Daily Archives: October 12, 2020

Whoops! Never Mind . . .

A recent CDC study was released under the radar that questions how effective masks really are in preventing China Virus infections.

Buried in the text is the following information.

The study shows that 70.6 percent of symptomatic COVID-19 sufferers reported that they “always” wore a mask, but were infected anyway. An additional 14.4 percent of COVID+ respondents stated that they wore the face mask often” but it did not protect them from catching the China Virus.

And in other news, recently, Dr. David Nabarro, the UK’s envoy to the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) has condemned mass coronavirus lockdowns, slamming the “ghastly global catastrophe” caused by crashing the world economy.

The W.H.O. spokesperson appealed to world leaders on Saturday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus. He claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved.

Dr. Nabarro bemoaned the collapse of the international tourism industry and claimed there would be a “doubling” in the levels of world poverty and child malnutrition by 2021 as he warned that lockdowns make “poor people an awful lot poorer.”

“I want to say it again: We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as a primary means of controlling this virus,” Dr. Nabarro said.

Wait! What?

Listen to the Experts, they said. Follow the Science, they said.

Ok, which experts and what science?

Do we get to pick and choose our favorites?

As I posted these old blogs I’m amazed that back in 2009, 2010, 2011 I would be happy that I had found diesel for ONLY $3.49 a gallon. But right now, the Sam’s Club and the Buc-ee’s right down the road have it for $1.67, and a local no-name station has it for $1.55.

Now I’ve just got to get the rig running again to take advantage of it.



Up in Elkhart, IN

October 12, 2009

RV Hall of Fame…

Today we wanted to visit the RV Hall of Fame Museum here in Elkhart, but on the way we stopped off for lunch at El Maguey, a Mexican place that had been recommended to us. It was very good!  And we’ll go back.

The RV Museum is set up as a walk through RV history.


This unit, called an ‘Automobile Telescoping Apartment” and built in 1916, is probably the first example of a slide-in pickup camper.  Except in this case it’s installed on the back of a 1915 Model T Ford.

And it cost a whole $100.00.

And, of course, it came in any color you wanted, as long as that was black.


This 1935 Bowlus Road Chief, was the predecessor to the Airstream.  The segmented aluminum roof was designed to simulate the look of silk fabric stretched over the wooden frame of a sailplane.


This 1937 Hayes Motor Home is probably the first RV to bear the name “Motor Home”


According to its history, it was only used a few times and then put into storage before 1940, and then unearthed in the mid 1990’s. Other than being repainted outside, it’s entirely original.


This 1929 Covered Wagon was the first production travel trailer in the US.  It was the largest trailer manufacturer during the 1930’s, but went out of business during WWII.


This is a 1929 Wiedman Housecar built on 1928 truck chassis.  Looks like this guy didn’t want to spring for the extra $35.00 for a real driver’s seat.  I guess his living room is missing a chair.



This 1937 Hunt Housecar was one of several built in the 1930’s for Hollywood movie cinematographer and producer Roy Hunt. Kind of looks like it belongs on the Jetsons.




This 1936 Roadhome Coach comes complete with a wood-burning stove,


and a bathtub!


This is a 1928 Pierce Arrow Housecar, one of 3 built before the 1929 Stock Market Crash took them out of the RV business.


From the rear it looks more like a trolley


Somehow I expected a little more opulence from a Pierce Arrow.


That toilet almost looks scary!


This is a 1931 Chevrolet custom housecar built by Paramount Studios for Mae West to entice her to leave the vaudeville circuit and make movies for them.  It was not built as a camper, but was designed as a chauffeur-driven lounge used to transport Miss West back and forth between shooting locations




For a more modern example, here’s some shots I took in Houston of a coach built for Cybill Shepherd for use on her TV show, “Cybill” that was on the air for 4 years starting in 1995.  Quite a difference 64 years makes.

