Monday, September 7, 2020

Camping in a National Forest

 After our recent move to Richmond, Texas, Sweetie and I took a short weekend camping trip to Double Lake Recreation Area in the San Houston National Forest outside of Coldspring, Texas.

Much different than the west Texas camping we've been accustomed to over the past 10 years. It should go without saying that the humidity level here in east Texas is much higher than in the west but that is offset somewhat by the much larger number and size of the trees!

Yes, Dorothy, there are trees bigger than a shrub oak around here and those trees helped us survive the heat index and lack of breeze (humm, come to think of it, maybe the reason there was no breeze was because the trees may have been blocking it.). And for the first time since we camped in Rita, we were able to use the awning without worrying about it being blown off the side of the trailer!

I must say the campground itself was very quiet and the sites aren't stacked close to each other (like at the KOAs. Nothing against the KOA campgrounds, they're just a place to pull in and sleep for the night. Well, unless you like their pools or their playgrounds or their dining facilities.)

Overall, I highly recommend Double Lake Recreation Area even if we didn't get a chance to hike any of the Lone Star Hiking Trail. This 129-mile National Recreation Trail runs from through the Sam Houston National Forest and run near Cleveland on the east and Richards on the west. The trail crosses both private property and public roads so do be careful about taking care of the areas you are traveling. Also, please note there are no public toilet facilities on the trail (although it does come close to several towns and at least one state park with public facilities). There are few designated camping areas (except during hunting seasons) so you can camp where ever you might find a dry, flat spot. 

Next up, we head to Gonzales, Texas, to camp at the Palmeto State Park.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Lack of photographic evidence

For the past several posts, you may have noticed a severe lack of beautiful, Sweetie-taken photographs to accompany the rather lame prose. That will continue in the future unless I figure out how to change the size of the photos I have already posted here.

I assumed it would be an easy task to find the place where all of the photos are magically stored, download them back to my computer (for those which I can't find on my local drives anyway), and shrink their footprint. Then, I should be able to upload them to the magic server in the sky and my available space would increase dramatically.

Not happening. Can't for the life of me figure out how to change the photos without opening each and every post. 


Anyone have any ideas for me?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Back to Cozumel!

It has been a long, cold winter here in west Texas and My Sweetie and I needed a break from the ice storms that seemed to perpetually pop up every week or so. Therefore, we searched and searched (ok, I looked for a hour) until we found a short cruise that would get us into warm weather quickly.

We left home on Thursday morning last week (9th of April) and flew into New Orleans. The two of us met our ground transfer person and she put us on a very large passenger bus to take us to the Port of New Orleans. After waiting an almost impossible 4 to 6 minutes, she came back and apologized for the wait and told the driver to go ahead and take us to the Port. Wow. Only the two of us being personally chauffeured on a huge bus!

In about 35 minutes, we pulled into the Port where we decided to take our luggage on with us. Seeing as how we only packed a few clothes, this seemed like it would be fairly easy to do. The check-in process went so quickly that I didn't even have enough time to munch on the little sandwiches and pastries they had laid out for the Priority Boarding guests. (I noticed that as soon as we left the Priority Boarding area and went to sit down in the Priority Boarding chairs. Bummer. I was a bit hungry since I only had a Luna bar for breakfast.)

After a fairly short wait (after two wedding parties boarded), we started boarding the Carnival Elation, a rather small cruise ship compared to some of the monsters we had been on previously.

After everyone embarked, we began our slow journey down the Mississippi River. I know we left the pier about 4:40 but I have no idea when we cleared the delta. I suspect it took the ship until midnight or later. But we had a grand time anyway!

The next day we spent sailing in the Gulf of Mexico. Sweetie and I had separate massages early in the morning and then a late brunch. Just a chillin' sort of day.

Saturday we arrived in Cozumel. I had reserved an excursion online to go deep sea fishing. After making our way through the Mexican checkpoint, we got to our meeting point and discovered we were the only two from the Elation to take this excursion. When our fishing boat showed up, we were happy to see only two other passengers onboard the 28 foot boat.

After 40 minutes at high speed, the crew finally tossed the baited hooks over the side and we started 'fishin' in earnest. No more than 10 minutes later, the first hit and hook was made! Our blind companion fisherman took the seat and, about 10 minutes later, landed a 4' 6" mahi-mahi!

After an exhausting and exhilarating day on the water, Sweetie and I returned to the ship for some rest time. Oh, no! We both put on suntan lotion but both got a bit red!

Sunday was another relaxing day at sea and, this time, we had a couple's hot stone massage. Wonderful.

Coming back up the Mississippi was a bit tougher since there was some fog and the ship was delayed getting to the Port. I didn't care so much since we had later afternoon flights booked back home. The really bad thing is that both Sweetie and I came down with a sore throat Sunday night. Bummer.

Still, the trip got us out of the ice and into some icy drinks! Mai Tai, Dark & Stormy, Miami Vice, and Mango Mamas. We did come back relaxed albeit a bit sick from the sore throat.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Vegas, Again

We made another trip to Las Vegas in February. 

But we didn't go for the shows, or the restaurants, or the gambling.

We were there to attend the USA 7's Rugby Tournament!

