Daily Archives: December 13, 2023

La Bella Tavola & More . . .

Finishing this past Saturday in Cuero.

We had dinner tonight at the second of our two favorite places here, La Bella Tavola (The Beautiful Table), a really good Italian place.

As should be obvious, the place was originally a gas station that closed years ago. Since then it was a liquor store, a pet store, a boutique, and a couple of others that are lost in the mists of time.

And in fact, it only opened as La Bella a few weeks before we moved over to Cuero from Kenedy in late December 2016.

One thing we always enjoyed here was their hot fresh-baked Italian rolls. And they’re still just as delicious as before.

Jan got the Chicken Fettucine Alfredo,

while I got the Spaghetti Sampler with Meat Sauce, Meatballs, and Italian Sausage.

Really, really good, though it seems like that they previously used Angel Hair pasta for their Spaghetti, which I prefer.

Then it was right down the street to the Downtown Christmas area, where they had blocked off about 4 blocks of Main St. right in the middle of town.

I dropped Jan off right by all the shops while I went to find a parking spot. And by the time I tracked her down, she was well into Christmas gift buying, finding a lot of neat things.

After she hit up a number of the shops, we walked up the street checking out all the displays, and just people-watching, one of our favorite pastimes.

We had a great time revisiting Cuero, and have even talked about doing it again next year.

Thought for the Day:

Santa's Testing Reindeer

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

December 13, 2010

Spicy Chicken and PowerBall . . .

I got an early start because I had a lot of errands to take care of today.

First off, it was rent day, so on my way out of the park, I stopped by the office to drop off a check, and also tossed a bag of garbage in the dumpster.

Then it was on to Fry’s Electronics to straighten out a rebate receipt problem, and after that, I went up to Sam’s Club to pick up some Joint Juice, and a few other things.

As I was leaving Sam’s I heard from a client who was back in her office, so I drove over to drop off her laptop that I had been fixing a boot problem on.

On my way back toward the rig I stopped by Kroger’s to get some Mega-Millions and PowerBall lotto tickets. and then picked up lunch from Wendy’s. They have a great Spicy Chicken Sandwich, and their new Natural Cut Fries are pretty tasty too.

Later, about 3:30 I drove over to Dickinson to Bay Colony RV Park to pick up a computer from a friend. His son’s computer had contracted a virus and wanted me to take a look at it.

December 13, 2011

Bingo and BBQ . . .

After coffee, this morning started out with chores around the rig, working on the Christmas tree, fixing a drawer slide, etc. Then about 12:30 Jan and I headed into Clear Lake to take care of some errands and see a couple of clients.

First thing, I dropped Jan off to get her hair done while I went by the bank, and then Brandi’s to pick up a package that had come in. Then it was getting gas and stopping off at Lowe’s for a few things.

Next, I checked in on a couple of clients, the last one being the one with the AT&T DSL problem. I called Customer Service to complain about being charged for a new DSL modem. They said they’d check it out and call me back within one hour.

Guess what? I’m still waiting!

By this time we’d kill enough time that it was time to go pick up our granddaughter Piper for Bingo.

We then ended up at Rudy’s BBQ for supper. Brisket and Jalapeno Sausage,  MMM MMM Good!

Our friend Maria picked up Jan and Piper about 6:30 and I headed back to the rig for a couple of hours. Then about 9:30 I headed down to La Marque to pick them up.

And, as it turns out, Jan won a $100.00 jackpot. Not bad at Christmas time.

December 13, 2012

We Missed It . . .

and I’m sorry I didn’t alert you ahead of time. This past Saturday was Time Traveler Day.

This was the day you are supposed to run up to someone on the street and frantically ask them, “What year is it, what year is it?”. When they tell you, you say “Thank God there’s still time”, and then run off down the street.

If you have my twisted sense of humor, you’ll think this is as hilarious as I do. Jan doesn’t.

Out walking the other day, Jan and I saw this small camper who apparently travel with its own rock garden.

