Monthly Archives: March 2018

Miles and Miles of Texas

February 24, 2018

Just a little something I left out of the last post that I think you may really like.  It’s a sign in front of the Quartzite Yacht Club.  What hoot!

— and a campfire at the rally.

 

If you’ve ever driven through Texas, you know why we titled this post as we did.  It never ends.  Miles and miles of open plains and ranches, that are dotted with cattle and oil derricks.  In fact, it is 790 miles long, and 660 miles wide from point to point.  Trust me, that’s a lot of Texas.

We ended the last post in Del Rio, Texas, on the Rio Grande.  From Del Rio we headed straight for Port Aransas ( Port A ) on the Gulf Coast, another one of our favorite little towns.  WOW – did we get a shock! You may recall that the eastern parts of Texas got hammered by Hurricane Harvey on about August 25, 2017 — 6 months ago. Hurricane Harvey is tied with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest tropical cyclone on record, inflicting at least $125 billion in damage, mostly from catastrophic flooding in the Houston metropolitan area. Port A is about 200 miles south of Houston and it’s right on the coast. Even through my untrained eye I can see progress is being made, but they have a long way to go.  Think it’s fair to say that tourism is their main industry, and it won’t be ready for the Spring Break crowd.  The beautiful beaches have been cleaned up but the restaurants, lodgings, and gift stores are a long way from being ready, and some are closed permanently.  Here are a few pictures  of what still needs to be done in Port A

     

Can you please tell me when my car will be ready?

— and nearby Rockport.  Miles and miles of highway median filled up with debris just like this.

Love this taxi, and thought you would, too.  It really is the embodiment of the attitude of the Port A Texans – GET INTAXICATED.

 

The Surfside RV Park where we stayed was fortunate enough to clean, paint, and improve for tourist season, as was our favorite restaurant in Port A, Seafood and Spaghetti.  The fishing pier was being enjoyed by local fishermen  – and other locals.

 

Most importantly for us, the porpoises are back, coming so close to the pier you can almost touch them.  Fantastic!

After leaving Port A, we headed for Louisiana.  We always wanted to travel the southernmost route, to see what it was like living in the bayous and marshes.  What a surprise!  I figured it would be all tumble-down wooden shacks on piles.  But no, it is  mostly gorgeous green farm land and ranches, like this beauty in Creole, Louisiana.

 

Mind you, the waters are just across the ribbon of road, threatening to encroach on this precious land, but it’s not there yet – so enjoy it while you can.

 

We also returned to Holly Beach to see if it managed to survive the storm.  Hallelujah – it looked great.  Actually, it has grown quite a bit – lots more houses.  A law has been passed that, if you want to build in Holly Beach, the piles upon which the houses sit have to be 18 feet tall – yikes!  I don’t envy them having to carry their furniture and groceries up those steps, that’s for sure.  Many people have installed elevators, which I happen to think is a very smart idea.  Showed you a picture of our favorite house in Holly Beach in a prior post.

It’s still there, but the owners use it as a house for guests, and this is what they built for themselves.

 

Leaving Holly Beach, we found ourselves again in Rayne, LA,  the same little town we’d visited while heading west to the rally. There was a restaurant we had wanted to try called Cajun Claws Seafood Restaurant,  and now we had our second chance.  Have you ever eaten a crayfish? Neither had we.  Crayfish, also known as crawfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, mudbugs or yabbies, are fresh water crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related.   The last time we were in Rayne, everyone around us was chowing down these huge platefuls of them, and now was our turn.  The minimum you could order was 3 pounds (that sounds like a ton), and now I know why.  This is a very labor intensive process, for a tiny little piece of meat.  The waitress showed us how to do it.  First you take off the heads by twisting the joint between the head and body.  Discard the head (unless you want to suck on it like some people – yuck!). Then you remove the first couple of rings of shell from the tail.  Next, pinch the very end of the tail with one hand, and pull the tail meat from the remaining shell in one piece.

It makes me tired (and hungry) just from explaining it.  Is it a lot of work for a tiny piece of meat?  Why yes it is, but it’s kind of like eating Maryland Blue Crabs.  You have to have the right mindset for crabs and crawdads.  You’re not going to dinner and then a movie.  Oh no.  You’re going out for the sole purpose of eating the messy little delectable morsels of heaven, which to me tasted like a split between shrimp and lobster.  We ordered a boiled combo which included 3 pounds of crawfish and 1 pound of shrimp, boiled little red potatoes and corn on the cob.  If you ever have the chance, give them a try.  I believe we liked them — a lot.  Check out these before and after plates.

