Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Morning Surprise and Other Things

In my previous post, I just missed getting a beautiful picture of a colorful sun rise. On my next walk, I left  a few minutes earlier in hopes of snapping a great photo.

But I got another photo instead. As I neared the entrance to our subdivision, it was still dark. The grass along the road was thick and tall as I approached a street light. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye. I saw a dark figure moving. I pulled away, and was glad I did, for it was a skunk. It soon left the grass and moved onto the street, where I snapped the photo below in poor light.

Skunk under street light

We see lots of critters where we live, especially deer and turkeys. But the turkeys have been absent lately. I expect they will return when the pecans and acorns are ripe. I did see a doe early this morning as I stepped out the front door to begin my walk.

On other matters . . .

Summer is here in earnest. Yesterday, we topped out at 109 degrees. Sterling City, about 40 miles to the northwest, hit 112. Yep, it's pretty miserable out there. And the hot dry wind out of the south just further dries things out and makes it more unpleasant. Time to head back to the mountains.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Odds and Ends

Last week, I reported on the little family of Kildeers that came for a visit. Over the weekend, we saw the entire family again on several occasions. The chicks should learn to fly soon, and then they will probably move on to another place.

During my brother's visit, we did several things around town. First, we took Larry and Nancy to the north entrance to San Angelo State Park. They had never been there before, and that section of the park is quite different from the south entrance. Since the north section borders the North Concho River, there are quite a few trees there.

We also walked along the Concho River in downtown San Angelo one morning. That is really a nice area of our town. Some of the houses that line the south bank of the river are really impressive, and the whole area is nicely developed. All visitors to Angelo should stop by that area. The Visitor's Center on the south bank of the river -- between the north and south lanes of US 87 -- is also a great stop, as it provides great resources for the area. Also along the south bank -- between Chadbourne and Oakes -- is the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts with its distinctive shape. Shops line Concho Avenue just a block north of the river.

Brother Larry and I stand along the north bank of the North Concho in downtown San Angelo.
I posed with Donna (left) and sister-in-law Nancy (right) along the river.
Chadbourne Street bridge in downtown San Angelo

Oakes Street Bridge in downtown San Angelo. The building rising above the tree line in the background is the Rio Concho Manor, where Donna and I often eat lunch when we ride the bus with our neighbors.

Looking towards downtown from the Celebration Bridge

Larry snapping a photo of his wife in front of the mermaid statue along Celebration Bridge. The San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts is in the background.

I took this photo of the Museum of Fine Arts a few years ago. It shows the saddle shape of the building from the side.
Visitor Center on south bank of the Concho River

I was walking early yesterday morning and snapped the picture below of the sunrise. Actually, I was a few minutes late. I first caught a glimpse of the sunrise about a quarter mile before I snapped the photo, but I did not have a clear shot. When I first saw the sun, it was a deep red, but in the 3 or 4 minutes it took to reach an area with a clear shot, the color had mostly faded and I was left with the image below.

Sunrise from the entrance to Rio Concho West.
It's hot and dry out here. Area cotton farmers are scrambling to plant before the insurance deadline. They had been hoping to get some moisture, but that just isn't going to happen. It may be a tough year for them.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Brother is Moving to Florida

My brother Larry and his wife Nancy came for a short visit this weekend. Nancy is retiring from her job this week, and they are on their way to a life of ease in Florida. Larry retired several years ago.

A few years ago, they bought a condo on the beach on the east coast of Florida. Since then, they have been remodeling and getting things ready for full-time living. Larry has always loved the water, since we were boys. They have been living the last several years in a lake community in Fort Worth.

They have sold their house in Fort Worth. They close later this week. They are taking very little with them, just a trailer with some clothes, personal items, and little else. They have given items to Larry's daughters, sold a few things, and included some furniture in the sell of the house. The condo is much smaller, so they have had to down size.

They leave on their new adventure at the end of this week. They will stop for a short visit with Larry's daughters in Mississippi, then continue on to the Atlantic shore. By this time in 2 weeks, they should have the trailer unloaded and be busy setting up house in the condo. Donna and I are excited for them.

Florida is a long way from Texas, so I don't know when I'll see Larry again. Heck, at our age, you just can't tell what will happen tomorrow, or if there will even be a tomorrow. Personally, I don't enjoy traveling east; Donna and I prefer to travel west. The idea of going to Florida just really doesn't appeal to me. I don't enjoy flying, so if we do go, we will likely drive, and that is a long, long drive.

But you never know about us.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Killdeers Come for a Visit

This past week, a small family of Killdeers visited our yard. We saw 2 adults (mother and father, I assume) and 3 chicks. They spent several days scurrying about the yard. With each passing day, they would spend less and less time with us, but we would often see them in neighbor's yards.

The adults, as you might expect, were very protective of the young. On several occasions, black birds would get too close to the chicks and the adults would come to the rescue, driving away the intruders. We were careful about going outside, and made it a habit to look out the windows before venturing onto our patio. Quite often, the chicks would actually be on our patio, inspecting everything they came into contact with.

Then one day, we looked out and saw only a single chick. The rest of the family was not in sight. We watched for a while, but no one came to check on the chick. I guess it got separated from the rest of the family. Later that evening, we did see the family in our neighbor's yard, but I only counted 2 chicks and 2 adults. I think that was the last evening I saw the birds. I guess they have moved to greener pastures.

Below are a few pictures of our yard guests.

