Daily Archives: May 25, 2024

Finally Home . . .

After breakfast at our Baton Rouge Sleep Inn this morning, we were on our way toward home by about 10am, with our first stop at the Pilot in Breaux Bridge for gas and a bathroom break.

Then our next stop was supposed to be at the Rest Area as we entered Texas, but found it closed due to the recent storms and flooding. So we stopped at another Pilot in Orange, TX another 10 miles on down the road.

I decided to top off the tank again to get us home without having to gas up in the next day or so. Normally I would wait until the Baytown Buc-ee’s to fill up, but we had decided to turn off early and take SR146 down to our area.

When we were leaving Houston a couple of weeks ago, we noticed that the southbound lane of the Sam Houston Tollway took 4 lanes of traffic down to 1 lane as it crossed over the Ship Channel Bridge, and the cars were backed up all the way up to I-10.

It’s been years since we’ve been down 146 and all the new roadway was amazing. So taking SR146 worked out great and it was smooth sailing until till I went over the hill right before our SR96 turnoff, and a Texas Highway Patrol cruiser popped up behind me, lights a flashing.

Turns out that with all our pointing out all the changes around us, I hadn’t noticed that the speed limit had dropped from 55 to 45. Of course, it seems that I’m not the only one who did this, since he was parked to catch anyone coming over the hill.

But he was really nice and let me off with a warming.

Thanks, Officer Cano.

Our first stop back in our area was at HEB for some groceries, getting us home around 4:15.

We had a great trip, but we’re glad to be home. I’ll recap more in the next few days.

Tomorrow Jan and I are meeting Brandi and her family up at King Food for lunch so Jan can go home with them while I work on some stuff around the rig.

Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2010 – A Beautiful Day in Montana

2012 – Staying Cool on the Gate

2013 – Duck, Duck on Lake Tahoe

2017 – The 1880 Train and The Crazy Horse Monument

2020 – Memorial Day Family Memories

2019 – Hampton Court and King Henry VIII

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

May 25, 2009

Sangria & Roast Pork…

Today Jan and I spent most of the day around the coach just reading and watching TV

Palm Beach Gardens RV

The park we’re in is nice, but does have a power problem. They only have 30 amp power available here and this means that we can’t run both A/C’ units at the same time. Luckily the frequent rain is keeping things fairly cool.

We went out for lunch at Deli Inn again and did a little shopping, while trying to dodge all the rain storms passing thru.

About 5pm we went over to our friends Charlee and Bill’s house for supper. She made a delicious shredded roast pork and vegetables and lots of Sangria.

Great food and Good Friends.  It can’t be beat.

May 25, 2010

A Beautiful Day in Montana…

Today was really pretty uneventful. We left Blackwell Island RV Park in Coeur d’Alene about 9:45 heading for Garrison, MT about 240 miles away.

A little over an hour later we entered Montana and the Mountain Time Zone, so 11 am became 12 noon.

About 12:15 we stopped at a rest area for a quick snack lunch, and while we were there, Jan started a crock-pot meal of her world-famous chicken spaghetti. She then puts the crock-pot in the sink to keep it in place. It plugs in just like normal, since the coach inverter gives us AC power on the road. And it really started to smell good as we drove.

Just as on our trip to Alaska two years ago, the scenery between Coeur d’Alene and here is really fantastic. The hills start out heavily forested, and gradually thinned out to these sparsely-vegetated rolling hills.

And as you can see, the weather was fantastic too.

The biggest thing we’ve noticed since leaving the coast is the much cooler nighttime temperatures. It’s been in the mid 30’s almost every night. Last night here in Garrison it was 31 degrees with rain/snow showers.

And as you’ll see below there’s still a lot of snow on the mountain tops.

Even today, although it was very sunny, I don’t think it made 60 degrees.

MTScenery 2

MTScenery 1

MTScenery 3

We arrived at here at Riverfront RV Park about 4 pm and started setting up. About 5pm Jan added the spaghetti to the crock-pot and turned it on high to cook.

Our daughter Brandi called about then to talk about her upcoming wedding on June 21st.  Then about 5:15 our daughter-in-law Linda called to chat about Brandi’s bridal shower this weekend.

And the scenery here at the park is pretty good, too.  Here’s the view out our front window. Note the snow.

