Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024
Sunset, Kailua-Kona, The Big Island, Hawaii, March 11, 2024

Friday, November 21, 2014

Birthdays - Thurs., Nov. 20, 2014

What does a birthday mean to me? It means I have another year experience in life, that I have good health, and time keeps marching on. Each year, I understand myself better and re-evaluate if my life is going in the direction of my hopes and dreams. Maybe life doesn't look exactly like I hoped it would, but I'm happy with the way it's going.

In my mind, I would travel more, but also know that I am responsible, take care of my debt, and enjoy working. Striking a balance between work, travel, and earning a living seems to be going well.

This year, Bob and I have been on two very nice vacations with our 5th wheel. In March we drove to Las Vegas, stayed at Lake Mead and visited Bob's family. We also spent time in Phoenix where we had a lovely visit with Aunt Sally and Uncle Skip. Dodger spring training was in full swing, so to speak, and was something Bob had always wanted to do. This year we were there. He was a happy man. We found a beautiful campground at Lake Pleasant where we enjoyed hiking, watching amazing sunsets, seeing wild burros, and meeting blogger friends at the campground across the lake.

Then we had our 6-1/2-week trip to Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, and Arkansas. In addition to learning about our respective family histories, fathers' birthplaces (both of them were born in the U.P. - Upper Peninsula - of Michigan which makes them U.P.ers or, colloquially, Yoopers), and meeting relatives, we hiked to waterfalls, Volksmarched state capitals, and saw amazing fall colors in every state.

I also went on two vacations without Bob. On one trip I flew to Oregon to be with my family for 1-1/2 weeks. Then, my friend Susan and I did a 5,000-mile driving trip when we Volksmarched state capitals in the West, and did the Columbia Gorge Bicentennial Hiking Weekend in Oregon.

So I can't complain that I haven't traveled enough, can I? I'm currently working to pay off debt and save up for more trips. In June 2015 I want to go to the American Volkssport Association National Convention in Salem, Oregon. And in December 2015, we are planning to do a big trip for Bob's 60th birthday, as soon as he decides where he wants to go.

Today, I worked ten hours which flew by. Tonight, Bob had a dozen red roses waiting for me when I got home from work along with a card and a Disney Princess "tiara." LOL.

Birthday cards above refrigerator
Bob took me out to dinner at Islamorada Fish Company restaurant at Bass Pro Shop in San Antonio. The reason we wanted to go there is the big aquarium with tropical fish. Nice ambiance...made us feel like we were back in Hawaii.

Islamorada Fish Company entrance
The lionfish again
Interior decor of Islamorada
Blue tang or palette surgeonfish
Here we are
Many-spotted sweetlips (from Indonesia)
Modeling the new necklace and earrings
made by my Mom.
More tropical denizens
Beautiful color variations and patterns
The lionfish sneaked back into my viewfinder.
Aquarium as seen from the Islamorada bar
Bob had mahi mahi with a teriyaki glaze and grilled pineapple. I had blackened red snapper with shrimp etouffee. Dinner was very enjoyable. For dessert, Bob had Key Lime Pie and I had to have the Chocolate Cake. Hands down, my cake won for best dessert. It was moist chocolate cake with layers of chocolate mousse served with vanilla ice cream, garnished with raspberry and chocolate sauce on the plate. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

A very good birthday indeed!

Thank you to all my friends and family for the birthday wishes. It made me feel very special. 

Travel Bug out.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Today's the Day - Thurs., Nov. 20, 2014

Oh, boy. I have been waiting for this day. I can now buy the U.S. National Parks "Senior Pass." It's a $10 Lifetime Pass to U.S. National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands. That means when we visit a National Park or Federal Recreation area that little pass will provide admission for up to four adults in one car (as long as I'm one of the adults).

Prior to this, we have always had the $80 Annual Pass. I'm so happy. Bob says it's the most excited I've been about my age since I turned 21. I reminded him I was also happy when I turned 50 and was able to join AARP.