Cybil 1

Cybil 2

This is a 1974 GMC Motorhome, built on the Cadillac Eldorado/Oldsmobile Toronado front wheel drive chassis. Built from 1973 to 1978, a lot of these are still on the road.  In fact, there’s 6 or 7 of them in our park right now. I guess it’s some sort of mini-rally.  I’ll try and get some pics in the next couple of days.


This is the custom-built Star Streak II, also built on the Cadillac Eldorado/ Oldsmobile Toronado front wheel drive chassis.


This is the oldest travel trailer in the world.  It’s a 1913 “Earl” travel trailer built for a Cal Tech professor by a Los Angeles carriage maker.  I guess he’s was lucky to get his Model T in blue.  The next year it was “all black, all the time”.



This is a 1931 Model AA Ford Housecar.  The ‘AA” means it was built on a truck chassis.  It was found in a barn in Athens, AL in 1999 after being stored for over 50 years.  And even more amazing, they were able to get the engine running the same day they found it.  They spent over a year restoring it to its present condition. 

The restorers called it the “Tennessee Traveler” since they were from Pulaski, TN, right across the state line from Athens. Since it was found in Alabama I think “Alabama Ambler” would have been more apropos.  Of course I may be a tad prejudiced since I’m from Alabama, lived for several years in Athens, and still have a lot of relatives there.


Don’t you just love the custom bench seats.


And I really like the coal-burning stove, just the thing to stave off that winter chill.  Who needs propane?


They also had a neat model of an RV travel trailer factory.




We both really enjoyed the RV museum.  It’s amazing to see how far RV’s have come.


Thought For The Day:

Don’t bother walking a mile in my shoes. That would be boring. Spend 30 seconds in my head. That’ll freak you right out.


Still Up In Elkhart, IN

October 12, 2011

The Sounds of Silence . . .

I slept in until about 10:30 this morning. Even Jan didn’t  get up until after 9. It was nice not to have anything to do this morning and the cool weather made it even nicer. But the afternoon was going to be different.

First up was coffee, with lunch about 11:30, and even better, lunch was topped off with some of the great pumpkin muffins from WalMart.

Then it was time to go back to work on the new computers I was installing at the RV/MH Hall of Fame. I had done one system before we left about 3 weeks ago, and now I’ve got the last four to finish up. When I got there, they told me they wanted another LCD monitor to use with one of the old systems, so I’ll order that when I get home.

A little after 5:30 we all headed out to our favorite local Mexican place, El Maguey. Delicious as usual. And of course on the way home we made the almost-mandatory Dairy Queen stop.

And now for something completely different: The Sounds of Silence. Or at least the sound of white noise.

It seems RV’ers are always complaining about noise in RV parks, a neighbor’s early morning departure, the almost-obligatory nearby train tracks or Interstate, etc.

The solution for this is a white noise machine. Jan and I have used one for years, even in our Sticks & Bricks home. For many years I worked night shift at NASA-JSC in Houston and slept during the day, and this did the trick.

White noise is the sound of a waterfall, or rain, or the ocean. It’s best described as a ‘rushing’ sound, and it does a very good job of masking out other sounds.

We have one like this that we bought from Radio Shack years ago, although they no longer sell it.

But you can find them just like this on eBay for less than $10. Or you can find them on Amazon. Just search for ‘white noise generator’.

RS Sleep Machine

This unit has six different while noise types: Rain, Train, Ocean Waves, Wind, Babbling Brook, and Night Time. We use the Rain setting because it’s smoother with no extra sounds like clickety-clack, waves, gurgling, or crickets..

Give it a try for a better night’s sleep.


Thought for the Day:

“Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well-informed just to be undecided about them.” — Laurence J. Peter



Colonial Beach, VA

October 12, 2012

Stratford Hall and The Crabby Oyster . . .

Today was another beautiful day here, sunny, and in the low 60’s, so about noon we all headed out to visit Stratford Hall, about 10 miles south of us.

Stratford Hall is the ancestral home of the Lee family of Virginia, and the birthplace of Robert E. Lee.

Just as we turned off the highway onto the road leading to Stratford and saw what I wondered might be someone’s idea of a cruel joke.

Right across the street from Stratford’s entrance is this church.

