Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Message to Everyone

We arrived here in San Angelo this past Tuesday. Al and I have both been a little under the weather with colds, but we are glad to be here for the Christmas Holiday. The kids are very busy now with the Nutcracker performances that 3 out of the 5 are in. Last night was opening night, and I was told it went very well. We have tickets for the last performance which is on Sunday afternoon.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Joyous New Year. I will be taking a little break from blogging until after the New Year. Stay warm everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Boondocking on Padre Island National Seashore

This is one of two campgrounds at the National Seashore on North Padre Island, run by the National Park Service.

We enjoyed walking on the beach and even driving our truck on the beach

Some campers on the beach were feeding the seagulls

Al took this picture from on top of our RV. All along the beach at the campground there are covered picnic tables.

We had the best campsite. On the far left is a path leading to the beach.

Our truck on the beach. We did a little combination of driving and walking. You can't drive on the part of the beach where the campground is. But you can drive for miles beyond it going south. There were people in RVs camping right on the beach.

I got up early enough yesterday to catch the sunrise over the water just outside our door.

We had a nice time camping at the National Seashore on N. Padre Island. We stayed for 4 days and had really great weather (except for a lot of wind). We were practicing our boondocking (meaning camping without hook-ups). We were totally off the grid as there is no electricity furnished and no water or sewer at the campsite. We were able to get water to fill our tanks, and they did have a dump station there. Since we have solar and a generator, it wasn't too bad. In fact, it was kinda fun.(In fact, we didn't have to use our generator at all). It seemed good to just relax, walk on the beach, pick up seashells, read, and watch a little TV. Not having too much on the agenda can sometimes be a good thing. I must confess, though it was a little hard to get into the Christmas spirit while there, as nothing reminded me of Christmas.
I'm really glad we went there, and we really enjoyed it. But, I must confess that 4 days was just enough for me. I guess I like being closer to civilization. I think it would have been more fun also if there were more people there. Even though the weather was good, not that many campsites were filled, probably because of the approaching holiday, and it just seemed kinda lonely.

We are now in Kerrville, TX for a couple of days, and then we head to San Angelo for "The Nutcracker," as 3 of the grand kids are in it again this year, and Erik is the Prince! We just couldn't miss it and, of course, it's less than 2 weeks til Christmas, so it will be nice to be with loved ones during that special time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Revisiting Goose Island in Texas

We are spending a couple of days here at Goose Island State Park. Just relaxing a little, as we drove from Florida to here in 2 days. That's a lot of miles for us considering we are pulling a 38' Fifth-Wheel. It seemed good to sleep in a little this morning. We are getting ready to head out to Padre Island National Seashore, which is less than an hour from here. Anyone who read our blog last year, may remember we wanted to go there and try out our solar, but the weather was terrible, and we never seemed to get any sun that lasted for more than a day. So, I have been grocery shopping, doing laundry, and getting ready for 4 days at one of the prettiest places I have ever been. It should be fun. Our solar seems to be working good, and this year we brought our generator as a backup. Not sure if our aircard will work there, so I may not be updating the blog until after we leave there.

The weather forecast is sunny and in the high 60's and 70's for the next 4 days, and I'm hoping for a very relaxing and enjoyable time. We are all stocked up on groceries, and will be heading out tomorrow morning. I'll take lots of pictures!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ft. Pickens Campground, Gulf Islands National Seashore

Entrance road leading to the National Park and Campground.......No, it's not snow!

Path from Campground leading to the Bay

This was taken late in the day, so the sun wasn't so bright. Boardwalk across street from campground leading to the beach.

It looks like snow for sure in this picture. I just love how white the sand is here.

The previous 2 pics were so dark that I took this using the flash. Such a beautiful beach!

More of the same beach

Inside one of the buildings at Fort Pickens

Buildings here really show the damage done over the years, don't you think.

Another interesting building at the fort.

Al and I were headed somewhere totally different, and decided to take a detour to check out this place. I had read about it online and was curious, so since it was in the general direction of where we were already headed, we decided to spend the night here. We were so glad we did, as it is really beautiful here. Located on Santa Rosa Island, west of Pensacola Beach in Florida, it is truly a National treasure. We only spent one night here, but I'm sure we will return sometime in the future.

