Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring Trek 2016 Part 2: Texas Week 1

 Wednesday, March 9
Edgewood, NM to Big Springs, TX
404 miles

            BRRRRR!!!  Coldest night yet of the trip!  It was 22 degrees on the outside thermometer of the trailer this morning, 41 in the trailer.  During the night we put Rick’s fuzzy blanket on top of us, finishing the night with the heavy sleeping bags and THREE blankets!  But the sky last night as we turned in for the night was spectacular – such a star studded vista! 
            A good thing we didn’t have water hooked up last night, nor any sewer to drain.  Just unplug and fold up!  By the time we folded up at 8:10, the sun had melted the frost on the front tent section!  We backed the trailer into the driveway as close as possible to the fence and were able to use Randy’s sewer dump (he put it in for Mom and Pop’s RV) to clean out the black water tank.  We could only do this because the gate had blown off recently and so we had direct access! 
            On the interstate heading east by 8:45am.  Rick drives us to Santa Rosa, up and down over the rolling hills of East New Mexico, dotted with junipers.  We did pass a crop of pine trees on one hillside!  Low level mesas dot the horizon.  Gas in Santa Rosa, as we bypass a stop at the famous ‘Blue Hole’, an 80’ deep pool of water known by scuba divers.  I take the wheel and drive to Clovis, 9 miles from the Texas border.  The terrain levels off and the junipers give way to….grasslands, yuccas, and a few cholla.  We go through Fort Sumner, “a sleepy town with a shady past” it advertises.  It houses the Billy the Kidd museum and grave. 
Entering Texas - big clouds, and travel next to train tracks. 
            Rick starts driving again after we gas up in Clovis (we are keeping to the top half of the tank today!) and we grab a bite to eat from the trailer.  We pass into Texas and Central Time Zone around 1pm, now 2pm! 
            The next three hours are a series of small towns, FLAT landscapes, cotton fields, oil grasshoppers, wind farms, wheat fields, and two lane roads!  There are black storm clouds in the distance, and we do encounter a light rain near Levelland, but miss most of the downpours.  The fields vary from freshly planted, to tilled and ready, to thick green.  The whole area is greener than I anticipated.  We see huge rolls of cotton alongside the road, and an entire shed overflowing with white fluff. 
      
Wind turbines east of Lamesa, TX 
      We somehow got off Hwy 137, a little connector between Brownfield and Lamesa, and ended up for awhile on some small county road heading south.  I realized we were on the wrong road when we passed into Gaines Co. and we weren’t supposed to enter that county!  We corrected at the next opportunity and made it to Lamesa with only a FEW extra miles added on to our daily total!  Smooth sailing on down US 87 then to Big Springs.  (From Lamesa to Big Springs, we have traveled this route before coming out of Hobbs in 2013)
            A stop for gas, and then we head east on I-20 six miles to the WhipIn RV park.  Nothing over the top special, although the internet does work.  It is one of the few Good Sam parks in the area and only costs $27 for the night!  It is just after 6pm when we finish getting set up. 
            Quiet evening.  The freeway doesn’t seem nearly so loud as it did when we pulled in this afternoon. 

Addendum:  Ok, so the freeway DID seem loud when I went to bed, but then the music kinda lulled me to sleep.  I slept hard. 

Thursday, March 10  (Happy Birthday to Me!)
Big Springs, TX to Mason, TX 
217 miles

            I woke up this morning and grumbled at the dark!  Now in Central time and 6:15 is still in the dark.  I can’t imagine how dark it will be after Sunday when Daylight Savings time begins!  Rick will see the sunrise then, probably after 8am!  As it is, the sky is a solid mass of cloud – as overcast as it can get without actually raining. 
Cloudy skies, straight roads, and mini mountains. 
            Up around 6:30 though to draw and write and then to take a shower.  We had a somewhat leisurely morning and didn’t pull out until 9:15 as we only have 200 miles to travel today.  We decided to be adventuresome and head for new highway, especially since a big part of US 87 between Big Springs and San Angelo has construction on it.  So we travel about 30 miles on I-20 east to Colorado City and drop down on Texas Route 208 toward San Angelo.  Rick can’t complain about the highway.  Very little traffic, 70 speed limit, and I don’t think we take a turn for the first 20 miles at least!  STRAIGHT!!!  A mix of cotton fields, wheat fields, cows, sheep, hunting preserves, mesquite trees, prickly pear, and scattered hills.  (Some almost qualify as mini-mountains!)  The sun even peeks through in a couple of places! 
     
