This was a very successful day of Christmas shopping. The stores in Kerrville opened at noon instead of the assumed ten. There was a lot of time to window shop in the little mall in town. At least it was a good time to plan on the gifts and consider ideas. Naturally no pictures since that could give away the identity of some of the gifts.
By the time the shopping was finished it was later in the afternoon. The number of shoppers was very low. The traffic on the streets was nearly non-existent. Consequently the drive back to Comfort Castle was nicely relaxed. There was even time to see the last couple of holes of the golf skins game. It even had a good finish.
This evening has seen a lot of tallying of what has been purchased, what has been shipped and what is left to purchase. Tomorrow will be wrapping day and maybe even shipping day. My Christmas stuff needs to get done by Thursday since there is no telling where Comfort Castle will be going or what my adventures will have me doing.
The wind was extremely strong today. Most of the fall leaves have now been stripped off the trees. “The Winter Look” is heavy on the area. Moving to warmer weather is getting very appealing. There is mail due here about Thursday, so heading out will happen after the mail comes. The chill in the wind today was quite noticeable and undesirable.
Tomorrow should be a busy day. Perhaps it will be a good time to try to get some good pictures of the Marketplatz decorations. At any rate it will be a good time to try to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
An important update has just happened. I now have a spot back down in the great park in Sinton where Comfort Castle has resided twice before. That is a great area for fishing and the excitement is even greater because Luella is there to visit with. It will be a good spot to be for Christmas. TheOFM
What a trip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! More great food than a person should eat, fabulous folks to visit and a fantastic puppy to pet. Is there anything else an old fat man could want?
The pup gets to go first. Fezzick is a wonder dog. He came from a shelter for unwanted dogs as a puppy a couple of years ago. At first his behavior left me wondering about him. He was not aggressive but seemed unsure of things. Let me tell you he is the finest critter a person could ask to have around. The friendliest pup you will ever meet and puts up with nearly anything just to be near you. The best trait is anybody coming up to the house gets announced in no uncertain terms, but only because he is EXPECTING some serious petting and play. Here is his Official OFM Portrait.
He has turned into a computer nerd also. He seems to like sitting in my son’s lap while my son is working on the computer. He even seems to know what is going on, which is more than can be said for me.
THE THANKSGIVING DINNER is in caps since it deserved caps. My DIL did us in with the fantastic meal. By the time my car rolled into the drive from the airport, she had things well on the way. Since she knew my stomach would be caving in, she had some unbelievably good cheese dip with ground meat in it for a snack before the main course was to hit the table. But when the DINNER was put on the table, we seemed to be able to handle eating a sufficient amount to notice. Here is the family ready to attack. Notice my son is already practicing for a nap later.
The cute lady in blue is my SIL.
After the attack, you can see the results. Stripped pretty clean it seems to me. Can you say feeding frenzy????? We make piranhas look like amateurs.
Naturally there were desserts for later with all the trimmings. To the best of my memory, these are pecan, butter nut squash and ???? Pies. That night her parents came in, they brought a chocolate pecan pie with them.
Now for the restaurant report. While we were out looking at campgrounds for a future meandering by me, we stopped at this “famous” BBQ place. The iced tea was ok, but some other place will be the choice next time we are in the Decatur, Alabama area.
However to compensate for that place, the Mexican food place another night in Huntsville was very good and is recommended.
While we were out searching campgrounds, a few pictures were taken in the Athens Alabama area to give you a visual on the area. The day was overcast and gray, but you live with what you get when traveling. These first two shots were taken from I-65 a bit north of Decatur. The first is a small lake near the highway.
This second is of the Tennessee River going under I-65. The water looks a lot better when the sun comes out to play.
And next we have some very typical scenery from the area. This was taken at the back of a very nice campground just north of Athens.
