Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Turn for Home

We will make the turn and head for home tomorrow. We called Woody Acres home for 15 days which is probably close to a record long stay for us. But the people just kept being so nice, that we didn't want to be the first to leave.

My original prediction in mid February when Lynne wanted to know when to restart the paper was Sunday April 3. Now that is looking pretty solid, but it is the meteorological pattern that has the ultimate say. We are just along for the fine weather.

Today, by the way, was the perfect specimen of the perfect spring day here in Fulton. Perfect!

We invited Mark and Beth over for wine and cheese to toast the sunset and to thank them for their kindnesses. That was wonderful, and they even brought along dinner, an upside down pizza made with warm-and-serve rolls. Since it also contained low-fat ingredients, it was a double winner.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Required Eating

Our newest [due to yet more Spring departures of the intervening] neighbors Mark and Beth took us with them to the Tuesday special at The Big Fisherman Restaurant billing it as the not-to-be-missed food event of the week in Aransas Pass. Wow! Chicken fried steak, with mashed potatoes and coleslaw and rolls for $2.50 and small frozen margaritas for $1. This place is a destination in itself. We met up with two other couples from Woody Acres and sat at one of the many large tables. Other Tuesday special choices were chicken livers or gizzards for the same price and other specials like fried fish for a couple of bucks more. We were entranced by the experience, as were thousands of others who show up for the same deal on a regular basis. You can leave a 50% tip that's only $3!

We took the back roads on the way home looking for some Sand Hill Cranes or other unusual wildlife, but had to content ourselves with just one massive bull out grazing near the road in a herd of obviously contented cows. Still some pretty good fun.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Recuperative Solitaire

A discovery that you didn't see coming -- a new solitaire game for the Mac that actually improves your play measurably. The problem with most of the other solitaires out there is that they are dumb media substitutes for physical cards, with dealing and score keeping added in.

Try McSolitaire free from the MacApp Store. This game will tell you when there are no more moves, and if you don't see the move it will play it for you. Wow! Your game will start improving instantly. There are so many subtle moves that I never knew existed, but now look for routinely. Highly Recommended

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Weather Ideal

Thursday the weather turned mostly cloudy at Woody Acres. Still, the temperature went up to its normal upper 70s and this evening it should cool to the mid to upper 60s. The humidity is around 70% and the breeze from the Gulf is fairly consistent.

We are now pretty much in zone-out mode, as we wait for the Spring to  establish itself in the midwest. The only negative is the bummed knee, which suffered an additional injury as I tried to enter the hot tub yesterday. Compounding the negative, is the fact that the renewed swelling, is a contra-indicator for the ultrasound treatment -- so it's back to the ice et cetera. Couldn't ask for a better environ for rehab, though.

To fill in a few of the RV park details, it should be noted that the restrooms are private, have soap and paper towels, and are fitted with granite counters -- pretty much everything I ever wanted in RV plumbing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Android Apps

The iBird app now on my phone has been phenomenal in helping us identify birds by sight and sound. Now making apps even more available is the Amazon App Store which daily has a paid app for free. This will probably be a great source of competition that will undoubtedly lower overall pricing. Well worth checking out if your phone is an android.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Great Blue Heron Visit

We were favored buy an up-close view of a Great Blue Heron fishing both banks of our little lake. Lynne was astounded by all the different colors on this bird.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Death to the clip-in bike shoes! Hello Ultrasound!

With our new neighbor [caused by the departure of the one between us] telling me about the Great Blue Heron Nesting site in Rockport, I biked on out the five miles to explore. It was a little further than my average jaunt, but nothing remarkable. While checking out all the museums and aquariums and the like I was surprised to find an art center. So surprised that I fell sideways and wacked my good knee into a concrete curb -- hello strained ACL. It really is past time to give up on shoes that clip my feet to the pedals. I just can't react fast enough to get them unclipped in even a slow fall anymore. I had to beg a local sculptor for a ride back to Morty. The two days since have been devoted to elevation, ice and rest. I found a ultrasound machine that ought to provide some extra healing power like the time I was in physical therapy for busting the ligaments in my left knee. It looks pretty good, and is less than half the price of most such devices being sold on the internets.

Since we ate our last RV dinner last night we were desperate to unplug Morty and head to the local Walmarts [here that has a special meaning because the new supercenter is right nest to the abandoned old-style store.] In addition to stocking up on what will probably be the last week's worth of food for this trip, I also got a knee brace which I put on immediately -- pretty big help. The UPS guy brought the Ultrasound package right up to Morty's front step. I opened it and began the first treatment. It ran for 30 minutes and shut off automatically. Just like the profesional treatment, the immediate reaction is muted indeed, but the psychosomatic benefits are huge. Highly recommended, but watch this space.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fulton, Texas -- Woody Acres RV Resort

Nineteen miles North and on the bay, is Fulton where Woody Acres RV Resort is located. This is an older but up-to-date park with extremely friendly and laid-back residents -- a very welcome change from Pioneer where the spring-breakers had the run of the place. Here, everyone wants to chat and find out about you. The sites are a little short, and that puts the rear window looking out on one of the several ponds where ducks and turtles have the run of the place.