A reminder of Roxy in San Angelo!
       After San Angelo (where we gas up again!) the rain picks up and Rick has a challenge of driving with a side wind and trucks kicking up tons of water in our face.  Through the small town of Eden and then into Brady.  Brady, with a population of 5500, is upscale with a Walmart and lots of shopping opportunities….far more than Mason will offer!  So we stop and do a little final grocery purchasing and eat lunch in the trailer before driving the final 30 miles south to Mason. 
            I can’t wait to putter around the town square.  Mason is rated of one of the 10 top Town Squares in the state with its historic courthouse anchoring the center.  So classic.  We find the one food market and then the county park on the south end of town.  Site #19 has a reserve sign out for us and we pull in as the rain continues to fall.  The whole park is well saturated with puddles everywhere! 
            Afternoon is fairly lazy as we try to get the rug dry and the steady drip from the air conditioner unit to stop.  We think between the rain and the trucks dumping more water on us that the unit is well soaked.  We have had this problem before, but never to this degree.  We have bowls and the wastebasket under the drips and several inches of water accumulate over the afternoon. 
            I call one of the contacts we have for the Habitat work and we are set for a little labor tomorrow on the rehab house.  With the rain we decline going down to the CAV group on site as I doubt an outdoor Happy Hour is in progress. 
            Luke calls during the afternoon from New York to wish me happy birthday and I scroll through some 50 plus posts on Facebook.  Cards from both Moms are opened.  My birthday dinner consists of jicama and carrots, hummus, Dove chocolates, pretzels and a good glass of wine or two!  Pretty fancy!  We will go ‘OUT’ on Saturday with Jim and Denise.  


3.11.16 Friday
Intro to Mason County Habitat!


            Drip. Drip. Drip. Drop.  All night long…..It kinda made a musical pattern at times as different drips were different pitches as they fell into the pans and bucket we had in four places on the floor.  We mopped up at 2am during the bathroom break.  It rained steady off and all ALL night.  (Actually it rained pretty steady all day until about 4 pm!)  The campsite across from us is entirely covered with water and two rigs are scheduled to pull in today! 
Big warehouse to work in!
We let this little guy buzz around
during devotions. 
            But…we are up and ready to roll shortly after 8am – with instructions to report to a warehouse just off the town square.  ALL the CAV crew is there and it was a full build with about 20 in number, plus supervisors, locals, etc.  An excellent devotion featuring the humble bumblebee and its furry legs!  (See scribble.)  We talk with Dave, the main guy who emailed us and then Keith Kaan who is the construction supervisor overall.  He filled us in on some of their green practices, etc.  At first we were at the warehouse waiting for trim boards to arrive to paint, but then Dave took us over to the rehab house so we could help install showers. 
The rehab house
          
Joint conference 
  THAT was a challenge.  Hard to figure some of the directions, especially when they are written for new construction, and some of the walls had already been sheetrocked, the plumbing was in, etc.  And some of it was not where it needed to be!  So… problem solving time to figure out the best way to tackle the problem.  Two locals, two CAVs, and Rick and I.  Six heads and we struggled to make some sense!  But…in the long run, we got a few boards up, the plans figured out…more or less.  Unfortunately, we may not be back on that job on Monday, working instead on the new build.  It was a fun crew to work with and we enjoyed it.
            Lunch was a treat at the Willow Creek Café, courtesy of a local cattle rancher and his wife.  It was going to be a spendy proposition with over 20 in the group!  He finally passed down the word….limit of $10 please!  I ordered a portabello mushroom burger, and was surprised to find a beef burger AND mushrooms.  It was good.  We ran back to the trailer quickly to check on our drips….still dripping! 
Putting up a shower wall
            Wrapped up the day around 3, took showers, and around 4:30 I looked out the window to see….what’s that?  Blue sky!!!  The park is just soaked!  I have no idea how MUCH rain has fallen in the past week, but rumor is PLENTY! 
That's blue sky out my window! 
            We decline to join the crew for their ‘end of the build’ potluck to be held at the city library due to the weather.  Seems like that is their gig and we would be intruders.  So a quiet evening in the trailer, mopping up, drying out slowly and preparing for a fun day hiking tomorrow and possibly seeing the sun!  


