Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bob vs. Down Under

Egg Art Jigsaw Puzzle
Wednesday, December 30, miraculously my neck pain eased off during the night and does not come back in spite of working on the 1500-piece puzzle off and on all day. I walk after breakfast, no rain today, and then return home to stretch. Some guy's car broke down in the turn-out in the median on Hwy 71 and he blocks the whole thing so no one can turn in or out of the RV Park. It's all about him.

Bob and I were working the puzzle when my Austin friend Holly called. She's hoping we can get together for lunch and a tour of The Titanic. Today is out as Bob is finishing the storage area down under before the next cold front. Tomorrow's out as we're meeting Steve and Elaine for New Year's Eve. Friday's traffic is no good on Hwy 71, or any other highway in the Austin area for that matter. So we decide on Saturday. Later I send her a Google Map as my brain was dead and Bob had to remind me that FM 20 on the western corner of the RV Park now has a stoplight so it is much easier to spot as you head east on Hwy 71. I'm looking forward to seeing them.

After leftover turkey dinner for lunch I get cleaned up and head to HEB where I pick up a bunch of things on my perpetual grocery list, except for the two things I specifically went for. HEB has no distilled water (for Bob's RV battery) on the shelf. I wait forever while a young guy goes in the back only to return and say they have none back there in the stockroom either. They are also out of Wednesday newspapers. Me and an older gent both stare at a stack of Sunday papers and say "Where's today's?"

So I have to go under the highway and stop at Walgreen's for distilled water and a paper. I score both for $2.00 even and make it home by 3:30. Bob has constructed his last storage box and now has 'down under' under control. It looks great. We just need to move the golf club in out of the back seat of Big Bertha. But first he has to add some water to the battery while he has everything out of there. This is the first time in 8 months and it only needed a little bit. I know he feels better having our 'stuff' organized at last. We sure miss the camper shell storage in The Beast.

With our chores done we work on the puzzle. After all we have to get it off the table for New Year's Eve cards and games. This turns out to be one of the hardest puzzles we've ever worked. We end the day with a bowl of Broccoli-Chicken Soup and read the paper. It's 8:15 p.m. and 51 degrees and 76% humidity. The high was 56 after a low of 41.

Gracie's and a Jigsaw

Bastrop RV Park Miniature Donkeys and Horses
Tuesday, December 29, it is 37 degrees this morning. The rain doesn't start here until 10:30 or so. They get snow/sleet in the Hill Country but the temps are too low here and get to the mid-40's today. I waited too long to walk as the rain started before I got out there. We had a light breakfast and I stretched. Bob starts a 1500-piece puzzle of 'egg art.'

Around 2:00 we go to lunch at Gracie's. Bob has a huge portion of Mahi-Mahi. I try their Penne Rustica (heaven with shrimp, chicken, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.) In spite of the late hour and the cold rain there are several tables full of people. We get a paper on the way back, missing the Shell station and stopping in the bright yellow no-name place after that. But at least they had a paper.

I felt bad when the little horse came over for a treat and I had nothing but my camera.

We spend the afternoon alternating between the puzzle, the paper and email. We get a message from Tom and Shirley who say they are enjoying our recommendation of Camp Wood and Cooksey RV Park as a spot to visit on their way to Big Bend. I keep having to takes breaks from the puzzle as my neck is killing me. That same sharp pain like a nerve is back. Hmmm. On one of my breaks I make Broccoli-Chicken Soup for us to enjoy this evening. We open a bottle of Kendall-Jackson Riesling that we've been carrying around with us all year. From 8:00 to 10:00 I watch the Kennedy Center Honors as Bruce Springsteen is one of the honorees. But I also enjoyed Robert De Niro, Dave Brubeck (89 year old jazz great), Grace Bumbry (diva), and Mel Brooks. I got a kick out of Jon Stewart's, a fellow New Jersey guy, comments about Bruce Springsteen. He said when you hear his songs you aren't a loser (even if you're driving an old brown Gremlin); you are a character in an epic poem about a loser!

Miniatures Donkeys at Bastrop RV Park

It's 7:40 p.m. and 42 degrees with 86% humidity.

Broccoli-Chicken Soup

12 chicken thighs, skinned (about 3 pounds)
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 0.6-ounce envelope Italian salad dressing mix
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup catsup

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed (3 cups)
2 cups frozen small whole onions (1/2 of a 20-ounce package—I use chopped onions instead ½ to one cup.)
1 10-ounce package frozen cut broccoli (or chopped)
1 medium green pepper, cut into cubes
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms (5 ounces)

In 4 ½-quart Dutch oven slowly brown chicken thighs, half at a time in the hot oil. Remove chicken, drain fat from pan. In same Dutch oven combine dry salad dressing mix ad salt. Stir in the 3 cups water, wine, and catsup. Return the browned chicken thighs to pain. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add potatoes and onions. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes longer. Add frozen broccoli, the green pepper and mushrooms. Dover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes longer or till vegetables are tender. You can thicken with flour and water at the end for a stew but we like it more as a soup. I add Tony’s Creole Seasoning or Lawry’s seasoned salt to give it a little zip.

Monday, December 28, 2009

China Buffet with Cedar Hills Gang

Monday, December 28, I sleep like a rock and get up at 7:20. It is sunny with a low of 34 degrees. I cut up my desserts and wash up the pans and dishes. I make tea in spite of the water being on the pump. I relax with my java. Bob and I have Maple Pecan Loaf toast for breakfast (thanks Elaine and Steve--those breads are heaven!) I check email early but no new message from Jo.

I stretch after cleaning up the kitchen. Then Bob goes out to hook up the water and fill the fresh water holding tank. It is getting low after shutting the water off for several nights in a row due to close to freezing a.m. temps. I have a quick vacuum and we both clean ourselves up. Around 11:30 a Bastrop Sheriff's car cruises slowly around the Park. By the time Bob realizes it might be Doug, one of his old employees, he can't catch him. Maybe he'll come through again. Several times we've seen the Sheriff cars cruise through. Nice that they patrol; I guess anyway--it could mean they've had some incidents. Who knows?

At 11:45 we go down the hill and get a paper at Chevron to circle back around to China Buffet. We go in the lobby and I stick my head inside looking for Jo, Bill and Glenda but don't see them. A few minutes later they pull up and Jo asks if Joyce and Dan are here as she's sure that's their car. I'm surprised. As of yesterday's email they weren't coming. But Jo sent another email later this morning and I never got back on-line. We all go inside and sure enough there they are.

I am so glad they made it. Joyce is feeling better today. She looks great except for a slight favoring of her leg. So nice to see both her and Dan. We give our beverage orders and cruise the buffet lines. They have so many choices here. What a fun lunch visiting with all of our Elgin neighbors. We move the party to our home-on-wheels up the hill. They all follow us and come inside for a grand tour. Well, except for Glenda. She's already had the grand tour so she gets out of the way.

This is our first time to entertain seven. We had six at Thanksgiving at Lake Texoma. Seven was doable for visiting, dessert and coffee. Maybe a meal would have been more of a challenge but I think we could have managed. It was fun to show them our new digs. We had a nice chat. They are a fun bunch and always make me laugh. Joyce brought the cutest photo of her new puppy Titch. I can't wait to see him.

They all hit the road mid afternoon. Hopefully we'll see them all again while we're still here. My fortune at the Chinese restaurant was "The principle business of life is to enjoy it."
Bob goes down under to install his latest two storage units. I take a walk in spite of the chilly air (high of 57 today but wind out of the north.) One half of the double-wide on the far side is gone and they have the other half ready to pull out. It leaves as I return home. We put the awning out to dry it out but it is a bit windy so we don't leave it out long. Bob gives me two of his old storage drawers and I try to make them work for the shoes in the bottom of my closet. I may rearrange after we go to our local storage unit.

We read the paper, have leftovers and watch TV. I catch up on the past two day's journal pages. It's 7:26 p.m. and 45 degrees with 41% humidity.

City Cafe and Cowboys vs. Redskins

Sunday, December 27, I was up at 7:30 to a low morning temp of 35 degrees. It is sunny and calm. The high gets to 58. Glenda calls around 11:00. Our football watching tonight is on hold. Her weekend visitors had a trip to Bastrop Emergency. If all is okay to drive back to Dallas they'll leave some time today. Glenda will call when she knows something.

After breakfast dishes I take a walk, stretch and check email. We've been asked to lunch tomorrow with Jo, Bill, Joyce and Dan. I'll ask Glenda to join us when I talk to her later. After lunch they are all coming here for a tour of The Titanic and dessert.