RiverfrontRV 1

Here’s our site here,

RiverfrontRV 2

And here’s Mister on the prowl. Note the leash.

We just let him drag it around.  After all, the park rules just say “All pets must be on a leash.”  Nothing says I have to be holding it.

RiverfrontRV 3

About 7:30 about a half dozen magpies showed up out in front of our rig. The last time we saw magpies was two years ago in Dawson Creek, BC, Canada, on our way to Alaska. These are really beautiful birds.

Magpie 1

Magpie 2

Tomorrow we head for Billings, MT for one night, and then on to Gillette, WY for the American Coach Rally.

May 25, 2012

Mister Cool . . .

First off, more congrats are in order to our granddaughter Piper. She just received her C. N. A. (Certified Nursing Assistant) certification, specializing, I believe, in Phlebotomy.

Piper's CNA

In other words, she really likes to stick it to people.

She’ll be starting on a four-year scholarship at the University of Houston – Downtown in the Fall, working toward her degree as a Nurse Practitioner.

Piper in Straw Hat

All this and she hasn’t even graduated from high school yet.

Next Thursday, though.

Well, my cooling mister experiment turned out to be a real success, but not quite like I intended. The kit I bought at Tractor Supply came with 50 feet of line and 10 misters, as well as the necessary connectors.

Ocean Beeze Mister

I had planned to run the hose around the bottom edge of our canopy like they show on the box. But things were pretty busy on the gate, and while I was thinking about how I wanted to hang the hose, I decided to just hook up one mister on the end of the hose (so I could cut it off with no problems if I didn’t like where it was).

After noticing how fine the mist coming from the nozzle was, I stuck it behind our fan and twist-tied it in place.

Mister mister

Turning the fan on and placing it about 5 feet away, the difference was almost instantaneous. I could feel the moisture hitting my face, but I wasn’t getting wet. And it was suddenly much, much cooler where I was sitting.

After enjoying the cool breeze for a few minutes, I hung my thermometer in front of the fan to see what it would register. The thermometer said 100 degrees (it had been kind of in the sun. I think it was about 95 degrees) and I wanted to see exactly how much difference it made.

Mister Fan

Within about 30 seconds the display started falling. 99, 98, 97 . . . And in about 5 minutes it was down to 80 degrees, which explains why it felt so comfortable now. And the 20 degree drop is just what the box said it would give.

Mister Temp

After thinking things over, I decided this solution was perfect for what we needed. Most of the time there’s just one of us out here, so why cool the whole area. And it’s certainly a lot simpler. The fan motor is completely sealed so a little moisture is not going to hurt it. And this will save on water usage too. Since ours has to be trucked in, that was a concern.

We’ll see how it works tomorrow for the whole day. It’s not supposed to be quite as hot as today, only about 91, but it will still be a good test.

More later.

Last night while working the gate about 10pm, Jan saw a large black snake slithering across the road about 25 feet away. It had come from behind our rig and was heading for the woods across the road.

The wind was very strong, and Jan said the snake was being blown sideways as it moved so it had to keep adjusting its course, kind of like a sailboat tacking into the wind.

A few minutes later a truck was leaving the site and Jan had to walk over to that side of the road to check him out. She had her flashlight out and was frantically searching the roadside for snake signs as the truck came to a stop behind her.

What she didn’t realize was that the guy had gotten out of his truck to see what she was looking at. When his hand touched her shoulder, she let out a loud scream.

And then he let out a loud scream.

By that time I think if the snake was still anywhere nearby, he was headed for the deep woods.

On another critter note, I took this picture of a two-inch long brown scorpion, right before he unfortunately passed away. Services to be announced at a later date.


May 25, 2013

Duck, Duck, No Goose . . .

The park really got busy today. Although we don’t have any neighbors on either side, we’re pretty much surrounded now. What’s interesting are all the tent campers here in the park. There are groups with 10-15 tents all clustered together in a circle. Since it’s still going down to the low 30’s every night, I hope they’ve got good sleeping bags.

About 1:30 Jan and I headed down to Heavenly Village for an afternoon of fun and frolic.

Well, fun and a boat ride. Well, fun and a boat/car ride.

Heavenly Village is an area that’s still in California, but bumps right up against Nevada and the 4 casinos here. Its claim to fame is the fact that this is where you catch the gondola ride up to the ski areas on the other side of the mountain.

