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Monthly Archives: January 2016

Our Trip to Goliad

Let me start this post by saying that I’m a Yankee. (We’ll lay aside my paternal Tennessee roots for the moment – I was born and raised in New Jersey.)  For the most part, my Texas friends have overlooked that … at least I think they have. I’m sure most of them would agree that I have a way of looking at things that is decidedly not “Texan”, despite having lived there for 10 years as a younger man and finding myself carrying a Texas driver’s license now. I don’t have the appreciation for the state they do. The whole “things are bigger and better in Texas” thing wasn’t bred into me as it was with them and it sure didn’t take after moving there a month into my sophomore year of high school.

Growing up, I was fascinated by history. In fact, I had a double minor at North Texas State – history and political science. I have always been fascinated by early U.S. history, specifically colonial America up through the Revolutionary War and into the early 19th century. And I was fortunate enough as a kid to live within a stone’s throw of many places that played critical roles in our country’s birth. The “nerd” in me loved going to Ringwood Manor and seeing part of the actual chain … forged in northwest New Jersey … that was stretched across the Hudson River to keep the British from sailing upstream to Albany. I visited Washington’s Headquarters in Morristown and walked the woods where his troops suffered in the freezing cold, being so hungry that they ate leather! Visiting Independence Hall, I could imagine watching the debates between John Adams and Edward Rutledge. I spent weekends walking New York City by myself, taking in all the history. Boston is one of my two favorite cities in the country (San Francisco being the other). Any time I went to a Red Sox game … and I’ve been to more games at Fenway than I can count … I’d combine it with a visit to some Revolutionary War point of interest.  I remember sitting in the Green Dragon Bar, the oldest tavern in Boston. I told my traveling companion, “Just think, we could be sitting in the same place where a drunk Samuel Adams exclaimed to his buddies, ‘Let’s dump their bloody tea into the Harbor!'”  (I was so disappointed to discover later on that the bar had been relocated from it’s original site.)  :o(

I’m recounting all of this so you can get a sense of how steeped in Revolutionary War history I am, something that was probably bred into me as a kid.  So when I moved to Texas at 15, I left a big part of me behind. And moved to a place where it just didn’t seem like they cared  all that much about anything were I came from. Everything was about “Texas”. Texas history was a required class for graduation. It was alright, but I couldn’t understand how it seemed to supercede American history … I mean, it’s a state! I remember visiting the Alamo as a young adult. Maybe it was the situation I was in, going there with my first wife and spending most of the time arguing about some inane thing. While there, she had some “issue” and we wound up staying maybe an hour, tops. Hard to take everything in when you were wondering whether the cannon still worked and if she could be positioned in front of them! :o)

Getting back  to today, though … shortly after I arrived here at Lake Texana, a good friend from high school replied to one of my Facebook posts. Greg said, “You know, you’re staying right where a lot of the Texas Revolution was fought!” What really got me though, was that he specifically mentioned how having grown up near all the Revolutionary War sites, here was a chance to see places that were part of Texas’ revolution. That sold it for me! I got out my Texas book from AAA and started reading up on nearby towns. The closest one to me was Goliad, so Frank and I decided to head out there this past week. As an aside, Greg … if you’re reading this, I wish you would have said something a few months ago. There were a helluva lot more places that were right next to Corpus Christi State Park in Mathis.  I think they’re too far away for me to backtrack now. I guess they’ll have to be saved for another winter stay along the gulf. :o)

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Fannin battlefield monument

Our first stop was at the site of the Battle of Coleto Creek, about 10 miles east of Goliad. It’s out in the middle of nowhere … Frank and I were the only ones there and no one else came during our 30 minute stay. There’s a single obelisk in the middle of a field with other monuments around a circular drive.

Coleto Creek was a decisive defeat for the Texians, a defeat which lead to the Goliad Massacre a week later. Colonel James Fannin was leading a small army of about 400 men to Victoria under orders from General Sam Houston when they had to engage the Mexican Army under General Jose de Urrea.

