Monday, March 17, 1997

THE WEEK THAT WOULD NOT END!!!! Part 3, The Finale'

Thursday, March 13, 1997

Alarm clock goes off, a planned event, need to make sure it works for Friday A.M., when we know we will be required to make a hasty beeline for Houston.  The weather forecast is for 80 degrees and sun, one last day and the first day we have had a good forecast. We are not going to miss it.   Two good reasons to set the alarm, test drive and great weather.

Showers and breakfast prepared by our hostess--YUM!!

First stop of the day--grocery store for pop and beer for the cooler.  A picnic lunch is planned.

Next stop--the Fulton Mansion.  It was built between 1874 and 1877, VERY Victorian. Interesting. The last time we will be inside for more than 5 minutes for the rest of the day until dinner.

We cross the Capano Causeway headed towards several of our stops.  First, Lamar Cemetery and the “Big Tree”.  I think the tree competes with the one on James Island, Charleston, South Carolina. Very impressive.  At the cemetery Carol is amazed that head stones carved in the era of 1825-1850 are so well preserved, still very easy to read.

We do a drive by of the rest of the park, Goose Creek State Park, but do not desire to pay an entry fee to look over the campground.  Oh, well, Onward and forward.

Next stop--an Italian deli along the roadside that came highly recommended by our host at the B & B, Gary.  This place is REALLY Italian, Man and I don’t recognize 90% of the meats or entries.  Another customer walked in behind us, inquired as to what delicacy was sitting on a baking tray, was told, and she states emphatically, “That’s what I want!”  I ask her if it is good, she replies, “Don’t know, have no idea what it is, but it sounds great!!”

Man and I each order a sandwich, a cookie, Man gets 2 huge pitted olives, salted peanuts and some horribly, wonderful, decadent desert that is a pastry shell stuffed with German chocolate cream with coconut.  SINFUL!!!

On to our picnic site, the Aransas Wildlife Refuge.  We intend to and successfully fulfill the intention to spend the balance of daylight hours in the sun and fresh air.  At the picnic area we sit on top of the concrete picnic tables while 3 javelina (that would be “wild boars” when translated), forage around the ground surrounding the table for food.  A park ranger drove by and asked us if the javelina were pestering us.  We respond, “No, we are playing by their rules, we sit up top, they stay down!”

As we sat on the table, we watch the javelina searching for scraps.
After lunch we wander further into the park, both desiring a good healthy hike.  We load up with bug juice (thanks to our kind and thoughtful host, Gary) and off we trek.  We don’t see many critters with wings except for 1.)  A HUGE bumble bee that lands on Carol’s leg, yes I screamed! And 2.) Mosquitoes, hungry, mean, vicious mosquitoes.  Texas mosquitoes, as big as house flies in Michigan.  Needless to say, we walked FAST!!

After diving into the car we proceed to the next stop, along the way Man spies a snake sunning on the road.  We don’t know for sure what it was, but don’t really care to know. Next stop, we see our first alligator and first whooping crane.  I won’t bother you with all the details, but Man got the alligator to turn towards us.  Not one of his more brilliant acts. But, he still has all his working parts.

Next, to the observation deck and walkway.  Had fun learning the different kinds of birds, egrets, sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, a couple of wild boar thrown in for interest, a few ducks of unspecified species.  We stayed here enjoying the warmth and the birds for quite a while, till at last we decided we better start around the one way road.  Off we go, bout one minute down the road Man says, “we ought to see some deer”.  Thirty seconds later Carol spies 5!  “Ask and ye shall receive”.  We see 16 more.  A wonderful, memorable afternoon!!