Our daughter Brandi reminded us that she was out here staying at Heavenly Village on a ski trip a number of years ago.

Heavenly Village 1

Heavenly Village 2

We thought about riding up the top and looking around, but then found out it’s $38 . . . each! for the round-trip. Nah, ain’t gonna happen.

Heavenly Village is also a very nice shopping/dining area with a couple of high-end hotels thrown in for good measure.

And of course, the other thing Heavenly Village is known for is that it’s the starting point for the Tahoe Duck Tours, which is the main reason we’re here this afternoon.

As we walked around, checking out the shops, the first place Jan saw was Sock City. Turns out to be a place that only sells socks. Who’d a thunk it? Well, they also sell knitted gloves and hats, too.

Jan did buy several pairs of very colorful socks that she really liked.

The next thing we came across was a really neat car show there on the grounds.

Heavenly Village Car Show 1

Heavenly Village Car Show 2

A 1932 Ford.

Heavenly Village Car Show 3

A 1937 Chevy Truck

Heavenly Village Car Show 4

A 1970 Mustang Mach I

Heavenly Village Car Show 5

A very nice 1932 Chevy.

Heavenly Village Car Show 6

A 1965 Austin Healey 3000. I used to have a lot of fun shutting these down in my souped-up 1965 Triumph Spitfire. Surprised a lot of guys.

Heavenly Village Car Show 7

Here’s a 1979 Corvette. Love that Blower (Supercharger)

Heavenly Village Car Show 8

And a beautiful 1947 Chevy Stylemaster.

About 2:45 we queued up for our Duck Tour. Our Duck was built in 1945 and can travel 55mph on the highway and 8 knots in the water. We’ve taken Duck rides in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle. We tried to take one in Boston, but they were sold out the rest of the day.

Tahoe Duck Tour 1

Our driver was Captain Donnie, a South Lake Tahoe native.

Tahoe Duck Tour 2

After we drove around South Lake Tahoe for a while, with our Captain pointing out the best of the local shops and restaurants, then it was time to get wet.

We drove over to the Tahoe Marina and right down the ramp and into the drink.

Tahoe Duck Tour 3

Tahoe Duck Tour 4

Lake Tahoe was formed millions of years ago when a now-extinct volcano (Mount Pluto) erupted and blocked off what was then a deep canyon. At over 1600 feet, it is the 2nd deepest lake in North America. Only Crater Lake is deeper.

The lake has been reshaped several times during past ice ages, and in fact, there are several areas where you can find ancient trees, 90 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter, 150 feet below the surface.

As we got out into the lake, the captain pointed the high-end lakeside homes. By ‘high-end’, we’re talking $10 million and up. The ‘poorer’ section is down at the other end. Those only go for about $1 million. Wish I was poor like that.

Tahoe Duck Tour 5

This is the Safari Rose. Built in 1959 as a corporate yacht for IBM, its later claim to fame is that it was the very first ship to offer Alaskan cruises, before any of the big cruise lines started sailing up there.

Tahoe Duck Tour 6

And this is a very unique boat. In fact, it’s the only one in the world.

Tahoe Duck Tour 7

It’s the Tahoe Flyer, the world’s only fully U.S. Coast Guard Certified Hot Air Balloon Launch and Recovery vessel.

Tahoe Flyer

After launching from the boat, the tethered balloon ascends to around 8,000 – 10,000 feet, giving you views all the way over to Yosemite when the weather is clear. And then when you come back down after about an hour aloft, the Tahoe Flyer is waiting right there underneath you.

After about 30 minutes out on the lake we came back ashore and drove around the area some more before finishing up back at Heavenly Village.

Tahoe Duck Tour 8

By the time we finished up it was after 4:30 so we decided to have dinner at Applebee’s once again since it was only about a block away.

It was almost 6 by the time we got back to the rig, and the park was even busier.

Tomorrow, maybe a movie. We’ll see.

May 25, 2014

Slip Slidin’ Away . . .

Once again we walked this morning, bumping it up a little further in distance. The weather was perfect and it was good to see how full the park is with all the holiday weekend visitors. And still no shouting, no fights, or no gunshots. It’s all good.

Getting back from our walk, we sat outside with our coffee until we lost the shade. Then it just got too hot.