Sitting in the middle of a wide open plain, I asked Frank, “Why wold Fannin choose this place to fight a battle? (Not being a military tactitian, Frank just wagged his tail and wondered how close we were to dinner.) It wasn’t until we got home and I had a chance to go back online that I discovered the reason why Fannin fought here. Simply put, I think he was on par with Frank when it came to military tactics! While he had been given orders to leave his encampment in Golidad and head for Victoria, he instead waited a whole day.  He then left without proper supplies, with excess gear and at a leisurely pace. He held the Mexican army in disdain and was convinced they wouldn’t follow him to Victoria. Wrong! He was forced to fight there when the Mexican army caught up with him.

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The plaque at the Fannin battlefield

There was a small building with exhibits on the northest side of the circle. Inside, it had a map that reconstructed the position of Fannin’s men compared to the Mexicans, which had surrounded the Texians in order to keep them from reaching cover that was only 400 yards away.  Only 400 yards! The map was based on where cannonballs and other artifacts were found by archeologists. Going back outside, all you could hear was the wind … it was easy to superimpose that map on the field in front of me and then close my eyes, imagining what was going on back then. I was glad we had the place to ourselves. After heading over to look at the obelisk and walking around a little more, we headed out for Goliad.

Golidad itself is a pretty neat little town. Like a lot of small towns, there’s a square with the City Hall smack dab in the middle. The “Hanging Tree” is right outside, where many a criminal met his Maker. Sorry to say, but I couldn’t get a good shot of the tree, or the branch that was just the right

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Goliad town square

height off the ground to take care of business. I did manage to take a photo of one of the buildings on the square and some of the monuments around the courthouse, but that was about it.

South of town stands the Presidio La Bahia, one of the Mexican forts, across from the Mission de Zuniga. The Presidio was built on the site of de la Salle’s western-most fort – the same de la Salle that explored much of the Mississippi valley for the French. Something I learned was that the fort was actually used by the Spanish to defend the Gulf of Mexico from the British during the Revolution War, making it the only Texas site to have been involved in the birth of America! There’s a tie-in to the Revolutionary War that I didn’t even know existed! End of digression … :o)

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The Mission de Zuniga

The Presidio was captured by the Mexican army after Fannin left and his men … including the wounded, were marched back from the battle site 10 miles away. They were housed in the chapel … by one account, there were so many men they had to remain standing! A week later, they were marched out to a nearby hill and executed one by one. Urrea had pleaded with General Santa Anna to treat the prisoners honorably, but Santa Anna wouldn’t hear it – he was under orders from the Mexican government to treat any captured Texians as pirates, not soldiers.

The men who coudn’t march were murdered in the chapel. Fannin was executed last. He made three requests: that his belongings be returned to his family; that he be shot in the heart like a soldier; and that he be given a Christian burial. His belongings were taken; he was shot in the face; his body was burned and along with the rest of the massacre victims, his remains were left unburied, to be desecrated by the coyotes and birds!

After La Bahia was recaptured by the Texians, General Rusk ordered the remains of the men … which by this point had been lying scattered for almost two months … to be given a military burial. A monument stands over the burial site just behind the Presidio, which was reconstructed within the last 50 years. Once again, Frank and I were the only ones there. Greg referred to it in a Facebook post as “hallowed ground”. I can certainly understand that now that I’ve been there.

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Burial site of the victims of the Goliad Massacre

The cruelty of the massacres at the Alamo and at La Bahia didnt have the impact General Santa Anna had hoped for. It crystallized the resolve of the Texians. “Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!” became a war cry. Only about three weeks later, Santa Anna’s army was defeated in the final battle of the Texas Revolution – the Battle of San Jacinto. The site is located on San Jacinto River, east of downtown Houston. Frank and I may take a ride over there one morning before we leave Lake Texana … and if it works out not to be too far, we may just head back west towards Mathis and take in some of those other historic sites near Mathis, too.

All in all, I walked away from this experience with a different sense of Texas history. I have a better appreciation how Texans would look at these places the same way that I revere certain Revolutionary War battle sites. And that’s a good thing – any time you can find a common ground with people who have a different history from you is a good thing, right? I’m a better person for the experience.

I couldn’t figure out how to place these photos in the body of the post.  Here is a shot of the Presidio la Bahia, along with a close up of one of the reconstructed statues.