Stratford Grant 2

Yes, Grant Methodist Church is right down the road from Robert E. Lee’s home.

Stratford Hall was built between 1730 and 1738 by Thomas Lee, Robert E. Lee’s great-great uncle and passed down through generations of the Lees, and remained in the family until it was sold in the 1820’s.

Stratford Hall 1

Robert E. Lee was born here on January 19th, 1807, but his family moved to Alexandria, VA in 1811 and Lee never lived here again.

Robert E. Lee died October 12, 1870 in Lexington, VA. And his family home at Arlington, VA became Arlington National Cemetery.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside any of the buildings so we only have outside shots.

These first two small brick houses were some of the slave quarters. The workers on the plantations consisted of two groups: slaves and local employees. And the slaves were made up of African-Americans, convicts, and indentured servants.

Stratford Hall 2


The rolling countryside reveals stunning views everywhere you turn.

Stratford Hall 3


This is the location of nearby Lee’s Landing where Thomas Lee built his wharf so his ships could dock to take on tobacco and other goods for shipment.

Stratford Landing

A grist mill was also located here to grind corn and wheat for both shipment and local use.

As we drove around the grounds we noticed a large number of what looked like bat houses. It turns out that they’re bluebird nesting boxes. The cones are to keep the squirrels out.

Stratford Bluebirds


Finally leaving Stratford Hall we drove up to King George about 15 miles away to have dinner and make a Wal-Mart stop.

For dinner we checked out the Crabby Oyster, a much-recommended place. The food was good, but it seemed to be kind of ‘pricey’ for what we got. I thought Dockside in Colonial Beach was better.

After dinner and Wal-Mart we headed home after another long, but fun day.

Tomorrow looks to be a nice, restful, goof-off day.



Thought for the Day:

“ADULT: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.”


Gate Guarding In South Texas

October 12, 2013

A New Low . . .

or Why We Hate Louisiana.

Today (Saturday) set a new low vehicle count for here at the gate. We only had 40 logged vehicles through. And that eclipsed yesterday’s low of 49. Of course that really means 80 or 98 since there’s an In and Out for all of them. At least eventually. Some vehicles (and the drivers/riders too, of course) stay overnight or even days/weeks at a time since there are living quarters (trailers) onsite.

And of course, sometimes a large piece of equipment will come in, followed by a pickup truck. The equipment is left, sometimes for several weeks or more, and then the two drivers leave together in the pickup truck. That means days, weeks, months? later when it finally leaves, we’re left madly pawing through old logs trying to find when the equipment came in so we can log it out. The new drivers aren’t any help because, either they don’t remember, or they weren’t the ones that brought it in in the first place.

Ahhh, a day in the life of a gate guard. This is one problem I’m hoping my new computer logging system will fix.

And as far as vehicles go, it will be interesting to see how Monday’s Federal holiday affects things. We might end up with a new new low count.

The reason we hate Louisiana (well, not whole state, just the DMV part of it) is that they don’t issue front tags. And Louisiana being a big oil state, a lot of the vehicles that come through here don’t have a front tag, which means we have to try and recognize vehicles by make, model, and color. And sometimes we get it wrong. And then the truck goes by and we realize we don’t’ recognize the tag number.

So we have to mark the description info down on the log and try to catch them on the way back out. More fun.

I called Tan Mar yesterday to get a vacuum truck out there to pump out our sewage system tank.

Gate Guard Lot 8

The overflow is starting to fill the small white tank which means it’s time to pump it all out. Since the overflow tank contains a large dose of chlorine tablets, the liquid is considered ‘gray water’ and can be dumped out on the ground, but it’s better to get a pumpout if you can.

Brandi sent over some new Landon pics. Yesterday was ‘Spooktacular Pajama Friday’ at his daycare, so here’s his contribution. BTW his shirt says ‘Trick or Treat. Smell My Feet’

Spooktacular Landon
And today they went with friends to the Katy Rice Harvest Festival and Landon got to ride some of the carnival rides.

