Showing posts from February, 2010

The Home Stretch

It's been a few days since I made an entry here -- another of those breaks I seem to take from time to time. We're getting along fine and are mentally prepared to blow out'a town in about a week. Unfortunately, we're not physically ready, as there's still a long list of things that need to be done before departure. Dar's worked three days this week, and she's been battling a cold virus at the same time. She works 12 hour shifts -- from 7am until 7pm -- and by the time she wraps up all the necessary record keeping and paperwork, she can easily turn these 12 hour shifts into 14 or 15 hours. Thus, on those days, there's little time for anything else except sleep. Her working stint at the hospital is coming to an end... I think her last day is the 5th of March. It's been a good diversion for her and she's generally felt good about contributing to the care of people who aren't feeling the best. As a result of this work experience she feels mor

Thinking about Spring

As we contemplate our escape from Sandollar and the Coastal Bend of Texas in two weeks, I started looking ahead to see what we can expect this spring. From a weather perspective, the Climate Prediction Center is thinking the month of March will continue the pattern of cool and wet conditions for the southern half of the country. The blue areas on this map indicate where there's a good chance temperatures will be below normal during March. And the green areas on this map show where precipitation could be above normal. I don't put much stock in these predictions, having found that there's a pretty darn good chance that they're wrong. But it seems the general El Nino' pattern we've been experiencing this winter may well continue into Spring. Our plan at this point is to take a more direct line back to the Midwest than we were thinking just a few weeks ago. We have about two months before we want to be back in Wisconsin and pushing to explore the Four Corner

No News Friday

We had an inch and a half of rain overnight, but things dried out during the day today and late this afternoon the sun finally made an bright but brief appearance. Dar is working all weekend, so I'm mixing a little leisure with some work on projects that need to be done before we leave here early next month. Other than that there's really not much to report. I'll have the next Journal update bright and early on Monday morning. Have a great weekend! Thom


Like many, we've been glued to the TV in the evening this week to see whats happening at the Winter Olympics. I've been in awe at the speeds and the risks that most of these athletes endure and what they're able to accomplish. The death of the Georgian luger during a practice run showed how dangerous these sports can be. I purposely wrote " most " in the paragraph above after seeing a TV piece on what has now become my favorite Winter Olympic team sport -- curling. I'm sure everyone knows what curling is... that sport where large round players slide large round stones down a sheet of ice toward a large round target, or "button", while their team-mates, using brooms (yes, brooms! ), rapidly sweep the ice ahead of the slow moving 44 pound rock in an effort to effect the just-right stopping point. It's a little like shuffleboard and has an easygoing slow pace that's similar. The piece I saw on TV was about the men's curling team. Most a

Longer Days

During the past couple days the sun has been out in full force here in Texas. And that allows us to observe and appreciate that our days are getting longer. And that means Winter is finally giving way to Spring. It's called Spring Fever... and I've got a severe case, spending more time than I can justify planning our path of explorations for when we leave the Coastal Bend in just a few short weeks. To bring the Journal up-to-date with our activities, here's what we've been up to the past couple days: Most of Monday was spent with the local chapter of FOB... Friends of Bill... our new septuagenarian.  We rode in the Hummer limo to Corpus Christi, Padre Island, and then Mustang Island, where we stopped for an expansive lunch at San Juan Restaurante'... a favorite Mexican hangout for many of us here at Sandollar. We had a great time. It's probably a good thing, on balance, that most people don't have birthday celebrations of this magnitude. Photos are availab

Birthday Bash Sunday

A good friend of ours here at Sandollar Resort, Bill G., is having his big birthday bash this weekend. His daughter and son-in-law who live in the Houston area orchestrate the event and, based on what we saw last year, the theme appears to be "shock and awe". The first indication of the theme was the arrival of a very-stretched Hummer Limo which provided enough room for Bill and a bunch off his friends from the park to be transported over to the Boiling Pot restaurant for lunch. A stretched Hummer is not a usual site here along the Coastal Bend and "shock and awe" was the look on the faces of anyone we encountered along the way. The Boiling Pot restaurant provides a little "shock and awe" of it's own, especially if you've not been there before like Dar and me. A local institution and survivor in the Rockport restaurant scene for many years, it's basically a tin shack with enough roof to keep patrons dry during heavy rains. A special ambianc

