Ko Olina looking toward Nanakuli Head, Oahu, HI, December 5, 2016

Ko Olina looking toward Nanakuli Head, Oahu, HI, December 5, 2016
Ko Olina looking toward Nanakuli Head, Oahu, HI, December 5, 2016

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Changes and A Home Base in San Antonio, Texas - Friday, Mar. 10, 2017, Part 2

After spending time on the nature walk Friday morning, I met Bob at his work and we went out for Thai food. When we finished eating, our next destination was Tim's Tiny Homes in Seguin, Texas, to look at park models and manufactured homes.

We do not plan to stop traveling, but we do want a home base for our travels. Traveler's World RV Resort in San Antonio, where we have lived for five years in our 5th wheel, is the place we want to call home. The people are wonderful. During the busy season (fall & winter) there are many activities from which to choose. Plus, the temperature is pretty mild during the winter. 

At Tim's Tiny Homes we looked at park models (under 400 sq ft) and manufactured homes. This is the third place we've been and found a manufactured home we really like. The home is two bedrooms and two full bathrooms. It is made by Athens Park Homes. 

March 30-31 we plan to drive to Athens, Texas, to visit the manufacturing facility and see how Athens manufactured homes are built. While we're in the area, we also plan to look at Diamond and Platinum manufactured home builders.

Careful consideration is going into our decision and we think it's the right one for us. Since we're both working, we won't be traveling full time for a few years. This move will allow us to bring the contents of our small storage unit here from Oregon.

Our jobs allow some long vacations, so we will still be traveling. 2017 travels will take us to Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida in May. Then we will go on a six-week road trip to Washington, D.C. later this summer.

I am changing from full-time permanent to full-time seasonal and will work from November through May. If needed, I can be on call during the slow season.

Because of this change, I will be traveling quite a bit this summer with my friend, Susan, and her husband, Darren. 
  1. In June, we will be on a three-week driving trip to Billings, Montana for the Volksmarch convention. We will stop along the route to do Volksmarches at state capitals, national parks, national monuments and other interesting places. We hope to do two 10k walks per day (feet, hips, and knees permitting).
  2. In August, we will go on a five-day driving trip to Grand Island, Nebraska for a Volksmarching weekend during the total eclipse of the sun.
Then later in August, I will fly to Portland, Oregon to visit my family for two weeks. Bob is working full time. I invited him to go with us, but he can't get that much time off work. Bob and I will, however, have two weeks together on our Florida trip and six weeks on our Washington, D.C. trip and I'll be home from mid-June until mid-August.

That's the latest news from Texas. Have a great Wednesday, y'all. TravelBug out.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

South Texas Plains Nature Trail - Fri., March 10, 2017, Part 1

With the renewal of my San Antonio Botanical Garden membership, I signed up for a guided Nature Walk in the garden. On Friday morning, I joined a group of six other people to learn more about what's growing in South Texas.

Art in the parking lot

Stone Crop ground cover
Our guide has a long history in this part of the state and knows her vegetation. We started our walk outside the Carriage House at the garden and wound our way through the Hill Country section on our way to South Texas. 

A few flowers bloomed outside the Carriage House in the entryway to the garden:


Tulips and snapdragons
Here is our guide by the entrance to the South Texas Plains Trail.

South Texas has some unique plants such as Candelilla/Wax Plant. These rod-like stems have no leaves and are covered in a wax-like substance that is used to make candles, chewing gum, cosmetics, lubricants, and varnishes. The wax coating the stems also helps the plant conserve water in hot Texas climes.

The agarita below has berries which birds and small mammals like to eat. The berries can be used to make jelly. From February to April it has small, fragrant yellow flowers. The leaves are similar to holly.

Agarita berries and holly-like foliage

Small yellow agarita flower
Agarita root
The roots of the agarita (pictured above) were used by the Indians to make yellow dye. They would scrape the roots to make a powder and combine it with another ingredient to make the dye. 

A lot of plants in South Texas have spines or spikes, so watch out if you're hiking here. Our guide told us a story about roadrunners and the spiny hackberry shrub. Apparently, roadrunners have been known to catch lizards and impale them on the spines of the spiny hackberry and come back to eat them later.
Spiny hackberry
The Gum Bumelia tree has reddish-brown bark with deep fissures. Sapsuckers like to probe the bark for insects and songbirds are very fond of the fruit. Children used to chew the gum exuding from the bark.

Gum Bumelia tree's bark
The Pearl Milkweed is a perennial, twining vine which is a nectaring plant for Queen and Monarch butterflies. This milkweed is deer resistant.

Pearl Milkweed
Texas sotol and gray sotol are very useful plants. The sharp tips can be used as needles and the green stems can be separated into long thin fibers and woven into strong cords or mats. The leaves could be woven into mats, trays, and baskets. The pulpy central stems or "hearts" of sotols were baked in an earth oven for 36-48 hours to break down indigestible carbohydrates and poisonous compounds. After baking, the hearts were pounded into patties and dried. These patties, if kept dry, could remain edible for months. The taste was like nutty molasses syrup.

