Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Montana Trips, 2005, Indiana Fall Rally and Fall Camping in Michigan

Just before Labor Day weekend, we headed back to the Elkhart County area of Indiana. We had a few repairs that needed to be done to the rig and we hoped to hang around long enough to enjoy the Great Lakes Chapter of the Montana Owners Club Fall Rally. We ended up getting the repairs done, thank you Keystone for a great job, and found a campsite for over the Labor Day weekend at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds. We had wifi at the campground, 50 Amp service, full hookups, a great neighbor (another MOC member, Glenn and Lorraine came in and parked right next to us), fabulous weather, great rates (as in not expensive) and a few trains to listen to! It was a nice week! After that it was on to the Rally. There were about 35 Montana, Mountaineer and Big Sky rigs attending.

Here are a few of the 35 rigs that attended the Rally. We are parked behind this row. Always a lot of fun to see so many of the same kind of rigs in a campground at the same time. Nice people too!

At the Rally we also had several pot luck meals, YUM, good eats. We had a tour of the Montana plant. We had "Show and Tell", where we look at all the improvements we have made to our units. We even had a dog show!

Above, Left: Tilly and Gallgaher, ready for the dog show, in their patriotic hats. Above, Right: Al with Abby and Captain Hook, ready for the show! Abby and Cappy won, "Most Friendly".

After the Rally, it is back to Tipton for a few weeks. We will have one more trip in 2005 with Montana, for fall camping. We go to Birch Run, Holly and Grass Lake, Michigan areas. We get a chance to see Carol's nephew in his last high school marching band competition, We have the twins visit us for their first official camping trip. We also visited with family and friends during those two weeks. The weather was dry, cloudy a lot of days, chilly, but we did manage to have a few lovely days and took this photo of Montana at the Portage Campground, Waterloo Recreation Area near Grass Lake.

So, ends the Montana Tours of 2005. It has been an eventful year and one that we will long remember. We love our home on wheels.

*Note: Photos from the Rally are courtesy of the MOC photographers. We thank you for sharing.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, Gun Lake, August

Eight days after we returned home from the Minnesota/Iowa Research Trip we were off again in Montana. In fact, we did not even unpack, just did the laundry, kept the food in the refrigerator and grabbed the gear we always need for the lake. Fishing poles and tackle, inner tubes to float on, beach chairs, boat, summer stuff!

We spent 15 days at the lake, boating, fishing, swimming, relaxing. NOW this is a vacation! Good friends, good weather, campfires, smores, not hot, not much rain, not cold, whew, doesn't get a whole lot better than this! Ice cream runs, taking the boat instead of the car. Even a sing-a-long around the campfire with our favorite guitar man - Larry.

Our sons came out and spent a weekend with us. What a special time that was!

Al sure had on the perfect shirt for a fish fry! Oh, the fish was fabulous!

Tilly the co-pilot. Helping Al drive!

From the back to the front, and left to right, Abby, Cappy (panting, hey, when do I get to go for a swim and cool off?), and Gallagher. While Tilly drives, they relax and enjoy the great summer weather.

Gun Lake surely is one of our favorite places to camp in the summer in Michigan. For those of you who do not know Michigan, it is located in Yankee Springs State Recreation area, just west of Hastings Michigan.

Monday, August 1, 2005

The Minnesota and Iowa Research Trip

The end of June finds us packing Montana with tons of research, books, files, and computer gear for a month long trip to Minnesota and Iowa for family research. We drove from lower Michigan to the UP of Michigan, crossed the Big Mac bridge, drove the UP westward into Wisconsin. There is some pretty land up that way! We enjoyed our trip on Route 8 of Wisconsin. We eventually dropped down to Wausau Wisconsin to find a place to park Montana for the night. We ended up at Rib Mountain State Park. That turned into quite a little adventure. It is 700 feet higher than the elevation of the town, and we did not measure, but think that 700 feet took less than a mile to go up! Whew, what a pull, the next morning, we took the same road down, in FIRST gear, all the way, and Al still had to do some serious breaking. Got to the campground to discover there were only 2 electric sites, for handicapped campers. They said it would be ok to take one, as long as we knew that we might have to move if a handicapper came in. We tried for 45 minutes to get settled in the site, the view was unreal! But, alas, it was not meant to be, so we carefully pulled around to another site and enjoyed a very early evening. When it got dark we turned off the lights and went to bed. No electric, which is Ok, but we were not prepared for boondocking. It was worth it tho to see that view and have the experience and the story to tell!

