Cave Dwellings: 2013
Cave Dwellings

Buckhorn Creek, Lake O' The Pines, Jefferson, TX

Monday, December 30, 2013

Visit to Gruene…and “On the Road Again”.

  We had a few sunny days here and then last night we fell back into the “ice tray” again.  I hate it when we have to keep our day/night shades closed during the day.  Claustrophobia seeps into  my pores very quickly.  It was a beautiful campfire night last night….until about 7PM.  Then, the wind switched to the North and even my warm and snuggy “ensemble” wasn’t working for me…We came inside.  As I blog, we still have most of our day/night shades closed and it is only 48 degrees and windy…It seems like we always freeze a good share of the first 6 weeks of any Texas trip.  Guess we should just make a beeline for the “Valley” when we cross the state line here!

We have a couple neat furry neighbors next door…

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Left, is Winston.  Winston’s people are from Illinois. When we asked what kind of dog Winston was they said “A great dog…not sure exactly what kind breeds he is”..And on the right is Willy.  Willy’s people are from Texas and they drive a  huge motorhome (for good reason)..Willy is a 9 year old Great Dane. Both these furry neighbors are good barking at all, and very friendly.

This last Saturday, Dennis and I decided to drive into Gruene, TX…”Arriving in Texas in the mid 1840s, German farmers became the first settlers of what is now known as Gruene, Texas. Ernst Gruene, a German immigrant, and his bride Antoinette, had reached the newly established city of New Braunfels in 1845, but acreage was scarce. Thus, Ernst and his two sons purchased land just down river, and Ernst built the first home in Gruene. Henry D. built houses in various styles -- a Victorian cottage (now Lone Star), a large brick home, and a frame house (now Gruene Haus) for the foreman of his farm. The first mercantile store (now Gruene General Store) was built in 1878 and a cotton gin (now Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar) powered by the Guadalupe River was added soon after. Further construction during this profitable time included a dance hall and saloon (Gruene Hall), which became the center of the community's social life. the death of Henry D. in 1920 marked the downfall of Gruene's development and good fortune. In 1922, the original cotton gin burned and was replaced by a modern electric model down the road (now Adobe Verde). Yet, the economic disasters of the boll weevil and the Depression were too much for the family businesses and they went under, except for Gruene Hall, which never closed.

Today, Gruene is once again a thriving community, but for decades it was little more than a ghost town. This changed the day that Pat Molak, frustrated with big-city life, wandered into town and began to breathe life back into this piece of Texas history. 

Gruene itself has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and many of the buildings that were rescued by Molak and Nalley have been awarded a Texas medallion from the Texas Historical Commission. It has also been recognized by the Texas travel industry as a premiere attraction for visitors, which is no surprise to its merchants and guests.
Even with the remarkable growth of this once sleepy little town, the main focus of Gruene is, and continues to be, bona fide Texas.”

(You might have known that I would use this opportunity to teach a little history of Gruene, TX. ) We have been in Gruene many times and love it..We did, however, find out that the Saturday after Christmas is NOT a good time to visit…That town was PACKED with people!!

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H.D. Gruene built his first home in Gruene, which is now an Inn (below)….

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..Above is the home, now the Gruene Mansion Inn. There was some kind of re-enactment that had been going on inside…which we apparently had missed!

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We always have to visit the old Gruene Hall. Middle photo is the back of the old original building.  The Gruene Hall is host to many great country singers, and George Strait got his start singing with his band in this very building.  After a grueling day fighting the crowds at historic Gruene, Dennis and I headed out the back roads from town.  It is a lovely drive through the Hill Country, and we intended on picking up some supper to take home…


We had never tried Redbird's Fried Chicken and Fish, and it is across the lake in a town called Startzville.  I had done my research (I love to research food joints) and this one got fabulous reviews…It is basically a carry-out place which is right up our alley!  I called ahead from the GMC, and when we arrived, we had 8 pieces of fried chicken and 4  homemade biscuits for $11.99 to take back to the Hiker!…(FYI, I highly recommend this place !!)

