Sunday, December 30, 2012

French Quarter - 12/30/12

Sunday – December 30, 2012

Sunday – December 30, 2012

It was a beautiful sunny day with the temperature in the low 50’s. We decided this would be the perfect day to visit the French Quarter in New Orleans.

A short ride of a few miles from our campground, on LA-39, brought us to the Belle Chasse Ferry in the early afternoon. This ferry took us in our van from the east side to the west side of the Mississippi River. There is no charge for vehicles riding the ferry east to west and a $1.00 charge per vehicle when traveling west to east. We then drove a few miles to the Algiers Ferry and parked our van in a nearby private parking lot for $10.00 for the day. This ferry took us across the winding Mississippi River once again and docked at the ferry port in New Orleans. There is no charge for pedestrians or vehicles traveling east to west and $1.00 per vehicle traveling west to east. Pedestrians always ride free in either direction.

Upon our departure from the Algiers Ferry, it is a short walk of about 4 blocks to the French Quarter. It is contained within an area 7 blocks wide by 14 blocks long.

Bourbon Street and Royal Street are two of the most popular streets; portions of both streets are blocked off to vehicular traffic. People fill the streets and street performers take up positions providing entertainment in hopes of securing a few dollars for their services. The street mannequins are most impressive. They have painted their bodies and dressed in garments that make them appear like an actual mannequin. Most remarkable is their mind control; they will assume a position and not move for hours. No movement what so ever, not even the blinking of an eye.

A vast variety of restaurants abound throughout the French Quarter. The most popular are easily detected by the long waiting lines on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. We selected one that was crowded inside, but no waiting line outside. We were seated immediately at a table for two by the window facing the sidewalk. We had a delightful meal of seafood gumbo, blackened chicken poboy, rice & beans and crawfish etouffee followed by a marvelous bread pudding dessert. It was a pricey meal but that is expected in this part of New Orleans.

On Royal Street we came upon a street entertainment ensemble of four musicians, (three men and one woman). The woman sang and also played the clarinet. One man played the trombone another played the tuba and another played the guitar. They were playing the music to the "House Of The Rising Sun" They were so good that a large crowd had assembled to hear them. The woman’s low raspy singing voice was absolutely perfect for this song. She then amazed the audience with her wonderful upbeat solo on the clarinet. Boy could she play that instrument. The trombone player and the tuba player each amazed the audience with their solos as well. In short order people were dropping paper money in their tip boxes.

We returned to our campsite at the St. Bernard State Park campground very satisfied with our visit to the French Quarter.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Saturday, December 29, 2012

St. Bernard State Park - 12/29/12

Saturday – December 29, 2912

Saturday – December 29, 2912

We had to relocate to another State Park today. The Reserve American online reservation website showed all of the campsites at Bayou Segnette State Park had been reserved through January 1, 2013. However, at least one-half of the campsites remained empty this morning at 10:00 a.m. It’s hard to figure how accurate their reservation site really is.

We relocated to the St. Bernard State Park in Braithwaite, Louisiana. It is located 18 miles from New Orleans. This campground has 51 campsites with electric and water hookups at each site. There is one facility with flush toilets, hot showers and laundry. The laundry is $1.00 each for the washer and dryer. There is a dump station on site.

There are only five other campers here so we had a lot of campsites to choose from. This is a scenic campground that provides plenty of space between campers.

The sun has appeared out from under an overcast sky most of the morning. The temperature is in the low 50’s. We are all set up in our new location. Time to enjoy the warmth of the sun.

Camping Fee: $18.00 per night.
Campsite: 44

Total miles traveled today: 35

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Friday, December 28, 2012

Katie's Restaurant - 12/28/12

Friday – December 28, 2012

Friday – December 28, 2012

We had lunch at Katie's Restaurant in New Orleans. This restaurant was featured on Diners, Drive-in’s & Dives in 2011. We had put it on our Bucket List for our next visit to New Orleans. This is a small restaurant, about 20 tables plus a bar, and is located on the corner of Iberville and Telemachus streets in a residential neighborhood. It is quite far from the French Quarter and not within walking distance from there.

Parking is free, but finding an open parking space is difficult. The streets are very narrow and will challenge your parallel parking skills, especially if you have a large SUV or full size Van. Since we have a full size van we found adequate parking to accommodate large vehicles on Bienville Ave. This parking spot put us within two blocks of the restaurant.

Katie’s provides the diner with wonderful tasting food and a friendly and attentive wait staff. We had the Boudreaux Pizza, which was featured on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. This is a very crispy thin crust pizza with toppings of smoked pork, spinach, whole garlic cloves and several different cheeses.

Do save room for dessert. They have some excellent desserts to choose from. We had a decadent white chocolate covered white and raspberry colored multi-layered piece of cake. It was fantastic!

Conversation can be difficult. Since this is a small restaurant, the noise level from other diners is quite high, but we just considered it part of the charm of this unique restaurant.

We returned to our campsite at the Bayou Segnette State Park in Westwego, Louisiana very content and delighted with our visit to Katie’s Restaurant.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Orleans, LA - 12/27/12

Thursday – December 27, 2012

Thursday – December 27, 2012

We departed the Walmart in Lake Charles, Louisiana at 7:45 a.m., continuing our travel eastbound on I-10. It was another very cold night with the temperature in the high 20’s. It was a sunny day and it quickly warmed up into the mid 50’s.