Bob and I have leftover turkey dinner for lunch (thanks Elaine!) and head to Dollar General in Bastrop. They have no storage units in the right size. So we head to HEB for groceries and a paper. Then we go home to lounge and read the paper and work the puzzles. Our neighbor streetside in the travel trailer with the broken hitch (from the big storm several years ago here) is home for the first time. Yesterday we noticed him. I guess now we'll be fighting over the shared parking space.

I make Rice Krispy Treats for dessert tomorrow in order to use up my red and green cherries from Holly's cookie bake. Glenda calls while I'm reading the paper. Her guests are off to Dallas so our football watching is on. We say we'll pick up Stromboli at Buck's and see her around 7:00. A little later I look up Buck's Pizza's phone number and browse their menu on the Internet. I call them around 5:30 but get a recording "This number is no longer in service." Weird. So I call Glenda and tell her we'll pick her up and go to City Cafe if that works for her. She's game. First we have to take one set of golf clubs out of the back seat so we can put the seat up for our passenger. Bob is so close to being done 'down under' and we won't have to move the clubs around any more.

On the way to Cedar Hills we encounter a big wreck on Hwy 71 right in front of Buck's Pizza. EMT and firetrucks are there. A semi hit a car and demolished it. It could be the telephone pole was involved so perhaps that is the problem with Buck's phone number. We'll investigate further. We pick up Glenda and Bob detours to Family Dollar in Elgin where he runs in and buys two storage drawers. Yeah! The hunt is over. Glenda and I chat in the car and wait for him.

Then it's on to City Cafe downtown. Glenda spies her friend Becky's son, Buddy, as well as a whole table full of church people. She always sees someone she knows when we're out and about in Elgin. Bob has the grilled chicken salad but it doesn't seem as plentiful as before. I have grilled catfish (usually one of my favorites here but today it is dry.) Can the new ownership have something to do with it all? Glenda has nachos. We head to her place to watch the game by 7:15. It's a good thing she has Tivo.

She re stokes her fire and it revives. I look through her quilt books and we make a plan for the winter, spring, summer and fall set she's going to create for us. We like her new digital photo frame that Dan loaded 147 pictures on.

The Cowboys easily defeat Washington. Glenda shares some of Peggy's Raisin Bran, apple, walnut bread. We have my Haystacks, Rice Krispy Treats and Wreath Fudge. And of course we enjoy her Gevalia's coffee as usual. Glenda is so generous. She gives me two quilted bird wall hangings. I just love the colors and textures in these delightful mini-quilts. She also has a spare 2010 calendar that she shares after I said we either get five calendars for Christmas or none.

I fail at setting her cell phone to more rings before it goes to voice mail. I will try again after looking at my instructions. We hit the road at 11:00. It is chilly; 38 degrees. We hit the sack as the bedroom is warmer.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Laundry and Maintenance-Christmas is over!

Tried to get a picture of our Candy Cane in The Titanic's living room window but the clouds are reflecting on the tinted windows.
Saturday, December 26, I slept in until 7:30. That was amazing considering I passed out at 9:45. It got down to 33 last night. Bob cut the water off to be on the safe side. The sun is out and the wind is calm so it warms up quickly to a high of 55 that felt more like 65. After a light breakfast of toasted 9 Grain Bread (thanks Elaine and Steve-what a great bread!) I took a walk. Someone was in the laundry room as I went by the first time but they were gone when I got back to our row.

Hilltop view of the City of Bastrop out our back window.

I stretched, packed up four loads, including the quilts and afghan, and headed down there to the now-empty laundry. Bob helped me carry it down but then returned to his sub-basement organization down under. I was done by 2:00 and we had leftovers for lunch. I have a voice message from Glenda about the Cowboys game tomorrow night. I'll have to call her when we get back. We go to Home Depot looking for drawer units for Bob's organization down under. Didn't find the right size but Bob spotted the Bruce Dura Luster wood floor cleaner that I have been looking for. Been searching for it for months. Our wood floor manufacturer recommends it. I found one bottle in Ohio in a True Value Hardware Store last summer but haven't found it since. We looked at 20 Home Depots but I was always looking with the cleaning supplies and found other brands. Today Bob spotted it as we cruised by the linoleum/wood floor aisle. Who knew?

One more stop at Lowe's but their storage units are slim pickens too. Home to read the paper. I took one more walk as the sun set. We had breakfast for dinner and relaxed for the evening. I'm catching up my journal until The Mentalist at 9:00. It's 8:15 p.m. and 47 degrees with 50% humidity.

On to Chevron for a paper and Wal-Mart to look at storage units. Still trying to find the right dimensions but we did pick up a few sundry items. The lines weren't bad at all.

Christmas Day with Steve and Elaine

Steve and Elaine's Christmas Tree
Friday, December 25, it is 32 when I get up so we're glad Bob cut off the water last night. The sun is out but the clouds keep rolling over throughout the day. It only get up to about 50 degrees. We have leftover pancakes from yesterday. I assemble my Corn Casserole and wrap gifts. We get cleaned up and put on our Christmas sweaters and head to Steve and Elaine's around noon.

Steve and the dogs greet us at the door. Elaine is busy in the kitchen with some great aromas wafting throughout the house. Their Christmas tree looks so beautiful. I always like to check out their new bear ornaments; some Scotties too! Her table looks very festive. I plug in my crock pot (old brown is still working!)

Elaine seems to have most everything under control as usual. We chat, sip Italian wine and check out all of the Christmas decor and new bears. Soon the turkey comes out of the oven for Steve to carve. Elaine mashes the potatoes, I stir the gravy and add marshmallows to the yams. At last it all comes together and is served up on the buffet table. It is amazing how much her dressing tastes like my Mom's. She grew up in Kansas so that's close to Missouri! She adds sliced mushrooms to her green bean casserole which I really think adds a nice touch. And she has this savory sage bread from a local Elgin store that is heavenly. We stuff ourselves and go into a turkey coma.

Christmas Dinner Buffet

The gals clean up the kitchen and the guys lounge in the back room. Elaine generously divides up the leftovers and I take a 'go bag' out to the truck since it is 45 degrees out there. She also lends me a few detective novels. In due time we break out the Phase 10 cards. Darkness descends, the dogs sleep and we break out Death by Chocolate Cake and coffee. Time to exchange gifts. Elaine is always thoughtful about giving us expendable items (eat it, wear it, drink it, read get the idea.)

We are both pleased to see two loaves of that heavenly homemade bread she served for dinner; Maple Pecan Loaf and 9 Grain Bread. And two jars of preserves to go with it; strawberry and cherry. Not to mention Champagne Pecans and a Gingerbread Man. We'll enjoy them all.

Christmas Red and Green on the table

It's only 8:30 but our RV will be chilly as the temperature has dropped to 35 already. So we wish them a Merry Christmas and head home. We climb in bed to read as it is getting warmer in there within a half an hour. Of course once we get cozy our eyelids get heavy and we pass out. Another fine Christmas is behind us. We had an email from our RV friends Tom and Shirley who recently met us in Lampasas. They had quite a holiday adventure in Abilene near their daughter's. Snow closed I-20 so they couldn't travel the six miles west to Abilene from their RV Park to get to their daughter's for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Worse than that, their son and his pregnant wife were en route from Houston to join them all in Abilene and got stranded about 40 miles east in Cisco when they closed I-20. They thought they were going to have to spend the night in their car but a brand new church opened its doors to all of the stranded travelers on the Interstate for the night Christmas Eve and gave them breakfast on Christmas Day. What a story they have to tell about Christmas 2009. All is well now as the highway was finally opened and they had a glorious reunion in Abilene.

This group (Bob, Elaine, Steve, Lizzie and Shadow) is tired of waiting for Rita to find the 'timer' button on the camera without her glasses!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Reet 'n Bob vs. Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 24, it was hot and humid when we went to bed last night. But during the night the wind started blowing and rocking the RV. By 6:00 a.m. it was chilly. Bob got up and turned the heater on in the living room and crawled back in bed. At 6:30 I got up and it was 62 degrees out there. The sun is out and the wind is blowing out of the west. It clouds up by noon and later the wind switches out of the north. All day our main slide awning is whipped by the strong winds. I'm worried we'll lose it.

I check email and have the cutest You Tube link from Glenda:Silent Monks "Singing" the Hallelujah Chorus We laughed our fool heads off. We lounge all morning. I put on some Christmas CD's. Love the Three Tenors and I have to play Dean Martin's Holiday Favorites every year. We have pancakes for breakfast and lounge some more.

