Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Moving on. . .

You never know what you are going to see on the road. . . but when we left Florida, the day after the Nascar race at Homestead, we got passed by "Digger's" truck/trailer. There were a couple other race vehicles that passed us and I'm pretty sure there were a couple of driver's coaches in there. We also got passed by what I think is playground equipment. Kind of comical looking at an open frog's mouth going around us!

I found this picture of the kids I snapped just before we left the other day. They are in front of the little Christmas tree I put up for them while they were gone on their honeymoon. This will be a special Christmas for them.

We left Zachary, Louisiana, on Saturday and stopped for the night in Beaumont, Texas. The plan was to go through Houston early on Sunday morning and that was a great plan. We lived in Houston for three months last year while Terry was undergoing cancer treatment and we know the city quite well. But this Sunday was even light traffic for Houston, so we sailed right through. The only problem we had was the wind. Wow. The wind was 25-35 mph with higher wind gusts. My arms were hurting from holding the wheel, but we did manage to cover 199 miles before we stopped for the night at noon. That's right. . . noon. Those winds were fierce and we probably shouldn't have been out there anyway. As we passed through Edna, Texas, we ran into a dust storm. Fortunately, the worst of the storm was north of the roadway and there was an area there that you could not make out anything on the ground because of the swirling sand. We made it through the area fine, but it was a little wierd.

We stopped in Victoria for the night. We got in early and crashed. We both took naps and then later went for a drive. It has been awhile since we have been here, so we reacquainted ourselves with the area. We ate some barbeque for supper which was good, but we are going to start eating in the motorhome more. Terry is noticing a little water weight and that is not good for him, so we will get to the valley and start walking daily and watching our diet more closely. It was cold in Victoria and we had to run our heat pumps, but that was sufficient.

Yesterday we left Victoria to drive to Three Rivers. Our fulltiming friends, Bob and Betsy, are working a gate on a ranch. They control the traffic going in/out of a natural gas pipeline distribution hub. When they first arrived there, the land had only been cleared and now there are many structures on it. They log in hundreds of vehicles daily and they have to be documented in and out including anytime they leave, like for lunch, etc. Gate guards cannot leave their site unless they have someone come and cover for them. Other gate guards in the area swap off duty with them so that couples can go out to eat, etc. Debbie, from a gate north of town, came down and took over while we went out to eat with our friends. We went to a local restaurant which at one time was owned by the baseball player, Nolan Ryan. In fact, Ryan owns one of the large ranches in the area here. We had a great dinner with our friends and we went back to their motorhome to visit with them and their dog. Once it was quitting time on the site, Bob went outside to log all the traffic going out. Later, the gate would be locked and their work would be done for the day, but they still have to remain on site. There are large lights up all night run by diesel generators and the place is pretty much lit up. If it weren't for those lights, it would be pitch black once you stepped out of the motorhome.

I took pictures of the area. Each one of these sites looks different, depending upon what they are doing on the land. Bob said this site is only one-fourth complete, so it will be quite larger when finished. The picture of all the lights is a Valero refinery at Three Rivers.

Actually before we went to see Bob and Betsy, we decided to tour Choke Canyon State Park. I had heard the name before and was curious about it. It was very close to our camp, so we went over to look. The lake, as most lakes in Texas right now, is very low. The area is 16 inches below the normal rainfall and the lake looks it. They did have some rain last week, but not nearly enough. A lot of ranchers have sold off their cattle and have come to work on the rigs and the other job sites in the area. Pray for rain for Texas.

As we entered the park, we saw this curious little fellow. I love armadillos. They are just strange looking. . . don't seem to be afraid of you, and seem to be oblivious to our curiosity. We also saw deer enjoying the shade under a grove of trees. The campground was very nice and would be a decent place to stay. Camping is cheap enough, however, they require a $4 daily park pass per person. So at $20 a night camping, our total per night would be $28 for water and electric. Hmmmm. Not a great bargain. Not surprisingly, the camp was poorly used. There were 20 "cabins" which looked similar to KOA camping cabins, but they were all unoccupied. They were called shelters, but they were enclosed and had air conditioning, so I think cabin would be the term. They also had picnic areas, a tent area, and a gymnasium with a kitchen and stage which could be rented.