Of course, no carry-outs would be the same unless we stopped by the Sattler VFW for a quick wine and beer on our way home!!

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We will be leaving Potter’s Creek on Wednesday this week. We are heading to some warmer (hopefully) climate in Falcon State Park, on the Rio Grande. This is another place we have stayed before and if  you want “out in the boonies”, with an Hispanic flair, this is the place. We actually have our whole trip in Texas planned..and I will get into that at a later date…(I say we have plans, with my tongue in my cheek…Usually our plans turn into Jello!) Oh, and I want to say a great big “climb into the truck” to a couple new stalkers!  Hey, Y’all to Wendy, from upstate New York. Dennis was stationed at Saratoga Springs NY in the covered wagon days, Wendy!…Also howdy to Mike and Susan Taylor, who I think live in Texas somewhere…I see they are camping North of us …and Susan has been sick with the crud lately..(Please don’t breathe while riding with us..JUST KIDDING, SUSAN!)…Oh, and one other couple is tagging along with us..…a giant “comeawn along!) to Cindy and her hubby. Cindy says she and her husband have been through the “fire” the last few years..Her blog is called “clear skies after the storm”, and I can certainly identify.  Now all of  you “newbies” haul ass into our GMC and buckle up.  Put all your stuff on the floor.  You might have to climb over Kenny and Angela.  Kenny’s the one strapped over his beer supply, protecting it with his life…(’AND STAY OUTTA MY WINE, KENNY!)

Again, thanks for reading my drivel…and I’ll see y’all down in Falcon State Park….Buenos Tiempos!!!!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Eve for the Cave Dwellers…

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….and Chrismas morning …Christmas braid…

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….and coffee outside…Life is good.


Hoping you are all having a wonderful Christmas Day!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We’re on “ Christmas Vacation!”


   Dennis and I are finally beginning to enjoy our trip..The first few weeks were a bit of a trial period. I  had  no idea how mentally “fragile” stressed out we both were. Finally, this last weekend, we began to put the bad stuff behind us and get into our “campin’ groove”..We are here at Canyon Lake and the weather has been, well, not actually ideal, but sure warmer than Illinois! We made our first trip to one of our favorite “haunts” here in the Hill Country, the Sattler VFW Hall….

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Yep, MacGyver got his icy cold “beer on tap” and I  had my glass of wine..All for a whopping $3.75.  That little trailer in the photo on the right has been here since we began our trek to the Hill Country in 2005.  It looks like an old Airstream, retrofit into a Taco Stand.  We have had a campfire almost every night, and Dennis is scoring some serious firewood from the downed Cedar trees in the woods. 

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Among MacGyver’s many talents, he loves to help those who are still trying to get the hang of backing into a tight fitted space…


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We also caught up with some dear camping friends, Wayne and Ronae Seely, originally from Minnesota, but full-timers for the past 6 years.  The great thing about this RVing stuff is meeting new and different people along the trail. We got together with some a couple times ..

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Wayne and Ronae are on the outsides of the loop. As you can see, there were still some jackets needed, even in the sunshine.






On our walk this morning I took a couple photos of the lake sites that are closed now. Apparently they have had a water leak and between that and hunting season, we are in the only open loop in the whole park…

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What a shame that this above loop is closed.  As you can see, there are some great views from this loop.  So many sites wasted.


It seems lately that my daytime “ensembles” are almost as enchanting as my evening ones…Jeezo Pete, Donna..those jeans are totally OLD LADY  wear!!

We have made plans to leave here on New Year’s Day and are heading to Falcon State Park on Falcon Lake, North of Roma, TX.  We have stayed here many times before, and I love the exotic birds we see there…Not to mention that the weather is usually nice and warm!

So, now it’s Christmas Eve, and thanks to the Great Techo Wizard, Rick, we have Skyped our grandkids twice…I gotta tell ya, it makes being away much more bearable when you can see and talk to them!! Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas ..Make sure you let the “little kid” living inside  you OUT this Christmas!!  Obviously, I do!!


I just gotta close with this great quote from the movie Christmas Vacation…My daughter , Terrie, posted it on her Facebook page today, and it pretty much says it all about the stress of the holidays!!

clark griswold

“Merry Christmas To All, and To All A Goodnight!”