I'm a nature girl at heart and love our national parks and recreation lands. I always thought the $80 annual pass was a bargain when we traveled to many national parks in a year. A $10 senior pass for the rest of my life is great! Since we love camping at U.S. Army COE (Corps of Engineers) parks, this pass will give us a very reduced camping fee because those parks are federally owned.

As soon as I have a day off, I'm going to run down to Mission San Jose and purchase that gem of a card.

Speaking of having a day off...Besides my four ten-hour days at the RV park, Snelling Temp Agency has asked me to work for two different State Farm agents and work as a room monitor at a convention in San Antonio. Looks like I may be working six days a week through the first of the year! Busy, busy, busy.

Today I received a present in the mail from Mom. Her wrapping is so festive.

Beautiful wrapping job.
Mom makes the most gorgeous necklaces. This one doesn't translate well into a photo. It is very sparkly; great for holidays and special occasions and can make any outfit look like a party. I should get a lot of use out of this.

Necklace and earrings made with love by Mom.
In giving thanks to people in the RV park the other day, I forgot to mention Bob E. After cable in our area of town went down one afternoon, I couldn't get the cable channels back on when service was restored. I tried a few different things with settings on the TV, but couldn't figure it out. My Bob was out of town for his brother's wedding. Bob E. graciously came over and got the cable working again. What happened? Well, when I was fooling around with settings, I changed the setting for channels to Cable Box, but I should have changed it to Come in through the Wall. Once he figured that out, he re-scanned all the channels for me and then I was able to watch TV again.

More thanks go out to Larry and Mary. They have a tangerine (?) tree that is so heavy with fruit the branches are hanging on the ground. They invited people from the park to help themselves to some fruit. I picked some tangerines this afternoon and they are delicious.

Last night for my pre-birthday dessert, Bob brought home Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes from Sugar Belles Cake Shop in Boerne, Texas. Oh, yummy. They are my absolute favorite with cherry filling in them. Sinfully delicious.

Travel Bug out.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gone Guy - Sun., Nov.16

Missing my guy. He's been on the loose since Thursday morning when I took him to the airport at 6 a.m.

Las Vegas, baby. Off to his younger brother's wedding on a stern wheeler on Lake Mead, visits with family and friends, and warm weather. I am jealous.

Our weather in San Antonio, like so many other locations in the U.S. is being affected by the polar vortex. Daytime highs have been in the 40s or low 50s, nighttime temps around 35-38. Too early in the year for this kind of weather!

While Bob was in Las Vegas/Henderson, he stayed with his Mom and sister, ran 20 miles on the morning of the wedding, became a last-minute Best Man, had to buy a new suit, and saw his ex-wife and her husband, along with nieces, nephews, and their kids. It was quite a family event.

Here's the kicker. You'll find this interesting (maybe). When Bob married Laurie (his first wife) 40 years ago, Bob's younger brother Aaron was ring bearer, and Laurie's sister Lizzie was flower girl.

Fast forward to 2014. A couple of marriage and divorces under their belts, Aaron and Lizzie reconnected on Facebook, fell in love, and got married on a stern wheeler on Lake Mead yesterday. Congratulations to you both!

When Bob found out his brother didn't have a Best Man, he volunteered to stand up for his brother. Bob hadn't packed a suit, so he went out and bought a new one for the occasion.

A shout out and kudos go to Kristin Carll, a close friend (adopted sister) of the family who opened up her home for bride and bridesmaids to have their makeup done, applied their makeup for them, and hosted the wedding reception. I don't know how she does it. You rock, girlfriend!

Bob is on his return flight tonight. I'll be picking him up at the airport around 11 p.m.

In other news, I've started working out a Planet Fitness again. Went to see "Gone, Girl" today. Didn't like it. Yuck.