At 9:30 a.m. at milepost 177, near Gonzales, Louisiana, the eastbound traffic came to halt. Eastbound I-10 had just been shut down at milepost 179, due to an overturned tanker truck. Reports on our CB radio said the tanker might have been carrying a hazardous chemical, which would require a time-consuming cleanup by a Hazmat crew before the Interstate could be reopened. All traffic had to exit at milepost 179 and travel on alternate routes for several miles to regain access to eastbound I-10. A report on the Internet later in the day stated the tanker was not carrying any hazardous materials and eastbound I-10 was reopened at 1:00 p.m.

We arrived at the Bayou Segnette State Park campground in Westwego, Louisiana at 12:30 p.m. This park is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, across from the city of New Orleans. This campground has 100 campsites with electric and water hookups at each site. There are two facilities with flush toilets, hot showers and laundry. The laundry is free for the washer and dryer, courtesy of the Bayou Segnette State Park. There is a dump station on site.

The majority of the campsites had already been reserved online, but we were fortunate to obtain a campsite for two nights. We would like to stay at this campground through January 1, 2012, but if a campsite does not become available, we will go to another state park campground near New Orleans.

Camping Fee: $21.00 per night.
Campsite: 93

Total miles traveled today: 210

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lake Charles, LA - 12/26/12

Wednesday – December 26, 2012

Wednesday – December 26, 2012

We departed the Potters Creek Park Campground in Canyon Lake, Texas at 10:00 a.m. It was quite cold with the temperature in the low 30’s, but the sun was out and thankfully, the wind had subsided.

Our destination today is a 24-hour Walmart in Lake Charles, Louisiana in route to New Orleans. We were glad to hear on our weather radio that the severe weather had cleared out of the New Orleans area. This bit of good news meant we would not have to alter our planned route while waiting for the weather to clear.

Our travel east through Texas on I-10 was not without incident. Heavy holiday traffic traveling at and probably exceeding the posted speed limit of 75 mph proved to be a recipe for disaster. The first multi-vehicle collision occurred on the westbound side causing a several mile backup on the westbound side and a slow down of the traffic on the eastbound side. Then several miles down the road, our eastbound travel came to a halt due to a multi-vehicle collision on the eastbound side. It took about 45 minutes to get through that backup.

We finally arrived at the Walmart in Lake Charles, Louisiana at 6:15 p.m. After purchasing a few items at Walmart, we settled in for a good night’s rest.

Total miles traveled today: 365

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Canyon Lake Dam - 12/25/12

Tuesday – December 25, 2012

Tuesday – December 25, 2012

This is our last day at the Potters Creek Park Campground in Canyon Lake, Texas. It is a sunny day with the temperature in the high 50’s, but quite windy with wind gusts up to 45 mph. We decided we would enjoy the sunny day, despite the wind, and visit the Canyon Lake Dam. Much to our surprise, several other people decided to also visit the dam. It was quite interesting to see so many people visiting this dam on Christmas day. Of further interest to us, our vehicle was the only one there with out-of-state license plates.

Canyon Lake is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir formed on the Guadalupe River by a 0.8 mile long earth-filled dam. The height of the dam is approximately 200 feet. It is located about sixteen miles northwest of New Braunfels, Texas.

In the early part of the 19th century, the lower Guadalupe River Basin below the current location of Canyon Lake had been especially subject to serious flooding. Due to the need to lower the flooding issues, Congress authorized the construction of Canyon Lake Dam. The dam and lake was to serve two purposes: flood control and water conservation.

Construction of Canyon Dam began in 1958 on mile 303 of the Guadalupe River. The dam was finished in 1964 and water impoundment began. The lake was dedicated in 1966. The lake filled to conservation pool level by 1968. To date, it has been estimated that millions of dollars in flood damage has been averted from several major flood events in the area.

The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (BBRA) is the local agency with rights to the water in the conservation pool of the lake. The Authority contributed to the construction costs and currently pays the U.S. Government annually for the portion of operation and maintenance costs attributed to the conservation pool water. The water is used to operate several small hydroelectric plants downstream from New Braunfels. It is also used by the GBRA for municipal water supply, irrigation, and industrial uses. GBRA began construction of a hydroelectric facility at Canyon Dam in August 1987; it was first put into service in February 1989.

We returned to our campsite in the late afternoon with the temperature continually dropping, due the cold front that was approaching out of the north. During the night the wind continued to howl with the temperature dropping into the high 20’s. We spent a cozy night inside our trailer, which was gently rocking from the force of the blowing wind.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Sunday, December 23, 2012

San Antonio, TX - 12/23/12

Sunday – December 23, 2012

Sunday – December 23, 2012

The sky was overcast today, but the temperature was in the mid 70s. We decided it would be a good day to visit San Antonio, Texas. Our visit included a tour of The Alamo, a barge ride on the San Antonio River through the River Walk, lunch at Mi Tierra Cafe in the Market Square and a visit to Lackland Air Force Base.

A visit to The Alamo is to relive a piece of American history. Prior to our tour, we viewed a short film on the history of the Alamo that was originally aired on the History Channel. The film provides a detailed account of the struggle of Texas to gain its independence from Mexico.