Saturday, March 12
Perdanales Falls State Park – Jim & Denise Schneider
181 miles RT
View all of today's pictures HERE

            What a great day with great friends!  We arise in Mason to patches of blue sky which is most encouraging!  A warmer feel to the air!  I take a few pictures around the campground – the tree silhouettes are still rather eerie without their summer greenery! 
Blue skies in the campground this morning!!
            We are running a little behind, so decide to just take the shorter route through Fredericksburg  to Perdanales State Park and our rendezvous with Jim and Denise.  We can get some cheaper gas there as well!  Rolling green fields, goats, cows, sheep, and plenty of prickly pear cactus provide vistas.  However, we lose our sunshine!!  Between Fredericksburg and Johnson City we must pass twenty wineries.  Incredible.  The road to Luckenbach, Texas, also heads off here, plus the Texas ‘Whitehouse’ for LBJ in Stonewall.  Near the latter we get pulled over by the State patrol  (They are out in force on this winery stretch and the first day of spring break for college students!)  Rick must have missed a 55 mph sign leading into Stonewall.  Officer was very nice, checked out our papers, and then gave us a warning!  Thank you, Officer!!  Needless to say, we were both much more attentive to the small town signs the rest of the day!
First viewpoint overlooking the flowing falls. 
            We pull into the entrance gate at Perdanales SP shortly after 10am.  Only a few minutes late!  Jim is there to greet us and then we all drive down to the parking area near the falls trails.  The place is a zoo – people everywhere and it only gets worse as the day improves.  (Yes, we did find sunshine again….and by days’ end, not a cloud in sight!)
Sculpted rocks and falls....
Trying to figure his route....
            The Perdanales River runs over limestone layers in this twisty section of flow.  Due to recent rainfall, the river is higher than usual.  Schneiders hadn’t seen this much water in it for some time.  Often you can walk across, only getting your feet wet.  But there are long slabs of rocks, pock-marked with the swirls and eddies of water carving trenches, holes, etc. in the soft rock.  We climbed up and around, over and down, on slabs and sand to explore the whole area.  At one point we saw a family of goats on the far shore – mom and three kids.  It was fun watching them navigate the rocks.  One kid in particular was a bit hesitant! 
Jim and Denise at Perdanales State Park
            Back to the cars for the promised picnic lunch Denise had packed.  Only one problem….it was still in San Antonio!  Denise was absolutely aghast!  I saw it as a God-moment!  When we left the trailer this morning, Rick had grabbed some Cliff bars….’just in case’ and urged me to take along some apples.  ‘But Denise is packing a picnic for all of us!’, but ok, I grabbed four apples anyway.  Rick must have known!  We drove up to the Wolf Mt. trailhead and lunched on apples and granola bars!  Just right! 
Ball Moss covers the underside of
the oak trees...soft, not prickly.
It doesn't hurt the trees at all.
        
Red bud over a side creek.
    We hiked along the Wolf Mt. trail about 3 miles total out to an overgrown overlook of the river.  It was the perfect trail for good conversation and side by side walking for the most part!  The afternoon had turned warm and humid, so I was glad it was fairly level for the most part!  Another side trail led to a deep pool, most striking for the red bud tree blooming in front of the deep green waters. 
            Denise identified some birds and plants we saw, including the Great-Tail Grackle, a raven like bird with extra long tail feathers.  We saw turkey vultures, lizards, and the goats! 
            Back to the cars around 3pm and we decide dinner in Fredericksburg at Mamacita’s sounds perfect!  About an hour drive (Jim took the long route by accident!) and we are sitting down to chips and salsa and guacamole, beers, sangria, and margaritas, and a wonderful dinner.  Schneiders stole the check, saying it was ‘makeup’ for forgetting lunch!  Ha! 
            Goodbyes around 6 and they head south while we head northwest into a setting sun!  Pretty drive back up the 45 miles to Mason.  The stars are out, and a crescent moon is dancing in the clear night sky.  Nice.  


View from the overgrown overlook on Wolf Mt. Trail
'Pot hole' picture as Rick explores...
SUNDAY, March 13
Nothing….

            I am embarrassed to say that ‘Nothing’ pretty well sums up our day.  I was wondering if I had caught a bit of Jaxon/Ryan/Patty bug – not bad, but not quite ‘right’.  First off, with the time change, I didn’t even get up until 7:45.  It is dark late into the morning!!  We spent a very lazy morning…and I eventually started reading a book (which I finished Sunday night!)  Around 11 am, we walked over to the ‘Habitat’ side of the campground, picked out a site, loaded up the trailer and moved about 200 yards! 
The group gathers...
Hayden, Marcos, Stephanie, and college daughter
            At 4:30 we wandered down to the campfire circle for our opening meeting.  Keith, the head honcho, Dave, our CAV liaison, Pam and Greg, the construction supervisors, were all present, as was our homeowner family!  We met Stephanie, her college daughter, and two sons, Hayden and Marcos.  Well spoken young men.  My favorite is still the photograph that Dave sent out in December of the boys staking out their sleeping bags on the newly poured concrete foundation…right where their rooms would be!  It was a relatively brief meeting – we are now in the situation of not knowing ANYONE else on the build and the only couple that doesn’t know each other really!  Many of these folks come to Mason every year for a decade or more! 
Sunset evening
            I called Mom around 7:30 and walked the trails of the golf course and campground while I talked and watched the sun set!  Glad Denise and Jim had pointed out the fire ant hills on our hike because there were plenty to avoid along the cart path! 

