weather turned beautiful and warm this afternoon after a foggy start, so we sat outside and read. Later on Bob and I took Auggie to the dog park and he had a blast racing around with three Golden Retrievers and a Labrador Retrievers. It was so cute to see him trying to lead the pack.

He also tried out the agility course, going over jumps, climbing barriers, and going through the tunnel. I think we will work the course every day and see how much he improves. 

In the evening Bob and I went out to dinner to celebrate the completion of the course. We went to Cheddars and had a really good meal. A perfect end to a great day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

First Driving Lesson

Today I had my first RV driving class, from the RV Driving School (appropriately enough.)  We had met our instructor, Glyn Carson, at the Escapees Boot Camp a few weeks ago, and hit it off right away.  Glyn is a former trucker who has been all over the country, including Alaska's ice road (a road which is only driveable in winter when the road is frozen.)

So at noon my class began.  After a few minutes to orient myself I was driving our MH out of the camp. I got a lot of waves and thumbs up from other folks walking around the camp. I got a feel for turns and road placement, then got on the highway where I actually felt pretty comfortable. Later we did some backing up in large parking lots and Glyn used cones to simulate backing into a campsite.  At the end of the session I did back into our site which went well once I got myself set up.  I felt pretty pleased with myself! Tomorrow morning I have my second lesson and then I'll be done.

After class our next door neighbors, Wendy and Brian, invited us to Margarita Hour at the clubhouse, where they served $1 Margaritas. While we missed winning the 50/50 door prize we did win some coupons to a zoo in Brownsville, TX. We also met a lot of really nice people. I think we are going to really like this place

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cold Weather

What happened to the warm weather? Last night we actually ran our air conditioner for a bit it was so hot. This morning it was in the 40's and it rained most of the night, with sprinkles throughout the day today. It never got above 60. We made the most of the day, however, with a visit from the mobile RV repair service coming and fixing our furnace. Fortunately our extended warranty covered all but $100 of the repair, and we have a brand new system.

Later Bob and I took a drive to the local AT&T store, where I was able to use their hotspot to update my phone and changed our plan to one with TEN TIMES the monthly data for the same price.  Plus Bob and I can make our phones hotspots for our other devices. I'm a happy camper. ;)

We took Auggie to the dog park today, and he had it all to himself. I guess the cold, damp weather kept others away. He had fun racing around the big dog area.  They also offer a yard for small dogs as well. The small ones are allowed in either yard, while the large dogs must stay in theirs. The park also has an agility area, which we'll try next time.

We were saddened to learn of the death of my brother in law Mark's step-mother, Betty. I had only met her a few times, and she seemed like such a sweet person.  Our condolences to her family.

Tomorrow is my first driving class! Wish me luck!

Our December Campsite

We have made it to our December digs in Mission, TX, and it is lovely here.  Monday was close to 80 degrees with a light breeze. We set up camp and before we finished we were making new friends, with folks stopping by to introduce themselves and say "hi." Bob and I took a few minutes to check out the pool and the hot tub.  I think I will spend a little time there every day (except for Tuesday, when it is supposed to be cooler with temps in the low 60's.)

There is a walking/bike trail, and a birdwatching center, with free birding blinds to watch the birds.  Free nature walk tours. We can borrow bikes and kayaks for free if we didn't have our own. Also, we have free Wifi, cable, and free firewood for the fire pits. Each day a gong is sounded for happy hour (BYO.) We even have a mailbox if we want mail sent to us directly.

Today we have the mobile RV repairman here to look at our furnace.  It will be nice to cross that repair off our list.  We have been in touch with our niece, Michelle, and will see her on Saturday. I think we will take a drive around the area and see what is out there.

Monday, December 1, 2014

H. W. Bush Library and Harry Butt's Store

I uploaded Friday's blog post while at the George H. W. Bush Library and Museum in College Station, TX.  Since all Internet usage is monitored at the Library, perhaps the statistics on the number of people reading my blog will spike for that day. ;)

This Library is #3 in TX and #4 on our list, with 9 more to visit. That means we have seen 32.5% of them. It has whet my whistle to start reading some presidential autobiographies.

I enjoyed learning about President Bush.  His sense of humor and that of Barbara were highlighted during the exhibit called Making the White House Home, where a film showed the retired President being mocked by Dana Carvey and snubbed by dignitaries who wanted to talk to George W., not the first George Bush.  It also depicted out-takes of George and Barbara making commercials and cracking each other up with their bloopers.  It really made them much more human to me.

In the exhibit was also a full sized replica of dog house belonging to First Dog Millie.

There was a section of the Berlin Wall in one exhibit--very cool.

While driving to the Library we asked my sister about H-E-B grocery stores...such an odd name.  These are Texas based stores that were founded by and named after Harry E. Butt, an unfortunate name if I ever heard one.  In NJ we have convenience stores named WaWa Stores, which out of staters love to mock (WaWa being the Native American name for the Canadian Goose.) in my mind, the H-E-B story is much more amusing.

On Sunday we pulled up stakes and said farewell to the Temple, TX area as we drove southward. We spent the night in a town called Three Rivers, TX in a campground called Tips State Recreation Area which is just past the oil refinery in town. If I were rating this place for a vacation spot I'd give it 1 out of 5 stars. There is an odor in the air, there are trains blowing whistles that pass close by, as well as traffic noise and a constant whooshing sound from the refinery that can be seen from the camp. As a one night stop on the way to someplace else, however, it is nearly ideal. It is right off the highway, costs only $15 for a single night with full hookups, and the refinery actually provides an interesting backdrop. Bob and I enjoyed watching the buzzards circling the refinery towers as we sat at our dinette for dinner.  The scene looked like a macabre take-off of Disney's Sleeping Beauty's Castle, and was remarkably lovely at night.

There is a nearby river with a sign that notes the presence of alligators.  

Gosh, it will be hard to leave this place! But today we are moving on to our destination for the month of December, in Mission, TX