Friday in Fulton

We're back in Rockport. We're pretty much caught up on sleep. Wednesday and Thursday were not enjoyable days here... rain, cold, wind ... more of the El Nino' thing... but today, Friday, improved. It was still cold, but at least we saw the sun for a while this afternoon and it really felt good. Dar worked today. She has to work tomorrow too. I've been doing housekeeping chores, vegging, and getting caught up on all the going's on... the comings and goings... the ups and downs... of the past few days. Whenever more than two people are together in one place for an extended period of time all sorts of things happen. Enough said. it's been a big week for us... a lot of miles... a big wedding... a shuttle launch... It's been great. And it's great to be back at the bus-house too, planning our next explorations and adventures. I'll be back on Monday morning... Thom

What a Winter

Almost everyone in the USA has had a tougher than normal winter this year. Folks out east, in the Mid-Atlantic states, are really buried under record amounts of snow that fell the past few days. Even the Federal Government was shut down for an unprecedented four consecutive days due to the snow, as of this writing. And we've had a much cooler and wetter than normal winter here on the Coastal Bend of Texas and throughout the South. In fact, it's raining right now. We've had 1.3 inches just today. But isn't this the way nature works? Average years are not normal. Averages are just that... the average of the extremes... the cold and heat, the wet times and dry, the snowy and snow-less years. Years ago I read somewhere that it's important to endure the extremes, the highs and lows, the good times and bad, happiness and sadness... in order to really enjoy the average, the mean. It's the ebb and flow of nature that we're all so tightly part of. So if you fi

Last Launch at Night

With the Shuttle Endeavor's early Sunday morning launch scrubbed, the stars and planets were lining up to make it possible for us to be much closer for the next launch attempt at 4:14am on Monday morning. We decided to go for it. After Sunday breakfast with all the wedding attendees staying at our hotel, we packed up, checked out, and pointed the car toward the Kennedy Space Center, 130 miles north. We took the Florida Turnpike to Ft. Pierce where we picked up I-95 north until we could cut over to A1A, the beach road, near Vero Beach. We took A1A all the way to the city of Titusville, which sits due west of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and about 12 miles from the launch pad. The wide Indian River separates Titusville from KSC, and provides a broad unobstructed view of the launch pad from anywhere along the shoreline. We arrived in Titusville a little after 3pm and the parking areas along the river were already starting to fill in. Our first thought was to find a cheap motel n

A Wedding Saturday

From Ben & Sarah's Wedding public I have a lot of catching up to do after our whirlwind trip to Florida the past 6 days. The past few posts, the very short ones, were all done from my cell phone using little SMS messages that are limited to only a few words. So in this entry I hope to fill in the gaps a little. The wedding of Ben and Sarah was the main reason for our trip. Wedding days are usually a blur of activity and socializing... and this one was no different. After sleeping in on Saturday morning we hooked up with my brother and sister-in-law Jerry and Debbie for lunch. They flew down for the ceremony and were able to couple it with a Caribbean cruise out of Miami for the following week. For local transportation (and some fun) they rented an odd-looking Nissan Cube -- a boxy, stubby looking thing that you'd expect a troupe of clowns would be driving in the 4th of July parade. The little restaurant selected for lunch was only a block or two away from their hotel,

Launch was great... sleeping in

Launch was great... sleeping in car less so. We're making good progress back to Texas. No rain today... great weather!

In Titusville for 4:14am shuttle

In Titusville for 4:14am shuttle launch. Sleeping in car on beach -- hotels all sold out. More later... T

Ben and Sarah made it

Ben and Sarah made it through the day -- are now happily married. All are now having a great time at the reception.

