1,000 Foot Ore Freighter, Soo Locks, MI

1,000 Foot Ore Freighter, Soo Locks, MI

Near Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Near Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Colorful Truck Sales, Weed, CA

Colorful Truck Sales, Weed, CA

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign

Mackinac Bridge, MI

Mackinac Bridge, MI

Pelicans, Grays Harbor, WA

Pelicans, Grays Harbor, WA

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Hippopotamuses . . .

We were on our way up to the Saltgrass Steakhouse in Webster for our monthly Alvin Opry get-together about 1:15pm. We were short two people this month due to family obligations, so it was just five of us, Jan and I, Connie, and Bob and Maria.

Saltgrass Group 20221206

Jan and I both started with our usual Wedge Salads,

Saltgrass 55 Anniversary Wedge Salad

while Jan entréed with her usual Filet with Grilled Green Beans.

Saltgrass 55 Anniversary Filet

My usual was the 16 oz. Ribeye, also with the Green Beans.

Saltgrass Ribeye 20221206

I did find it kind of funny that our bread was served in ‘Sword In The Bread’ mode.

Saltgrsss Sword In The Bread

But unfortunately I didn’t become King of England when I pulled the knife free.

After our usual great meal, and scheduling next month’s meeting for our local Red Lobster, we headed home about 3:30pm

I’ve got to call in tomorrow to schedule my lumbar MRI/X-Rays in the next few days or week, hopefully before the end of the year. If I’m going to do this operation, I want to get it done and not let it drag out.

But that will probably have to wake until next year, just due to the holidays.

This YouTube video has been circulating around the Net from a zoo in India about a Hippo who has decide to go on a Walkabout from his enclosure.

But a security guard has other ideas, and dissuades him of the idea. But not how you might think.

What’s really funny are some of the comments criticizing the guard because he’s slapping the hippo on the snout. Yeah, like that’s going to hurt him.

Killing more than 500 people a year, hippos are the deadliest mammal on earth. And no, that’s not a gun the guard pulls out, but a walkie-talkie.

I like the way the hippo settles back into the enclosure like a pouting puppy. It gives you the feeling that these two have done this before.

Of course, maybe the guard just wants a Hippopotamus for Christmas


Thought For The Day:


Few women admit their age. Few men act theirs.
Jan says this certainly applies to me.


December 6, 2010

Vipers and Pelicans . . .

Today got off to a late start after we slept in kind of recovering from our trip home. So I didn’t leave the coach until about 1pm, taking care of a couple of errands and then stopping off at a client’s office for a while.

A few days ago I told you about having Buffalo  Wings made with the hottest chilies in the world, the Ghost Chili or Naga Jolokia (Also known as the Bhut Jolokia).

You Learn Something New Every Week

So just when I was able to cross off another item on my bucket list (I’m not sure why, but a lot of things on my bucket list sure seem to involve food.), along comes a new, hotter pepper, the Naga Viper. Although it looks a lot like the Ghost Chili, it’s supposedly 30% hotter at about 1,300,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

alg_naga_viper_pepper

I guess it would come between the Standard US Grade Pepper Spray and the Naga Jolokia.

Scoville_Scale

The Viper was developed by crossing 3 peppers, including the Naga. And since the grower lives in England it will probably be a while until I get to try them. Bummer!

I got back to the rig about 3, and then Jan and I headed up to Chili’s for ‘lupper’. But before we left the park I got this shot of two pelicans sitting out on the overturned boat. For some strange reason pelicans are one of Jan’s favorite birds.

Pelicans on Bayou

Leaving Chili’s we stopped off at our son Chris’ before heading back to the rig for the night.


December 6, 2011

Hawks and Buffets . . .

I kept my phone in the bedroom last night in case I got an early call from AT&T. As it was I got up at 9am to be ready when they called.

And they did call about 10:30. But instead of giving me the promised 1 hour heads up, I got 10 minutes. Typical of Ma Bell.

It took me about 25 minutes to get up to my client’s house, where I found the technician still outside at the circuit box checking things out. But after checking out the line, and replacing the DSL modem inside, we still could not get an Internet light.

So by 11:45 I was back on the phone with AT&T Tech Support trying to work out the problem. But after another hour on the phone, and running a lot more tests, on my end and theirs, she gave up and bumped us up to Level II Support. She said they would call me within an hour.

Since my client was leaving town tomorrow, and needed Internet access today, I took the hour to head back to the rig to get my Verizon AirCard and Cradlepoint router. Since I’ve recently been using the park WiFi with good success, I haven’t been using my AirCard.

So I used my AirCard to plug into their router and get all their machines and network printers back online. They were happy, and it took some pressure off me to this problem fixed immediately. They’ll be gone 10 days, so hopefully, AT&T will be able to figure it out by then.

Finally, about 3:45 I gave up on hearing back from AT&T within “one hour”, and headed back to the rig.

Jan had a fun day with her bird feeder. It seems like every bird in the area showed up.

Birdfeeder 1

A little bit of everything here.

But a little later, all the birds suddenly disappeared. And then she saw why.

Another feathered visitor was checking things out.

Galverton Bay Hawk 2

Galverton Bay Hawk 3

I guess this Coopers Hawk (I think?) thought this place was a bird buffet. But he doesn’t seem to have dined this time.

About 5pm Jan and I headed up to Nassau Bay to pick up our granddaughter Piper so she could accompany Jan and our friend Maria to play Bingo down in La Marque. Piper, Jan and I ate supper at Monterey’s Little Mexico before Maria picked them up about 6:45, and I headed back to the rig for a couple of hours.

Later I drove down to La Marque to pick them up about 10pm. No luck this time, although the lady next to them won the $750 jackpot, and our friend Maria won $200.

Maybe next time.


December 6, 2012

Sous-Vide and Cheesecake . . .

Jan and I headed out a little before 2 pm for couple of clients and dinner, with my first stop being at a client’s home office.

They’re out of  town until the end of the year, but I do so much work for them, I have a key. The problem was that while I was on the road this past year, the two-line phone system I had installed several years ago, had gotten zapped somehow.

Apparently they tried to replace it themselves, but just managed to screw up their phone lines, so they disconnected everything and left it for me to sort.