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Please forgive me, but I have to include a link back to our youcaring.com page.  If you’ve enjoyed following along on our journey, we’d greatly appreciate you helping us get into some new digs – I don’t know how long this tent is going to hold up once we leave Lake Texana at the end of March.  If you’re not able to at this time, don’t sweat it – your continued support through reading the blog is certainly appreciated!

https://youcaring.com/frankandjeff

 

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Posted by on January 31, 2016 in Travels

 

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A Week in the Life …

It’s been a pretty enjoyable week! No major climate issues, the tent’s holding up so far, somewhat weird, Texas weather (okay, that’s redundant, I know), but we’ve faired pretty well all in all. Here’s a recap of what’s gone on since Monday …

First, I want to express my gratitude for all those that have chipped in to help Frank and me get into some new digs. As of this morning, we’re a little under a third of the way to meeting our needs. I’m truly blessed to have such good friends. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!

http://www.youcaring.com/frankandjeff


Frank and I were relaxing on Monday night, waiting for the big Warriors / Spurs game. I’ve been a Warriors fan since I moved to the Bay Area over 35 years ago and let me tell you – there have been some God awful teams I’ve had to root for in that time period! I honestly think that Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina could have beaten them on any given night, that’s how bad they were. So it’s a real pleasure having an honest to goodness NBA team to root for, yes sirree!

We were in the tent early … can’t remember if it was because of wind gusts or cold … but I decided to rent a movie on Amazon. My data plan was starting over on Tuesday and I had saved up some extra gigs, so at about 6:15, I started watching Matt Damon in “The Martian”. First off, it’s a great movie! I was thoroughly spellbound by how the plot proceeded. I’m not going to give out any spoilers, just in case you haven’t seen it yet. I will say that it’s a helluva lot better than any of the other recent space flicks that have come out like “Gravity” or “Interstellar”. If you’re looking to while away a few hours, rent it. My opinion.

The only issue I had was my Internet. I don’t know what’s going on, but I can’t keep a 4G connection to save my soul! The thing kept bouncing from 4G to 3G (which doesn’t allow pages to load on my laptop for some reason) to “TXT” to no signal. I’d get 15 or 20 minute spurts of the movie and just when something was about to happen … happen … happen … get the picture? Great, because I sure wasn’t! Talk about added suspense … the only thing missing was a “tune in next week” disclaimer!

To make matters worse, the game’s start time kept creeping up. When I started watching, I looked at the clock and thought, “Yeah, I’ve got plenty of time!” Well …

The way I was forced to watch it, the end of the movie actually matched the pace of the last two minutes of an NBA game. You know what I’m talking about? Where it takes 30 minutes for 2 minutes of clock time to run down? I really started sweating it, thinking, “you’ll just have to watch the end tomorrow,” but realized that with my data plan resetting at midnight, I’d have to start using next month’s allocation. Didn’t want to do that.

I started getting a little giddy. Don’t know if it was that I was tired, or cold, or what … but I started giggling. Frank didn’t know what to make of it! The only semi-spoiler I’ll let out is that towards the end, the plot revolves around timing … the need for two discrete things having to sync up for everything to work out. And here I was, trying to sync up the end of “The Martian” with the start of the game. I’m writing this now and thinking, “this is a ‘you had to be there’ moment.” I don’t think anyone reading this is going to see the same hilarity that I did.

To make matters even worse, we stared hearing coyotes howling nearby, which sent Frank into a bit of a tizzy. So I’m holding Frank in one arm and my phone high overhead in the other, trying to pick up a signal. And then I’d get one, I’d start the movie up again, I’d set the phone down, and 5 minutes later, the signal would drop.

To make an already too long story not short enough, I got through the whole movie, with 2 SECONDS to spare before tip-off. A thoroughly enjoyable movie followed by an even MORE enjoyable game!  (The side game between the Vagabonds and the Coyotes went our way, too … they quieted down soon enough.)