The River Walk is a required visit to San Antonio. A luscious green vegetation landscape, restaurants, boutique shops and hotels abound on both sides of the river. Several of the restaurants offer outdoor dining along the river. We walked the entire River Walk first, then we took the river barge ride. The river barge is a unique way to traverse the river and the pilot of the barge provides a narration of the history of the River Walk.

Prior to our departing the Chicago area, my research on the Casita Travel Trailer Forum for restaurants in San Antonio provided recommendations from several members for Mi Tierra Cafe. They were right on with their reviews. This is a combination bakery / restaurant / bar. Their website states: "They Never Close." The restaurant is quite large, the wait staff very friendly and attentive and the food preparation is excellent. This was a very pleasurable dining experience.

Before departing the San Antonio area, we visited Lackland Air Force Base. When I enlisted in the Air Force in February 1958, this is where I went through basic training. Non-military are not allowed on the base, except for authorized civilian contractors and retired veterns, so we had to view it from the frontage road that provides entry to the main gate. I spent four years in the Strategic Air Command, two years stationed in Topeka, Kansas and two years stationed in Puerto Rico. At that time the Strategic Air Command was home to the B-47 and B-52 bombers and the U-2 spy plane. This was the first time in 54 years, following my basic training there, I had returned to Lackland. It was quite a nostalgic visit.

San Antonio traces its roots to 1691 and a rudimentary settlement around springs in what is now San Pedro Springs Park, just north of downtown. Both Spanish missionaries and military men soon determined that a move south to the banks of the San Antonio river was a good idea. There, in 1718 they officially founded a mission that would become the Alamo and a garrisoned post that would give name to the Plaza de Armas, today Military Plaza.

The Alamo, Military Plaza, the San Antonio River and Main Plaza – previously called Plaza de las Islas in honor of the Canary Islanders who were brought to help tame this wild frontier – are the heart of current-day San Antonio. Today, a brief walk ties together the history and the form of the city, with its focus on plazas alive with activities, and its river banks teaming with visitors and locals alike.

San Antonio’s historic Main Plaza, which dates back to the early 1700s was restored in 2008. Huge trees, bubbling fountains, seating areas, soft landscaping and entertainment mark this public square.

The story of the Alamo: thirteen fateful days in 1836. In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the Alamo (the Spanish word for cottonwood) in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila. The Alamo was home to both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico’s ten-year struggle for Independence. The military – Spanish, Rebel, and then Mexican – continued to occupy the Alamo until the Texas Revolution.

San Antonio and the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of house-to-house fighting, they forced General Martin Perfecto de Cos and his solders to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo. On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s army (a force of approximately 1500 Mexican solders) outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna’s army.

William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo, sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas. On the eighth day of the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of defenders to nearly 200. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground with his sword and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over – all except one did. As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo’s garrison were Jim Bowie, renowed knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.

The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo’s walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexican soldiers scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. The desperate continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.

While the facts surrounding the siege of the Alamo continue to be debated, there is no doubt about what the battle has come to symbolize. People worldwide continue to remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against overwhelming odds – a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. For this reason the Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

Click Here For More Pictures

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sattler, TX - 12/22/12

Saturday – December 22, 2012

Saturday – December 22, 2012

Time to do laundry. We found a Laundromat in Sattler, Texas, about 15 miles from our campsite at the Potter Creek Park Campground. We were quite pleased with this facility. It is very clean and well maintained. The owner is a very nice lady whose residence occupies the front of the Laundromat. She also owns and operates a car wash that resides at the rear of the laundromat.

We had lunch at the Front Porch Grill. We both had the smoked pork sandwich. They smoke beef, chicken and pork in several smokers outside in back of the restaurant. The sandwiches were just O.K. We’ve had much better, but the friendly wait staff and the rustic atmosphere more than made up for our disappointment with the sandwiches.

Sattler is located ten miles northwest of New Braunfels in the hills of east central Comal County. The post office was named for William Sattler when it opened in his home in 1856. Sattler had settled in Comal Town in 1846 and at Mountain Valley in 1853. Later the post office was moved to a general store, which became a business and social center for area farmers and ranchers. Part of the Sattler community extended into Hidden Valley, which was settled in 1863. The valley comprised more than 1,000 acres of farmland on the west bank of a bend in the Guadalupe River. Sattler had an estimated twenty-five residents until shortly after World War II. Records suggest it was virtually deserted by the 1950s; its revival in the mid-1960s followed the completion of nearby Canyon Dam and the inundation of the valley above Sattler. Thereafter Sattler served residents and tourists of the Canyon Lake area. Its population was estimated at thirty in 1990. The population remained the same in 2000.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gruene, TX - 12/20/12

Thursday – December 20,2012

Thursday – December 20,2012

Last night the cold weather from the winter storm Drago made its way down into the San Antonio, Texas area. Wind gusts up to 45 mph arrived after midnight and the temperature dipped down into the high 30’s. This weather pattern prevailed throughout the day with the temperature reaching the low-60’s. Finally, around 3:00 p.m. the winds subsided to 5 to 10 mph out of the north. The forecast for Friday is for the winds to shift from the north to the south at 5 to 10 mph with the temperature reaching the mid 60’s. By the weekend, the temperature is forecast to reach the mid to high 70’s. Not bad at all, considering the horrible weather the state of Wisconsin and the Chicago area are experiencing.

