Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, June 14, 2017

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, June 14, 2017
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, June 14, 2017

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

11th Hour Congressional Decision Keeps Federal Government Open (for Now) - Wed., Sep. 30, 2015

Today was the day the federal government had to decide if they would stay open or close. A stopgap spending measure was passed at the last minute to keep the government open. However, there will be another "shutdown showdown" in December.

Stay tuned for more budget loony tunes.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Walking, Women, Wine, and Wallpaper? - Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015

Last Friday night, we took our lawn chairs and headed to Mad Mack's Burger Company for dinner, then over to Mission San Jose for a "Music Under the Stars" concert. We hauled our folding chairs to the lawn inside the mission and set up in a good spot to listen to the concert. The USAA Concert Band, Chorus and Jazz Band were going to play marches, patriotic songs, Western-style music, country and pop.

Quite a few people had brought tables, tableclothes and a whole meal to have a picnic before the concert. Everything was set up and the musicians were warming up.

Mission San Jose, "Queen of the Missions."
Our spot on the lawn and the program
A lot of work had gone into setting up the concert: flyers printed, stage and lighting tower erected, musicians in place with their instruments, chairs set up for dignitaries, and lighting and port-a-potties brought in.

We settled back for an evening of lively music. First the dignitaries gave a welcome, then an award was handed out and they spent about 15 minutes patting themselves on the back. When it came time for the music, the lightning started just behind Mission San Jose. The National Anthem was played and we all sang along.

USAA Choir and Band

The bandleader announced that severe weather was headed our way. He said they would play their encore first. The encore consisted of the songs for each of the branches of the military. All members of each branch of the military or their families were asked to stand when their branches song was played. They played one more song. Big flashes of lightning were lighting up the sky to the north and west of us.

The bandleader said, "Please gather up your chairs and belongings and make your way to the safety of your cars. No need to hurry, you have plenty of time, but we want you to be safe." That was the end of the concert. We didn't get any rain but the lightning was quite a show. It was the safest thing to do. At least we got to hear a few songs.

As an aside, this concert was the rain date for a concert that was cancelled around Memorial Day when there was so much rain that the lawn at the mission was soaking wet. The bandleader joked about it tonight saying their concerts are called the "drought busters." We will try to see the concert again in the spring.

Sunday, Bob and I were up before dawn to do an 11k (6.8 mile) Volksmarch from Mission San Jose to Mission Concepcion.  Since the Missions weren't open at that hour, we couldn't sign the walk book or stamp the Volksmarch book. But because our RV park is right on the walk route and we know it by heart, we walked anyway. Start time 6:40 a.m., end time 9:15 a.m. It was a beautiful, cool morning and we finished before it got too hot.

Early morning sky
Mission Reach of the River Walk -  mist on the river
Early morning on the trail
Roosevelt St. bridge, RV park on the right.

Devil's bouquet (Nyctaginia capitata)
A very old neighborhood -- 1720
Red-winged blackbirds
History markers along the trail
Eryngo (Eryngium leavenworthii)
The purple, pineapple-shaped flowers above are not thistles. True thistles are in the aster family along with sunflowers and daisies The eryngo is part of the carrot family and is related to celery, parsnips, coriander, fennel, parsley, caraway and dill. Who knew?

After our walk, I showered and dressed to go to the San Antonio Ultimate Women's Expo. Five ladies from the RV park attended today: Brenda, Pam, Lisa and Randy. The Expo had a fashion show, complimentary hair styling, wine tasting, cooking demonstrations, exhibitors, clothing, and guest speakers. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Lisa outside the Airstream trailer
converted to a clothing boutique
Regis Salons had about 12 hairstylists doing complimentary haircuts. Randy signed up for a haircut as soon as she got there at 11:10 a.m. Her number was 78. Apparently so many women signed up for haircuts on Saturday, they couldn't get to all of them, so those ladies had to come back today. They were first in line. Randy's number was called about 12:40 p.m. That was just about the time of the fashion show, so she and Lisa missed the fashion show.
Randy on stage with her stylist
Randy's pretty new hairstyle - bottom left
Brenda, Pam and I saw the Fashion Show. Unfortunately the emcee was rather lame. After about the fourth model, his cue cards weren't matching the outfits. Instead of slowing down and trying to find the correct card, he stopped describing the clothing and resorted to saying, "You can find these and other fashions at Dillards [the sponsor of the fashion show]."