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Poor Frank … damned thunder

Tuesday was a stay-in-the-tent day. It started out windy … to the point where I was kneeling in the corner again, buttressing the pole against a stiff breeze. Then the rain started in, accompanied by thunder, something we hadn’t heard in quite some time. Maybe it’s because we hadn’t heard it in a while, but Frank did not do well, even with his thundershirt on tight. I do give him credit though – once it stops, he’s back to his old self in 20 minutes, tops. I love that about him. I’ve added another little sign to the dashboard – “Be Like Frank!” It goes real handy with the other saying up there, the one that Larry gave me: “It’s all worked out before – trust that it will work out again!”


On Wednesday, I had my first “opportunity” … if you can call it that … to use my walking staff for defensive purposes. Frank and I took a walk around the loop to see the lake. On the way back, we encountered a bobcat who decided that he simply wasn’t going to let us pass. He got in the middle of the road and started snarling.

I was totally shocked at Frank! He was growling and snarling like I have never seen before and it took a lot of energy to hold him back on a short leash. As the bobcat started to approach, I starting stomping my feet, swinging the staff and jabbing towards the cat while growling at him myself. he never got too close … no more than 20 feet, I’d say. Finally, I let out a loud roar and took two steps towards him while jabbing the staff towards him. That was it – he took off into the brush.

I sort of crab-stepped by where he disappeared and then walked backwards for a few dozen steps to make sure he didn’t come out of the brush and attack us from behind, which was tough to do while continuing to hold Frank back. He was so proud of himself, but I think it took something out of him because as soon as we got back to the tent he was up on the cot and sound asleep within 3 minutes. I’m sure he had great dreams … his feet were moving and he was barking away in his sleep, either chasing bobcats or telling as his dream buddies about his exploits! :o)

By the way, I highly recommend Down East Walking Sticks.  They have a huge variety of woods and sizes. Barrie will custom make them, too … as he did for me.  I would not be able to walk as much as I have if it wasn’t for my walking staff. (This is an unsolicited endorsement by the way and I am not receiving compensation from them.  Just felt that needed to be said!)   End of digression …    :o)

I told a shorter version of the story on Facebook and my brother, Andy, responded with a comment … something along the lines of, “What a cool experience!” Either the definition of “cool” has changed or I’ve just gotten too old, but I didn’t see anything at all that was cool abut that encounter!  I did not have “elude crazy bobcat” on my bucket list!

That evening, when I took Frank out for his evening constitutional, I brought the walking staff with me, just in case. Fortunately it was just the two of us out there, except for a few deer, whose eyes were glowing in the light from my headlamp. That and the stars. The sky was crystal clear and there were more stars out than humanly possible to count … way more than any night this summer when I was in Colorado. There were so many that the constellations were almost obliterated by the backdrop. Orion’s normally easy to pick out, right?  Doesn’t take more than a couple of seconds. But Wednesday night, I actually had to look for it because the four stars that make up his shoulders and thighs didn’t stand out the way they do in most night skies … and there were so many more jewels on his belt than you’d normally see! We’d have spent more time star-gazing, but it was bitter cold. Even at 8pm.  So we headed back in and got ready to listen to another Warriors game.


The cold at 8pm was just a harbinger of what was to come later that night. On Thursday morning, It was 32 degrees. I went online to NOAA and discovered that the overnight low was 29, with the wind dropping the real feel down another 2 degrees! It didn’t bother us, though! I tell you that sleeping bag is worth its weight in gold! Frank and I were warm as toast all night. Frank wasn’t ready to get up, though … normally he’s out of the cot as soon as I unzip the bag. But I had to ease my way around him, encountering a, “Yeah, good luck … I’m staying here, thank you very much,” look from my little buddy. I laid on the floor and pulled the bottom of the bag down over my legs setting the little heater a foot away from my chest. That’s the coldest night we’ve dealt with since we left Charleston last May. But it was nothing, thanks to that sleeping bag!

texanadeer4It warmed up by noon, so Frank and I headed off to Goliad. One of my Dallas friends, Greg, said that we were smack in the middle of “Texas independence” land, where many battles took place, and suggested that we check it out. I’m not going to say much about our afternoon here … I want to give it its own post. I will say that it was well worth the time. I came away with an appreciation for Texas history that I didn’t have before.

