Cave Dwellings: February 2014
Cave Dwellings

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back inside with day/night shades drawn.

OK, so I guess the Texas Winter wasn’t quite over..I went from sitting outside Sunday in 81 degree sunshine to hunkering down inside the Hiker yet again, with shades drawn against tthe 39 degree temps and 30mph wind gusts…whatever.  We have only missed one night of a campfire here at Crane’s Mill, and I have a good feeling that tonight will be the 2nd night…We have been putting out our awning and tying it down when we land at our campsites.  Last night both MacGyver and I awoke about 2:30AM and came to the same conclusion ..PULL THAT AWNING IN AND POUND SOME TENT STAKES IN THE SATELLITE DISH!! When both jobs were accomplished, we slept much better..even though the Hiker was dancing the Hula all night long.  How do you people in those little Casitas handle these winds?? I would be tempted to get out and make a bed UNDER the camper..

I really do enjoy the location of this campground.  When we are across Canyon Lake, at Potter’s Creek, we have to drive about 26 miles into New Braunfels for groceries..and the laundry is about 15 miles away from the campground.  Here, the laundry is 2.8 miles from the campgrounds, and the Bulverde HEB is only 11 miles…LOVE IT!

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Above is a little “joint” we found just outside the park entrance.  It’s called The Hideout, and is a neighborhood beer and wine tavern. We stopped in there (NO, REALLY?) for a drink  last Saturday late afternoon and found it a nice little bar for ice cold beer and wine…

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It may look like Den and I frequent all the bars, but we usually don’t go into one until “date night” (Saturday).  And we prefer the older establishments in any area.  How many shuffleboard tables do you come across in a “high end” bar?  I remember these as a little girl, stopping into the local joint with my Dad..He would buy my brother and I a couple Cokes and we would busy ourselves playing shuffleboard while Dad visited with the locals…Usually one or two beers and Dad was ready to go..Some may not approve, but this was how I was raised.  Dad was a milk man and drove into Cicero, Il to deliver milk to the “mom and pop” corner grocers.  This meant getting up at 2AM for him. He had all the keys to the stores and delivered their milk for the day,  leaving home before the sun came up, and getting home about 2PM…I got to ride with him a couple times…To me, that was REALLY special…All the chocolate milk you could drink, and penny candy at every store (Dad would leave the money on the counter by the cash register..THAT wouldn’t happen any more!)

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The other day, I happen to mention that I would like one of those little flagpoles made from plastic pipe.  You  know, the ones that swivel in the wind and have a light on the flag..Well, say no more..MacGyver went into the hardware store and within about 1 hour he had it pretty much assembled…



Now all we need is a new American Flag, and a light…WOOT!WOOT!

This last Monday, the park almost emptied out.  I have a feeling that there will be more moving in by this weekend.  It’s getting close to Spring Break..and warmer weather (in our dreams). I do love our site here, out on the lake point.  But, it does have it’s disadvantages when the winds are blowing in across Canyon Lake.  I have lousy sinuses anyway, but this “arctic blast” has kept me inside with no morning walk unless those winds die down!  I have been cooking more inside since the cold snap…

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Hustled us up some breakfast chow the other day..Fried eggs (over easy, please)  on a bed of hash browns, bacon and sausage.  Thank God for Simvistatin!  Basically, this is most all we  have done while here.  In previous trips to Canyon Lake, we have done the Alamo, Gruene, LBJ Ranch, Luckenback, and Bandera…Don’t get me wrong, many of those things we could do again, but the weather has to be at least at the 60 degree level, and the winds down to blowing off your hat and not your toupee’…


…One thing we LOVE about this site on the lake’s edge are the “killer” great sunsets!


“Mistake is a single page of life, but relation is a complete book. So don’t lose a full book for a single page”

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Crane’s Mill virgins…

  The Cave Dwellers are trying a new Army Corps park on the West side of Canyon Lake, North of San Antonio.  Usually we stay at Potter’s Creek, but in 2010, this “primitive” park put in some water and electric sites, new pads, 50 AMP just 3 miles North of the little town of Startzville, TX.  We can look across the lake and see Potter’s Creek waaaaay in the distance.  Actually, I really like this park.  It is smaller than Potter’s Creek, just about 30 RV sites and maybe 40 something tent sites.  The tent sites are still closed for the Winter and will probably open March 1st.