RV Rock Garden

The rocks don’t look like they’re from anywhere local so they must carry them around with them. But they’ve gotta weigh almost as much as the camper, and with all the plants, take up most of the space. Must be tight in there.

After three days of house repairs, I took the day off today, and except for juggling some client problems on the phone, pretty much did nothing but play on the computer.

Then a little before 5 Jan and I headed up to Clear Lake to meet Chris, Linda, and Piper, and finally get to eat at Franca’s. And we got an extra surprise when Piper brought her boyfriend Casey along.

As we left we got to talk with Franca for a few minutes and reminded her that when we first started eating there, she was 7 and running around playing with our daughter Brandi, who was 5 at the time. In fact this coming Monday the 17th, it will be 34 years since we first ate there.

After a great dinner, we all checked out Piper’s new car in the parking lot. She’s really proud of it as you can tell.

Piper's New Car

It’s a 2008 VW Eos, a sports coupe with a retractable hardtop that folds into the truck.

VW Eos 1

VW Eos 2

Leaving Franca’s Jan and I headed over to Brandi and Lowell’s to pick up our mail and get in our Landon hugs. It’s really rewarding the way his face lights up when he sees us.

Not sure yet what’s on tap for tomorrow. Just have to wait and see.

December 13, 2013

Yappy Dog-Free Zone . . .

We just took it easy this morning, enjoying coffee and cranberry muffins. Couldn’t be better.

We did get some neighbors later in the morning. The two sites to our right had been empty for a week or so, but two rigs pulled in to fill them up. Turned out to be a couple of Marathon refinery workers who’ll be here until August. And even better they don’t have any yappy dogs. In fact we have a yappy dog-free zone on both sides of us, which makes us happy. And Mister too.

The day was pretty drizzily-foggy and got worse as the day wore on. The perfect day for just staying in the rig, but technology intervened.

I was trying to print out Jan’s Christmas letter, but my HP printer wouldn’t. It would start pulling the paper in, but then wouldn’t pull the paper through as it started printing. I took it apart to check for jams or shreds of paper but found no problems. I used an emery board to rough up the rubber rollers so they would grip the paper. I did all the standard things you do, but with no luck.

So, since I only paid $29 for this one a couple of years ago, I figured It was time for a new one, rather than spend more time fooling with this one. So off to Wal-Mart it was.

We headed out about 3:30 with a first stop at Chick-fil-A for linner. Jan had the Chicken Salad sandwich and I had a really good Spicy Chicken sandwich. And of course their great homemade lemonade.

Then it was on to Wal-Mart. While we were there we did our normal shopping and I picked up a new HP 2542 printer for $49. And for the extra $20 over the last one, I’m getting wireless printing, and scanning/copying.

But getting back home, I ran into a problem with the printer. It would not see the color cartridge. I removed the cartridge and reinstalled it several times. Since my old and new printers use the same cartridge, I installed the one from my old printer with the same result.

So it was back to Wal-Mart to get a new one. Only to find that since we were there this afternoon, they had sold the other two on the shelf. So I’ll try another Wal-Mart tomorrow.

Bah, humbug.

December 13, 2014

Frankly, My Dear . . .

I went ahead and ordered the new Transfer Switch today, which should be here Tuesday or Wednesday. I had it sent to Brandi’s in Katy because I don’t know where we’ll be by then. We’re hoping to hear something from Galveston Bay RV Resort the first part of next week, but you never can tell.

We know we won’t be moving on Monday because we’ll be in Austin checking out the Gone With The Wind exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the movie, the exhibit showcases many of the dresses worn by Vivian Leigh, scripts used by the actors, and even screen tests of the many actors who auditioned for the movie.

Afterward we plan on eating at Trudy’s, a Mexican restaurant near the campus where Brandi went to college, and where we used to eat every time we came to visit her. So we’re really looking forward to it.

