Monthly Archives: August 2010

Time To Go Home

Old coffee pot

New coffee pot

Our poor old coffee pot.  No more cheerful perking noises were coming from this pot I’ve toted along for five years.  The coffee was no longer hot and I would have to unplug it for 15 minutes then plug it back in again to get the proper coffee brew.

Joe stopped at an Outlet Center with a Kitchen Collection and I ran inside to get a new coffee maker.  We are back to having hot coffee and it is a proper strong brew after just one time through.  Sad to have to send the old pot to the junk pile.  It won’t quite go there yet.  Joe wants to tinker around with it first so it will hang around the house and be moved from one flat spot to another until I just toss it out.

It’s silly, but I thanked that old pot for many mornings of fresh hot coffee in hotel plastic cups while the remainder went in our travel mugs.  Good strong coffee that no truck stop could seem to get just right.  Sad to have to part with this old friend.

Great Smokey Mountains

Traveling through Tennessee and North Carolina on I-40 we go through a section of the Great Smokey Mountains.  I had often wondered why it was called this.

It had been raining for a couple days, the hot temperatures were subsiding.  Going through the Smokey Mountains on our way to Savannah, Georgia early in the morning was a pleasure.

Indeed, the mountains looked to have been on fire, all that remained was the smoke.

Mists from the condensation rose heaven ward all morning long.  I tried, diligently, to get pictures of the rising mists as we traveled through these mountains.  Most were blurred and I have a lot of tree shots.

Kudzu

Kudzu

Kudzu

Kudzu has made its way from Florida on up to Pennsylvania.  There is some in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and a bit in Missouri.

This stuff is laughingly called “The Vine That Ate The South”, which is pretty apt.

I found some information about Kudzu on the internet that tells of its origins in the US and how fast it grows.  Unbelievable how invasive this vine is.

Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss is seen in the southern part of Georgia and on into Florida.  Louisiana has a lot of Spanish Moss hanging from trees.

There is a folk tale about Spanish Moss.  It is…

A villain there was named Gorez Goz, who journeyed here from Spain,
The natives feared him much because his heart was set on gain.
Gorez espied an Indian maid who filled his fondest hope.
He bought her for a yard of braid and a little bar of soap.
The Indian maid was so afraid and fled this bearded brute,
She sped over hill and field and glade with Gorez in pursuit.
At last the maiden climbed a tree; the Spaniard did the same.
The lass was bent on being free; Gorez desired his claim!
She balanced on a slender limb then dove into the brook.
She much preferred a morning swim to this bearded Spanish crook.
The troubles of Gorez begin, his naughty plans are queered.
He snags the whiskers of his chin and the branches hold his beard.
The Indian maiden thus is free Gorez’s life is a loss,
But his beard lives on for you to see as dangling Spanish Moss!

Paula Deen's The Lady & Sons

Downtown Savannah

Horse drawn carriage

After making our delivery at the Port of Savannah Joe and I went downtown to check out Paula Deen’s “The Lady & Sons” restaurant.

This was either going to be really bad or it was going to be good.  We’ve been to Tunica, Mississippi and the Harrah’s for lunch at the buffet.  At the Harrah’s they have a section of the buffet that is supposed to be an introduction to Paula Deen’s cooking.  Well….it was pretty bad.  Over salted and way too much garlic for my tastes.  Standing outside Paula Deen’s restaurant in Savannah I worried about finding the same thing here.  Too salty and way to much garlic.

Fresh mint in the tea

Biscuit and a Hoe Cake

The power of women

After we were seated and brought our choice of beverage I was pleasantly surprised to see fresh mint in the iced tea.  A bit later came a woman bearing biscuits and hoe cakes.  I’m not a fan of corn bread, but I’m a fan of Hoe Cakes now.  That is the pancake like thing on the plate beneath the biscuit.  Yummy.  And I’m also happy to say that the food prepared at Paula Deen’s restaurant is SO MUCH BETTER than the junk put out at Harrah’s in Tunica, Mississippi.

After our meal I went next door to her little shop that held cooking tools and gadgets, aprons, and cook books written by Paula Deen.  I purchased the book she wrote about her journey to where she is today.  A framed article hangs in a hallway of her restaurant.  The particular part that I hold dear is her words stating that any woman can achieve what she wants.  Whatever your dream is, through hard work, perseverance, and a stand on quality, you can have your dreams come true.  I read her book over the next couple days and it is worth the read. “It Ain’t All About The Cookin'”

House moving

Blocked traffic

We are on our last trip before going home.  Spruce Pine, North Carolina is where we are headed.

Off the interstate and on state routes the rest of the way to Spruce Pine we encountered this traffic jam.  There is a lot of road widening going on with the stimulus money.  This section of road in North Carolina is getting widened.  The homes along this stretch of road are either going to be torn down or moved.  This house is being moved. We waited in line for about 40 minutes.