Oh, and even better, they lost the manual. But lucky for me, they have this thing called the Internet that let’s me just download another one.

Then it was on to another client for a few minutes to straighten out a printing problem. Turns out that someone had been playing with the network settings on the computer and it couldn’t see the remote printer anymore. But it’s fixed now.

Leaving the client’s, Jan and I headed over to the Cheesecake Factory to meet our friend’s Bob and Maria, and Connie, and her mother. We had decided to eat early, about 4pm, because just a little later they were on a wait.

Along with the good meal, we had such a good time talking and reminiscing, that we spent about two hours there before we finally left. We also made plans to meet again at King Food in two weeks for another get-together. We’re looking forward to it.

Next up was a quick stop by Brandi’s to pick up the mail and some Amazon packages that had come in. Then it was right down the road to the Sam’s Club to pick up some vitamins. And then finally back to the rig for the night.


I came across something interesting the other day. It’s how to cook meat in a Beer Cooler. Of course, in the world of haute cuisine, it has to have a fancy name. And in this case, it’s called “Sous-Vide”. Which, I think is French for “Cooking in a Beer Cooler”, but I could be wrong about that. Apparently restaurants have been doing this for years using a specialized appliance that cost around $500.

Basically the idea is to immerse your meat, packaged  in vacuum-sealed, or even ziplock,bags, in water held at the temperature you want meat to end up at.

For example, a rare steak should be cooked to an internal temperature of 125 degrees. So you immerse your steak in 130 degree water (to allow for a slight cool-down from adding the cold meat) and leave it in the closed cooler for about an hour.

Your meat will come up perfectly cooked, edge to edge, and moist and flavorful. And even better, because the meat cannot overcook, it can be held for several hours without losing quality or flavor. It’s for this that many high-end restaurants use their Sous-Vide cookers.

They can have five different ones, each set for the required temperatures for rare, medium rare, medium, etc. Steaks are held in the cookers all evening, perfectly cooked. As they’re needed, they’re pulled out of the cookers, thrown on a hot grill for 30 seconds on each side to char the outside, and off to your table it goes, perfectly done and delicious. According to the article, the process is also good for tenderizing tough cuts as well.

Vegetables also come out moist and flavorful, but since they require higher water temps and longer cooking times, you’ll probably need the real machine.

So if you’ve got a beer cooler and a steak, have at it. Just be sure to invite me over when dinner’s ready.


December 6, 2014

How Low Can It Go . . .

Jan and I headed out down to the Clear Lake area about 10 am on our quest to empty out our 10’ x 25’ storeroom before the end of the year, so we can finally get rid of it. I mean, we’ve only had it since August 1994.

That’s right., we’ve had the storeroom for over 20 years. And it was originally only for a few months. We rented it to store a lot of our furniture while we were doing some remodeling before Jan’s parents came to visit. Then it just became a convenient place to tuck stuff away. And in 2007 when we moved out of the house and into an apartment as we started getting ready to go full-time in 2008, it really came in handy.

We first all met up at Floyd’s Cajun Seafood for lunch. We’ve all been eating at Floyd’s for about 15 years, and it never disappoints.

One really funny thing that happened was when Landon was trying to show his Uncle Chris how to play a game on his phone.

Landon Teaches Chris

Finally, apparently exasperated with his uncle not catching on, Landon handed him the iPad and said, “Here. Play this one. It’s easier.”

Out of the mouth of babes.

Then it was right down the road to our storeroom where we started hauling stuff out and sorting it into piles for Goodwill, Trash, Keep, and Look-Through. We actually only worked for about an hour and a half, but made a lot of progress, taking loads to Goodwill and the dump. A couple of more times like this should finish things up.

If we get to move down to Galveston Bay RV Resort in the next week or so, we should have no problem wrapping it up.

Leaving the storage facility, Lowell and Brandi, and Jan and I drove over to the Baybrook Mall Starbuck’s for Chestnut Praline Lattes before all meeting back at Chris’

While Chris taught Landon to fly our new quadcopters, I worked on resurrecting Linda’s desktop computer. I had to go through a couple of other computers to find a power supply that would work in hers, but finally got it working again.

Saying our goodbyes about 3:30, we made a couple of stops before finally heading back toward Conroe around 4:30. Along the way, I was very happy to see this diesel price.

Diesel Price

Hope it keeps going down.

After more traffic than I expected, we finally got home about 6:15, after a nice, productive day. And tomorrow will be a stay-at-home day.

Yeah, right.


December 6, 2015

On to Colorado River . . .

For some reason, Jan and I were both up at about 6:30 this morning, earlier than we really needed to be, since we didn’t plan on leaving the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails until between 10 and 11.

But it did give us a relaxing time for our coffee and toasted pumpkin bread before we slowly started getting ready to roll. Jan was in her second day of a three day migraine cluster, so going slow was good for her.

About 8:30 I went outside and took care of the water, sewer, awnings, and satellite, leaving only shore power still connected. I also disconnected the engine block heater that had been on all night, a good thing since it went down to 36° last night. But with the block heater, the oil temp was 130° this morning, so it’s doing its job.

We pulled out of our site about 10:30, with Jan following in the truck so we could get hitched up before we left the park. Finally about 11, we were out on I-45 and heading south.

By changing our travel day between parks from Friday to Sunday a few weeks ago, we really cut down on the traffic, so we had a nice easy trip down to Beltway 8 and then around to I-10 west. We always make a pit shop on the wide shoulders just east of Brookshire, and then it was smooth riding until we got to the Colorado River Thousand Trails a little after 1pm. We were lucky enough to get our favorite A2 site, so we were quickly parked and set up.

A little later, I went down to the office to pay and get our gate codes for our two week stay. One thing I really like about the Colorado River TT over Lake Conroe is that here they give you all 3 gate codes you’ll need for your stay. If fact, Barbara, the Ranger who checked me in, said they already have all the codes for the rest of the year, and into next year.

But at Lake Conroe only the Manager knows the code and he doesn’t tell anyone until the guardhouse opens Tuesday morning at 9am. And since they won’t give you the code over the phone, you can end up in the same fix we did a couple of years ago when we left the park about 7am for a doctor’s appointment down in Clear Lake, and then didn’t get back until after 9pm, and after the guardhouse had already closed.

