Monday, December 14, 2009

Birds of the Bay

Sunday, December 13, 2009

During our boat trip to watch the Tower Implosion, I could not resist taking a few pictures of the birds.  Several of our winter visitors, the white pelicans were flying around the area.  It is always a treat to watch for them at this time of the year.  We see more in January, I was surprised at the number today.

From Birds of the Bay

See a few more of the pictures at the link below the above shot.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Leaning Tower of OTSPI

The Ocean Tower of SPI or as we call it The Leaning Tower of OTSPI came down today and we were there.  My friend Bob took us on his boat across the Laguna Madre to a spot near the Convention Center and the tower.  The demolition company had scheduled to implode the tower this morning at 9 AM.  It went off right on time and seemed to have done exactly what they wanted it to do.
From Leaning Tower of OTSPI

You can see an album of pictures taken by Walldog and Bob here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Joy Hansen 1947-2009

Tuesday November 30, 2009 through Friday December 4, 2009

We traveled by motor home to Splendora Texas to attend the funeral of Wilma's nephew Gaylord's wife.  She died Saturday November 28, 2009 after a long battle with cancer.  The funeral was in Cleveland, Texas December 3, 2009 with burial in the Blue Branch Cemetery at Pitkin, Louisiana.

Walldog, Willie, and Jake

Thanksgiving 2009

Thursday November 26, 2009 Thanksgiving

We invited our Winter Texan friends Ralph and Barb from Oklahoma to join us for Thanksgiving Day.  We had our meal at noon, which we Southerners call dinner.  If we served it in the evening, we would call it supper except when it is really big and then it becomes dinner even though we serve it at supper time.  Herb grilled a big Salmon fillet and sauteed green beans.  Wilma fixed a really nice salad and HEB supplied the pecan pie and Blue Bell homemade ice cream.

Lloyd and Herb examined and took pictures of a Hibiscus tree that has yellow and red flowers.  That is red flowers and yellow flowers.

After dinner and a suitable rest period, Ralph and Barb told us about an orchard at Los Fresnos that had u-pick tangerines and oranges.  We called and they said they would be open for us to pick all we wanted.  A five gallon bucket of tangerines was $7.00 and a five gallon bucket of oranges was $4.00.

From my motorcycle days:
So many roads....
So little time.....

So many balls.......
So little time............

What a beautiful place in which we are most fortunate to be able to live

Thank You God!

South Padre Island World Birding Center

Wednesday November 25, 2009

My sister Jenny and her husband Lloyd came to visit us for a few days Thanksgiving week.  One of our touristy thing to do was visit the new South Padre Island World Birding Center.  Lloyd and Jenny are avid birders, so they were excited to see the many new birds for them that make this area home.  The recently opened birding center still has some maturing to do around the elevated walkways leading to the Laguna Madre Bay.  The wildlife is starting to occupy this area and I am sure it will only get better as time goes by.  I have posted a couple of pictures here, but you can see more here.  SPI World Birding Center.

Birds were flying everywhere

Many fish were spotted in the canals dug along the walks

Monarch Butterflys were located near the convention center

An overview from the lookout tower at the birding center building.

Walldog and Willie, Jake stayed home

On Your Mark

November 19, 2009
We went to Port Aransas on Thursday to visit some friends.  They
invited us to stay the night on their boat.  Happy hour was on the upper deck fly bridge and dinner was at a local cafe that did not take credit cards.  We scraped together enough money to pay and leave a tip.  After settling in for the night aboard the boat, the rain started.  Several inches fell in just a few hours.  Lucky we were already afloat.  Sadly we left our friends and their beautiful boat and returned to Port Isabel Friday.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Atlanta to Port Isabel via Houston

Tuesday November 3, 2009 to Saturday November 7, 2009
We leave Atlanta and motor to Houston.  We decided to try the Lakeview RV Park about 2 miles further South on Main Street from the South Main RV Park we have stayed at in the past.  The Lakeview RV Park is new with concrete streets and pads.  It has a large recreation room with computer area and WiFi throughout the park.  Free popcorn, excercise area, hot tub and swimming pool.  All for about the same price.  The shuttle to the Medical Center is also available here.  A loop around the perimeter of the park is about one mile, so two loops is just about right for us and Jake in the  mornings.