Yesterday, I met fellow bloggers Ray and Cindy who opted to cancel their reservations at another park and stay at Travelers World. It's much more convenient to downtown San Antonio than where they had planned to stay. Today they explored the Alamo and Mission San Jose. I got to meet their five-month-old puppy, Penny. Such a cutie! Tomorrow they are going to go quilt store shopping as Cindy loves quilting. We're hoping to spend more time getting to know them at a potluck social tomorrow night at the RV park. Then they're headed west.

Yesterday, Terry the manager of our RV park was in the Recreation Hall doing repairs to a light or electrical box near or on the ceiling (not sure exactly). He climbed down from the ladder he had been working on. A knife that was left on the top of the ladder fell hitting him in the chest then falling to the floor. He started bleeding...a lot. He was driven to a medical clinic and then taken to SAMMC Trauma Center to make sure he hadn't nicked an artery or his pericardium. He had surgery and they cleaned out the blood, but apparently he didn't have any damage to his artery. Looks like he gets to come home tomorrow. That's a relief. You just never know what will happen.

I want to give thanks to Terry, our manager, and Dan, one of our maintenance crew here at Travelers World. I ran out of propane in one tank a few days ago. With Bob being gone, they came and picked up the empty tank, filled it, and put it back in the 5th wheel. Just in the nick of time. When I got home from work on Friday, my other tank was empty. So on Saturday, they again picked up, filled, and returned the propane tank for me. I feel well taken care of and a part of the family here. Thanks, again, Terry and Dan!

Welcome to new follower, Ed. I don't know if he writes a blog. Ed, if you would like a blog listed, please let me know so I can give you a shout out.

Can't wait for Bob to get home. I miss him when he's gone.

Travel Bug out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Movie Reviews: Interstellar and Big Hero 6 - Tues., Nov. 11

Thank you to all our veterans and soldiers who have fought, and are fighting for, our freedom. Bob and I respect and compliment you for your service to our country.

When we left off on our last blog, Bob and I had planned to do the Wurstfest Volksmarch on Sunday. Instead I slept in and took it easy Sunday morning. Bob was up before me and had the leak in our 5er roof fixed before I got up. Let me back up...

Saturday morning, Bob ran 16 miles with his marathon training group. I worked until 6:00 p.m. After work, Bob, Tom, Rosemarie, and I headed out to Random Beer Garden in Boerne, Texas (about 45 minutes from San Antonio). Random is owned by Bob's boss at MPS Construction, so Bob does accounting for both businesses.

One of the kids' bouncer slides has a leak in it, so they needed Bob's pick-up to deliver it to San Antonio for repairs. While we were there, we enjoyed the beautiful fall evening, partook of the food truck offerings, had a beer, and some root beer, and met up with Bob's son, Randall, who works at Random.

Vietnam Vet Tom and Rosemarie at Random

Little Texas Kitchen food truck menu.
Bob, Tom and Rosemarie ordering at Z's Wood-Fired Pizza
Jodi taking Tom and Rosemarie's order
The little kid below was having a blast with all those balloons. I'm sure he slept well Saturday night after running back and forth and 'round and 'round with those balloons.

Bob, Tom and Randall had quite a time trying to get the deflated, balled-up, really heavy bouncer into the bed of the pick-up. They were using a fork-lift, but even that didn't make it much easier. After much maneuvering and trial-and-error, they got the bunched-up bouncer slide onto his pick-up.

While sitting at a picnic table enjoying conversation, a shooting star or meteor passed by in our range of vision, lasting a good 4-8 seconds. The tail of it looked green. 

Randall's girlfriend, Jane, was on her way to Random, so we thought we'd stick around and meet her. Randall gave Tom and Rosemarie a tour of his travel trailer. Just as we were heading out, Jane arrived. Poor girl, when she got out of her car, all of us looked like a receiving line to Randall's trailer. No pressure meeting relatives for the first time. LOL. Jane has her own painting company. They do interior and exterior painting. We said our good-byes and headed back to San Antonio.

Saturday night, Bob and I decided not to do the Wurstfest Volksmarch on Sunday morning. Instead, we opted to sleep in. At 2:20 we met Susan and Darren to see "Interstellar."