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The sites are nice and clean with covered picnic table and firepit.  The weather on the lake can be windy, but the temps have been in the 70-80 area. I can live with that! We also can gather firewood here, and although there aren’t as many trees as Potter’s Creek, MacGyver managed to manhandle a big piece of wood from down by the lake…

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When MacGyver puts on shorts it’s GOT  to be warm out!! There is a story here…Usually I do all the packing for our trip…This year we really weren’t sure we were even going to be able to make it this  year due to my “medical” dilemma.  When I got the “all clear”, we were frantically loading all the stuff into the Hiker.  Den said he would help me by picking all of his clothes out himself and hauling them out..This really WAS  big  help.  Well, after being on the road about 2 weeks, he opened his “shorts” drawer…and NADA! ZIP! ZILCH!..NO SHORTS…(not that we were going to wear them any time soon…Texas was in the deep freeze most of Dec and Jan too!)..Oh, well, that’s what they make WalMarts for, right?..”Hey Donna, put “camo shorts” on your grocery list!!”…and so it goes.

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It was a tad windy lake side, so MacGyver moved our Smokey Joe behind our slide and cooked our chicken wings…YUMMOLISCIOUS!!

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Our site is right next to a trail down to the lake, and we are basically parked right where the Guadalupe River enters Canyon Lake.  I found some strange beans hanging from lots of little trees on that trail…Have NO idea what they are…

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This ground is very hard! Lots of limestone everywhere, making it NOT easy to tie down the awning, but tie it down Dennis did! With this wind, that is a must…Plus, I like it out because it makes me feel like we have a front porch like we do at our house.  There is a large marina just a mile walk from here, Crane’s Mill Marina…

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Lots of nice boats here, and they have a marina store.  Right photo, notice the new home being built across the inlet…Pretty fancy homes here on the lake! Guess I gotta cross Canyon Lake off my list of places we should live….Den and I would be the “poor cousins” no one wants to acknowledge!

We will be here until March 5th, so we have lots of time to do some driving trips. The town of Startzville  is small, but it has some nice amenities…Laundry, Grocery Store,  Hardware Store, VFW, a couple restaurants and 2 pizza joints…ALSO, there is a neat little “neighborhood beer bar” just outside the park entrance..(convenient, no?)…We haven’t been there yet, but it looks NOT upscale, and every time we drive by it, the doors are thrown wide open..THIS is a good sign that I don’t have to put on my tight jeans, cowboy boots and make-up to fit in! I will definitely post when we do visit, and rest assured we will…IT’S A BEER BAR!!!

MacGyver has been busy doing little things around the Hiker that needed to be done.  He took apart one of our chairs that was clicking and grating when you rocked in it..and,  yes, he fixed it. Also, he fixed the flat tire on my bike , and put air in our truck spare and the Hiker spare…Both were nearly flat…He has adjusted a slide or two, and this afternoon as I was blogging, I thought I heard feet on our Hiker roof…and they didn’t sound like a 300 lb Santa…Yep, Dennis was wandering on the Hiker roof, and found that one of our rubbers on the big slide is torn part way…guess that means researching online how to put new slide rubbers on…sheesh!

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Right down from us there is a very cool classic motorhome parked..I never see anyone around, so I tried to be discreet about my photo..just in case the owners were lurking inside watching the “crazy lady” with her camera…

2014-02-21 08.57.08What we have here is called a "Wanderlodge".  This was built by Blue Bird, from 1963 to 2009, and was quite the luxury bus…Actually, OLD MacGyver tells me that Blue Bird made public buses..Sometimes being married to someone slightly older has it’s advantages…I think he can remember who originally made the covered wagons too…(OK, that was mean..)This RV had no slides and I haven’t seen any live person around to ask what year it is..I do know that the newer ones did have slides…Notice  how shiny it is!!