Texas and gray sotol plants

Mat woven from sotol leaves
Notice the sharp edges on the leaves
The Spanish dagger plants are in full bloom and they're very dramatic. Small birds like to nest in the plant because predators (such as snakes) do not come after them there. Our guide told us she uses the edible Spanish dagger flowers in salads.
Spanish dagger plants

Spanish dagger flowers
Next, we learned about the Texas ebony tree, the second-hardest wood of trees in South Texas. The wood is used for fence posts, cabinets, bowls, and fuel. Thick, curved seed pods with high-protein beans are eaten by deer and other small mammals. This evergreen tree is a larval host plant for the Large Orange Sulphur butterfly.
Texas ebony seed pods
Love these starburst-shaped flowers -
can't remember what they are.
The Guayacan (Soap Bush) below has the most beautiful purple flowers along its branches. This tree has the hardest wood in South Texas which is used for fence posts and tool handles. In Mexican markets, the root bark of this tree is sold for washing wool because it does not fade colors.

Guayacan (Soap Bush)
This next tree is Vasey's Adelia or Blue-Wing Adelia, a host plant for the Mexican Bluewing butterfly.
Vasey's Adelia

Beautiful flower of the Mexican Buckeye

Our guide telling us about Catclaw Acacia

Catclaw Acacia - notice the cat claw-like
thorns on the branch on the right.
Another well-used tree is the honey mesquite. The seed pods could be ground into flour and made into cake-like patties that could be transported long distances and used for sustenance. 

Honey mesquite - the drooping foliage is in the
shape of a wish bone.

Honey mesquite legume pods
Texas prickly pear's new growth
Below is the Texas Sabal Palm, another tree with many uses. The Southern Yellow Bat roosts in the drooping leaves. Edible, dark purple fruits hang in clusters that local wildlife eat. The thick trunks, which are immune to shipworm, are used as wharf pilings. The fronds are used as roof thatching and to make woven items such as chair seats. The fibrous trunk bark is used for weaving.
Texas Sabal Palm

Texas Sabal Palm bark

Deep in the "heart" of Texas
Century plant 
After we finished walking the South Texas Trail, we took a few steps onto the Texas East Piney Woods trail. The lake there is very pretty. We saw northern shoveler ducks, American coot and turtles. Lots of turtles.

Turtles hanging out on a downed log in the lake
As I was driving out of the gardens, this patch of bluebonnets caught my eye. 

I intend to return to the gardens for more nature walks. It was a slow-paced, relaxing time spent in nature. We were on the trail about two hours (over a distance of 1/2 mile or so).

So ends part 1 of Friday. We have some news to share. I'll tell you about it in the next blog.

Our Interesting Day - Tues., March 7, 2017

Hi, Bowie and Sunnie (the cats) taking over the blog. 

A few days ago our people slid in the walls, secured them, and made our home mobile: as in a bumpy, scary, noisy, nauseating ride. Dad drove us about 20 minutes away then he came into the home and put out our water and food. He left us...all day! Holy meows, Catman, why did you do that?

All day, we heard horribly loud hissing, screeching, and clanging. Our home moved around, but no one came to see us. 

We napped a little part of the day. But mostly we waited for Mom and Dad to come back to tell us everything would be okay.

Eons later in cat time, Mom and Dad came inside to visit us and love us. They opened the door so we could see out the screen door. Large mobile units surrounded us. Then the hissing started again. We ran and hid.

After a short while, we were mobile again. We hoped they were taking us home!

Oh, happy day. A short time later we were back in our home spot and the walls were put out. We gots lots of kittie loves, hugs, and food and treats. Now we're purring.
Happily home, no worse for wear.

Hi, Susan here reclaiming the blog. On Tuesday morning, we were up early getting our 5th wheel ready to go in for much-needed repairs and our annual inspection. Bob dropped me off at the RV park office and he took the 5th wheel to Billy Bob's Repair & Tire in Elmendorf, Texas, about 12 miles from Traveler's World RV Resort. He went to work for the day.

At the end of April, we are taking off on a two-week trip to Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida. Before we go, we have to get our 5th wheel inspected so we can get our license plate tags.

New tires were high on our list of needs. Plus, our 5th wheel stairs had one bolt that broke a while back. We had a new bolt with a lock nut put on the stairs. While they were working on the tires, we had our hubs greased and wheel bearings repacked.

Another repair we needed was to have our two rear side window seals replaced. During heavy rains water leaked in and soaked the carpet in the two rear corners of the living room.

Billy Bob's Tire & Repair did an awesome job with the work. Everyone was so nice. When we went back at 5:50 p.m., just before they closed, we asked if they had put one of the tires they took off as one of our spare tires. They hadn't. 

We dropped our spare tire only to find it was the original spare tire from 2003. The mechanics stayed a little late and used one of our 2011 tires to mount on our spare tire rim. We are very appreciative that they were able to do all the work in one day so we didn't have to spend the night on their lot. 