An interesting observation was all the folks taking pictures of the airports. My trip took me through the airports of Austin, Texas, DFW, Texas and Huntsville, Alabama. In each airport coming and going were lots of folks taking pictures of the airports. The inside and the outside of the airports. Not pictures of folks at the airports, just the airport. Seemed strange to me.
On my DFW to Austin leg today, a really great lady was sitting next to me and we talked for the whole hour and a half of the flight. She is Sandy from NORTH POLE ALASKA. Yes there is a North Pole Alaska. It is outside of Fairbanks and east a few miles. Sandy is a traveling nurse that has worked a lot of places. We shared a lot of information about good places to visit. She seemed to be the type of person who would find a way to enjoy wherever she was located. Good luck Sandy on your up coming special event.
On the two hour drive back to Comfort Castle, an urgent situation required me to stop at the LBJ National Park. After the situation was relieved, this picture of central Texas hopped into my camera without asking. The river is the Pedernales River and the land and cattle are part of the LBJ Ranch National Park. It is nice country around there.
And with that, this OFM is going to shut down to get rested for another day of trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
The flight here wore me out totally yesterday and today has had a good bit of busy activities. Some good pictures have been shot and everyone is doing well. The special pie made for me was outstanding and the visiting has been great. The trip home tomorrow should be easy since the crowds have been smaller. We have made a lot of effort to try to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
WOW what an outpouring of sympathy and empathy and help. Between emails and the blog comments it has been awesome. Thank you very much. Apparently the writing seemed sad to many folks. It was intended to be more just facts. Things to plan for in your life. There are many folks who have serious troubles like cancer or missing appendages or relatives that are feeble and in need of assistance. This is only a slow leaking tire in my wonderful road trip in life. One of my favorite sayings is “If this is the worst thing that happens in the rest of my life, I have it made“. The emails and comments are definitely appreciated.
Tomorrow morning before dawn, my flight for a visit with my son and DIL for Thanksgiving leaves Austin. Melissa is already planning a butternut squash pie for me. Now how could a person be sad with a custom made by loving hands butternut squash pie waiting on them. It is a quick trip, but it is always a great visit. The blog will be updated on my return and have some neat pictures GUARANTEED.
One of my electric heaters died last night of old age. It was a ceramic heater that served faithfully for two years in apartments and four years in my RV homes. Like a lot of things now days, it is cheaper to replace than repair. My mechanical abilities are close to fantastic, but when it was disassembled, the diagnosis was fatal error. Apparently the time in the salt atmosphere on the Texas and Alabama coast was tough on the electrical connections and heater core. So for $16 a new heater that is in service now. In some locations the electric heat is cheaper and in some gas heat is cheaper. But over all in my very small rig, the cost of heating is less than $30 a month either way it is heated.
And now the last item until at least Saturday night. The construction at the Marketplatz has turned out to be a very spectacular display of lighting. A glimpse was caught tonight as it was passed on a side street. Upon my return to Fredericksburg, some night shots of the Marketplatz is at the top of the priority list. Now where is my tripod??????
To all the wonderful folks who have emailed and commented on this blog, Thank you for your concerns. My feet have never been good at staying home on weekends. Therefore when and if proper work is found, the adventures will continue if only on weekends. The quest for trying to have tooooo much fun will end when THE OLD FAT MAN cannot move anymore. The pace may slow but the quest will always continue. Now everyone help us all by getting out and reporting your efforts at trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.
It has been a very interesting day to say the least. The main part is that my application for health insurance was denied for having a lifetime cholesterol reading of 207. That leaves me with the option on Jan.1, 09 of going without health insurance like many folks in this country or trying to find a job with health insurance coverage. My toughness does not include going without health insurance if there is a choice, because of a fear of losing everything if another accident happens. So the choice was made to go to work.