Well, today is a little cloudy and I think I see a trip to the neighborhood beer bar, followed by a Fox’s Den pizza…It’s Saturday, after all, and you KNOW what that means…DATE NIGHT! This date will be “camper casual” for me…old lady jeans, sneakers, throw on a clean T-shirt and bra, and I’m good to go!! ;-) 

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Hero, an Angel, a new and different cocktail hour.

  I am attempting to keep the history lesson rolling right along…Don’t worry, we will only be here 2 more days, and then my Goliad student teaching certificate expires…I would be amiss if I didn’t tell you the story of Cinco de Mayo…


There is another building on the grounds of the Presidio La Bahia.  This is the birthplace of Ignacio Seguin Zaragoza, a Mexican hero.  “He was born on the Presidio grounds to a military family in 1829. After winning their war for Independence against Spain in 1821, Mexico was again at war for their independence in 1862, this time with France. At this time, Zaragoza was a general in the Mexican army.  On May 5, 1862, outside the Mexican city of Puebla, Zaragoza held an outgunned, outnumbered volunteer militia against a superior French army.  He inspired his troops with these words: “Your foes are the first soldiers of the world, but  you are the first sons of Mexico”.  Zaragoza’s army was victorious.  The victory at the Battle of Puebla is celebrated to this day in Mexico, the American Southwest and the whole of the United States as Cinco de Mayo.”

There is a statue out in front of the presidio of General Ignacio Zaragoza….

Shortly after the Battle of Puebla, Zaragoza died of typhoid fever.  In 1862, Mexican President Benito Juarez proclaimed Cinco de Mayo a national holiday. And in 1992, the Texas legislature proclaimed Goliad the official site for Cinco de Mayo…(Holy Margarita, Batman, I would really be channeling  some serious history to be here for THAT celebration!)

Another hero of a different sort is honored at Goliad…She was known as “The Angel of Goliad”, and there is also a statue in her honor…


“Francita Alavez (ca.1816 – ca.1906) was known as the "Angel of Goliad," for saving the lives of Texas prisoners of war in the "Goliad Massacre” by interceding on their behalf and persuading the help of Mexican officials.  Francita's definite date and town of birth are not known. Even her real name has been referred to differently at times, such as Panchita, Francisca, Pancheta, or Francita, and her surname as Alevesco, Alvárez, or Alavez.  In La Bahia (Goliad), due to the intervention of this woman and the courageous effort of Colonel Francisco Garay, 20 more men were held and spared as doctors, interpreters, or workers . Francita entered the presidio the night before the massacre, bringing several men out with her and hiding them until after the Goliad Massacre. She also made sure the 80 men from Miller's Natchez group were not executed.  After the defeat of Santa Anna, Francita returned with Captain Alavez to Matamoros. At the prison in Matamoros, she continued to support the Texians imprisoned there. When Captain Alavez left for Mexico City, Francita went with him. But their relationship soon ended. She then left Mexico City and returned to Matamoros. While broke and down on her luck, she was befriended by Texians who knew of her humanitarian acts. The 1936 memoirs of Elena O'Shea, a King Ranch schoolteacher, claim that Francita Alavez traveled back to Texas with her new friends, where she was employed to work on the ranch.”

As you can see, I am a huge fan of this wealth of Goliad history. I am also a fan of a good cocktail, so Dennis and I drove into Goliad Saturday late afternoon to visit a new bar I found online.  The Commercial Street Bar (located on Commercial Street in the Goliad town square..duh) was listed as an “upscale bar in Downtown Goliad with and extensive beer and wine list, ambiance and seasonal specialty drinks. Available for private party rentals. A must see when visiting Goliad” And so we did.

The Goliad square is built around the courthouse, and the area is very quaint..

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We had to wait until 4PM, when the Commercial Street Bar opened up….