When we got back late in the afternoon, our field was covered in deer! I counted more than 2 dozen of them. It was the same thing last night, too. I’m amazed at Frank, even more so after the bobcat encounter. He doesn’t pay them any mind, whatsoever! He’s perfectly content to just lie on the ground at my feet as I sit in the camp chair. Both of us watching them go about their business.

That’s it for now. I’ll post something tomorrow about our Goliad trip.  Here are a few photos of the deer camped out in our little field behind the tent, taken Thursday and Friday late afternoon … the last one captures only about 2/3 of the herd that was out there on Thursday.  Now that’s way cooler than a bobcat encounter!

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Posted by on January 30, 2016 in Travels

 

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I Need Some Help …

Well , we’ve been here at Lake Texana now for a little over a week. It’s been pretty good so far!

On arrival, I noticed a warning sign about snakes posted on a wall. I said, “So I can assume we’re talking about poisonous snakes, right? Which ones?” The woman behind the counter sort of chuckled and another woman yelled out from the office in the back, “All of ’em!” Counter-lady said, “Weve got rattlers, cottonmouths, copperheads, coral snakes … take your pick.”

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Our campsite is prime viewing area for all the deer.

My first thought was “run”. But realistically, we’ve camped in other areas with that risk, so I figured that we just needed to be smart. That said, I wasn’t that happy with our individual campsite. Lots of heavy brush, not much distance between the brush and where the tent would be set up, and no place to stake Frank out where he wouldn’t be spending most of his time exploring the brush, neck deep in prime serpent areas. A little ways down the road though, I noticed that the brush disappeared and opened up into a big expanse of short-cut grass … plenty of room for my little buddy to explore without any nearby bushes. It even has a little view of the lake, across the road and through the neighboring campsites.  Counter lady was more than happy to change our spot.

Pitching the tent proved a little tough. I ran into some issues with it leaning again and discovered why – one of the main support beams running out from the center hub (which in turn supports the two front legs) looks to be bent about 18 degrees! I didn’t try to bend it back … I couldn’t risk snapping it. So, it’s still the Kevin Costner tent, leaning back and to the left … back and to the left. We still can’t use the tent’s main font door … too much pressure on the zipper. The side door is useable, but the material is loose because of the bent beam. it’s manageable, but what it means is that I have to use two hands to unzip it, holding the material taut with one hand while working the zipper with the other. The trick is doing both while holding Frank’s leash. At first I was ready to throttle him and his “We gotta get out of the tent now” exuberance.  For the most part though, he’s done a pretty good job learning to hold back until I tell him, “Okay Frank … go ahead now,” before making that mad dash out to survey his domain. :o)

We’ve not done much except relax.  Frank made a new friend … there’s a guy camping down the road a ways who’s stopped by a couple of times with his dog … I think it’s a Jack Russell mix.  He and Frank have really enjoyed playing together. I’ve enjoyed having someone to talk to every now and then, too.  Other than that, I’ve been taking adavantage of the Kindle that Larry bought for me as a Christmas present. I downloaded Michael Connelly’s “The Poet” and am a few chapters into that.  I’ve read it before but enjoyed it enough to do another read. I like Connelly’s stuff.  Some of you might be familiar with “Blood Work,” which was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood.  My only complaint about the movie was that it completely changed who the protagonist was!  Other than that minor detail, it was very true to the book.  (The web is in dire need a sarcasm font … but I digress …)

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Frank’s figured out how to cover himself up without any help!

Frank’s managed to find the one tree within the 25-foot circumference of his lead and requires unwrapping about two or three times an hour. Untying him, plus the short walks we’ve been taking most mornings is the bulk of my exercise. I say “most” mornings … we’ve had a couple of days of rain and at least three days of really cold weather. I think it was Friday morning when we woke to 30 degrees! Thank God for the sleeping bag! Frank now sleeps curled up next to me with his head draped over my neck … whatever fear he once had of my C-pap mask has gone completely by the wayside!  He’s also figured out how to crawl in from the bottom of the bag, inch up inside and then put his head on the pillow so that he’s completely covered up.  I tell ya, that is one smart pup!

