http://www.blogger.com/html?blogID=4316350785635987648 Cave Dwellings: March 2014

Our Brand New Cougar....

Our Brand New Cougar....
Aug. 10th, 2003

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Drawing To An End….

  Well, our trip I never thought we would get to take this Winter is coming to an end this week.  Reflecting back on it, I would say it was one of the most anticipated trips ever, but had it’s bumps in the road.  Our first 2 weeks, we were very tempted to turn around and go back home…Nothing was going right and MacGyver and I were floundering around trying to re-learn how to use the Hiker.  I think that we were both suffering from some form of PTSD…Things were a bit stressful just before we left, and the big stressor for me was my health scare/thyroid problem.  Everything else paled in comparison when the heath issues popped up. I still have to revisit that one when we get home..more blood work, and addressing my high BP, which hasn’t come down on this trip. Oh well, “this too shall pass”.  When there are a few worries gumming up your mind, it can take some of the wind out of one’s “vacation sails”..

We will leave Clear Springs CG, Wright Patman lake in Texarkana A.K.A. “the Ark- La- Tex” this Wednesday as soon as the sun is up.  Our drive home to Sandwich, IL takes us up through Arkansas, into Missouri.  That night we will spend at Lake Wappapello in Army Corp campground called Redman Creek. Our next drive will go South of St. Louis and into Southern Illinois..(FYI, this Southern Illinois route is famous for having a “mixed precipitation” this time of year…). If we chose to , we could make it home by 5-6PM that night, but what the Heck is the rush? Soooo, we opt to stay at a place called Ramsey Lake State Park, in Ramsey IL.  From here we can leave about 8AM and be home after lunch on Friday…

We have enjoyed our last week here in Texas.  We  have a great campsite..

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This campground has many campsites. We are in the W & E only, but there are many sites they just redid and they are full hook-up.  This being March and Spring Break, we had a full campground this weekend and lots of families with boats, smokers, kids and dogs…The campfires started in the early AM and went all day.. There is nothing like a campfire first thing in the morning, and Den and I joined right in…That campground had a wonderful smell of wood fires, BBQ and grilling… What a combo!

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Left, you are looking at the full hook up area…and right is one of the big shelters that has a swimming beach and sand volleyball pit.

Last night was date night and we have been having trouble finding a Moose Lodge on our trip…but we knew there was one here in Texarkana, TX. (Texarkana city has an Arkansas side too..).  So  our last date night “on the road” was a cocktail at the Texarkana Moose Lodge. ( This link will be of interest for those who think we are drinking with large mammals…Hey, we ARE !)

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If Mr. Moose looks a little “hazy”, well it’s because, unlike Illinois, Texas still allows you to smoke in restaurants and bars. Now THERE is one, and ONLY ONE, thing we miss about Illinois!! Actually, we did miss a couple things that involved 2 of our Heiser grandkids…Taylor, age 15, was chosen for a part in the Kaneland High School Spring Musical, “The Drowsy Chaperone”…

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Friday and Saturday night and a matinee today..WE ARE SOOO PROUD OF YOU, TAYLOR!!

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And Peyton was a finalist in the Harter Middle School Science Fair, at Northern Illinois University..WOOT! WOOT! PEYTON!!!

Suddenly, heading home to Illinois seems much less painful now…It’s time to get back to “home and hearth”…and a family we have missed very much….!!! As I say to Dennis, “Ice down the cooler and get in the truck!”..See y’all back in Illinois!

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

A little taste of N’Awlins’…a Loony blog

Having been here in Jefferson, TX about 5 times before, there is nothing that I already haven’t said to describe it…One of my all time “favs” to visit  in Texas! You would be better served if I just posted photos…so I will start with a collage…

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I was very disappointed that some of the Spring flowers weren’t out yet…Must be the nasty cold Winter that made them stay in their “buds” a bit longer…

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We tried a new campsite this visit…and we LOVE it.  We have pretty much an unobstructed view of the lake here….which means we are  almost out on the point…Today I am paying for my braggadocio “cave”lier attitude..We have wind gusts to 45 mph…ROCK AND ROLL, BABY!

jefferson5Sometimes ya just gotta stay inside for cocktail hour and enjoy the view…(Yes, I did have my wine glass in one hand and camera in the other.)

Last night, we went back into town and decided to get some smoked brisket for carry-outs.  We stopped in at a place we had never tried…Joseph's Riverport Barbeque..and we were NOT disappointed..Here are a few pictures of the place…

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Left, MacGyver ordered at the counter…middle is a bin of peanuts for the taking…and right, well, that’s the menu over the counter…

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Yep, we be in Texas for sure!!!! Middle is the front of the place, and left is the “walk/drive up” window on the side street..Note the firewood stacked for their smoker…

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ALL I CAN SAY IS….OMG!!!! FABULOUS SMOKED BRISKET (SAUCE WAS A BIG A+ TOO!)