This afternoon we visited the historic district of Gruene in New Braunfels, Texas about a 22 mile drive from our campsite at Potters Creek Park in Canyon Lake, Texas. Gruene is home to many quaint antique shops and the home of the oldest dance hall in Texas.

Built in 1878 Gruene Hall, Gruene Hall, is the oldest continually running dance hall in Texas, and the Central Texas birthplace to many great songwriters and musicians. Including George Strait, Ace in the Hole, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lyle Lovett, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hal Ketchum, Bruce and Charlie Robison, and many more.

On a "Places of Interest" flyer we had received from the campground host, it stated that dining at the Grist Mill Restaurant, is a must. So we did! Sharon had the chicken fried chicken with a side of green beans and I had the chicken fried steak with a side of mashed potatoes. We finished half of our entrée’s; the other half we saved for lunch tomorrow. We topped our lunch off with a piece of pecan pie spiked with a splash of Jack Daniels bourbon accompanied with a scoop of ice cream. A very enjoyable lunch indeed, great food, great atmosphere.

Located in the historic district of Gruene just beneath the famous Gruene water tower, the Grist Mill opened in 1977. It is situated on a bluff overlooking the Guadalupe River, nestled under the shade of towering oak trees. The multi-level restaurant features outdoor and indoor dining with sweeping views of the Guadalupe river.

Gruene (pronounced green) is a former town in Comal County. Once a significant cotton-producing community along the Guadalupe River, the economy is now supported primarily by tourism. Gruene now lies entirely within the city limits of (and therefore is a district of) New Braunfels, and much of it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 21, 1975.

Gruene's history begins in 1872 when first generation German American farmer Heinrich (Henry) D. Gruene purchased 6,000 acres of farmland three miles north of New Braunfels along the Guadalupe River. He built his house and planted his surrounding land with cotton. In 1878, Gruene opened a mercantile store to serve the several dozen or so families sharecropping on his land. Originally known as "Goodwin", the town benefited by its location along the stagecoach route between Austin and San Antonio, the store thrived for many years and stimulated local commercial growth. Gruene Hall, which opened in 1878, is one of the oldest dance halls in Texas. The Thorn Hill School and three large cotton gins soon followed. By the time the International-Great Northern Railroad was built across Comal County in the 1880s, the small community was bustling with commercial and farming activity, and officially took the name "Gruene" after its founding father and most prominent citizen.

By 1900, Gruene was a prominent banking, ginning, and shipping center for area cotton farming. Though it never had a post office of its own, the community did possess two freight rail stations by the 1910s. Gruene was decimated, however, by the boll weevil blight of the 1920s, and further doomed by the effects of the Great Depression. By 1930, the population had fallen to 75, and post World War II highway construction bypassed the town. By 1950, Gruene had become a ghost town.

As a result of the restoration of area structures, such as the Gruene Hall and old mercantile store, Gruene began a rebirth of sorts in the early 1970s. Redevelopment and restoration of the area continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s and today, and though no longer an autonomous community (it was annexed by New Braunfels in 1979, Gruene maintains a thriving tourist business. Many original structures from the town's heyday still exist, including the Gruene Family Home, a Victorian-style edifice built in 1872 which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and today operates as the Gruene Mansion Inn. A historic water tower rises above Gruene Hall, and other buildings at the heart of the district have been renovated into shops and restaurants.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fischer, TX - 12/19/12

Wednesday – December 19, 2012

Wednesday – December 19, 2012

We visited Fischer, Texas today. This town is located twenty miles northwest of New Braunfels in the Hill Country of northern Comal County. It is located at the intersection of Texas RR 12 and RR 32. Little has changed in the past 100 years in this small community.

The site was settled by Hermann Fischer in 1853. Seeds of the community were sown in 1876 with more than 3,000 acres acquired by brothers Herman and Otto Fischer. Herman claimed and stuck with 160 acres, building a small log cabin trading post to serve the frontier community, becoming the original Fischer’s store and the hub of "Fischerdale." Otto thought 3,000 acres would be more suitable for a livestock operation. Thus, Herman became known as "Store" Fischer, and Otto known as "Stock" Fischer.

Otto "Stock" Fischer built a thriving horse-breeding operation, selling his stock to the Army. In 1886, he deeded 40 acres to help establish a community school, now serving as a community meeting hall, a parcel of land for the town cemetery and a couple of acres for the now famed Fischer Hall. The hall was built just before the turn of the century, but it’s lasted to this date. It became a necessity when Fischer townspeople found it too difficult to get along with their neighbors at the dances in nearby Cranes Mill. They organized an Agricultural Society to oversee the construction and brought in Al Kloepper, a one-eyed master carpenter from New Braunfels, who was known for crafting the kind of strong and graceful arches which soar across the hall’s open ceiling.

Much of "Store" and "Stock" Fischer’s legacy survives and is very visible. The hall is still a popular special place for dances, weddings and parties, and was featured in Willie Nelson’s film "Honeysuckle Rose."