With that choice made, some phone calls were made to see what might come of going back to Houston to look for work. It looks viable after the first of the year. My readers can look forward to about another month of adventures, then a significant tapering of activities after that. If a job is found, then the adventures will likely only be one a week at best. The OFM blog may become one of only occasional entry. RATZZZZZ There is not crying in Comfort Castle. There is much gladness that the year of travel happened. Tioga George was one of the folks that inspired me to go for it even if you are not certain of the outcome. As my buddy George L used to say a lot "GO FOR THE GUMBO".
A good place to relax and let your mind regroup is the garden down at the Marketplatz. There is a nice grape arbor with benches for a soothing rest that was sorely needed.
This is near a rock area that has a few interesting points to it. One neat thing is the type of grass that is growing there and hangs over the wall like long hair.
As the grass is examined, one can notice the rock etchings nearby. There was not any explanation found for the rock etchings, so we get to enjoy them as beautiful works of art.
Strolling through the garden can really ease a troubled mind.
It is not a preference for me to go back to work, but it is wonderful to live in a country where you have choices about your work. At least working again will help my economic situation and likely will give me more latitude in what is done when full timing comes into my life again. The stock market crash has knocked my situation down to a level that was not expected to arrive until at least ten years later than now.
Should my job search be successful, the Houston area will get the benefit of the thirteen months of experience and attitude change that traveling and blogging has provided. It would seem that the area will be viewed from a noticeably different perspective in the future. This could be very good for me and my readers.
Actually it could be very interesting to see the area with a new eye. Additionally, with the “improvements” that hurricane Ike has made to the area, there may be many new places to try to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
A dreary day to start things off then it became a very nice day with sunshine. Nearly a Chamber of Commerce day in my opinion.
Downtown in this tourist town is the Marketplatz. In the Marketplatz the town has many different events of which some are very interesting. There are big “constructions” going on for some large event in the making.
Adjacent to the “constructions” is a very nice garden and resting area for the tourists. One of the comfortable resting benches in the garden is surrounded by greenery for the assistance of a peaceful rest for the tired tourist.
Just around the corner is some excellent statuary of a time in the city’s past. According to the plaque a peace between the Indians and the folks of Fredericksburg was worked out. From what I heard out at the fort, the peace was held good as long as you were inside the city. Outside the city was still like the rest of the country.
The view of the peace sculptures is really good and the statues are life size. When you look at them from really close, the details are very accurate. So accurate you almost expect to see smoke curling from the peace pipe.
Please notice the twisted tree in the background of the previous picture. On close examination you can see how it was manipulated into the twisted shape of this topiary effort.
Some friends were discussing with me the trait of looking at small details and how paying attention to even the smallest of things can sometimes create noticeable changes in your life. That is what has happened to me during the writing of this blog. No longer is anything to insignificant enough for me to ignore it. One thing that comes to mind was the insect tracks on Padre Island dunes that were reported many months ago. From that incident, many other things have been noticed. Frequently the little things find their way into my blog.
All of these efforts at noticing what is around us contributes to trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
Today was more shopping for Christmas presents with a big change. Success for some of the presents. They will be shipped out tomorrow to the lucky recipients. Talking much about the shopping would put out too much information, so it will remain a mystery.
Finally late in the evening, a bit of golf pitching practice was tried again. This is the second most critical part of golf. It is impossible to have too much practice at the short game. However it is important to note that practice makes permanent not perfect. Proper practice makes perfect. Lots of practice at doing things wrong makes you great at doing things wrong.
Now time must be spent getting prepared for the trip over Thanksgiving to north Alabama. My job there will be "taster of cooking". The bad part is it takes me at least two servings to decide if anything is worth eating or not.
That could turn out to be a great way to try to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.
A Christmas shopping trip to Kerrville took up nearly all of today. The trip was a total failure if gathering presents was what would make it successful. My trip did net two pictures of the Guadalupe River on this cold, overcast dreary day. There was one boat out on the river in the first picture. It was too cold and nasty for me to be on the water.
The high point of the trip was getting to eat a WHATABURGER for lunch.