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Is there a Hogwarts School of Computer Wizardry?

  I absolutely have got to begin this blog by thanking Rick Doyle , A.K.A. “Highest Wizard of Technology”.  He managed to take control over our evil computer and, from his castle in Palm Springs, fix all of our problems… Rick has proven himself to be a very powerful wizard, and with a flick of his wand managed to win the battle over the computer department of mysteries. Poor Paulette, a quilt and cooking Wizard in her own rite.  She nicely tolerated Rick sitting for a couple hours in two days, online with Dennis. (McGyver is a powerful Wizard in many ways, but was overcome by our evil nemesis, Microsoft.).  A BID thank you again to” Rick the Techno Wizard”, who enabled us to Skype our grandkids in time for Xmas this year…WOOT! WOOT!

101_4911 We got to talk directly to Wizard Rick on Skype….He magically took control of our computer and walked us through some pretty heavy stuff!!

You may have guessed that the reason I haven’t blogged is because the computer was “otherwise in use” for the past couple days…I still have a couple photos I took at Jefferson TX before we left and drove here, Potter’s Creek Canyon Lake, on Wednesday.

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I took these pics last Tuesday..a beautiful day. You could  have walked across the Lake Jefferson on the fishing boats!  And …I had NO idea that Herons sat in trees.  The park guy said that they were watching the fishermen to throw fish guts (yuck!)..Or maybe our Birdlady of Blogland, Judy, would know if this is correct!!


Got this photo early Wednesday AM when we got up to leave…That was a gorgeous moon, and my photo doesn’t do it justice!

So, we did arrive here Wednesday about 2PM…We came the back way instead of Interstate…Dennis handed me 3 pages of maps, and a page of directions (including 32 turns)..Egads!!  We had Carleton, our annoying and aging GPS hooked up too.  BUT, Carleton is getting old and crabby and loses his way A LOT!! I cannot begin to describe the “blue air” inside the GMC at times…Nevertheless, we made it safe and sound…Here is our spot..

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We are all set up in site #17.  We have been in this site before, and like it because it is up in the woods which protects from the possible high winds off Canyon Lake…We can still see the lake from here though…We love this spot because at Christmas and New Years the people who live here have quite a fireworks display that is visible all around us!  We also are getting to see our friends, Ronae and Wayne Sele.  We met them right here in 2003, when we were parked in this very spot and they were next to us…We had our Cougar then.  Since then, they  have gone full-time and been doing it since 2006…(my dream which will never be)..

Parked across from us is quite a lovely motor home…another of my dreams that will never be…




This is a REAL NICE ride, eh? Double axle, no less..And  you should see the dog they have..Now I know why they needed this big rig..They have a Great Dane that travels with them!! I wonder if he sleeps in the hide-a-bed…he is almost as tall as me!


I don’t have many  more photos yet of our park..I avoided taking many because I knew we had “issues” with our computer and wanted no added pressure on MacGyver and Rick to work through them…Again, we cannot thank Computer Wizard Rick enough for his time working with us..I’m very sure he would much rather have been golfing or swimming in that nice weather than sitting in front of his computer screen looking at us!! RICK DOYLE…YOU DA WIZARD!!!!



“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

                                                                                                       ~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Well, after an all day rain on Friday ,(the day we chose to do laundry and get groceries, naturally), Saturday morning was a cool 34 degrees…no rain, but 25 mph wind gusts…We had planned on going into Jefferson in the afternoon for the annual Jefferson, TX Christmas Parade…Hmmm..I was seriously re-thinking that plan after our morning walk, in our winter coats yet again..But, by 1PM, it had warmed up to 45 degrees, so we braved the cold and away we went…We love the town of Jefferson and all of it’s rich history and historic homes..