After Lisa, Randy and I finished looking around the Expo, we found Brenda and Pam to ask if they'd like to go to lunch with us. They had arrived at the Expo after us and they wanted to finish looking around. Randy, Lisa and I ate at The Republic of Texas restaurant on the River Walk. We sat outside next to the river.

I had The Republic of Texas Cilantro Chicken Plate. The waiter said it was a very good meal. I have to agree; that was the best chicken dish I have had in a long time. The chicken breasts sat on a bed of pecan wild rice and a light cilantro sauce covered the chicken. Around the outside edge of the plate were steamed vegetables of many kinds. So tasty!

Me holding the Republic of Texas  menu
It was Happy Hour and sangria was $4 per glass instead of $5.95. Lisa and Randy each had red sangria and I had peach sangria. Wow, that made my taste buds happy!

Lisa with her red sangria.
Looking back at The Republic of Texas restaurant on the River Walk. Our table was the one you can see on the end.


The Republic of Texas restaurant umbrellas
Now you're probably wondering, "What about the wallpaper in the title?" Well, we had some old wallpaper accent strips on our walls that were getting old and peeling off. The wallpaper was pretty easy to peel off. The paste, on the other hand, is a nightmare to remove. It's a vinyl on vinyl type of paste. I have tried spray on wallpaper remover. (Didn't work.) Also tried Downy mixed with water which is supposed to remove wallpaper glue. (It doesn't.) So far what works best is rolling the old glue off with my fingers. BUT what that does is give me blisters on my finger pads. OUCH! Anyone out there know how to remove vinyl on vinyl (VOV) wallpaper glue?

That's it. We're up to date. Have a good week. Travel Bug out.



Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Car Spa Day - Tues., Sept. 22, 2015

Today I was up early, but not to walk. Whoa. There's a change. Instead, I took my Escape pod (Ford Escape) to Grande Ford in San Antonio for an oil change and check up. They told me to have it there at 7:45 am and they would crank it out first thing. Their technicians come in at 8:00 am.

As usual when I have to wait somewhere I bring articles and magazines to read. I had enough material to spend hours reading, but they were done in 45 minutes. Next stop The Wash Tub car wash.

For $50, I had my Escape pod washed inside and out, exterior waxed, all the vinyl dressed, and the tires shined. It looks so pretty now. Hopefully there's no rain in sight.

Nice clean Escape pod

On the way home, I shopped at WalMart. Back at the 5th wheel, I put away the groceries, cut up some veggies and put chicken breasts and veggies in the Crock Pot, did eight loads of laundry, washed dishes, then took off some old wallpaper accent strips that, after 11 years, had started to peel off the walls. Now I'm using CHOMP Wallpaper Stripper and a scraper to try to remove the sticky wallpaper paste, which helps some, but I've found if I use my thumb and roll the old paste, it forms long sticky strips that come off a lot cleaner than using the scraper. However, if I keep using that method, my thumb pads are going to be rubbed raw.

Tonight Bob is doing a marathon training run with Lisa, a friend in the RV park. Tomorrow, he has been called to jury duty.



Yesterday, Time Warner Cable installed a new DVR and modem for us. Now we can record shows and skip all the ads when we play them back. We are canceling our AT&T air card as the service in our area is horrible. The AT&T technician I talked to told me he would never use service in our area from AT&T because there is a gap in service. Now we can use either wireless or hard-wired internet and it works great. Don't know what we'll do for TV when we travel now unless the RV park has Time Warner Cable.

Last night, I ordered dinner to go from 54th St. Grill and Bar. I call ahead, place our order, and by the time I get there, it's ready to pick up. It's a good thing I checked our order last night. We ordered two salads. In our bag were two Styrofoam containers with soups and a sandwich in them. She had brought me the right receipt, but the wrong food. I sent the wrong order back in and she brought out the correct order.

54th Street Restaurant
54 Express to go
Tomorrow starts my four-day work week. Concerts and fun stuff coming up. Stay tuned.

Travel Bug out.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Movie Review: Meru - Sun., Sept. 20

Meru is a documentary about three world-class mountain climbers -- Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk -- who wanted to summit 20,700' Mount Meru on the Shark's Fin route in the Gharwal Himalayas. It had never been summited before.

The movie jumps right into the portaledge (hanging tent) of the three climbers as they're hanging from a cliff thousands of feet in the air. That got our attention!

From there, the documentary takes us back three years and introduces us to the three climbers. We learn about their families, their climbing experience, their mentors, and the pull of climbing the mountain.