So we couldn’t get in the gate and had to wait around outside until someone came in, so we could zip in behind them. Luckily we only had to wait 15 minutes or so.

After goofing off for a while I spent some time going through things, getting stuff together for my upcoming plumbing jobs this coming Wednesday while Jan’s staying at Brandi’s for a few days.

Actually I have several more projects in mind if I don’t run into any delays on the first three, but we’ll just have to see how it goes.


December 6, 2016

Beeville Bound . . .

Well, it looks the rain is over for a while. In fact today was sunny and in the low 70’s, so very nice for a change.

Jan and I headed out about 1:30pm for our daytrip down to Beeville, but our first stop was the Karnes County National Bank in Kenedy. I had set up my online banking account there a couple of weeks ago, but then the next time I tried, the system wouldn’t let me in, and said there was a problem with my user name. Well, since I use RoboForm to store my logins and passwords, I knew they were right.

And as far as I can tell, there’s no way to reset it online, or even a number to call. And although it took a while at the bank they were finally able to get it straightened out and working out.

And maybe because of my above problem, I ordered some checks while I was there since it wouldn’t let do it online. It said it couldn’t verify my identify.

Now with both these chores done, we headed out on the 30 mile trip south down to Beeville. Our first stop was the Beeville Diner, a place recommended to us by Nancy, our RV park’s owner a few weeks ago. And boy was she right.

Though the Yelp reviews were hit and miss, with some 1 star reviews and some 5 star ones. And it seems the 1 star ones were mostly due to bad service.

But that was not our experience.

We were seated immediately and our drink orders taken. And when our drinks were brought out a couple of minutes later, the young lady took our food order.

Jan and I both ordered salads, and we split an order of their Sweet Tangy Golden Sauce Wings.

Beeville Diner Chicken Wings

Jan said these were the best wings she’s ever had. And I concur. And believe me, we’ve eaten a LOT of wings over the years.

They had a crunchy crust and the sauce was delicious. I would have liked them a little hotter, but I can do that myself.

Jan got the Avocado Salad with Crispy Chicken,

Beeville Diner Avocado Salad

while I got the Berry Nut Salad with Crispy Chicken.

Beeville Diner Berry Nut Salad

Both were delicious, and very big. Almost too big to finish.

Beeville Diner was really good, and worth another trip back down to Beeville.

Next up was our movie pick, Arrival, which started at 4pm. Starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, the word of mouth has been really good on this picture, a story about 12 alien ships landing about the world, and the race to learn to communicate with them.

Amy Adams plays Louise Brooks, a linguist, who is recruited along with Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, to decode the alien’s message.

This is a ‘thinking’ science fiction movie, more in the line of Matt Damon’s “The Martian”, rather action movies like Star Wars’ robots and ray guns. There’s a lot going on in this movie, with a big twist at the end, that completely changes how you see the story.

Well worth seeing, and actually a movie I’d like to see again, because I’m sure there are things we missed.

So a really good movie.

Go See It.


December 6, 2017

To Serve Man . . .

I spent most of the day at work helping the Spectrum VOIP tech get our phone system working again. The problem started early this morning when apparently Spectrum tried update the firmware in their router and our phones. And it did not go well.

Not at all.

When the office manager came in this morning, we had no phones whatsoever, not even a dial tone. And maybe even worse, when someone called in, it would ring once, and then give the caller what sounded like a Bronx cheer, you know, Brrrrraaaatttt.

The first thing we found was that the Spectrum router had been ‘bricked’, I.e. dead. It would not even turn on. This is what can happen when a firmware update goes wrong.

Once we found that, we were dead in the water because the tech guy didn’t have a spare on his truck, and it was a couple of hours before he came back with one. Then with a new router in place, we took a look at the four phones. And they weren’t much better off.

Like the router, one of the phones was also ‘bricked’, but luckily he did have a spare one with him, and the other three were fine after we rebooted them.

When in doubt, reboot.

So, after almost 4 hours, we finally had a working phone system again.

One thing did come out of going in to work today, my new toy came in. A TP-Link Smart Switch.

TP-Link Switch

Using it, you can control AC devices from either your phone, or link it to your Alexa Echo, Echo Dot, or Google Home and control them by just asking Alexa to turn them on and off for you.

And if you don’t have an Echo or a Dot, you can also get an Echo Dot with TP-Link Switch for only $5 more that the cost of the Dot alone.

Echo Dot and TP-Link Switch

Setup turned out to be pretty easy.

1. First up, download the ‘Kasa for Mobile’ app on your phone.

2. Connect your phone to a ‘2.4 GHz’ WiFi network. This is the one that gets a lot of people messed up. Most RV’ers use some kind of MiFi in their rigs and everyone I’ve seen defaults to the 5 GHz setting. not the 2.4 GHz one. So the Smart Switch will not see it when the time comes.

And again, most MiFi’s also have a 2nd WiFi account called a Guest account, which is normally not turned on, and it can be set for either 2.4 or 5 GHz. So turn the Guest account on and set it for 2.4 GHz. When you now look at your WiFi signals, you will now see a new signal to connect to, using a new password that your MiFi will give you.

Then it’s just a matter of following the instructions on the Kasa app, and in just a few minutes you will be able to control your device from your phone.

And it only takes a few minutes more to link it to your Alexa/Dot, and then you can just ask Alexa to turn on your device(s).

A neat toy.


Voyager I, launched in 1977, is now over 13 billion miles from Earth, the farthest any manmade object has ever traveled. And it’s still ticking, sending back data on a regular schedule. Of course as far away as it is, it takes that data over 19 HOURS to get back to Earth.

But to keep this data flowing, Voyager needs to keep its parabolic antenna pointed toward the Earth, And to do this it’s periodically using its Attitude Control Thrusters to aim it in our direction. But after over 40 years of use, they’re starting to get a little flakey.

So NASA engineers decided to try using the craft’s trajectory correction maneuver thrusters, last used in 1980 for a course correction. And in a great example of NASA craftsmanship, the thrusters fired up and worked perfectly. After 37years!

Of course it took over 38 hours, 19 hours out and 19 hours back, before they knew the thrusters had worked.

Now that’s a long distance call.