Our first appointment at MD Anderson was Wednesday morning, so we took the shuttle over and back, really convenient.

Wednesday evening we joined friends Joe and Pearl at the Rotary House for happy hour and dinner.

We had one last Appointment Thursday afternoon.  We drove over and used the valet parking, because the shuttle timing was not good for us.  We find that all is normal thanks for all your prayers.  Coming back, we got to enjoy 5 PM Houston traffic.  Luckily we only had a short distance to travel back to the RV park.

We stayed over another day so we could have dinner with our daughter and her family Friday night.  On the way to Pearland for dinner, we stopped at the Verizon store to check out the new Droid.  It appears to be a neat phone.  I start to buy one, but find I can save another $100 if I wait until my "New every Two" is effective in January.  The way things go, there should be another bigger and better model available by then.

Saturday, we drive about 100 miles further than we like to drive in a day to make it on in to Port Isabel.  This trip was just over 1400 miles and we were gone 15 days.  Good to go, but good to be back.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Amazing Grace

We needed to check on some of our business in Atlanta, Texas.  So we decided to try out the Amazing Grace Acres RV Park.  This park is located right in Atlanta, so it was convenient for us this trip.  A very nice couple, Larry and Charlotte Patterson operate this small park of about 30 sites that surround their home on a hilltop off South Boggie Street.  Even though the rain over the past several days was excessive, the hilltop drained well and we did not have any problems with the gravel sites.  Charlotte brought us pears from a tree in the park the first evening we were there and the day we left, she brought us bran muffins.

All Saints Day, we got to attend All Saints Episcopal Church here in Atlanta.  We were members of this church many years ago when we first came to East Texas from Louisiana.  It was nice to renew old friendships here.  In Port Isabel, where we now live, this holiday is known as the "Day of the Dead".  Where the departed family is honored.  It brings to memory my South Louisiana heritage and the All Saints and All Souls Day celebrated in the Roman Catholic traditions.  All of this has little to do with Halloween, which has fallen out of favor with many of my Christian friends.  These holidays are quickly followed by the US Marine Corps birthday on the 10th and Veteran's Day on the 11th.

Cool nights and pleasant days and lots of sunshine.  We leave Atlanta for now and head South expecting to return and visit our new friends at Amazing Grace Acres soon.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Lewisville, Texas

We spent three nights in the "Campground" at Buddy Gregg's RV in Lewisville.  The part we ordered did not fix our smart wheel, which controls the horn, cruise control, and wipers.  The service manager determined that we needed a "clock spring".  That is a cassette that contains about 10 feet of wound up flexible printed circuit that allows connections from the switches on the smart wheel to the steering column and on to the computer.  A broken plastic piece had creased the flexible circuit board and broke the copper strips inside.  A new one made everything work as designed.  The campground at the dealership is a circle that holds about a dozen motorhomes.  A small rec room with tv, kitchen, and free washer and dryers makes for a nice stay if you need service or are just passing through.  With the economy, the complexion of the dealership has changed from just a high end Class A facility to a sales outlet for fewer of those to many pull behind units.  The sales staff has dwindled from 8 or 10 to 2.  Our service was excellent, and the technicians were competent.  This seems to have fixed the intermittent problem we had with our horn blowing during the night.  We left Lewisville on Friday for Atlanta, Texas.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On The Road Again

We spent the last two nights in Austin.  Nice dinners with our friends Joe and Pearl.  Great happy hours with views of downtown Austin.  We had only planned for one night, but our windshield wipers quit on the coach.  It poured down rain yesterday  so we stayed put and ordered a part hoping it would be a fix.  The part arrived today but did not work.  So we traveled in the sunshine to Lewisville and the dealer who may be able to fix it for us.  They need a part that will not be here until Thursday, sure hope they are right.  It might rain again before we get back home.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sand Castle Days 2009

Wind out of the North.  Red Tide causing respiratory problems on the beach.  But the Sand Castle Artists are hard at work.  Willie, Jake and I went to Isla Blanca Park for a brief visit to check the progress of the artists.

More Pictures are here

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mercado at the Lighthouse Square

Down to Port Isabel's Lighthouse Square today for the Mexican Market and Art Walk.  A few vendors out and a visit to the open air farmers market.