About 3:30 we headed up to Peter’s BBQ for dinner. Peter’s is one place we always eat when we’re in the area. Great BBQ, and even better, are the many great sides they have. Green beans, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, carrots, boiled carrots, pinto beans, and more. And for dessert, there’s banana pudding, peach cobbler and ice cream. All for the price of just BBQ and two sides at other places. Great!

A little while after we got home, Tom & Lily Christian came over from their rig across the street to talk about gate guarding. They’ve worked for Timekeepers the last several years and wanted to compare notes. But as it turned out, Tom and I had other things in common, both have spent time working at White Sands Missile Range and other places, Tom with the Army and me with NASA.

We stayed outside talking until we got so cold we had to come in for the night. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to get together again before we leave.

Lowell and Landon usually go out for Starbuck’s on weekends to let Brandi sleep in.


Of course Landon only has chocolate milk and a sucker.

Then later, the afternoon found Landon in a serious discussion with Santa concerning his upcoming visit.


Can’t leave anything to chance.

December 13, 2015

Called On Account Of . . .

Tornados, Rain, and Wind.

Well, our 10am departure for Galveston this morning was canceled due to all the bad weather running around the area. But since our friend Linda is leaving Galveston tomorrow morning, driving to Dallas, we decided that we would meet in Conroe for lunch tomorrow instead. And that works for us since it’s about 20 miles closer for us on the round trip than Galveston.

But since I was already up about 9am, Jan took the opportunity to lure me out with the idea of breakfast at Schobel’s Restaurant over in Columbus, so we headed out about 9:30. With all the rain we had last night and early this morning, I was interested to see what the river crossing coming into the park would look like.

In fact, early this morning, a little after 5am, I listened to some of the loudest rain hitting the rig that I’ve ever heard. It seemed to be lashing the coach in sheets, over and over. But what was very unusual is that there was no horizontal wind rocking the coach like you would expect with this blowing rain, so it must have been coming down vertically.

And when we got to the bridge it was easy to see that all the rain had had an effect on the water level

Colorado River Flooded Crossing 1

Colorado River Flooded Crossing 2

Even though it was several inches deep over the bridge, our Dodge Dakota with its high clearance, made it across with no problems. But the way the river crossing looked here reminded Jan and me of the Little Blanco River crossing near the home of our late friend Gina’s house near Wimberley, TX.

Gina's River Crossing

Like a lot of these crossings in this area, the water is flowing over the bridge most of the year, but usually not deep enough to be a problem.

Little Blanco 2

But if you are careless enough to gun your SUV as you’re heading up the hill, you might find yourself suddenly sliding sideways off the road and into the creek due to the slick concrete. So, don’t do that.

Coming out after our really good breakfast at Schobel’s, I saw this very nice trike out in the parking lot.  Nice looking V-8 engine.

Schobel's Trike 1

It’s hard to see clearly, but it seats 3, with the driver sitting in the middle steering using regular bike handlebars, while the gear shift appears to be a standard auto stick shift. The two passengers sit on either side of the driver.

Schobel's Trike 2

Schobel's Trike 3

I think a setup like this makes more sense than the Polaris Slingshot reverse trike we saw at the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails a couple of weeks ago.

Polaris Slingshot Conroe 2

While I guess the Slingshot is a little flashier, it’s certainly not very practical for inclement weather.

Slingshot Trike 1

Our next stops were the Wal-Mart and HEB right across the street for a few things. With the cold, rainy weather I decided to whip up a batch of my famous (well, Jan really likes it.) Chicken Tortilla Soup so we picked up what we needed that we didn’t already have at home.

Back at the rig, I got out the slow cooker and got to work. First up was to slice and then poach the chicken breasts in chicken broth. Adding salt and pepper, I let it go for a couple of hours, until the meat was done and tender enough to be pulled apart with a fork.

Tortilla Soup Chicken Breasts

Then I sliced up the jalapeno and Serrano peppers and dumped them in the cooker,

Tortilla Soup Jalapeno Peppers

along with a can of Rotel Habanero tomatoes, a can of Hunt’s diced tomatoes, a can of black beans, a package of frozen kernel corn, and half a package of frozen chopped onions.