We had dinner at Silver Anchor where we were greeted by the most delightful Vietnamese waitress.  She was a “cutie”, bubbly and personality plus.  Carol had catfish and shrimp. Man had 2 ½ pounds of Cajun crawfish (Louisiana style) with boiled peanuts (like from Charleston South Carolina), corn and tater.  After much whining (well, not much, just some) he talked our waitress into allowing him to order ½ of the appetizer of his choice--soft shelled crabs.  “Have pity on him, he must go back to Michigan tomorrow.”, pleaded Carol on his behalf.  Hey, it worked!!  Man smiled for several hours!!

It was now about 8 P.M. or so, time to head back to the Blue Heron.  We chatted for a few minutes with our hosts and then headed upstairs for showers, had to wash off the multiple layers of bug spray.

Friday, March 14, 1997

6 A.M. and it is alarm clock time again.  Dress and finish packing, downstairs at 7:00 A.M.  for breakfast.  Bless Nancy and Gary, the food and service were great!!  We will be thanking them all day.

Pull out at 7:30 A.M. and head for Houston.  Two rest stops later and 3 ½ hours of driving we arrive at Hertz rental services, check in and board the bus for the terminals.  So far, so good.  All on time and we found enough potties on the way to prevent serious problems.    All is well until we try to check in at Continental.   Oooopps!!  Our reservation is for SATURDAY!!!  It appears that the gal who took or reservation booked us for Friday the 14th, even after Man reviewed our travel plans with her.  As she read back our reservations she said Friday the 15th!  Man points out to her that Saturday is the 15th, Friday the 14th.  She then says she has corrected the reservation to read Saturday the 15th, which is when he wanted to come home.  When the confirmation record is received by Man it shows us returning on Friday the 14th.  Well he decided it was not worth the trouble to change the reservation, that we would just come home the day early and that would let him get ready for work on Sunday.  So he did not call or attempt to change it.

However, the gal at the reservation phone number discovers her error the day after Man made the reservation and goes into the computer and changes the return date on the computer to Saturday the 15th!  Only thing, she does not send us a new confirmation letter.  How do we know this??  Well, our confirmation letter is dated February 1st, the date the computer is changed is February 2nd!! Needless to say, Man is hopping mad!

In the end, no harm done, there are extra seats on Friday’s flight.  If not, Carol already had an alternative plan in the works---D and M---we have returned for Man’s hat!!

The neophyte air travelers that we are, we expected to get fed on a flight that was about 3 hours long.  Nope!!  We discover this small problem (remember Carol’s sugar problems) when they bring us a drink and a small packet of peanuts!!  Now, the flight was supposed to leave at 1:10 P.M., remember we ate at 7:00 A.M.  The flight was late taking off and taxied for over 20 minutes to get to the runway, so its about 2:00 P.M. when we discover that we are not going to be fed!!  OUCH!!

Carol eats her lousy small pack of peanuts, and decides to hit the head (you know, the bathroom) before drinking any pop.  So to the back of the plane I go.  Now you know I am in the throws of a really good low blood sugar attack, it won’t be long before the cold sweats start, I already have the shakes and the low functioning brain activity.  I get to the back of the airplane where the layout of the bathrooms is different that on the plane we took to Houston last Friday. In my state of mind I look around, trying to find that little door to the head.  I must of looked like I was stoned, glazed eyes and all, thanks to the low blood sugar.  I was looking up at the ceiling a lot (no I don’t know why, I am confused, remember?) and the stewardess says “you can’t go up there”, as she opens the door to the little room.  So I tell her that we were not aware that we would not be getting REAL food on the flight and that I was diabetic (OK, so I lied a little) and that I was real shaky. She offered me some more nuts and orange juice, after my visit to the head, I took her up on the offer.  I told her she better give me some extra peanuts, that my hubby had the same problem as I, but he wasn’t as far gone as I was, YET!  I chugged the OJ, grabbed 4 packets of nuts and what with my private stash of food that I always try to carry around with me, Al and I dined on peanuts, cheese and peanut butter crackers and slim fast bars!