Movie review: "Interstellar" 

Earth's future looks pretty grim in the beginning of this movie. The nitrogen level in the air is rising which will soon cause asphyxiation of the human race, crops are being decimated by blight, and haboobs (huge dust storms) are coming frequently causing problems with breathing. Some people move underground.

A widowed dad (Matthew McConaughey as Coop) with two kids farms corn, just like his daddy before him. With a twist! You see, before farming, Coop retired from the space program where he apparently was a helluva pilot. Coop loves his kids dearly and is especially attached to his ten-year-old daughter, Murph. Murph is having trouble in school for challenging the beliefs of her time about space travel to the moon.

At home, weird, supernatural-type occurrences happen in Murph's room. Books come off the shelves, dust lines up in unnatural ways on her floor. Murph thinks it's a ghost. Coop shakes it off and tells her to study the occurrences scientifically to make sense of what she's seeing.

What Murph discovers leads her and her dad to a secret NASA underground complex. There they find preparations being made to send a spaceship on an exploratory mission to look for planets humans can inhabit, theoretically to save the human race.

Because Coop is a retired NASA pilot, he is top choice to lead an expedition through a wormhole to another part of space where 12 explorers had gone before, sending back data if they could.

Coop wants to do it to save humanity and, especially, his kids. He can't tell Murph when, or if, he'll be back. Murph thinks he is deserting her and won't even say good-bye to him.

Off he goes into the wild blue yonder as commander of the secret mission. His mentor from NASA, Dr. Brand (Michael Caine), thinks Coop is the only one capable of completing the mission. Brand tells Coop he hasn't yet figured out how to bring them back, but he is working on an equation for new technology to bring them back that he hopes to have solved before they need to return. Coop's second in command on the mission is Brand's daughter, Amelia (Anne Hathaway). 

The space travel portion of the film is astounding. I liked this movie better than "Gravity." Wow, wow, wow. Although it's hard to wrap your head around all the physics and astrophysics involved in space travel, it's still an awesome flick. For example, an hour on a planet equates to seven years in earth time.

Once through the wormhole, there are three planets NASA's former expedition research thought might be suitable for human inhabitants. The first planet this team visits turns out to be all water with massive waves. This sequence of the movie causes nail-biting excitement.

After visiting the first planet, there is only enough fuel to visit one of the other two planets. A vote is taken amongst the crew members as to which planet they should visit. A choice is made, for better or worse, and they reach a planet so cold, even the clouds are ice.

The rest of the movie needs to be shrouded in mystery, so you can experience the same impact the rest of us did. I will tell you, see this movie. Put it high on your list. It's incredible. The movie will make you think, educate you, and take you on an emotional ride. Very enjoyable. I give it 5 stars. The one drawback is that it is hard to hear the dialogue in many parts due to the soundtrack. I plan to rent the DVD when it comes out and watch it with subtitles so I can "hear" what they were saying. Oh, yeah, if you can, see it in IMAX. The whole movie was filmed in 70 mm, so if you see it on a smaller screen, you will miss some of the edges of the space scenes.

Movie Review: "Big Hero 6" (Monday)

As if to make up for the horrible movie ("John Wick") I saw last week, this week I have seen two exceptionally good movies in two days. "Big Hero 6" is an animated movie that takes place in San Fransokyo. The previews show a big, kind, awkward, marshmallow-looking robot.

The movie starts out at a robotic fight competition with bets being taken on which robot will win. The second competitor up is Hiro, a 14-year-old boy with a small, silly robot. He is up against a big, sumo-wrestler-like man with a huge, macho robot with a saw on its arm. Hiro gets on the wrong side of the big guy. The big guy sends his henchmen to hurt Hiro to scare him away from further 'bot fights.

At just the right moment, Hiro's brother roars up in a motorcycle and whisks Hiro away. However, they are stopped by the police and both Hiro and his older brother are put in jail. They are rescued the next morning by their aunt, who is their caretaker. She exhorts Hiro to stop fighting 'bots. But, being a rebellious teen-ager, Hiro wants to go out and fight his 'bot again the next night.