Next I added some coarsely chopped cilantro,

Tortilla Soup Cilantro

some cumin, and a few other seasonings. Then, after a taste test, and Jan’s approval, I put the lid on and let it go for a couple of hours.

At this point, I took a very nice nap, and when I got up, the smell of the soup permeated the coach. Very nice to wake up to.

Checking the cooker, I saw it was looking good, and just about ready.

Tortilla Soup 1

I started dishing it out into bowls,

Tortilla Soup 2

and then garnished it with shredded Monterey Jack and Queso Fresco cheeses.

Mmm! Mmm! Good!

Finishing up, our son-in-law Lowell sent over these photos of Landon’s Santa visit for this year.

Landon with Santa 2015 -1

Landon with Santa 2015 - 2

Looks like he’s trying to convince Santa he really was a good boy this year.

December 13, 2016

Cookkkiieeess . . .

said like Cookie Monster

Jan has hosed out the hollow tree, yelled at the drunken elves, and started turning out Christmas cookies. She does candy cane cookies, rum balls, wedding cookies, and Rolo-Pretzel treats, all of them delicious. Then she bundles them up on decorative plates, and then we pass them out to friends and family. But this year it will be all friends and coworkers. They’re in for a treat.

I’m not sure what happened since I was at this gate a couple of weeks ago, but both 3G and 4G speeds have dropped off drastically. It took almost 15 minutes to upload the blog last night, but at least it’s just slow, and not dropping out all the time.

I mentioned last night about the new flare stack here at this site since I last worked here. Well, about 3am I noticed that the landscape out my front window toward the highway was tinted red. Turning around, I saw that our stack here had started up in high gear, not flaming oil high, but high enough,

Davila 5 Flare

In fact, at times the flare was higher than the top of the crane. But the fog made it hard to get a good focus on a shot. But as before I could feel the heat.

So far tonight it’s staying pretty normal, but we’ll see as the night progresses.

A week or so ago I mentioned that I was going to do an article on what’s really going on with the whole North Dakota Access Pipeline kerfuffle. But the research is taking a little longer than I had thought because there are so many different sides to it, more than just for or against.

I’ve read everything from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, through the right-wing and left-wing conspiracy blogs, down to individual bloggers in the area, and on both sides on the controversy.

In fact, going from article to article, it’s sometimes hard to tell they’re all talking about the same thing. But hopefully I’ll be able to lay it all out for you so that it makes sense.

I hope.

Tomorrow is my last day here at this gate, at least for now, and although it will cut into my sleep a little, Jan and I are having Chicken & Dumplings and Hamburger Steak at Barth’s once again.

December 13, 2017

Pizza and Ocean Blue . . .

On my way home from work I detoured over by Sundowner Canvas to pick our finished awning and dropped off the old one.

Finished New Awning

Karma thinks the Ocean Blue looks pretty good.

I’ll install the new one tomorrow afternoon and then let them know how it fits. Then they can do the other rear one.

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I was going to take a look at our friend Bob’s Kindle. It would no longer charge so I thought I’d pop it open and see what I could do. And unfortunately, that was not much.

First thing I did was check the voltage from the wall charger which showed 5.5 volts, right on target.

This is a first-generation Kindle, one that probably a lot of you have never seen.

Bob's Kindle 1

It debuted on November 19, 2007 and cost $400. The first run sold out in five and a half hours and was out of stock for the next five months.

Besides the hardware keyboard, another difference is the fact that the charge connection is separate from the data connection.

Bob's Kindle  2

The first thing I noticed is that when you plug the charger connector in, it doesn’t seem to touch anything, just moves around in the hold.

So taking out the screws under the back cover, I popped the case open.

Bob's Kindle 3

And it was quickly evident why it wasn’t charging, and why there was no connection.

