Cave Dwellings
Cave Dwellings

Key West, 2005

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Jefferson, Texas....a taste of NOLA!

Dennis and I have been sitting here in Jefferson, TX for about 10 days now..I know, I know..I haven't blogged about it yet..That is because there is so much to see here, and we have definitely been seeing stuff..First of all, we are in a great camping spot at Buckhorn Creek Campground, site 113..We have squatted here before, and love it..

Above photo was taken from our campsite..The weather has been pretty cold, but sunny. Dennis is having campfire withdrawal, as they have a burning ban here...We loaded up on firewood in Texarkana and the GMC is definitely over weight..However, some of that weight could be cases of beer..and wine...and rum...and tequila..and brandy..and sweet vermouth..(Hey, I like a good Brandy Manhattan when the weather is cold!)
Our campsite is water and electric..and the views are outstanding..especially the sunsets..

This town of Jefferson is very historic..Yep, get ready for an extended History lesson about Jefferson, TX...Please take notes, there will be a test later...
"Jefferson became a port of entry into the Republic of Texas and then the State of Texas. It was also a major shipping port for those who wished to sell agricultural products, especially cotton. Cotton was brought to Jefferson from as far away as Dallas by ox wagon and then sold in Jefferson through receiving, forwarding, and commission merchants to markets in New Orleans and St. Louis. Many of the immigrants who came to Jefferson stayed and built homes and shops here.
Thomas JeffersonJefferson, Texas is located on Big Cypress Bayou in the Cypress Valley of Northeast Texas. It is the County seat for Marion County. Named for Francis Marion, a Revolutionary War patriot who was known as the “Swamp Fox”, Marion County was created in 1860. Jefferson was named for Thomas Jefferson, and was conceived as a port city by Allen Urquhart and Daniel Alley, who saw its potential as the head of navigation when they prepared a plan for the town site in 1841.
In 1845, when obstructions were removed from Big Cypress Bayou, steamboats could reach Jefferson from New Orleans. After the arrival of the first steamboat, Jefferson became a boom town where many pioneers to Texas first set foot on Texas soil when they disembarked from the steamboats.
During Jefferson’s Golden Era as a steamboat port from 1845 until 1875, it became a cosmopolitan town like most port cities with a confluence of cultures and businesses. The architectural styles, which developed in Jefferson during this period of prosperity, resembled those of New Orleans. The homes were primarily of Greek revival design.
When the log raft was removed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the year 1873, the water level in Big Cypress Bayou was reduced and navigation to Jefferson was threatened. Railroads were also extended during this period of time across Texas, which reduced Jefferson’s commercial market area. The town ceased to be a prominent port city and commercial center. However, many of the mid-nineteenth century homes and buildings on the Historical Registry remain."
Photos to follow...

Jefferson is on the Big Cypress Bayou and they give swamp tours..We took one a couple years ago and it was well worth it..There is also an old historic cemetery here where many notable people are buried..and they give ghost tours of some of the antebellum homes that are haunted..We love it here so much that we booked ourselves right back in the same spot for next March...
Of course, we are familiar with some of the favorite "haunts", and not all are haunted..We love Auntie Skinner's Riverboat Club. I must confess that there is a story of a resident ghost spooking up the stairway after hours...This place is one of the oldest buildings in Jefferson and was many things before it became a bar...and their food is great!

Soooooo much fun here! It is the original brick and those front windows used to be doors...

Tomorrow, the Cave Dwellers are seeking a new "dwelling place", and so we will dump our tanks and hit the road. Our next destination for Christmas and New Year's Eve will be Crane's Mill Campground in Startzville, TX on Canyon Lake, North of San Antonio.  Again, we have stayed here once before. At our age it is best not to have too many surprise destinations..we like structure so we don't forget where we are...Startzville is a 6 1/2 hour drive from here, and this is another thing about aging...We don't ride as well as we did...When we get out of the GMC after that length of time, we need about an hour to get our land legs again....and also we need a huge supply of Ibuprofen..Trust me, parking this thing is much more pleasant when WE  are both in a pleasant mood. It is for those reasons that we will just break it up into 2 nights..and arrive Monday after stopping tomorrow night somewhere in between..See, we have learned somethings over the camping years..

 We did have a bit of a scare the first morning we arrived..I opened our camper door to this sight....
HOLY BUZZARDS, BATMAN!! It was like they were just waiting for us to get out of bed and take our walk, so they could have an early morning snack..Those darn Vultures seem to show up where ever we go..I cannot imagine why...We  have learned to be very careful we don't fall down ...They would be on us like buzzards on carrion..Just the thought makes me tremble..
OK, so that is enough of commanding your attention for the moment...One thing about Texas..the ants make hills the size of the great pyramids, and the mosquitoes are whiskey drinking, gun totin' varmits that can survive a killing frost and are the size of dragon flies...YAHOO!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Enjoying our life and being grateful...