Around noon I stretch and have a shower. I left a voice message for Joyce and Dan from our old Elgin neighborhood. We're going up to Morelia's in Elgin for lunch and I wanted to see if we could stop by and say Merry Christmas around 3:00. My heart skipped a beat when I didn't get an answer but I'll just pretend they are out doing last minute shopping and everything is okay with them.

Apparently that is what the rest of Bastrop County is doing today. Around noon we brave the cold wind. The high yesterday was 74 and it has dropped steadily since early this morning to 46 by the time we leave for lunch. I'm not complaining because most of the rest of the country is buried under snow.

We stop for diesel and pay $2.69/gal at Chevron where I get the last Statesman. Just down the road we see $2.46 at Shell-Oh well. We stop in Blockbuster but can't find Boston Legal. We want to watch the entire series but no one seems to have it for rent. Then we head north on 95 to Morelia's in Elgin.

The hostess is the same gal but our waiter is new. Our entrees are even better than we remember. Bob has Chicken Conquistador and I have Shrimp Avocado. My mushroom soup is to-die-for. We don't know whether to be glad or sad that Morelia's is not in Bastrop! We cross 290 to Family Dollar to look for a jigsaw puzzle to get us through the cold weekend. But they don't have anything over 500 pieces.

On our way south on Hwy 95 we stop in Pepper's, the new RV Park Glenda and Peggy told us about. It certainly has possibilities. It is larger than we thought it would be. The sites are spacious and it looks like they have cable. That circle in the back may have some low-hanging branches but it is doable.

As we cruise through Bastrop we decide to brave Wal-Mart and look for a puzzle. It wasn't too bad except for the check-out lines. But we find a tough looking egg mosaic jigsaw with 1500 pieces so that should keep us busy.

Home to read the paper. We discover we inadvertently left the heater on in the living room which we don't like to do when we leave for that long. But secretly we were kind of glad as it is toasty in here when we return. Bob's watching a movie and I'm working on journal pages.

It was a tough decision as to whether we would make the trek to Dallas to be with my brother and his family for Christmas. We sure appreciated their invitation. But the weather was a huge factor as our furnace isn't working so we couldn't leave it on low to keep our pipes from freezing. For a while I was second-guessing our decision as it was 74 degrees yesterday. But now we're looking like geniuses. There is a freeze predicted for the next four nights here and the Big D is usually colder. Bob said he just heard there is 5 inches of snow up there somewhere. Oh well, maybe next time.

It's 6:22 p.m. and 39 degrees with 50% humidity.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lunch with Glenda then All Aboard The Titanic

Wednesday, December 23, I get up at 7:00. It is very warm and humid today.; not much like Christmas with a low of 60 and a high of 74 and 65% humidity. But we're not complaining. Sounds like the Midwest is buried in snow.

I checked email but no word from Glenda so I called her before 9:00. She didn't get my voice message last night. Turns out I left it on her cell phone. And I was so sure I was leaving it on her home phone because I knew she wouldn't check her cell. Oh well. We're on for lunch at 1:00 at Gracie's.

We have toast for breakfast. I clean up the kitchen, take a shower and drive to HEB to get ingredients for a vege dish for Christmas Day at Steve and Elaine's. The mob was not too bad down there and I picked up some other things on my list. When I got back home the door was locked. Bob's at the pond fishing. Soon he returns and reports that the fish are just as stupid down there. He caught 27 bass in one hour!

At 12:35 we head to Gracie's downtown Bastrop. Quite a bit of traffic over the bridge into downtown. Glenda pulls up a few minutes later although she thought she might have to call us and tell us she would be late as some truck was causing traffic to be completely stopped. We found a table by the window and all three ordered today's Meatloaf Special and they actually had three left. A young gal started out as our waitress but the guy who waited on us last time ended up taking care of us. Lunch was good and we even got dessert, small strawberry or cherry cake.

Glenda meets us at Boone RV Park. She fits right under the hitch on the Titanic. We give her the grand tour. I'm happy that she finally got over here to see our new home-on-wheels. We had a nice chat. And of course I had to drag out some Christmas sweets so we had dessert twice! She left around 4:00 to beat the traffic. We wished her a Merry Christmas and sent her on her way.

I took a walk and Bob cleaned out the sub-basement down under. We had anj ecard from Paul and Marge, RVers we met in Michigan-was it three or four years ago? Nice to hear from them. It's 5:40 p.m. and 71 degrees.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bob Down Under

Tuesday, December 22, I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and get up to read for a bit while my stomach rebels against my junk food binge last night. After an hour I take a little nap on the couch. Bob gets up with a burst of energy and goes out to work on his 'down under' storage area. There is a wet mist in the air but it is warm.

I get out the instruction manual and the remote for the CDPlayer/radio. Now we all know that this can be very dangerous. But I have a hi-tech kind of morning and figure out how to preset the radio channels and how to navigate among the selections. Now that is progress. I'll have to have Bob check out the antenna because I should be picking up way more stations. KGSR, my fav here in the Austin area, is barely coming in and they are a Bastrop station. At least I made some progress.

Next I take some time to add up our total miles traveled for 2009. We towed our old and our new RV a total of 3,666 miles (1,815 miles for our old Lakota-The Beauty-January thru June; 1,851 miles for our new Titanium-The Titanic-June through December!) We drove our old and our new trucks a total of 13,495 miles (4,883 miles for our old truck-The Beast; 8,612 miles for our new truck-Big Bertha.) We usually put about 20,000 miles a year on the truck so this was a slow year. But we kind of figured that after we waited around for warranty work so long in Ohio.

We break for a light breakfast and both get back to our chores. Bob calls on the two-way radios from down under. He has discovered a plumbing leak near the water heater. What a bummer! He shuts off the water, tightens up the fitting and I turn all the water back on slowly. Yahoo! There's no leaks. He thinks it has been dripping slowly for a while, but only when the water heater is on, thus increasing the pressure on the line. He reroutes the line that they have in a bind and we should be good. What a relief. It seems like the Evil Eye is watching out for us again. I take a break and call Joyce and Dan to see how they are doing. Dan answers and says Joyce is feeling a bit better. He says if we're up that way to stop in during the afternoon on Christmas Eve. I hope it works out that we can see them for a bit.

I have a housecleaning frenzy except for the vacuuming as I would blow Bob's eardrums out since he's stuffed in the down under compartment where the Dirt Devil whole-house vacuum motor is located. We break for leftovers for lunch and get back at it again. Now Bob can get to the bathroom floor squeak which is what he was trying to fix when he discovered the water leak. In order to do all of these things he has to take everything out of the underneath storage compartment, crawl way back in there and remove the access panels that line the back and side walls. You need to be a contortionist to do this. He says it wouldn't hurt to be a younger contortionist!

I'm twiddling my thumbs waiting to vacuum so I decide to do my nail! He's still down there so I download pictures and work on journal pages. It's 3:30 p.m. and 70 degrees, the high for the day so far, with 57% humidity after a low of 53 degrees.

Big Bertha Needs a Fix and Football with Glenda

A plate of the goodies we baked at Holly's on Sunday
Monday, December 21, we get in gear and decide to take Big Bertha down to Covert, the GM dealer in Bastrop, to have them look at the fuel gauge now that it failed again. So before breakfast Bob goes out to start it up and sure enough the gauge is still not working; now it's stuck at 3/4 full again. So we skip breakfast, hop in the truck and drive down the hill to Covert. Dave, our friendly service manager, looks all around our truck while we're in the waiting room. Bob decides he's looking for a dealer logo to see where we bought it. That's gone in the wreck in Ohio. Anyway, he has the mechanic look at it to see if we need to bring it back another day.

We read the paper while we wait but decide it is rude to work the crossword puzzle in the complimentary paper in the lobby. About an hour later Dave comes by to tell us they think it's the sending unit inside the tank and it will take about four hours since they have to remove the tank. We tell them to go for it. It's just after 11:00 by now so we walk up a few parking lots to Chili's for brunch. Dave says he'll call when it's done and they'll come pick us up at the RV Park. On the way off the Chevy lot we find a brand new diesel truck in a perfect color. We keep walking quickly. Where was that when we were in Ohio looking for a truck.

I tried a new menu item at Chili's; Crispy Shrimp Tacos. Well at least that's what I ordered but she delivered fried shrimp over french fries. So I sent mine back while Bob ate his turkey avocado sandwich. He did share his fries with me. Soon my Crispy Shrimp Tacos arrived and they were worth the wait; grilled shrimp in small corn tortillas with black beans, rice and slaw. Very tasty.