Charles, Diane, and Quin

Then over to the Island to Gabriella's Italian Grill and Pizzeria for lunch and a glass of chianti.

We are worthless for the rest of the day.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Blessing of Pets

Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi and at many churches over the world a ceremony is held for the blessing of our pets.

“Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan. May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”

At St. Andrews by the Sea here is Port Isabel, we took Jake and met with about 40 other pets to be blessed.  After the service several of pets came into the church for the main service.  We took Jake home since we now live so close, but in the past he also attended the main service.  

All the pets had a great time.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An Early Trike Ride

Willie and I and our friends Sam and Inez loaded our trikes and their recumbent tandem bike on our cars and went to Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge for an early morning ride on the 15 mile loop. Jake stayed home, too long and too hot for him. We got started about 7:45 AM and finished about two hours later. By then it was plenty hot. We saw lots of birds, rabbits and a few deer. We also saw three or four Ocelots (on the yellow signs). We look forward to returning to this loop more this winter. It follows the bay for several miles. When we have more rain filling the shallow areas, migratory birds are abundant here. Usually we also see Osprey eating a fish caught in the bay.

Walldog, Willie and Jake (stayed home).

Friday, August 28, 2009

Louisiana Billboard Rule Changes

A meeting is scheduled for September 16, 2009 10 AM at Traffic Operations - Section 45, 7686 Tom Drive, Baton Rouge, LA. 70806 Rule changes will increase Renewal fees 1000% for our Louisiana Billboards To answer your concerns and objections to the proposed rule changes. If you know of any other interested persons let them know they are welcome.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Resaca de la Palma State Park

Today we decided to ride our trikes. We loaded up and went to the Resaca de la Palma State Park. They have several miles of bike paths and trails with nice overlooks. The water levels are extremely low because of the drought. We went early and had a nice ride before it got too hot. Jake stayed home. We may take him on a future trip this winter. We saw a few birds and some feral hogs. The hogs grow much larger here than up in East Texas. You can see a few pictures of our trip here.

Walldog, Willie and without Jake.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Summer Vacation

On our last post I mentioned that we had a medical appointment we needed to keep and cut our trip to the Florida Gulf Cost a little short.  Earlier we had done a "Heart Saver CT Scan"  recommended by our family doctor.  A small suspicious spot was seen in Wilma's left lung.  Well the medical appointment confirmed that the spot found in her left lung was indeed Cancer.  We immediately called MD Anderson in Houston to set up second opinion appointments and discuss treatment.  Houston is much hotter than Port Isabel this time of year. 

We traveled by motor home to the South Main RV Park in Houston on the 4th of June.  Our first appointment was the next day at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  The next week was filled with several tests and consultations ending with a biopsy of the small spot in Wilma's Lung.  The spot was confirmed as Cancer.  The good news was that it would be able to be removed and not need further treatment with chemo or radiation.  PRAISE GOD!  For what it is worth, we were told that the cancer was not the type caused by smoking or passive smoke.  

 Monday the 15th we met with a surgeon that would schedule surgery for Wilma.  He recommended an open surgery that would enter her back by cutting two ribs for access.  She would be hospitalized for about a week and would have about a two month recovery time at home.  The earliest he could fit us in was the 28th of July.  We accepted the appointment, but asked if the Nurse Practitioner could find us an earlier surgery.  Later in that week we met with a Cardiologist in preparation for the surgery.  He analyzed the CT scans and recommended that Wilma start taking a cholesterol lowering drug.  She elected to use Crestor which is made by AstraZeneca.  Wilma is retired from AstraZeneca.

 We decided to go back home to Port Isabel while we waited for the July 28th surgery or for a closer appointment.  We had been back home only a day or so when we received a call from MD Anderson.  They had us a surgery appointment for the 6th of July if we wanted it.  It only took us a few moments to accept the closer date.  The doctor scheduled was the head of the Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery or VATS department.  This procedure would use a camera inserted between the ribs with 5 small incisions for removing the lower lobe of her left lung.  The recovery time was greatly shortened and she would only be in the hospital a couple of days.

 We traveled back to Houston on the first of July and had our first appointment with Dr. David Rice the next morning.  Surgery schedule was confirmed for the next Monday, the 6th of July.  We got to spend our 4th of July in beautiful downtown Houston, missing the South Padre Island fireworks for the second year in a row.  Have I mentioned that it is hot in Houston this time of the year?