This once beautiful old home had burned since we were here last in March of 2012..It was a Bed and Breakfast called Pride House.The home was formally the George W. Brown house, built in 1887. It caught fire in the middle of the night on Aug. 13th last summer.  The caretaker was asleep in a cottage out back and was not hurt. No cause has been found of this fire…A good share of Jefferson’s income is tourism and they have many Bed And Breakfasts..I was speaking to the lady at the Tourism Office and she commented that it was very disheartening to the residents of Jefferson to lose such a piece of history. (Yes, I realize my photo is crooked….I tried to straighten it on Picasa and it wouldn’t let me save my edits…grrrrr!)

The town of Jefferson has many really neat homes, as I said..Here are just a couple of them…


You will not be surprised to find that I just had to add some history of this great old Texas town…

Jefferson, Texas is located on Big Cypress Bayou in the Cypress Valley of Northeast Texas. It is the County seat for Marion County. Named for Francis Marion, a Revolutionary War patriot who was known as the “Swamp Fox”, Marion County was created in 1860. Jefferson was named for Thomas Jefferson, and was conceived as a port city by Allen Urquhart and Daniel Alley, who saw its potential as the head of navigation when they prepared a plan for the town site in 1841.In 1845, when obstructions were removed from Big Cypress Bayou, steamboats could reach Jefferson from New Orleans. After the arrival of the first steamboat, Jefferson became a boom town where many pioneers to Texas first set foot on Texas soil when they disembarked from the steamboats.

During Jefferson’s Golden Era as a steamboat port from 1845 until 1875, it became a cosmopolitan town like most port cities with a confluence of cultures and businesses. The architectural styles, which developed in Jefferson during this period of prosperity, resembled those of New Orleans. The homes were primarily of Greek revival design.When the log raft was removed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the year 1873, the water level in Big Cypress Bayou was reduced and navigation to Jefferson was threatened. Railroads were also extended during this period of time across Texas, which reduced Jefferson’s commercial market area. The town ceased to be a prominent port city and commercial center. However, many of the mid-nineteenth century homes and buildings on the Historical Registry remain.

Today Jefferson Texas is a quaint small town that is the hub of Marion County. Every year seasonally there are many festivals and events. Every weekend there is an attraction, shop, tour or museum open to delight any wish you may have for your trip to the beautiful historic city of Jefferson Texas.”

as I said before…I LOVE A PARADE!!


The parade was about 1/2 hour.  Like most parades, they throw a ton of candy out at the spectators….


…some spectators managed to snag a few Tootsie Roll Pops..Be right back


I took a ton of pictures so I believe another collage is in order.  This is a great little historic town.  We visited here many times. If you want to see some of our other pics from Jefferson, click on this link..Jefferson, March 2012.

After the parade, we had in mind to drive into Uncertain, Texas (about 15 miles toward Caddo Lake).  We wanted to stop at the Uncertain Tavern for a beer, but that place wasn’t open..Who me? We opted to have a couple cocktails pick up some catfish dinners “to go” from Big Pines Lodge.  This place was a fish camp back in the 1930’s and became a restaurant in the 1950’s.  There was a huge flood in May of 1958, and they recovered from that.  It had many owners and one of the owners was a former Austin TX detective named George… and he also sold guns from this restaurant.”As the restaurant grew with devoted customers, George began to run out of room to store his guns and ammunition, so he would store his ammunition on tables in the customer area of the restaurant. As you made your way to a table to be served, you could also check out the many boxes of ammunition available. Some people say the reason George displayed all of the ammo was to deter anyone else from trying to rob the restaurant. To quote Johnny Winn, "This was the only place in the state of Texas that you could have a catfish dinner, a mug of beer, buy guns and ammo and still pay out at the same cash register”  The restaurant was sold in 2009 to new owners..Two weeks later it burned to the ground.

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           Above left, the flood of 1958.                         Above right, is the fire of 2009.  The new owners rebuilt and re-opened in 2011.  We had some darn good catfish dinners from there…Here are a few of the pictures Den and I a collage.  I need someone to tell me to step AWAY from my camera!!


So, all in all, we had a really great day Saturday.  This area is just like being in Louisiana..The influence is everywhere, from the wrought iron balconies to the dripping mossy swamps…Put this town on your itinerary , whether you hotel it or RV it…Is is NOT to be missed!!!