Returning home close to dusk left me time to run over to the practice green at the golf course and practice pitching for a little bit. A long walk would have been nice, but it was too close to dark to be stumbling around in the trees and rocks.
Since then it has been search the internet for gift ideas. My maleness shows in shopping. Get in, get it, get out and go try to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
As breakfast was being enjoyed, a lady from the campground is making her morning loops of the park. She is dressed in long pants, coat, heavy gloves, wool hat and a large scarf tightly wound around her neck and pulled up to her nose. This is a serious sign that Comfort Castle is sitting on dirt way too far NORTH. When the rent runs out on Dec. 6, it may be time to move SOUTH.
The rest of the morning was spent shopping and trying to decide on Christmas presents for relatives. Finally a stop at the fort and a visit with Mac happened. He still forgot the piece of artworks he is supposed to show me. When he was asked about a certain restaurant in town, it was on his recommended list. So lunch for me happened there today.
The food is prepared from scratch right in their kitchen. The quality and pride in the food showed in the very good flavors of my lunch. Including tip and drink, the cost was under $9. WOW A recommended place by TheOFM. According to Mac this building is the old bowling alley.
Then back to the fort since the sun had come out. There were a couple of pictures to be taken for blog show and tell yet. In the small visitor center is a museum with a few neat things in it.
Over in a case were some tools they were wanting to know about. As it happens, my knowledge of tools and old ways allowed me to identify one of the tools and how it was used. Now my good deed for the month has been done.
In the visitor center is three shelves of Texas history books that are for sale. Here is one of the shelves with some of the books. Mac has read most of the books and will be happy to assist you in getting one that you will like.
A main reason for going back to the fort was to photograph some of the iron hinges and latches on the jail. The jail it the only original building from the fort. Here is an old strap door hinge with a new door being built to fit the door opening.
In the jail is a cannon that was reported on last April. Today was the day that a picture was taken looking into the barrel of the cannon.
It does need a bit of cleaning to get it back to operating condition.
By now it was getting late and Comfort Castle became my destination of choice. As the weather is cooling into the thirties tonight, my walk was shorter than usual. The good news is that my body seems to have fairly well recovered from the migraine so tomorrow ought to be great for trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
After waking from a wonderful nights sleep, the migraine pain reminded me that all is not well yet. Therefore things were taken very easy today. Shoulder exercises were done gently without weights. Then some more rest.
Before lunch a visit was paid to Mac at the fort to see a sketch that he forgot to bring to the fort. We had a great visit anyway. The conversation came around to the best hamburgers in the world. Of course the ones we cook ourselves are the best, but the best commercial hamburgers. We decided by a unanimous vote that it is WHATABURGERS. Finally lunch was required so it was back to Comfort Castle for food and more rest.
Then the excitement began. That’s excitement in small letters. The library had a nice book for me to bring home to read. They also had magazines and newspapers to read that never attracted my attention before. Now they will get more attention. For such a small town there was an awful lot of job opportunities listed. If the stock market falls much more, a job may be of interest to me because of my bad habit called eating.
Because my body was doing better, a walk around a few city blocks was done. At one spot the path crossed a deep ditch/creek. The safety fencing and rail were very decorative.
The view from the bridge attracted me down into the ditch to get a better picture. Keep in mind this is just one block off main street/highway 290. It seemed like a nice view to me.
How many other folks do you know that crawl down into ditches to take photographs????
From there the path went behind some businesses and on along the creek. Much of it was thick and tangled but frequently some of the brush thinned to see the water below. About midway along the street was a swimming pool for public use from appearances. The mural on the wall was very attractive.
Wall murals are a popular thing in many western towns. Many towns like Toppenish, Washington, have a large number of murals and they are very well done. Toppenish has about fifty and they are quite good tourist items up there. Stop in if you get up that way.