MONDAY, March 14 
Mason Build Day 1
Build Pictures from TODAY

Status of house as we begin our build. 
            I am still having trouble with this dark morning business again!  The sun didn’t rise until 7:45 or so as we were eating breakfast and getting ready to leave!  Cara vanned over to the job site which is under 3 miles away off Hwy 29 toward Llano.  Habitat purchased about 8 lots just past the cattle feedlot and auction house several years ago.  The aroma of the auction barn is strong in places, but fortunately House 15 is just out of the wind path!  The open lots are currently covered with an array of wildflowers: bluebonnets, paintbrush, phlox, and some other yellow lily like flowers. 
It didn't take Rick long to get up on a roof! 
            We gathered inside the newly mudded walls (second and third coats going on currently) for devotions and our safety talk.  Rick and I were assigned to help put up soffits on the gabled ends, working with Chuck.  However, we also volunteered to pick up the ice and water every day, so I went with Dave to learn where to gather both.  Then I ended up on a materials run with Dave as we took sheetrock back to the warehouse and a drying rack out to the job site.  Our second trip involved hitching up the trailer as well!  I didn’t get back and ready to help Rick and Chuck until after they were all done with the morning break, eg. Around 11 am!! 
Nailing up the soffit
            Crews were working on the metal roof trim in preparation for the final metal roof panels, soffits, siding painting, and door and window trim. 
This soffit was tough...it took a crew to work in place. 
            At noon, everyone left!  I think Angela and Jake were planning to eat on site, but Chuck drove off with their lunch in his car, so they hitched a ride with someone else into town.  Rick and I had a very quiet lunch by ourselves, listening to the swish of the mud man inside working away.  I took the time to take flower pictures out in the fields and Rick read his book!
Bluebonnets and phlox
     
Texas style paintbrush
       At 1 everyone rolled back in and it was back to work.  The day is warm….far warmer than we have experienced in the past 7 months!  Angela and Jake started installing the metal roof panels and it looked like an reflector oven up there.  Angela later said the breeze was their saving grace! 
Jake and Angela up on the roof
            We had to paint some more soffit boards (I took care of that), but Chuck and Rick were diverted to some other roof trim detail.  I painted with Bea and Frances (both from Louisiana) and then helped clean up the brushes and rollers. 
Keith maneuvers the roof panels
for easy access
            Back to the park for showers.  I took a quick trip to the post office for stamps and a visit to Lew’s grocery market for postcards.  The clerk (a young thing) said, ‘What is a post card?’  I knew I was in trouble!  Later this evening Rick said a strip of 5 were included in our welcome pack!  Got a few notes to write! 
            Happy hour at 4:30.  I was going to bring my fudge cow pie from the Cattlewomen.  I had no idea it would ‘spoil’ – it had mold on it.  Chocolate will mold?  Change of plans and I pulled out the Cranberry Sweets goodies instead. 
            Back to trailer at 6 and I work on blog, church stuff, and drawings for rest of evening, watching the sun set out my trailer window to the west.  Life is good.  

Tuesday, March 15
Mason Build Day 2

            Another beautiful morning with sunrise happening around 7:45….so late!!  No wonder we don’t start until 8:30 here.  Rick and I leave at 8:10 to pick up the ice and mail a few letters at the post office.  Rick has devotions this morning – and delivers his usual James 2 version!  And then it is time to get busy!!  Siding starts going up, the roofing continues, painting, etc.  Chuck leaves our crew for a special job filling holes in the bathrooms and then topping off with cement.  Rick and I are to finish the soffits in the porch, and then given the job of the front fascia trim.  At the end of the day I am somewhat dismayed to realize we spent ALL DAY putting up six boards!  But they all involved overhead work (twice as hard and trips up and down scaffolding and ladders), rip cuts, painting edges, and sometimes angle cuts.  Guess we did ok! 
Our handiwork by day's end. 
Stephanie helps paint siding. 
            The roofers made great progress and should about finish up tomorrow.  Siding crew got halfway up the back of the house.  And Stephanie and her daughter showed up after lunch to help paint and side!  All in all a good day, but a warm one.  The high 80’s temps were tough – we are used to this yet! 
I am still trying to
figure out the symbolism
of this cross found at UMC.
     
