The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Lost in Louisiana

Mary Jane and I caravanned out of San Antonio on Tuesday morning on our way to a rally jointly sponsored by the Texas Ramblin' Roses and the Heart of Dixie chapters of RVing Women. We sped through Houston with no problems. We stopped for the night in Beaumont at Gulf Shores RV Park. It's an easy in/out Passport America park with pull-through sites and breakfast. It was an easy few hours to arrive in Henderson and the Cajun Palms RV Resort.

The rally doesn't officially start until Friday but most of us come early. By Wednesday night, there were about 15 women there. We sat around a campfire and visited for a while in the evening getting to know women from the Heart of Dixie.

This morning 19 of us headed to Champagne's Swamp Tours.

We filled up a whole boat with one empty seat filled by a woman who was learning about the tour prior to becoming a tour guide. She took lots of notes

The boat had swivel seats which made it easy to see everything.

The swamp is not what most people expect. It is not smelly or stagnant. The guide told us that most people believe there are some springs which keep things fresh. First wildlife we came upon was a "bale of turtles".

The green on the water is actually thousands of very tiny plants.

And some areas are really clear and you can see through the water.

You have to look really hard in the middle of the picture to see "Stella". She frequents this area and has a nest where she had her babies some time ago.

There were a couple of babies there too.

Back on more open water again. We saw lots of birds like anhingas, snowy egrets, and great blue herons.

Moss covers most of the trees.

We spotted another larger gator here. The guide said a good way to determine their length is to look at the distance between their eyes to the end of their snout. Each inch is equal to a foot in length.

The gators we saw never moved a muscle.

There are actually two gators here.

We saw a number of these duck blinds out on the lake part. Those little specks to the left of the blind are actually decoys. There were an amazing number of decoys. The hunters bring their boats into the blind.

See the big nest on the left tree top? There are a number of nests on the lake which are used year after year.

Here we are headed back to the landing after two hours on the lake and in the swamp. It was really a great tour.

 After the swamp tour, we all went to Poche's Market for lunch. It was very good. Later in the afternoon we all gathered at one of the women's rigs. A lot more of the women arrived today. This is part of the group that got together this afternoon.

Crazy Christmas

Every other year, our Christmas celebration gets moved until after 28 December because the grandkids spend the 25th with their Mom. Most of the time it works out fine but kind of leaves you mixed up on days and dates. So the 25th, there were 4 of us for prime rib dinner.

 Steve and Helen picked up the kids at noon on the 28th and we spent the afternoon making Christmas cookies. Helen and granddaughter Morgan love to cook. That evening, we loaded up in Helen's car and headed to Windcrest…...a San Antonio suburb that has long held a reputation for community decorations at Christmas. They even have a website for it. There are all sorts of awards for different categories and they even put out a map to follow to see the best sites. I'm sure this yard must be visible from a satellite as it was so lit up.

You can barely see the house.

We saw one amazing site after another.

 This yard had a Blues Brothers theme.  Some yards are religious presentations while others are purely securlar.

The next morning, I got up and baked the breakfast casserole that I made the night before and we headed over to Steve and Helen's to open gifts. We all wait to open things until the kids get here.

Helen made waffles, we had breakfast casserole, and there were lots of cookies on the table too. The kids had already jumped ship here.

The kids hand out presents and we all wait and take our turn opening them.

Too bad I can't remember what Steve and Cameron found so funny.

Angus thinks tearing up the wrapping paper after the gifts are opened is great fun and he never eats it so he gets indulged.

Morgan got unicorn socks from her Grandpa as one of her smaller gifts.

Steve got a new motorcycle helmet and Angus was not at all sure he liked it. I missed catching a picture before Steve opened the visor to show him it was just him.

We grilled hamburgers for dinner back at our house and, later on, Steve, Helen, Cameron, and Morgan went downtown for a Laser light show on the cathedral. They caught a couple of good shots.

Then it was on to New Year's Eve. We had dinner at our house. Then, we had a fire in the firepit in the backyard for SMores and some cornhole games. The grandkids asked if they could spend the night as they knew Steve and Helen would not make it to midnight, lol.

Happy New Year from our house to yours! May it be your best year ever.

"Main Street Bethelem" in Burnet TX.

Sunday night a number of us drove into Burnet TX for a unique experience. Every year for the past 27 years, the First Baptist Church has sponsored "Main street Bethlehem". Regardless of your religious beliefs, it's a special experience. We arrived near the downtown square which was beautifully lit up. We found out that this is where the end of the line was. Altogether, the line was about 6 blocks long.

It was beautiful.

We waited in line a long time, a very long time...….over an hour and a half. They did have a place where those who couldn't stand that long could wait and their friends could come and get them once they got closer. I finally had to do that after an hour in line. The village is there year around but during the event, each little building or alcove is manned by actors.

The camels didn't come out very well but they are live animals.

Daily life is pictured in great detail.

Some of the actors are children.

There were crowds of people inside the village but I tried to get photos without them showing.

The final scene before we left was the manger in the stable.

I'm not sure I would do this again because of the extremely long standing wait which is even longer on Friday or Saturday night but I'm really glad I held out to see it.  I definitely had a hard time with my hip the next day.  It is a very popular event which only goes on two weekends in December.