Joe's short cut

Not such a promising short cut

End of the short cut

Joe got tired of waiting and creeping along.  He had a deadline to meet and this house moving was eating into his deadline.

There was a road that came off this state route and Joe decided he was going to find a way around the blockage and get back on the road.

Well….he ended up having to back out the way he went in on this bitty dirt track going only to local residences.  We ended back in line with the other vehicles waiting for the best road to get out of the way of the moving house.  Poor Joe.

Mountain side gave way

More road construction

On the way to Spruce Pine we encountered another road block.  This time it was the mountain side that came down and blocked the road.

After Joe got his trucks we had one road construction block after another to deal with before we finally got on the interstate.  Road work is going on all over the place, which is good even though it is frustrating.

Joe delivered these last two trucks to Atlanta, Georgia and we headed for home.

We will be taking a full week off and prepare for Pati and Les to go on the road with us after the first of September.

I’ve got a house to clean.  You’d think it would be fairly clean since we are hardly home, but it is a total wreck.  When we do get home for one night, stuff we’ve accumulated during our travels gets dumped on the floor, the tables, and anywhere else it can go then we dash off again.  Mail is roughly sorted through, bills that need to be paid are culled from the pile while the remainder is scattered about on any available flat surface.  There is so much dust built up on the furniture and the floors need to be cleaned.

So this week I am employing the Flylady tactic of 15 minutes at a time.  I found her site in about 2006 when I was overwhelmed with the condition of my home and needed to get it in control.  Anyone can use the Flylady  method.  If you are a BO (born organized) or a total SHE (sidetracked home executive) you will find her methods and her encouragement to be helpful.   No whining is allowed, so I have to keep it down, and her mantra of “You can do anything in 15 minutes” has made such a difference in my life.

Okay, time to get my timer and attack the kitchen and the living room.  This might be a two day job but getting it started is the important thing.


York to Perrysburg

I’m so glad we are in the part of our country that has trees, pasture, fields of corn, soybeans, rice, and cotton, not to forget alfalfa and the grains of oats and barley.  I’ve had enough of dirt and rocks.  Don’t get me wrong, there is beauty in the arid regions of the US, but I need the green of grass and trees.

"Heavy Plant"

I received an email from Lynn in the UK.  She reads bits of my blog to her husband, Rod, from time to time.  In her email Rod passed on a message to me, through her.  In the UK the big equipment used to do road construction are called “Heavy Plant”.

We had left York, Nebraska at around 7:30 in the morning and continuing our trip east on I-80.  When we neared Omaha the huge earth movers were out, so was the sun and my photos of them were worse than this one.

I have no idea what these steaming behemoths are but I thought they could qualify for Rod’s “Heavy Plant” 🙂

Rolling hills of Iowa

Iowa, in my opinion, is spectacular.  Rolling hills all along I-80.  Fields of sunflowers, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa are everywhere.

The farmsteads can be picturesque.  The first time I came through Iowa with Joe I asked why a lot of the fields had terraces.  The hills, he told me, are very steep in places with natural berms.  The farmers have learned to use the berms to their advantage for moisture run-off.  The natural berms keep the ground from washing away during the heavy rains of summer and the snow melt in spring.

Iowa gets a ton of snow in the winter time.  Not just snow but some pretty harsh winds also.  When Princess was with us she would make me crazy.  Well, craziER.  She’d start to do her business in one spot, smell a spot that was more enticing and head for that one, then find a different one and away she’d go to that one.  All the while I’m standing out in the frigid air with the wind blowing all around me.  My eyes watering and my nose running, and my mouth grumbling for her to hurry up already.

Rivers running over

The rivers, creeks, and streams we drive over are usually lazy running, or just have a trickle.

Recently there has been a lot of rain and all the water ways are full or running over with the abundance of water.  This late in the year it is unusual for these waters to be so full.  Spring and early summer are when the flooding dangers are most likely to happen.

Southern Illinois and eastern Iowa seem to have the worst trouble with flooding since the Mississippi River runs through them at the state lines.  But this is much further north and, as I’ve said, unusual for this time of year.

Sometimes there is a vehicle or two parked off the shoulder and a fisher person can be spotted at the rivers edge.  Not this year though.

Flood waters

Joe is getting used to me and my blog now.  While he was in front and about half a mile ahead of me he called me on the radios we carry to tell me of the flooded out area he was at.

I don’t know if you can see them, there are a few vehicles in the water nearly up to their roof.  There is an ambulance nearer the roadway on the left that is nearly underwater.

The poor people that live in the homes in the distance.  I can’t imagine what they are going through.  When the waters recede they will have mud and junk in their home to clean up.  Floors and walls to replace.  Furniture and precious other belongings to throw out in the trash because of being ruined by the waters.