Landon at the Fair 4
Landon at the Fair 1

Looks like he’s having fun.

Working on my Gate Guard Logging Program (Patent Pending) has renewed my itch to try my hand at writing an Android app. But every time I think I have a good idea for one, I find someone’s already beat me to it. Case in point, when we go to the movies, I always silence my cell phone so Nick can’t call me in the middle of the film, (well, he can call. I just won’t hear it) as he has a couple of times. (I don’t know how he knows.).

But then after the movie’s over I sometimes forget to turn it back on until hours later, only to find I’ve missed a couple of calls, usually from Nick because he’s broke something else.

So I thought there should be an app for that, and that I should write it. But one again someone beat me to it.

It’s called Silent Timer Free. And it looks like this.

Silent Timer Free

It allows you to set a duration that the phone is silenced, or a start/stop time. And you can store your settings. Neat little app. Check it out.

Now I have to think of another app idea.

Thought for the Day:

TSA – handling more packages than FedEx



Gate Guarding in East Texas

October 12, 2014

Old Friends and Good Food . . .

We had a really nice surprise today.

Pat and Judy Benson showed up at our gate.

And they brought Rudy’s BBQ too.

Along with Al and Adrienne Cox, Pat and Judy are our oldest RV friends. We all first met when Jan and I spent 5 months in Fairbanks, AK in 2008, and since then we’ve kept in touch. We even visited them in June of 2010 when we came through Salt Lake City, UT where they live nearby.

But it was a real surprise to get an email from them yesterday saying they were in College Station and wanted to come visit us on the gate.

Turns out they were in CS visiting their daughter, Jan, who’s a 4 grade teacher there and came over with them.

Pat and Judy at the Gate

They got here a little after 11, and being faithful blog readers, and knowing our penchant for BBQ, they brought Rudy’s.

Luckily we weren’t too busy so we were able to catch up on things as we scarfed down the ‘Q’. One of the meats they brought was Rudy’s Pulled Pork, and I realized I’d never had the pulled pork from there. I always get the brisket, ribs and sausage. So it was a real treat to check it out.

They were able to spend a couple of hours with us, and we really enjoyed seeing them again. Maybe we’ll be able to make it back out to UT in the near future.

It just couldn’t get any better that this. Well, maybe if Al and Adrienne were here too. Then it would be the whole Alaska gang. But hopefully we’ll be able to get together with them in Tucson next March when we’re there for the 2015 55th Escapade.

Speaking of the Escapade, I just made our reservations for the event, and it seems they’re filling up fast, so if you’re planning to go, don’t dawdle.

I’m hoping that Jan and I will be able to give our Gate Guarding Seminar this time. We were planning on doing it at the Escapade in Goshen, IN this past May, but Jan’s medical issues forced us to cancel. Hopefully it will work out this year.

Brandi sent over some Landon pics of him at the Katy Rice Harvest Festival today.

Landon Rice Festival 1

Landon Rice Festival 2

Landon Rice Festival 3

Looks like he’s having his usual good time, and attracting cute girls too.


Thought for the Day:

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts” – Richard Feynman

More Gate Guarding In East Texas

October 12, 2015

On Further Inspection . . .

Yesterday I detailed the problems I’m having with one of my Mighty Mule Driveway Alarm systems. The first one I installed has been working great since day one. But the second one I ordered, about a week later, has been flakey one way or the other, pretty much out of the box, either distance-wise or temperature-wise.

So this morning after I got up, I put in a call to the Mighty Mule company’s Tech Support. And quickly found that after hearing, “All of our technicians are busy helping other customers”, heard “You’re customer 26 with an expected wait time of 45 minutes.”


Either their products have a lot of problems, or as is more likely that they only have one support guy. Probably named ‘Peggy’.  So I figured I’d call back another time.

Later in the afternoon, I was thinking over the problem, and again wondering about swapping the transmitters out on the road to see if that made any difference. But it was hot (93°)and I’d rather sit in front of our AC.