You may remember that Voyager was one of the spacecraft that was carrying The Golden Record, containing photos and audio greeting as well as music.

The_Sounds_of_Earth Record

One of the photos illustrated a galactic map locating the Earth in relation to known pulsars, essentially 14 interstellar beacons to guide aliens to the Earth. At the time, a number of scientist said it wasn’t really a good idea to give the aliens a guidebook back to us.

In fact a famous cartoon at the time (a cartoon I couldn’t find a copy of) showed a group of aliens using the Record as a takeout menu.

“To Serve Man”

“It’s A Cookbook!”


December 6, 2018

I Was Hoping For a Pirate Eye Patch . . .

We were up too early and out the door by 4:30, getting to the Bay Area Surgicenter by about 4:50, before the free valet service had started up, so we had to park in the next lot and walk over to the office.

And after being called into Pre-op about 6:15, she was being wheeled into the operating area by 6:45, and ready to go home by 7:30. She was still a little groggy, but ready to get out of there.

Besides all the after-care instructions, they also gave Jan a clear plastic shield to wear over her eye for the next three days while she’s asleep to be sure she  doesn’t rub her eye.

Personally I was hoping for something like this.

Jan at Margaritaville

But no such luck.

After a quick stop at my client’s to check out a problem, we made our planned breakfast stop at Snooze. While I got my usual Shrimp and Grits with a side of fruit, Jan got her favorite Avocado Toast. At least that’s what she thought she was getting.

Snooze Smashing Avocado Benny

But it turns out that Snooze does their version as a Benedict, with Hollandaise Sauce. Plus she asked for her eggs well-scrambled, but they came out much less then ‘well’, but more like ‘wet’. I told her to send it back, but just didn’t feel like it. So she just scraped off the eggs/sauce and ate it  that way.

Coming home we made a Costco stop for gas, and it was a new first. It was the first time that we’ve gotten gas at Costco that it wasn’t cheaper than the last time. It was still $1.81, just like last week.

Getting home we both did the nap thing for a few hours. And since Jan kept her glasses on I didn’t worry about putting the shield over her eye.

Later, about 3pm, and Jan not being really happy with her breakfast, we drove over to the nearby Chili’s for linner/lupper, unusual for us since we usually only have one meal a day.

Jan had the Ribs and I had the Grilled Chicken Caribbean Salad, both really good.

Tomorrow Jan had her follow-up checkup on her surgery, and hopefully a schedule for her right eye. We had thought it might be next Thursday, the 13th, but it looks like it will actually be Thursday, the 20th instead. But we’ll see tomorrow.

Actually the 20th works best for us anyway, since my second session of Photo Dynamic Therapy, I.e. setting my head on fire again, is already scheduled for the 13th.

But whenever her next surgery is, at least the eye patch is reversible.


December 6, 2019

Friday in NYC . . .

Well, I had planned to have big, full blog with all the photos I took with my Panasonic FZ80, but I found that I couldn’t get the photos off the camera.

I had planned to just plug the SD card into my laptop and transfer them over. But I brought my new “Hungarian” laptop with me, the one I bought in Budapest last May, when I left my other one at home. But since I also left my camera at home, I never got to try plugging an SD card into it.

So I never discovered that this Hungarian ASUS model does not have an SD port.

Bummer!

So I would just plug a cable directly from the camera to the laptop, right? But then I discovered that, though my Panasonic uses a standard USB to micro USB to externally charge the battery, it uses a micro HDMI to HDMI cable to transfer video from the camera.

Which I didn’t have.

Bummer, too!

But the 3rd times the charm, right?

My camera has a WiFi connection that uses an Android app to connect your phone to the camera, allowing you to transfer photos, and even remotely control the camera.

But after I downloaded the app, connected my laptop to the camera WiFi signal, it would only transfer one or two photos and then lock up.

So the 4th times the charm, right?

Nope. Because I didn’t have any more ideas.

So all you get tonight is a couple of photos I took with my phone.

When you come to NYC you just have to try a street vendor hot dog.

NYC Street Hot Dogs

Jan got a Chili Cheese Dog with Jalapenos, while I got a standard New York Style Dog. When in Rome, right?

And of course, a big cheesy warm pretzel.

All really good.

And I did get one photo of the beautiful Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.

Rockefeller Center Tree

Really magnificent!


December 6, 2021

Last Time I Died . . .

Today was our busiest day with 3 shows and exhibits booked, with our first stop being the Titanic exhibit right on the main drag.

The building is said to be the same basic size as the Titanic, but only half the length.

Titanic

This was also one of only two places where we had to wear a mask. Of course the bow of the ship should have been a giveaway.

Branson Titanic Mask

Merry Christmas, indeed.

The other place that required a mask was our Showboat Branson Belle non-cruise Dinner Cruise, due to Coast Guard regulations.

When you enter, the first thing you see is the famous Grand Staircase.

Branson Titanic Staircase

This staircase was built from the original plans using all the specified woods and materials of the original.

We were told we couldn’t take any photographs inside the exhibit, but somebody did it, resulting in all the online photographs like the one above. Don’t know what the problem is. Are they afraid someone will take a lot of photographs and then build their own museum?

It’s here that they give you a random card with a passenger or crew member’s name on it, and then at the end of the exhibit you can check the passenger list to see if you lived or died.

We did a traveling version of this in Houston years ago, and that time I was a Third Class Steward, and I died.

This time I was a young, healthy male 1st Class passenger who certainly wasn’t going to up HIS seat in the lifeboat for any Third Class riff-raff, so I survived.

They had a lot of really neat exhibits with artifacts recovered from the ship. In addition there were a lot of interesting facts along the way.

The Titanic was not fully booked. Capable of holding 2,566 passengers and crew, there were only 2,240 onboard for the maiden voyage.

If every lifeboat had been filled, they would have only held 1,178 people. But the ship was ‘ unsinkable’, right? So why would you need more than the 20 lifeboats onboard?

The iceberg became visible to the the lookout in the Crow’s Nest only 37 seconds before the impact.

And

If the Titanic had hit the iceberg head-on, it almost certainly would not have sunk.  The ship had 16 water-tight compartments, and could stay afloat with as many as 4 flooded.  So a head-on collision would have breached 1, or maybe 2 compartments, leaving the ship afloat.