The next day brought a scenic ride through the heart of Wisconsin. Dairy country, and home of the most wonderful silos. Have never seen that many silos! You would crest a hill and before you in the miles of farm land, you might see 30 or more silos.

Onward to Minneapolis, we stayed in a wonderful park at Apple Valley, just south of Minneapolis. It was close to the Mall of America, IKEA, the libraries we wanted to visit and turned out to be a wonderful place to stay. Very clean, neat and well patroled on a July 4th weekend.

Next we moved down to Austin Minnesota area, we traveled east and west of Austin to cemeteries and towns where Al's ancestors lived. We visited the Spam Museum in Austin. What a hoot! They sure had a sense of humor when they set up the displays, but, it was also rather interesting.

One thing that we noticed was the unusual flower displays in many of the cemeteries in this area. This was the first time we had seen the poles, and flowers, well, here is a picture, better than trying to describe with words.

Each pot of flowers is held about 2 to 3 feet above ground on a sturdy metal pole. The pots are a decorative clay type, heavy and probably 10 inches or more in diameter. The pots can be removed in the fall for the winter season and safe storage.

One of the most memorable days we spent in Minnesota was the day we drove over to Whalen. Al's grandfather was born there in 1879. We had no idea what we would find, just just drove over one Sunday afternoon. It was hot, we had the dogs with us, which of course, limited our choices of restaurants for the day. We happened to find a A & W Root Beer Drive In. Been a long time since we had visited one of these, brought back a lot of memories from our early days of marriage. What fun! After lunch we drove on to Whalen, here is the sign at the edge of town.

We discover that Whalan had 135 people living there in 1880, and that the highest population ever reported was 156. It is a charming town, has a bike trail and a great little museum. There is river rafting and tubing near by. Whalen lies in the Bluff area, very charming, with hills, and rivers.

Our Minnesota/Iowa Research trip took us next to Nashua, Iowa. We stayed in a riverside campground, nice place, but they had horrendous rains about a month before we arrived, and the "skitters" were horrible. When they are still attacking at 4 AM, you know they are bad! We spent about a week there, again visiting many cemeteries (9 in one day in one county) and libraries. We took LOTS of photos and the library visits resulted in a few successes and a few failures.

The weather turned HOT! The weekend of July 16 and 17th the temps were in the mid 90's, heat factor was well over 100. OUCH!

Next, we traveled down to Cedar Falls, Iowa. We met up with some Jaquis family members, nice people, great visit. Stayed in a county park, very reasonable rates, full hookups, beautiful scenery. Very hot while we were here as well, and the humidity was also very high. Our glasses would steam up when we left the trailer.

When we left Cedar Falls the fun and working part of the trip was over. We headed back east, stopping in Elkhart Indiana for some repairs to the air conditioner on Montana. Spent a few days there and then headed back up US 12 and home. We were on the road for a little over a month.

This was a trip that will be part of our hearts and souls forever. We hope to go back sometime.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, April 20 to 24, 2005, Natchez Trace, Spring Delights at Home

After our two wonderful days at Ruston, Louisana, we headed for Jackson, Mississippi and the Natchez Trace (its a old Indian trail). The Dogwoods and Redbuds were in full bloom. No words can describe the beauty. Here is a link you might like to look at, Explore the Nachez Trace , pay special attention to the photo section. We spent one night at a commerical campground just off the Trace. We would urge anyone coming north that can jump over to the Trace to do so, noting they do close the trail during weather events (like snow and ice storms). I'll bet it is beautiful beyond words during the fall color!

We did not have a lot of time to stop and take photos, due to a medical emergency in Michigan, but here is one photo we took at a rest stop. Photos don't do it justice!