We land at Detroit Metro, collect our luggage, our car and head to Man’s mom’s to visit and retrieve the “boys”, our Yorkies.  We are home, errr, at least we are in Michigan, but we still have not had any substantial food since 7:00 A.M. Texas time.  It is now about 7:00 P.M. Michigan time.

On the way home, we decide to make a food hit in a nearby town.  We agree on the “Colonel”.  Like in chicken.

While Man waits in line he starts up a conversation with the fellow standing next to him. This is when we start to suspect TROUBLE!

Now, bout 24 hours prior to this, there was a weather event in the lower 1/3 of the lower peninsula of Michigan, an ice/freezing rain event.  We saw the weather reports from our room at the Blue Heron.  Did you ever get that sick feeling of anticipated bad omens, that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach?  Yea, that one!

Anyway, we are at Kentucky Fried Chicken and learn that a town about 10 miles north of our home has NO power.  Ooooo-ooooh!!  We are told they do not expect to be reconnected till sometime late Sunday.

So, Carol, always trying to be “prepared” explains to Man her plan, put the battery back on the trailer, hope we have propane, plug the trailer into the truck to augment the battery on the trailer, etc., etc., etc. Man gets a little testy and tells me I am being negative, etc., etc., etc.  Carol responds that advance planning is not negative thinking.

Well, we stop at the grocery store, just in case the one closer to home has no power, grab a few provisions, and with a good amount of trepidation, we head for the homestead.

All is lit up from until we get to the next town, lots of lights.  Still lights all through that town.  All is well until 2 miles out of town, which is about 5 miles from the house.  It gets DARK!!  No stop lights, there is a portable stop sign.  Ooooooo, oooooh!

Well, you have the idea, no power at home when we arrive.  Temperature in the house is 49!  We do the battery thing on the trailer, back the truck in, hook up the electrical between the truck and the trailer, grab flashlight and candles from the house, check the food in the frig, grab every blanket in the house, turn on the propane in the trailer, turn on the frig and furnace in the trailer, oh, not necessarily in that order.

About now, Man makes Carol walk around the yard with a flashlight looking for tree damage.  Don’t cha know this could not wait for daylight?

And sometime along here, Man decides that the cats have missed us so much that they should come out to the trailer with us.  He does not think of cat litter.  Does not matter though, as the cats start yowling the minute they arrive and they do not end up staying long, back to the house they go.  They can visit with us when the power comes back on!!

We found some Manhattan mix in the frig in the house while we had been checking it out, we even found some ice cubes that were still frozen, so we had a couple of drinks,and went to bed.

Saturday, March 15, 1997

We wake to discover it has snowed 2 inches, the wind is howling, no telling how low the wind chill is, but it is COLD!!

It is now 44 degrees in the house.  Carol is getting seriously worried bout the house plants. as she has a houseful, lots of plants.  Man goes to the gas station for fuel for the generator and coffee for us.  We have not used the generator for almost 6 years, so we are more than pleasantly surprised when it starts on the first pull.  Man takes two 16 gauge wire extension cords and wires them to the on/off switch on the furnace, opens the basement window, shoves the cords through to yours truly.  I plug em in to the generator and brrooooommmm, we have a running, functioning and heat producing furnace.  Carol’s plants will survive.

Before long, my electrician hubby has run an electric cord to the trailer which allows us to charge the battery and watch T.V.  Hey, we are living now!!

Only one small problem to conquer now, we only have a couple of gallons of drinking water, and that won’t go far for 2 humans, 2 dogs, 2 cats, flushing toilet in the trailer and incidental body washing.  So we make a run to Tecumseh and beg 4 gallons of water from the “Quick Oil Change” business.  We grab some more groceries and head home once more.  This is no different than winter camping, we are prepared to ride out the power failure with no further effort than keeping the gas and fresh water containers full. We are at peace, all settled in, we take naps!!

At 7:00 P.M.  Carol spies a light at one of the neighbors and a safety flood light at another neighbors.  Lo and behold, we have POWER!!