And then there’s the wind. Still. Following us everywhere. Frank and I spent two of the cold afternoons in our tent, with at least two hours each day kneeling against the west wall, buttressing the front corner pole with my weight. The rain fly blew loose a few times, but fortunately it didn’t come completely off, thanks to a little forethought. I used some extra rope to tie the fly directly to the tent poles in addition to staking it out to the ground. At least it’s not as bad as in La Feria, where the wind was so strong that it took the stakes right out of the ground. It’s still been a royal pain, though.

So all of that leads to a decision I’ve made. I need to ask for some help. It’s going to be tougher and tougher as we continue over the long term relying solely on this tent. First off, I don’t know how much longer it’s going to hold up with the bent frame. Secondly, I’m not sure a replacement is going to fare that much better, given what we’ve been through only eight months into our journey.

I had been doing research on teardrop trailers after a number of friends sent me links to various websites. Most of them were unaffordable. They’re great, but have way too many bells and whistles on them. Either that, or they’re too heavy for me to tow behind my Hyundai Azera. I’ve been on Craigslist and Ebay and while I’ve found a few that were low in price, they were home made and I felt it sort of risky to put any money into buying them.

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Here’s the teardrop trailer I’m interested in getting.

Finally, I found a manufacturer out of Denver with a nice product. They’ve delivered over 200 of them since the middle of 2014 and have ramped up to deliver another 250 this year. Their smallest model is 4′ x 8′ and comes with an optional galley in the back where you can store your stove and other cooking necessities. It’s basically a travelling bedroom. It’ll hold the equivalent of a full-size mattress, my clothes and not much else inside. But at least it’ll take the wind and rain and will keep us warmer than the tent. I got a quote from the company and it comes to a little over $3,900, plus tax. I’ll need to buy a mattress (the trailer doesn’t come with one) and have a hitch installed on

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Heres the tent that would abut the back end of the trailer.

the car. I also found a tent that would attach to the back galley and give us about another 60 square feet of space to retreat to in daytime rain without having to feel like we’re getting into a coffin. The tent is lower in profile than our current one and should hold up a lot better in the wind (along with having the support of the trailer).

The total cost for all of this is about $5,500. I feel uncomfortable asking for help from you readers, but I think I have to. I can put about $2,000 towards this. After that (and after not being able to work the first half of 2015 before my social security kicked in … and then paying for all our supplies and other needs for the trip), my life savings will be down below $20,000.

I’ve set up a page on youcaring.com, with an appeal for $3,500 in assistance – the link is http://youcaring.com/frankandjeff . It’s geared towards charitable fundraising instead of business ventures the way gofundme is. If you can see your way clear to provide a little assistance … if you’ve enjoyed following along as we head down the road … your help will be most appreciated. If you can’t, you can’t. I totally understand. This trip was my decision and I take responsibility for it. I would just appreciate the help. We’ll continue on one way or the other, teardrop trailer or not. It’ll just be easier to manage.

One last thing … there’s a bit of a time constraint here. We’re leaving Lake Texana in the latter part of March. In order to have the trailer ready by then, I have to place an order with the manufacturer and pay for it by February 22nd. Not much time, I know. But it is what it is.

Thanks again for any help you might be willing to provide. It will certainly be appreciated on our end.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2016 in Travels

 

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Moving On …

We broke camp this morning at Goose Island State Park.  I simply cannot believe we were there for two whole weeks!  We didn’t do much … went on a few short hikes, drove down to look at historic downtown Rockport and took in a few sites.  Most of the time we just hung around the campsite, Frank exploring as far as his leash would allow and me sitting back watching him, taking it easy in the camp chair.  I have to say that aside from the Colorado campgrounds, Goose Island is the nicest park we’ve visited.  The individual sites are spacious, not too close to (and not too far from) your neighbors, lots of trees, and very well maintained.  If you’re looking for a nice place to camp on the Texas gulf coast, I can offer my highest recommendation!

frank in car

If you look past the reflection, you’ll see Frank in there, raring to get on the road!