His older brother says he'll take him to the competition on his motorcycle, but they have to stop at his college on the way there. Hiro doesn't completely understand what his brother does at the "nerd college." We learn his brother has invented a medical assistant robot, Baymor, that can diagnose and treat a young patient without scaring them. Baymor is the big, soft cushy 'bot from the previews.

While at his brother's "nerd college" he sees projects the other students are working on. He is so taken with their creativity, he wants to go to the college. While there, he meets the dean who tells him anyone can attend the college if they can win the annual robotics competition.

Hiro decides college is more important than fighting 'bots. He throws himself into creating a winning presentation for the competition. He wins, gets accepted to the college and finds out his creation has been stolen by someone very bad.

A big explosion and fire wipe out the robotics building at the college and kill Hiro's brother, who had gone back into the building to save the Dean. When Hiro finds out his microbots have been stolen, he and his brother's friends from the nerd college, go looking for the microbots. What they find is bigger than they could have imagined.

The remainder of the movie shows how the "nerd" kids, including Hiro, redesign their inventions and become like super-heroes. With their arsenal of tricks and new costumes, they go after the baddie who stole Hiro's microbots.

Hiro, meanwhile, is teaching Baymor about violence, builds a new super-hero suit for Baymor and attaches wings and thrusters to make Baymor more mobile. What ensues is a fun, intense, crazy, madcap chase scene.

This movie has a great script, good voice actors, a wry sense of humor, and Baymor, the robot who steals the show. I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy this movie, but it won me over. I think it is the best animated movie of the year to date. There is a feel of Japanese anime in the movie too. I give this movie five stars. Very entertaining!

Early Monday morning (7:00 a.m.) I hit the laundry room to do six loads of dirty clothes. At 10:45 a.m., was "Big Hero 6." After the movie, Susan, Darren and I went to IHOP Express near the theater for a late breakfast.

From there, I went to Petco for cat food. Next was Planet Fitness to work out. Then I had to take my car in for its annual inspection. Twenty minutes and $15 later, my car had a new Texas inspection sticker.

Today, I was up at 8:30 a.m. to see if Tom and Rosemarie wanted to have a pancake breakfast. They hadn't seen my invitation until this morning and they were just about packed up and ready to go. Tom helped me put in our awning when a big wind started flapping it a bit too much. Soon thereafter, Tom and Rosemarie headed out to Galveston, Texas where they will spend the winter.

At 1:00 p.m. I was at the hairdresser for a spruce up. From 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. I was back at Planet Fitness working out on the equipment. Tonight I made hamburgers and steamed broccoli and cauliflower for dinner, then kicked back to watch "Master Chef Junior" and "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

Travel Bug out.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Four Missing Days - Sun., Nov. 2 through Wed., Nov. 5, 2014

Since we returned home on Saturday, Bob did a 20-mile run with his Marathon training group on Sunday morning. He loves running with the group because it encourages him to run faster.

I have spent time finishing blogs from vacation. My friend, Susan, invited me to see "Fury" with her on Monday. I told her I had already seen it and didn't care to see it again. She also invited me to see "John Wick" with Keanu Reeves on Tuesday. I told her I'd see that with her.

On Monday, I went by myself to see "Alexander and Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." It's a cute movie about a family that seems to have it all together, everyone, that is, except Alexander. He seems to have quite a few mishaps and is picked on by the other kids.

On midnight of his birthday he makes a wish that seems to cause problems for every other member of his family on his birthday. Nothing seems to go right. The premise is similar to "Liar, Liar" with Jim Carrey, when Jim Carrey's son wishes his dad would not lie. "Alexander..." was not near as funny as "Liar, Liar."

Tuesday, Susan and I saw "John Wick." Oh dear, that is not my kind of movie. From beginning to end, it is one big killing spree. Violent, gory, and not much plot. I classify "John Wick" as a revenge and assassination movie. Yuck.