Less than 2 hours later we have moved the essentials back into the house and are headed for showers.  Heaven!!

Sunday, March 16, 1997

We sleep in!!

Unload the trailer, start laundry and work on getting back to our normal routine.

At 4:30 P.M. there is still ice on the trees and the power company trucks are seen just blocks away from our house.  They are still connecting other fellow Lenawee County neighbors to the juice.

Monday, March 17, 1997

Happy St. Paddy’s day!

We spend the afternoon enjoying the almost 60 degree day cutting up the limbs that have fallen in the yard.   There are about 5 or 6 trees in the woods we will cut up and drag out, but not today.  There are several willows that have broken tops that will have to blow down, they are broken at a height of 50 to 60 feet and cannot be reached by these city slicker/county bumpkin wanna be’s.

So ends the weeks vacation to Texas, the week that would not end.  Oooooo, and the weather prediction for tomorrow is 2 to 4 inches of wet, heavy snow.

P.S.  Tuesday, March 18, 1997

Not a speck of snow!!  Whew!


Wednesday, March 12, 1997


Monday, March 10, 1997

At 8:34 am HORRID event, a rude and extremely nasty happening!!!

The alarm clock went off!!!!!!  It so happened to be a particularly nasty sounding LOUD alarm clock.  And no, we did not set it!!

Carol’s arm shot out like a rocket and she slammed the ugly culprit!  BANG!!!  I was going to shut it off OR smash it in the attempt.  Mission accomplished, must of hit the snooze bar.  Ahhhhhh--quiet!  All day Man has spoken in revered tones of Carol’s far flung, but accurate arm!

Next, showers, ohhhh, hot, cold, medium, brrr, hot, cold, ouch, brrr, ouch.  Need we say more??  Clean and awake, but a few tender spots.

After a continental breakfast (on the house) we checked out.  When asked if everything was OK, Man responded with a brisk and authoritative, “No, I had to jump out of the shower, etc., etc., etc.”  Hotel clerk promptly replies, “I’ll give you a 10% discount for the inconvenience.”  So now the room is $80.00.  COOL!!

We left the car in the hotel parking lot and walked to the Alamo.  It was 10:15 A.M., not tourist season and crowded!!  More Texas lines.  Unreal!

We discovered that it is unwise to park under trees in Texas, at least in San Antonio.  So few trees, so many birds, so much bird doo doo, all over the new rental car.  Next stop, car wash.

Drove to Corpus Christi, stopped for lunch, had Mexican.  YUM.

Along the way we remarked at the starkness of the acres and acres, scrub brush, yucca plants in bloom, prickly pear cactus.  Then, BOOM, an area of dark, rich, fertile soil and several miles later, BOOM, back to arid surroundings.  Somewhere about one hour out of San Antonio, Carol spies 2 wild boars running across a 2 track dirt road.

Arrive Corpus Christi, first order of business, sleeping quarters, solution, Best Western Sandy Shores.  Our room looks right out to the bay and we have an excellent view of the USS Lexington aircraft carrier and the downtown skyline.  As it is that time of the day, we check in and crash, nap time.  This is getting to be a habit. (That is very big grin in computer internet shorthand language!)

Of course, dinner is after 8 P.M.  Seafood, natch.  Man waited till we got to the ocean for seafood, but NOT a moment longer!!  Mmmmmm, good.  After dinner, a stroll around the T-dock.  We head back to the Best Western.  BTW, (more computer shorthand for, by the way), a most unusual amenity in this room, a rubber ducky, all yellow and orange and waiting patiently on the tub edge.