About 2 pm we all headed over to Mishawaka for shopping and dinner. Our first stop was the Sam’s Club for a few things for Jan. While I was there, it was time to renew my membership, and this time I decided to upgrade to a Plus membership. It costs an additional $55, from $45 to $100, but it will pay for itself in about 3 months on prescription savings. I recently found out that besides Wal-Mart’s (Sam’s) $4 prescription list, there is a second additional list for Plus Card members.

In this case, Jan’s Lipitor generic is normally $90 for 3 months. But if you have the Plus membership, it is $11.87 a month or $35. 61 for 3 months, a savings of  $54.39. Which pretty much pays for the $55 a year extra cost. The other 9 months are just gravy. Check it out.

Leaving Sam’s, we drove over to the nearby Bargain Books, a used book store that we’ve visited before, and always enjoyed. They have a great selection and pretty good prices.

Finally our hunger drove us right down the road to the new Golden Corral. At least new to us. It wasn’t here last year.

This new one is much bigger than other Golden Corrals we’ve seen, with a much bigger parking lot. We could have easily parked our rigs there.

The place was pretty busy, but we only had to wait in line about 5 minutes to get in. But the best thing was that the food was really, really good. Everything was hot and fresh, and kept well stocked. We all left very full.

In fact, so full, I think everyone took a nap when we got home. I know I did.

Lowell posted these shots of Landon and his friend Ruthie enjoying their SlipNSlide in the backyard. Looks like fun.

Landon on SlipNSlide 2

Landon on SlipNSlide 1

As far as I know, we don’t have anything planned for tomorrow, but you never know.

May 25, 2015

A Lost Afternoon . . .

Saturday, 5/23

Jan’s sister Debbie and her husband Jim picked us up at our motel about 9am, and we all headed down to the Denny’s to meet up with the rest of the clan.

Denny's 5-23 1

Denny's 5-23 3

After another great meal, we all piled into 3 cars and headed into St. Louis for an afternoon at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis. But it did not work out that way.

Grant’s Farm was the home of Ulysses S Grant, where he lived from 1854 until the beginning of the Civil War, and farmed and raised cattle. In fact, Grant’s home is still preserved here. At some point it was bought by the Busch family of Anheuser-Busch fame who opened it to the public as wildlife reserve/petting zoo in 1954. They even have Clydesdales.

Clydesdale 1

So it sounded like a really neat place. But apparently it sounded that way to everyone else in St. Louis, because it seems like they all converge on the place on Saturday morning.

After an hours drive from Vandalia to St. Louise, it took us over another hour backed up on the main highway to finally turn into the park, and another 30 minutes to get to the entrance.

Grant's Farm 3

After that long wait, everyone needed to use the bathroom, and by ‘everyone’, I mean everyone in the park,  and we found the potty lines were over an hour long. After suffering through that, we found the line to actually walk into the park was another hour.

And by then the park would close in about 90 minutes.

At this point we decided to call it a day. We had dinner reservations for 5pm, and wanted to be sure we could get over to St. Charles, MO by that time.

Leaving the park we saw at least part of the reason for the bottleneck. To walk into the park itself you have to cross the entrance road where everyone is still trying to enter in their vehicles.

Grant's Farm 1

So they stop the traffic let people cross and then stop the people to let the traffic come in. And as we left the cars were still trying to come in.

Grant's Farm 2

* * * * *

It’s now almost 11pm Monday night and we want to be on the road by 6am for our 2 day 1500+ mile trip back to Prescott, AZ tomorrow. So I’ll finish the rest of this later.

May 25, 2016

We’re Rich!

Now we just have to figure out what to buy with it. A new rig, maybe?

Our son Chris brought our mail up to Brandi’s this past Sunday and last night I finally got a chance to go through it all. And here’s what I found.

A check as a settlement on a lawsuit. And a lawsuit that I didn’t know I was involved in. A check for a whole 16 cents!

16 cent ATTM Check

What’s even funnier about this is that it says it’s a sales tax settlement refund for overcharges on an AT&T Mobility Data Plan. But we’ve never had an AT&T Data Plan, or even an AT&T phone of any kind. We’ve always been with Verizon.

So I don’t know now. I guess we should split our largesse with the kids. It’ll be their inheritance.