We walked up the hill to our RV Park and were home by noon. It's not nearly as far as it is to walk to the Chevy dealer in Lampasas from our RV park there. Bob works on his rod holders 'down under.' I work on journal pages and pictures. I called Glenda to say we're on for Football if she is. But we have to see if we get our truck back so I'll call her when I know something. She offers to come get us (how nice of her!) but we'll just hope we get Big Bertha back. She said Joyce walked down the street and visited with her for a bit. I was glad to hear she felt good enough to get out.

Just before 3:00 Dave calls and says it was not the sending unit. It was the fuel pump inside the tank. It was laying loose on the bottom of the tank. A screw came out that was holding it. Maybe it was never tight from the time it was built. Anyway, we're very lucky it didn't strand us somewhere. Sooner or later the fuel pump would have failed. Looks like Jean's Evil Eye is taking care of us already!

Bob tells Dave we'll just walk down. Heck, it's all downhill now that we're back up here at Boone RV Park overlooking Bastrop. It only takes 10 minutes to walk down there. Our work is covered under warranty and we are out of there. I call Glenda when we get home and leave a voice message that we'll see her between 6:30 and 7:00.

I make up a sausage and cheese platter and a plate full of Christmas cookies. We get to Glenda's just before 7:00. Bob hands her a UPS package that is on the porch. Nice snap and seal plastic storage containers.

We give her the Quilting Angel pin that we found at Fulton's Oysterfest way back last February. She has me pin it to her collar right away and I take a picture. We discuss Holly's friend's web page about how to look better in photos. I'll have to get that from Holly and post it. It's a real hoot.

Glenda shows off her Quilting Angel pin

Bob sets a new ring tone on Glenda's phone although I don't think any of us were thrilled with the choices that came with her new phone. We break out snacks and beverages and settle in for the game. The Redskins were not informed that they were playing tonight so they don't bother to show up against the Giants. It was a massacre. But we had lots of junk food. Glenda found a nice Raspberry Chipotle dip that was great on my mini cheese and sausage on rye.

We left just after 11:00 with a promise to meet for lunch on Wednesday in Bastrop so Glenda can come see our new home on wheels. We get home before 11:30. It's warm out after a beautiful day so the RV is not too chilly.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Cookie Bake at Holly's

Only five days until Christmas on Holly's Advent Calendar
Sunday, December 20, I'm up early with my neck feeling better after an Advil last night. Bob gets up too and we have a fairly hearty breakfast with protein involved as I know most of the rest of the day will involve mostly carbs--and not very healthy one!

I pack all of my ingredients and utensils in Big Bertha and hit the road for Austin at 10:00. The traffic is light and I find KGSR (it's now at 93.3 on the radio dial--who knew?) I stop at HEB at Spicewood Springs and get a Sunday paper. I call Holly to see if she needs anything but she says no. I get to her place about 11:15. She helps me haul it all in the house. Ethan and Doug are setting up the electric train set in the family room while Penny the cat watches. Doug says she loves to steal the long, thin parts like telephone poles.

Soon Patti and her newly-adopted daughter Jessica arrive. Great to see Patti and I'm pleased to be able to meet her daughter. Jessica celebrated her 17th birthday with a skating party yesterday. Holly has her ingredients all neatly stacked so I take a picture before we trash her kitchen. What fun we have turning out quite a few delectable goodies. Holly and Jessica tackle Snickerdoodles and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies. Patti makes fudge and puts it in mini-muffin cups and sprinkles it with white snowflakes. What a pretty finished product.

Jessica tempts Penny with her new kitty bed as Doug and Ethan look on

I start with a white chocolate and butterscotch version of Wreath Fudge that works way better by lining the pan with plastic wrap instead of waxed paper. Then I make Haystacks with mini M&M's. Holly and Jessica move on to Peppermint Bark. Patti makes Pecan Bars that look oh so gooey! Doug gets in on the action in the kitchen by trying to fire up his new Mr. Coffee espresso machine. But all he gets out of it is a weird noise. So after a few tries he declares that the calcium deposits need to be cleaned out and he moves on to Holly's new Frappechino maker. He's determined to provide us with a holiday buzz! And of course I'm all for it. His Mocha Frappechino's are a success! Although we are all startled as the machine stops and starts on its own. Holly adds a dash of whipped cream to her snowman glasses and Voila! It's a holiday party drink.

Doug is all smiles just before the Espresso Machine fails to work

The Frappechino Machine comes through for us!

This spurs me on to make Rice Crispy Marshmallow Treats with candied cherries. Holly produces a new item; Lime Cooler-very tasty. And Holly's neighbor Amy shows up with all the fixing's for her famous toffee. It's a homemade Heath Bar--one of my all-time favorite candies! My purse is on the table and I actually hear my phone ringing and I'm glad I did. It's Dan, our Elgin neighbor. Nice of him to call and let us know Joyce is recovering from some health issues and not up to holiday hostessing this year. I lose my connection and call him back. We agree to meet after the holidays.

Holiday Mocha Frappe ala Doug!

Wreath Fudge

I break out my sausage, cheese and rye breads that I brought. That goes over big as we have all sampled way to many sweets; not to mention those Mocha Frappe's. Doug takes a group photo, we pack up bags of goodies for the kids at the Settlement Home and divide up the remainder for the cooks. Somehow I get all of my equipment together and hit the road around 4:45 in time to make it home before dark. What a fun day. It's nice of Holly to think of me when she plans her annual cookies bake. Bob and I will really enjoy the box of microwave popcorn she gave us. She's good about not breaking the rules for RV gifts!

Patti, Amy, Jessica, Rita, Holly

On the way home the gas gauge in the truck fails again. Now why wouldn't it do that when we were Lampasas trying to get it fixed? Bob has had a full day and got quite a few projects done; including an unscheduled one when he found a small shower leak while repairing loose trim in the bathroom. Glad he found that before it got bad.

We read the paper and relax for the rest of the evening. I'm too tired to work on my journal but I do check my email and send a few messages.

Christmas Party at Peggy and Michael's

Wreath Fudge
Saturday, December 19, I woke up at 7:30. My neck stiffness is back full-force. Ever since I got out of the Euro chair last night it has been killing me. I spent most of the night on the couch. This morning I sip my coffee and dig out dome postcards for the cookie baking gang at Holly's tomorrow and wrap some gifts.

We have a light breakfast and then I make my Wreath Fudge recipe that I found on the "RV-Dreams Journal" on-line site that Bob's cousin Patti turned me on to. It is easy to make and looks pretty; almost like a fruitcake. And you can change the ingredients for the season or holiday. I don't have an 8" round cake pan so I make it in my Pampered Chef small round stoneware dish lined with waxed paper. Next time I will use plastic wrap so it is easier to coax out of the pan.

It is sunny but cool all day with the wind out of the north. Bob and I go to lunch around 12:30 at Gracie's in Bastrop. It is still as good as last year. Our waiter was a guy who seems to be doing it all today. I had the Mango Tilapia and Bob had a Chef Salad with Vidalia Onion dressing and the Tomato Basil soup. Some older lady read the riot act to our poor waiter while he was at the register. He asked her to step out on the side porch and she said "I don't want to step out. I want everyone to hear me." He jockeyed her out on the porch anyway and they were out there quite a while. He smiled at me when he came back in and she left in a huff. Geez!

I went in to get a paper at the Shell station on the way home. I gave the gal seven dimes and the rest in nickels and quarters (yes, the Statesman is $1.00 now.) She laughed and said she works at Sonic and gets her change turned into bills before she leaves so she doesn't have to pay in coins for gas.

Deely, Michael, Duane and Mike

We went home to read the paper. Then we had showers and put on our party clothes. At 5:30 it is still light when we head to our old Cedar Hills neighborhood in Elgin. A bunch of folks were arriving as we got there at 5:50. It is always fun to see the old gang although a few were missing tonight. I added my wreath to the dessert island. We chatted with Jo and Bill. And Michael filled us in on their two flat tire experience earlier this year with their travel trailer. Soon we all filled our plates with assorted finger foods and stuffed our faces. I enjoyed a pumpkin dip served with green apples and ginger snaps.

Three big tables of Mexican Train dominoes got started and we played it out until the bitter end with that rascal Bill winning at our table. I got to chat a bit with Deb, and Duane too, since they were at our table. But Ellen was way across the room. We hope to get together with them after the holidays. It is nice of Peggy and Michael to include us when we return to Bastrop. We invited them down to see The Titanic.

Peggy's Desert Island

Back home the RV is showing 57 degrees inside. It's 11:31 p.m. After firing up both heaters it gets to 60 in a half an hour. Cookies at Holly's tomorrow. I can't wait.