 Wilma went in for surgery Monday morning early.  The surgery was completed about 10 AM, but she was not back to her room until early afternoon.  By early evening, she was on her feet for the first time.  The next day was spent adjusting pain medications and walking around the nurses stations several times.  The pathology came back clear including some lymph nodes that were removed as a precaution.  Wednesday she was discharged back home to the motor home.  Friday she walked a mile around the RV park.  We continued our early morning walk around the RV park, it was too hot to walk outside later in the day.  Wilma walked the length of inside of the RV many times each day.

 The doctors cleared Wilma for travel, so on the 18th we moved our motor home to Avinger to take care of some business.  The next weekend we came back to Splendora for Wilma's family reunion.  We dry camped in the parking lot of the school next door to the church where the reunion was held.  Back to the South Main RV Park on Monday.  Tuesday we had a follow-up appointment with the surgeon and a chest X-ray.  Dr. Rice gave Wilma a clean bill of health and told her to keep on doing what she was doing as she was progressing excellently.

 At this time we had considered going to the mountains for a few weeks as that is what we planned before the unexpected surgery.  But we both decided that the call of HOME was stronger than the cool mountain air.  So Tuesday around noon we rolled south out of Houston-- destination Port Isabel.  A stop overnight at the Kingsville Wal-mart, and then an easy morning drive on in home on Wednesday.

 Now here we are 6 weeks after surgery, Wilma is doing really well, back to "normal" activities. She is walking our usual 2.3 mile loop every morning.  I fixed up our trikes and we have started riding them again.  We count ourselves among the most fortunate and are truly blessed.  When we discovered this spot, Wilma immediately called upon the prayer warriors she stays in touch with by email and telephone.  We are sure the excellent outcome of our ordeal was the result of prayer from many good folks.  Thank you all and thank you God.

 Walldog, Willie and Jake

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Gerald Howard Stark 1951-2008

Today we remember our fallen soldiers, sailors, Airmen and Marines. For me today is especially poignant.
From Memorial Day 2009
This past July 4th my younger brother Gerald died. Gerald was a Vietnam Veteran with a service connected disability. He was part of a fire team that battled a blaze in the hold of his ship. They fought the fire for over 8 hours, several hours after the air masks were rendered ineffective. He suffered for the past several years with COPD, unable to walk across a room without being winded. He was very active in the VFW and never wavered in his love of God, family and country. Everyday and today especially, I salute Gerald and all the other Veterans who have died serving their country.

Herb Stark USMC 1961-1965.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Visit to Wefing's Marine I

As most of you know our current boat is a SeaDoo Challenger. While it is a very nice boat and very fast, it is not quite the best boat for us at this time. We were turned on to a C-Dory by our friend Jim who has a 25 Cruiser and lives here in Port Isabel.
From Visit to Wefing's Marine
So we joined the C-Brats, a discussion forum for C-Dory owners and wannabees. In the meantime, we found out about the Ranger Tugs. They are neat diesel powered boats with an enclosed cabin. They are extremely economical to run which appeals to Wilma.
From Visit to Wefing's Marine

We kept hearing really good reports from a dealer in Eastpoint FL, Wefing's Marine. Wefing's is a dealer for both C-dory and Ranger Tugs. The owner Marc and I started some email conversations and soon we were planning a trip to Apalachicola for sometime in the future. We had a trip to Louisiana planned for early May and thought we would continue on to the Gulf Coast after Louisiana. Due to some scheduling problems, we were not able to make the Louisiana trip, but decided to go ahead to the Florida Gulf coast anyway.

We loaded up the motorhome and headed North planning to take three days to travel to Apalachicola. The first day we made it to Orange, Texas. A little farther than we ususally like to travel in a day. But we wanted to be on the other sided of Houston to start the next day. We fueled up and spent the night at the Flying J.

We crossed into Louisiana and soon came to Rayne where our good friends Karl and Emily live. We called them and they came out to meet us at the Frog City Truck Stop. A nicer place than it sounds...grin. After a very nice visit, we continued on our way arriving at the Wal-mart in Mobile Al. for our second night out.