Methodist Church
       We left for lunch at the Methodist Church across the corner from the Habitat Warehouse.  The church volunteers use of their social hall for Habitat meals, even when it doesn’t involve their members.  Just convenient!  A mother and daughter treated us today – Texas Pile-up they called it, but basically the fritos and chili mountain making.  I concentrated on a base of lettuce and just a few fritos and rice!  It was delicious! 
Mansion! 
            Enroute back to the site, Rick and I veered off the route slightly to check out the historic Seaquest Mansion that is being restored by the museum.  Habitat is helping out at times.  It is quite impressive and I think we will be getting a tour next week. 
            I cut up my pineapple for Happy Hour today and then had fun because Pam brought out a coconut that she had no idea how to ‘open’.  I texted Luke and then googled it.  We think it might have still been a little unripe, because it was really hard to scrap the white flesh from the shell, even after we drained the ‘milk’ and
Pam hammering the
coconut
broke it open with a hammer.  But it was fun and gave Pam and I a chance to talk a little more. 
Rick fixing the air condition
            Before Happy Hour Rick went up on the roof of the trailer and spent some time tightening and adjusting the air conditioner unit.  It still works and hopefully will NOT leak the next time it rains!  Positive thoughts!
            Load of laundry after Happy Hour – there is one washer and dryer in the bathhouse.  A few clouds in the sky tonight as the sun went down so we got a little ‘color’.  Pleasant temps in the evening.  

A little color behind the pecan trees. 


Wednesday, March 16
Mason Build Day 3
 
Every day should start with
bluebonnets!
            Baby brr!!  It is 48 in the trailer this morning.  We had put the heater away and I still have on my shorts!  Wrap two blankets around me to sit and write/draw for 45 minutes! 
            By 8:10 we are on our way to pick up water and ice…even though it seems a little cool for the ice at the moment.  But the forecast is for low 80’s or high 70’s. 
Finishing up the front porch fascia
            It is a productive day at the house site, but a bit confusing as all teams eventually converge on the porch area (with the exception of the siding crew) – the roofers, the porch pillar bricks, and soffits.  Our crew basically installed all the sheathing on the front of the porch area, and got the soffits ready to begin working down the side of the house.  The roof is virtually finished, just needing the final edgework.  Siding is progressing, and both Pam and Judy painted today – siding and soffits and trim. 
Angela and Jake were pretty cute during break.
Texas paintbrush
            The weather today was perfect.  A little warm by 2:30, but mostly just pleasant and sunny.  We saw two bald eagles soaring above us during morning break.  I took more wildflower pictures after lunch, realizing that the Texas paintbrush has rounded lobes rather than the pointed bristles of Indian paintbrush. 
River of Life centerpieces
            Lunch was at River of Life Church – part of the Lenten lunch series.  After a lunch of brats, sauerkraut, chili, cheese, and fritos (and an assortment of desserts!) we heard a 10 minute mini-sermon from the preacher on Jesus as our Sovereign King.  Habitat architect Keith Kaun did much of the remodel on this church from the former high school building. 
Up on the rooftop...Rick lends a hand to Jake & Angela
Rick learned routing skills today. 
            We were joined during Happy Hour by JD, one of the local volunteers, and then surprised with a visit from Sandy Matheson.  Rick and I met Sandy during the Hobbs build back in 2013.  She is staying at the park for a night enroute to two State Park host jobs with Oregon!  Bound for Hat Rock, near Hermiston, and Champeog, near Salem.  Good time.  What else did we learn during Happy Hour?  We are camped in a former pecan orchard – huge trees that are dropping branches frequently as will be some of the last to leaf out.  The rest of the park is a sampling of oaks: live, burl, etc. 
            Quiet evening.  Watching the sun set as I write.  Listening to the golfers behind us on the course – it is busy this evening!  
Another sunset in the pecans! 

Thursday, March 17  HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!!
Mason Build Day 4
View today's pictures HERE

            Wow…did a cloud cover come in during the night or what?  Yesterday 48 in the trailer, today it was 69 degrees at 6:30 am!!  We slept most of the night with just a sheet over us!  We have to get going early today to be at the local radio station at 7:20am.  It is still dark outside when we leave at 7:10.  Incredible. 
     