As the loop walk brought me back toward the truck, waiting patiently for me at the library, the Christmas tree in front of the fire station came into view.
Actually the whole marketplatz is in the process of installing Christmas decorations. When they finish and the lights are on, this writer will certainly publish a teeny bit about it in the future. It looks like this town goes whole hog on the decorating. Maybe Zapata will have to wait until after Christmas.
It was a good recovery day today, with hopes for even better recovery tomorrow.
Tonight was a spaghetti night for me. Whole wheat spaghetti with a mushroom and tomato sauce by Barilla Bros. First in the bowl is a layer of salad greens, then the spaghetti and finally plenty of sauce. Stir gently and while eating the delicious meal try to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
Some days start out with great plans. Then about ten am a migraine of 20 on the Richter scale of 1 to 10 hits and you spend the day snuggled in the bed with intimate association with lots of ibuprofen. In the mean time your money to live on continues to sink even farther with the stock market.
Everyone get out and try to have tooooo much fun for me. TheOFM
Some days things do not go any where close to what is planned, but come out great anyway.
Getting the truck inspected turned out to be a bit of an adventure. The inspector was very thorough but a little unsure of what he was allowed to do. After he was educated that a diesel truck did not get state emissions testing and the county it is registered in is Polk which did not do emissions testing on any engines, he got right to work. He did do a good job on the inspection and of course the truck passed without a whimper.
Back at Comfort Castle the day pack of much experience with me was brought out and some serious consideration was done. This day pack is a large one of over 2000 cubic inches and has hauled some large loads in it’s history. However it is proving to be heavier and larger than has been needed for over a year. A smaller lighter pack with a hydration bladder designed into it seems more like my needs now that HERO HIKES are a thing of the past.
Off to Wal-Mart to check what they have. They had the exact item needed. This saves a trip to San Antonio to “THE TOY STORE”. Here is a picture of it.
It came with a two liter bladder and about 750 cubic inches of storage space. My always with me things have been relocated into it. There is room for a couple of meals of food and a jacket for cool or rainy weather. Being able to have room for several layers of clothing like in the PNW is no longer needed.
Naturally it needs to be broken in properly. On the spur of the moment it was chosen to make a tent camping and hiking adventure to Pedernales Falls State Park. Stuff was thrown together in hurry and off to the Park. Check in went well since the park had four sites occupied and about 80 available to choose from. A nice site was chosen and camp was set up.
Next it was off to photograph the falls area in the late evening light. The new pack breakin was planned for tomorrow. When you go down the cliffs to the river bed, immediately you notice all the carving the river has done to the rocks. The river is several feet low due to the drought of the state. Many carved areas were visible that have never been available in the thirty plus years of my coming here. These natural carvings are very handsome to me. Normally the water would be five to six feet deeper and really raging through here.
To give some size perspective, this photo was shot of the only other folks in the river bed besides me. Normally there is water running across where they are standing.
As the sun crept below the ridges of trees and rock, it was time for me to get out of the river. On the way back to camp, another wild hair hit me and going back to Johnson City and eating at the Country Cupboard became the goal. Back in the past the Country Cupboard was a place of first choice to eat. During the six years that Washington work kept me away, the Country Cupboard went down in a big way. Tonight was the third try it was given this year and it will be the last. The Dairy Queen down the road is a lot better.
By the time supper was finished, it was dark. Now what to do with five hours of cold dark before bed time. It had not occurred to me what to do with all the dark hours this time of the year. OK pack it up and head home. It is only an hour drive back to Comfort Castle. Breaking in the new pack will have to wait.
In closing this day of experiences, we have a beautiful picture taken in the river looking at the far cliffs.
