Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Last Week in Rockport

written Saturday, February 28, 2009
Rockport, TX

If I don’t get this entry written and posted today I’ll have only three entries for the entire month of February. Even if I do I’ll have only four. I’ve had spells like this before… where I find it hard to write anything at all, much less something interesting. The combination of laziness and a lack of exploring new places is almost certainly the problem. Both are weak excuses aren’t they?

But we’ll be heading out on new explorations and new adventures starting Monday and that should get the creative juices flowing again. For the past month or so we were thinking we’d head north to the Texas Hill Country and spend a week or two seeing more of that part of Texas. We spent a day up there last year and really liked the feel of it… rolling hills, German heritage, Luckenbach, etc. Then, as we’d turn eastward, we could’ve stopped in Austin to see the Capitol and the LBJ Museum and Library before making a beeline for the state line. But all that’s changed.

First, since Dar wants to attend a nursing conference in Orlando the middle of April, spending a couple more weeks in Texas could’ve made it necessary to hasten travel through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama — faster than we may want to move, especially if we find places to linger a while. Second, we now find out that there’s a huge annual rodeo event in Austin during the month of March that makes finding RV parking spaces difficult, not to mention expensive. So after a few days of talking and investigating other possibilities we made the decision to just head east from here. We know we’ll be in Texas next winter and we’ll try to see those areas as we’re inbound to Rockport.

The general plan now has us leaving Monday, driving north-eastward, and finding a place to overnight somewhere this side of Galveston. Tuesday we’d be in position for an early crossing of the Galveston Bay channel on board a ferry run by the State of Texas. It’s a short ride over to Port Bolivar where we think we can take Hwy 87 to Hwy 124 to Interstate 10 near Winnie, TX. Hurricane Ike tore that area up pretty good last year and I think it’ll be interesting to see what state its in and how the recovery is coming along.

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I’ve mentioned in a few “What’s New” entries the past few days that some of the “Winter Texans” here at Sandollar have already left for their “up North” homes. Another bloc is leaving this weekend. The old gang is breaking up. In general, the order in which they leave is strongly correlated with the latitude of their destination. Those that spend summers in Northern Texas are mostly gone already. Those from Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri are leaving next — many this weekend. The ones from Iowa will be here a bit longer. And the last groups are those from Minnesota and Wisconsin. Some of these guys stay here until mid-April.

We’ve made reservations to be back here next year but we’re not sure how long we’ll stay. The almost 3 month stay this year was hard on us. Our main objective at this point in our fulltiming life is to explore and see new places — to boldly go where we’ve never been before. We’re kinda’ torn on this issue because we like the people — those “Winter Texans” — and enjoy being around them so much. As with many things in life, we’ll have to find some moderation, a happy medium. We’ll be back here next year buy probably not quite as long as we were this year.

There. That’s my entry for today. That wasn’t so bad, was it?

T

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some News from my Hometown

written Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Rockport, TX

In case you’ve missed reading all the major news stories the past few days… or your subscription to Time and Newsweek has run out… or you’ve been pre-occupied with the news about our failing economy and the attempts of an inept congress to deal with it all… I thought I’d perform a public service and provide a couple links to some big news out of my home town, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. This is all courtesy of my Dad. Thanks Dad.

The first one comes from the Town of Westford — the town that time forgot — which is located about 50 years west of Beaver Dam. It also happens to be where my sweetie, Dar, grew up as a child.

Goat breaks into home, eats cake

TOWN OF WESTFORD - What do you get when a goat follows a dog into a house?

For Sherry Shirley of Westford the answer is a big mess.

When she opened the front door of her home at W10690 Lake Road to let her dog in Saturday morning, a full-grown goat burst into the house, jumped onto a kitchen counter and helped itself to a freshly-baked chocolate cake, according to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department.

Deputies responded to a call from Shirley at 11:43 Saturday morning, but a neighbor had dragged the goat from the home by its horns before officers arrived, patrol captain Molly Soblewski said.

“The goat didn’t do a lot of damage. It knocked some dishes to the floor that broke and began eating the chocolate cake she had just made,” Soblewski said.

The chocolate cake caper, however, was far from a perfect crime. Deputies followed the goat’s tracks to a nearby farm on Mill Road and had it behind bars by 12:35 p.m. Saturday.

Soblewski said the owners of the goat will not be cited.

“It was just an unfortunate circumstance,” she said. “I feel sorry for the lady, but it is kind of funny.”

A link to the actual story in case you think I’m making this up…

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The next one sounds like something I might have done about 40 years ago. The town has a long history of producing comedians…

BEAVER DAM: BD man gets stuck in his trunk

A 19-year-old Beaver Dam man realized he was not as funny as he thought he was when he got stuck in the trunk of his car on Friday night.

According to Beaver Dam police reports, the man was attempting to play a practical joke on his girlfriend when he climbed into the trunk of his Pontiac Sunfire in the parking lot of Wal-Mart Supercenter at 7:30 p.m.

The man jumped into the trunk of the car. The 18-year-old woman did not have a key to the vehicle and the man was unable to get back into the car through the back seat, officer Travis Wetterau said.

