Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Weekend in Corpus Christi

Saturday we drove to Kingsville to visit the King Ranch.  We have driven through this area every year for 7 years and vowed each time to stop "next time."  Well this year we did.

The King Ranch was founded on two Spanish land grants in the area of the Wild Horse Desert by Richard King.  He and his wife had 5 children but only the youngest, Alice, produced grandchildren, the Kleburg family.  These descendents are instrumental in running the ranch today.  The huge family home is maintained for the sole purpose of the family while visiting either for business or pleasure.

Their greatest claim to fame is the breeding and establishment of the Santa Gertrudis line of beef cattle, far superior to the Texas longhorn.  The ranch was initially called Santa Gertrudis after the creek by that name.  It was the first fresh water Richard King found after leaving Brownsville, which today is a 3 hour drive.

Today the ranch is over 850,000 acres including 75,000 acres in Bellglade FL where they grow citrus, milo (a feed grain) and sod.  They also breed and train cutting horses and have had one Triple Crown Winner in Assault in 1946.

An artesian well was discovered on the ranch in 1899 and was instrumental in its growth.  A bronze sculpture in the Visitor's Center depicts this event.

We then went to the museum which contained lots of photographs of the family and life on the ranch.  This is a Buick Eight made into a hunting car.  I am standing beside a horse blanket woven on the ranch from wool of sheep also raised there.

Next we went to the Saddle Shop where I found this longhorn as part of the decorative display.

No one was working on the handmade saddles but I did take a few photos of the work area.

The disappointing thing was that virtually every item in the shop outside of the saddles,  though marked with the "Running W" brand was made in China.  Needless to say, I didn't buy anything.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Where Is The Sun?

Where is Al Gore and his global warming when you need him?  I have been in jeans and sweat shirts all of December!  It's enough to make me consider moving back to Florida.

Tom and Eileen arrived safely and Sunday night we went to dinner with them, Gerre and Barry before taking in the local light shows.  We had lots to see but we had to sit in the car and listen to the music over the radio when it got too cold to stand outside.

Monday our visitors did some visiting of their own with long time friends who live in the area.  That gave me a chance to continue preparing for the holiday festivities.  On Christmas Eve we went to church at 4:00.  Despite Mass in the church and the gym, it was SRO but we were able to find seats in the front rows.  At the theater, people pay higher prices for these seats but they remain empty until the end at church.  Their loss, our gain.

We opened some presents afterwards, looked at some more lights and then we all met Gerre and Barry for dinner at Fleming's.  The food was excellent but it is very noisy for a nice restaurant.  I think I prefer Perry's for better ambience.

I was up at 5:30 on Christmas Day preparing dinner and mentally getting ready for our imminent departure.  Two of our guests took ill so there were 10 of us for dinner.  Talk about food!  I am not sure where it all came from.  There was shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, cheese plate, fruit, sausage and crackers as appetizers.  Then pork, rice, sweet potatoes, green beans, cauliflower, baked apples and corn casserole for our meal.  We polished that off with pecan and pumpkin pie, cookies and candy.  We are still eating leftovers!  It was an enjoyable day and I was happy to share it with my friends.

The next day was crunch time.  I laundered the linens from the tables, put away the Christmas decorations, gathered up the last minute personal items for the RV, rechecked that I had the info I would need while gone and freshened Chris's room in anticipation of his arrival.  Meanwhile Ted and Tom were moving the trailer to the campground where Tom and Eileen were staying.  Once we got situated, Tommy, Susan, Warren, Judy, Rita and Jim all came over to see our new digs.  It was a ready made party and I was pushing leftovers!  When that didn't work we ate some for dinner.

The next morning we pulled out and drove through downtown Houston and headed SW arriving in Corpus Christi mid afternoon.  It is still cold!  Our only stop was at Buccee's for a pit stop and some coffee.  We settled in, sliced the pork thin, added BBQ sauce, cole slaw and chips for one more go at the leftovers.

Today we are driving to Kingsville to tour the King Ranch.  If the sun comes out tomorrow we hope to visit Aransass Pass, Rockport and Mustang Island.  Monday we head to Mission where it is FINALLY supposed to be sunny and in the 70s,  let's hope they are right.

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.   ~ Helen Keller

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Parties Are Over

We have been making runs to the trailer as often as we can to get the rest of the things put away. Next  comes the loading of our personal things we will use over the next 2.5 months.  We are getting close to being done.