Let the snacking begin!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bob the Builder; Reet the Shopper

Evil Eye cuts through first decorative cord
Friday, December 18, I was hoping to see the sun today like they promised but a soupy fog greeted me when I opened the blinds. The low was only 41 and it gets up to 72 after the sun finally makes its appearance late morning. I write some thank you notes while I sip my coffee. It is actually warm enough for me to take a walk this morning. One of the thing I love about Bastrop RV Park is the long walk route around the two ponds, past the miniature donkeys. I didn't spy any of the dachshunds that lived here last year. And I forgot my correspondence so I came back home to get it and got a few more steps in as I mailed it by the front gate. We saw my friend Marilynn's brother Jim cycle by on his way to Bastrop. His Avion travel trailer is still over there on the other side of the park. After a light breakfast Bob turns into 'project guy.'

He has a list of projects he has been saving up for when we got to Central Texas. Before he gets started he goes out to hang the Evil Eye that Jean gave us from the rearview mirror in Big Bertha. Yesterday we tried a decorative cord but the Evil Eye's sharp edges cut right through it. Today he has a chain and a fishing lure swivel. Voila!

First up for his projects is to drill a hole in the entertainment center for the printer cord; that's right, the RVers friend the hole saw comes into play for this one. For the first six months of life aboard The Titanic the big ugly printer cord was on top of the desk and in the way (not the small cord that goes to the USB port-there was a neat hole already finished in the top of the desk for that when we bought the RV. No, I'm talking about the big, thick honking cord that goes to the outlet. Our printer is behind the cabinet doors underneath the desk but there was no outlet down there so the thick cord came up through the existing desk-top hole and was hanging out on the side of the wall, taking up desktop space.

Bob's mission today is to drill a hole through the 'angled fridge' wall and plug it in where the fridge is plugged in. This turns out to be a double wall to the outside compartment where all of the fridge 'guts' are located. He finally gets it all sorted out and snaked through the right place behind the desk drawers. Whew! What a job he says. But it sure looks neater in that corner.

I'm cleaning the toaster oven that keeps smelling burnt every time we turn it on. There must be a crumb in there in a bad spot. I called Peggy to confirm the time for the party tomorrow night and got Michael, who of course had no clue what time but he said Peggy would be back soon and he'd have her call me. We have Alton Brown's leftover meatloaf and sides (thank you Jean!) I get myself cleaned up and head to HEB for my cookie baking ingredients for our annual cookie bake at Holly's on Sunday. I'm trying some new stuff this year and that's always fun. As I leave around 2:00 Bob is gearing up for his next project; to spray paint black the new sewer hose compartment we bought at Camping World in Denton. I leave him to it and head to town.

HEB is medium busy today but I find everything I need. Had to get out of line and go back for my soy milk as I remembered I'm almost out. The eggnog was calling but I resisted. I check my phone as I get in the truck and sure enough Peggy left a voice message. I cannot hear that darn phone when it is in my little 'phone holder' on the outside of my purse. Afterwards I went across the street and browsed at Beall's for a few minutes but didn't find anything I couldn't live without.

As I was walking back to the truck I spied a jewelry store and went in to see if they did watch batteries. Wow! I got a battery in two watches that I've been carrying around in my purse in about six minutes for $5.00 each. You can't beat that. Back home Bob is lounging in the Euro chair. He not only painted the compartment, he already has is installed underneath our rig. I go back out to look at it and can't tell which one is the one that come on the RV and which one is the new one until I look underneath and see which one is longer. The new one is just a big longer so our new hose will fit in it. We'll use the old one for our 'expansion' hose. It never hurts to have a few extra feet.

Success! The Evil Eye now stands guard over Big Bertha

I collapse and read the paper and fix myself a cup of Holiday Eggnog blend coffee that HEB had on sale (I just had to have something eggnog!) We watch Blue Collar Comedy and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. It's 9:44 p.m. and 53 degrees with 55% humidity.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Laundry Day

Thursday, December 17, sometime in the middle of the night I wake up and hear it raining. It pretty much drizzles all morning and finally we see a few patches of blue sky by late afternoon. I work on pictures and journal pages for a couple of hours this morning.

We decide to eat breakfast, get the laundry ready and go do four loads here at the RV Park. I walk down there in a light rain after the breakfast dishes to find three of the four washers are clunking away. So I go back home and we read for a while. At 12:30 we decide to go down Hwy 71 to Chili's for lunch. It is weird to come back here after all of our travels this years and find the same hostess greeting us at the door. Ah, life in a small town. Salad, soup and sandwich and we're out of there. Paper at Chevron and home in the rain.

The laundry is free now so we make short work of it in two hours. We look through the rear window of the laundry room at the site we were in last year with The Beauty and decide The Titanic is too tall to fit under that tree streetside. The clouds are breaking up at we lug our laundry home. Some white gunk is on my black pants and Bob's new brown pants. Usually it is leftover soap from some nutcase who used three times what they needed. Sure enough it comes out with a rinsing. Just one of the hazards of not using your own machines.

The paper beckons to be read. The nightly traffic is building on Hwy 71. It is more steady this year and does not back up at the top of the hill now that the 304 exit and overpass are completed. We have leftovers for dinner. Our favorite shows have been pre-empted by a two-hour Grey's Anatomy tonight which we have never followed. So Bob is reading while I catch up my journal. It's 7:26 p.m. and 49 degrees with 80% humidity after a high of 53 and a low of 46.

Jean and Alton Brown Team up for Meatloaf!

Skating Bears Puzzle
Wednesday, December 16, promises to be a big day. We have toast for breakfast in anticipation of our luncheon with my friend Jean in Austin. We're not sure how bad the Austin traffic is so we leave Bastrop at 10:35 this morning under dreary skies after a low of 40 degrees. We sure hate to turn off the little heaters since we have no furnace to warm it up quickly when we return.

The traffic turns out to be light this time of morning, or is it the fact that it is Wednesday? Either way we zoom on 183 to Jean's place and arrive unfashionably early. She seems to have lunch plans well in hand. It sure is great to see her. She has me open the back door to let her beagles in. They are feisty for a few minutes but settle down like the mature ladies that they have become.

Jean takes Alton Brown's Meatloaf out of the oven

Jean's recently remodeled kitchen has a much more open look as she lowered the high bar between the kitchen and family room. We perch on the 'ample bucket' (hope I remembered that right) bar chairs. Jean gives Bob the "Skating Dog-Bear Puzzle" which he conquers fairly quickly while we browse her Turkey travel book. I love those on-line coffee table books you can turn your photos into. And Jean has a real knack for combining the photos and adding the perfect captions. I feel like I was there!

A few minutes after I let the dogs inside I realized I didn't even note her new pergola (A structure usually consisting of parallel colonnades supporting an open roof of girders and cross rafters!) Since I had to look up the spelling anyway I have included Webster's definition of a pergola. It aptly describes Jean's patio edifice. I was impressed that she didn't lose the light coming through the big living room windows. But she says it makes a big difference for sitting outside in the Texas sunshine. It's chilly out here so we quickly duck back in.

A festive holiday table

Heavenly aromas are coming out of her kitchen. I really love the new brightly-colored tile backsplash. It works well with her clocks that surround the soffit. One of the beagles, not-to-be-named in order to spare her feelings, deems it to be her job to open Jean's Christmas gift. So I snap a picture of Jean holding up a Telecron clock ad near the very same model above her kitchen table!

Lunch is served on her beautiful dining room table. She has outdone herself with Alton's Brown's meatloaf with a spicy sauce, roasted potatoes, beets and warm buttered bread. These fine groceries were accompanied by Don Miguel Gascon Malbec Mendoza of Argentina. Bob and I are pleased to take a bottle home as part of our Christmas gift. After we had seconds of this huge meatloaf, Jean served Martha Stewart's Eggnog Cheesecake Bars. Now I am an eggnog fanatic as Jean well knows and these were pure heaven with a cup of coffee.

We got a demonstration of Jean's iPod and her Bose docking port player. Food for thought! Then we retired to the living room and chatted for a bit. Bob snapped a photo as Jean and I tried to corral the beagles-not very successfully. All too soon it was time for me to head to my oft-rescheduled hair appointment with Dawn. We said farewell with a promise to meet in Bastrop so Jean can tour The Titanic. Not only that, we left with lunch 'go boxes'! How nice of her to share. It's hard for me to express what a joy it is to return to our stomping grounds of 25 years and be welcomed back by long-time friends.

Rita and Jean try to corral the Beagles

What a bummer, as we get halfway to Dawn's salon she calls on the cell and says she's running a half hour late. We duck into Instant Replay a local golf resale shop that we visit every year. We don't find anything-well there was a set of ladies Calloway Irons but we both need glasses and I need new contact lenses so we left empty-handed. Bob parked and walked to HEB then Walgreen's to finally find a paper.