We have decided we are going to head to Mission today. We are a few days early, but it has been a long time since we have been there and we are anxious to get there. We are having cool days and cold nights and we are ready for the warmth of the valley.

Till next time. . .


Friday, November 25, 2011

Zachary, Louisiana

We made it through Baton Rouge Wednesday afternoon, but it was not pretty. We missed our turn onto I-10 and headed south down into New Orleans. Traffic was instantly a mess--worse than what we left behind on I-12. That will teach Terry to nap while I am driving through unfamiliar territory. I was careful to be in the lane marked with the proper shield, but somewhere in the next few feet, I missed a curve or something because I instantly regretted it.

It was not a real big problem and I just drove a couple miles down to the next interchange where we exited, crossed under the bridge, and headed north again. Terry said he would have just had me drive down through New Orleans, but we needed to go to the Camping World at Hammond. So we did the loop-d-loop and got back on the right track.

We made it to Dixie RV and got what we needed. They are a Tiffin dealer and the night before we had a switch go bad on the bathroom light. So when in the "john" we had to use a flashlight at night. Something about that inconvenience put that at the top of our list to fix. Fortunately, they had the switch, albeit the wrong color, but it is fixed and it works. That is more important than having the perfect color. When at Tiffin for our appointment next spring, we will pick up a couple of switches in the correct color.

We then headed west toward Baton Rouge and what a mess that was. We got into road construction before we got there and it continued on through the city. It was stop and wait and go the entire time until we got onto I-110 and headed north out of the city. We could see traffic backed up over the bridge to the west and suspected more road construction, but we've been told there isn't any going on over there, so there might have been a wreck that was tying up traffic.

We finally got rolling again and pulled into the Harp Camp at about 3:30 Wednesday. Plenty of time to setup, visit, and get my food dishes ready for dinner on Thursday. We just saw Gary and Jo at the wedding, but we didn't get much of a chance to visit, so this is always a good stop.

Thursday, Thanksgiving day, dawned colder than we have been experiencing. We will be glad to get into warmer weather down in the valley. We had dinner over at Jo's sister's place and had deep fried turkey, cornbread dressing, another dressing with rice, green bean casserole, corn salad, broccoli cheese casserole, peas, corn casserole, turnips, carrot suffle, cornbread, fruitcake cranberry salad, and crawfish pie. I wasn't brave enough to try the crawfish pie, I must admit. There was pie for dessert, but I was too stuffed to eat any.

When we got back, Gary took us on a ride in the 4-wheel cart out to check the camera at his deer feeder. He didn't have any pictures on the camera which is set up for motion detection. But he took us around the fields behind the house and showed us other homesteads that were once lived in by other family members. An interesting trip back in time. We mingled in the fields with the cows. We saw four new calves which is a little unusual for this time of the year. They were fiesty and cute. Last evening we roasted hot dogs outside which was a big hit with Gary and Jo's grandkids.

We aren't sure what we are doing today. Gary talked about going down to New Orleans, but Jo thinks the traffic would be too horrendous, being Black Friday and all. So we may just hang out here. Tomorrow we will be leaving and heading toward Houston. We will make a couple stops along the way before we get there, hopefully on December 1st.

Till next time. . .


Monday, November 21, 2011

And so. . . . we move on. . . .

Our time in Florida is drawing to a close. It has been an exciting month and we are glad we were able to be here and help Brandon and Megan with the final preparations for their beautiful wedding. The next chapter will be written by the newlyweds as they begin their married life together as a couple. We hope their union is as successful as others in our family. . . my parents, 65 years; my sister and BIL, 39 years; Terry and I, 40 years; numerous cousins at 10+ years; and his sister Jocelyn and Tom, 12 years. They certainly have several role models in the immediate family. Congratulations and best wishes to the newest couple in the family!