Having only a short drive to Apalachicola, we called our friend Patti in Pensacola for a visit. She recently moved actually to Pensacola Beach from Kentucky with her job. She said we would have no trouble parking our 42 foot motorhome in the parking area for her condo on the beach. She actually was right (this time, but that is another story). Her home in Kentucky was not so easy. Ask me how I know..grin. Wilma and I enjoyed a long pleasant visit and lunch with Patti. Then it was on to Apalachicola. I had forgotten how white the sand on the beaches are in this area.

Marc had suggested that we dry camp under the big bridge in Apalachicola. We arrived and did just that. We got a nice spot by a pier going out into the bay.
From Visit to Wefing's Marine
A little noisy, because of the dredge that was working in the channel. But it was very interesting to talk to some of the workers and watch the operation.

Apalachicola is a very old seacoast town that for some reason has dodged most of the Gulf hurricanes. There are many 100 year old oaks that provide shade for the mix of old and restored homes and new coastal homes. The downtown area has loads of interesting places and restaurants. The town sits aside the Apalachicola river which empties into the Apalachicola Bay. The river is part of the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway.

Our first visit to Wefing's was to meet Marc and look over the selection of boats he has in stock. I was impressed. He has a Ranger Tug 29, two 25s, and two 21ECs in his new stock. He also has several new C-Dorys in stock. After crawling over most every boat he had in stock, we made a date for 5:30 to take the R21EC out for a spin. He arrived at the City Marina at the appointed time along with his wife Anita. The four of us launched and headed up the river. After an hour or so we turned around and headed back down river to the bay. A short loop into the bay and we returned to the marina for the night. We then drove to an oyster restaurant Marc recommended. After about 10 dozen oysters, we called it a night.

The next day we started out about 3:30 PM with some fresh diesel in the tank. Ask Marc why...grin. We had quite a wind and some chop on the bay. A good test to see how Wilma would fair. The little tug handled like a dream. We went across to St. George's Island and just a bit out into the Gulf beyond. As we started back, the wind kicked up a little thunderstorm that passed to our East. Wilma really enjoyed our trip as she was clicking pictures the whole time.
From Visit to Wefing's Marine
The Ranger Tug is a fantastic little boat. I can see why folks take them many places. It feels so secure and safe. Even in the chop we had in the bay, the cockpit stayed dry. The little tug just bobs like a cork and keeps on chugging along. I was very impressed and extremely grateful to Marc and Wefing's for going the extra mile to show us the boat. We were treated like a buyer, even though we told him up front that we were not quite ready to buy now. Maybe he figured that a guy who would drive a motorhome over 1000 miles one way just to look, was maybe a bit serious. And we are. We are pretty sure that the Ranger Tug is our choice now. A C-Dory still is a possibility, but the Tug is way out front. Of course Wefing's is our first choice for a dealer.

We went back to Wefing's the next morning for a dollars and cents meeting. We resisted temptation and in the afternoon started back toward Texas. A good thing as we got a call that a medical appointment we needed was moved up to Monday. So we just had time to get back and make it.

Thanks again to Marc and Wefing's for a wonderful visit.

Our album for this visit is here

Walldog, Willie and Jake

A Day on the Water South Padre Island

Saturday May 23, 2009

A really neat day spent on the water of the Laguna Madre. It starts with the obligatory pictures of the Dolphins that reside here in the bay. One of the highlights of the day was as we were idling along the channel, three dolphins came along side of us and after riding with us a few moments then dove underneath our boat and came up on the other side. Of course we missed the pictures of this treat. This being Memorial Day Weekend, many people were on the water enjoying the day. You can see a few more of our pictures here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Interesting Tug

Friday May 22, 2009 3:31PM CDT.

Neat interesting tug came into our canal and harbor today. "Moonglow" out of Rockwood, ME. If anyone knows about her please post.

Thanks Walldog, Willie, and Jake.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Updated links to Alaska Blog Entrys

We took an 83 day motorhome trip to Alaska in the summer of 2006. During the trip or shortly thereafter, Yahoo decided to cancel their photo storage and all our links to the trip have been broken. I finally uploaded over 1 GB of photos to Picasa Web Albums (Thank You Google) and updated the links on the original posts. So you can see some nice Alaska travel photos now if you want to follow the first posts in this blog.

Or you can skip the daily commentary and go directly to the daily albums here.

Thanks for Looking

Walldog, Willie and Jake