We had killed enough time and I walked into Carte Blanche just as Dawn was finishing Linda, her self-proclaimed animal-whisperer client. And who should great me but Pilgrim, Dawn's adorable Chihuahua. She was very interested in either the beagle smells or the meatloaf smells she found on me. What a cutie. She looks exactly the same as last year so she hasn't grown any. In fact, I didn't take a picture so I'm posting last year's photo. It's always great to catch up with Dawn on all of the local news. Her son Wil (can he be that old?) is all of the performances of Nutcraker. I'll have to tell Glenda to look for one of the 'party boys' who is in a brown and white striped jacket. That is Wil Loewen!

Jean with Telecron clock ad and the real McCoy hanging above!

I get a great haircut. Dawn gives me one of her wonderful small bottles of Hemp lotion. I give her an old Austin postcard and a new one from the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. I jump in the truck and we make it out of Austin at 4:30 without too many traffic issues. Back home we read the paper, work the puzzles, have a snack and watch some recorded shows we have saved up.

Dawn's cute little Pilgrim

What a fun day. The weather was cold but it didn't rain. The RV is chilly when we get back home but we stay warm under our quilts that Glenda lovingly hand-crafted for each of us.

Bob and Reet stay warm under our respective quilts from Glenda!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Housecleaning and Nancy's Steakhouse in Bastrop

Tuesday, December 15, I was up at 6:30. It was 47 outside-the high for the day-and 57 in the living room. I turned the heater down a little too low last night. It is cloudy but dry this morning. I read and sip coffee. Bob gets up and we have fun with our gifts from Glenda last night.

As I'm sipping my coffee this morning about 8:30, Dawn calls to change my hair appointment in Austin tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Bob and I are both happy that we don't have to get up early and head to Austin in the traffic.

We have breakfast and I go into housecleaning mode. Then I get out my lighted candy cane. It looks pretty good in the window above the love seat. Around 12:30 we go to lunch at Nancy's Steakhouse just down the road on Hwy 71. Seems like they are off-and-on good each year when we return and this year is not a good one.

On the way home we stop at Walgreen's for sundries and a paper. We relax until 4:30 with the paper and puzzles. Then I work on email and journal pages. Bob tries to dial in the channels we want to watch tonight. Our cable connection is fuzzy and we haven't see Paul, the RV Park owner, yet to tell him. So Bob was trying to get the major networks over the airwaves but something is blocking our antenna on the roof from pivoting completely. It's always something. And it's too cold and windy to go up on the roof and investigate. There's always tomorrow.

It's 5:45 p.m. and 47 degrees with 57% humidity.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Night Football with Glenda

Glenda's fun quilted coasters and baked potato cozy with all of our favorite things!
Monday, December 14, I got up at 5:00 a.m. since I was wide awake and just listening to the traffic on Hwy 71. We are way closer to the road in this site. The good part is there are no RVs on our streetside so we have a nice view. The bad news is there are no RVs on our streetside so we get the traffic noise.

It is misty/rainy this morning but warm at 54 degrees. I stretch, have coffee, wrap a few presents, put out some Christmas decor and read for a while. Bob and I have a light breakfast. He goes to Bastrop for a haircut and I go outside to get the bugs off the RV after our move. Once I get started I give the windows a squeegee. I'm sure the neighbors think I'm nuts as it starts to drizzle again. But it helps to get the grime off soon after you move down the road.

Bob tries out his new quilt!

I get cleaned up and we go to Maxine's in downtown Bastrop. They are also on Texas Monthly's list of 40 Best Small Town Cafes. We were here two years ago with Steve and Elaine just as the place was changing ownership I believe. We think we spied the gal who owned Pecan Tree Cafe back in the kitchen. We missed the daily special so we both had grilled pork chops. The sides were fabulous; baked sweet potato with pecan praline topping, fresh green beans, broccoli cheese rice and jalapeno cheese corn.

Glenda and Bob admire her masterpiece

I mailed a postcard around the corner. We got gas for $2.46 at Shell and a paper. Then we stopped at Home Depot where Bob found black spray paint for our plastic sewer hose container and I found wood floor cleaner. Home to read the paper and work the puzzles. I worked on pics and journals on-line. I need to make my dip and we'll head to Glenda's for Monday Night Football. Can't wait to visit with her.

It's 5:19 p.m. and 61 degrees under misty gray skies with 92% humidity. The high was 71 after a low of 53.

We had another fun 'football' night at Glenda's. It was too warm for a fire but we had a cozy evening with all of her Christmas decor and my garlic cheese dip, pumpernickel bread and chips. And of course her Amaretto Gevalia's.

Bob got to unveil his long-awaited quilt that Glenda made for him. And what a gorgeous piece of artwork it is! She also made matching quilted coasters out of the material from my quilt last year and Bob's new quilt. Not to mention a microwave baked potato cozy. We are set! It will all look very tasteful in our new living room. And somehow she found the cutest 5th wheel RV ornament that is almost an exact replica of The Titanic!

Love this beautiful quilt Glenda made for her daughter-in-law Cheryl.

We chatted the night away while San Fransisco demolished the Cardinals; or maybe Arizona did themselves in with seven turnovers. So nice to be back to enjoy these special times with Glenda. It was warm and humid when we left just before 11:00 p.m. The cold front didn't blow in until the middle of the night.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Movin' On Back to Bastrop, TX

We can see the huge fog bank that has not quite cleared as we head east on Hwy 29 through Georgetown, TX
Sunday, December 13, I slept like a rock and got up at 7:30. It was so warm and humid when we went to bed that Bob turned off the heater in the living room resulting in 51 degrees when I stumbled down the steps this morning. Brrr! I stretched to keep warm while my coffee was brewing. Then I snuggled under Glenda's quilt and started reading Owen Perry.

We had Crispy Thingies for breakfast, packed up and hit the road by 11:06. Have to be more careful next time we pull out of this site. Bob took it wide to miss the utilities and the front of The Titanic was dangerously close to a live oak limb on the curbside. The sun is out and we actually worked up a sweat packing up--way different from when Tom and Shirley were out there packing up in the freezing cold just a few days ago.

Our route is the same as usual; southeast on 183 to 29 at Seward Junction. We decide 11:55 is a good time to pass the huge church on 29 in Georgetown. The parking lot was crammed and a police cruiser had just turned its lights on to direct traffic that would soon be pouring out of there. You can see the police car in the photo I took of the big fog bank that was still hanging in the eastern sky. Bob stayed in the left hand lane through the narrow part of 29 near the University and it was a good thing as those old live oak limbs looked pretty low and were sticking out into the righthand land.

Always feels good to turn south on Hwy 95--almost like we're home. We were glad to zoom by the turn to Pleasant Grove where we used to stay north of Elgin. There's way too many trees to deal with on that route. We're shocked to see Lundgren Chevrolet in Elgin boarded up and for sale. Wow! They were an Elgin institution.

We spot a sign for a new RV park as we go south towards our old neighborhood on 95. Not too many changes; we just hope they are not working on the next section of Hwy 71 in Bastrop in front of our RV Park. No need to worry as we pull in. I guess the economy has stalled the roadwork.

Bob winds his way to the big white farmhouse that is the office here at Bastrop RV Park, 689 Hwy 71 W., Bastrop, TX 78602 (512) 321-4404. A calico cat comes out to greet us. We ring the bell and step in the little office door. The cat jumps in with us. No one is home but I can't get the cat to leave. Finally I coax him out. We use our own facilities for a restroom break. Then we knock on the camp hosts' door and Betty from Ohio who we've met several years back comes out of her Big Horn 5th wheel to sign us in. We pay her $380.00/month for a 50 amp site all the way on the end by the Hwy. We'll see how the traffic noise is.

Bob backs in but the road is narrow and it's a tight fit. He can't pull forward to straighten out without going off the pavement so we jockey a few times and finally find a spot we like. We set up quickly after our 106 mile journey. We hang the bikes in the garage and head to The Cedars Grill (formerly Mama Mia's.) I opt for the Mediterranean menu; baba kanoush, lentil lemon soup and a vege wrap sandwich. Bob has Penne Rustica, one of our Mama Mia favorites.

Of course we have to stop at HEB on the way home; mostly for fruit but an Italian Creme Cake jumped in our cart. We love HEB's bakery. Back home Bob fills our fresh water tank in case of freezing weather later this week. It sounded like the pump didn't want to shut off the last time we used it in Lampasas and that usually means the tank is about empty. I used the time to put out my decor and get out some Christmas items.