The Natchez Trace ends on the north at Nashville Tennesse. From Nashville we drove through Louisville Kentucky and on home to Michigan. Another adventure under our belts!

When we arrived home we found the white and pink star magnolia bushes in full bloom. This is the white one. The pink one is such a pale pink that it looks the same in a photo.

The forsythia was also in full bloom. Actually almost past full bloom. The sunshine yellow of forsythia tells you that most of the gloom and snow of winter are past. Note the word "most".

April 24, 2005, 4 inches of snow. Seems like we started the Montana Tour of 2005 with a snowy Montana photo, and we will end it the same way! April snow melts quite fast tho. April 25, 2005 my bleeding hearts were in full bloom in the yard. The geese from the swamp nearby brought 2 baby gozlings into the yard, the gozlings were only about 4 inches tall, could not have been more than a day or so old. They sure were cute!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, April 10 to 15, 2005, Family Visitation Texas & Ruston Louisina

OK, to be quite honest here, after Fredericksburg, we got so busy and traveled so hard, I lost track of the days. This portion of the travel log is being written months later, so, forget the dates, here is a summary of the next several weeks on the road before we got home around mid April.

After Fredericksburg we spent a day driving to Arlington Texas. We took the back roads, slowed down for a lot of towns, enjoyed the scenery a LOT! Had a great lunch (bar-b-que of course). Arrived in Arlington, stayed in a very nice park, pretty, but had a very strong disagreement with the owners about their dog rules. They had encourgaged us to "come on in, we love dogs", only to arrive and discover that they refused to let us use our xpens on the lawn for the yorks. It was late in the day, we were very tired, we had already paid our fees, and we were in no mood to find another place to stay. So, we stayed, sadly, we probably will never go back there again. It was a pretty park, well kept, neat, but the owners did not care much when we said we won't be coming back. Ahhh, life with 4 yorks.

We spent Saturday with Al's cousin, Walter Gerth and his family. What a nice day we had. Sunday, we spent with my cousins, Marilyn and Connie (Darden relatives). We laughed and giggled and had a grand time. They presented me with a fabulous map of Isle of Wight County Virginia, which shows the ole Darden home. We also had major break through on our Darden lineage, and when I got home I spent several weeks of concentrated research proving what we had discovered. On Monday we had lunch with another of my cousins, Ray Remley and his lovely wife. All in all, we had 3 packed fun filled family days. Doesn't get much better than this!

Now, we start the treck home. We had heard of the Natchez Trail, from Jackson Mississippi to Nashville Tennessee. It is a 2 lane highway, top speed 55 MPH, no commerical trucks allowed, a drive through some of the most beautiful country!

But first we stopped in Louisiana at a county park for the night. One night turned to 2. We walked, we cleaned the rig, we fixed a few things, we enjoyed. This park, near Ruston, was very scenic, had a great lake (pond?) with a paved path around it. Park was not crowded, what a nice place to stay for a few days.

Ruston, Louisiana, Azeleas in bloom, they were breathtaking!

Not sure what this flower is, it looks like a form of clover. We saw fields of it along the highway between Arlington Texas and Ruston Louisiana. From afar it has the appearance of a dark maroon colored carpet.

Here they are, in all their glory. I had tied up all their hair so it did not drag in the dirt and sticky plant stuff, and still it took me about an hour to brush them all out after their jaunt around the lake. They sure enjoy those walks tho! From the left, Cappy, Abby, Tilly, and Gallagher (the silver one).

Again, not sure what these are, but they grew along the water, in the background is the lake at the park in Ruston Louisiana. The water in the front is a flooded sidewalk, but made for a pretty reflection.

Here sits Montana , all hooked up and ready to roll. Ruston Louisiana, taken on our walk around the lake.

Above, the view of the lake from the computer desk in the Montana. I did some input and work while we spent 2 wonderful days here, well, I tried to do some work, this view had me looking out the window as much as I did input!

Friday, April 8, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, April 8, 2005, Texas Flowers & Fredericksburg Delightful Shopping

More flowers, so many flowers, so much temptation, just could not help ourselves, had to take lots of photos, some of which we are enjoying sharing with you, hope you enjoy them!

