The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Harley takes his role as navigator seriously!

Getting to Know Miranda and Her Owner

It's always fun to meet other RVers and get to know them a little better.  About two weeks ago, I first met Rae Crothers in person at a lunch gathering of women RV friends.  Rae is the highly successful Canadian author of Travels with Miranda.  She has been full-timing and earning her living while she travels for five years.  We had lunch a second time last Thursday.  You can read about that and our trip to Gruene in a previous post.

Saturday afternoon I was invited out to Hidden Valley RV Park in Von Ormi to meet the famous Miranda, Rae's home on wheels.  Hidden Valley is a small RV park but it's appeal to Rae was the fact that she could boondock there for a small fee.  Miranda is completely set up for living and working comfortably off the grid.  The second part of the park appeal was that it is located about a mile off of I-35 south so day trips into downtown San Antonio were a matter of minutes away.

This picture was taken very late in the afternoon when the trees in front of Miranda were providing shade.  For much of the day, Miranda is out in the sun so her solar panels can capture as much sun as possible.  

Rae has customized Miranda into a very personal home.  Her living room and kitchen area are painted a bright sunny yellow.  The loft area where she sleeps is a cozy little nest.  As you move toward the back of Miranda, you enter the dressing room area which can be closed off from both the front and back of the RV.  It is painted a pretty fuschia pink.  She has both a small closet and a built-in wardrobe with drawers uniquely made out of wooden wine boxes.  The toilet is in a separate room painted a pretty lavender color.  The final room in the back of the RV is Rae's office.  She has a full desk where she does all all her computer work as well as file cabinets.  Also included is a lounge platform which can be used if she has a guest.  The whole color scheme is harmonious and is tied together with pretty flowered curtains.  Take a look at her blog to see how Rae has made her home uniquely her own.

Rae is a very well known blogger with four e-books published.  Are you familiar with Squidoo?  Rae is a well known contributor and it would be worthwhile to take a look at Rae's posts.  She has some great insight on RV issues as well as her travels.

I have really enjoyed meeting Rae and getting to know her.

Lunch with Celebrities and a Visit to Gruene

Wednesday Rae drove up from her RV park in Von Ormi to meet me and then I drove us up to meet Malia Lane ( in Buda for lunch.  Another friend, Diana, drove down from Austin and met us there too.  Malia had a surprise for us too.  She invited Judy, another full-timer, to join us.

You may already know Malia.  She has been a solo full-timer for twelve years now.  You can read about her Inspiration to RV on  Inspiration was actually the name of her first motorhome.  Now Inspiration will be moving on to inspire someone else because Malia just got a new RV and is in the process of settling in to her new home. When we arrived at Crestview RV park which is onsite at Crestview in Buda, TX, her sales rep, Rob, was visiting her to make sure everything was going smoothly.  We all chatted about our RVs.  Rob actually sold Malia Inspiration as well as her new RV but I will let her tell you all about that.

Diana, Malia, Colleen, Judy, and Rae at Chili's in Buda.  Everyone thought it was hilarious that there was a dachshund photo right over my head.  Really, I didn't plan it.

We had a great lunch.  After lunch, Malia had to get back to work while Judy and Diana headed north to Austin.  Rae and I headed south and made a stop at Guene Tx so Rae could see the oldest dance hall in Texas.

There wasn't anyone playing while we were at Gruene Hall but they were setting up for later.  Rae wondered about the floors being sturdy but they have crowds in there all the time.  We looked at all the pictures on the walls from the many different bands that have played there.

We spent some time looking around in the antique store.

We checked out the General Store.

And we looked at some of the local bed and breakfast places.  Not quite sure about the little low building in front.  I thought "storm shelter" but that wouldn't work with the windows in place.

It's always fun to visit Gruene and play tourist.  I think Rae enjoyed her visit to this small town and really liked Gruene Hall.