Bob's Kindle  4

The entire inside connector had melted and broken loose from the circuit board. So it’s pretty much toast.

BUT . . . if you were really determined to save it, you could solder two wires to the circuit board contacts and then run them out the old charge connector hole. Then you could install a new connector on the wires and a matching one on the charger wire.

It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would work. However, the time involved probably wouldn’t be worth it for a 10? year old device when you can buy a new Kindle Fire for $50.

For dinner tonight we decided to hit up the Grimaldi’s Pizzeria at Baybrook Mall. After thinking about it, it’s been nine months since we last were at a Grimaldi’s and that was this past March in Tucson at the 57th Escapade, where we had dinner with our friends Chris and Charles Yust.

So it was about time for another slice.

Grimaldi's Baybrook

After our Chopped Kale Salad, we got the big (18”) pizza with Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Italian Sausage, and Meatballs.

Grimaldi's Baybrook Pizzeria

Cooked in their Coal-Fired Brick Oven, it doesn’t get any better than this. And we also get the big so we can eat half and take the other half home for leftovers. Yumm!

December 13, 2018

A Texas Two Season Day . . .

Today was my second, and hopefully last, treatment in my recent series of head scorchings. But for some reason it wasn’t as bad as last time’s scorching.

Just like last time, they took me in about 11:30, and after the Dr. checked out my previous torturing, he used a roll-on type of dispenser to cover my head in the photo-reactive lotion. Then it was hurry up and wait while it dried for the next two hours as I sat out in the waiting room reading on my Galaxy Tab.

Then it was back up the UV light for another 16 minutes and 40 seconds of a headful of angry bees. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

But this time, instead of the little handheld battery-powered fan I got last time, this nurse, a different one from my previous visit, gave me a large fan to hold in my lap that worked much better. And she even gave me a pillow to prop up my head in the chair.

Which meant, since for some reason it just didn’t ‘burn’ as much as last time, I actually dozed off, and didn’t wake up until the machine shut off and it got really quiet.

The other difference, and one that I think contributed to much less after-pain, was that she had me wash my head at the sink with really cold water for several minutes. Then she rubbed a cooling lotion on my head. And unlike last time, within an hour my head really didn’t hurt anymore. Nice.

I had brought some Hydrocortisone packets with me, but didn’t need them either.

She did seem kind of surprised that none of this was done last time. I wish it had been done this way too.

I’m supposed to go back in a couple of months for a final checkup, then hopefully I’ll be done with this.

Finishing up there it was off to have lunch at East Star Chinese Buffet, another of our favorites. But it was our first time back since we went to Florida the first part of October, and we realized we missed it.

Then it was a stop by the Lowe’s looking for a couple of things that we didn’t find, and HEB for another bag of the Lola Savannah Texas Pecan Coffee, presently our favorite flavor.

After that, it was home and a nap.

Today was another one of those Texas Two Season Days. You know, the ones where it’s 75°+ during the day and you’re running both of the rig AC’s, and then it’s in the high 30’s – low 40’s at night and you’re running both heaters.

At least it’s not boring.

Tomorrow morning is Jan’s checkup with her eye surgeon after cataract surgery a week ago. And right now Jan is not a happy camper, or maybe not a happy patient. It’s only been a week, but Jan is not happy with how her eye recovery is progressing.

Based on things other people had said about their surgery, she expected her vision to be better by now. So we’ll have to see what the doctor says.

With the ordering of Landon’s last gift from Amazon, we’re pretty much done with our Christmas shopping for this year. We got him this robotics kit that lets him build and program 8 different robots. Then he can control them through his iPad.

Smart Machine Robotics Kit

Smart Machines Robotics Kit

And he can build ones like this,

Smart Machines Robot

or this.

Smart Machines Robot 2

Knowing Landon he’s going to love it.

December 13, 2020

Snoozing On A Sunday . . .

Jan and I left the right about 1pm this afternoon, in the middle of the rain that had been going on since Oh Dark Thirty this morning. And it didn’t really slack off all day.