Saturday night we played Shanghai at Sherida and John's.  Their house is decorated from floor to ceiling in every room!  It all looks lovely and I admire people who are wiling to take the time and make the effort to do this.  After all, I did put a wreath on my door!  She had an entire island of hearty appetizers and sweets.  Ted won at his table with the men and I won at mine with the ladies.  They are going to stop asking us to sub if we keep winning.

Monday was our bunco Christmas luncheon.  Mary's tables were set so beautifully and the food was outstanding.  We had our Christmas gift exchange which is always a lot of fun.  Another thing we do is donate food to the local food pantry.  We filled the entire back of my Expedition with food and Ted drove it to church the next day.

Tuesday was the big push to get most of the stuff back into the trailer.  It is unbelievable all that we keep in there on a regular basis.  I don't know how long it would have taken us in Chanute if we did it all at once.  At least we are getting things put away neatly and with a degree of organization.

Carol and Terry invited us to dinner at the country club with John and Irene on Wednesday night.  They were having their big holiday buffet and it was the only time we had to spend together for the holidays. We saw several other friends and it was an enjoyable evening.

Tonight was our neighborhood get together and we are delghted with Wanda's progress with her chemo.  She looked and felt fantastic.  What a wonderful answer to our prayers.  I laughed until I cried when we talked about forgetting the most basic words.  It seems we all have had incidents and one was funnier than the other.

Eileen and Tom will start their trip to here tomorrow.  We expect them to arrive on Sunday.  I will be busy getting ready for their arrival, finishing up the trailer packing, a visit to the lighted musical house, church and Christmas Eve dinner at Fleming's followed by a Christmas dinner for a dozen people here at our house.

That leaves me one day to tie up loose ends and put the wreath away.  Chris doesn't want to look at the few things sitting out until March and I don't want to put Christmas decorations away just when I am digging around for my St. Pat leprauchan or the Easter Bunny!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our (Un)Excellent Adventure

Last Wednesday I attended our Forum Holiday Party.  It was held close to home this year which made it even nicer for me.  Afterwards, I separated all the gifts donated into piles of "one for you, one for me" until we had two equal (as best we could) piles to be loaded into vans to be taken to two local charities.

The next morning I worked at the Nursing Home Christmas party and afterwards intended to take the gifts from the night before to one of the proper places.  Judy was taking the others.  While Sandra and I were blowing up balloons, she said she would just take them since they were all in her SUV and she lives down that way and I don't.  It made sense, so I agreed.

Our Merry Melodies sang lots of Christmas Carols to entertain the folks.  It is so interesting to watch those residents that do not communicate normally mouth the words to the songs.  I had lots of fun with one lady who took great pride in singing along with me showing me that she remembered all the words.  When I looked up from bending over her wheelchair I noticed everyone standing against the walls and I was the only one standing among the residents during the performance.  One of our singers came over afterwards and thanked me for singing along.  Good thing she couldn't really hear me!

We intended to head to Chanute, KS on Saturday but the weather was really bad with the ice storm so we waited until Sunday.  Well the weather was OK by then but what was on the ground north of Dallas wasn't.  I have my doubts that there is a snow plow in NE Texas!  The road from Richardson to Sherman was all ice and overpasses were the worst.  We saw tractor trailers off the road, a Greyhound bus and numerous cars scattered hither and yon.  It took us two hours to go 7 miles at one point.  Ted did a fantastic job of driving ... considering he was pulling our RV!

We reached Durant OK and found the casino campground covered in about 3 inches of ice.  We sort of slid into our spot.  Ted hooked up the electric, fired up the propane furnace and we ate our lunch leftovers for dinner.  We were on our way to pick up our new 2014 Mobile Suites 5th wheel and had emptied the old trailer to minimize time switching things out.  This was supposed to be a quick trip up and back!  So we found ourselves stuck with no extra blankets, no space heater if the propane ran out and only some canned food.  We were afraid to unhook for fear of not being able to back up to hook up to leave.

The campground between our spot and the office.