The kids took a one week honeymoon to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and although we haven't seen pictures, it sounds like it was a great time. While they were gone, we dogsat for Jax, their lab/pitt mix. He is a sweetheart and I have worked with him a lot on walking. He does well for me, but he certainly wants to chase squirrels. Ugh. I found that if I took him out to walk early in the morning while it was still dark, we didn't encounter any rodents of any kind, so that was the routine. During the day we went over to Brandon and Megan's house because he has a fenced-in yard there in which to run and chase skenks. That is his favorite pasttime. They still have a lot of wedding presents to put away and I didn't do that. . . thinking that would be fun for them to do.

I did put up their Christmas tree. Well, that wasn't hard. I pulled it out of the box and plugged it in. I know in the past Brandon has not always bothered with it, but I thought they should have it up. So I got it out, not intending to decorate it, but there were only about a dozen ornaments, so I went ahead and did it. I had a gift to put under it and thought it would be a little surprise for them when they got home.

Yesterday evening they were scheduled to get in after 9 p.m., so we left during the last caution of the Nascar race. We locked Jax in his crate. . . poor guy. He wanted to go with us, but I told him his Mom and Dad would be home in a couple hours, so he settled down. They arrived later and I guess he was pretty excited to see them.

This morning we are up early. . . as is our usual routine on travel days. We will get the motorhome all buttoned up and ready to go, then head out to breakfast with Brandon and Megan. We have some "Jax" stuff to take back and then we say our goodbyes. It's been a great month. We were very busy, but it felt good. But now when we pull out, I will steer Phaeton Place to the west and the Rio Grande Valley. We spent far too little time there last year because we were in Houston for Terry's cancer treatment. Mom and Dad are already there waiting for us and life is good!

Till next time. . .


Monday, November 14, 2011

Rehearsal and Wedding!

Thursday evening we had the wedding rehearsal at The Rockledge Country Club, Rockledge, Florida. Everything went smoothly and we had a good time. Then we retired to the comfort of Olive Garden on Merritt Island and continued to share the evening with friends and family of Brandon and Megan.

The next day we spent much of the day just lounging around the hotel and getting ready for the wedding which was set for 3:30. The time arrived and we left the hotel with Mom and Dad in tow and headed back to the country club. I was able to step into the reception room and snap a couple pictures including one of the cake which was really pretty. There were two kinds of cake under the decorations. . . red velvet and a marble cake with peanut butter creame in between the layers. Really interesting.

Guests started arriving but because it was the coldest day we have had in central Florida since we have been here (a chilly 68*), people waited to be seated outside. It was very sunny, but a little chilly. However, the wedding itself did not last long and we were able to handle the chilly breeze adequately.

Before the bridal party came down the aisle, Brandon seated my Mom and Dad and Terry and I; and then the processional started. They had carefully picked several pieces of music which meant a lot to them and the PA system worked extremely well, both for the music and for the voices.

Part of the wedding party included Kayden, Megan's three-year old nephew and his sister, Kerrigan who just turned one. Since Kerrigan isn't walking a lot yet, he pulled her down the aisle in a wagon. They put flower petals in her hands and to everyone's amazement, she threw them out of the wagon right on cue! She also grabbed the ring-bearer's pillow and tossed it around a bit. It was very cute and they both did a great job despite being so very small. Their other grandparents were waiting for them at the end of the journey down the aisle to make sure they didn't distract from the ceremony. It worked perfectly.

The bridesmaids came down the aisle as well as the one bridesman. . . yes, Megan had a bridesman. He has been a very good friend of hers for years and he was honored to stand up with her. Megan's brother, Matt, was the officiant. In Florida a Notary Public can marry people and that is the role he played in the wedding. He did a great job performing the ceremony.