Wild Women Meet for RVing Lunch

Picture it now......10 RV crazy ladies gathered together for lunch.  Introductions accomplished because there are new ladies meeting for the first time.  Stories being swapped, rigs being compared, plans being made, places visited swapped.  What could possibly be more fun?  Okay, you are right, being out in our RVs together would win that one.

 L to R......Sharon, MaryJane, Margareta, Vicki, and Nikki.  Sharon is a full-timer recovering from some health issues.  MaryJane is recovering from some major surgery last month. She actually just stopped by to visit on her way to a Texas Ramblin Roses GTG up in Palestine.  Nothing holds these ladies down for long.  Margareta uses her RV as her full-time driver.  Her co-pilot, Lusci, a retired German Sheppard drug dog, accompanies her almost all the time.  Trips out of town also include her cat who walks on a leash.  Vicki is our go-to gal for mechanical issues.  You may remember our recent trip to pick up her lastest project, a Casita in need of much help.  This was Nikki's first introduction to the group.  She just got her first RV and showed up on a forum I belong to.  She had been wondering if women actually do this alone but I don't think she is wondering any more.  Sharon and Margareta went to Alaska last summer.

And here we have (L to R) Rae, Peri, Sharon, and MaryJane.  Check-out those smiles.  Some of you may be familiar with Travels with Miranda, Rae's blog.  It is a great blog and she is a very accomplished young woman who has full-timed for 5 years and usually boondocks.  In addition to her blog, she has written four e-books available through her blog.  I've been hoping for the chance to meet her for some time.  We all have a few years on her but when you all love the same thing, it doesn't matter a bit.  Peri full-times with her husband Dean. They will be off on their next trip soon so you may be able to follow along on her blog.

Nikki is busy checking out the menu but more smiles from Susan (Travelbug), Diana (Cool Clear Water), and Colleen.  Susan and Peri completed a Volksmarche before they showed up for lunch.  Diana drove down from Austin where she lives half-time.

Can you hear all the stories being told?  Vicki, Nikki, Susan, Diana, and Colleen.

Vicki and Diana haven't seen each other for a while so they have tales to tell.   Hmmmm, what do you think they were discussing?

We all finished lunch but then those little shot desserts were calling.  Diana enjoyed her key lime pie.

This is the first time we have seen Sharon since she came back from Houston so it wonderful to see her on the road to recovery.

What a wonderful time we all had.  We arranged our lunch after the crowd so we could see there as long as we wanted to and visit (which was really a long time).  When Rae and I finished chatting outside, it was nearly dinnertime.  Until next time friends.  Susan and Birdie....we missed you.  And Malia, we hope you can make it next time as everyone really wanted to meet you too.  But anyone missing a luncheon because she is getting a new RV is more than okay in our book.

Another Green Day, St Patricks Day on the Riverwalk

Ah, St Patrick's Day.  We had our corned beef and cabbage yesterday as the grandkids have to go home Sunday afternoon.  We headed off to La Villita on the Riverwalk for the festive events.

There were some booths with items for sale and booths with give-away items.

There was a band playing in the little amphitheater.  Can you see the river?

Yes, it is definitely green.  They dye it with some environmentally safe powder.  You can also see theat everyone was decked out in green.  Helen's eyebrows are green too.

It was a lovely day.  We were a bit disappointed in the festival at La Villita after the big one they had last year.  It was extremely downsized but I think the big one was at the Market Square this year.

We still had a great time walking around looking at everyone in their greenery.

The trees are all beginning to bud out.

There were lots of people out enjoying the day with us.

There was a parade at 3:00PM, alas, we had to head home so Steve and Helen could make the trek back to Marble Falls with Cameron and Morgan to meet up with their Mom.

It's fun to celebrate holidays that don't require much preparation....although finding green hairspray was a challenge this year.

The house is quiet without the grandkids this evening and will be even more quiet when Steve and Helen head back to Florida very, very early in the morning.

A Day in Gruene Texas

Saturday we had plans for later in the day so we decided to head out to Gruene about noon since it isn't far away.  We knew there would be a fair number of people there due to Spring Break but we didn't know this was the Trade Days weekend too.  So there were LOTS of people.  We managed to find a parking place and it was easy from there.  Helen and Morgan posed in front of the Toy Store duck.  This place has toys for all ages.