Then in another one of those ‘Doh’ moments (I seem to be having those a lot on this project) I thought that I could kind of accomplish the same thing by just swapping the receivers here under the canopy and close to the AC coolness. So I unplugged both receivers, changed the DIP switch codes on each one, and plugged them back in.

And now the problem swapped too. So the problem was actually the receiver here und the canopy and not the transmitter out on the road. So now I have to decide if I want to wait in the phone queue with Mighty Mule, or just have Amazon swap it out.

I’ll give it one more try on the phone tomorrow morning and we’ll see.

Tonight for dinner Jan fixed up one of her delicious quick meals using biscuits. She starts by cooking up a batch of Pillsbury Flakey Layer Buttermilk Biscuits ahead of time and keeps them in the refrigerator.

Then when needed, she toasts some up in the toaster oven after buttering them, piles on meat (sliced ham for her, salami for me) along slices of sharp cheddar and Colby Jack, and some bread and butter pickles. Then it all goes back in the toaster oven until it’s oozing with delicious melty goodness.

Along with a slice of the really good Pumpkin Bread we find at Wal-Mart for dessert, it’s a perfect gate meal.

Jan ended up getting a lot of rain tonight, mostly between 9 and 10. And then about 9:30 she lost power to the halogen light stands we use here on the gate, so she ended sitting in the truck until I came out at 11pm.

Turned out to be the GFCI outlet on the generator. All the connections are bagged, but sometimes these things are just popped by the moisture in the air. I showed Jan how to reset it for next time.

Tomorrow looks to be another Whataburger run, with a side of Wal-Mart for a few things. Yum!


Today’s Science Tip:

Ever get confused by all the different temperature scales, you know, like °F, °C, and even °K (Kelvin)? Well, here’s a simple chart that explains how it all relates to you.

Temperature Chart


At The Conroe, TX Thousand Trails

October 12, 2016

Nothing Yet . . .

So Off We Go.

Jan wanted to have breakfast this morning so we were off to Denny’s about 10am to use one of our Texas Renaissance- related Gift Cards. One thing that quickly caught my eye on the menu was their new Honey Jalapeno Bacon, so I got the Honey Jalapeno Bacon Slam, and Jan got the Blueberry Pancake Slam.

Really good, except we both agreed that my coffee is better. Too bad they frown on you bringing your own refreshments in with you.

After breakfast we drove across the Interstate to Sam’s Club to drop off my old battery and get my $18 core charge back. Leaving, and heading next door to the Wal-Mart, I checked the Sam’s gas price and found it was cheaper at the Kroger’s back across I-45, so I’ll wait for later.

While we were at Wal-Mart, I found this beautiful 56 T-Bird parked right beside us. Really nice, especially since it’s driven every day.

56 T-Bird 1

56 T-Bird 2

At Wal-Mart, Jan stocked up on supplies, both, in case we get a gate soon, and since the Wal-Mart’s in the Columbus area aren’t stocked as well as the one here in Conroe.

About 2:15 I got a call from Cole Scates at Sitewatch to talk about a gate guarding job. He doesn’t seem to have anything in this area, but does probably have gates in Oklahoma and south Texas, down in the Kenedy/Karnes City area. In other words, where we were on gates in 2012 and 2013.

The only problem is that most of what he seems to have available are ‘guard shack’ jobs, and I’m not real crazy about that idea. Besides the extra cost of an RV park (although I understand that some gates reimburse your park fees, or at least give you a ‘stipend’ of some sort), it seems like you’re working 12 hr. shifts each, which Jan and I really don’t want to do.

Cole wanted me to give the guy in charge of Oklahoma a call, which I will tomorrow. So we’ll see how it works out.

About 4pm Jan and I headed out to Texas Roadhouse for a going-away steak dinner. Jan got a 16oz Top Sirloin, and I got my usual 16oz Ft Worth Ribeye.

Texas Roadhouse Ribeye 4

After a good meal, and a quick stop at the nearby  Kroger’s for gas, we headed home for the night.

Later, I spent some time packing stuff away for our move tomorrow over to Colorado River for two weeks, or a gate.

Or whichever comes first.