Tuesday, March 11, 1997

The day begins quietly, no offending alarms.  Then the search for FOOD begins.  We cruise along the main drag right next to the ocean edge (well actually it is a bay, but bay, ocean, hey that great big hunk of H2O), alas to discover that only hotels and banks reside there.  The business district is elsewhere, and so are all the restaurants. This is made abundantly clear when we find ourselves entering a naval base.  Turn around.  Take a N/S road till we find the other major E/W thoroughfare and not too much longer before---Shoneys!!  The largest one we have been in and the biggest breakfast buffet we have seen.  With bellies full and the grey skies crying (it was raining, OK??) we end up spending a good part of the morning in 2 Western Wear stores.  We learn all about Wrangler boot cut britches and starch.   Final score: Man, 2 shirts; Carol, 1 vest.

We wanted to venture out to Padre Island.  Past knowledge of national seashores or parks tell us that food will be scarce.  We do the wise thing and fueled up the bods FIRST!

Then Padre Island, or what we could see of it between rain drops.  Of course we checked out the campgrounds and we must admit we were discouraged to see them full, too many campers!!  Sign of good economic times I suppose.

However, the first stop once inside the seashore park borders is to pull off onto the beach, drive close to the shore (you can drive for quite a distance on this section of beach, at least 5 miles in a regular ole car with 2 wheel drive), we face the waves ( 1 to 2 foot) and the seagulls, pop the seats all the way down and snooze time.  (Told you this was getting to be a bad, err wonderful habit!)  It rained, almost like sleeping in the trailer on a rainy day, pitter, patter of rain drops plus the added music of the gulls.  It was a nice 45 minutes.  Also saw one sand hill crane.  He landed, faced the ocean and tucked his head down.  It was probably his nap time too.  Eventually he came closer to the car, maybe 20 feet from us.  A very cool moment!

We stopped at the visitor’s center and listened to a few stories of people driving cars and motor homes down the beach into “off limit” areas and getting stuck.  Expensive lessons, $700.00 for a car and $1,400.00 for a motor home.   More proof that intelligence can be a fleeting thing.  Needless to say, we did not venture into that section of the beach.

We drove north crossing Mustang Island through some very serious rain.  We’re not complaining, seems they are suffering from a serious drought.  Since we bring rain, we are contemplating offering our services again next year, with a few stipulations.  We’ll bring the moisture, they provide the rooms and rental car.  Sounds like a fair deal to me.

Took the free ferry to Harbor Island, a whole 5 minute trip.  It took longer to load and unload the ferry than to actually cross.  Why is there no bridge??  It was getting late so we stopped for pizza before returning to the hotel.  Once in our room, we didn’t come out for fresh air till 9:00 A.M. Wednesday.  Slept 12 hours.

Wednesday, March 12, 1997

YAWN!!  The bods are rested but stiff and sore from sleeping so much.  Must be vacation.

Showers, breakfast in the hotel and then onward to the USS Lexington Aircraft Carrier/Museum.  Since we could not arrive in Rockport till after 1:30 P.M. we had all the time we needed.  And time was what we needed.  It took us over 4 hours to tour the Lex. What an interesting morning.  Man enjoyed seeing the inside of a carrier, seeing that he never saw ship duty while in the Navy.  Carol met and talked to and questioned a pilot who actually flew 2 different kind of aircraft and landed them on the Lex.  As I have always been fascinated by the catapult and hooked landings I could have talked to him for hours, but I did gain a lot of insight and information from our short discussion.  Being catapulted off a carrier could be compared to a short field take off X 3. He told us that you experience between 2 and 4 G’s during takeoff and between 4 and 6 G’s during a landing. He explained that those G’s were front on, not the kind that force you down, the kind I experienced in the cork-screw dive I took with my parents over Pennsylvania. Fascinating!!

We left the Lex sometime after 2 P.M. in a soft, steady and WARM rain.  We were soaked, but not cold.

We drove to Rockport, checked into the Blue Heron, a bed and breakfast that came well recommended by D and M, we quickly settled in and jumped in the car for a drive and look around.  Saw red billed ducks--Cool!!  Pelicans, and a few white egrets and some grey ones that Carol claims to be sand hill cranes, Man is not so sure. (They were!!)  Had a nice drive along the water, gawked at the fancy homes with canals in the backyards and yachts and huge sail boats parked in their back yards.  A very cool life style if you are into boats.