After a rough start, Dennis and I have managed to shake off the bad vibes and begin enjoying this trip to Texas. We have been parked at Wright Patman Lake, Clear Springs Campground, since last Thursday...This is always a stopping off point for us when we get to Texas. Usually it is much busier than this time, though.

We have been in this spot before and the view of the lake is amazing...and it's very quiet here!!
That "wall" you see around our camp area looks like stones...but don't be deceived. It's actually bags of concrete...Very interesting, but it wouldn't have been my choice for a retaining wall..However, it seems to work well..
This park has a ton of camping sites...Some are on the lake, and some are in the woods..They even  have 3 cabins you can stay in that overlook the lake...
Above is one in the center and  you can see another one on the right..I don't think they are much more than one room with a porch, fire pit and grill..You would need to bring cots and sleeping bags..and a fishing pole, of course!
This is the view out of our back window...
There are many trails and places to walk here.. This particular one use to be a road into the park, but is now closed. We love this quiet place to take our walks..It is a far cry from walking and dodging  the early morning school traffic back home...not to mention sleeping with only the tree frogs to listen to..And there are no train horns here to nearly throw me out of bed either!!
We have our Hiker decorated for Christmas too...I think it's pretty cozy...

 Don't be put off by the creepy, crabby doll on the back of our couch..It's just Maxine..I told her I would bring her if I could steal some of her insults from time to time...
 This is our dresser in the bedroom..a touch of home ...
When I clean the Hiker, (which only takes about an hour), I have a small Eureka vacuum that we have  had since we had our Cougar, in 2003. I must be an aggressive vacuumer because I ended up breaking the end of the handle off...So, I was about ready to throw it out until MacGyver took it and made me a new handle to put on the end...I should have known he would find a way to salvage it..It's only 14 years old, after all..

We have had great weather here...65 and 70 degree days and a campfire every night..
We will be leaving here Wednesday, the 6th and heading only one hour away to Jefferson, TX.  Jefferson is another of our favorite haunts..and I do mean haunted..There are many ghost stories about the haunting of many of the old historic homes in Jefferson. I highly recommend everyone to spend some time in this old riverboat town..Rest assured I will post lots from Jefferson!

Monday, November 27, 2017

If it weren't for bad luck.....

So....Dennis and I finally got on the road last Saturday. We had planned to leave on Nov. 28th, but the weather was so great, we loaded up early and made like a baby to "head out"...Sorry, I couldn't resist.

 The refrig was loaded to the max!!
FINALLY!! On the highway by our home, heading out of town..

We had no reservations until Nov. 30th in Texarkana, TX.  We planned to stop overnight at Gun Creek Campground in Rend Lake (Southern IL) for one night and then move on to Lake Wappepello in South Missouri for 4 nights, making the last leg of our trip to Texarkana on Thursday, the 30th of November...YAAAAY "On the Road Again"....or so it seemed.

Here we are just North of Pana, IL fueling up...I could NOT stop smiling..But..I was to find out all was not as it seemed.
We pulled out of the gas station and got just one mile from Pana, IL  and Dennis suddenly had no power steering in our truck...AND..he immediately discovered we had no power brakes either. He slowed waaaaay down, knowing he only had his trailer brake to stop us. We saw a cafe ahead on a T intersection with a big parking lot. Dennis managed to strong arm the Hiker into that lot and pull off to the edge of it..At least we were off the highway!!
Dennis is pretty handy at almost everything, hence his nickname, McGyer. He decided that our serpentine belt broke and was shredded due to a faulty Idler pulley. (For those of you who think I am knowledgeable about auto mechanics, think again. I am quoting a much frustrated McGyer.)
He got on his phone and found out that there was a NAPA Auto Parts in Pana, but we couldn't drive our truck. Den called the place and talked to a nice guy who knew just what we needed, took our CC number over the phone, and sent someone out to deliver the parts to us..Now, THAT , my friends, is customer service.
McGyver has put this belt on before, but at home. And he really needed a few more tools than he had with us...Before long, a nice man stopped to see it he could help..
They both worked side by side until this nice man had to leave to go to work..McGyver was at it alone again..But the Gods of Southern Red Necks were with us!
How much brains and brawn does it take to put on a serpentine belt??? Apparently FOUR!!Count them..1,2,3,4!! Four great guys that stayed with Den for at least 30 minutes until..WALLA! Success!!! 
Dennis offered some cash to these guys, and they refused it..saying to pay it forward, which we definitely will!! Back on the road again to Rend Lake, IL, about a 2 hour drive, but we finally made it.