Thought for the Day:

Ever wonder who the genius is who decided to put fire hydrants in all the good parking spots?



Still At The Conroe, TX Thousand Trails Post Hurricane Harvey

October 12, 2017

Red Bags As Far As The Eye Can See . . .

When I talked about the many problems with the Chicago Soda Tax, leading to its repeal yesterday, I forgot to mention what they want to tax in its place: pot, weed, wacky tobaccy, the ganja.

Do I need to even talk about how well this will work?

Tricia, a long-time friend, commented on the Soda Tax, “I think that these politicians should at least consult with you before they put into place these bonehead ideas.”

And she’s correct. Jan said many times that the world would be a much better place if people listened to us more.

But apparently they never learn.

About 2:30 I went down to the park office to work out whether or not I’d owed the $15 TT bill that I had gotten in an email. It was kind of confusing since the time period in question was during the hurricane evacuation. Rebecca and I spent about 15 minutes going through my bill line by line, until we found where I did owe the $15.

Next up, I double-checked with Randall Cox, the park manager, to be sure we could use Passport America for our week out here, starting this Sunday, the 15th. Turns out we can. And even better, we don’t have to move.

When I asked Randall if we had to move to a site especially for Passport America users, he said, “No, why would you?” So I told him about our stay at the Countryside RV Park in Apache Junction in 2013.

We stay for two weeks there under our TT membership and then stayed our week out there under Passport America. But Countryside, actually an Encore park, had specific sites set aside for Encore, TT, and PA. So for our week out under PA, we had to move one site to the left for that week. And then at the end of the week, we had to move one site back to the right. But luckily for us, not this time.

So running the numbers, it looks like we’ll be staying here this next week. Here’s how it goes.

Hillcrest RV Park in Punkin, TX  –  $14.50 x 7 = $101.50

Staying here at Lake Conroe      –  $25.50 x 7 = $178.50
($21.50 PA rate + $4 Resort Fee)

So a $77 difference.

But moving to Hillcrest means an extra 55 miles 3 times a week on my drive down to Clear Lake. Plus the 55 mile round-trip in diesel and gas over there and back for the rig and the truck. And the multiple trips back over to Conroe for dining and shopping.

And then there’s just the hassle of packing up and moving over there. And then back.

So here we stay.

While I was at the office I also ask about the power situation here in the ‘G’ section at Lake Conroe, and was told ‘Monday’. When I ask, “Which Monday?”, they just smiled and shook their heads.

So as of right now, it’s still red bags as far as the eye can see.

The Word of the Day is:  Tendentious

Thought for the Day:



In Florida Visiting Friends

October 12, 2018

Long-Time Friends and Good Food . . .

Jan and I headed south for West Palm Beach about 160 miles away. We were coming down to meet up with friends Charlee and Bill, who we haven’t seen since we were through this area in 2009.

As I mentioned yesterday Charlee and Jan worked together at M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital in the early 80’s and have kept in touch ever since.

We showed up at Charlee’s door about 2:30 and it seemed like we picked up right where we left off 9 years ago, and Jan and Charlee got right back into relating stories of their past escapades.

Later we all headed over to a local favorite, PA BBQ, Meeting us there was Charlee’s daughter Monica, who we also haven’t seen in a long time.

PA BBQ Bill Charless Monica

Bill, Charlee, & Monica

Jan was also happy to see that in addition to BBQ,  they also had Jan’s favorite, whole fried catfish.

PA BBQ Catfish

Instead of her two sides, she got a really good salad.

PA BBQ Salad

I started off with a cup of their Brunswick Stew,

PA BBQ Brunswick Stew

before going with their strong suit, Ribs with Collared Greens and Baked Beans.


All very good, and Jan said that the Catfish was the best she’d ever had.

Later, back at the house, Jan and Charlee talked recipes for a while before they lead us over to their condo about 15 minutes away where we’re staying for the night,

Really nice.

Tomorrow we’ll get together again before heading back to Mims tomorrow afternoon.