But because the Titanic grazed along side the iceberg, ripping open 6 compartments, the ship was doomed.

After our 90 minute Titanic visit it was time for lunch. We had been asking locals about good places to eat, and Billy Bob’s Dairyland kept coming up.

Branson Billy Bob's Dairyland

And since it was right down the Strip, we were off.

And although there were other obvious tourists like us there, it was easy to tell the locals, who were greeting each other, and joking with the waitresses. And the burgers make it obvious why the locals like it so much.

Jan had the Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries.

Branson Billy Bob's Dairyland Jan's Burger

I had the Cheeseburger with a side of Chili. And it was easy to see why the locals like the place so much. Nothing fancy, just a delicious burger.

Then after a nice nap back at the room, we were off to our next show, Legends, at the iconic Dick Clark American Bandstand Theater.

First up was Dean Martin, complete with the Gold-digger’s Dancers.

Branson Legends Dean Martin

Branson Legends Dean Martin  Golddiggers

This guy was really good and passed my test. When I closed my eyes, I was listening to Dean Martin.

Next up was the Blues Brothers, again dead on, including the dance moves.

Branson Legends Blues Brothers 1

Branson Legends Blues Brothers 2

Also really good.

Next up was Whitney Houston, who was just amazing.

Branson Legends Whitney Houston 1

Branson Legends Whitney Houston 2

Her voice was just fantastic.

Last up was Kenny Chesney, of You Had Me At Hello, and She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy fame.

Branson Legends Kenny Chesney

Also very good.

Then they wrapped up with everyone on stage.

Branson Legends Group

A  really great show!

After another rest-up we were off to our 3rd and final show of the day, SIX. We were looking forward to seeing them again, having seen them 11 years ago during our last visit to Branson.

Made up of six brothers, they sing acapella, including making the instrument sounds. They’re really amazing.

Branson SIX 1

Branson SIX 2

All 3 of these exhibits/acts are much recommended.

And now tomorrow we do it all over again.

A Good Report . . .

We were on our way up to my doctor’s office about 12:45 for my 1:30 appointment, only to not be called in for my cervical X-Rays until a little after 2:15. But that went pretty quick, and we were talking to my P.A., Alexandria by 2:45.

She was very happy with the progress with my Cervical Fusion and said the X-Rays looked great. Then we started talking about my possible Lumbar Fusion on L-4, L-5, and L-5, S-1. It seems like I’m feeling some increasing problems in my lumbar area so I wanted to get some more info on the operation.

Alexandria acknowledged that this operation is more complicated than the cervical one, and will require a 1 to 2 night hospital stay, while the cervical version was an in-and-out the same day. Also recovery will be somewhat longer, with more possible/probable pain along the way.

So at my request, Alexandria scheduled an MRI and X-Rays on my lumbar area to see if there had been any deterioration since the last lumbar MRI/X-Rays in October 2021. That comparison will give us something to work with on making the decision on whether or not the lumbar surgery.

I got an email yesterday from the La Crosse Weather Station people saying that they had shipped my replacement rain gauge for the one that died a couple of months ago. Originally they said it was not going to ship until the end of December, so this is an improvement.

Tomorrow we’re having another Alvin Opry Group get-together, this time at the Webster Saltgrass Steakhouse.

Hmmm! Steak!


Thought For The Day:

The Four Stages of Life –

1. You Believe In Santa Claus
2, You Don’t Believe in Santa Claus
3. You ARE Santa Claus.
4. You Look Like Santa Claus

HO! HO! HO!


December 5, 2010

Rudy’s and Lockhart . . .

We left the lake house about 10:30 this morning. Everyone headed out at different times. Lowell, Brandi, and Landon left first, and Chris, Linda, and Piper were finishing up the closing-up of the cottage when we left.

As we had planned we stopped off at Rudy’s Country BBQ on I-35 in Round Rock for lunch. Really great BBQ! And Jan really loves their Creamed Corn, and she doesn’t like corn!

We took a new route home this time, down US-183 thru Lockhart, a town we had never visited. Driving thru town our eyes were immediately drawn to the ornate court house on the town square a block off our route. It was so distinctive I had to stop and take a couple of photos.

I really don’t ever remember seeing a court house with this much color and detail.

Lockhart County House

Built in 1894, it is listed as the most photographed court house in Texas. And it’s easy to see why.

Lockhart County House2

Here’s a aerial shot from the court house website.

LockhartTXCourthouseAerial1008PaulTurner2

I noticed many of the buildings around the square had dates on them from the same time period.

All in all, a beautiful little town.

Our next stop was Buc-ee’s, about a hour away right as we got back on I-10. Great place for a potty break and some good coffee. Jan also got one of their great cranberry muffins for breakfast tomorrow.

It’s always amazing how big and busy this place it. They have over 40 gas pumps and I still would have had to wait in line to get gas. So I decided to hold off until we got to the Flying J about 100 miles down the road.

Buc-ees

After stopping at the FJ for gas, it was only about 25 miles until we hit Beltway 8 to bypass Houston to the south, heading back to the RV park and home.

But we had one more stop to make at Sam’s for some more kitty litter. Since we were going to be gone 5 days Jan set out 3 extra litter boxes which used up what we had.

After that stop it was home for the night after a great vacation with family and friends, short as it was.


December 5, 2011

Ma Bell . . .

Jan and I headed out a little before 11am to meet Brandi, Lowell, and Landon at our favorite local hamburger place, Tookie’s, for lunch. Landon was not feeling well last night so they stayed home with him today. But of course by this morning he was fine.

So after our Tookie’s delicious burgers, Jan went back to Brandi’s with them, while I headed out to a client’s. But my first stop was Fry’s Electronics to pick up a Netgear Wireless Router and an LG LCD/LED monitor for him.

But when I got to the client’s home I found another problem. His DSL service was down.

So I spent the next 3 hours on the phone with AT&T trying to convince them that I had checked everything and the problem was either with the line or the DSL modem. By the time they admitted I was right, it was too late for them to set up a service call for today. So we’ll have to wait until tomorrow, sometime between 8am and 8pm.

Nice of them to narrow it down for us.