The man was able to describe where the car was located in the parking lot and the man’s friend waited with him outside the vehicle. The doors of the vehicle were also locked.

Police used a device that they use to open up car windows to access the locks on car doors to get in the window. Wetterau said after they gained access to the car, they pulled the seats down from inside the car and the man was able to get out safely.

A link for those skeptics out there…

It’s nice to step back once in a while and put things in perspective, isn’t it?

Grinning broadly in Rockport

T

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Restless in Rockport

written Thursday, February 12, 2009
Rockport, TX

About a week ago, over breakfast, Dar informed me that she was going to recycle some brick wall sections from a building that was taken down, demolished, here at Sandollar Resort. What she had in mind was to replace the green fake-grass runner that we had put between the car and the front door of the bus-house to help keep shoes clean — it reduces the amount of dirt and sand we drag into the camper. She was thinking she’d take these broken sections of wall — where a number of bricks are still stuck together in odd shapes but small enough to handle — and dig them down into the sandy soil forming a brick sidewalk of sorts. Listening intently, it was clear to me she had way too time on her hands and has been away for too long from the gardening and landscaping she loved so much when we had a house.

“Ok, how can I help?”

“Just stay out of my way.”


So, for the next two days she dug, and dragged, and dug some more. She got some help from a couple of neighbors who were also looking for things to do — bored to tears with the pace of life in South Texas. She chipped old mortar and split individual bricks to fit gaps in the garden mosaic masterpiece. She back-filled and watered and painstakingly urged grains of sand into the gaps and crevices of old wall sections that had been resurrected… saved from certain doom as rip-rap along the shore or dragged off to a new Walmart store building site as so much “fill”. Nay, these bricks will live on as a stately walkway on site 194 here at Sandollar Resort… and Dar will have left her mark for others to enjoy… and their campers will be cleaner because of it all. And once the grass we planted grows back, it’ll look even better.


Alas! So be it! T’was a fine project!
Nice job Dar.
T

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Historic Goliad

written Saturday, February 07, 2009
Rockport, TX

There aren’t many places in Texas with as much history as Goliad. A week ago last Tuesday Dar and I trekked to this little town located about an hour north northwest from Rockport. We thought we’d spend a few hours exploring Goliad’s historic sites and still have enough time to sneak over to Victoria, about 30 miles to the east, for a short shopping excursion.

Well, our desired “early” start wasn’t as early as hoped. We got the wheels rolling about 9am and arrived in the Goliad area a little after 10. The first stop was Presidio La Bahia.

During the early days of American history this part of the continent belonged to Spain. The Spanish believed the only way to keep this distant land under the Spanish flag was to populate it with Spanish people. But in the 17th and 18th century there were few Spanish who were up for relocation — not to mention an uncertain and dangerous existence in a far-off land. So the Spanish leaders did the next best thing: turn the native people, American Indians, into Spaniards by teaching them the language, religion, and customs. That was the genesis of all the missions that were established throughout current day Mexico and much of the American Southwest from Texas to California.

During the late 1600’s and through the 1700’s the Spanish established 33 missions throughout Texas. Last January we visited 5 of these missions in San Antonio, including Mission San Antonio de Valero — The Alamo. In order to protect the missions in this rough and wild country, and as a symbol of Spanish authority and power in the region, a series of presidios were also established. A “presidio” is a Spanish military fort.

Near present-day Goliad, along the banks of the San Antonio River, Mission Nuestra Senora Del Espiritu Santo De Zuniga (these guys really put a lot of effort into naming something) was finally established in 1749 after two earlier locations proved unsuitable. The Presidio La Bahia (fortress by the bay) was built on a hilltop on the opposite side of the river.

Presidio La Bahia is considered the world’s finest remaining example of a Spanish frontier fort. But for Texans, the real historical significance of the fort was earned during the fight for Texas Independence from Mexico in 1835 and 1836. The first Texas Declaration of Independence was signed here and the darkest day in Texas history took place here when 340 Texan freedom fighters were massacred on March 27, 1836 — twice the loss of life than at the famous battle of the Alamo.

The fort fell into disrepair in subsequent years and was rebuilt in the 1960’s. But the Presidio’s chapel is notable for having been in continuous use since the mid 1700’s. It’s a marvelous example of frontier construction.

Just across the river is Goliad State Park and the location of the Mission Espiritu Santo that the Presidio protected. It had fallen into almost total ruin after Texas Independence but was rebuilt by the WPA during the 1930’s. Very little is original but great pains were taken to make the reconstruction historically accurate. I could imagine daily life during the mission’s days as I walked around the grounds and reconstructed buildings… certainly a different set of priorities and a slower pace of life than we have today.

And then there’s the town of Goliad itself, just up the road a short way. The most notable thing here is the town square, the 1890’s era courthouse, and the famous “Hanging Tree”, where frontier justice was carried out with quick precision — after a fair trial of course.

We found a park bench near the Hanging Tree and wiled away a good part of the afternoon reading the histories of the historic old courthouse square buildings and talking to residents as they passed by on their afternoon walks. We found Goliad to be a very comfortable and enjoyable town.

The planned shopping trip into Victoria would have to wait for another day.

We have a bunch of pictures from our Goliad exploration in our Online Photo Gallery.

T