Bob's brother, Tom, and Tom's wife, Rosemarie, arrived at Traveler's World to stay for a week before they head to Galveston.

Wednesday, I went back to work at the RV park as a full-time employee, working four, ten-hour days per week. Busy season has started so we are taking reservations by phone and walk-ins, and also doing check-ins, check-outs, and gift shop sales.

Today, Bob took his brother and sister-in-law went sightseeing around San Antonio while I worked. Tonight we went to Tex-Mex dinner at Iron Cactus on the San Antonio River Walk. Dinner was quite enjoyable.

Tom and Bob at Iron Cactus
Rosemarie and Tom
Bob and I
Here are our very good dinners...

My Pollo Flameado with green chile mashed potatoes
and asparagus
Bob's Chile Relleno Rustico
Rosemarie's Acapulco Combo Plate 
Tom's Steak Fajita Nachos
That was a great end to a long work day. I will be working through Saturday.

On Sunday, Susan, Darren, Bob and I will do the New Braunfels Volksmarch and Wurstfest. Wurstfest is New Braunfels version of Oktoberfest. There's a Fest Halle, lots of polka music, amusement rides, all kinds of food booths and the requisite beer and wine. We went last year and had a lot of fun. Stay tuned!

Travel Bug out.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Wet Carpet - Thurs., Nov. 6

Toward the end of our travels, we noticed (on one of the few rainy days) that the carpet in the back of our living room area was wet. Uh-oh. We soaked up the water with towels and put the space heater in the area to help dry it.

When we returned to San Antonio, we had good weather until Tuesday night and then the rain started in earnest. The carpet in the back of our living room was drenched.

We couldn't figure out where the water was encroaching. It rained and rained from Tuesday night until Thursday morning. We put our thickest towels on the floor to soak up the water and had to change them every few hours. By today, all our bath towels were dripping wet. I had to go to work, so Bob took all the towels to the laundry room to wash and dry them. Thank you, Bob.

Since the weather was better today, Bob climbed up on the roof and found cracked caulking on the roof termination bar. It needs new caulking. Once the roof dries, he will replace caulk where the roofing terminates and the fiberglass shell starts. Meanwhile, we keep the space heater running to try to dry the carpet.

There's always maintenance of one kind or another to deal with, much like a sticks and bricks house. The weather is supposed to improve so we should be able to get the roof waterproofed by Sunday.

Travel Bug out.

Pancake Breakfast - Sat., Nov. 1, 2014

The Escapees Rainbow's End RV Park cooks a pancake breakfast every Saturday morning. For a $4 donation you get all-you-can-eat pancakes, scrambled eggs, orange juice, and sausage. They even offered us a choice of blueberry or regular pancakes.

The Escapees CARE (Continuing Assistance for Retired Escapees) Center is a place where Escapees members can go to rest, to recover, to recuperate. There is a monthly charge for staying there, but you would be in your own RV. Example, if you have surgery with an extended recuperation time, you can rent an RV site in Livingston, Texas at the CARE residency program and move in with your RV. The residency program includes:
  • Well-maintained, full-hookup, 50-amp sites with propane and tank assistance
  • Three meals, snacks and beverages in the dining hall daily, supervised by a dietitian
  • Two loads of laundry washed and folded weekly
  • Light housekeeping in your RV
  • Help with haircuts and other personal needs
  • Monthly outings to plays, concerts, parks, movies, restaurants, etc.
  • Free transportation for local medical appointments, shopping and banking
  • Transportation (for a small fee) to major hospitals in Houston, including the VA hospital.
At breakfast, we sat with some of the ladies who live at Rainbow's End CARE Center. One of the ladies, Nina, had been a full-time RVer for 30 years. She is 90 years old now and lives at CARE Center in her own RV. She loves living in the CARE residency program and has a support system of friends, plus the benefits the Center offers.