Climbing Mt. Everest is a hike compared to climbing Mount Meru. On Mt. Everest the Sherpas carry the gear. On Mount Meru, the climbers must bring up their own gear which  means limiting what they can take. Also, the climbers need to be very experienced in all types of technical climbing: mixed ice, big wall, overhangs.

Conrad Anker had over 30 years experience in technical climbing. Jimmy Chin had climbed with Conrad Anker before and trusted him. Renan Ozturk was a relative unknown to Jimmy, but Conrad knew of his climbing skills. A three-person climbing team is considered optimal due to the amount of supplies needed. They have to consider every single thing they take up the mountain with them, including amount of food, climbing equipment, camera equipment and personal hygiene gear.

The movie is intense. So many things can go wrong such as injuries, avalanches, rockfall, severe weather, loss of equipment, even doubting your own abilities.

This filming done for this climb was done for their own benefit; they hadn't considered making a documentary out of it. Jimmy and Ozturk filmed the climbs they made, but it was Jimmy who came up with the idea to make their film into a documentary. He wanted to share aspects of climbing that were important to him that other people might not understand.

The film is excellent. In addition to the climbing, which is breath-taking, you learn about the people who did the climbs as well as the support people in their lives. Bob and I love this movie. A cliffhanger! Five stars.

After the movie, we headed out to Random for pizza and beer then we headed back to the 5th wheel. Now Bob's watching the Seahawks vs. the Green Bay Packers.

Liberty Bar - San Antonio, TX, United States. Gorg day for brunch in the SA!
The Liberty Bar - photo by Jamie A. (from Yelp photos)
Liberty Bar - San Antonio, TX, United States. Laid back dining in King Williams District
The Liberty Bar - photo by Tricia P. (from Yelp photos)
Last night after work, I took Bob to dinner at The Liberty Bar. We had never heard of it until a guest at the RV park discovered it on a bike ride. The restaurant is on Alamo St. in the King William Historic District. The building housing the restaurant is bright pink. Years ago this lovely building was a convent. Now it is a well-kept-secret eatery.

I ordered Codorniz con mole verde (quail with green mole) which was served with roasted tomatoes and potatoes. It was wonderful, but a lot of work to eat! Bob chose a chicken salad sandwich with potato salad and he was very happy with his choice too. We will definitely return again and again to check out more of their eclectic, fresh, yummy food. I'll be recommending this place to Travelers World RV Resort guests!

Travel Bug out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tree City - Uvalde, Texas - Mon., Sep. 14, 2015

Our South Texas weather has moderated just enough to let us start our walks at 9 am instead of 7 am. What a relief!

Monday I picked up Susan at her house for a 1-1/2 hour drive to Uvalde, Texas. I wanted to do a Volksmarch that I hadn't been on yet. Susan had only been on the Uvalde walk once and it was a bit different than the current one.

On our drive to Uvalde, we drove past fields of cotton which looked ripe for picking. Other fields held mystery crops which looked suspiciously like weeds, but they were planted in some semblance of order. Identifying signs would have been nice!

You might enjoy learning history and interesting facts about the town. Uvalde is considered the southern limit of the Texas Hill Country and the northernmost limit of South Texas. Historically, this is the Honey Capital of the World for production of huajillo honey, a mild, light-colored honey dating back to the 1870s. Also, Uvalde is known as one of the best locations for soaring in the United States. It was the site of the 1991 and 2012 World Gliding Championships.

Uvalde was the home of John Nance "Cactus Jack" Garner, former Speaker of the House and Vice President. (Bragging rights if you know which President he served under! Susan and I didn't have a clue.) Other famous Uvaldeans born in the city include: Matthew McConaughey, Dale Evans, and former Governor of Texas Dolph Briscoe.

According to the Koppen Climate Classification system, Uvalde has a humid subtropical climate. Thankfully it wasn't humid today!

The start point for our walk was in a Minit Mart. We signed in, used the restroom in the attached laundromat, then started our walk, following the directions provided. I wasn't paying much attention because I was putting on suntan lotion.
After we had gone 3-1/2 blocks, Susan looked at the map on the back of the directions. It was evident we had missed our first turn which was an unmarked alley behind the Minit Mart.

All was not lost, we could cut across the street nearest to us and connect with the route in three blocks. So that's what we did. It's pretty daunting when you get lost on the very first direction. We were happy there was a legible, large enough map on the back of the written directions so we could see how to correct our mistake.