The breakdown went pretty smooth this morning.  I was a bit apprehensive going into it because I discovered the reason for the tent leaning:  one of the main top support beams is bent.  I was concerned about whether it was still going to go together okay in the carrying case.  It did, so that was a major relief.  I’ll take a closer look at it when we set up camp tomorrow at the Breckenridge Campsite, Lake Texana, TX.  I think I’m going to try and bend it back ever so slightly. I have a tendency to be a little rough on things like that, so it’s going to be a bit of a challenge to give it just slight pressure. I don’t want to snap it, that’s for sure.

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Frank loves the open road … almost as much as I do!

We just checked into our Motel 6 for the night.  No easy chair, but a nice big bed. I just happened to turn around and look at it as I typed the last sentence … there’s Frank, already giving it the “Beagle Seal of Approval”.  Funny, I’ve heard of harbor seals and elephant seals. Never heard of a beagle seal.  Thanks. I’m here until tomorrow..   Try the veal.

I managed to cook one meal the night before last.  Hot dogs and beans.  I guess that’s a good thing.  We’ll go grocery shopping in the morning before heading over to the lake.  Time to get back in the swing of things.

That’s it for now. Just wanted to do a quick check in before settling down for the night.  Like I told my Facebook friends, the motel is in a small town named Ganado, as in “Ganado absolutely nothing but sleep tonight!”  I’m exhausted!  :o)

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2016 in Travels

 

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Relaxing at Goose Island

Our first week at Goose Island State Park has gone by pretty quickly. I really like this place … in fact, I think it’s the best state park we’ve been in so far. We’ve got plenty of room in our little campsite, but we’re not too isolated from our neighbors, few as they’ve been. Granted, we’re not next to water, but we’re close enough to the bay that we have that salt smell in the air when you wake up in the morning. And that’s always been one of my favorite smells.

A few neighbors have stopped by, mostly to pet Frank.  He is an attention magnet and he eats up every little bit he gets!  An elderly couple stopped by as I started to write this blog entry.  They had owned a couple of beagles in the past and shared a few stories about their past pets … “bagles” as they were laughingly referred to by the woman.

We’ve been walking the last few days. The night before last, we went out at dusk. Frank likes to walk as far ahead as the leash allows. His nose was going 100 miles an hour, checking everything out. He was so busy following all the scents that he was completely startled by the two deer he spooked. They suddenly appeared just a little ways in front of him and bounded across the road, disappearing into the brush on the other side.

Frank’s a lover, not a fighter. He’s basically lost whatever hunting instincts his ancestors had … instead of chasing after them, he turned around and gave me a, “What the hell was THAT???” look. And afterwards, he was content to walk next to me on the way back to the tent, somewhat afraid of what else might come out of the bushes. I’m not sure who was more scared by that rendevous – the deer or Frank!

Yesterday’s walk was almost exactly a mile. We went to the end of our loop, down the main road to the next one, and back around to home. it’s not that we’ve made a New Year’s resolution or anything. I think it has more to do with being cooped up for so long. Between the rain and the wind storms we’ve had to endure, there haven’t been too many opportunities to walk around. And it’s just so nice here at this campsite. The live oak all have such intriguing shapes.

No, if any “resoluting” was gonna be contemplated, it’d be in the eating area. I need to do a much better job cooking. I’ve not really cooked since Colorado. I’ve got an inertia thing going and I can’t figure out what it is. It’s definitely been on my mind, though. I keep making excuses about why I’m not doing anything about it. “When the weather gets better,” or “I don’t want to leave Frank in the car while I’m shopping,” or some other bullshit reason. I’m hoping that writing about it here will help me overcome whatever block I’m running into.

There’s one other thing this little 2-day spell of rain taught me – I need to come to grips with my data plan once and for all. I mentioned watching “The Man in the High Castle” a few blog posts ago. It was quite enjoyable, but those 10 episodes … along with watching “Interstellar” … really did a number on my data allotment. When the rain hit here at Goose Island, I watched an old favorite – “Seven Days in May” starring Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. Not sure why I had an urge to watch that, but I did. And now I’m to a point where I’m praying that we don’t have too much more rain because I’ll not be able to spend it watching flicks – I just got a warning that only 25% of my monthly allotment is left, with 60% of my month still to come.