We headed out on the road around 9:30 a.m. after we finished breakfast. Today we traveled to San Antonio. On the way, we stopped at Blue Beacon Truck Wash to have Rigamarole and The Beast washed and waxed. Our wait at the truck wash was about an hour, but after 6,800 miles our vehicles needed a spa treatment.

By 4:00 p.m., we pulled into our site in San Antonio and breathed a sigh of relief. We made it home safe and sound.

It was quite a trip:
6,800 miles
11 states
10 state capitals
Fall colors
Family history
Reconnecting with aunts and uncles

Now we can relax in one spot until our next vacation. Fun to travel and see new places, but nice to be home.

Travel Bug out.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Visiting Escapees on Halloween - Fri., Oct. 31, 2014

I love COE (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) parks. Usually the sites are large, they are near water, and have water and electric hook-ups. AND, check-out time is usually 2 or 3 p.m. That gives us time to go exploring in the morning.

This morning that was especially important since it was time to visit Caddo Lake, about one-half hour from Brushy Creek Campground at Lake o' the Pines. About six miles from the campground we had to sit and wait while road construction crews used a big machine to chew up asphalt and load semi trucks. It was probably about ten minutes, but it was interesting to watch what they were doing.

We followed the roads to Caddo Lake State Park, but when we got to the crucial intersection, there were no signs pointing the way coming in from Jefferson. We turned on the main highway and went about three miles before I happened to see a sign for a side road (which was sideways to us) pointing to Caddo Lake back the way we had just come. Got turned around, and on the main highway there was a sign showing the way to Caddo Lake.

When we arrived, we signed in at the Park Office using our Texas State Parks card and got our window sticker day pass. On the way back to the car Bob pointed out a very interesting historical marker on the lawn. There used to be a town here in the 1800s called Port Caddo. Because the history is so interesting, I'm going to share it with you...

Old Town of Port Caddo
(Site located in and around Caddo State Park)
Ancestral home of Texas Caddo Indians, this region gained a distinctive character in the 19th century. From 1806 to 1845 it lay in an area disputed by various countries and designated from 1819 as the "neutral ground." Settlers living here were far from neutral, however. They became independent and resisted paying taxes levied by any "outside" authority.

Port Caddo, founded in 1838 on Caddo Lake soon grew to importance and its rowdy reputation grew too, as ship's crews, gamblers, and Indians filled its streets. Meanwhile, new towns and roads sprang up nearby.

Continuing upheaval led to the assassination of the tax collector in 1840 and townsmen joined in the factional "regulator-moderator war" from 1840 to 1844. When Texas proposed to join the Union in 1845, Port Caddoans saw a chance to end their problems and voted strongly in favor of statehood.

From 1845 to the 1850s Port Caddo thrived, growing to 500, but then declined as the Port of Jefferson and the county seat of Marshall drew away business.

With the end of the great plantations after the Civil War, falling of the water level in Caddo Lake, and coming of the railroad to nearby Karnack (1900), Port Caddo gradually faded out of existence.
What a way to start the day exploring Caddo Lake State Park. As we drove into the park, I was happy we didn't stay here. The road down into the lake and campgrounds is narrow and steep.

I took the next set of photos while walking through the picnic area at the Big Cypress Bayou boat ramp.
Cypress trees and knees
Moss-draped trees
Sunlight through Spanish moss
Boat dock
Trees in silhouette
Bob wanted to take a photo
Sunlight in Spanish moss
Our first stop was the boat ramp where we looked at the lake and moss-draped trees. From the boat ramp there was supposed to be a 1/4 mile ADA-accessible trail. 

Well, we looked for that trail but could not find it. Instead we started hiking on the "Nature Trail." We did not have our map with us (stupid, I know).

Beginning of "Nature Trail"
The trail quickly became very steep, rutted and full of rocks. It looked like there had been a hard rain that had made a waterfall out of the trail at some time in the recent past. Good thing we had on hiking boots! (Looking at the map back at the car, we discovered we had been on "Pine Ridge Trail (steep)."