We happily followed the route through sun and shade. We walked down an alley in the midst of an Episcopal school campus. Along the alley was a meditation maze, they call it "Sacred Path."
At the Episcopal school
Sacred Path (meditation maze)
Next, our directions informed us we would go past Uvalde Drugs "which has a soda fountain open until 3:00." Our mouths were watering for a refreshing ice cream soda. Upon arrival at the drug store, we found it closed with a "For Sale" sign in the window. Closed as in nothing inside, deserted, abandoned, empty. Boo hoo for us. We soldiered on.

In the display case at the former movie theater was a poster of King Kong atop the Uvalde water tower with a crop duster plane dusting him, and with a tractor in his hand instead of a woman. Kind of cute. You be the judge.


Down the street we came to the Janey Slaughter Briscoe Grand Opera House. According to our information sheet the Grand Opera House has "plaques of famous Uvaldeans (including a recent Oscar winner)." [I'm guessing Matthew McConaughey]. We didn't see even one plaque. Don't know where they might have been hiding. The actual Opera Theater is on the 2nd floor.
Grand Opera House
Detail on the Grand Opera House
Grand Opera House
We passed through a park in front of the county courthouse.

Park across from courthouse. (This photo looks from
the courthouse toward an antique store.)

The Texas Historic Landmark plaque reveals the Uvalde County Courthouse is the fifth for Uvalde County, which was created in 1856. The current structure, completed in 1928 replaced the 1890 courthouse. The Neo-Classical style's outstanding features include its cast stone segmental arches and ionic porticoes at the entrances.

Cast stone segmental arches and ionic porticoes.


Uvalde County Courthouse

A historic plaque on the front lawn of the courthouse at the intersection of two streets, tells about Fort Inge and Camp Dix, Confederate States of America (C.S.A.).


The sign reads...
A major road west from San Antonio forked in the area of these forts. One road went toward El Paso, the other to the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass. Travelers heading west put on their guns in this region, the start of hostile Indian country, troops from these posts guarded against Indian raids, bandits from Mexico, and marauders. Fort Inge, 4.5 mi. southeast, was on Cotton Road to Eagle Pass over which hundreds of wagons, oxcarts took cotton to Mexico in exchange for vital goods. Part defense line from Brownsville to El Paso. Occupied by volunteer cavalry.
After walking a few blocks on Nopal Street, we took the walking path under Main St. along the Leona River into Uvalde Memorial Park.


History of Uvalde; double click to read if you're interested.

There was supposedly a war memorial but we did not see it. [NOTE: OMG. In looking back at my photos, the sign below is the war memorial. This tells us the whole park is a war memorial. You have to read it all the way to the bottom for that info.]

I hadn't read all the way to the bottom.

For the second time, we got lost using the directions. After much discussion between Susan and I, we retraced our steps back to a four-way intersection in the trail. There was no mention of it in the directions. We were supposed to turn right there. Once we turned right, we found our way again and didn't have any other problems for the rest of the walk. There is a nice disc golf course in Memorial Park.


Trail along Leona River in Memorial Park
Sunning turtles
The turtles above may be red-eared sliders, but they're so filthy it's hard to tell! In addition to turtles, we saw deer, ducks, mockingbirds, and geese.

On Getty Street, one of the main thoroughfares through town, we saw beautiful homes. Then we modified the directions a little to take High Street to where we needed to go (rather than retracing our route on Getty). We did that because High St. had a lot of shade and we were getting hot in the sun. Quite a few different architectural styles.

Love the porch and wrap-around balcony!

Huge tree in front yard of a home


Below is the former home of Vice President John Nance Garner. It is now the Briscoe-Garner Museum. The museum is only open Tuesday through Saturday and we were here on Monday. Susan and I agreed, even if it was open we wouldn't have gone in. We were hot and tired, in need of food. 

Now the Briscoe-Garner Museum
Beautiful southern-style home
A unique attraction on this walk is the Pioneer Cemetery and King Fisher historical marker. This is one of the more interesting historical markers I've read.

King Fisher - quite a guy
An old headstone in Pioneer Cemetery, Uvalde
Tree City saves its trees
Cute sign outside a bakery (Bakery closed Monday)
Another big tree in the road
Passion flower vine and blooms in Uvalde (subtropical).
This kind of plant grew in our Hawaiian backyard!
We stopped to eat lunch at Church's Chicken fast food. They didn't have grilled chicken, so I had cole slaw and mashed potato sides. Susan ordered their chicken tenders and shared some with me. They were not heavily deep fried, just a light coating of flour on them. I thought they were pretty tasty.

At the end of the walk, we had a long drive home. It was an interesting walk in some regards, but I doubt if we'll be doing this walk again anytime soon.

Travel Bug out.