We knew we were not going anywhere on Monday so we thought we would call the casino shuttle and go to eat at the casino.  Wrong!  The shuttles were not running.  Lucky for us the manager of the KOA campground took us in his SUV to the casino, came back to pick us up and even took us to the Valero to pick up a few things to tide us over.  Our other problem was we had no water because the hose would freeze and Ted had winterized our tanks.  I was unable to negotiate the ice so Ted had to keep walking me to the office to the bathroom!  Fun! 

Tuesday Ted spread about 100 lbs. of de-icer in the path we needed to leave the campground.  Major roads were cleared but getting to them could have been tricky.  When we tried to leave, the wheels just spun!  So he put de-icer around our tires and we were able to get a running start and didn't stop until we were on the cleared road.

The trip into Kansas was uneventful and we were able to do the paperwork and pay for our purchase in just a few minutes.  Then we spent about two hours going over the unit and moving some things we had with us.

We chose to spend the night in a motel and the next morning spent three hours finishing up learning the ins and outs of the trailer, moved our dishes and were on our way.  We spent Wednesday night back in Durant and the ice was gone!  I did write KOA praising their manager for going Above and Beyond for us.

Here are some photos of the inside.  The refrigerator blows my mind.  It is bigger and fancier than mine at home!  The improvements are Independent suspension, body paint, bigger TV that stows behind the fireplace and raises up to watch, a way fancier kitchen, beautiful storage in the bedroom.  So far we are really pleased.

On the right is a fireplace you can't see and the space above is where the 46 inch TV comes up.

Behind those mirrored doors is a cedar lined walk in closet.

We arrived home mid-afternoon and parked the RV at the storage facility.  It is so dirty on the outside!  We are busy this next week but when Tom and Eileen arrive we will join them at the campground where Ted will wash it and I will put away the rest of our things that are sitting in a bedroom and the garage right now.

Thank you, Santa!  And praise to our Savior for the blessings he has bestowed on us.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Just Coasting 'Til Christmas

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at Irene and John's.  John's son and his family were there as well as another couple, Wayne and Pam, that we are friends with.  The 11 of us enjoyed a terrific meal and then the adults played cards.  Ted was with three women, I was with three men!  Not sure how that happened.  Anyway, I had terrific cards, got a Shanghai on the last hand and won with just 8 points for the entire set.

We stopped at Ulta on the way home and bought the sale items.  It was a long wait to check out but parking and crowds were no problem.

We joined Sherida, John, Gerre and Barry for dinner prior to seeing the play It's A Wonderful Life on Friday evening.  We learned this classic did not become popular as a holiday movie until the early 70s.  We all thought it was an instant Christmas hit.  Not so.

Our weather has improved and we are back in the 70s but another storm is heading this way and cold temps and wintry mix north of us is predicted for the weekend.  Then things warm up again.  Crazy weather!

I did my minimal decorating- sideboard in the breakfast area, front porch and my Texas Christmas tree.  That's it folks!  Chris will be back in residence as we head out 12/27 and putting decorations away before I go just isn't on my radar!  The stable was made circa 1930 by my grandfather out of a wooden Werk's Tag Soap box.  The tree was a departing gift from my best friend when we left Florida for Texas.  

Ted headed back to Dallas and I finished up packing the boxes that need to be shipped.  I need one more box and thought I could use the one I was expecting from UPS yesterday, but it never arrived.  Their records indicate it was delivered just before 7:00 last night but we were both home, the doorbell did not ring and there is no box!  I sent an email to Customer Service so we will see what today brings. 

I did work the Senior's Christmas luncheon yesterday.  About 200 were in attendance.  I always see our old friend Joanne who attends.  She and her husband were camping friends until he had a stroke.  She is now walking with a cane.  They played bingo, had lunch and were entertained by a singer.  He had a thick Cajun accent and a bad sound system which made hearing difficult.  He was having a hard time getting the audience to sing along because they couldn't understand him.  We all decided to form a chorus line to sing and dance to help him out which the audience enjoyed very much.  I never knew I could follow so many impromptu dance steps!  What a fun time we all had.  

I brought home a dozen tablecloths that are all laundered and on hangers ready to go back already.  Tonight is our holiday party and I will hand off the tablecloths to Linda so they have them for next time.  After the party I will load up half the donated toys for delivery tomorrow to the Assistance Ministries.  Sandy and I are both working at the nursing home in the morning and will leave from there to deliver the toys.  

By Friday I will be ready to put my feet up.  I am just hoping that box shows up and I can use it to mail that one last gift box!