We read the Sunday paper and worked the puzzles. Around 7:30 I called Glenda to let her know we're neighbors again. We make plans to watch Monday Night Football at her place. Can't wait to see her.

Our Internet connection through our 3G card is the fastest we've ever had here at Bastrop RV Park. There must be a new cell tower nearby. It's 9:45 p.m. and 54 degrees with 84% humidity. The high was 71 degrees! Now that's more like it. The low was 39 in Lampasas.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pre-Move Pack and Return to The Yumm Factory

Saturday, December 12, I wake up early but have no clock or watch I can see. So I just get up and discover it is 5:03 a.m. But I don't mind because my neck doesn't hurt. I stretch to make sure it stays that way. The low was only 45 degrees so Bob didn't have to disconnect the water. It sure was nice to have it this morning as I was going through my morning routine.

I used my early morning free time to finish reading Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings." Bob got up and we had a light breakfast on this overcast morning. Then I took down all of the decor and packed away the items that can be done the day before our move. I called Bastrop RV Park and talked to Betty who said they have a site for us and will see us tomorrow. I forgot to ask if they ever started the road widening project out front on Hwy 71. I guess we'll see when we get there tomorrow.

We go to lunch around 12:15 and unanimously vote for a return trip to The Yumm Factory Cafe. It is not quite as busy on a Saturday in spite of the Texas BBQ on the buffet today. I opt for their famous meatloaf and it does not disappoint. Bob has the T.J. Monroe turkey sandwich with sliced green apples. My salad was dressed with their excellent Blue Cheese Vinaigrette. Go boxes again. Most of the patrons were loading up on sausage, chicken and BBQ ribs at the buffet and in typical Texas fashion, skipping most of the sides.

Back home to read the paper. Bob check the tires and fluids, moves the golf clubs out from under the tonneau cover and we bring the bikes into the towing position. It's 5:46 p.m. and 51 degrees, the high for the day, under cloudy skies with 85% humidity. Tomorrow we complete our round circuit trip back to Texas where it all started in The Beauty and The Beast last year and ends with Big Bertha and The Titanic.

The Yumm Factory Cafe--Top 40 Texas Monthly Small Town Cafes

Friday, December 11, I was up at 7:30 to find the low was only 40 degrees. As I stretch I discover my neck is way better today. We have a light breakfast. Bob turns the water on (apparently there was no need to disconnect it.) I call for some year-end 'maintenance' appointments for these old bodies. We can't see the eye doctor (no pun intended) until Jan. 19th!

Bob retrieves another puzzle from the rec room and says there are people in there from the club that is meeting here this weekend. I work on Christmas cards most of the day. At 12:30 we go to lunch at The Yumm Factory Cafe but the parking lot is crowded so we drop by the post office for stamps, where there is no line of course since we're trying to kill time. Dawn, my hairdresser, returns my call from earlier while we're driving around and I fumble around to find a calendar, pen and paper to set an appointment with her next week. Boy, I sure don't multitask very well anymore. I guess I need a Blackberry or some such thing instead of my 5-year old boat anchor of a cell phone. We check out Dollar General on the square downtown for sundries. And finally we get a newspaper at Fina before returning to The Yumm Factory Cafe.

When we were here Tuesday with our Hill Country friends we didn't see the new framed cover of the December 2008 issue of Texas Monthly hanging behind the checkout. It lists the 40 Best Small Town Cafes in Texas and The Yumm Factory Cafe in Lampasas made the list! No wonder it is so busy now. Bob and I can say we discovered it before it was 'discovered'! Check it out at Texas Monthly.

We grab a free table quickly as there is a crowd due to the catfish buffet. But we order off the menu. I have the grilled salmon and Bob has the salmon patties. We both try the Shrimp Gumbo that was good but served lukewarm. We share our sides and leave with 'go' boxes.

Back home to work on Christmas cards. My friend Marilynn from Smithville, east of Austin, calls. She's having a showing of her jewelry that she makes tomorrow in front of Maxine's in downtown Bastrop. I was disappointed that Bob and I won't arrive in Bastrop until Sunday. She promises me a 'private' showing. She's going to Keystone, CO, with her daughter's family for Christmas week. It sure is nice to hear from her.

I'm back at work on my cards when Karen calls in the late afternoon. She's in Lampasas with her brother, Dick, and his wife. They ate at The Yumm Factory Cafe (too bad we missed them) and she wants to come by and show them The Titanic. We scramble to clear a path between the tray table with jigsaw puzzle pieces and my spread of Christmas card paraphernalia that is spread out astern.

Soon they pull up and come on inside. Bob and I met Dick in Wichita two years ago at Karen's family reunion but didn't meet his wife while we were there. We chatted for a bit. Her parents had an RV and went to Florida, near Ft. Meyers. She went with them during her summers off as a teacher. My Aunt Bernice and Uncle John wintered in Ft. Meyers during their retirement. We gave them the tour of The Titanic and they all hit the road.

Just before 7:00 I finished my cards and Bob finished his puzzle. We had leftover Molcajetes, read the paper and watched Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (an Alaska episode!) It's 8:25 p.m. and 46 degrees with 63% humidity. The low was 48

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lists, Labels and Christmas Cards

Thursday, December 10, I greeted the day at 7:30 a.m. I sure slept good and my neck is better this morning. I stretch first thing to keep it that way. As I enjoy my coffee I realize Bob will be surprised to know it is only 34 degrees outside this morning. It actually drops to 33 degrees an hour later. The high only gets to 48 and it remains partly sunny all day.

Tom and Shirley are all packed up and ready to leave. We go out into the cold morning air to see them off. I'm sure glad we're not out here packing up this morning. I guess those Iowans can take it. They pack up like pros. I sure hate to see them go but we had a really nice visit. This lifestyle is all about hellos and goodbyes. They are off to Abilene to pet sit while their kids go to disney World!

Bob and I are at loose ends after they pull out. We have leftover breakfast tacos and then he hooks the water back up so I can do the dishes and take a shower. The wi-fi is working again just like Shirley said it was. I send emails and pictures to all of our visitors of the past two days. And I get an email from Debbie, our Austin neighbor from way back in the 1980's who was at Megan's shower. She kept her promise to let me know when her daughter Jenny had her baby--it's a boy, Jake! I'm so happy for all of them.

I update my '09 Christmas card address list. I'm using our new desk by the entertainment area as Bob has a 1000-piece Thomas Kinkaid lighthouse puzzle on the dining room table. He traded it at the rec room for one we have worked already. If the 'club' showed up today we missed them or they are all on the other side of the RV Park. It only takes me one false start this year to print my address labels. I spend some time working on yesterday's journal page and photos.

We have leftover Molcajetes for lunch and then I get back to my Christmas cards. I'm trying to take a break every 30 minutes to keep my neck from hutring. At 7;00 we settle in to watch Flash Forward but it is a repeat. They have repeated every serial show this week. Probably just because we have good cable here.

I call Linda to tell her I heard about Jenny's new baby. She's going to get to see them this weekend. Linda celebrate her birthday at The Cheesecake Factory and described a Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake that sounded like heaven. Megan had her shower at the school where she teaches today. Linda said it was very nice and she got a lot of cute things. The nursery is looking good with white woodwork making the colors really stand out. Mike was at the Lake where it got really cold so he brought his stuff inside and tied flies. That's a good activity for a cold day. It's 8:40 p.m. and 39 degrees with 48% humidity.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Breakfast Tacos, Tour Lampasas & No View of the Dam at Buchanan

Tom and Shirley from Norwalk, IA, at Boone RV Park, Lampasas, TX

Wednesday, December 9, I was up at 6:30. I stretched out my neck and then rested on the couch for a half an hour. I had my coffee and washed yesterday's few plates and silverware since I need them this morning. Then I set the table and dished up the condiments for the breakfast tacos. I wanted to be out of the kitchen by the time Bob started cooking. The sun is out but I was shocked to see 35 degrees at 6:30 a.m. Nobody said nothing about getting that close to freezing last night. Imagine my surprise 45 minutes later when it was 33 degrees! Bob got up and we looked again and saw 31 degrees! Okay, now it has officially frozen. Fortunately our water is still running. Later Tom and Shirley say their water hose froze a bit and wouldn't trickle through for a while. On tonight's newscast they report that the cold front blew in at 3:00 a.m. So that's why it was still dropping this morning.

Bob and Rita with The Titanic at Boone RV Park

At 9:20 I called Tom and he said they're on their way over. With the sun streaming in the dining room window, we feast on Bob's great breakfast tacos and some Crispy Thingies. Tom and I enjoy hazelnut coffee. We all chat in the living room, look at Megan's shower and some Dale Chihuly glass pictures. We remember to give them the Escapees RV magazine with the Tent Rocks National Park. They head home around 11:30 with a promise to meet in an hour for sightseeing.