Drove north, stopping for dinner at Jambalaya’s.  Louisiana style cooking and beer!  Great corn bread!

Back to the Blue Heron and quiet hour, night, night.


Sunday, March 9, 1997


Friday, March 7, 1997

Man worked last night but went in early, so comes home at 3 A.M.  Carol wakes , gets up, finishes packing and cleaning the house, takes a shower.  I sit in the recliner, nod off a little, and wake at 7 A.M.

We take the dogs to Man’s moms.  Arrive at Detroit Metro Airport and get on our plane to Houston.  Arrive Houston, get our rental car, follow D's great directions and arrive at the D & M's mansion about 4:30 P.M. Houston time.

Dinner is Texas style Bar-b-que at the Swinging Door.  YUM!!

Saturday, March 8, 1997

D cooks us a wonderful breakfast, ooooo, the bacon!!

D and M took us for a drive around Houston.  Most unusual sight of the day--the tin (steel??) houses.

This is the "Beer Can House".  Yes, there is a web site.

This house was nearby, nothing further is known.

Lunch, Mexican.  Next order of business--naps!!

Dinner, hamburgs from our  grill, but we are all still so full we only eat bout ½ each.

Evening entertainment--a rodeo.  A real one, yes!!!  Local boys, no professionals here. Our seats were right up front, dirt front.  Say what???  Dirt front??? Yea, that is when you are so close that the bulls and horses throw the dirt from the floor on your faces and clothes when they stomp by!

Both Friday and Saturday were filled with great conversation, stories and laughter.

Sunday, March 9, 1997

After another wonderful breakfast, we “Head West”.  Towards San Antonio.  Bout 40 minutes after leaving the D & M's mansion Carol non-nonchalantly questions Man, “Did you get your hat?”  Now you know what his response was!

Texas does every thing BIG.  Every fast food joint has LONG lines.  Every gas station/convenience store has LONG lines.

The citizens either go hog wild caring for their estates, or on the opposite side of the coin, seem to be competing for “I own the most junk in Texas”.  The only other competitions seem to be 1.)  How high can I stack the most junk?  OR 2.)  Can I make the most piles out of my junk??  The contrasts are stark.

San Antonio--if we knew where we were going we would have made wrong turns and U turns.  Since we didn’t, we blindly followed the road signs and drove right in!  We zeroed in on a parking structure and within minutes we were parked and in the Riverside Center Mall.  The truth of the matter is, Carole’s sugar was GONE and she was on a food rampage, find it NOW!!!!  I partook of a local deli, turkey sub on a very unusual but yummy bread.

We walked the river side and decided quickly to begin the “hotel room” hunt.  Marriott was $139.00 a night.  More than we wanted to spend!!  So we spy a La Quinta just a block away at $109.00 a night. Better.  Then the magic words, Good Sam (RV club membership, which I have just paid for 1997!!).  Hey now that room is $90.00.  COOL!! We take it!!

Back to the River walk, we just mozy along with nothing more specific in mind than finding the Man a new hat.  Mission accomplished within minutes. Straw, head band, looks great, he now has a summer dress hat!!  Stroll along a little more, wandering in and out of a few shops.  We reverse direction and head back towards the mall, wandering and shopping, spending zip.  Easy, lazy and cheap!

Back to the motel, nap time!!!  A couple of hours later we wander back towards the River walk in need of more FOOD!!!  Olive Garden we decide, now it is close to 8 P.M. and in order to maintain the Texas tradition, still a LONG line!!  35 minutes wait--OK.  We squander the half hour watching the river boats load and unload.  Dinner, a slow jaunt back to La Quintas and bed.  We have learned that this is the very first La Quintas ever built, for the 1968 World’s Fair.