This was our second time to the 7's Rugby in Las Vegas. This time, we were prepared!

Staying at the Excalibur was the plan since the bus to the event left from there. Plus, the restaurant Sweetie and I wanted to try was located at Mandalay Bay and that is just a short tram ride away.

The rugby was excellent even though the USA only finished 4th.  

Trip to Las Vegas for my Birthday

Simply because I bowed to my wife's demands and took my sick prostate to MD Anderson Cancer Clinic, I was making a remarkable (to me) recovery and my outlook is good. Therefore, to celebrate, my Sweetie took me to Las Vegas for a LONG weekend.

We fly directly to McCarran where we were picked up by the Nobu Ranger to deliver us directly to Cesar's Palace. We checked into our room before deciding to head on out for a supper.

Let me start by saying this was a great trip and I didn't know what was going to happen next. We had a meal at Nobu Restaurant where we let our Advisor select the courses for us. The 3-hour meal was filled with new and exciting dishes, champagne and a sampling of sake. 

The next day, my Sweetie went to get her hair done so I was planning on hitting the $5 Blackjack table to learn how to play the game. Color me surprises because the lowest table I saw was $20! Not a fair way to learn in my opinion. So, I slunk away, defeated, and threw a $20 in a penny slot machine. About 30 minutes later, I was up to $240 and decided to stop!

I ran up to the salon to find my Sweetie and let her know of my grand success. She was impressed that I got that much from the penny slots. I left her secure in the knowledge that I was pretty much done gambling.

But, "One more time won't hurt," I said to myself. I dropped a $10 in another penny slot and with only two rolls of the wheels, I was sitting on $115. I cashed out again and decided to not push my luck.

The next day, we took a great helicopter ride with a couple of South African visitors. We landed in the Grand Canyon and had a quick champagne lunch before flying back to the city. The views were fantastic but I really wished we could have stayed a bit longer.

My Sweetie also surprised me with a special viewing of "Evil Dead, the Musical, in 4D". And, we were sitting in the semi-circle around the stage, wearing our complimentary Evil Dead T-shirts, getting splashing with blood from each and every gory knife slash on stage! It was GREAT!

But, we had to leave eventually. (insert frowny face here)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Busy Year

As the year 2014 comes to a close, I noticed that I have really written much about traveling or anything else in quite a while. Therefore, in a nutshell, here is how our adventures have gone since the last trip to Big Bend National Park.

I underwent a successful brachetherapy seed implant where 72 individual seeds of radioactive iodine were inserted into my prostate. The doctors, PAs, and nurses at MD Anderson Cancer Center have been, to a person, professional, friendly, and competent. With their care, my Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) went from 7.0 to 2.9 to 0.5 in a matter of only six months! I have high hopes that this cancer has been destroyed but I won't know for sure for another year or so.

Meanwhile, we took a camping adventure to Van Horn, Texas, where we visited the Red Rock Ranch. Here, we stood on the oldest rocks in the world - well, actually, they are among the oldest in the world. These pre-Cambrian rocks were formed over 4 billion years ago before any known life existed on earth. This is one of the few places in the world where these rocks are on the surface and can be touched by us. A great tour where we saw Desert Mountain Sheep and heard history of the oldest Anglo settlers to this region.

We also visited the great city of Fredericksburg, Texas, a few weeks later. Our camp ground was a few miles southeast of the city and it was very quiet. We enjoyed an amazing meal at a local restaurant and toured the Museum of the Pacific where I found a plaque honoring my uncle, Claudus Evans, a Navy veteran of WWII who also happened to have been one of the few survivors of the USS Indianapolis' sinking in 1945. Everyone who has seen the movie Jaws! will remember the story of how the Sailors left the sinking cruiser and floated in the water for 4 days while sharks decimated their number.

Along with our two grown children and our son-in-law, Sweetie and I took another cruise. This time, our family group boarded the Carnival Breeze in Miami, Florida, for an extended trip to the southern Caribbean! Our ship took us to the Grand Turks where we enjoyed a helicopter ride around the island, seeing a whole lot of rays (but no sharks), and getting a personalized briefing from the pilot. My Sweetie got the prime seat of sitting in the front with the pilot. Big smiles!

Later on the cruise, we hit the beaches (figuratively) in the Dominican Republic. We had an outstanding tour when we boarded a river party boat and cruised up and down one of the rivers in the area. Our crew cut the tops off of fresh coconuts, gave each person their own coconut, and the coconut juice flowed! This was the first time that My Sweetie every tasted fresh coconut juice. Once the liquid was down a bit, they came around with rum! What a nice way to have rum. They didn't let me down either as they kept the rum flowing!

We made our way to Curacoa and then to Aruba before sailing back to Miami! Aruba reminded me a lot of home in that there were lots of cactus and it was fairly arid.

Later in the year, Sweetie and I took a camping trip to Copper Breaks State Park near Quanah, Texas. This park is underutilized. And the park was great. We got a dose of rain but, being in Rita, we merely slept right through it!

And that, as they say, is that. Sweetie has plans for a trip to Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains State Park in a couple of weeks as well as my birthday trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, coming up after Christmas. So, we are still traveling!