Finally I headed over to Brandi’s about 4:30 to pick up Jan and head on home. We had planned to just have leftovers tonight, but since we were so close we decided to have dinner at Barcenas Mexican Restaurant, a place right outside of our subdivision that we’ve eaten at for years.

We used to eat here all the time, especially when we lived in an apartment right across the street as we were getting ready to go fulltime. But with everything going on last year, we never got here, so it was nice to be remembered by our waiter, Leno.

We both had our usual, my Carnitas de Puerco and Jan’s Tex-Mex Enchiladas, and it was as good as we remembered.

They’re supposed to call me an hour before the AT&T tech shows up so I guess I could get called at 7am. But I’ll probably end up hanging around all day waiting on them.


December 5, 2012

Ducks and a Dynasty . . .

Today was another nice, quiet stay-at-home day. It was overcast and never got out of the 60’s. Just perfect for sitting back with a large mug of hot coffee and enjoying life.

Later in the morning Jan went out to feed the birds, and it’s amazing how quickly the word gets out. Within just a few minutes the ducks show up in a line from their pond about 100 yards. They can’t see the feeder from the pond so the only thing I can figure is that they post a lookout to keep an eye on things. But show up they do.

Duck Line 1

Pretty soon the feeder area is swarming with birds, and a lot of squawking, chirping, and tweeting commences.

Duck Line 2

About 6pm Jan and I headed out to meet Chris, Linda, and Piper at the Mario’s Flying Pizza up in Seabrook, one of our regular dining spots.

After a good meal, Jan and I followed them home so I could get their Epson printer installed on their new laptop.

While there I got a shot of our beautiful granddaughter Piper. I fondly remember the good ole days when she would pose at the drop of a hat. Now she grew up and got shy.

Piper in A Blanket

I guess I’ll just have to repost this photo from a couple of years ago.

Piper at Chuys 5

When we got home we found that Lowell had sent over a photo of Landon’s visit with Santa Claus.

From the look on his face, I think Santa just told him he’s on Santa’s Naughty List.

Landon Christmas 2012

While we were up in Marble Falls over Thanksgiving, we stumbled upon Duck Dynasty, a reality program showing on the A&E cable channel, when they were running a show marathon.

It’s the story of the Robertson family, living in Monroe, Louisiana, who, 40 years ago, started a company called Duck Commander, and became millionaires making and selling duck calls.

Yes, duck calls!

Miss Kay, Phil, Willie, Korie, Jase and Si Robertson (from left)

The show is hilarious, and these guys who look like rejects from a ZZ Top look-a-like contest, make the show. Although it’s called a Reality Show, the family refers to it as “guided reality”. Every show had a theme and ends with a life lesson, usually centered on the family.

It’s funny, and well worth watching.

But wait, there’s more.

Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family, and the one who started the company, has another side. He’s a graduate of Louisiana Tech University, and actually has a Masters of Education degree.

And while he was at Louisiana Tech, he played football. And as the 1st string starting quarterback, he was very good. So good in fact that he had an offer from the Washington Redskins.

Even his 2nd string quarterback said Phil had the best arm he’d ever seen. He also said he knew Phil really liked to hunt because he would show at practice with squirrel tails hanging out of his jacket and covered in duck feathers. But since he was obviously a very good shot, no one complained.

But with a year of eligibility remaining Phil decided that as much as he loved football, he loved hunting better. So he gave up football to have more time for hunting, and a few years later started Duck Commander.

And the rest is history.

Oh yeah. The 2nd string quarterback who said Phil Robertson had the best arm he’d ever seen, and who didn’t get much playing time until Phil quit football … that would be Terry Bradshaw, top draft pick in 1970, who played 14 seasons with the Pittsburg Steelers, won 4 Super Bowls, and a spot in the Hall of Fame.

That Terry Bradshaw.


December 5, 2014

O Tannenbaum . . .

Jan spent the early afternoon decorating our Norfolk Pine Christmas Tree and it came out very nice. It fits perfectly on the dining room table and looks really good.

2014 Rig Christmas Tree2.

After a late lunch of our King Food leftovers from last weekend, I headed out a little about 3:30 for a few errands, with my first stop at the Dollar General over in Willis to get another bottle of Awesome cleaner. I’d just about used up my old bottle trying to clean the drilling mud off the roof of our RV, so it was time to restock.

Then I walked next door to the AutoZone to get a 12v accent light. Our big analog clock that hangs over the driver’s chair can be hard to see at night when we’re watching TV, so I thought I’d find one of those small white LED lights that people use in their cars. It took a few minutes but I found exactly what I needed.

Next I stopped off at the Kroger’s gas station to fill up at $2.29 a gallon with my Kroger’s card. Since we’re driving down to Clear Lake tomorrow, we won’t have to fill up along the way.

Last up, I made quick stop by the Kroger’s itself to pick up a couple of things, including a new bottle of coffee creamer to replace the new bottle I just bought a couple of days ago.

Why, you might ask?

Well, when I put the big bottle of creamer back on the top shelf of the fridge after our coffee this morning, I made sure the pop-up top was fastened down, but didn’t notice that the entire top had loosened on the bottle, which spent the day slowly emptying down through the shelves to pool in the bottom.

In other words, a mess.

So I spent the early evening starting at the top and emptying each shelf, cleaning off the food, and then putting everything back as I worked my way down. I only did about two shelves at a time, and then took a 15 minute break so the food didn’t get too warm.

I’m double-checking the top from now on.

Brandi sent over a photo of Landon’s latest artwork from his school.

Landon's Art Work

Looks like he’s got the Ninja Turtles down pat.

Tomorrow Jan and I are meeting all the kids down in Clear Lake about 11:30. First we’re eating lunch at Floyd’s Cajun Seafood and then going over to our storeroom so we can all go through the last of the stuff to see what everyone wants. Hopefully we’ll be out by the end of the year.


December 5, 2015

Wrapping Up Here in Conroe . . .

Today’s our last full day here at the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails. Tomorrow we’ll head over to the Colorado River Thousand Trails in Columbus, TX, 120 miles away, where we’ll be for the next two weeks. Then it’s back and forth every two weeks until sometime in the March-April timeframe.

Then we’ll head east to Florida, and then head north all the way up Essex Junction, VT for the 56th Annual Escapade, July 24 to 29, 2016.