Today is Sunday and the campground was full this weekend.  Since the weather has “turned South” and lots of the peeps were here to fish, most have turned tail and ran…cowards..Whatever happen to fishing from the shore?? There are some neat birds here both water fowl and little perching birds…

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There are lots of Loons here on this lake (which is why I fit right in…batta bing, batta boom!) These birds are great swimmers, but not so good on their feet when it comes to land (something else we have in common).  “Loons are well equipped for their submarine maneuvers to catch fish. Unlike most birds, loons have solid bones that make them less buoyant and better at diving. They can quickly blow air out of their lungs and flatten their feathers to expel air within their plumage, so they can dive quickly and swim fast underwater. Once below the surface, the loon’s heart slows down to conserve oxygen.”

Loons are like airplanes in that they need a runway for takeoff. In the case of loons, they need from 30 yards up to a quarter-mile (depending on the wind) for flapping their wings and running across the top of the water in order to gain enough speed for lift-off.

“Migrating Common Loons occasionally land on wet highways or parking lots, mistaking them for rivers and lakes. They become stranded without a considerable amount of open water for a long takeoff. A loon may also get stranded on a pond that is too small. The Common Loon is flightless for a few weeks after molting all of its wing feathers at the same time in midwinter. The oldest-known Common Loon lived at least 24 years, 1 month, spending its summers on a lake in Michigan.”..Probably more than you really wanted to know about Loons, but for some reason I have this special affinity for them :-)

101_5473Had us a bit of a “stand off” at the feeder…Turns out there IS a pecking order!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Winding down our trip to Ft. Worth

Well, we have had a great visit with our good friends here in Ft. Worth. They have shown us a fun time and it was so nice to get together with them again.  Bob had to fly to Florida yesterday to see his nieces and nephews, and we assured him that we could entertain ourselves for the last few days here. Last Saturday Bob and Donna took us to Bob’s son’s home for a cookout. 

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They have a lovely home with an outdoor bar area. In the right photo, Bob’s son Aaron is in the middle. He reminds me a lot of our son, Kelly. He is a big man, and very cordial, funny and caring. (Not to mention that he’s a great cook!)

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I loved that outdoor bar and grilling area…Notice the TV mounted from the ceiling next to the ceiling fan…so you can see it if you are on a raft in the pool…OH, YEAH!!

Aaron and his wife, Debbie have a cat named Sam who does tricks like a dog.  On command (verbal and hand signals) Sam will SIT, SHAKE PAW, and….

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….Debbie had him roll over for us…WHAAAAT???? I couldn’t believe it.  We have had lots of cats over the years, and they were naughty, nasty, stuck up and independent.  You couldn’t get them to do any tricks on command…One of our cats, Dirty Harry, would get on the counters and steal whatever I had in the way of food.  We knew he couldn’t manage to eat whole tortillas, but a few weeks later we discovered some tortillas under our basement staircase…and I surely didn’t hide them there!!

We took a ride Sunday morning and discovered that there is no shortage of money  here in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area…Here are just a few of the homes we saw…

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These next photos were taken in the “subdivision” right next to our park.  We can see some of these homes up on the hills overlooking Benbrook Lake…

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This little number was under construction…It was at the end of the cul-de-sac overlooking the lake…HOLY OPULENCE, BATMAN!!

The weather has gotten decidedly warmer today, and I actually sat outside with my book this afternoon.  We will be leaving here Wednesday and driving 4 hours across Texas to the East boundary and returning to one of our very favorites, Jefferson, Texas.  Our plans are to stay in Jefferson at Buckhorn Creek Campground for 1 week, and then move up to the “Ark-La_Tex” and stay 1 week at Wright Patman Lake, Clear Springs Campground in Texarkana.  This puts our planned “lift off” date for home to be March 26th.  Allowing for 2 nights on the road, God willing and the creek/snow don’t rise, we should arrive at 518 W. Center in Sandwich, IL on Friday, March 28th…Right now, I will not dwell on going home, as I have mixed feelings..I miss my family (we have a few peeps in need of a hug), but I have enjoyed our time back in the Hiker..Trust me, after we are back  home for about 2 weeks, I will be planning our next Winter trip…maybe back to Florida…But..as we all know, plans are made in jello!!!!

“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”


                                                                                                       ~ Winston Churchill

Friday, March 7, 2014

A 15 skunk trip to Benbrook Lake.

  I kid you NOT!..On our 4 hour drive from Canyon Lake to Benbrook Lake, I spotted 15 squashed skunks in the road…and some I smelled.  There were probably at least 50 more that I didn’t spot..What is it here??? Are skunks just stupid? Didn’t their parents teach them to look both ways??? Or is there a plethora of skunk families here in Central Texas…??? At any rate, we arrived here at Benbrook Lake, Holiday Campground  about 1PM. (We had a target time of 12:30PM, but SOMEONE wasn’t paying attention to the road signs and we missed the turn into the campground.) 

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We are in site #73.  There are only 2 sites in this loop and we are right on the lake.  Benbrook Lake is on the Southwest edge of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.  If we drive just 4 miles North, we are getting into the REALLY busy part..But from our campsite you would never know we were on the fringe of insanity…The first night, we lit a campfire and were entertained by some great Military Aircraft flying low overhead.