Flooded field

Before we left York, Nebraska this morning I had heard on the local news about the rains they had for the past six days.  Now there were stories of all the flooding that had occurred in the area.  36 people lost their lives to this flood.

Seeing all this water, nearly everywhere, tugged at my heart.  When I saw the field of corn standing in water I really felt bad for the farmer.

They gamble enough each year on planting a crop that will bring them an income.  Some years there is no rain and little in the way of irrigation water, other years they get good rains.  This year they had more rain than they have had in quite a long time.

This field is partially ruined, as far as I can tell.  Waiting for this end to dry out so it can be harvested will be a long wait.  My only hope is that these farmers did not have a family member lost to the flood as well as losing a crop.

Sipping Barn

On a lighter note.  I LOVE BARNS!!!

Barns have faces.  Okay, I know they don’t have faces but it is my story.

This barn is having a sip of chocolate milk through a straw.

Some barns have two eyes while others are metaphysical and have a third eye.  This barn has a hay loft.  I know that because its nose moves open to expose the place way up high for the hay to be stored in.

When I was a child, I remember trying to help some people move bales of hay.  How they tolerated me being there I have no clue.  I accomplished nothing except a lot of grunting and heavy breathing.  The bale of hay I was trying to move was winning.

Come Hither Barn

This barn made me think of a woman with false eyelashes.  Maybe it is Mae West and she is saying “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”.

I’m sure the owner of the barn would not appreciate my take on their barn, would they find out.

After taking this picture I had a chance to look at it a bit closer.  On the side is another “face” and it caused me to think that maybe, just maybe, this barn is a bit “two faced”.  Oh my goodness, I crack myself up 🙂

Still, barns are my most favorite structure.  They keep many things safe from the elements.  Machinery, animals, and hay, among other things.

Big Moustache

I think this guy needs to go to the barber and get that moustache trimmed and spiffed up a bit.

Kind of reminds me of an old man I knew when I was younger.  He had a red face, not as red as this barn, and a big bushy moustache that splayed out straight from each side of his mouth.  When he talked the moustache kind of vibrated.   When he laughed it went a bit wilder.  He’d tame it back out to its proper splayed position with his fingers and keep on talking.  He was a man with a big belly also.  He’d slap the palms of his hands on his belly when he would laugh, just before he fixed his bushy moustache.

Rocky I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII

Wow!  That had to have been one long, knock down drag out fight!!

This poor barn has one eye shut while the other one is bleeding.  The nose must be mashed against its face, and it seems to be gasping for air from the corners of its mouth.

The structure in front of it lost the fight in a big way.

Yes, I know.  You don’t have to tell me.  I hear the sirens on the cars that the men in white coats are riding in.

I just can’t help myself.  I love barns.

I love the things that people leave around barns.  Little do they know that they are doing it to amuse me.

Whistling Barn

This barn makes me think of someone whistling.  Happy tune or just some whistling noise.

Maybe it is whistling to Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs as they whistle while they work.  Don’t know but it sure has some pucker going on there and can’t be anything but for whistling.

I think there might be some back up singers on the side to keep time and tempo with the whistler.

This barn is in Ohio, and a bit out of the photo sequence but since I’m doing barns right now then I’ll put them all in one area and add the other photos after I’m done entertaining myself.

Ooops, a bit of snobbery here

Someone unpleasant has just moved into the neighborhood and we are not happy about it.

I’m sure the farmer that built the new barns, or had them built, only thought of having the troubles of a crumbling structure out of the way.

The paint scheme of the two new barns make me think of a couple in an evening gown and tuxedo being approached by a person of poverty.

Odd barn

This barn has made me have to think really hard.

The colors dotting the structure make me think of a robot at one time, then a botched permanent makeup session, or just someone that can’t decide what makeup they want to wear so they will try several out and see what works.

Someone has tried to do something with the face of this barn, and I’m not sure they even knew what they were going to finally end up doing.  A splotch of red, a dab of yellow, bold strokes of white, a dot of black.

Maybe this is like one of those paintings in an art gallery everyone else seems to get but me.

Oh well, I love barns.  They make me happy.

Kinze Manufacturing

Kinze Manufacturing

Since I’m doing this on farms and barns, none of them would be complete without farm machinery.

Kinze Manufacturing in Iowa has a very interesting display on their grounds.

I don’t remember the name of the town this place is located.  Only that it is at mile marker 216 on I-80 in Iowa.  Joe and I have passed this many times.  Several times we’ve taken pictures of this place from the shoulders of the road.  Last year, bold as brass, Joe drove up to their main office and asked if we could drive on their property and take pictures of these two displays up close.  They told him we could!!!  So we did.  Those are at home so I had to take more pictures to show you the displays.

The tractor thing in the smaller photo – click on it to enlarge it – is nose down.  The implement that is at the back of the trailer moves around like a clock at the quarter hour.  Go past it later and the implement thing will be at the 3 and 9 position.  Really something spectacular to see.