The reason for all the rain is the front coming through, taking today’s mid-70’s temps down to 41° tonight, leaving us with daytime temperatures in the low-50’s in the daytime and the low-40’s at night, continuing for the next few days.

Our first stop was for brunch at our perennial favorite Snooze. And being Sunday, we had about a 15 minute wait before we got seated. We’ve eating here since the day they opened, long enough for several servers to wave and say ‘HI’.

After Jan’s Bravocado Toast

Snooze Bravocaod Toast 3

and my Shrimp & Grits,

Snooze Shrimp and Grits and Fruit 2

both as good as always, it was on back down to the HEB for some groceries before we headed over to the Santa Fe PO to check our mail, ending up with a stop at the nearby Jack in the Box for Frozen Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

All still in the pouring rain.

I’ve been looking at a new service called Privacy.com.

It’s a service that allows you to generate your own personal credit card numbers to use online. They can be for one-time use only, i.e. burner cards. Or you can create cards that are locked to one Payee, i.e. your cable company, power company, etc.

You can also select a spending limit, with these limits per transaction, per month, per year, or total. So, if your Netflix bill is $10.99 a month, you can set your card to decline any transactions over $11. So you can’t get phantom charges that you’re not expecting.

And even better, if you’ve ever tried to cancel a service and they keep charging you until you finally had to cancel the card to get them to stop, this will solve that problem With a Privacy.com card, you can cancel it at any time.

The reviews of the service seem to be pretty good, so I’ll be checking it out, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

December 13, 2022

A White Christmas?

Lunch today was at our new local Barcenas Mexican Kitchen here in the League City area. We first ate at this one back the end of October after the Wing Over Houston Airshow.

Barcenas Storefront

But we’ve been eating at their Friendswood location since it opened in 1998, especially convenient since it was located right outside our Heritage Park subdivision. And it was always delicious.

And today was no different.

Jan had the Tex-Mex Enchiladas with ground beef, the same thing she’s gotten for years.

Barcenas Tex-Mex Enchiladas 20221213

And I stayed with my favorite Tacos al Carbon, with Beef Fajita Meat.

Barcenas Tacos al Carbon 20221213

One thing we’ve noticed recently is that Mexican restaurants like Barcenas,

Barcenas 20221030

and our local Monterey’s,

Monterey's Dickinson 1

seem to be veering away from the traditional Mexican decorating scheme with red, white, and green flags and tablecloths, multi-colored Christmas lights, banners, and serapes lining the walls.

Traditional Mexican Restaurant Decor

In fact, except for the menus, it’s hard to tell you’re actually in a Mexican restaurant at all.

So much for ambiance, I guess.

And on the subject of restaurants, looks like we’ve got a number of new ones coming into our area.

Locally, Santa Fe is getting a Whataburger just north of us a couple of miles on Hwy 6. It’s supposed to open soon.

And we’re finally getting an In-And-Out Burger up by the new HEB on I-45, and a Shake Shack right off Bay Area Blvd and I-45.

And as I mentioned a while back, we’re getting a BoomerJack’s up in the same area, and they’ve already started clearing the land for construction.

Boomerjack’s is a Dallas-based sports bar concept, similar to Twin Peaks and Hooter’s, i.e. a breastaurant. With about 20 locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth, this is their first venture outside that area.

Boomerjack's Girls

But what’s really interesting about this is their location.

It is literally right next door to our Twin Peaks! In fact it looks like they’ll be sharing a parking lot.

Decisions, Decisions.

It seems that long-range weather forecasts are talking about a possible snowy Christmas here in the Houston area. Some forecast models are showing an Arctic cold front moving into the state. And the last time this happened was December 1983 when we had a Christmas Day high of 28 and a low of 11°.

And in 2004 we did have a Christmas Eve snow. It started coming down while we were having our traditional Christmas Eve dinner at King Food, and by the time we left there was a couple of inches on the ground.

Here’s hoping, I guess.