The love Megan and Brandon have for one another was evident by their joy at sharing this special moment. They were extremely happy for this moment.

We adjourned to the bar area of the country club for happy hour and appetizers. During this time, pictures were taken of both families and the bridal party. Later they made their way into the reception room and to the assigned tables. The tables were decorated with centerpieces that Megan and Brandon had assembled and each place setting had a tin of custom M&M's with their picture on them as well as the date and a homebaked cookie.

Dinner was served and a great meal was had by all. We started off with a dinner salad and bread, then we got our choice of salmon, chicken or sirloin. Brandon and Megan were to be seated at a sweatheart table at the front of the room, but they hardly had a chance to sit there. They were busy greeting and talking with guests.

Dancing started after the meal. There was first a father/daughter dance for Megan and her Dad. Then Brandon and I followed with the Mother/Son dance. It was a great time and Brandon and I spent time talking about what a great time we were having and how happy he was that he finally had married the love of his life. I am so happy for him.

Dancing continued until 10 p.m. and we were all pretty much dragging by that point. It had been a long day and it had been a stressful week, so we were ready to call it a night and get home. Terry and I drove Brandon and Megan to their hotel out at Cocoa Beach and then returned home to the Hampton.

Saturday we headed over to Brandon's for the Saturday cookout he had planned for friends and family and particularly for those who had traveled a long distance. This was the reason we had spent weeks here cleaning and painting, etc., at his house. I was pleased it looked so good and we had quite a houseful. Guests started arriving before noon and later we put burgers and brats on the grill. It was another great party and we stayed to clean up after everyone had been fed. There was a Purdue game on followed by a Florida State game. Both the kids' teams won, so that was a great finish to a great weekend.

Early Sunday morning, Brandon and Megan left Orlando for Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for their week-long honeymoon. We took Mom and Dad back to the airport in Orlando. Nita went with us which was a big help because we had both our car and the rental car which we were returning. Afterwards, we went back to the house and made sure all the cleanup was complete and the food was all put away and froze what we could. We spent the afternoon at the camp and visited with Jim and Nita who had moved their motorhome down where we are camped. We watched the Nascar race, then went out to eat at Ichabod's Dockside. We had a very good meal there and Jim and Nita enjoyed theirs as well.

Today was a bit bittersweet as Jim and Nita left around noon. I did take them out to Indialantic to the beach so Nita could see the ocean. After lunch, they left and then shortly after that Jocelyn, Tom and Ronan arrived. They had left the cookout Saturday and drove to Lake Worth to see Tom's grandmother. How nice that they took time to see Grandma Mary. I'm sure she appreciated it. They left there this morning and drove to our campground and fixed their lunch here. After eating and visiting a bit, they got back on the road and are headed back to Virginia. The last thing on our bucket list today was to pick up our granddog Jax. He is now sleeping at my feet!

I really want to thank all my family members who were able to make it here. I know it wasn't easy and not everyone could. It was great to see you all and I know it meant a lot to the kids that you were here. Special thanks to my parents who got here. . . despite Continental Airlines losing my father for almost 2 hours in the airport on Wednesday. For their trouble, they flew first-class back to Houston. They arrived safely back in Mission.

We have a couple errands to run tomorrow. We must take Jax back to the house in order to go anywhere because we do not know how he would react to being alone in the motorhome. We decided we will take him to his house so he understands the routine better.

So things are winding down. We are starting to rearrange and put things away in anticipation of leaving here next week when the kids return. We will be starting our journey west and plan to be in Mission, Texas, by the first week in December.

Till next time. . .


November 11, 2011

The new Mr. and Mrs. Brandon Pace!!!!!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

High Surf Advisory

Six years ago we were in St. Augustine awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Wilma. While there were some strong winds on the coast, we did not receive any damage and really didn't have any severe weather where we were snuggled down a bit inland. After the storm and all danger had passed, we went out to the coast to see what the ocean looked like. It was roiling, churning, rolling. . . you name it, that's what we saw. Beautiful waves, but no doubt deadly to anyone who ventured in, and there wasn't anyone stupid enough to try.