After monitoring my Progressive 50 amp EMS (Electrical Management System) a lot more closely the last two days, I’ve got a good idea what the problem is. At first, I was thinking I maybe had a bad or floating ground, But watching the L-1 and L-2 voltages on the Progressive display told me different.

The two voltages go in opposite directions under load. When L-1 is showing 105 volts, L-2 might be showing 128 volts. Way too wide a spread. And just inside the Hi/Lo cutoffs of the Progressive EMS.

And even with both A/C’s off, and nothing else on except the TV/Sat and the computer, we were only seeing about 111 – 113 volts, way too low. Last week at Lake Conroe we were seeing 120 to 122 volts at the same time of day.

To protect the rig, the Progressive will cut off power to the rig if the voltage goes over 130 volts or below 103 volts. And it doesn’t have to be on both L-1 and L-2, but either one of them. So when one voltage is at 104 and the other one is running at 128, a momentary change on either end can cause the EMS to drop out. So now I’ve got a good handle on what’s happening, but what’s actually causing the problem?

I said earlier that at first I thought it might be a floating ground. But seeing the opposite voltage swings says an open or high resistance neutral. And because it’s happened at two different sites in this ring, I suspect it might be located at the main panel or thereabouts.

So now it’s up to Jeff, the park electrical guy, to follow up on this. As far as us, Jan says we’re never parking in this area again. It’s too much drama.

Wrapping up, I wanted to pass on a recipe for this delicious salad our daughter-in-law Linda brought to our son Chris’ birthday bash held at our daughter Brandi’s this year. Jan liked it so much she asked for the recipe. Turns out to be from an old Kroger’s ad. Quick and Easy, and really Good.

Strawberry – Orange Tropical Salad

May 25, 2017

Another 70 Years?

Jan and I were out the door by 11am, heading south to Hill City and the 1880 Train ride about an hour away.

We had allowed plenty of time because if you miss your train, you’re out of luck. No refunds. So since I bought our tickets yesterday online, all I had to do was pick them up at the train station, and then wait.

The locomotive came backing into the station pulling the train behind it. Which meant at the other end of  the route, Keystone, they didn’t have a wye or a turntable, but used a runaround track to move the locomotive to the other end of the train for the trip back to Hill City

1880 Train Coming Into Station

The engine uncoupled from the far end of the cars, coming back to the other end to take on water at the tower before coupling to the new head of the train for the next run.

1880 Train Water Tower

1880 Train taking on water

The trip to Keystone at the other end of the track, and near Mt. Rushmore, takes about an hour to travel the 10 miles, so you do the math. A speedster it’s not.

The enclosed cars are immaculate, unlike some trains we’ve been on. Really nice, with comfortable padded seats.

1880 Train Car

Getting to Keystone, they brought the engine out onto the runaround track for a little servicing and some more water.

1880 Train Service at Keystone

Then they coupled it to the other end of the train, which is how it ends up running in reverse coming back into Hill City.

1880 Train Keystone Runaround

So while we were the first car behind the engine on the outbound run, we were bringing up the rear coming home.

1880 Train on a Curve

We arrived back in Hill City about 3:30, which was the final run for the day. Then after hitting the gift shop for a couple of things, we had some time to kill before dinner.

So while we were waiting for the Alpine Inn to open at 5, we decided to make the 10 mile drive down to the Crazy Horse monument. We were interested to see if they had made any noticeable progress since we last visited in 2008.

And the answer is . . .

2008 Visit

Crazy Horse 2008

2017 Visit

Crazy Horse 2017

So the answer is NO!

The only thing really different is that they’ve cleared the rubble along the side so you can now see the full outline of where the horse’s head is going to be.

Since they started working on it in 1948, 70 years ago, I figure it’s going to be at least another 70 years before they finish.

Here’s what it’s supposed to look like when it’s finished.

Crazy Horse Sculpture

I think I would be worried that the pointing finger will break off under its own weight, as well as the arm itself. Maybe that’s why they’re going so slow.

If something falls off, they’re screwed. Doubt they can glue it back on.

Getting back into Hill City and the Alpine Inn a little before 5pm, we found we didn’t want to eat there tonight. We had come for their well-recommended German cuisine, but it turns out that they only serve that on the lunch menu.