Shirley, Bob and Tom feed the fowl at Brook Park in Lampasas, TX

At 12:30 we have a photo op out by our respective RVs. We put the golf clubs under our tonneau cover to free up the backseat for those guys. Then we head to Brook Park just down the road. We feed the geese and ducks that accost us as we get out of the truck with some trail mix I found in my golf bag. It is bitterly cold (at least the Texans think it is) but we brave it and walk to the Hancock Springs Bathhouse. My hands and face are frozen. Tom sticks his hand in the water coming out of the hot springs and is surprised that it is still warm as it trickles back to Sulphur Creek.

Pablo Jass Boot Roundup Mural, Lampasas, TX

Back to the truck for a short trip to the Pablo Jass Boot Mural here in Lampasas. I read about it in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram last year. The Texas-size painting was unveiled in 2008 and plastered on a wall a block or so off the square. It serves as a testimony to generations of boot makers from this Hill Country town, particularly the legendary Ray Jones, called 'the boot maker's boot maker.' Mr. Jones' various apprentices continue making boots in Lampasas just the way their mentor taught them.

Shirley and I snapped a few photos of the big mural that is the talk of this town of 6,000. Real boots collected from around the city were reproduced by a team of volunteers as a mural so vivid it required a special exemption from the City Council. Cowboy boots are a unique art form. Capturing cowboy culture on a 15-by-46-foot exterior wall required not just artistic skill, but computer savvy, plenty of willing hands and a whole lot of ingenuity, like using an overhead projector mounted on the bed of a pickup to trace the basic outlines of the mural.

Lampasas County Courthouse

This is the first of at least four murals chosen by the Vision Downtown Lampasas art committee. Once boots were decided on for the first mural the call went out for boots themselves, especially those crafted by Mr. Jones and his successors, including John and Pablo Jass as well as Joaquin Medina. Just like that, the artists had a treasure trove from which to choose--150 pairs, some dating to the 1940's, in eye-searing hues few had expected. Some of the designs were unique as well, like the boots with the playing cards. Locals say you can readily tell a pair of Mr. Jones' boots by their telltale design elements: long, white pulls at the top, white cord side seams and the oversize "toe bug" he favored. Locals who owned the boots said "They were tough as hell, plain to average in description, with only two choices of stitch pattern and most folks never saw the second choice because Ray didn't like it." But even Mr. Jones would build boots of just about any color imaginable.

Lake Buchanan Dam

It's too cold to dawdle so we move on and park around the courthouse. We do one walk around the Lampasas County Courthouse. Bob shells some fallen pecans and we sample them. There is a new steel frame going up on a building on the square next to Dollar General but I can't tell what it is going to be.

Longhorn Graffiti

We get diesel and an Austin American-Statesman at Fina. Now we have fuel to take a scenic Hill Country drive to Lake Buchanan and Inks Lake. It is pretty outside but very cold. The high only gets to 48. We discover that since 9/11 you can no longer walk across the dam. So we go to Inks Lake and walk halfway across the pedestrian bridge that was the old highway. Shirley and I take a picture of the new highway concrete piling that has a big Texas Longhorn painted on it by some passing boater. Unfortunately the view of Buchanan Dam is being blocked by the new bridge so we declare it to be the dam that can't be viewed.

Tom, Shirley and Bob enjoy the view at Devil's Waterhole above Inks Lake

Bob turns into Inks Lake State Park and stops at Devil's Waterhole overlook. Shirley and I make the most of this photo op. It's time to head back to Lampasas and have a late lunch at El Rodeo. We are the only ones in there at 3:00 p.m. Bob and I have a Chicken and Shrimp Molcajete. I was glad we asked them if we could have the shrimp instead of the beef (only $1.00 extra.) Tom had puffy tacos and Shirley had enchiladas. The salsa was muy picante!

Tom, Bob, Rita and Shirley at El Rodeo in Lampasas

Back to Boone RV Park. Shirley has some laundry to do. Tom goes to Fina to fill up his truck as they plan to head to Abilene in the morning. Bob and I go inside to read the paper after we all agree to meet at their place this evening. Shirley knocks on the doors and asks if we need pencils. Yes! She gives us a big handful of nice, round, sturdy pencils. We have cheap, thin, octagonal ones from Dollar General.

Molcajete at El Rodeo

Around 6:30 we head to their Kountry Star 5th wheel. I love their floorplan with a rear peninsula kitchen. They have lots of room in here. On the way in we spy two RV's across the way with Christmas light displays. We all chat until about 9:00. It's 40 degrees with a low of 25 predicted. We say goodnight. They will leave between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m. so we'll see them before they hit the road tomorrow. Bob unhooks our water and drains the hose on the way back home. It's 9:45 p.m. and 38 degrees with 44% humidity.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Texas Friends and Iowa Friends

Mary Beth, Tom, Bob, Rita and Karen aboard The Titanic in Lampasas, TX
Tuesday, December 8, I got up at 6:30. The low was 41 last night. It is cloudy until later this afternoon. This morning the steps of the RV are wet and it is misty but not raining. My neck is hurting before I stretch but feels much better after that. We have a light breakfast and get cleaned up. Bob puts the golf clubs back in the truck. While I'm in the shower Bob gets a call from our friend Peggy in Elgin. She invited us to her and Michael's Christmas party next Saturday night in our old neighborhood. It's so nice of her to think of us and include us so we get to see everyone.

Shirley called about 9:30 this morning. Her and Tom, our Iowa RV friends, are just coming through Temple, TX, and will be here in about an hour. They got their truck back from the repair shop yesterday morning at 11:00 and drove to just south of Ft. Worth. This morning they hit the road at 5:30 a.m. Obviously they are earlier travelers than we are. I tell her about our lunch plans with our Texas friends and invite them to join us. But they just had a big breakfast so we agree to meet them afterwards. This will give them an opportunity for a nap. I would need one too if I got up and moved the RV down the road that early. We're sure looking forward to seeing them. I think it was June of 2008 when we last crossed paths with them and visited the Bridges of Madison County.

Around 10:30 I look out the big back picture window and see them coming south on Hwy 281. Soon the campground host is leading them around the Rec Room and into site 35 on our curbside. We jump out to say hi. It's so great to see them. We chat for a few minutes and then say farewell to let them get set up with a promise to look them up after lunch.

At 11:15 we head around the corner to The Yumm Factory. Just as we pull up my phone rings. It's Karen. She's over at Boone RV Park asking if we got our truck back or do we need a ride. How nice of her to think of us as she passed by. I tell her we got it back and just left the RV Park. I try to flag her down but she zooms by the parking lot of the restaurant. I see her turn around and head this way. Garmin gave her bad directions. It's great to see her. Mary Beth and Tom pull up right behind her.

We get a big table in the back room. Tom enjoys today's buffet. Bob has the catfish and the rest of us have the salmon patties. Bob and I enjoyed the mushroom brie soup. There was lots of gabbing as we caught up on a whole year. The lunch crowd cleared out and we were still gabbing. So we moved the party to the Titanic with Big Bertha leading the way.

They got the grand tour and we all settled in for tea and cookies. Tom had to jump up and move their hybrid as a big class A pulled into the site two slots over from us where he was parked. The sun comes out and it has really warmed up, getting to a high of 64 degrees. They all hit the road around 4:00. It sure was great to visit. Hopefully we can get back together before we leave the Austin area.

Bob and I cleaned up the plates and cups and spotted Tom and Shirley out for a walk in the late evening sun. We head around the circle and catch up with them on the far side. We all walk back to the Titanic so they can get a tour. We had a nice visit and enjoyed tea and cookies-what else? They headed home around 6:00 and we invited them for breakfast tacos tomorrow morning before we head our for the day's adventures.

Just as they were leaving my phone was ringing. I find a voice message from my Austin friend Jean. She's inviting us for lunch next Wednesday; Alton Brown Meatloaf seems to be involved. I can't wait. Seems like everyone knows our schedule fills up when we're in town and they are trying to get a bid in early. It is exciting to be near good friends this time of year as so often we are off on our own. That means we're always meeting new people and forming new connections but it means a lot to us to stay in touch with long-time friends.

We make a quick trip to HEB for a newspaper and tortillas. We get back in time for the NCIS's but they are both repeats. We read the Austin American-Statesman, work the puzzles, watch TV and I update my journal. It's 9:16 p.m. and 51 degrees with 85% humidity.