Chicago granite quarry

This massive hole in the ground is on I-80 out of Chicago and going toward Gary, Indiana.

Going on this piece of road at night is not bad.  It is so dark below that you would never know you are driving over a hole that would scare the wits right out of you.  In daylight it gives me the jitters all the time.

This immense hole is almost the same on the other side.  Makes me wonder how much of the granite walls are left under the bridge we travel on.  The big machinery goes under the bridge to the other side to do their digging and hauling away.

Tons, and tons of granite are shipped out of this hole daily.  It then goes places to be sliced and polished for countertops, other pieces are sent off to be crushed, while other pieces are taken to another place to be broken apart into massive boulders for landscaping.

Church

This church is in Indiana on I-80.

In the spring and summer it is surrounded by green fields and it makes the church look welcoming and alive.  In the winter time with deep snow on the ground, harvested fields, and trees bare of their leaves this church looks forlorn.

This is such a beautiful structure.  I love the red brick, slate colored roof, and the white trim.

This might be a modest church compared to other more grandiose structures but this one fits and looks good where it is.  One of those huge ornate churches would look so out of place in this setting.

When I see this church I feel peaceful and happy, even in the winter.

Scarey forest

Maybe I should have titled this photo “Narly, dude!”

This is an orchard of some kind in Ohio.  We are near Toledo and about to get to our delivery point.  This orchard, and one similar to it on the opposite side of the road, give me the shivers each time I see it.

If there ever were witchy trees these would be them.  Some of the trees have fruit and I don’t know what it is.  The branches are so misshapen and bony.  Talk about a Halloween area, this would be my first choice for the scariest place to be.

If anyone knows what kind of trees these are, feel free to pipe up and let me know.

Joe's oopsy

The last picture I have for you is of a bent fender that had Joe totally distraught.

We stopped at a Sapp Brother truck sotp in Omaha, Nebraska for breakfast after fueling.  Joe found a spot to park in while I had to go across the street and park with the other bobtails.  When I next saw Joe he had the most hang dog look on his face.

While he was backing into a spot he went back too far and ran into a humongous tire that had been planted in concrete to keep the tractor/trailers from backing into a hurricane fence around the property.

With the trouble I had with my truck Joe did not want to tell the customer there was more coming.  He stewed on this problem for quite a while.  There is a big truck stop in Iowa called the Iowa 80 Truck Stop.  They sell bumpers there.  Joe asked me if we should just buy the bumper at the Iowa 80 and pretend like nothing happened.  Then he thought better of it and was going to call the customer and tell them of his incident.  Then he went back to wanting to just handle the problem himself.

The man who was getting these trucks had already received heavily damaged trucks recently.  One driver that does decking hit a bridge and knocked the smoke stacks off of a couple trucks.  That is about $4,000 each smoke stack plus all the other pieces of equipment involved in the repair.  Another driver ran over something in the dark and did some damage to that truck.

We have delivered to this place many times before and the customer has always thanked us for getting them safely to him.  Now Joe was in the unenviable position of telling the man that he had also done damage.  Joe finally decided to bite the bullet and be honest with the guy.  We were going to pay for the bumper ourselves anyway so maybe he would not be quite so upset.  Before Joe finished talking to the customer he felt even worse because the customer was bragging to his customer how careful we are and never bring in trucks damaged.  Joe and our man in Perrysburg got things worked out.  He found a bumper that would fit the truck right and he would only charge us one hour labor instead of the normal four hours.  So Joe got off pretty easy with a charge of $400 instead of the $650 we were looking at for the bumper and the labor had it been done at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop.

Sometimes honesty can be expensive.  But, it is always best to be honest, no matter the cost.  The trucks are delivered, the bumper is replaced, the customer is happy, and they want us back to deliver more trucks for them so it all worked out.  At least Joe is happier now.

Another weekend is here.  Lynn and her Rod are off in the wilds of the UK on Holiday.  She has a new camcorder she is trying out so hopefully she has a camera also.  Lynn, I hope that you and Rod enjoy yourselves to the fullest on your Holiday.

Nancy is back from a frustrating experience with her computer crashing.  Not everything is accounted for but she is back and I hope to see more new things she has created and posted on her blog – http://www.thenickelnook.blogspot.com.

Joe has picked up two trucks out of Oak Creek, Wisconsin – near Milwaukee – and we are on our way to the Port of Savannah in Savannah, Georgia.  They are to be delivered on Monday.  I hope that we get to stop by Paula Deen’s restaurant in Savannah “Lady and Son’s” while we are there.  I will, hopefully, have pictures of a ship port in a future post.

Everyone have a great weekend.  Stay well.


A Clang Split The Air

We are staying the night in Sturtevant, Wisconsin.

The hotel has brought back memories of 10 years ago. Joe and I have laughed as we talk about it.