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That middle photo is the very tall menu of beers and wines..and right about now, our 3 kids and spouses are laughing their behinds off just picturing “Mom and Dad” in this lovely and quite “upscale” bar…A far cry from our usual Moose Lodge or local VFW, that’s for sure! Their beer tapper was broken (SAY WHAAAAT?),  so we both ordered a bottle of beer.  MacGyver had his usual Bud Lite, and I (who almost never drink beer) did an “eeny, meeny, miney, mo” and my finger landed on Miller Genuine Draft. Both beers were icy cold and the barkeep did a very cute napkin fold around the bottles to act as a coozy…Don’t get me wrong, this was a very lovely little bar, but not our normal venue for cocktails…We picked up some fried chicken at the Esso Gas Mart and headed back to our “more comfy” venue..a campfire..

We took many of the trails here around the park for our morning walks…There is no shortage of places to go..The trailhead for “The River Trail” is right behind our camper.

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Left pic is a view of our Hiker from the trail head…Right, if you look very close, you will see a tiny figure walking…That would be MacGyver.  I made a stop at the bird feeding station and he was on a mission to get back to the Hiker…

Well, this Wednesday we change our neighborhood yet again.  This is the beauty of the RV life.  We are heading back to the Texas Hill Country and Canyon Lake, but this time we are going to the other side of the lake .  We will be staying at Crane’s Mill campground, a place we haven’t been before.  It’s always neat to see a new place, and we have a reservation right on the lake..  Oh, one more thing…A few days ago we got “Skyped” by our youngest daughter, Chris, and her family…WOW!! Their Skype camera was now showing their whole front room…Seems that John got a new X-Box 1 for Valentine’s Day, and now our Skype picture is coming in on their 50 inch TV!!


Their video was huge and very clear, and they said that our video was very clear and very LARGE!  (if we are now in HD, I need to cover my pores with make-up before I scare the grandkids!)

This is waaaay beyond my comprehension, but our son-in-law is an I.T. guy and knows lots about all the little gadgets and gismos…kind of like Techo Wizard Rick..Dennis asked what that little gismo would set us back if we got one…a cool $500-600 bucks..probably NOT happening anytime soon..OK, that’s it for now..Is it  just me, or are my blogs getting loooooonger?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Historical Goliad..I never tire of it!

  The history here makes is very difficult to be light hearted in this blog. Goliad State Park is the site of the Mission of Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga, reconstructed by the Civil ian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. We are camped a couple hundred yards from this mission…Here are a few photos of the mission..

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This mission was originally at Matagorda Bay, adjacent to the Presidio La Bahia (which is now here in Goliad also….more about that later).  Both the Mission and the Presidio were relocated to opposite banks of the San Antonio River to protect a major Spanish trade route. The chapel and grounds of the mission became the center of ranching.  Unfortunately, the mission also became the downfall of the Native American’s way of life. In return for food, shelter and the protection from more aggressive tribes, they agreed to live at the mission and receive instruction in the Roman Catholic faith.  This ended in the eventual destruction of their traditional tribal structure.  During the American Revolution, the mission vaqueros herded thousands of cattle to Louisiana in support of the American struggle for Independence.

In 1830, with declining Native populations, the mission was forced to close.  By 1931 the new Texas State Park system acquired this site, where neglect and use of the stone for other construction left the buildings in ruins. Crews of the Civilian  Conservation Corps worked to restore the Mission from 1935 until 1941, and during the 1970’s, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department rehabilitated the chapel.  When you camp here, you have free access to the Mission and can walk the grounds.  There is a museum here, but it is temporarily closed for renovations. Den and I have been here 3 times before now, and we never tire of this wonderful historic place.

Now, we will talk of the Presidio La Bahia, which you can reach on paths from our campground under the bridge and across the river from the Mission. 

In the fall of 1749, the presidio and mission were moved to its present location from Mission Valley (northwest of present day Victoria, TX).

The chapel of Our Lady of Loreto was included in the current structure to serve the religious needs of the soldiers stationed there. The chapel was erected in the quadrangle for the sole use of the soldiers and Spanish settlers living in the town of La Bahia surrounding the fort.  Here are a few photos of the Presidio La Bahia…

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Left is the entry to the Chapel Of Our Lady Of  Loreto at the Presidio…Middle is the sanctuary of that chapel (they still hold services there), right is looking from inside the stone wall toward the Presidio chapel….And now, buckle up…it’s yet another step back in history (my favorite thing to do!)