This lone purple flower was growing on Enchanted Rock, in a divit created by stones.

Yellow daisies, again, at Enchanted Rock, extra special when you see them against the background of the stone of the area. They sure jump out at cha!

One last flower photo, Enchanted Rock area.

While we stayed in Fredericksburg Texas we ate a 3 fabulous German restaurants, and found at least 2 more!

The country side is very scenic, fun to drive around. The area is full of unusual things and places, stuff Al and I both enjoy.

The last day we did something we seldom do, cause I HATE SHOPPING!! But, we went walking around downtown Fredericksburg, window shopping style, Found a number of additional restuarants to try, some smelled reallllllll good! We never did get into the Brewery, but when we walked by there a couple of guys were drinking a beer and said it was FAB!!!!!

The stores were OUT OF SIGHT!! There was some of the usual, touristy stuff, but, I got to tell you, it was mostly UP SCALE! This is not your everyday tourist trap! The clothing stores were so wonderful, I stared, I drooled, I did not dare go in! The art was wonderful, and, let me tell you about the antique stores. Now, I am no expert, and I am sure some of this was not the best, but, I can tell you that some of it was real and some of the most unusual pieces I have ever come across. The new stuff weren't so bad either! Tables made from mesquite wood. Oh, man, that stuff is so heavy you cannot believe it, but, wowie, gorgeous. Some of it, they picked wood that had holes it in, and filled the holes with tourquoise or copper pieces. Very unusual, very pretty, very Texas!

There was this store called Rustlin' Rob's Texas Gourmet Foods, it totally overwhelming! They had stuff I have never heard of or seen before, they had cobblers, like cherry cobbler, serve warm over ice cream, yum, you could bake a pie with this stuff. They had dips and mustards, and jelly, like Raspberry Jalapeno Jelly, barbeque sauces, bloody mary mixes, Toffee Pecan Honey Butter, Peach Amaretto Pecan Honey Butter, they had Jalapeno Peanut Butter, and TONS AND TONS AND TONS MORE! And you could taste anything you wanted, as much of it as you wanted. Al said he could eat a total meal in there. It was EXPENSIVE, but what a experience. WOWIE. And, they had fudge. Like $3.00 a quarter pound. Let me tell you, I have not had fudge that good in years, they make it with cream and butter, it is the smoothest creamiest fudge I have had, maybe ever!! And, not gaggy sweet, like a lot of the stuff you buy. One bite and I am spoiled for life!

We have had fabulous weather, mid 70 to 85 or so, clear skies, not much humidity, slight breezes, a bit windy once or twice. All in all it was a great week! We left a lot of sights unseen, and museums and other great places unvisited, we surely want to come back to Fredericksburg Texas!

Thursday, April 7, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, April 7, 2005, Enchanted Rock & Ft Worth Star Interview

Before we left the Fredericksburg Texas area we wandered over to Enchanted Rock. We did not really know what to expect, but had been encouraged to run out there. It is supposed to be the second largest outcrop of granite in the United States. That sounded interesting, little did we know just how BIG this might be. The photos will give you some idea, but until you visit this in person, you cannot have a true appreciation for the SIZE!! Here it is:

This fine collection of granite is 1 billion years young! There is a hiking path, for those brave enough to climb. In the photo to the right is a part of the path. Yes, that IS the path, every once in a while there is a marker. Take your time, watch for snakes, have a hat on, and best to have a bottle of water with you, which of course, we did not, cause we had NO idea what Enchanted Rock was all about!
Below:  They call this Turkey Peak. I believe to climb in this area you need special permission, sign waivers, and have all that special rock climbing gear, ropes, stuff like that. Aren't the prickley pears pretty in the foreground?

The view from about 1/3rd of the way to the top. As we were not prepared, remember, no drinking water, and cause of Al's knee, we decided that we enjoyed what we had climbed and the view was great, so, why go further! No sense pushing our luck!

This next photo is of one of the pieces of granite that fell down the hill (small mountain) at some point in time. If you look hard, you will see me standing by the rock to give some idea of size.