Found out these are a type of
wild primrose!
       Mason asks the new CAVs to ‘go on the air’ with a live interview with the local radio station.  It is quite the experience!  Charlie and his side-kick Susie have the morning show.  Charlie owns the station.  When his father died, he sold the ranch and bought the struggling station.  He says he sold his father’s dream to buy his own.  Rick did most of the talking, being a little more comfortable in this kind of setting (Rick had a little college radio show and once had his radio license – add it to the long string of former occupations or licenses Rick has owned!)  But our hosts were very good and made us feel at ease.  We finished promptly at 8am, picked up the ice, and were on site 10 minutes ahead of everyone else! (Time to take a picture of an OPEN primrose!) Tomorrow Al and Judy get the opportunity and we’ll listen to them! 
Progress is being made!
            Today is muggy!!  The sun is hiding behind clouds for MOST of the work time.  I find I am sweating just painting!  After I gave my tie-dye devotion, Greg made job assignments and I found Chuck reassigned, Rick reassigned – my crew gone!  Greg didn’t give me a job, so I asked and was given a painting assignment, which is what I expected.  So….I spent the day painting the white for the vented soffits, and then gray on some trim boards and siding.  Actually easy since we are working under the carport and at least in the shade! 
    
Rick, Al and trim work
        Rick and Al worked together to put up some trim boards on the upper gable ends at the back of the house.  It looks good!  After lunch the sky blue ceiling boards were put up on the front porch area.  That seemed to be quite a job to get them held and then anchored in just the right place. 
Rick helps hold and attach the
porch ceiling boards. 
            We were on our own for lunch today, and everyone left except Jake and Angela.  That gave us a really good opportunity to just sit and visit with them.  They certainly get around.  Angela job with the CAV office is special projects and events.  She coordinates big rallys, etc.  Naturally the conversation worked around to various builds, and fellow CAVS, supervisors, etc.  I really like both of them – you don’t find many 30 year olds leading this kind of vagabond life!  But Jake conducts his engraving business out of the trailer, attends various trade shows, and does his business through Etsy. 
THICK field of bluebonnets!
            For Happy Hour a few of us went to Bea and Frances’ trailer to watch the NCAA basketball games.  Jake is a Kansan and hence a big Kansas fan!  Bea has a TV attached to the outside of the trailer, so we could watch gathered around outside.  A smaller HH group, as others went into town for St. Paddy’s Day festivities. 
            After dinner Rick and I took a walk up the golf course cart path to the baseball fields – this is quite a complex between the football stadium, rodeo grounds, baseball fields (4 of them) and the campground.  Not to mention a 9 hole, par 3 golf course winding around it all! 
            Another pretty sunset tonight!  


FRIDAY, March 18
Mason Build Day 5
View today's pictures HERE

            Fun morning as we got to be on the listening end of the radio interview with Al and Judy!  Discovered Judy worked for 30 years as an RN in surgery….or as she later put it, a ‘gut and butt’ nurse!  Rain is expected this evening, but so far the cooling trend hasn’t hit Mason.  It was 61 in the trailer this morning – another relatively warm night! 
        
Not a particularly fun job....but I got it done! 
    Rick had a bit of a frustrating morning as he and Al were waiting on decision to be made by Keith and Keith didn’t show up until after lunch!  But they helped out with some smaller jobs here and there.  The vented soffits were begun, only the first one up was one of the unpainted ones!  Oops.  Guess it will get two coats of paint while up – just no one likes to paint over their head! 
            I worked with Pam and Judy as a second siding crew.  Bea and Frances continued working on the south side of the home, while we tackled the north side.  But first….I discovered the bottom edge had to be caulked with Quad Caulk – a very thick and sticky caulk that you don’t smear with the finger.  Once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t particular difficult, just awkward!    I was working just 8 inches off the very rocky ground (yes, I put on my knee pads!) practically with my head on the ground so I could look up and make sure I was getting the caulk into the corner.  By break time at 10:15, I still had about 8 feet to go on the 46’ wall.  I had to take off my glasses because they were fogging up so bad I couldn’t see anything! 
End of day....four rows up length of house. 
     