After goofing off most of the morning, we headed out about 12:30 to meet Debi and Ed Hurlburt at El Bosque Mexican Restaurant for lunch. They just got here a few days ago and we wanted to be sure we got together before we leave.

As usual when RV’ers get together after not seeing each other for a while, there was, believe it or not, more talking than eating, at least time-wise. In fact we sat there and talked for a little over three hours, covering everything from cataract surgery to new flooring in the RV.

Debi and Ed Hurlbert

Finally getting in our hugs and handshakes, we headed out with a promise to get together again, this time for Chinese, when we’re back here in two weeks.

As we were leaving I saw this really neat 1937 Packard out in the parking lot. Very, very nice.

1937 Packard 1

1937 Packard 2

Next up for Jan and I, we went right across the street to the Starbuck’s for a couple of Chestnut Praline Lattes. We first had these last Christmas when we got them by accident due to bad handwriting. We ordered Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, and the barista thought that the cashier’s CD looked like CP, so we got Chestnut Praline Lattes instead. And they were delicious. Possibly the best latte we’ve ever had.

And it’s never been that good since then. And the one today was not an improvement. Even though it supposedly had a double shot of the syrup, it didn’t really have any flavor, and it was bitter. So bitter that even Jan added 1/2 pack of Equal.

So right now I think we’re about 1 for 6, so at some point we’ll probably just give up and go back to our Cinnamon Dolce’s.

Our last stop before heading home was the Conroe PO to mail off a couple of Gingerbread Man postcards to Landon’s class.

Then getting back to the rig, I took care of a few chores to get ready for tomorrow’s trip. First up I wanted to install the new Clean Machine Step Mat that I picked up at the Camping World this past Thursday.

Cleam Machine Step Mat Install 1

The mat comes with three long, heavy-duty tie-wraps that connect underneath through large brass grommets.

Cleam Machine Step Mat Install 2

This locks the mat in place allowing no twisting or movement.

The only problem people have reported is when they try to put these mats on the multiple retractable steps. Apparently these mats are too thick and don’t allow the steps to retract properly. So, you’ve been warned.

After stowing away the outside chairs and a few other things, I finished up by plugging in my engine block heater. It’s supposed to be in the high 30’s tonight, and only in the 40’s when we leave around 10am, and having warm engine oil is always a good thing.


December 5, 2016

Beeville Bound . . .

After three days of on and off heavy rain, it finally cleared this afternoon. But we were lucky compared to some areas in Texas that had over a foot of rain with heavy flooding. But now it looks like we’ve got some clear but cool weather in store for the next several days.

We’ve got a couple of daytrips planned in next three days, if we don’t get a gate in the meantime

First up is a trip down to Beeville, about 30 miles south of here, for lunch and a 4pm movie. We’ve heard a lot about the Beeville Diner and wanted to give it a try. The Yelp reviews seem to be either 1 star or 5 star, mostly due to problems with service. The online menu shows a nice selection of items so we’ll take our chances, I guess.

Then after lunch we’re going take in a movie. Yes, Beeville has a 6 screen theater, so we’re going to see Arrival,  the science fiction movie  starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. It’s gotten really good reviews and we’re looking forward to it.

Then on Thursday we’re doing another trip into San Antonio, or at least the southern edge of it. I didn’t realized I was low on one of my prescriptions when we went into SA  last Thursday so we’re going back to the Sam’s to pick it up. I could get it at the local Wal-Mart here in Kenedy, but here it would cost me $56. However, with my Sam’s Plus membership, it will only be $10. So the $40 difference will pay for gas, Turkey & Dressing at Cracker Barrel, and another movie, Dr. Strange, another science fiction movie. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Of course this could all go away if I get a gate in the next few days.


December 5, 2017

Food and Fun . . .

We were out the door about 12:15pm today for a busy afternoon of food and fun. Well, maybe not so much fun as errands.

Our first stop was up in Kemah at Sundowner Canvas to drop the sample for our new window awnings. I wanted to be sure that they measure the Sunbrella fabric along the ribs, and not in the middle where it’s shrunk due to the sun exposure.

Then when they finish one awning, I will bring another one to them, and pick up the done one. That way they can reuse the plastic ribs from the old awnings.

The first one should be done in a week or so.

Leaving Sundowner’s we headed on up 146 to Pasadena for another shot at meeting up with our friend Julie, at the Monterey’s Little Mexico restaurant there. We had tried to catch her last week but she was off. So this time we called ahead and talked to the manager to be sure she was there.

Since we’d asked the manager not to say anything to her, she was really surprised when we walked in.

Julie and Jan

We’d known Julie for over 15 years when she worked at the Monterey’s down in Dickinson. She said that they’re doing a complete remodel on the Dickinson location which was flooded out in Harvey. They’re also taking in the store next door to enlarge it too. Should be open in March.

After a great meal of  Chicken Tortilla Soup and Beef Fajita Nachos, we got our good-bye hugs and headed down to the the Wal-Mart in Webster for a few things, and also to double-check my extended warranty on our Samsung TV in case I end up having to replace it . But the Customer Service ladies said I would have to call Headquarters.

Then it was on over to our son Chris’ to pick up our mail and go through some more stuff from the attic. Going through a bunch more boxes, I found some really neat things about my father and his time on the Birmingham Police Department back in the 1930’s – 1950’s that I’ll share with you later.


December 5, 2018

5:15 . . . In The Morning?

We were originally told that Jan’s cataract surgery was scheduled for 9am tomorrow morning. So we figured that we’d need to be at the Surgicare Care about 7:30-8:00.

So we were VERY surprised when we got a call this morning to tell us that Jan needed to be there at . . . wait for it . . . 5:15 in the AM.

She will be the first patient of the morning, but we don’t know they’re just starting a lot earlier or what. Or maybe just a lot of  pre-op stuff. Though neither of us remember a lot of prep stuff like this when Jan’s mother had hers done.

Besides being just generally nervous about this, the worse part of the whole thing for Jan are the eye drops. Three times a day today, and then various amounts over the next three weeks. And of course doubling up starting next Wednesday before her 2nd surgery.