We highly recommend Billy Bob's. Not only do they have their shop 12 miles away from south San Antonio (right off I-37) they also have mobile service that will come out to the RV park if you can't move your rig.

We are happy customers and the cats, I'm happy to report, are back to normal.

TravelBug out.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

An Unexpected Afternoon Delight - Sun., March 5, 2017

Today was a perfect day off. After sleeping in, we each went to exercise: Bob walked two hours in the Monte Vista neighborhood; I went to Planet Fitness and did abs, upper arms, back and elliptical cardio machine (for warm up and cool down). 

We showered, had egg salad sandwiches, and then drove to Trinity University for a free 30th-anniversary concert by the San Antonio Symphonic Band. The concert was in Laurie Auditorium, a venue we had never visited before.

The San Antonio Symphonic Band, also known as "The All-America City Band," was designated by the City Council as the official band of the City of San Antonio on September 4, 1986. It is a non-profit organization. The San Antonio Symphonic Band has performed six to eight free concerts a year in the greater San Antonio area.

Though chartered as the official band of the City of San Antonio, it receives no taxpayer-based support but relies solely on donations. It is a volunteer organization composed of adult musicians (although today's concert had about seven high-school students playing) who receive no compensation other than the joy of making music for others. The musicians come from all walks of life including the military, the private sector, public education, and the medical profession.
San Antonio Symphonic Band -
waiting for the show to begin
For a free concert, we were surprised the auditorium wasn't full. It's a beautiful place.
Laurie Auditorium at Trinity University
"The Captain General" opened the show. This march number was composed by Lieutenant Colonel Sir Vivian Dunn for performance on December 19, 1949, when His Majesty King George VI, then the Captain-General of the Royal Marines, dined with the officers of the Corps.

As soon as the band started playing, I noticed there were no strings, only a string bass. This begged the question, what is the difference between a symphonic band and a symphony orchestra. I found a pretty good answer on music.stackexchange.com under "Music Practice and Theory."
Orchestra generally refers to any ensemble with sections of bowed string instruments. This can be further broken down into String Orchestra to include only the stringed instruments, and Symphony Orchestra incorporating winds and percussion.
Band, outside the idiom of follk and pop music, generally refers to an ensemble of wind instruments plus percussion section, with or without a string bass. Brass Bands are mostly popular in Europe, and contain the above without woodwind instruments. For those ensembles that include woodwinds, there exist other terms of questionable interchangeability: Concert Band and Symphonic Band are generally used in school music programs with too many musicians for a single ensemble. (Typically, the Symphonic Band is held to a higher level of performance than the Concert Band.) Additionally, Wind Ensemble is usually held to the highest level of performance, and in most cases contains only one player per part. 
A wide variety of music followed: 

  • "God's Country" by Rossano Galante; 
  • "A Festival Prelude," by Alfred Reed;  
  • "The Pride of the Wolverines," by John Philip Sousa (dedicated to the Mayor and people of Detroit); 
  • "Punchinello," by Alfred Reed; 
  • "When the Last Trumpet Calls," by Charles L. Booker, Jr. (this piece was commissioned by Dr. Jose Garza, one of the orchestra members, and dedicated to his mother, Senora Hortencia P. Garza - today's concert was the first time this piece had ever been played); 
  • "Hail to the Spirit of Liberty," by John Philip Sousa; 
  • "The Genius of Paul Simon," by Paul Simon (a medley of five selections associated with Simon and Garfunkel); 
  • "Parade of Tall Ships," by Jay A. Chattaway
  • "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," by Claude T. Smith
  • "In the Miller Mood," Arr. Warren Barker (a collection of tunes dating back to the Era of Swing when Glenn Mille and his band ruled); and 
  • "Resplendent Glory," by Rossano Galante.

San Antonio Symphonic Band Concert

In addition to the band's music director, two guest conductors took the stage today: Tom Rhodes and John Bridges, both had been part of the San Antonio Symphonic Band team in the past. Also introduced, and sitting in the same row with us was the composer of "When the Last Trumpet Calls." After his composition was played, he gave the band a standing ovation and two thumbs up.

Alfred Tapia, Music Director
All in all, it was a wonderful two-hour concert. Had we known what the raffle prizes were, we would have bought some tickets!! After the intermission, raffle tickets were drawn. Third prize was a tour of breweries and two bags that must have had some brewskis in them. Second prize was a 50" Samsung flat-screen TV, and first prize was two round-trip Southwest Airlines tickets to anywhere Southwest Airlines flies. How did we miss that raffle??

When the concert wrapped up, dinner was next. The 410 Diner on Broadway is where we decided to eat. In January, Bob took me to the diner because he thought I'd like it. He was right! The food, the service, the ambiance are all good. Here are photos of the 410 Diner. 

Bob in front of 410 Diner on Broadway
Interior of 410 Diner

Crazy 410 Diner bathroom decor!

So you can't beat that for a good day. We came home, relaxed and watched HGTV for the evening. 

Good night, all. Travel Bug out.