We left Rend Lake Sunday AM and drove about 150 miles to Lake Wappepello, MO, Redman Creek Campground...Whew!..Well, almost.
When we got to the campground every site had decorations set up, lights and balloons, candy canes, toy shops, toy soldiers..and NO ONE was allowed to camp there. It was a weekend Xmas drive through celebration of lights...7-Festival-of-Lights-Christmas-Auto-Tour.. We proceeded to drive through it, looking pretty idiotic, I might say..JUST GREAT. The camp host found us as we drove the Hiker through the campground, aimlessly wandering trying to figure out what was going on. The camp host spotted us, and told us to go about 3miles across the dam to People's Creek and we could get a spot there. OK, we can do that.
We drove in and found a spot. There was a sign that said do NOT set up until the camp host allows you to.  We spotted a site with no reservation on it and pulled in. We didn't set up..We knocked on the host camper and no one answered.  A nice lady camper said the host might be at another spot up the road and she offered to drive Dennis up there so we could get permission to set up..However they couldn't find him. 2 hours later we decided to set some stuff up..Yes, we are renegades..Hey, it had been a bad start!!
Dennis had no more than got our water, electric and the TV dish all set up,and I had gotten stuff out, when the park gustapo showed up. Dennis told him we had waited a long time. This guy was pretty nice, but informed us that this was the only site in the place that had a reservation beginning the next night...and that we had to move in the morning to another site..Aaaaaall righty then...
We are now all set up in our new site at People's Creek, Wappepello Lake, MO. The weather is wonderful, and we are now "happy campers"...finally.
I certainly hope this trip soon gets less stressful! As for now, we are just about to light a campfire and have an early "Happy Hour". Sometimes you get the bear...sometimes the bear gets you...I think I felt his hot breathe.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Biding our time until we can leave!

Dennis and I are hoping to leave this area for the Winter and our "lift off" date is tentatively set for November 28th. We will spend 2 nights on the road until we land in Texarkana for a few days. There was a time when we drove it in just one overnight stay, sometimes Wally Docking around Blytheville AR..not a great place to be alone in a parking lot..I'm not a big fan of the Wally Dock idea..I prefer at least a neighbor, albeit a bad one..Misery loves company. One thing we have plenty of is time..Why rush it?
We have been busy this last part of October. Our grand kids have been busy and we have tried to keep up with their activities.  Our oldest Wolff cub, Aiden, has been playing Youth Tackle Football down in Zionsville, IN.

 They won both games too!! This weekend they have a Superbowl and play 2 games again!! The NFL doesn't even do that!! Aiden's little brother, Maddox, plays flag football and their season is over, but Madds is always there to support his big bro!

Our Heiser grandsons are pretty busy too! The oldest, Peyton, is a Senior and runs Cross Country as I have mentioned before. They placed 2nd in the Regional and are now headed down to Peoria for the State Championships this Saturday. We aren't able to go, but his mom will keep us informed on how it goes. Last week I went to his track meet dressed like Nanook of the North!! Those runners were just in their shorts and tank tops...BRRRRR!! The fields were wet and we had snow flurries..My feet were soaked..What the heck?? This a darn track meet, for God's sake, NOT a football game!!

This is a Senior picture...He's a great kid, inside and out..Of course, I am not prejudice at all!
Peyton's younger brother, Campbell, had a part in the middle school play. Campbell is 13 and played the role of a Sheriff..

 Campbell and his Mom and Dad...

Sheriff Jesse Marlow, on stage.

The kids have nicknamed Campbell "Soupy"..He's a really fun kid! He is so little, just look at those toothpick legs!..Oh, and those are MY cowboy boots,making their stage debut!!

We were not proud at all!! Campbell is following in his sister's Thespian footsteps..And speaking of his sister.....

Taylor is obviously adjusting to college life at Ball State University.

Dennis is busy in the combine. They are way behind due to so much rain. I have been trying to start loading our Hiker. We haven't taken it on a Winter trip in two years and we almost stripped it clean when we parked it, so there is a LOT to load. It doesn't help that it is parked quite a ways from our house! We also discovered that our slides were not working properly, so Dennis got underneath where the gear gizmo was. He first thought we may have to buy a new $700 motor (YIKES!), but discovered it was just some thingamajig on top of the motor that was the problem. As you can see, I have no idea what it is called, but he got online, ordered said thingamajig on line, and put it in when it arrive . WALLA!! Slides work.

I am a little nervous about this trip because the Hiker has been just sitting for a long time...I sure hope the ol' girl doesn't throw a hissy fit about having to get off her pad and travel again! She is, after all, 10 years old..How old is that in people years? So Dennis and I are trying not to jinx this trip. The whole idea of getting outta here this Winter is rest and relaxation. Now if I can just remember where I had everything put away in the Hiker, and can redo it the same way..I do, however, remember where I stored that wine!!