The winter of 1999/2000 was a cold one. Neither of us remember where we picked up Joe’s trucks. At the time we had a 1984 Ford pickup. All our tools were packed in plastic bins in the pickup bed, our black lab scrunched up at my feet on the passenger side floor while I straddled her. Our clothes were packed away in a big plastic bin and carefully placed in a “Space Bag”. I had a portable vacuum that I carried to suck the air out of the Space Bags to get the most area from such crowded conditions.

We slept in the trucks at the time. We had purchased an air mattress, found sheets and blankets that would fit the twin sized mattress and the vacuum did double duty in airing up the mattress and sucking the air out of our clothing bags.

Joe designed and built a boom that was carried on ramps he built on the pickup bed. One ramp on the passenger side extended from the tailgate to over the cab roof a good foot or more. Joe also designed and built an assortment of hitches that were attached to the bumper of the back truck. Our pickup was dragged by the nose behind the last truck by a special hitch and ball thing Joe also created.

We traveled all over with that set up. Squashed, tight, and happy to be together. Joe and I are large people. The beds in the trucks are twin size and we figured out how to make the best of it. His feet in my face, mine in his. Comfy.

I wasn’t driving then. I went along to be with Joe and to help out. He’s got stories of his own about the pickup getting loose from the back truck more than once. Those experiences were the impetus for the trailer he has designed.

Anyway, back to that cold Wisconsin night. The temperature was about 30 below. Snow was falling and would continue for most of the night. We parked the trucks across the street at the Petro Truck Stop and got a room at the Grand View Inn.

Joe let our pickup run all night long. It having a gasoline engine he feared it would freeze up and we would be in real trouble. Princess was in the room with us, curled up on her fluffy bed. Joe and I went to the hot tub to warm our bones. During the night Joe was up every hour to check on “Gracie”, our pickup. Making sure she was still running and had not caught fire or something equally disasterous.

The next morning we piled in the pickup, drove to the truck stop and Joe got his trucks started. We were told the location of the drop lot and I followed Joe over.

He was dressed in his winter gear of pantyhose under sweat pants and a flannel shirt under a quilted jacket. He wore a full face knit thing, bright orange in color. His eyes were the only part of his face exposed to the frigid air.

I wore nylon long johns under my sweat pants and sweater. My jacket was thick with batting. I had a headband of sorts that covered my ears only. I was pretty warm but my gloved fingers were stiff from the cold.

We worked together in the snow filled lot. Crusty snow crunching under each step we took. The packed snow made a squeaking sound under our feet.

I had the hitch off the bumper of the back truck, removed the light bar and stowed it away in the pickup bed. All the airlines and electrical cords were so stiff from the cold I had trouble getting them wound up. Our work was almost done. Get the boom detached and mounted on the back of the pickup on their racks.

My headband kept slipping down my forehead and I had to jam it back up quite a few times. One trip around the trucks and on the opposite side of Joe to catch the holding pin that stupid headband fell down over my eyes. I walked right into the boom. My glasses got jammed tight at the bridge of my nose when my face came in sharp contact with the boom. In that quiet still air of the cold morning rose a beautiful metallic clang. Almost like a church bell. I staggered back a few steps off balance. My nose hurt like I’d been punched.

Joe, on the other side of the boom, called out in concern. Seeing that I was alright and still standing and walking around, could coherently answer his questions and tell him how many fingers he had raised let loose with a mighty guffaw.

I had a straight line of road salt across my nose. It had some how flattened in the collision with the boom and I had a one inch wide perfect stripe bisecting my face.

I can still hear that pure, beautiful steely note as it rose in the air. Such an amazing sound.

My nose was sore for a few days. Surprisingly no black eyes or other damage. Guess you can say I am hard headed for sure.

Tonight, it is balmy. The air is thick with mosquitoes. No snow on the ground or any trace of that long ago day. Just a shared memory.


Laramie to York

I’ve been busy for the past few hours on this blog trying to get caught up.  Joe is sick with a cold and is feeling pretty bad.  The work has slowed a bit and we are near St. Louis on the Illinois side.  Hopefully we will find out what work is available tomorrow and Joe needs the rest.

Him and his confounded freezer blowing cold all the time.  Him and the air conditioning units in the hotel rooms.  Too cold at night and he has been chilled too often.  I know that a cold is a virus but we only seem to get them after long periods of hot and cold exposure.  This oppressive heat, then the snot sickle cold of the air conditioning is not good for us.

Okay…back to our regularly scheduled programming.  hahahaha

Devil's backbone

You guys are probably sick of seeing landscapes and rock formations.  Being out here mile after mile of flat land anything that raises above and is different is camera fodder.

This is a mountain range in Wyoming that runs for several miles with twists and turns.  The highway will follow it for a bit then it is out of sight.

Some people refer to this range as the Vedawoo which is some original Indian name and I don’t remember what it means.