After we left the Enchanted Rock area, we went driving around looking at flowers, etc. BUT, first we had to find something cool to drink, so we stopped at the Knot in the Loop Tavern, near Willow City. We ended up being interviewed by the Ft. Worth Texas newspaper, the Star-Telegram, and a few days later, the article appeared, with some quotes from both of us! How fun was that?? Here is a bit of the article:

"WILLOW CITY - The wildflowers weren't exactly in full bloom along the famed Willow City Loop last week, but Al and Carol Stevens couldn't have cared less.

The 13-mile loop, about 11 miles northeast of Fredericksburg, is considered by many to be the premier site for wildflowers in Texas. The flowers are blooming late this year, but the Michigan couple was too busy swapping stories with strangers inside the Knot in the Loop Saloon to care.

"Dang, if this is spring, then I'm coming back every year," Carol Stevens said. "This sure beats springtime in Michigan."

For the Stevenses and thousands of other tourists, searching for fields of wildflowers appears to be as important as actually finding them....

Last week at the Knot in the Loop, which serves as a base for cyclists and car clubs touring the Hill Country, patrons were swapping recommendations about restaurants and good routes.

After soaking up the bar's laid-back atmosphere and the 75-degree weather, Al Stevens, the Michigan visitor, vowed to return.

"The rest of Texas is pretty mundane, but we kept hearing about the Hill Country so we thought we'd give it a try," he said. "We didn't know what to expect, but the food is great, the people are great and the hills are green."

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, April 6, 2005, Luckenbach & Storm Clouds

The weather this week has been wonderful, sunny, clear, bright, if this is spring, GIVE US MORE!

Above, another photo of bluebonnets. They sure are pretty.

Another one of our stops this week was in Luckenbach. I am not quite sure how to describe or explain Luckenbach. Except to say it is small, it has a dance hall and a old post office that is now a gift shop and in the back is a bar. There is usually a musician pickin' at a guitar in the bar. That is about all the action this place has, except that every summer Willie Nelson comes and performs here. Fun place, where when you ask what kind of beer they have, they show you the caps from every kind they have, hooked to a piece of cardboard. A cap menu of sorts. It works, and is kinda cute, eh?? Left, the Post Office turned bar and gift shop. The population, they say, of Luckenback is THREE! They say, that everyone in Luckenback is someone (or something to that effect!)

Below, we saw a number of homes built in this style, and we thought they were very handsome homes, the stone work and brick work is very impressive, although it does not show real well here.

Al came back from running errands the other evening and caught these magnificient storm clouds on film. It had been a gorgeous clear and very warm day. This storm did not cause us any grief, but we understand it did some nasty business over towards Austin.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, April 5, 2005, Lyndon Johnson Ranch

Monday, we had lunch in Fredericksburg at another German restaurant. The food was so fabulous, well, we just cannot express how good it was! We then drove out to Stonewall to the LBJ Ranch. They have a very nice bus tour, which we took and enjoyed. We saw the re-constructed house of his birth, the cemetery, the Texas White House, the landing strip, and a lot of animals! Lady Bird is said to spend about half her time at the ranch, sitting on the porch and waving at the tourists. They said she was at the ranch the day before we arrived. Here are a couple of photos.

This is the Johnson Cemetery, on the Ranch. The public is not allowed inside of the stone wall. President Johnson is buried in the closest row, about midway, his stone is taller than the rest. Five generations of his family are buried here.

Above, the Texas White House while President Johnson was in office, Lady Bird is sometimes sighted sitting on the porch, waving at the tourists.

Above is one of the cattle on the ranch, look closely at his left horn, yep, it says "LBJ".

Left, it is spring, the pansies are planted. One of my favorites. Note the border on this flower bed, it appears to be made of glass bottles, buried neck down. See the enlarged photo. These were taken at the Sauer-Beckman Farm, which is part of the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historical Site. The Sauer-Beckman Farm is a sample of Rural Life in the Hill County of Texas. Interesting tidbit we learned, Augusta Sauer Lindig was the midwife at the birth of LBJ.

Close up of the bottles that make up this flower border.