The dinner menu is prix fixe, with only two items on the menu – a bacon-wrapped filet, and a German noodle dish. Neither of which we wanted. We’ll catch them for lunch another time.

Checking Yelp, we chose Desperados, a place right down the street.


Turns out it’s housed in the oldest hand-hewn log building in South Dakota. Built in 1885 as a saloon and hotel, it’s also been a newspaper office, a fix-it shop, a fly-tying shop, a book and gun shop, a stained glass shop, and a bunch of other things. In fact it’s been continuously occupied since it was built.

Quite a record.

And now as a restaurant, it was still great.

Deparado's Dining Room

Jan had the Chicken Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans,

Desparados CFS

while I had the Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and sautéed green beans..

Desparados CFS

Yes, it’s the same photo, since they both looked exactly the same.

This was a great meal. The breading on the meat was really good, as was the gravy. Just perfect.

And while we were at the restaurant I saw this photo on the wall, showing the face of Crazy Horse from the outstretched arm.

Crazy Horse Face

Looks a lot better this way. And I guess they must have an elevator of some sort to get all those people up there.

Coming back home by another route, we passed Mt. Rushmore but really couldn’t see it due to the sun being in our eyes. We’ll be coming back here after the holiday is over.

Back in Rapid City, we made a quick Safeway stop for a few things, as well as Starbuck’s Cinnamon Dolce Latte’s for the road, finally getting home about 7:30.

I’ll flesh out some more of today’s adventure in tomorrow’s blog.

O,h, and Sheldon will be happy to know that the train cars used the Janney coupler, and not the original link-and-pin coupler or the Miller hook & platform.

May 25, 2018

I Hate Updates . . .

Especially Microsoft Windows 10 Updates

With the holiday weekend coming up I thought today was going to be quiet enough that I could get back to work on moving the website from the local server up to GoDaddy servers.

But it didn’t work out that way. Not at all. I spent the day fighting the latest Microsoft Windows 10 update, also known as the Spring Creators Update, or Build 1803.

I noticed on Monday that the Shipping Department computer had updated over the weekend, but everything seemed to be working OK, so I didn’t look further. But when I came in this morning I had a note telling me that they weren’t able to print out the daily end-of-day shipping reports from UPS and USPS on Monday or Tuesday. These print to the printer in the Office Manager’s office, so it looked to be a network problem

And the problem was that the Shipping computer was no longer on the office network. In fact it couldn’t even see the network, and none of the other computers could see it.

So first up, I went to check out the HomeGroup settings, which is the way the office network is set up., and the way it was set up when I took over the system last year. And I immediately saw the problem.

There was no more HomeGroup. In fact the HomeGroup entry wasn’t even listed in the Control Panel. It was just gone.

And a little Googling explained that Microsoft, in their ‘infinite wisdom’ (do you detect the sarcasm there?) had decided to just eliminate the HomeGroup option. Which, of course, left thousands of networks dead in the water.

There were a bunch of fixes posted online, none of which worked for me. So I tried to back to the old-school method of setting up a workgroup, and then configuring permissions on all three machines, something I’ve probably done hundreds of times before.

But this time it didn’t work, at least not on the Shipping computer. No matter what I tried, nothing worked. So finally having wasted most of the day fighting this, I bit the bullet, and using the Recovery mode function, I uninstalled Build 1803, and dropped back to the previous version, Build 1703.

And after about an hour, the computer rebooted, and now I had the HomeGroup back. Then with a few minutes of configuration, I had the network back and everything worked.

The problem was fixed, but I wasted a day on it.

I’ll lock down the machine to keep it from updating for a while, until it looks like MS has a fix available. Could be a while.

Looks like I’ve got a 4 day weekend coming up. With the office closed on Monday for Memorial Day, I don’t go back to work until Wednesday. But I’ve got plenty of website stuff here at home to keep me busy, along with taking more stuff over to the storage room.

May 25, 2019

Hampton’s Court . . .

Today, along with our visit to the Tower of London, was the highlight of Jan’s visit to London. And mine, too, I guess.

Hampton Court Aerial

We Ubered out to Hampton Court Palace, Henry VIII’s home away from home, and were dropped off right at the front of the long walk up to the entrance.

Hampton Court 1

And we had to start out with the obligatory selfie of Jan and I.