Over the years, Fischer’s store expanded far beyond its mercantile role to also become the community’s post office, bank and saloon. Around 1900 it became the frame and tin structure that remains today. The store is open in the afternoons, Wednesday through Sunday, and is owned and run by Charlene Fischer a Herman "Store" descendant. Just up the road toward Wimberley Merle Jean Fischer, a descendant of Otto "Stock", is still working the family ranch.

Progress also brought name changes to Fischerdale. At the request of postal officials the community's name has changed twice: in 1894 Fischer's Store became Fischer Store, and in 1950 the name was shortened to Fischer, so the postmark wouldn’t advertise the store. In the 1960’s it was reported that the Fischer family had held the local postmasters position continuously since 1876. It’s almost impossible to find any in the local population who approves of the new U.S. Post Office which came on the scene around 2000, after residing happily in the store for more than 100 years.

Fischer recorded a population of forty or fifty for most of the twentieth century but fell to twenty in the mid-1960’s as Canyon Lake, four miles to the south, began filling. In 1967 Fischer was described just as it might have been a hundred years earlier—a country store and post office at a rural crossroads. Its population was listed as twenty from 1967 through 2000.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Braunfels, TX - 12/18/12

Tuesday – December 18, 2012

Tuesday – December 18, 2012

Yesterday and today were absolutely delightful; sunny days with temperatures in the low 80’s. We took a trip today to a Walmart in New Braunfels, Texas to refill a few of our prescription medications. This trip took us on a scenic 23-mile trip through the Texas hill country on route FM 306 to the Walmart, 4 miles south at exit 186 on I-35.

While awaiting the filling of our prescriptions at Walmart, we went searching for a place to have lunch in the area. We spotted a billboard advertisement for Bonzai Japanese Steak & Sushi. We both love sushi, so off we went. The restaurant was pretty busy which proved to be a good omen. They had a sushi lunch special of two rolls for $9.95 or three rolls for $11.50. We ordered six rolls; two Spicy Tuna and one each of Spicy Salmon, Shrimp Tempura, Philadelphia and Yellowtail. OMG! What a feast! The sushi was excellent. This restaurant was a great find.

We returned to our campsite at Potters Creek Park Campground refreshed and settled into our recliner lawn chairs to soak up some sun while we observed a few boats cruising about out on the lake. Each evening we marvel at the stunning sunsets.

This is such a nice campground we decided we would extend our stay. We were scheduled to depart on Friday, 12/21/12. We will now spend Christmas here and depart on Wednesday, 12/26/12.


Click Here For More Pictures

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Canyon Lake, TX - 12/16/12

Sunday – December 16, 2012

Sunday – December 16, 2012

We departed the Walmart in Austin, Texas at 8:30 a.m. under a very light rain and arrived at Potters Creek Park Campground in Canyon Lake, Texas at 9:30 a.m. This is a C.O.E campground that provides electric and water hookups at each campsite. The campground provides flush toilets and hot showers that are clean and well maintained.

We were fortunate to secure campsite #50 that had just been vacated by a motorhome as we were approaching this site. This is a very nice site located about 50 yards from the lake shoreline with an unobstructed view of the lake.

There are 109 single RV campsites, some have shade and some do not have any shade. Rates are $24.00 per night. Golden Age and Golden Access Passport holders receive a 50 percent discount.

Potters Creek Park Campground is situated on the northern shore of Canyon Lake in the rolling hill country of South Central Texas. The lake and Guadalupe River provide great opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming. Both the lake and the river are stocked with bass, catfish and trout.

The park is settled among wooded, gently sloping terrain. Native oak and juniper surround the upper campsites; sites closer to the waterfront are full sun. Grassy fields of native hill country plants and wildflowers dot the landscape. Rocky outcroppings are scattered throughout the park.

Canyon Lake is near many sites of interest including Natural Bridge Caverns and the historic town of Gruene in New Braunfels.

The temperature was in the low 70’s today with an overcast sky, so we enjoyed a leisurely break relaxing in the comfort of our lawn chairs enjoying the warmth of the day.

Camping Fee: $12.00 per night with our Golden Age Passport.
Campsite: 50

Total miles traveled today: 44

Tomorrow a new adventure awaits us as we explore our new surroundings.

Click Here For More Pictures

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Austin, TX - 12/15/12

Saturday – December 15, 2012

Saturday – December 15, 2012

The installation of the DeeZee toolbox on the tongue of the Casita trailer was completed this morning. Larry Gamble of Little House Customs did an outstanding job of fabricating and welding a frame to hold the toolbox. It looks great and will now provide us with extra storage space for wheel chocks, our BAL leveler and other trailer setup gear.

We bid goodbye to Larry and his wife Debbie and were on our way at 12:45 p.m. Our destination is Canyon Lake, Texas. Our route took us on Texas routes 515, 11, 19 and 31 to I-35.

Traffic on I-35 reminded us of traffic in Chicago during rush hour. Several miles north of Austin the traffic slowed to a crawl and remained that way through Austin. Most of the delay was due to three separate multiple vehicle accidents. With a speed limit of 75 mph through an area of bumper-to-bumper traffic I would surmise that this area is prone to frequent accidents.

It was after 7:00 p.m. and quite dark, we decided to pack it in for the evening. We found a 24-hour Walmart at exit 220 on I-35. This would be our home for the evening.