In West Palm Beach

Good Morning. We arrived here in West Palm Beach late yesterday afternoon, about 5pm, found our hotel, and checked in. The drive from Pensacola consumed more than 11 hours of driving time to cover more than 600 miles. You really get an appreciation of just how big Florida is when it takes all day to go from one end to a point not quite at the other end. We're here for a family wedding... my nephew and God-Son Ben is marrying his long-time sweetheart Sarah. Last night we attended the post-rehearsal pizza party and met so many new people there's no chance I'll remember them all. Ben and Sarah seem genuinely happy... always a good sign on a wedding-eve. Dar and I excused ourselves about 9pm -- the two day driving saga was finally catching up with us. Sleep came quickly and I don't think either of us stirred until a sun-beam nailed my eye this morning. All the wedding festivities are today, Saturday. So by the time we hit the sack tonight it will have been a long day.

Pensacola -- Half Way

We left Rockport about 6:30 this morning and, after a few brief stops and 710 miles, pulled into Pensacola 12 hours later. Unfortunately, we endured a rain storm almost the entire day --  it was pacing us. After we rest tonight, we'll all (Dar, the storm, and I) be on our way to West Palm Beach tomorrow. Precipitation Pouring Down in Pensacola... Thom

Road Trip

By the time you read this, Dar and I will already be on the road and heading toward Florida. We're leaving the bus-house in Rockport under the watchful eye of our neighbors while make this surgical strike into the heart of the Sunshine State to attend the wedding of my nephew Ben and his sweetie Sarah. MS Streets and Trips says it's about 1,200 miles each way so we'll be experiencing a lot of togetherness over the next few days. I figure the 2,400 miles will cost about $150 in gas, and two extra motel nights and meals maybe another $200. That's less than half the price of making the same trip by air, which has it's own set of hassles, lines, and waits. Besides, I've been looking forward to this road trip and the break in the routine and boredom that's starting to set in at the old RV Park. I'll post updates to this Journal as we speed along -- maybe more than one each day. So tune in and follow along. Speeding down the Super-Slab... Thom


Today is my birthday... not a major event but awfully close to one. Today I'm 59 which means that in less than one more short year I'll be 60. Hmmm. I haven't brooded over this fact much, and won't. But I will make note of it here as much as a life marker or milestone as anything else. And to re-state the obvious... that life goes by much too fast, and with increasing speed as one ages. I do feel an affirmation that the unorthodox lifestyle we've chosen at this stage of our lives is the right thing, for us, to do. We're having a ball... seeing and experiencing things we might otherwise have never had the opportunity to enjoy... and understanding that alternative lifestyles can be rich, educational, and fulfilling. Give in to your wild-side... follow the untrodden path before it's too late. Ruminating in Rockport Thom

A SAD Ending

Well, it's February and my SAD Program is now complete. (For those who have no idea what I'm talking about click here ). In short, I gave up sweets and alcohol for the month of January to adjust my weight and give my liver a rest. The "S" in SAD stands for Sweets... and on that I'd give myself a C- score. I did cut down, but just couldn't totally give up some things: brownies, cookies, and some deserts when neighbors felt sorry and tempted me with their finest. I did resist buying and having the ubiquitous bag of M&M's around the house, and I did not even once impulsively buy a Snickers Bar... my idea off the perfect food (the right mix of protein, fiber, carbs, and fat). I think any of us could get through any natural disaster you can think of as long as you have a good supply of Snickers Bars stashed under the back porch. But on the "A", Alcohol, I give myself a solid A score -- not an A+, but a solid A. The devil's liquor only cro


A few evenings ago, Dar and I attended a lecture about a hurricane that came ashore on this part of the Texas Gulf Coast in 1919. It was presented by a local historian that had collaborated with another to write and publish a book on the subject. They have an extensive collection of photographs and stories that added even more interest. It was fascinating to hear and see the impact a hurricane can have on low-lying coastal areas. In those days there were no hurricane-hunter aircraft or weather satellites to provide early warning. This particular storm was estimated at Category 3 (an average hurricane?) and by far most of the damage was caused by water. The 8 to 10 foot storm surge inundated the low, flat land that's so common along this part of the coast, and the boats and other debris carried ashore battered and decimated wooden buildings and other structures. The hurricane came ashore a few miles south of the city of Corpus Christi, which bore the brunt of the damage and casu