Thursday, December 24, 2015

from the Wanderers!

As we reflect over the past year, we thank God that our souls have been richly fed with family time,

with friends,

with exploration,

with a home to which we can return and be creative,

and, of course, for good food and wine.

We would like to have said we were grateful for a more successful Aggie football season, but, well, you know there is always next year (or not).

Our Christmas wish is for peace, happiness and good health for all of our family and friends, (And perhaps a new A&M offensive coordinator.)

We look forward to 2016 with hopes of new adventures that will include many of you. 

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

For Family, We Give Thanks

We can't think about Thanksgiving and not think about the number one thing that makes our lives rich, family. The words here cannot convey the love we feel when our family gathers for celebrations, in times of crisis and when it is time to say good-bye.

After battling cancer for the past year and a half, ABN's brother passed away Sunday evening. We were able to be with him for a few hours Sunday afternoon. When we entered his home we were greeted with tears and hugs from his wife, seven children and their spouses, most of his 14 grandchildren and some of his great-grandchildren. This is a blended family but not a typical blended family. As these seven children were growing up, it was kind of like the Brady Bunch. Now that they are married with children, it is more like a cult. If you didn't know the family it would be hard to distinguish who is a cousin, who is a sibling, and sometimes who is a parent and who is an aunt or uncle. It is a true example of it takes a village (or in this case a family.) We have never heard the word step-parent or step-anything used to describe a member.

So, how does this blended family enrich our lives? If you have to ask, you have not been a recipient of one of their magnificent hugs! You have not ever said "I need you to come and.....whatever the need might be. You have never attended the famous fish fry or a family reunion at my brother's home. You have never heard them say "I love you" and know they mean it. We feel fortunate that 39 years ago Mary and Ray decided to blend their families and found the secret to family harmony. My brother and his wife have left a legacy of family closeness that will no doubt transcend generations.

Family does not necessarily mean related by blood. Living in a town hundreds of miles from our nearest relatives, we are still part of a family. Around 20 years ago, Captain moved to our town and started attending church. The church had a shepherd program where members adopted the new folks in the congregation, helping them blend into the fold. Captain became fast friends with his shepherds,
who at a later date adopted ABN. For 20 years we have been a part of this family, sharing holidays, a grief journey, celebrations, disappointments and MANY meals. We love our local family every bit as much as our blood family. On this Thanksgiving Day, we will be celebrating our shepherd Jean's 80th birthday in her daughter's home with the entire family.

As we gather around the table today, we will give thanks for family.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

We are home!

After 12 weeks away from home, 14 states, 6078 miles, 5 presidential libraries/museums, 32 wineries, 4 football games, and 9 Walmart parking lot stays, we have returned!

Our souls have truly been fed with time spent with family and old friends as well with the making new friends. Whether it is sharing Tipsy Tuesday, hanging out with "the book club" at Carney’s, meeting former classmates for coffee, playing dominoes with family or connecting with other travelers, it’s the folks that make our travels truly rich. And it’s not only on the road.
Arriving home we found our front lawn looking neat with the leaves raked and a dozen farm fresh eggs in the fridge (thank you neighbors!) While unloading The Wanderer, our dear friend, Jean pulls up with dinner ready to put in the oven! Indeed, it is the people in our lives that make our lives rich.

So, what else did we find when we arrived home?
3 months of mail neatly sorted and stacked (thank you, Mark.)
A patio full of leaves waiting to be shredded for mulch. 
And a water leak in the basement. Fortunately the water was turned off and we found the problem as soon as the water was turned on. It was a minor problem that Captain was able to fix, so no damage or huge plumbing bill.

We are totally enamored with The Wanderer! She has been quite the lady providing us comfort and flexibility as we explore this wonderful country of ours. We will give her a brief rest before heading out again.

 A huge thank you to our good friends and neighbors, Barbara and Mark, for keeping watch over our home while we were away.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Homeward Bound

We are packed, good-byes said and The Wanderer is pointed toward home.  With a couple of stops along the way, we hope to be home sometime on Friday.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wandering in Texas Hill Country

HR has worked really hard on his to do list and earned a few days off (Thank you, Miss Laverne.) We were delighted when our friends (and fellow RVers), Lisa and Scott, invited us to share some of their favorite spots in Texas Hill Country.

Caravanning from College Station, first stop was in Gruene for lunch at Gristmill River Restaurant and a little shopping at the cute little shops.

We couldn’t leave without stopping in at Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas. Known throughout the world as a great music venue, it has been instrumental in starting the careers of Lyle Lovett, George Strait, Hal Ketchum and many others. Over the years it has hosted the likes of Bo Diddley, The Dixie Chicks, Jerry Lee Lewis, Garth Brooks and Willie Nelson. It continues to provide live music every day (but not midday on a Monday.)

Next stop, The Apple Store for coffee and apple strudel. Since we are loving the idea of exploring the huge state of Texas, we picked up a guide book.

Wandering further west, skirting the southern edge of the Austin area, through New Braunfels, we parked The Wanderer at Lost Maples State Natural Area near Vanderpool, TX. This particular park was chosen for the fall color. (Yes, there is fall color in Texas if one knows where to look.)