BEFORE

AFTER

 

When we were in Texas, we remarked to someone that Texans are so warm and friendly.  The gentleman we were speaking to said, “I think you’re right.”  He thought for a second and then said, “The only people friendlier than Texans may be folks from Louisiana. ” I tell you this because while we were in “Crawdad Heaven”, we were seated next to the bar and speaking with a man whom we eventually asked to join us at our table.  He lived in Texas, but worked in Louisiana.  When the musician and vocalist , Gyth Rigdon, came on the stage, this man said, “Listen to this guy, he’s great!”   After a few songs, our new friend had to leave.  Once he was gone, the hostess came over and handed us an unopened CD.  I told her we didn’t buy a CD, and she said, “This  was a little gift from the man who just left.”   And there you have it.

 

One other thing about that restaurant:  Gyth played an impromtu National Anthem.  Everyone, man, woman, and child, jumped up, took their hats off, put their hands over their hearts, and stood quietly, reverently.  When the song was over they whooped, hollered and clapped, and went right back to pickin’ their crawdads  Quite something to see.

 

In Townsend,  Georgia, we found The Smallest Church in America. It was a pretty little well-cared-for building.  It featured 12 wooden chairs, an altar with pretty stained glass, and a framed copy of the Ten Commandments.  There were also lots of people taking pictures.

It’s a shame that it was necessary to put that yellow sign on the outside of the church.  In case you can’t read it, it says – SMILE. YOU’RE ON CAMERA.

 

From Georgia, our goal was the Florida Panhandle town of Pensacola Beach.  We hoped to snag a campsite at Pickens Fort State Park, directly on the water.  It’s very beautiful, with low dunes and sea grasses lining the road from end- to- end.  OH NO !!! This is the first time in almost 2 years of traveling in our camper that we were shut out.  No space for us.  What will we do?  Boondock!  Yep -for those unfamiliar with camping jargon, Boondocking means pulling your rig into the parking lot of certain commercial places that allow overnight parking.  Among those that RVers are familiar with – Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and the Truck Stops – Travel America, Flying J, Pilot, and Love’s.  We found ourselves in a Flying J.  It worked. Sometimes they even cater to RVers by having a dump (you know I detest that word and the reference that goes along with it) stations, and potable water to fill your tanks.  In the morning we got up for the 9 hour drive to Largo, Florida.  In Largo, we planned on meeting our friends Patti and Jeff, and stay in a place called Yankee Traveler.  It was wonderful to see our two friends again.  It was like we didn’t skip a beat.  We first met them in Amada, Arizona.  It’s funny how you can meet people once, and know in your heart that they are “your people”, and when you meet again, no matter how much time has gone by, it feels like you’ve never been apart. Love to Patti and Jeff.

Just before heading home, we stopped in Pinellas County to visit with my cousin Drew.  His Mom and my Mom are sisters.  We hardly ever see him, so it was a nice visit.

 

PS – My hair was looking pretty bad.  The gray is growing in faster than I can keep up with – especially on the road.  So Patti cut my hair.  Yep — she just took a crappy old pair of scissors and cut it.  And guess what?  It’s one of my favorite cuts and I love it.  I’m experimenting.  It’s just hair.  If I don’t like the gray – I’ll color it again.

 

After putting 7,000 miles on the odometer, it was time to head home.  Tim and I were like horses going back to the barn.  Have you ever heard that expression?  When I was a kid, there was a trail horse rental place not too far away from home, in fact, we could walk to get there.  My friends and I decided to “ride”, and I use that term loosely.  For most of the ride the horse tried to bite my feet, and I was told to give him a little kick — that’s just not who I am.  He even just laid down on his back for a bit.  I guess he was hoping I would give up.

Once in a while he would walk the trail very unhappily like a sway-backed 90-year old, just gallumphing along.  Once turned back for the barn, when my time was over, all of a sudden he became Secretariat, flying on winged hooves, trying to win the Triple Crown.  What the hell just happened?  Needless to say, I did not become an equestrian.