We drove a mile down the road from the campground to see what the Fort was like. It was sad to see how the place has been affected over the years from hurricanes and such. Hurricane Ivan really did a lot of damage here in 2004 when it hit the Gulf Coast. The Fort was closed for a few years after that, and it just reopened in 2009. Ft. Pickens was completed in 1834 and was named after Revolutionary war hero, Andrew Pickens. It was built to fortify the Pensacola Harbor. Famous Apache Indian Geronimo, was imprisoned there from 1886 to 1887. They do offer tours of the Fort, but unfortunately, we arrived there too late in the day. One more reason to return.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Visit with Aunt Edna

Aunt Edna, looking really good at 93

After Leaving Winter Haven, we decided to drive over to Largo and pay a visit to Al's Aunt Edna. She is 93 and we hadn't seen her in many years. Al called her a few days ahead of time to make sure she would be home. So, yesterday we headed to Largo and stayed there at a nearby RV Park. It was only about 75 miles from Winter Haven, so we were able to set up our Montana in the park, have lunch and then head over to her place.

When we arrived, she did a cute little dance before hugging us both. She was so cute and seemed so happy to have us there. We had a wonderful visit with her and it was so good catching up on things going on in her family as well as ours.

Today, we drove to Quincy, FL near Tallahassee. It turned out to be a horrible drive for us. We didn't realize that the route we took would be a lot of stop and go. What should have taken no more than 5 hours, took us almost 7. We would have had to drive 50 more miles if we went the fastest route which would have been mostly interstate. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spook Hill near Winter Haven, FL

This is a video I got off of U-Tube. I had trouble getting good pictures of this, so I thought this would demonstrate our experience better than I could explain it. Al and I heard about this place from Ed and Mary, friends of ours that stay here for the winter months. When you stop at the white line, put your car in neutral, your car will roll backwards up the hill. We went there with our friends, Wayne and Julie one day this week and tried it ourselves and yes, after we put it in neutral we rolled up the hill in our big truck!

We have been having a great time here in Winter Haven! We got here on Sunday and have been visiting with our friends, Ed and Mary who are our neighbors back home. We also met up with Wayne and Julie, friends we met last year at Goose Island, TX. They came by to visit us on Tuesday and on Wednesday we went to Frostproof, (about a half hour south of here) to see them and we went out to lunch together before checking out Spook Hill. We had so much fun and we can't figure out why this works.

Tonight we went out with another couple from back home who are also staying in Winter Haven. Alan and Brenda. It was Alan's b'day, so they asked us to go out to the Longhorn Steakhouse with them.

We've had lot's of fun and lots of good company these past few days and tomorrow we head to Largo to see Al's 93 yr. old aunt.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Enjoying Thanksgiving Weekend

We enjoyed listening to Bill playing his dulcimer

Bill and Helen at their home on Thanksgiving Day

Ken and Sandy, friends of Bill and Helen. We enjoyed meeting them and having Thanksgiving together! Bonus....They are both originally from upstate NY!!!

The end of a perfect holiday. Beautiful sunset! Picture taken from Bill and Helen's Patio

Another picture of the Thanksgiving eve sunset.

This is the old sugar mill at De Leon Springs State Park. Now called "The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant.

Natural Springs swimming pool at De Leon Springs State Park

This is the a different view of the Sugar house overlooking a natural springs lake. Notice the beautiful water falls.

Something different is always fun. There were 2 griddles on the table for the 6 of us to use. They bring out pancake batter in pitchers and you make your own pancakes right at the table. Also, if you order eggs you fix them yourself also. We had a great time!

Sorry folks, someone had to take the picture. Here is Judy, Dennis, Al, Helen, and Bill

We've been having a great time here in Silver Springs visiting with Bill and Helen as well as Ken and Sandy. Thanksgiving was a wonderful time! Helen cooked a beautiful turkey as well as many of the fixings. Sandy's sweet potato casserole was beyond belief. I had to get that recipe! We all contributed to the dinner and I must say it was all good. But the best part was the fun we had with the people we were with. If you can't be with your family, the next best thing is to share the holiday with friends. We are so thankful that we have some great friends like Bill and Helen, and it seems like we are always making new ones while on the road.

Today, we went to De Leon Springs State Park. Helen had told us about this place and she thought we would enjoy the experience. It was about an hour's drive from here. Dennis and Judy, another couple we had met through the Montana Owners Club, met us there. Another great time with really nice people.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wilderness RV Park Estates, Silver Springs, FL

Our Campsite here. We are just a short distance from Bill and Helen's place

This is their clubhouse. We are located right next door.

The heated pool in back of clubhouse

Al and I would like to wish you all a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

We arrived here on Monday and we have been really enjoying ourselves with Helen and Bill. They introduced us to Ken and Sandy, a very nice couple who are staying just across from them. They are also here visiting Bill and Helen. It seems Bill and Helen have a lot of friends from all over the country, that they have met over the years. They have had many visitors at their winter home here in Silver Springs. Once you meet them, you can understand why! The weather here right now is 86. A tad warmer than we like, but it only seems to stay hot for a few hours in the afternoon, and then around 5 it starts cooling off.