101_5421Dennis said they were AWAC airplanes, AWAC standing for” early warning and control” aircraft.  I gotta tell ya, I am absolutely blown away by any Military Aircraft.  Our entire family has gone to the Oshkosh Wisconsin Experimental Aircraft Show and I fell in love with them there.  This fondness was re-inforced when Den and I got to do a parent cruise on our son Kelly’s ship while he was in the Navy.  We did a day cruise on the USS John F. Kenneday.  We got onboard at 6:30AM and they cruised out into international waters.  There, we got to watch them launch aircraft from the flight deck (wearing earplugs), and break the sound barrier  at our level,right off the flight deck over the Pacific Ocean. (That boom rattled our chest and broke all the windows out of the helicopter on the flight deck!) 

We have done just enough driving here around Ft. Worth to know that we are both getting too damn old to be in the midst of this kind of traffic…especially after dark..Yesterday we drove 32 miles to the Hurst, TX to see our friends, Bob and Donna Kendrick.  They are old friends and I think we risked life and limb to get to their house…and back after dark…NOT FUN! But we DID have fun seeing them!

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After a nice visit at their house, they drove us to dinner. (Just as well, we would  have gotten lost). Above is Donna with her new Mini Cooper, and Bob’s new Jaguar…

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Bob said he originally wanted a new Corvette, but they need a car with 4 doors,  so he went with the Jag…I have never been in a more luxurious car…double sun roofs…

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What a ride! A little different than the GMC….Of course we parked in BFE…I would be afraid to take it on the road at all..(but I think I would look GREAT behind the wheel!)

We are meeting Bob and Donna again this afternoon.  However, this time, we are leaving their house BEFORE dark…Number one reason is that neither one of us can see jack squat after sunset..and Number 2 reason, I turn into a pumpkin at the strike of 7PM..

“This morning, as I was driving to work, I mistook a big brown box on the side of the road for a deer. It was dark, and I swerved at the last second, and even though it wasn’t a deer, I still managed to nail that son of a bitch”

                                                                                                                                                                                         ~ Jarod Kintz

Monday, March 3, 2014

….and we gotta go farther North…just great!

I must preface this statement by saying that I expect NO sympathy, NO violin fingers, NO “Wow! That’s too bad!”.  I gotta say it…the Texas Winter this year has been brutal at best.  For a while it seemed that a person just could NOT get far enough South to avoid it.  I have worn shorts about 6 times in almost 3 1/2 months, so our laundry full of jeans and sweatshirts takes at least 3 machines instead of 2.  However..and this is a BIG HOWEVER…the rest of the nation has faired much worse that we have.  Call it Climate Change , Polar Vortex, Old Man Winter…whatever..This has been one of the coldest freekin’ Winters ever,  and has broken many records along with hoses, water pipes and power lines…And now, Den and I are going to head yet farther North ..SAY WHAAAAT?.

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“Dude, I love the sunglasses and white parka, but the nose belongs to a guy named Rudolf!”

This Wednesday, Den and I are heading toward Fort Worth, TX to an Army Corps park called Lake Benbrook.  We have friends living in Hurst, TX (a suburb of the Dallas/ Ft. Worth metroplex), and haven’t seen them in about 7 years.  He was a friend of Den’s before we met and Bob and Dennis worked at Caterpillar Tractor together. Then Bob got married, and Dennis got divorced..Bob moved to Dallas to work for Bell Helicopter, and Dennis…well, he just moved on but he did stay at Cat! When I caught Dennis Dennis and I got married, Bob was our Best Man.

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Left to right, Flower Girl,Kim Burkhardt; Den’s sister, Evonne; my friend Renene ; my sister, Darlene;  Moi and MacGyver; Bob (our Best Man); Michael, my brother; Ronnie, Den’s bro-in-law; and Ring Bearer Scotty, Den’s nephew.  Three of these people are now gone…Den’s sis, my sis, and Scotty.

We have been in Texas before to visit Bob and Donna.  The last time we saw them we were in campingTexarkana and they came to visit us at Wright Patman Lake.  We always have lots of fun with Bob and Donna and I wish we lived closer…Wait a minute, that may NOT be the best idea. If memory serves, there are many stories  of Den and Bob drag racing their 1967 Chevelle and Camaro,  respectively.  Maybe it’s just as well that we don’t live tooooo close!  Hey, these two guys may have grown OLD, but that doesn’t mean they’ve grown up!

After our week around Fort Worth, we are heading over to Jefferson, TX for one week, then up to Texarkana for our final week.  Texarkana is usually our “launch site” for the 2 night trek back home.  Target “launch date” is March 26th this year.  Much as I hate to leave, I do look forward to seeing all our family..You know darn well, that this is my cue to sneek a few family photos into this blog…

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Makes a mother/mother-in-law proud

Yep, family is everything!….See Y’all in Fort Worth!! (Bring your parkas, mittens and mukluks, just in case!)