We have been having high surf advisories this week in Brevard County and Brandon has been telling us of seeing 8-10 foot waves on his way to work at Patrick Air Force Base. He said we really needed to take time to go and see it. So this morning we did.

WOW!!!! What a display Mother Nature has put out there for us all to see. Just the awesome power of the water is incredible. I'm not sure what is causing it. There is a storm that just popped up in the Atlantic and that could be contributing, but this surf has been going on all week, even before the storm started. There is wind, but we have had 15-20 mph winds before without the type of surf we are experiencing. A fellow observer this morning said it was the "spring" tides causing it. Hmmmmm. "Spring" tides. . . in November? Whatever the cause, it is an awesome site.

Today was our last day to work at Brandon's. Safe to say we got it all done. So my schedule the rest of the week is as follows:'

Wednesday, pick up Mom and Dad at the airport in Orlando. We all check in to the Hampton in Viera.

Thursday, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

Friday, WEDDING DAY!!!!!!

Saturday, host the cookout Brandon is having for friends and family so he can spend time with them before they have to head out. This was the reason we spent so much time working at his house the last few weeks.

Sunday, take Mom and Dad back to the airport in Orlando to fly back to Texas.

Monday, pick up granddog Jax at the vets.

Tuesday through Sunday, dogsit and housesit for the kids while they are on their honeymoon to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Once the party is over, we can breathe a sigh of relief, I think.

We are excited for the kids and know all will go well. They have planned the entire event themselves and worked hard to have a nice wedding. I am happy for them and happy to be seeing all our family together once again.

Till next time. . .


Friday, November 04, 2011

10, 9, 8, 7. . . .

Seven days to go to the wedding! Next Friday afternoon! Woo hoo! So much to do between now and then, but a lot of it is last minute stuff.

Earlier this week I went to a hair dresser that Megan and her Mom go to and had my hair cut and highlighted. I think it looks much better than how I had become accustomed to wearing it; and hopefully I will be able to do it well the day of the wedding. We ran other errands while we were out on our "day off." Hah. The painting was done, the house is cleaned. I will have to do it again before the wedding, but we have been going over every day and I can keep up with it easily between now and then. We tracked down ribbon for pew bows and I started making those.

We mainly go over to the house to watch for UPS and FedEx. They won't drop anything if there is no one home and then someone has to go get it. It's easier for us to hang out there. It gives us a chance to let Jax out and anything I have to do I can do there.

We ordered M&M's in the wedding colors and are putting a small tin on every plate at dinner. I didn't buy them already mixed, so I had to mix and fill 120 tins. Then after I did that, I put stickers on the tins, front and back. Done. When I get tired of working on a job, I skip and go to something else. I make bows when nothing else sounds easy. I probably have enough bows made already, but I have more ribbon and I decided to make them up. The country club can put them around the reception area.

Today I made the ring bearer's pillow. They wanted it in black satin with a gold stripe, so I did that. They seem to be happy with it, so that is done. I am still making bows.

Saturday after the wedding Brandon is having a cookout, so I decided to make some stuff for that. I now have all the ingredients and will start making stuff tomorrow. We have tomorrow off. He is supposed to get rock in for his backyard on Sunday, so we will go over then and supervise. I am still making bows.

Wednesday Mom and Dad fly in from Texas, so we will go to Orlando to pick them up. I am anxious to see them and to show them around the area where Brandon lives. They will be here till Sunday.

So things are really rolling now. In less than one week we will have the rehearsal, then the wedding. It will be a lovely event. I hope it all goes well. The kids have done all the planning and they have thought of everything.

Here's hoping they have a great day and a great start to their wedded bliss!

Till next time. . .