We are having Thanksgiving dinner with Helen and Bill at their place and Ken and Sandy will also be there. We will be cooking up a storm and it promises to be really good. Good food, good company...........a lot to be thankful for.

I have been lazy with the picture taking, so I will try to post more on here. This is a beautiful place. Helen took me around it in her golf cart, but wouldn't you know, I forgot to bring the camera!

Stayed tuned and again.......Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tour of The Citadel with Rob

On Thursday Al and I took a ride over to the Citadel where both Rob and Vickie work. Vickie works in the Administration Building and is in charge of Payroll. Rob is the Director of Risk Management and Safety. Rob was our Tour guide and he did a fantastic job showing us around the place in a golf cart.

The Citadel is a State of South Carolina Military College. It is run as a military college and the students are taught leadership and character training and live in a military setting. All students dress in military uniforms and must live on campus. About one third of the students who graduate from the Citadel go into the military after graduations. All branches of the military are represented here.

This is the Administration building where Vickie works

This is a tank from a previous war. There are many artifacts from various wars on the campus

These are new students and are called "Knobs". They have the strictest of rules to go by. For the first 6 months they attend the school, they have to walk in single file everywhere they go. They must remain silent when going to and from their classes and they pretty much only go to classes. They don't get to socialize and even when they are in the mess hall, they can only talk when they are asked a question. Notice the hat they are wearing. It is plain and there are no stripes on them. This is how you can tell they are knobs. I felt so bad for them, but it's all a part of their training and everyone has to be a knob before he becomes a cadet.

The beautiful newly renovated library. The inside was really beautiful, I didn't feel I should take pictures while all the students were in there studying.

This is the chapel. I took pictures of the inside, but they came out too dark. It was a really beautiful place and was much larger than I imagined from the outside.

This is the entrance to one of the barracks. Notice the security. There are several of these buildings forming a large square with a courtyard in the middle.

This is Mark Clark Hall. This houses many different things, such as a barbershop, gift shop, game room, post office, billiard room, large auditorium, a reception room. There is also a Catholic chapel on the second floor and guest quarters on the third floor for distinguished guests who visit the Citadel.

Just had to take a picture of Uncle Al with his nephew, Rob. (two handsome guys)

Rob also took us a little behind the scenes. This houses different garages for various maintenance projects.

Rob was responsible for having all these defibrillators installed all over the campus. One of his many jobs is to make sure everything is up to code and to implement as many safety measures as he feels is necessary throughout the campus.

Rob, our fantastic tour guide in his office. Thanks Rob for a great time! We really enjoyed ourselves.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Market and More of Charleston

Just some of the many items sold in the Market here.

Even Shoes!

These are grass baskets made here! They are very expensive because of the amount of labor involved in making them. This craft comes from Africa and I was told that is the only other place they are made.

Several different buildings hold many different vendors

This huge cruise ship is docked in Charleston harbor.

We had to try the She crab soup, which is very popular here in Charleston.

Al got a kick out of this, a place for him to rest while I shopped!

We are still enjoying ourselves here in Charleston. Yesterday we toured The Citadel. Rob and Vickie both work there, and Rob gave us a fantastic tour of the place. That will be my next blog post. Tonight we are going over to their house for a "Southern dinner" as Vickie tells us (It's a surprise). We will get to see the whole family including their grandchildren.......Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beautiful Homes of Charleston, SC

Al and I went on a horse and buggy ride. Our horse, named John took us on a great tour of the city. Below you will see many of the beautiful homes that we passed by. I wish we could have taken more pictures, but it was difficult from the carraige.

I loved the pillars on this one.

How do you like the huge 2 story rounded porch. Many of these homes have 8,000 to 9,000 sq. feet .

Notice the steps on either side of the porch

Another beautiful home

I think the porch is bigger than the house on this one!

As in any city, the houses are close together!

We arrived in Charleston on Sunday, and had a nice visit with Al's nephew Rob and his wife Vickie at there home in Goose Creek. We plan to get together a few more times while we are here and also get together with the rest of their family one night this week. It is always a good time whenever we get together with them, and unfortunately, it's not often enough.

We had a beautiful day yesterday, so we headed to downtown Charleston. We have been there a couple of other times, but always enjoy going back. It seems like there is never enough time to see it all in one day. We especially enjoyed the carriage ride through the city and the beautiful homes we saw. I will post more pictures on the marketplace and other places around here on my next post.