Rick and Al finished the
cement work in the centers.
       Once the caulking was done, we got nearly two rows of siding up before lunch, and then another 2 after lunch.  By then we ran out of painted siding!  Guess I know what we’ll be doing on Monday!!  Lots of cut odds and ends, but no more 16’ panels.  We had to make one penetration cut and it fit perfectly!! 
            A cold front is scheduled to come in this evening…just in time for our weekend visits!  Rats!  Hopefully not too much rain, but the temp is supposed to be 30 degree cooler tonight than last night.  Incredible.  But shortlived! 
Bluebonnets next door! 
            At 5:20 we all rolled out for the short drive to the Board President’s house for a wonderful lasagna dinner. The house next door greeted me with a lawn full of bluebonnets.  Wow!   Met lots of board members, and the wives of some of the men we have worked with this week.  Talked at length with Tom and his wife who is the high school counselor.  Saw  red cardinals out in the backyard.  Plenty of chips and queso, wine and beer, good folks, and lots of y’alls! 
Look close - there's a dot of
red cardinal left center! 
            Tomorrow is the opening parade of the baseball season.  There has been a definitely sprucing up of the park this week, new signs indicating where the baseball fields are located, and a lot of traffic going back and forth to the fields.  I can’t see everyone honors the lower speed limit inside the campground area!  Walkers beware! 
            Made contact with Mandy again this afternoon.  We are meeting her at 10:30 ish in the morning.  I got a few ideas for things to do.  Also text contact with Tom and Heather and gathering ideas for Sunday.  Such a social calendar! 

And now....an opportunity to pose together my wildflower pictures from this week....hopefully with accurate identification!!  All were taken on the job site fields. 
White Prickly Poppy
Square-bud Primrose
Texas Paintbrush
Texas Bluebonnet
Drummond Phlox

A trek to Austin!
SATURDAY, March 19
Visit with Mandy  (YuJu) Chen
Austin, TX (approximately 275 miles)
Click HERE for all of today's pictures

            Whew!  That was a long 12+ hour day, but well worth it!!  The promised thunderstorm last night never came, but it did cool down in the early morning and the trailer dips into the 40’s over night!  But we are up and on our way shortly after 8 with a quick stop at the Short Stop for their ‘cheap’ coffee refills (under a dollar for two!) 
            I drive the first hour to the town of Burnet through rolling hills of green grass, prickly pear, budding mesquite, and live oaks.  I sang to myself, ‘follow the purple-lined road, follow the purple-lined road’ for the bluebonnets and paintbrush was spectacular!  No pictures!  By the time Rick drove we were out of the thick bluebonnet land!  The sky ahead was still overcast so I didn’t even have the sun in my eyes!  We spied our intended Easter morning destination in Art, about 10 miles east on TX 29.  They have a 7am sunrise service and breakfast at the Methodist church there.  (BTW, the Methodists did a good job in these parts….EVERY tiny town seems to have a Methodist church!) That will get us out of the campground early enough and heading east. 
            In Burnet we stop for a bit cheaper gas, although prices have risen over 10 cents in the past week, plus a cup of coffee.  Rick drives us on in to Georgetown and I-35 south to Mandy’s house in the northern part of Austin. 
          
Relaxing on the porch as Mandy describes
her job. 
  Goodness, I don’t think I took a picture of the house!  Mandy is renting a room in a thickly treed neighborhood only 5 minute walk from her job housed in a local church.  She is teaching Chinese at a language school to elementary kids and preschoolers.  The house is shared with a young couple and baby and another guy renter.  Some issues, but overall it has proven to be a good selection – she found it on Craig’s list! 
            We visited for over an hour on the hammocks in the sheltered part of the back porch (the day is still cool out in the wind!) and then headed out for some adventure! 
Looking northwest, Lake Austin
            First stop is Covert Park at Mt. Bonnell!  Here you climb a hundred or so steps and come out of a vista of the Colorado River (Texas version) and Lake Austin.  Downtown skyscrapers pierce the horizon to the southeast.  RICH mansions with private boat docks, swimming pools, formal gardens, gazebos, etc. line the lake edges.  The place is crawling with people today, basking in the sunshine, but still somewhat bundled up!  We take the customary pictures!  Rick and I came up here three years ago on a blustery rainy day when virtually the summit was empty! 
Rick and Mandy
            Oops, I forgot!  Our first stop was Wendy’s for a quick bite to eat!  Rick hadn’t had much breakfast (or chocolate donuts don’t count as a sustaining meal!)
          