This picture shows all 3 chicks. They would just wander the yard, pecking here and there.
This is a close-up of one of the chicks.
One of the adults keeping a watchful eye on everyone, including me.
Both adults in this picture

This picture shows one adult (lower right) and 2 chicks (upper left)

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Life Without the Trailer, Part 3

In the previous 2 installments, I looked at what we missed about the trailer and what we didn't miss. In this last installment, I'll look at traveling without the trailer.

In our recent trip to Colorado, I really enjoyed the ease of traveling without the trailer. I could pull into gas stations, cafes, and other businesses with ease. It was nice to turn on the cruise control and just motor down the highway. And when we stopped for the night, I'd check in at the front desk of a hotel and we'd carry a few small bags to the room. The next morning, we'd eat breakfast at the hotel (if they had a free breakfast), load our bags in the car, and drive away. It was quick, easy, and efficient.

I don't even want to think about what it would be like to drag a trailer through some of the country we just traveled through. Traveling in our RAV4 was easy. And we made better time as well, not that this is important. When you full-time in an RV, you really aren't in that much of a hurry.

So, does that mean I'll never own another RV? No, not at all. However, as I've said before, I just don't enjoy traveling occasionally in an RV. If I have another one, it will be for full-time purposes. I do enjoy full-timing in an RV. I like the freedom that such a lifestyle provides. If I were to full-time, I would want to ensure I get a rig that is comfortable and that has all the perks I need for full-timing, including doing a great deal of boon docking. These are some of the things I would look for in an RV:

  • I'd want some power source, probably solar panels, so that I could spend time in remote areas and still have power. This would allow me to camp on public lands that might not have utilities available. 
  • I'd want reliable Internet. It's so much easier to plan your travels when you have access to Internet.
  • I'd want television regardless of my location. I guess that would mean some sort of satellite plan.
  • I'd want larger than average storage tanks so that I could stay in remote locations longer.
  • I'd want tank heaters for cold weather camping.
  • I'd want comfortable chairs for Donna and me to rest in at the end of a long day of hiking and exploring. And there are those times of bad weather when we would be confined to our rig, so you want to be comfortable.
  • I'd want a comfortable bed for a good night's sleep.
But right now, we're pretty satisfied with traveling in our RAV4. In fact, we have another trip coming up soon. I hope you'll travel along with us.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Life Without the Trailer, Part 2

As you saw in the previous post, there are things we miss about our trailer, but there are far more things I don't miss.

I certainly don't miss emptying the holding tanks. That's never a pleasant job, even though it becomes routine after a while. And I really don't miss when things get clogged up or an "accident" occurs while emptying the tanks.

I don't miss towing. I have never liked towing of any kind, but towing a heavy travel trailer on busy highways, treacherous roads, during gusting winds and other bad weather can be very stressful.

I don't miss the ongoing maintenance. When you own an RV, there will be maintenance. After all, when you bounce down the road at high speeds, things just jiggle about and problems eventually result. We were fortunate in all our travels to never have any serious problems, but we did experience a few things, such as:
  • damaged sway bar bracket
  • damaged electric cord from trailer to truck
  • damaged water feed to toilet
  • leaky pump
  • numerous electrical issues
  • stripped gears on electric hitch
  • and various other minor problems
I don't miss setting up or breaking camp in cold and/or rainy weather and/or in the dark. This didn't happen often, but I well remember those times when it did. Luckily, I kept proper clothing in the trailer for such situations. Being properly clad helps tremendously. Most people today think of clothing as simply a fashion statement; to me, clothing is a tool.

I don't miss spending cold nights and/or days in the trailer. Yeah, the trailer had a good furnace, but when it switched off, the cold creeped right back in almost instantly. There's little insulation value in a trailer. It does get cold in a trailer.

I don't miss riding out violent storms in the trailer. When the wind is rocking and the rain is pelting, it's a bit unnerving. We were fortunate in all our travels to never encounter large hail.

I don't miss taking showers in a small shower with limited elbow room.

I don't miss maneuvering the trailer through tight spots, such as gas stations, parking lots, and busy intersections.

I don't miss cramped RV sites in overly priced parks. I much prefer staying in state parks and similar places where you have a little room to breathe.

Of course, this list is not complete, but you get the idea. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Life Without the Trailer, Part 1

Well, it's been about 2 months since we sold the trailer. Are we missing it at all?

The truth is that, yes, we miss it at times. Overall, though, we are happy with our decision to sell it.

I miss waking up in a state park or other similar place to the sound of happy birds. Or perhaps watching a deer wander through our campsite.

I miss the freedom of going where you want yet always being home. When you travel by RV, you take your bed, your favorite foods, your television, all your necessary clothes, and other comforts with you. You can pull into a picnic area and use the bathroom, fix a meal, or take a nap. I miss that relaxed mode of travel.

I miss being out of doors as much as we were whenever we traveled in our trailer. We would spend hours each day outside. We'd often start the day by cooking breakfast outside on our camp stove. Perhaps we'd take a walk around the park or take a hike. Sometimes we'd just sit outside watching the wildlife, watching other RVers come and go, or just enjoying the weather. Donna would often grab her poles and head down to the fishing hole if there was one while I'd relax around camp.

I miss the slow pace of life living in a trailer. We'd pick a place to go and allow ourselves plenty of time to visit the museums and other points of interest in the area. There was never a rush to do things because we were always "home" in the trailer.

I miss breaking camp in the morning and getting the trailer hooked up to the truck. Then, with a fresh cup of coffee to help me, we'd pull out for a new destination, a new adventure. I miss that feeling.

So, yes, there are plenty of things I miss. In the next installment, though, I'll look at the things we don't miss.