Up and up and up we went. No ADA trail here. Finally we came to a split in the trail and decided to go left. That apparently was the "Old Road" trail. At another junction in the trail we could see the trail was closed; again we went left. That was the "Caddo Forest Trail." We then came upon the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Pavilion, built by CCC Company 857 in approximately 1935.

CCC Pavilion

The trail was downhill from there. I mean that in a good way.

Before we knew it we were back at the boat dock parking lot. Then we were off to the Saw Mill Pond where we finally were able to enjoy the scenery we were looking for. Awesome.

Saw Mill Pond and fishing pier
Great egret
Great egret

Egret flying off

From the Saw Mill Pond we drove through the campground loops to see if we would want to bring our 5th wheel in here. Nope. There are only a few pull-through sites, and the back in sites didn't appeal to us. Plus we don't want to bring the 5th wheel down the steep hill.

Looking at the state park map, I can see Big Cypress Bayou and the Saw Mill Pond, but where is Caddo Lake?? Guess we have to go back and take a boat tour to see that. Can't wait.

Our friends Faye and Dave (except we haven't met Dave yet) must have arrived in the park to canoe about the time we were leaving. You can read her blog for their take on canoeing in Caddo Lake State Park. Also of note, be sure to read her blog where she quotes Dave on how the Toad Suck Lock and Dam got it's name. We were in stitches reading it.

After our time at Caddo lake, we went back to Lake o' the Pines Brushy Creek Campground through the town of Jefferson. That is a town we will definitely be going back to. It used to be the second-largest town in Texas and apparently was quite wealthy. There are many historic buildings in town and it is just darned cute. This is not one of those old towns that is boarded up. No siree. The streets were bustling with business. Besides checking out the old homes and businesses, we saw a boardwalk through a swampy area that looked mighty intriguing. I'd like to hike there.

A stately home in Jefferson, Texas
Back at Brushy Creek we checked out by 12:30 p.m. Here are a couple more shots of our campsite...

Site E121

We took County Rd. 3001 southwest to hook up with U.S. 59 south. I'll repeat my warning I put in the blog yesterday: Bob asked the host at the campground gate if County Rd. 3001 hooked up with U.S. 59 south and if it did were there any problems with the route. She told us it was a great route and it was...until we got to U.S. 59 where there was a steep railroad grade. At that point we didn't want to turn around and go all the way back to the route we had used to go into the campground. Be forewarned, if you're a MH with a toad, that would not be the way to go.

Somewhere along the way, we saw this mural. We were at a red light so I had time to snag my camera and take a photo. Bob and I got a laugh out of it. If you had seen the town it was in, you would have laughed too.

"The Garden Spot of East Texas"
Our destination today is Escapees Rainbow's End RV Park in Livingston, Texas. We made it there by 4:30 p.m.

If you are not familiar with the Escapees RV Club, then you deserve to check it out (tell them Susan Alton sent you). Escapees RV Club is a total support network for all RVers. Here are services available through Escapees (either through the club or an association with other business):
  • Escapees Mail Service
  • Rainbow Parks
  • CARE Center in Livingston, Texas
  • RVers' Boot Camp (critical RV training)
  • Escapees magazine
  • Escapade (educational events)
  • Strong RV advocacy coalition (protecting RVers' rights)
  • Exclusive RV safety information (travel with peace of mind)
  • Discounts (15-50%) at nearly 1,000 commercial parks
  • Escapees SmartWeigh (weigh your RV)
  • Escapees Club News
  • SKP (Escapee) Co-ops
After check-in we were ready for dinner. The staff in the office recommended Joe's Italian restaurant for dinner in Livingston. That's where we ate and it was excellent.

After dinner we drove around the Escapees property. They have a huge RV park as well as their CARE Center. We were not able to take the Trolley tour of the park because it only runs certain days and times. Same for the headquarters tour, only certain days and times and it wasn't 4:30 on a Friday afternoon.

We nestled into the RV for a quiet evening.

Travel Bug out.