On Tuesday evenings there is a resident staged country music extravaganza that was very impressive. This is a real "stop to smell the roses" kind of place, and we may just extend our stay to a week or more.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Port Aransas TX -- Pioneer RV Resort

Morty hauled us another 80 miles further South right to the Gulf shore. We are at a huge RV resort right on the beach -- with prices set accordingly. We are paying nearly triple the rate prevalent in most of the state parks we've been in recently. But it is a nice, albeit very popular spot.

The beach is also very nice, but pretty heavily trafficked with Texas-trucks and unmarked police cars who do seem to be checking intoxication levels. This is the start of spring break for the majority of local schools. The surf seemed very pleasant, and not nearly as cold as I would have expected. There was one man-o-war jellyfish washed up on shore, but otherwise a very pleasant experience.

The Sunday afternoon ice cream social got our attention, and we joined in, completely ruining our appetite for not only the afternoon appetizers, but for dinner itself. Around nine, we had a few crackers and cold cuts with a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese, and that was plenty. The Blue Bell ice cream was 75 cents a scoop with cookies and "seconds." The recreation hall pretty much fills up and everyone sits at a table. Then that master of ceremonies calls out one number at a time, and that table gets in line to be served by the volunteer hosts. The experience was quite reminiscent of some cruise ship gustatory delights.

The park has several ponds which serve as nursery for numerous ducks and other water birds. I hope to get some decent pictures. My preliminary scan indicates canvas backs and wood ducks. There are some good pictures up on showing a variety of beautiful bird experiences.

We walk the beach Monday morning, but the Portuguese Man o' War are a little too numerous for safety. The full grown ones are easy enough to see except for walking in the surf. But there are thousands of babies washing up on shore that would be way too easy to step on before you ever saw them. So we cut the walksies a little shorties and head back to Morty for a little lunch. Lynne makes a light lunch version of the breakfast burrito from McDonalds that is better than the original at least after the application of a little Cholula Hot Sauce.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Victoria, Texas -- Lazy Longhorn RV Park

Driven by the need to deal with the ever-growing burden of three weeks' worth of dirty laundry, Morty sought out a RV park with superior laundry facilities and found one in Victoria called the Lazy Longhorn. This is a AAA park that knocks 10% off for members. We also had to deal with the school holiday next week that would cause a lot of locals to flock to the state parks for this weekend. We are right on the outskirts of the city which is well apportioned with shopping and eating establishments.

We have a cozy site which is surrounded on three sides by other sites, and the fourth is the property fence which separates us from a truck yard. There are trees and other landscaping but the tall eucalyptus trees are showing signs of not surviving the last winter freezes. But we are under a massive high pressure system that has the sky severe clear. The day was warm nearing 80, but the night has cold in store as it steadily drops to 40 degrees.

On Friday and Saturday, I bike into the old town of Victoria. The old mansions are magnificent. The churches with their complexes are very impressive and densely packed, even of the same denomination. I lose my bearings on the way back for lunch, so the android phone comes to the rescue. I just enter the name of the RV park, and it asks me if I want directions. Turns out I was just half a block from finding the cross street i was looking for. The phone and its services continue to amaze.

The WiFi here is very good, if a little quirky. Here, my Chrome browser works fine on most sites, with the big exception of Yahoo Mail and Blogspot. Each of these sites works fine in the Safari browser. Something very strange going on.

Lake Texana State Park

Morty does his “Southbound Ho!” thing and 80 miles later we are in Edna, Texas and the Lake Texana State Park. We pass through a magical zone, and the temperature magically rises 10 degrees to the upper 70s. Here the winter bare trees are in the minority because most of the Live Oak have their leaves as do the mesquite and other desert plants. This park is suprisingly flat compared to most of the others on this trip, making it perfect for the leisurely bicycle ride.

Some neighbors say they spotted an alligator nursery, and we go hiking on our own to try and find it ourselves. We come to a likely spot and I think there is an alligator eye and eyebrow poking thruough the surface of the water. We step a little closer and a twelve footer starts thrashing and clawing its way to deeper water and plant cover. Maybe tomorrow. Turkey Vultures are in major over-supply and they are surprisingly skittish. More than a slight movement from a couple of hundred feet away and they leap to the air as long as their wings are warm enough. There are really so many of them in each pack, that individuals ought to be more secure like schools of fish. Maybe they need some remedial training. We do see a massive herd of yearling deer running along the pipeline clearing, and in and out of the campground. Later that night we hear some massive owl hooting moving through the trees just behind Morty.