Whether to customize Comfort Castle to fit me perfectly or not has been an ongoing question. The skylights have had rigid insulation installed in them from right after the trailer became Comfort Castle. In nearly two years they have not been used as a skylight because of the heat/cold intrusion through them. Today they got made into a almost skylight. They were painted with acrylic outdoor paint in bright white. Reflecting the solar load before it gets into Comfort Castle will help my comfort level inside. The next step will be to fill the cavity with contour conforming insulation mat. The other good thing is that the acrylic skylights that get brittle and crack usually between year 5 to 7 will not get so brittle so soon since they have some UV protection now.
Here is the front skylight before and after pics
And now the rear skylight before and after.
Now the heat loads should drop noticeably. In my previous thirty foot trailer, painting the skylights and insulation created far more improvement than seemed likely.
More interior customizing is being considered. The very nice sales lady/owner of Thompson RV in Pendleton, Oregon (where Comfort Castle was purchased used) told me that some of the customizing floating in my head for a one person trailer could make it very difficult to sell in the future. A couple of things would not cause much problem. We shall see in the future what happens.
Since fat men need exercise, Sturdy Steed my bike, forced me to go riding today. The roads around here are wonderful for riding and scenery. Too bad ten miles was my limit today. The knees were screaming " WE ARE GOING TO GET YOU, FAT MAN". Being a wise individual who listens to his body, the ride was ended before disaster happened. Seems like more riding is needed to keep the body in better riding shape.
Any hoot, tomorrow will be a great day for trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
Ice on the grass was greeting me this morning when the morning view was enjoyed. The neighbors trailer leaks at the fresh water intake and all the local critters come to drink there. Last night it supposedly got down to 27 for a couple of hours and left some ice in the splash zone. The cold made no discernable difference in Comfort Castle during the night.
Since there were three chicken breasts and some vegetables in the refrigerator that were approaching end dates, it was time to make chicken and rice soup/stew. First was the cutting up of the chicken.
When the time feels right dump in your already cut up celery, bell pepper, rice and onion.
Simmer the concoction for about thirty minutes. Then adjust the taste of the spices to suit your self. Since you are cooking you get to choose the final taste. Eat as much as you can and freeze any that is left over. If the aroma could come across the Internet you would be climbing through your computer screen to try this fantastic food.
Exercise was the fun of the evening. First my shoulder exercises, then a long walk around the park. That gets my pulse up very well for a healthy heart. A healthy heart makes it a lot easier to try to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM
The not so secret place to winter over in Texas that was written about a few days ago has generated more interest than imagined. It was mentioned more as a joke than as a real not so secret place. The downside of the location is that you have to be an outdoor type or the place will bore you to pieces. The town is Zapata, Texas on Falcon Lake. Most RV folks go right on past it because it is so remote from the usual things the sit on your backside crowd likes, like lots of stores and hordes of folks and expensive restaurants. Three vehicles at a stop light is considered heavy traffic. Scorpions and rattlesnakes are also residents of the area. MY KIND OF PLACE.
My goodness the wind is mean today. The temperature is a bit brisk, but the wind chill is rough for this southern blood in my body. However there are some folks who enjoyed the bright sunshine enough to come out and have a picnic lunch. It was too brisk for me.
Several of the trees have been changing leaf colors. After tonight’s light freeze they should hurry up about it. Here is one of them that is well on the way to preparing for winter.
A wonderful old oak tree of years of survival is the shade for one of the pavilions here in the park. This handsome and experienced old oak has likely heard thousands of happy voices and children’s laughter in the time it has been standing guard. What a wonderful specimen this is.
One of the “gatekeepers” here at the park is Alice. She is a very nice lady to meet and visit with. Today her boyfriend brought his new puppy over for her to baby sit while he ran off doing some chores. The pup was a cute little fellow. He kept his tail wagging nearly every minute and really liked to be hugged as you can see from this picture of Alice and the new pup.
Only a very short amount of time was spent outside today due to the wind. It is hard to enjoy being outside when your eyes are running a steady stream of tears down your face and your nose thinks it is a water faucet running wide open. So most of my time was spent inside trying to have tooooo much fun. TheOFM.