Monday, April 4, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, April 4, 2005, The Hill Country of Texas in the Spring

The week of April 3, 4 and 5, 2005, Fredericksburg, Texas, the Texas Hill Country. Again, lets let the pictures tell our story.

Sunday April 3rd was another beautiful day in the Hill Country. We drove out to Bandera, The Cowboy Capital of the World. Al's nose found this Bar-b-que restaurant. You know where we ate lunch!

Our ride around the Hill County through Medina and back to Kerrville was lovely. There were some great views, sadly, there are no pulloffs, so we just drove and enjoyed the views and did not take any photos.

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, April 3, 2005, The Hill Country of Texas in the Spring

We are in Fredericksburg, Texas, in the Hill Country. We ate at a terrific German restaurant today, and went for a ride in the countryside. It is wildflower season here, the photos will tell the story.

Nope, they are not Texas wildflowers. They were part of a rather large
group, all enjoying a sunny Texas spring day, they took
the same scenic tour we did.

NOW, some flowers:

 Above: Texas Bluebonnets. Prickly pear cactus in front.

Right:  I believe this is called a White Prickley Poppy, it sure is prickley, reminds me of thistle.

Above, prickley pear cactus with a Texas hill behind, it was a
cloudless beautiful sunny day in the Hill Country!

Above, a field of Indian Paintbrush. These, as well as the bluebonnets and other wildflowers are planted along many of the higways here in Texas, miles and miles of them. They are quite the sight when seen from that prospective. Colorful and breathtaking!Above, a field of Indian Paintbrush. These, as well as the bluebonnets and other wildflowers are planted along many of the higways here in Texas, miles and miles of them. They are quite the sight when seen from that prospective. Colorful and breathtaking!

Above, more bluebonnets, the official state flower of Texas.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, March 23 to March 31, 2005, Bees, Sand Art & Wind Grilling

Our stay is coming to a close, we have been to South Padre Island for a day, walked along the ocean, got a bit of sun, had pina coladas by the beach, a very enjoyable day.

Made another trip to Progreso Mexico, had breakfast (something we had not done before, YUM), found a great jewelry store, picked up a few other requests, and ran out of $$, must be doing something right??

One of the MOC members dropped by, John and Donna, they are staying out in Mission, where we hope to be next year. Had a nice visit with them, and hope to see them all down here next winter.

Did have one exciting afternoon in the Montana, we got an infestation of bees. They said they were not killer bees, but they were not happy bees either. Al took Abby and Cappy for a walk, came back in, I got Tilly and Gallagher ready for their walk, went out the door and wammo, there they were. UGHHH. We had a couple of interesting hours, it was Sunday, the park has a exterminator on call, but he could not be reached on Sunday. I proceeded to inform the park manager here that bees did not KNOW it was Sunday, and maybe he ought to have the names of more than one exterminator to call?? I had to stay out side for a long time, because I could not get in the door of Montana. Finally the bees decided to stay away from the door for a moment and I ran in. Eventually a bee got in Montana, which we expected, and I was back on the phone with the park manager. He said, well, we can come down there at dusk and spray, we have this foam. I asked him what I was supposed to do about 4 yorks that had to go potty real soon, and it was HOURS until dusk?? They came down and sprayed, the bees have not returned!

Sand art/sculpturing, is very popular in the Rio Grande Valley area, as is to be expected! Here is an example of a rather cute piece, which was being done at the Borderfest Festival. They work on it for a few days while the festival is going on. It is interesting to watch these artists at work! They spray their work with a mixture of glue and water, and they can stand for weeks or longer as long as they are not touched and as long as they are not at the beach!

Last installment we showed a photo of some really Texas styled bar-b-que grills. Now, lets tell you about trying to grill, say a hamburger, here in the Rio Grande Valley, on one of our little portable grills. Maybe we should call it the wind/grill dance. It tends to be a bit breezy here in the Valley. OK, sometimes it is downright WINDY! Cannot tell you how many times stuff blows away or over. Lawn chairs if not being used, are best laid down, or they are gonna move! At this park they have 30 gallon light weight galvonized trash cans at each campsite. We have NO idea why, but that is what they give you. Twice a week they pick up the garbage. In between we chase lids from those garbage cans. The wind picks the lids off the trash cans and tosses them around like a frisbee! We find them in adjoining campsites! Lucky, so far, they have not damaged any rigs or trucks!