Both the phone service and internet are just about useless here, so I bike across the highway to the Brackenridge convention center and campground. No internet but a little better phone reception. I try to download an audio book, and though slow it does work. I explore the adjacent campground and discover that they have a minimal laundry which might fit our need to process three weeks of dirt. Lynne nixes the idea because she needs at least four pairs of machines to handle this load. So we contact Victoria's Lazy R Ranch RV Park and make a reservation for the next three nights.

Later on Wednesday we again try to find the baby alligators, and sure enough, right next to the spot where we startled and were startled, there are about two dozen foot-long gators resting quietly around a partially submerged tree trunk. A few turn tail and plunge. But about half pose quietly for their close-ups. Success at last!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Buescher Texas State Park

Some recent experiences and thoughts:

While dining in Morty on Saturday Lynne spotted our first Road Runner across the street, and we were able to get a couple of pictures.

While checking out our location on Google Maps, I was surprised to see that we are right next to a famous locale that is only viewable from the air or space. That is the name “LUECKE” carved out from the forest in letters that stretch three and a half miles long.

From Buescher TX St Pk

The larger-than-life statue of Sam Houston looking down the highway comes with its own visitors' center -- almost irresistible.

This location is known as the “Lost Pines” because it is a small island outpost of Loblolly pine more than 100 miles from the main body that encompases nearly the entire southeast. Something I couldn't learn on the internet --I wonder if the loblolly pines were what got taken down in the carving extravaganza?

From Buescher TX St Pk

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Pedal thru the Pines

The morning was cloudy, cold and a little rainy.  Pedal thru the Pines is a fundraiser for the Family Crisis Center in Bastrop. The ride started 12 miles away near Bastrop State Park, and about 45 minutes later came through on the parkway to Buescher where we were camping and doing a little photography. There were some 700 pictures before editing, so there were probably that many or more riders. By most accounts the participation was down substantially from last year when the weather was much more accommodating.

If you are looking for your picture and couldn't find it, my apologies -- at least the price was right. If you want a higher resolution version, just let me know.

Buescher Texas State Park

If Texas state parks are the gold standard, and my experience says that they are, then their on-line reservation is the slag standard. It is so bad that even their own web page acknowledges that though they have "been working hard" to improve it, it is still agony for the user. [I think "working hard" will be this decade's code word for "failing" if it isn't already.] Our latest experience was that there was only one site left for this weekend, and we lost it while trying to jump through all their hoops. Later, it came back and we were finally able to complete the process.

Now we are here, and as to how full it is for the weekend? Oh about half a dozen RVs and about as many tents -- or about 15%!! There is a big event Saturday morning as the Pedal Through the Pines will be racing through from 9-12. The bike support people are the tent campers for the most part, and that area will be used as a rest stop for the bicyclists. At least learning the hoops allowed us to book a spot at Goose island for the end of January 2012 -- assuming a little better departure scenario than applied to this trip.

The ranger headquarters had fishing poles and tackle to loan out, so I took advantage of it. That saved me from making a big "investment" in fishing gear of my own to take advantage of the free privilege in the state parks. As each cast grew progressively worse, so did my enchantment with the whole process. I may still give it another try, but all-in-all I'd have to call it not my cup of tea.

On a side note, finishing up our second year of travelling with Morty, this is my 222nd post -- something that I didn't expect would have materialized. It must be more fun than it looks.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Huntsville Texas State Park

We were a little apprehensive about this destination: a) the website says that parts are closed to reconstruct restrooms and showers and b) when we called about space, we were told that we could only get a site near the stables. Not being too interested in joining the horsey set, I was a little put off.

But now the weather was telling us that we were still too far North, and definitely too far West. The jet stream was doing its thing of keeping that portion of the state in the cold and unsettled. Plus, the trip down here would be the magical 99 mile day's journey for Morty.

So, it should come as no surprise, that this is easily one of the best, prettiest, and spacious state parks that we have ever experienced, and it has WiFi. Our view of Lake Raven and its wildlife is superb. We have been watching the white and blue herons along with some duck families enjoying the lake. We have plenty of distance from our closest neighbor in the adjoining site. The grounds are magnificent, including the loblollies. The phone service is good enough to watch some television via the Slingbox. The weather is absolutely spectacular with a perfect 72 degrees and severe clear overhead. There is a little prescribed burning going on in the park, but it is no more offensive to our delicate nostrils than a campfire. The old showers aren't terrible, but we have a new set within a short walk.

Huntsville Texas, gets our highest recommendation.