We wandered over to Oma's Secret Garden to have some lunch and listen to the band playing.  It was great.

We had turkey and cheese or rueben sandwiches and the kids had hot dog baskets so everyone was happy and full.

There was some serious wishing going on here at the fountain.

There is an old fashioned photo place next door but we just took our own pictures with some of the props.

The kids sat in some pretty good size rockers.

On the corner right next to the Gruene Dance Hall, there is a container garden which looks great no matter what time of year it is.

Built in 1878, Gruene Hall is the oldest continually running dance hall in Texas.  It has been the jump start for many famous musicians.  If you come on a weekend, you will nearly always find bands playing.  They usually only charge in the evenings.

We had a great afternoon visiting Gruene and definitely recommend it to anyone visiting near San Antonio.

Busy Days at Home

Back at Grandma's house after a mini vacation at the hotel.  Did you ever see so many chicken legs?

Steve and Helen are looking for a house in San Antonio as they are going to be moving here so we had to fit a lot of househunting in this week.  When Helen was able to go look with Steve, the kids and I went to Pickerel Park for several hours.  Cameron and Morgan had a great time.  They love this park.

Grandma also had a great time watching the kids and reading her kindle under a shade tree.

A Day at the Pool on the Riverwalk

Steve and Helen arrived late on Wednesday night.  It's always nice when business fits in with pleasure.  Steve was here because he is spending Spring Break with his kids.  This time Helen got to come along because she had a conference here in town and her boss also sent her early to do some inspections at Lackland AFB.  A two-fer!  They drove up to Marble Falls to pick up the kids on Friday evening.  Saturday, Helen had to check into her hotel on the Riverwalk, La Mansion.  Nice.  Steve and the kids went down to spend the night with her.  The big draw for the kids was the heated outdoor pool.  They swam Saturday evening early and then later the hotel projected a movie "Rainy with a Chance for Meatballs" on the wall behind the pool.  Not bad but it gets better.  The kids each got instructions for a treasure hunt.  So while Helen conferenced on Sunday, Steve and the kids followed all the clues around the hotel to get the info they needed to complete the treasure hunt.  Then they each got a little backpack filled with prizes.  Pretty nice.

This is the backdrop to the pool at La Mansion.

Tuesday, I went down to meet the kids and spend some time with them.  Of course, some of that time was at the pool.  Climbing out to jump back in.

The ladder was busy!

Morgan thinks it's so funny to go underwater when you want to take a picture.

No, no, I'm fine.  I don't have water in my eyes.

Daddy, toss me high in the air.

Yes, this is so fun.

Good thing Steve works out.

We went out for pizza but the camera battery picked that time to die.  Darn.  It was fun anyway.  I had to come back and edit this post.  I completely forgot to mention my famous person siting.  Cameron needed to use the restroom while we were at the pool and the closest restroom was in the lobby.  I went with him and waited out in front while he was busy.  I noticed a woman with a small dog in the lobby and then I saw "Hulk Hogan" come right behind her.  Although he was on crutches, he is still in very good shape and looked just as you would expect him to look with his trademark bandana.  Sorry, I didn't get a picture, you'll just have to take my word for it.  It was too much of a surprise and would have been intrusive since he was just going through to the parking area.  I got a very good look since he was only 5 feet away from me.

Camping Memories (Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma)

The other day a friend was talking about unique experiences and mishaps while camping and it immediately brought to mind a wild experience we had at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.  It all started when......

As an Air Force family, most of our vacations involved visits home to family.  On one of our trips home to visit Dave's family in Michigan, we decided to buy his brother's pop-up camper when he told us he planned to sell it.  It was a big pop-up but our car could easily pull it.  Then people started asking if we were going to camp in it going home.  The neighbor next to my in-laws was having a garage sale so I went to have a look to see if there might be some things we could use to camp on the way home.  Next thing I knew she went back to her garage and pulled out a box of things that they used to use when they camped.  So we suddenly had dishes, a couple pots, silverware, a percolator, and a few other miscellaneous things.  My MIL quickly pulled out some old sheets and towels.  I bought some pillows and we were set.  It was July so we knew we wouldn't need to worry about a blanket once we left Michigan.