Hampton Court Selfie 500

Strangely enough, until this Europe trip, I had never actually taken a selfie.

Hampton Court 12

After walking across the inner courtyard, we entered the main building and quickly found ourselves in the Great Hall

Hampton Court 4

and its beautiful stained glass windows.

Hampton Court 5

Ironically Anne Boleyn is credited with helping Henry design the Hall, his favorite place in the Palace. Though it didn’t seem to help her later in life.

Every room had another amazing, beautiful feature.

Hampton Court 6

And when you’re the King, you have your own Chocolate Room where the Royal sweets were prepared.

Hampton Court 11

We even had a personal audience with the King himself, as he regaled us with tales of life in his court.

Hampton Court 8

And then we came to my favorite part, the room where Henry and my relative, Catherine (Katherine, Kateryn, take your pick) Parr were married.

Hampton Court Kateryn Parr Marriage 500

And she was very pretty, even by today’s standards.

Hampton Court 10

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m descended from the Parr family and Sir Thomas Parr, Catherine’s father. My grandmother, Sarah Jane Parr, was born in England and was directly descended from Sir Thomas. And since he was a direct descendant of Edward III, we’re actually related to royalty, too.

She and Henry never had any children, so nothing from that line.

Hampton Court Palace was a great end to our London visit since tomorrow we head back home to Houston.

May 25, 2020

Happy Memorial Day . . .

First off I want to thank all the Veterans out there for their service. You’re what makes this country great.

As I’ve mentioned before, my mother was a Captain in the Army Nurse Corp. and was Chief of Nursing at West Point.  Both of the photos were made there.

MotherMother in the Army

Her nurses were on a troop train to New Orleans in late July 1945 to board a hospital ship for the invasion of the Japanese mainland, with my mother a few days behind because she had the flu. But they were all turned around enroute due to the dropping of the Atomic Bomb. So it’s very possible that I’m only here due to the Bomb being dropped.

My mother even has her own exhibit in the Veteran’s Museum in Athens, Al. And yes, that’s her original uniform.

Mother's Exhibit at Athens Vet Museum

My father, yes, that’s me in 1951 or so when I was 2, was a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy and spent the entire war in the Shore Patrol at the Naval Pier in Chicago. He tried several times to get shipboard duty but was always turned down.

Daddy and Me 1951

But he always said that he figured he did his part, since he said no Japs ever made it past Chicago.

Jan’s father, as well as one of my uncles, participated in the D-day Landing, and later at the Battle of the Bulge. Then after getting out of the Army and going to college, Jan’s father reenlisted in the Air Force and retired in 1966 as a Senior Master Sergeant.

Hopefully, their service, as well as all veterans everywhere, will never be forgotten.

Jan and I did our part in local restaurant resurrection today with lunch at our local BBQ favorite, Rudy’s. Since you line up to get waited on at the counter I was curious to see how they handle that. But they just had spots on the floor every six feet.


Jan had a Loaded Stuffed Baked Potato with Brisket and one of my ribs.


I had Pork Ribs, a Jalapeno Sausage Link, and a cup of their Green Chile Stew, with enough left over to bring half of it home. Delicious.

And doing our part earlier this week, Tuesday night we had dinner at Saltgrass Steakhouse once again, our second visit since they reopened their dining room, and then Thursday night was our first visit back to Los Ramirez since they reopened their dining room.

And we had the same meal then that we had on March 19th, right before everything shut down.

Los Rameriz Last Meal

Jan always gets the Pechuga Rellena, a grilled chicken breast on a bed of grilled shrimp and broccoli, all covered in melted cheese. While I usually get the Spicy Chicken Fajitas with Charro Beans. Yum!

May 25, 2021

They Ran Out Of Deer . . .

GoDaddy’s been having trouble with the server my blog (and a lot of others) runs on, and it took until today, and a couple of phone calls, to get the problem fixed, but everything should be working fine now.

Jan and I headed up to the Clear Lake area about 1pm, with our first stop at Twin Peaks for lunch. And there was not a mask in sight.

Even the pretty girls were no longer wearing them. When I asked, our server said they became optional for employees this past weekend and everyone dropped them. And out of a restaurant full of people, only one person came in with one and immediately took it off after they looked around.

But our visit today came with some disappointment. My long-time favorite, the Half Wedge Salad and a Bowl of their Venison Chili are no more.