Total miles traveled today: 272

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Friday, December 14, 2012

Texas Hospitality - 12/14/12

Friday – December 14, 2012

Friday – December 14, 2012

Modifications continued this morning on our Casita Trailer at Little House Customs in Yantis, Texas. The two-step entry step was installed and a new longer door catch was installed. The welding of the angle iron frame for the DeeZee toolbox was completed and painted. Tomorrow the toolbox will be installed on the tongue of the trailer.

Melanie arrived early this morning to take Sharon and I over to her home for coffee and biscuits. Melanie (known as Moe to her Casita rally friends) has a marvelous personality and is such a delightful person to be around. We had such a wonderful visit with her and her two four-legged pals, eight-year-olds Curly and Larry. These two guys are a Maltese-Poodle mix, born from the same litter, weigh next to nothing and will melt your heart with their rambunctious interaction among themselves and visitors.

Melanie showed us the wonderful modifications that Larry Gamble at Little House Customs had installed on her Casita trailer. Larry had converted the inside of her Freedom Deluxe to a modified version of a Spirit Deluxe. The captain’s chairs had been replaced with bench seats with storage rollout drawers underneath. A laminated wood floor had been installed. The two support poles for the rear dinette had been replaced with a clever single folding leg and hinged end arrangement. Larry installed awnings, with a blue see-through fabric, on the two driver side windows. This too was a first class installation that really adds to the functionality and appearance of the windows. They provide a modicum of privacy, shade from the sunlight and offer visibility through the awning fabric to the outside world.

Tragic news of the massacre of 20 children in the first grade, 12 girls, 8 boys and 6 adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut put a chill on the remainder of the day. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families whose lives are forever devastated by this senseless tragedy.

Click Here For More Pictures

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Little House Customs - 12/13/12

Thursday – December 13, 2012

Thursday – December 13, 2012

Another cold morning with the temperature in the high 20’s as we depart the Rocky Point Campground in Texarkana, Texas at 10:00 a.m. Our destination today is Yantis, Texas about 100 miles from our present location. It is a bright sunny day with the temperature reaching the mid-50’s as we arrive in Yantis at 12:40 p.m.

Our purpose in visiting Yantis is to have some modifications made on our Casita trailer by Little House Customs, owned and operated by Larry and Debbie Gamble. On this visit we are having front and rear BAL stablizers installed, a DeeZee trailer toolbox installed on the tongue of the trailer and a two-step entry step installed.

Our trusty Garmin GPS guided us directly to Little House Customs based on the GPS coordinates that Debbie had provided to us. They are located in a somewhat remote rural area that probably would have made navigation to their location a little more difficult without a GPS unit.

Little House Customs has a spacious shop that can accommodate at least two trailers at a time. Customers requiring overnight stays have the option of spending the night within their trailer inside the shop or in the guest quarters above the shop. Water and 30-amp service hookups are available to the trailer within the shop.

Today the BAL stabilizers were installed and pieces of angle iron were cut to length. The pieces of angle iron will serve as the base for the DeeZee toolbox to sit on.

We were invited to join Larry, Debbie and Melanie for dinner. Melanie is their good friend and neighbor and was the designated driver for the group. We had dinner at the East Fork Restaurant in Yantis, Texas and had just a wonderful time. Sharon and I had the chicken fried steak, which was excellent.

We returned to Little House Customs well fed and content. Debbie gave us permission to use their washer and dryer located upstairs in the guest quarters. While our laundry was being processed, Sharon and I took the time to play a game of Scrabble and a few games of Gin Rummy.

We retired for the evening to the comfort of our Casita parked inside of the Little House Customs workshop.

Total miles traveled today: 98

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Birthday Girl - 12/12/12

Wednesday – December 12, 2012

Wednesday – December 12, 2012

We awoke to another cold morning with the temperature in the low 30’s. The temperature reached the low 50’s today with a warm front forecast for the rest of the week that will advance the temperatures into the mid-60’s.

Sharon’s smartphone alarm went off at 6:46 a.m. this morning, signifying the exact time of her birth. Yep, today is her birthday, the celebration begins! We had a small breakfast to conserve our appetites for lunch.

I sang several heart-felt different renditions of happy birthday to Sharon throughout the day. She seemed to enjoy them as much as I enjoyed singing them. After 33 years of marriage we just have so much fun together. We have one of the best relationships a married couple could ever hope for.

We had a wonderful late lunch at TaMolly's Mexican Restaurant in Texarkana. We both really enjoy spicy Mexican food and TaMolly’s did not disappoint. We followed lunch with a very nice tour of the Wright Patman Dam and Lake area.

Shortly after our return to our campsite it was time for our nightly ritual to view the sun setting over the lake. It was another beautiful sunset with the surface of the water reflecting multiple shades of red as the sun receded out of sight.

Around 5:30 p.m. each night the deer venture out of the forest into the campground to graze. Tonight was no different. We took a walk through the campground and encountered numerous groups of deer. It was not unusual to see 4 to 6 deer per group. The deer in this area were quite small, we were not sure if they were young ones or this was the normal size for an adult deer in this part of Texas.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our three-night visit here at Rocky Point Campground in Texarkana, Texas.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rocky Point CG - 12/11/12

Tuesday – December 11, 2012

Tuesday – December 11, 2012

A cold front arrived out of the northwest last night with a vengeance. The temperature had dropped into the mid-20’s during the night. Fortunately, we are prepared for cold weather while traveling. Our two electric heaters kept us quite cozy warm in our home-away-from-home on wheels. The only minor mishap was the water in our water hose froze. It is a bright sunny day with the temperature in the mid-40’s, and the warmth from the sunshine quickly resolved that problem.