It is really eerie at daybreak with the sunrise, and at night when the setting sun paints the sky red as it goes down.  You almost can’t help but sniff the air for the smell of sulphur.  You won’t smell it, but you sure will wonder.

Historical marker

Tree Rock Historical Marker

Tree Rock

You can click to enlarge the two historical markers.  The first one tells about the mountain range in Laramie.  The second tells about this tree growing out of a rock and how long it has been there.

Tree Rock

Tree Rock

As a foster child we had a trip to Flaming Gorge and I saw this tree in the rock.  About 13 years old I was, I think.

At that time the fence was not around the rock and kids climbed up the rock and tried to scale the tree.  I don’t know when the fence was erected, but it has been within the last 8 to 10 years.

The rock is splitting more as this tree grows and sends its roots further outward.  Now there is a steel wire wound around the rock to hold it together.  I can’t believe that this tree has been growing out of this rock since the 1800’s.  It is still alive, as noted by the green leaves.  Amazing how nature can be so persistent at times.

I-80 in Wyoming

There are several states that are over 400 miles across in the highway system.  Wyoming is another of these states, as Nevada was.

Not much farming goes on near the highway.  Lands in Wyoming are either ranch lands or coal mines.  With so much open expanse the winds are constant out there.  Some days have a light breeze, other days the wind blows so hard that you can hardly walk.  Birds flap their wings and get no where, they are just in a steady hover until they find the top of the air current and are freed from it.

There is miles and miles of nothing to see.  The road goes uphill and down, twists and turns sometimes, mostly it is flat and you can see from one horizon to the other.  Dead boring.

Repairing the railroad

Get another song stuck in your head….”I’ve been working on the railroad.  All the live long day”.

Sledge hammers, pick axes, shovels, and lifting bars have all gone by the wayside.  Machinery has been invented that rides the tracks.  There is a machine that lifts the tracks and pulls out the old railroad ties then pokes a new one in place.  Another machine will come along and drive the spike in while another machine is in front of the tie puller and the spike driver.  That machine removes the spikes and any other mechanical piece that holds the track down.

On a trip through rural Nebraska a few years back I had the opportunity to video tape each of the machines doing their job.  While I safely was on the road way shoulder I zoomed the camera lens in to see what the machine did.  Some day I will have to get that footage out and edit it and post it somewhere.

Railroad maintenance machine

Railroad maintenance machinery

Railroad maintenance

Railroad maintenance

Railroad maintenance

You can click on these pictures to enlarge them and see the machinery.

There is some strange stuff they have to work with.

According to Joe, the men long ago would get six or seven miles of track repaired a day with their pick axes, shovels, sledge hammers, and the lever bar.

These machines get 50 to 100 miles of track done each day.  It just depends on how badly the old ties are when they are taken out. Some crumble and have to have a sweeper of sorts come and brush the pieces out of the way.  There is a machine that sweeps the ballast – which is the rock along the road bed.  It gets the rock off the ties and into the road bed where it belongs.

When there is new track being laid there is a special machine that takes one end of the track off a special car and then it tack welds the new rail to the old rail.  It runs along the new rail and gets it put in the right position for the other machinery to come along behind and fix ties, pound spikes, and adjust the ballast.  Quite an operation they have going on there.

Statue of Mary

I don’t know what the actual name of this statue is.

Just at the Wyoming/Nebraska border she stands.

I think it is in a cemetary but I’m not sure about that since I go past so fast.  I wasn’t sure I would get this good of a picture of her going around the curve in the road as I did.

At night, when the sky is inky black and a few lights of the city below twinkle, there is a spot light trained on this statue.  Against the white marble or alabaster she is sculpted from and the black night sky she seems to glow.

Scared the fool out of me the first time I saw her heading west on I-80 and at night.  I thought there was a ghost out in the field because of the glow she casts.  When we got closer to her I then saw the statue and was relieved that my imagination had been the only thing to take off.

Falling Rock

There is a boulder that has escaped its confines from the top of the hill.

That monster boulder was stopped, several years ago, by the concrete barrier but can you imagine the dent your car would have had the barrier not been there?

While I was searching the road for something interesting to “show and tell” I scanned my instrument panel and saw that the voltage gauge was doing some funny stuff again.

We had been on the road for four hours already, it was getting close to noon and we were heading for Cabela’s in Sidney, Nebraska.  We didn’t have much further to travel but I thought I’d better say something to Joe about this new thing.  Especially since he had fixed it the day before.  There was something else wrong here.

Road Service

Joe and I had parked in the Cabela’s parking area for big trucks and had gone inside to do some shopping.  When we got back out to leave my truck would not start.  It would not even crank over.  The battery gauge was way low.

I told Joe.  He got into our tool boxes and brought out a big hammer.  He opened the hood of the truck, stuck his head in, told me to get in the truck.  “When I tell you to, crank the engine.  Now!”  So I turned the key in the ignition while he banged away on the starter.  Nothing.