On the way home we went through Missouri to visit my parents where we also picked up my brother who was coming home with us for a longer visit so we had Tim who was 15 and our two boys Steve and Brian who were  9 and 3.  We headed off to spend a few nights at Table Rock Lake, Missouri.  We had a wonderful time with lots of swimming and campfires at night.  We decided we would also stop at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.

Now on to the real adventure......

The reason for the visit to the Wildlife Refuge was that Steve's Boy Scout group was having a weekend family camp out there.  We arrived at the Refuge and headed directly to the group camping area.  Of course, it was only about noon when we got there and no one else was expected until suppertime.  Dave was on leave from the Air Force and we were only a little over an hour from Sheppard AFB.  So, we had already decided that Dave would drop us off and head into the base to sign in so it would not cost us any more leave.

After unhooking the pop-up, Dave was off to sign in at the base and Tim and I began to set up the pop-up. (Keep in mind that although the pop-up was new to me, I had been camping all my life in trailers.)  We quickly pulled out the first bed platform while Steve and Brian watched.  I was on the far side of the camper from the three boys when I turned around and looked behind me.  An entire herd of bison was ambling directly toward our camper.  Bison are huge and furry and have horns!  I quietly said "Tim, take Steve and Brian's hands and walk to the bathroom now."  Of course, I got the "but we don't need to go to the bathroom!"  "Do it right now, be quiet, and don't ask any more questions.....move it!"  I backed quietly around the camper and quickly followed them to the bathroom.  By then they were griping because these were pit toilets and it was in the mid 90s outside.  It was a pitiful little tin building but I figured it was a little more solid than the pop-up and the bison were used to it.  I told the kids to look back by the camper.  At this point, the bison were ambling around the camper.  They moved on past us and headed off to another point on the refuge.  Once they were out of sight, we finished setting up the pop-up and had a picnic lunch.  Dave was back before dinner and the rest of the group began arriving.

My boys and my brother have never forgotten their first camping experience at the refuge although we camped there many times after that.  Back then there were a number of campgrounds without hookups and the bison would wander through although it was usually at night.  Eventually, all those campgrounds became day use only because of tenters panicking and some people foolishly attempting to get too close to the bison.  Now there is only one camping area, the Doris campground but it does have some electrical hook-ups which is really nice during the summer in Oklahoma.

That is exactly how I remember that trip..........

If you are ever near the Refuge at Easter, you should go to The Holy City where they have a fantastic Easter Pageant which is the longest running Easter Passion play in the nation.

Spring Can Be Taxing

Today was a beautiful spring day....temperature about 76 degrees....lots of sun....a little breeze.

Now we've had begonias all winter long although we do have to cover them a night here and there if we get a frost.

My redbud tree has been blooming for almost a week.  It's so beautiful.  I think of my mother when it blooms because it was her favorite tree.

The blossoms are fleeting.  They don't last for a real long time but they are just gorgeous when they pop into bloom.

This bush will get leaves and then beautiful Rose of Sharon blooms on it in a couple of weeks.

The hackberry tree is leafing out.  It isn't a great tree as trees go; however, it does provide shade.

Little flowers even pop up in the grass.

The neighbors have a couple of pretty potted plants in bloom.

And what was I doing while all this spring blooming and glorious weather was happening right outside the window??????

I was working on our taxes.  Yes, taxes.  Things were going along swimmingly with Turbo Tax input until I had to calculate the basis for some stock shares we sold this year.  Lest you think we are talking big bucks here, we're really talking about two shares.  Numerous calculations led to a splitting headache but I think I eventually figured it out.

Now tomorrow is going to be 85 degrees so I'm pretty sure the taxes are going to have to wait.