NOTE: DON’T READ THE NEXT SECTION IF YOU DON’T WANT A MINI LESSON ABOUT SOME HORSE BEHAVIOR

I tell you this information because Tim and I, like  Barn Sour horses , could be dangerous if we were stopped for any reason, for getting to our final destination – home sweet home.

What Causes A Horse To Be Herd Bound, Barn Sour, or Buddy Sour?

“To understand what’s going on with your horse when he’s barn sour, it helps to know a bit about how they’re made and a few things about their nature. When we say “Barn Sour” or “Herd Bound” or “Buddy Sour”, we are talking about a type of anxiety in your horse that is typically created by separation from the familiar.

In the case of Barn Sour – it is the separation from the familiar stall, pen, feeding area, etc. It is their safe place where they are cared for and nurtured. Or it could be the horse who is fine until you turn for home and then wants to rush home.

There are other possible reasons that horses become barn sour. If he is ridden infrequently and you take him from the barn only to work him, then he’ll soon learn that it’s no fun for him and he’ll have no desire to leave his comfort zone.

In the case of Herd Bound or Buddy Sour, it is the separation from their friend(s).

In either case, it is all manifested as a form of insecurity. Horses feel safe in a herd. They watch out for each other, they play and graze together. Watch them in a pasture or in the wild – they’ll almost always stay together. It is common to see two horses stand head to tail as buddies.

If a rider’s frustration resorts to punishment or force for the bad behavior, the problem is compounded. In your horse’s mind, your actions confirm that riding can be a bad experience and should be avoided. You are only giving him more reason not to leave home because it is unpleasant to do so. ( Glad I didn’t punish him when he wanted to bite my foot).

The herd mentality is extremely strong. You must understand that the instinct of the horse, when presented with any form of danger, is to flee. And this instinct is manifested in a herd as each member can act as a sentry. Many watchful eyes, ears and noses will help keep the herd safe by watching for the threat of predators. When a threat is detected the alarm goes out to the herd and they can decide to flee or not. 

The barn sour or herd bound horse may only show it’s ugly head when you are away from the barn and then turn towards home. At this point, the horse may become extremely anxious to get home and start doing all kinds of prancing and getting anxious, then get sudden bursts of energy and want to “take off” for home. His mind is now on his buddies or he has a strong desire to be back at the barn.

I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard about this type of situation. The horse starts to take off for home and no amount of “whoa” or pulling on the reins will stop him. He lays into the bit, picks up his pace and the rider tries to hold on for dear life as fence posts go whizzing by. The horse wants the rider off his back and wants to get home as soon as possible”.  Oh yes, too true.

© Copyright 2010 Charlie Hicks www.HorseTrainingResources.com 

 

NOTE:  YOU CAN START READING AGAIN

We chose to take the Virginia/Maryland Bay Bridge Tunnel, and then the Lewes – Cape May Ferry to Cape May, New Jersey.  In the picture below, the break in the bridge is where the road becomes a tunnel and ships of any size can pass through / over.

Due to timing, we spent one more night on the road in Rehobeth, Delaware, at a Cracker Barrel.  It’s a pretty good place to stop because we had dinner the night we stopped, and breakfast before leaving in the morning.  Then we were off to the Ferry.

I wasn’t sure how to pronounce LEWES – many people say it as one syllable, like LOOS .  I asked a woman working at the ferry terminal, who said it’s pronounced with two syllables  like – LOU-IS.  She added that when people say LOOS, to locals it sounds like fingernails on a blackboard.

This is a picture of a model of the ferry.

Here’s a picture of the  boarding process – we’re in that line.

The ferry takes about 1 1/2 hours, and it’s quite pleasant – comfortable indoor and outdoor seating, TV, climate-control, and a place to buy food.

We got off the ferry and headed for home — no stopping,  just a one-hour drive.  Upon arrival in Smithville,  we unhitched the trailer in the storage yard and drove the final 5 minutes to our house.  And for sure – there’s no place like home !!!

For now, there are no camping adventures planned, but we are leaving next month for a Transatlantic Cruise, and a week’s stay in England before heading home to enjoy the summer right here in New Jersey.  I’ll tell you everything  you’ve ever wanted to know about an ocean-crossing cruise – and more.  See you on the high seas…