This morning we had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Texarkana, Texas at exit 220B on I-30, located 17 miles north of the campground. We were both ravished and had the Old Timers Breakfast. Our meal consisted of two eggs, a hash brown potatoes casserole, grilled southwest sausage, biscuits with gravy and grits. We finished everything except for two of the four biscuits and the grits. The sausage had a nice spicy kick to it, which we really enjoyed. OMG! The calories we consumed! We left the restaurant contented, but guilt ridden at the same time. We are determined to walk a good portion of those calories off today.

We returned to the campground early in the afternoon. True to our word, we took a brisk walk around the entire campground that took about an hour to complete. We agreed that lunch or dinner would not be required, since breakfast had already fulfilled our daily caloric intake requirements.

This evening we settled in on our campsite patio to await the sun to set over Wright Patman Lake. It did not disappoint. The sky was clear and the setting sun covered everything in sight with its magnificent brilliance. The reflection of the sun off of the surface of the water created a mosaic of dancing colors. Later in the evening we ventured outside to view the billions of stars twinkling in the pitch-black sky. A wonderful scenic-ending to another day of camping in northeastern Texas.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Monday, December 10, 2012

Texarkana, TX - 12/10/12

Monday – December 10, 2012

Monday – December 10, 2012

What a difference a few hours can make in Memphis, Tennessee in December. From a temperature in the low 70’s the day before, we awoke to a temperature in the low 30’s. It had rained all night, quite hard at times, but very soothing to hear the steady drumbeat of the rain on the roof of our trailer. At mid-morning the overcast sky cleared and for the first time in three days the sun appeared.

We departed Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park at 11:05 a.m. and enjoyed a pleasant drive under a sun filled sky on Interstate 30 to Texarkana, Texas. We arrived at Rocky Point Campground at 5:40 p.m. Fortunately, it was still light enough that we were able to locate a nice campsite and get the trailer set up before total darkness set in. Our campsite faces west overlooking Wright Patman Lake. We will be here for three nights and are looking forward to viewing some beautiful sunsets over the lake.

Rocky Point is one of four C.O.E. managed campgrounds on Wright Patman Lake. It is located off U.S. Highway 59 South, 12 miles south of Texarkana, Texas. There are 124 campsites designated for RV or tent camping. The majority of them are wooded campsites providing plenty of shade from the hot summer Texas sun. There are numerous lake-view campsites that provide breathtaking views of Wright Patman Lake. Typical campsites consist of paved surface parking pad, water and electric hookups, picnic table, barbecue grill, utility table and fire ring. All campsites have 30/20 amp electric service and 20 of these sites have 50-amp electric service. Fifteen campsites have individual sewer hookups. There are three restroom facilities with flush toilets, showers and one washer and dryer. The cost is $1.00 each for the washer and the dryer. Access into the campground is through a controlled gate attendant station.

The other three campgrounds are Clear Springs, Piney Point and Malden Lake. Piney Point closes for the season on November 1st. The other three campgrounds are open all year.

Camping fees for Rocky Point, Piney Point and Malden Lake are $18.00 per night for campsites with electric and water hookups and $22.00 per night for campsites with electric, water and sewer hookups. Clear Springs rates are $22.00 per night for campsites with electric and water hookups and $30.00 per night for campsites with electric, water and sewer hookups. Golden Age or Golden Access Passport holders receive a 50 percent discount.

Camping Fee: $9.00 per night with our Golden Age Passport.
Campsite: D1

Total miles traveled today: 310

Tomorrow a new adventure awaits us as we explore our new surroundings.

Click Here For More Pictures

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Corky's BBQ - 12/09/12

Sunday – December 9, 2012

Sunday – December 9, 2012

We awoke to periods of thunder and heavy rains this morning. The rain stopped mid-morning but the sky remained overcast throughout the day with the temperature in the low 70’s. A cold front is expected to enter the area tonight clashing with the warm weather and causing severe thunderstorms to erupt throughout western Tennessee and northeastern Arkansas. Our weather radio will alert us of any extreme weather conditions that may prompt us to exit our campsite at the Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park campground.

Today is my birthday. Another day older and hopefully a more caring person than I was the day before. Each day I strive to do some good deed that enriches another person’s self esteem.

Sharon and I celebrated my birthday with a late lunch at Corky's Rib's & BBQ in Memphis. This is one of our favorite BBQ’s here and they never disappoint. We had the full slab of ribs special setup for two with sides of coleslaw, corn on the cob and hush puppies. We finished the meal off with a delicious peach cobbler for two with a scoop of ice cream on top. Nightfall was approaching, we left Corky’s well fed and promised ourselves we would go for a nice long walk tomorrow to burn off some of those thousand or so calories we just consumed.

Monday we’re off to Texarkana, Texas.