The problem with all this is that Jan is EXTREMELY ‘eye-shy’, as in run away screaming ‘eye-shy’. So if she’s this bad with the drops, we can only hope she’s heavily sedated for the actual operation.

On the way home this afternoon, I did stop by the Los Ramirez  restaurant to get a few photos of the Christmas windows. Really nice, especially considering how fast the lady did it.

Los Ramierz Decorations 1

Los Ramierz Decorations 2

Los Ramierz Decorations 3

That’s about it for today since we’ve got to get up so early.


December 5, 2019

A New York State of Mind . . .

The day couldn’t not have gone more perfect.

We were up at 3am, our car service guy showed up about 4:15, and we were on our way up to Hobby Airport by about 4:30. Right on schedule. And I didn’t forget my camera or laptop this time.

We got dropped off at the Southwest entrance a little after 5am, and we tagged and checked in our 3 suitcases a few minutes later.

One thing nice about this flight is that, unlike our recent European flights, we could check in 2 bags each, not just one. So we had no carrying-on stuff, other than Jan’s large purse and my laptop bag.

The only problem was that our online check-in got screwed up and we ended up boarding in the last group. So by that time there were only center seats left so we couldn’t sit together. But it was a nice smooth flight and we actually got in at 10:50am (9:50CT), 5 minutes early.

Probably because we were doing almost 600 mph.

NY Trip Speedometer

We had to wait about 15 minutes for our luggage, and while we were doing that, an enterprising Skycap came by and asked us where we were going. I told him that we were going to get a taxi or Uber to a hotel near Times Square.

Now there were signs all over the baggage area that due to the ongoing construction of a new terminal at LaGuardia, you had to take a shuttle bus to a place about 15 minutes away where you could then get a taxi or an Uber. When I mentioned this to him, he said this was not necessary and he could take care of this for us.

Kind of wary of the City Slicker swindling the Country Rubes, I asked how much this would cost and he said he just worked for tips. And since he had his own luggage cart, I didn’t have to rent one for $6, so I told him OK.

So he grabbed our 3 suitcases when they came around the carousel and off we went. Jan, of course, was somewhat suspicious.(make that VERY suspicious) but gamely followed along, knowing at any minute we were going to be ravaged and pillaged.

After about a block we turned a corner and there was a long line of people waiting for one of shuttle buses. Positioned around were electronic signs saying the wait for a taxi or Uber at the other end of the shuttle ride was 55 minutes. And based on the length of the line on this end, it was going to be at least 30 minutes here.

Resigning ourselves to the wait, we started to get in the long line, but he shook his head and motioned us to follow him. And since he was leaving with our luggage, we decided to follow.

He led us around the outside wall of the covered shuttle waiting area, past several policemen, who nodded to him (made us feel better), and then across the street. There, behind a police barricade, was a line of Yellow Cabs being waved forward, one by one, by another police officer.

Our SkyCap put our luggage in the truck, I tipped him, and we were on our way, less than 10 minutes after we got our luggage.

And less than an hour later he was letting us off at the Hotel Riu Plaza Times Square, about a block and a half off Times Square. And even better, our Uber ride was listed on the app as being about $80, but our taxi ride was only about $60.

Very, very nice.

Checking in, we were told our room was ready, and we ended up with a very nice room on the 25th floor, with an open balcony that we can walk out on, with a great view.

Riu Room

Riu Room Balcony View

Even better, though we knew our room came with a full breakfast buffet, we were happily surprised that it also came with their full dinner buffet. Which is advertised as being $35 per person if you had to pay for it.

Neat!

Then it was, of course, time for a nap.

About 3pm we made the 2 block walk over to Times Square to check things out, and then headed over to Junior’s Restaurant, just about a half block off Time Square

Jan got their version of the her fav Wedge Salad,

Junior's Wedge Salad

while I got their 10 oz. Steakburger,

Junior's Steak Cheeseburger

which we then split with each other.

This was to leave us room to Jan’s Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Junior's  Chocolate Moouse Cheesecake

and my Carrot Cake Cheesecake.

Junior's Carrot Cake Cheesecake

And of course you can’t have Junior’s World-Famous Cheesecake without a nice hot Cappuccino to go along with it. Especially when it’s 39 degrees outside.

Junior's Cappucino

We ate several times when we were here in 2009 and really loved it, so it had to be our first place to eat when we got here again.

By the time we finished it was getting dark here (about 4:30 here in the ET) so we walked back out to Times Square to check out the lights.

New Times Square View

One big change we noticed since we were here in 2009 was that Broadway is now open to traffic.

But when we were here in 2009, Broadway was closed to traffic for many blocks in each direction, as you can see here.

Time Square 2009

It was a little warmer then, too. It was about 36 degrees when we sat out for a while this evening.

Getting back to the hotel after about ten minute walk, we checked out the view from the 25th floor at the end of the hallway.

Riu 25th Floor View

That’s our balcony and room behind the railing on the right.


December 5, 2021

What A Country!

Well, we made it to Branson this afternoon by about two o’clock pm. Nice, smooth trip up from Texarkana.

We first went by and picked up our tickets that we bought online from one of the many discount places. and then had a lunch special at Famous Dave’s, one of our favorite barbecue places.

Famous Dave's BBQ Branson

By the time we were done it was three o’clock and we could check into the hotel.

We were going to be staying at the Twelve Oaks Inn right off the west end of the US 76 Loop, and convenient to everything.

Twelve Oaks Branson

Turned out to be a very nice privately-owned place with nice rooms and friendly people.

After resting up for a couple of hours we headed out for the first show of our week in  Branson, Yakov Smirnoff.

Unlike most other theaters, Yakov’s is not on the main Strip, but up north of town.

Yakov Theater

Besides seeing Yakov in Galveston this past July, we also saw him when we last visited Branson in November 2011, so we definitely wanted to see him again.

Having lived in the Soviet Union until he was 26 when he and his parents managed to get out. There he was an art teacher, as well as a ‘licensed’ comedian.

Yes, in Russia all comedians have to be licensed. And all their jokes have to be approved by a committee. No wonder he wanted out of there.

Yakov Branson 1

Besides talking about humor, laughter, and relationships, his act is overtly patriotic.

Yakov Branson 2

As Yakov says, “What A Country!”

A really great show!

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