Santa Anna sent General José Urrea marching into Texas from Matamoros, to make his way north along the coast of Texas. On March 19, General Urrea had quickly advanced and surrounded 300 men in the Texian Army on the open prairie, near La Bahia (Goliad). A two day Battle of Coleto ensued with the Texians holding their own on the first day. However, the Mexicans would receive overwhelming reinforcements and heavy artillery. In this critical predicament, Colonel James Fannin and his staff had voted to surrender the Texian forces on the 20th. Led to believe that they would be released into the United States, they returned to their former fort in Goliad, now their prison.

The Mexicans took the Texians back to Goliad, where they were held as prisoners at Fort Defiance (Presidio La Bahia). The Texans thought they would likely be set free in a few weeks. General Urrea departed Goliad, leaving command to Colonel José Nicolás de la Portilla. Urrea wrote to Santa Anna to ask for clemency for the Texians. Under a decree passed by the Mexican Congress on December 30 of the previous year, armed foreigners taken in combat were to be treated as pirates and executed. Urrea wrote in his diary that he "...wished to elude these orders as far as possible without compromising my personal responsibility." Santa Anna responded to this entreaty by repeatedly ordering Urrea to comply with the law and execute the prisoners. He also had a similar order sent directly to the "Officer Commanding the Post of Goliad". This order was received by Portilla on March 26, who decided it was his duty to comply despite receiving a countermanding order from Urrea later that same day.

The next day, Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, Colonel Portilla had the 303 Texians marched out of Fort Defiance into three columns on the Bexar Road, San Patricio Road, and the Victoria Road, between two rows of Mexican soldiers; they were shot point-blank, and any survivors were clubbed and knifed to death.

Forty Texians were unable to walk. Thirty nine were killed inside the fort.  Colonel Fannin was the last to be executed, after seeing his men executed. Age 32, he was taken by Mexican soldiers to the courtyard in front of the chapel, blindfolded, and seated in a chair (due to his leg wound from the battle). He made three requests: he asked for his personal possessions to be sent to his family, to be shot in his heart and not his face, and to be given a Christian burial. The soldiers took his belongings, shot him in the face, and burned Fannin's body along with the other Texians who died that day.”

OK, I know this is long, but I have one more pertinent point to make at just how tragic this was for the “Texian” soldiers and their families.

“After the executions, the Texians' bodies were piled and burned. Their charred remains were left in the open, unburied, and exposed to vultures and coyotes. Nearly one month later, word reached La Bahia (Goliad) that General Lopez de Santa Anna had been defeated and surrendered. The Mexican soldiers at La Bahia returned to the funeral pyres and gathered up any visible remains of the Texians and re-burned any evidence of the bodies.

The massive number of Texian prisoner-of-war casualties throughout the Goliad Campaign led to Goliad being called a "Massacre" by Texas-American forces.  The site of the massacre is now topped by a large monument containing the names of the victims.”

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Left, is the monument. You will notice a carving at the very top.. This is the stone relief carving, showing the Goddess of Liberty lifting a fallen soldier in chains…very moving..This whole monument is actually a very large gravestone marking the many souls buried beneath it.  There are many other things historic about this town..I am going to include one of my famous infamous collages to rescue all of you from further abuse by making this one of my longest “teaching” blogs…


This town is steeped in history, and the Goliad Massacre is still re-enacted here every late March. We have never been here for it, but I have it on my bucket list…The people in town surely know the chant “Remember Goliad!”..Den and I have visited the actual battlefield where Fannin’s Texian troops were overwhelmed by the Mexican Army and marched to the Presidio…That could be another whole blog…(did I just hear some of you do a deep sigh?)..

OK, I hope you did get some sense of how historic Goliad, Texas is…But…if you don’t care much for American History, you are now bored to tears…Sorry about that…no I’m not.  With apologies to my 2 favorite American History teachers,  Mr. Clark, and Professor Lehr, I just did my “student teaching” for today!