I need to take a hint from Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes. Instead of deciding who is “spongeworthy”, I need to decide which flicks are “dataworthy”! Man in the High Castle? Dataworthy, although in the end, I was left wanting a bit more. Interstellar? Not dataworthy. If I had it to do over again, I’d have shut down the movie after about 45 minutes. I should have focused on the data-worthiness of what was left instead of giving into the “I gotta see how this thing ends” urge. “Seven Days in May” was a dalliance brought on by boredom. I should have saved the data.

What I really need to do is bite the bullet and change plans. I figured out how I can get about 40GB of data from T-Mobile: two plans, one on a phone and one on a separate hot spot device, each with a little over 20GB on their plan. it’d come out to about $165/month, but I’d have to invest about $400 on the hot spot and on a new phone. I hate doing that, but in the long run it’ll save me money. I intend to take care of that at the end of the month, once the next social security deposit hits my account.

That’s about it for now. Hopefully my next post will be about what I fixed for dinner! :o)

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2016 in Travels

 

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Feeling Bad for Frank

It’s Saturday morning, the 2nd day of the new year.  One of the side benefits of this lifestyle is that I am completely free of worrying about writing “2015” on my checks and then having to cross it out.  Of course, I think I might have written five checks in the two years before becoming a vagabond, so it’s not like that was a major problem.  But I digress …

Anyhow, we awoke this morning to rain.  Again.  More rain.  It’s not supposed to let up until sometime tomorrow afternoon, which means a second full day in the tent.  I can deal with it, but I’m pretty sure it’s getting to my little buddy Frank just a bit.

Franklin’s been sitting on the floor, staring at the ceiling.  (Franklin Phideaux Cox is his full name, by the way. Not sure if I’ve mentioned that before).  He’ll look at one part of the ceiling for a little while, then at another section before heaving a big sigh of disgust.  When he gets tired of that, he jumps up on the cot to see if that vantage point might offer a hint of  letup in the continual drumming. He is quite literally, not a happy camper.

It wasn’t raining when we arrived and I could tell he really liked the new place.  I staked out his lead before going about setting up camp.  Now normally, Frank is doing everything he can to “help” with the set up process, mostly as manager.  He wants to get smack dab in the middle of everything … I assume to make sure I’m doing it right.  Like most managers, he “helps” add time to a project without there being any real benefit from his micromanagement (and I say this as someone who managed folks in a prior lifetime). Take it from me, Frank is a helluva micro-manager.

But not this time.  The scents emanating up from bushes, trees and whatever hidden animals might be watching were totally occupying his attention.  The lead allowed him to go back into the bushes about 8 or 9 feet and he was digging it! Judging from the smile on his face whenever he responded to my “check-in” calls, he was definitely in doggie heaven!

But that’s in the distant past as far as Frank is concerned.  The “present” means having to sit in a 14 x 9 foot space and listen to the barrage of water pinging off the rainfly.

bigtree

Yep.  It’s a big tree, alright!

We were outside on Thursday.  We walked around our little loop of campsites a bit and then drove down to see the water and the “Big Tree”.  Not just any big tree – the Big Tree … a live Oak estimated to be over 1,000 years old. Charleston had a big tree, too.   Having seen both, but not being blessed with a great visual memory, I can’t honestly say which is bigger.  But hey, this is Texas.  “Big” here is going to be bigger’n and better’n anything else because, well, it’s Texas.

But alas.  In the middle of our explorations, the rain started, so we retreated back to the tent. And that’s where we’ve been ever since.  We did take a short drive yesterday afternoon for some grub.  He wasn’t any happier in the car … he was whining the whole time, which is not normal for him.  He loves being on a drive. Except during the rain.

I’ve promised him a long walk as soon as it stops.  A walk’ll do both of us good.  In the meantime, he’ll just have to be content with the attention I’m giving him as I try to distract him from his misery.  Somehow, I don’t think I’m doing as good a job helping him with his depression as he did, helping me with mine.

Poor Frank.  :o(

rain

Rain.  Why’s it gotta be raining???

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2016 in Frank Speaks, Travels

 

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