An incredible Mandy on top of Mt. Bonnell
  From Mt. Bonnell, Mandy finds the Kiddie Acres Amusement park on her phone and the little voice guides us to this run-down little park, but filled with young families and children!  The only other mini golf I could find was on the south side of Austin and we didn’t want to get near the exposition zoo of downtown!  It wasn’t the well-maintained and designed course that I would have liked to introduce Mandy to miniature golf, but it worked fine!  We played out 18 holes and by the end she even had 4 pars in a row!!  (Just for the record, I will state that I beat Rick by 3 strokes
J)
Officially a Texan when  you have
your picture with the bluebonnets!
            Mandy wasn’t feeling very well at this point, so we headed back to the house and visited some more. Did make a short diversion to see the school where she teaches.  By 5 she insisted she felt much better, so we tried out Xian’s Sushi and Noodle house closeby.  Rick and I thoroughly enjoyed our meals AND consumed them all only using chop sticks!  (Rick did have a soup
Rick's Dan Dan Noodle dish
ladle with his because it was soupy)   I think Mandy ate about 3 bites of hers!  But it was time to get her back to the house and for us to hit the road homeward.  A great day!  (Plus we brought home some Mandy baking!  Apple pound cake and honey yogurt bread!)
I ate it ALL with chopsticks!  
            Rick and I thought Hwy183 looked like a good shortcut back to TX29, but it proved to be a lot of stoplights and traffic.  We may have saved miles, but not time in avoiding I-35.  The setting sun was a challenge to the west of us, but a safe drive home after a stop at Burnet again for drinks and gas. 
            Last part of trip in the darkening skies, but safe.  Home to make contact with Tom and plan our adventures for tomorrow!!  Oh boy!  

Sunday, March 20 

Fredericksburg, TX with Tom, Heather, and Matty
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            Brrr!  I’m not sure the heater worked right last night!  It was 33 outside and 37 in the trailer when I got up at 6:45am!  I adjusted a couple things and got it slowly warming up to 49 now as I write an hour later!   Cows are mooing in the distance, and the sky to the east is tinged with orange as the sun is about to rise! 
            We take off for Fredericksburg around 9:45 with Ginger at the wheel.  Rick has done A LOT of driving lately!  The road is still lined with red and purple, the fields are
Plaza building in Fredericksburg
green, the air is BRISK!!  Into town right on time at 10:30 and find the German Bakery an absolute zoo!!  Fortunately, Tom and Heather and Matty walk up right then and we decide we aren’t eating there!! 
Matty enjoys a LIME!  
            We cruise the shops of Main Street and allow Matty time to explore and run at the same time.  In a few cases Rick stays outside the shop playing with Matt.  After extended time in a couple of stores (at the Christmas shop just Heather and I while Rick, Tom, and Matt go back to play in the square!)  We finally pick a place to grab some lunch (bakery is still crazy busy) and enjoy our choice even more!  Matt polishes off an entire grilled cheese sandwich and a load of French fries!  Rick has a turkey burger and I splurge on a little fried shrimp. 
A pause to rest on a bench. 
            After lunch we head to the square where we know there are some places to play.  First though, Matt discovers a pond with koi fish, a giant M&M, and other fun stuff along the way.  He and Rick found the fish and then Matty insisted on ‘finding daddy’ to show it to him!  We played at the town square playground, saw a giant waterwheel in action, and in general visited while Matty kept us entertained.  It was a day more for interaction than for exploring Fredericksburg.  We can be glad we came here on Sunday rather than Saturday, as other CAVs later mentioned that Saturday you couldn’t get a parking spot and everything was packed. 
Our new bear
Heather and Matty on a slide
            By 2:30 Matty was running out of steam, so we said our goodbyes!  They have a full week planned and want to keep the little guy on an even keel!  Rick and I then headed to the south end of town to do a little shopping at Walmart and then to stop at the carved bear display along the road. We bought a bear for the kitchen – his nose is a little banged up, but he had such a cute expression on his face! 
Team roping
            Back to trailer around 4:15 to find the Team Roping competition on the rodeo grounds in full swing.  There were horses and trailers all parked in the center section of the campground, cows were mooing, horses neighing, and the sounds of the announcer kept a steady banter until after 9pm (there were lights!)  I walked over for a while and took a couple pictures, watching enough to figure out what team roping involved, and then talking with Mom on the phone while I walked down to the baseball fields and then up to the other campground loop.  The night was cool but pleasant. 
            However, we checked the weather forecast and it is supposed to hit the low 30’s tonight.  We make SURE the heater is set correctly and bundle up!! 
Roadside bluebells and paintbrush as we head north back to Mason










1 comment:

  1. In a burst of applause, Wang Qiang classmate wearing a funny hat high and sharp play. Strange things happened, those colorful butterflies even papered over the funnel dancing.
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