No more Wedge Salad, which was actually relatively new, and no more Venison Chili, which has been on the menu for years, in fact as long as we’ve been going there.

When I asked Faith, our waitress, if they ran out of deer or something, she said I wasn’t the first one to complain, by a long shot. Hopefully they’ll bring it back.

Jan on the other hand, got to have her usual Spicy Chipotle Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Broccoli.

Twin Peaks Spicy Chipotle Chicken 20210525

For me, I assuaged my disappointment by having the Billionaire’s Burger, with Fries.

Twin Peaks Billionaire Burger 20210525

It seems that what makes it the Billionaire’s Burger is that it had Billionaire’s Bacon on it, one of their appetizers. And Billionaire’s Bacon is thick-cut bacon that is baked with brown sugar, red chili flakes, and smoked paprika.

And besides the bacon, the burger has Sriracha Pimento Cheese on it. Really hot and spicy. And delicious.

Then it was on by WalMart and Sam’s for a few things before making a quick stop at the office to see if my new S21 Ultra phone had come in. According to Verizon, it’s in the wind somewhere out there and should be here any time now.

Our last stop was at the NTB tire center near us to shop for tires for the Jeep, and set up an appointment for Thursday afternoon to get our baby some new shoes before our upcoming trip.

May 25, 2022

On The Beach . . .

After I got home this afternoon, we dropped Karma off at our Office Manager Jennifer’s so she can take care of her while we’re gone. Then we took her out to dinner at Los Ramirez Mexican as an additional Thank You.

Jan and Jennifer watch a lot of the same YouTube shows so they had a good time comparing notes.

Getting back to the rig a little after 7pm, I loaded up the Jeep with everything that Jan had already packed. Just that much less to do tomorrow morning.

We plan on leaving here about 9am, make a Buc-ee’s stop at the Baytown location for Coffee, Kolaches, and Gas, and end up in Slidell, LA about 3:30pm. And since this is Thursday, the Cracker Barrel located right next door to the La Quinta will be serving Jan’s favorite Turkey and Dressing.

So we’ll eat there before we check in, and then be in for the night. Then on Friday, we’ll head out for Athens, AL with a lunch stop at Weidman’s in Meridian, MS.

Weidman’s has been around since 1870, and is also known for the jar of homemade Peanut Butter on every table. We’ve eaten here a number of times over the years, and we’re really looking forward to it again.

We’re going to spend 4 days in Athens, then head down to Birmingham and Montgomery, before ending up in Gulf Shores on Saturday the 4th of June. There we’ll meet up with the rest of the family for a week at a condo on the beach.

May 25, 2023

Last Day In Almost Paradise . . .

After breakfast at the motel, we headed over to Claudia’s at about 11am prepping for another day of fun, frolic, and good food.

On the way, we admired all the flowers that line every corner of the town, including hanging baskets. Really nice.

Fairhope Flowers 1

Fairhope Flowers 2

Fairhope Flowers 3

Getting there I first had to redo the repair to the garbage disposal. The connection into the bottom of the disposal is apparently kind of iffy, but I think I’ve got it tied off to keep it working.

On our way down to Gulf Shore, we made a stop at the Book Exchange used book store in Foley to pick up a copy of Foley At 100,

Foley At 100

a book detailing the 100+ year history of Foley, AL one of the areas where I grew up down here. It mentions a lot of people I knew, some of whom I had forgotten until I read their names again.

Then it was on down to DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen right off the beach. We’ve been eating here for years, and consider it one of our trifecta of great restaurants in this area, along with Lambert’s and Lulu’s.

DeSoto's Fried Platter 20230525

We all three got the same Fried Seafood Platter, differing only with the sides. Just as delicious as always before.

Jan also saw this picture of an Octopus that she really liked and wanted me to get a photo of.

DeSoto's Octopus Picture

Finishing up we drove over to the beach side to sit out for a while.

Gulf Shores Beach 1

Gulf Shores Beach 2

A lot different weather than a couple of years ago.

Gulf Shores Waves 1

Finishing up, here’s the two beautiful ladies that have kept me busy the last few days.

Jan and Claudia at DeSoto's

Tomorrow we start back toward Houston with a layover in Baton Rouge tomorrow night. Then on home to Santa Fe Saturday night.