Tomorrow a new adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Memphis, TN - 12/08/12

Saturday – December 08, 2012

Saturday – December 08, 2012

We awoke to a light rain with the temperature in the mid-50’s. We departed the Pilot truck stop in Hayti, Missouri at 6:30 a.m. About 30 miles north of Memphis, Tennessee the rain stopped, but the sky remained overcast.

We arrived at the Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in Millington, Tennessee at 8:50 a.m. This state park comprises 12,617 acres and is located 13 miles north of Memphis. Bordering the mighty Mississippi River, two-thirds of the part is bottomland hardwood forests of large oak, cypress and tupelo. The park contains 18 miles of hiking trails, a 3-mile bike trial, and beautiful picnic areas and playgrounds. A boat ramp is maintained on the Mississippi River. Deer, turkey, beaver, foxes and over 200 species of birds and other wildlife are abundant. The park is named for Edward J. Meeman, courageous conservation editor of Scripps-Howard newspapers who helped establish this park, as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The parks nature center has live reptile and raptor displays as well as touch tables, crafts and a variety of programs, including pontoon boat trips, deep swamp canoe floats and guided hikes.

Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park has one campground with 49 campsites suitable for RV’s. The campground has a well-paved road and each campsite has a paved parking pad with electric and water hookups. Facilities include well-maintained flush toilets and hot showers. The campsites are surrounded by a heavily wooded forest and offer a fair degree of privacy between campsites. We will definitely return to this campground on our future visits to Memphis.

Camping Fee: $20.00 per night. Discount rate available for Tennessee senior residents.
Campsite: 26

Total miles traveled today: 125

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

Click Here For More Pictures

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Chicago, Illinois - 09/20/12

We departed Waterloo, Iowa at 8:00 a.m. Today our route will continue on US-20 through Iowa and into Illinois.

As we passed through Dubuque, Iowa, fond memories flooded back on the trip we took in our 1989 Pace Arrow motorhome to the gambling boat in Dubuque in the summer of 1992. On that trip we had my mother, two of my aunts and two of my female cousins on board. My mother had made arrangements for one evening to be spent at the Timberland Lodge, on the Illinois side, while Sharon and I spent the evening in our motorhome on the Timberland property. We all had such a wonderful time on that trip.

We stopped in Lena, Illinois to check out the Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park for future reference and to dump our gray and black water tanks. It turned out to be a very nice scenic park, nice campsites with electric hookups and close to Galena, Illinois.

We arrived home at 2:15 p.m., completing a 5,022 mile trip through Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Iowa.

On to our next adventure!

Click Here For More Pictures

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mitchell Corn Palace - 09/19/12

We got off to an early start this morning and arrived at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota at 9:00 a.m.

The World’s only Corn Palace stands as a majestic, uniquely American, folk art icon on the rolling prairies of South Dakota. Mitchell’s first Corn Palace was built in 1892, when the city of Mitchell was just 12 years old. Early settlers displayed their agricultural bounty on the building’s exterior to prove the fertility of the soil and to attract immigrant farmers to settle here. To this day, over 100 years later, the tradition of the Corn Palace continues in Mitchell.

"Corn-By-Number" Decorating
Each year a new decorating theme is chosen and the outside of the Corn Palace is stripped and redecorated with new corn and grains. Over the summer, 3,000 bushels of rye, oat heads and sour dock are tied in bundles and attached. When the crop is ready, 275 thousand ears of corn are sawed in half lengthwise and nailed to the building following patterns created by local artists. This folk art wonder attracts thousands of visitors each year and is the center of community activity within Mitchell.

Today much of the work is done by hand and it is a delicate and detailed process. In early June the border trim of rye and sourdock is removed from the building. The new sourdock and rye is cut, tied into bundles and stapled to the building, typically by the end of July. After the old murals are removed in mid-August, sketches created by local artists are transferred to roofing paper and nailed to the mural panels on the building. These sketches also serve as blueprints, as each color of corn and the area it covers is indicated on the drawing. Just think of it as a large-scale corn-by-number. Thirteen shades of colored corn currently are planted in separate fields to maintain color purity, and the very best ears are handpicked for use on the Corn Palace. Each ear of corn is then sawed in half, shaped and trimmed to fit in the designated spaces, then nailed into place.

This year’s theme was the 2012 summer Olympics. The creation of Olympic athletes with colored ears of corn was amazing. This was my third visit and Sharon’s fourth visit to this wonderful place. Sharon was here in 1962 with her family and she and I visited here in 1992, 1996 and now 2012.

On to our next stop… Waterloo, Iowa!

We departed Mitchell, South Dakota at 11:10 a.m. Our planned route will be to take I-90 eastbound to I-29. We will then take I-29 southbound to Sioux City, Iowa where we will pick up route US-20. In keeping with our desire to minimize Interstate travel, we will travel US-20 eastbound across the entire state of Iowa.

There is quite a contrast between South Dakota and Iowa. The western part of South Dakota is a mountainous region. In the central part of South Dakota there is a vastness of rugged hilly terrain. In the eastern part there are vast areas of agriculture. Iowa, on the other hand, was totally agriculture driven throughout the state on US-20, with vast rolling hills of well maintained farmland.

We arrived at a Walmart in Waterloo, Iowa at 6:40 p.m. This would be our home for the night.

Click Here For More Pictures