He went to the battery compartment and lifted the lid.  Same thing, when he tells me to then crank.  He banged around on the battery posts and other stuff underneath there while I turned the key in the ignition.  Still nothing.

Joe drove about a mile away to a repair shop we saw on the way in to Cabela’s and went to talk with the service people.  A guy came out and did his investigation, then telling me to crank the engine.  Still nothing.  He went in the battery compartment and checked the batteries.

The last person to install batteries didn’t tighten the leads down good.  The service guy got out a wrench and tightened all the nuts on the battery leads.  That worked.  $120 later I was on the road.  Took a total of 15 minutes of the service guys time to get me going but I was back on the road.

Joe is still “My Hero” even though his fix was not for very long.

Old house

I saw this old house and structures and had to take a picture of it.

How do you think a real estate ad would be written about this old house?  Maybe something like….

Totally “Green” home.  Solar light and power, wind driven air conditioning, fresh water – when it rains – throughout the house.  Bonus work shop on the property.

Archway

When this “bridge” was being built both Joe and I wondered why they were making a covered bridge way out here in the middle of no where.  There are no roads that go to the bridge nor come off of it so that made us scratch our heads.

Later as we came this way again we began seeing the signs on the road about a museum being built on I-80.  This is the museum.  There is supposed to be all kinds of stuff inside about the early pioneers, fur traders, Indians, and more.

Nebraska is filled with museums from one end of the state to the other.  In Minden, Nebraska is Harold Warp’s Pioneer Museum.  Every car that has been made up to the 1960’s or 1970′ is on display there.

Heard the expression “I’ll be coming with bells on”?  I found out how that expression came to be.  Long ago when people still used horse drawn carts and buggies, there were the “tow” vehicles of that era.  The better reputation a man had for the work he could do in getting you out of a pretty bad situation at that time was clanking and jingling bells hanging from the top of his cart.  The more noise he made as he drew nearer you knew you had a AAA guy that knew his stuff or someone that was not as well versed in getting you out of the mud and fixing an axle or a wagon wheel on the spot.  Just by the amount of bells he had.

There is a Pony Express museum, a Dutch Windmill museum with the history of the Dutch settlers, museums about the early pioneers and sod busters.  Any part of our history has a museum for it in Nebraska.

York, Nebraska

Our long day ended in York, Nebraska.  About another 100 miles to Omaha and then into Iowa.

I have pictures for my next post about Iowa and the barns there.

Nebraska begins the trees, somewhere after Kimball and on eastward.  Iowa is full of trees and lots of farming.

Nebraska is farmland also.  Corn, soybeans, and alfalfa are grown in Nebraska.  Iowa has the same crops but on larger plots of land so they have barns to store the harvest and keep their equipment out of the weather since they get some pretty heavy snows in the winter.

That will have to wait for another day when I have some extra free time to get it posted.  I’m not sure how long we will be in this hotel room.  Just over night or for another night.  Joe is sleeping next to me while I’m working away here.  He needs the rest to recuperate from this cold he has.

You want to talk about a “Snot Nosed Brat”!  He is one.


Pati’s Impending Vacation

By now, most of you will be wondering what Pati is referring to each time she posts a comment about days left until “vacation”.

Pati’s husband, Les, is having some difficulties at his work.  He’s suffered through them for quite a long time but has pretty much felt trapped with no way out of it.  They live in a small town in western Kansas where the economy problems we all have been dealt with has hit their area very hard.

The hospital Pati works at is being pinched right out of being open.  There is fear of having to close the doors for good.  Not a good spot to be in now that their children are grown and have gone off on their journeys.

When Pati began telling us of things happening in her town and how she and Les are becoming more and more fearful that their mature years are going to be rougher than their youthful years Joe and I had to toss an idea out to them.

This job, long hours and all, is a good job.  Being self employed means you have to be a real “squeaky wheel” to get work and you have to be willing to take some work that doesn’t pay well in order to get in a better situation for jobs that will pay better.

We work for three driveaway companies.  Two of them actively and the third is for backup.  Sometimes we have to travel 700 miles or more for work but that is what has to be done.

The hard part about where Pati and Les live is they are so far from where the “normal” action is.  Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Kansas City.  They are going to have to drive 388 miles to Oklahoma City for the start of this job.  Joe and I will take them in our vehicle to the work.

Pati has her CDL but has chosen to learn the ropes first before she actually signs on.  Something I would do also.

This vacation time is just that.  Vacation from the troubles of their work life and a time to get away and see a bit of what is out their beyond Tribune.  They will find out, all too soon, that this job once entered can be like that song by the Eagles “Hotel California”  You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave!