Anyway, now, back to the wind/grill dance. First step is to determine if the breeze is light enough to even attempt cooking. IF, you are dealing with a full force wind, our advice, don’t try it, and if you insist, we wish you all the luck in the world! Next step, try to determine which way the wind is blowing. Now, study your campsite and see if you can find a place to tuck in that is a little bit less breezy! Move grill, attempt cooking. Be sure to allow more time for this type of cooking, cause the grill will be real hard to heat up! We have seen other campers pull their truck up to block the wind, and even attempt to put tarps out to block the wind. Al and I have bodily stood guard trying to block the wind. Maritial bliss, cuddling around the grill in the wind trying to get the hamburgers to cook! When all else fails, GO OUT TO EAT!

We leave the Valley tomorrow, heading north, SLOWLY, north. First scheduled stop, Fredericksburg, Texas and Wildflowers!

Even though we were pretty sick for about 2 weeks when we first arrived, we have still enjoyed our stay here, Al had a great time playing billiards, and I just enjoyed being in Montana, and being here!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, March 24, 2005, Musings and Mumblings

Other musings and mumblings from things seen over the last few weeks:

They have a drive in movie (anyone remember those) a mile or so away from here, we can see the screen at night, not the movie, just that it is there. $5.00 a car full of people to enter!

Saw corn 4 inches high a few weeks ago, now it is about 8 inches high.

They are harvesting fields of onions! They also harvest sugar cane here, part of the process is burning the fields or something, problem is that this burning produces large amounts of soot, large hunks of soot, that fly for miles. It is a bit of a problem here at this park, it gets in the pool, and all over your rig and truck and the grass. Sounds a bit romantic growing sugar cane, the harvesting of same, it is NOT romantic, it is black and dirty.

The orange and grape fruit trees are in bloom, the smells are too wonderful to even try to describe.

The spring flowering bushes are also in bloom. The colors are fab! People are planting their annuals, pansies, petunias, geraniums, all great looking, healthy, large and full of blooms.

Many of the Winter Texans leave as of March 1st, looked like at least 100 pulled out of this park on March 1st. Since then, many more have left. I think we have an acre of empty lots around us! (Not quite, but entire rows at this park have NO rigs.) Most of us that are left will be leaving April 1st, gonna be a traffic jam out there on the highways that day!

Someone was playing the bagpipes here in the campground one evening. OK, they were still learning, missed a few high notes, but I surely did not expect to hear anything like that!

We had another gathering of MOC members in the Valley, a much smaller group, but still had an enjoyable afternoon and evening visiting and comparing stories on Montanas.

We are scheduled to leave the Rio Grande Valley on April 1, 2005. We will head home, first stop along the way will be Fredericksburg, Texas for Wildflower time. We are told it is fabulous. After Fredericksburg we have no definative plans, YET!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Montana Tours of 2005, March 23, 2005, Rio Grande Livestock Show, Amazing BBQ Grills

We attended the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show here in Mercedes. This is a form of our 4-H county fairs, the youth show the livestock they have been raising, only here they show a LOT more cows and steers than I remember in Michigan. They have arts & crafts for sale, carnival rides, junk food, vendors, etc. They have rodeo several evenings a week (we did not attend, heard it was quite good tho). They have fireworks and a parade. We could see the fireworks from our trailer, just stood in the door way and watched! They take their bar-b-que quite seriously in Texas, as you can see by this photo!

All these smokers/cookers were made by individuals for this fair
competition. They were made of very heavy gauge metals. The lids were so
heavy I could barely lift one, and it was a small cooker.

I know, first thought, is that animal would be a lot of steaks and meat for
those cookers! This was a LARGE animal!

Above:  A 1903 John Deere Chuck Wagon. This type of wagon would be
loaded up with coffee, beans, flour, rice and cured meats for cattle drives.
There was a nice demonstration about cattle drives at the Rio Grande Livestock Show.