Thought for the Day:

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is an empty desk the sign of? – Albert Einstein


Home In Texas

October 12, 2019

Dueling Fiddlers . . .

Yesterday started out on a downer when I got hit with a short episode of BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo). What was different this time was that I was cold, clammy, and nauseous. So rather than go into work, I went back to bed. And, luckily, by later in the afternoon, I was feeling much better.

Which was good since we were supposed to go the Alvin Opry this evening and with several of our favorites performing, we didn’t want to miss it. So we headed out about 4:30 to first have dinner at our usual spot, Monterey’s Mexican Restaurant.

While I got my usual Chicken Tortilla Soup, of course, spiced up with some of my Volcanic Pepper Flakes,

Monterey Tortilla Soup with Flakes

Jan tried something new with their Stuffed Avocado with Fajita Beef, along with Charro Beans and Rice.

Monterey Stuffed Avocado wtih Beef

The food was as delicious as usual,  but we were disappointed to find that out that the Monterey’s up in Pasadena, where our long-time friend Julie worked, had closed. So now we’ll have to track her down. We were told that she had moved over to a nearby Casa Ole, so we’ll have to check it out.

We got to the Opry about 6pm just as the doors were opened for the 7pm show. Early yes, but necessary if you want a good seat.

We were there to see a couple of long-time favorites, Mary Dooley,

Alvin Opry Mary Dooley

and Jan’s country crush, Tony Booth.

Alvin Opry Tony Booth

We’ve been watching both of them perform for almost 25 years now.

But we also to hear someone I’ve heard of, but never seen before, Dennis Ivey,

Alvin Opry Dennis Ivey

who was really great, especially the two old-time gospel songs he did.

But actually the real standout was a total newcomer to us, Tori Vourganas. Tori’s been performing since she was 11, and it shows.

Alvin Opry Tori Promo

She did her first number on the mandolin, but then pulled out her fiddle. And boy can she play.

It always interesting to watch how a house band reacts to a performer they hadn’t played with before, especially this band, most of whom have either been session musicians or touring band members for some of the biggest names in country music. And when they started nodding at each other during her performance like they did for Tori, you know you’re hearing someone special.

Her second number on the fiddle was the classic, “Orange Blossom Special”. After she tore through the intro and the first verse, she paused for the rest of the band to do a few riffs each. That’s when I saw Keith Junot, a well-known top Cajun fiddler, lean over and say something to Tori. She kind of looked surprised and said something back to him, and he smiled and nodded.

And when the verse came back around to them, they really wound the the place up. Tori started out with the stock theme, and then Keith repeated it, with a little something extra thrown in. And off they went, back and forth, faster and faster.

Alvin Opry Tori Playing

Tori matched Keith lick per lick with more variations every time. It was Dueling Banjos, but with fiddles. And when they finally gave up, they got the biggest hand of the night. It probably would have been a standing ovation, But with the median age of this crowd, jumping to their feet to ovate is just not in the cards.

And then on the second set, Tori showed she has another talent as well.

This girl can sing. She closed out her performance by belting out, and I mean ‘belting’ the old Marty Robbins’ classic, “Don’t Worry ‘Bout Me”.

Alvin Opry Tori Singing

She has a hell of a range, jumping two octaves at the end.


During her intro, the M.C. said she had just graduated high school this year and enrolled in college at University of Houston-Clear Lake.

Since I worked there for 10 years before we started RV’ing, and I didn’t think they had any kind of music program, I went over to talk to her after the show.

And it turns out that she’s not only talented, she’s smart. She’s going for a double Master’s Degree in Biology AND Chemistry, and wants to do research.

Well, I guess if Mayim Bialik, Amy Farrah Fowler on Big Band Theory, can have a PhD in Neurobiology, and Brian May, lead guitarist for Queen, can have a PhD in Astrophysics, then Tori can get a double Master’s in Biology and Chemistry.

WOW, again.

Opry Group with Maria 468

A really great night, even though it didn’t get off to a great start.

Thought For The Day:

If you haven’t realized you are in Clown World then you’ve spent too much time at the circus.

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