Let's be fair here, even though it is November, the temperature hasn't been cool enough for the maples to turn red and bright yellow. We understand it will be a spectacular site in another week or so.

Even without the colors, it is a lovely park. We enjoyed hiking a somewhat strenuous 5-mile hike with Lisa, Scott, Izzie and Ozzie.  

Always the nurse, ABN referred to the hike as a cardiac stress test and was happy we all the passed, especially since there was mostly no cell service.

Due to drought there is a no burn order in effect; the brilliant star-studded sky made up for the lack of a campfire. It was a grand time sitting around sipping wine and telling stories. How refreshing to hear new stories! No offense to those dear friends with whom we have sat around campfires and on the porch at home, telling (and embellishing) the same stories year after year. While in Texas, we have learned the polite way to say '''I have heard that story" is to raise your hand. We will be honest here, in the short time we have been with friends in College Station the hand has gone up a few times. So there you go.

A great break; now back in College Station to finish work on the to-do list.

One last game this weekend before heading home. The Aggies barely scraped past South Carolina last week; where was the defense? Let’s hope both teams show up for the showdown with Auburn. Gig’em Aggies!

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Friday, October 23, 2015

So, what are we doing between football games?

Well, in addition to bicycling and the Tuesday night book club, Captain also meets Thursday mornings for doughnuts with his high school buddies. 

Sundays we attend the early (like in 8:00 a.m.) church services at Our Saviors Lutheran Church. Why the early service, it’s the traditional one. Knowing we will hear a good sermon makes setting the alarm clock a little more agreeable. Pastor Pat McLaughlin is a retired Navy chaplain with two tours of deployment in Iraq and one tour as chaplain at Camp David. He is the author of No Atheists in the Foxholes. Worshiping with family adds another level to the spirituality that feeds our souls.

Captain has his mom’s to-do list, (only a little over two weeks left in CS, there are still several things left to cross off.)

With help from brother, Rex, the major project of removing the old and building a new planter box has been completed.

ABN is doing most of the cooking (okay, Captain is doing a bit of grilling on The Little Green Egg) and helping a little with the house work. She would happily do more of the cleaning but Captain’s 88-year old mother has a convincing argument that if she quits doing it she might not be able to start again. Taking advantage of down-time, ABN is working on her drawing and other 
craft projects.

When in Kansas earlier in our trip, ABN was gifted this sweet little Singer Featherweight that once belonged to Captain’s grandmother. It was originally purchased in October of 1953. In addition to learning how to operate it, she is having a grand time learning the history of the Featherweight which was produced between 1938 and 1968. Did you know there is a little cult of Featherweight owners and they have their own Facebook page?

We are  playing a lot of pinochle and Texas 42 dominoes.

And, of course, there are naps and/or reading time every afternoon. ABN has finished The Bregdan Chronicle series by Giny Dye and The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck. She is looking for another good read, considering Three Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baehr; have any of you read it? Captain has finished Exodus by Leon Uris and is currently reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (which is an excellent book.) After nap/reading time we watch Jeopardy and then it is nearly wine time, followed by dinner and sports on T.V. Not a bad retirement life!

We have just about recovered from the whipping Alabama gave the Aggies last weekend. The kind words from Coach Saban went a long way toward our healing. Tomorrow the team travels to Ole Miss, hopefully Kyle Allen will be able to find and hit a target.

Friday, October 16, 2015

How's the cycling?

Not bad; indeed not bad at all.

Since College Station is a university town it is bicycle friendly with lots of bike lanes and bike paths.


The terrain is flat.

It appears to be a large cycling community. We joined a couple hundred other cyclists for the Rotary Charity Bike Ride last week.

Even though there are about 60,000 students on campus, cycling around the campus was not crowded.

One of the many bicycle parking stations around campus.

 The massive 100 year plus Live Oak on campus is a favorite spot for photos.

Seeing the Corps around campus is a site of which we never tire.

We would like to say it is a beautiful place to ride, well..., in addition to the campus, there are a few pretty views.

The Tide is rolling in for tomorrow’s big game. Gig’em Aggies!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Greetings from College Station

Where we will be donning the maroon and white for the next few weeks.

The renovated Kyle Field. So sweet to be there for the win over Mississippi State last weekend. 

Tipsy Tuesday joins The Book Club at Carney's Pub and Grill. And what might the book be?  Wuthering Hops by Emily Brewske.

That's a wrap, Texas style.

Friday, October 2, 2015

On to Aggieland

Since our last post we have wandered across the Mojave Desert of southern California, through the mountains and desert of northern Arizona with a stop at the Petrified National Forest and Painted Dessert. 

(Had to practice restraint to not share the hundreds of photos taken here as it is a spectacular natural wonder.)

As we made our way across the Navajo Nation, over the mountains and through the caverns of New Mexico, we payed heed to the rattlesnake warnings at the rest stops.

Crossing the Rio Grande, driving through the White Sands Missile Range, and over the Sacramento Mountains we found our way to Andrews, Texas where we shared Tipsy Tuesday with good friends.

We meandered through the oil fields and windmill farms of west Texas and through Texas Hill Country on into Aggieland where we will stay put during a stretch of home football games. 

Gig'em Aggies!