As much as I complain about being on the road constantly and want to be home, there is a part of me that wants to be back out.  Standing at the kitchen sink washing pots or loading the dishwasher a fragment of a memory will pop in my head.  The sights of some town will appear and I’ll start thinking about getting back on the road.  This happens when I’m in the bathroom – temporarily indisposed – also.  It only seems to happen when my mind is not occupied with bookkeeping, laundry, housework, or when I’m up to my elbows in my craft room.  The road whispers to me, and at some point I heed the call.

This is a lonely life, and one that is not for everyone.  It takes someone that is comfortable with themselves and can be “with themselves” for long periods of time and not go bonkers.  This is not the job for someone that needs to have constant companionship, someone to talk with all the time.  This is not a job for someone that suffers from depression and has low self esteem.  The endless hours of quiet and solitude will soon cause them much trouble.  I confess, there are times when I am confronted with my past.  Something I’ve done or said that I’m not particularly proud of.  I will be reminded of it and the old voices do begin wagging their tongues in my head.  Make me doubt myself, and make my self esteem take a hit.  I am learning how to deal with that and it is a struggle at times.

Paperwork in this job is varied.  We have the forms to fill out called a Bill of Lading, which is really an inspection form for each truck.  Every ding, scratch, bend, and dent has to be documented.  Anything that is wrong with the truck has to be noted.  Dead batteries, air won’t build, strange sound in the engine, transmission not working properly.

Receipts is another part of the paperwork that has to be handled meticulously.  Permits, tolls, motel/hotels, restaurants, snacks, fuel, oil, windshield washer fluid, repairs.  Everything has to be saved and accounted for.  Joe and I have a system that I created and Joe has improved on.  For each trip we have a 9×6 envelope that all of our receipts and copies of Bills of Lading go into.  Every piece of paper for each load is held in its own place.    When I’m home and doing my QuickBooks stuff then I have a way of tracking our expenses along with the pay to see if we have made money on the trip or lost money.  Some trips we do take a loss and we know it going in because it is getting us in the right place for better work and more pay.

Since we are self employed there are no taxes withheld from our settlements.  We are responsible for Federal and State taxes totally and that has to be considered in the beginning of this endeavor.

Les will get a 1099 Form at the end of 2010 to take to his tax person and Pati will have to have all the proper expenses documented for their accountant to know what is what.

Joe and I work hard when we work.  We don’t let much grass grow under our feet while we are working.  When we decide that we want to take time off we do, and we have a job that allows us to do just that.  For example, if we have trucks we pick up in, say Nashville/La Verne, Tennessee going to Baltimore.  We get the trucks on Thursday and they have to be delivered on Monday then we can Gag Lolly….okay a bit of digression here – where did the term “Lolly Gagging” come from?  Anyway…we have arrived in Baltimore on Saturday and had the weekend to explore.  We’ve been to Baltimore Harbor and walked through the ship museums.  We have even taken a drive into Baltimore and I have pictures of Duff Goldman’s “Charm City Cakes” building – you know the guy from “Ace of Cakes”.  We’ve been to Fort McHenry and toured all the historical buildings.  We’ve been to Colonial Willimasburg, Sea World – Orlando, Kennedy Space Center, and many other places.

We take off from the week of Thanksgiving until about the second week of January.  Joe has Prostate Cancer and has had two winters being treated for it.  2007/2008 he had surgery and 2008/2009 he went through radiation therapy for it.  We take a week or two off at a few times during the year.  Weddings, graduations, births, and all kinds of other things we figure out how to make our “work” work for us.  We plan trips that will get us to the events and have time to spend with family.

Les and Joe will be talking about the engine sizes, the transmission stuff – guy junk.  Pati and I will be talking about the really important stuff.  Like how to do the work efficiently and use the body in a manner that is less likely to be hurt while working.  Both she and Les will learn how to sling chains, climb on and off the backs of the trucks safely, how to get in and out of them without injury.  Sounds silly but I’ve taken a fall from the top step of the trucks while I was getting out.  Man…that is a fast way to get down let me tell you.  Hurts a bit and some limping is later involved.

Les will have to learn some new terminology.  He thinks he knows the name of every part of a truck.  I mean he is a GUY anyway.  But he doesn’t know MY names for truck parts or the tools we use.

There is Thing-a-ma-bob, doo hickey, what-cha-ma-callit, whozit, whammy diddle, and just plain old thingy.  I do a lot of pointing.  Joe, being “hip” to my ways knows exactly what I’m referring to at all times and he goes with the flow.  Today, for example.  We were taking my trucks apart to deliver.  There are some chains that attach to the frame of the back truck on both sides.  The chain is shortened with a set of two huge hooks.  When my back truck is on the ground, to get this chain off one side needs to be loosened by removing the huge hooks for slack.  I could not think of the word “slack” so I told Joe “I need more loose” and he gave me more loose.  Along with the comment that “A guy would call it slack, while you call it loose”.  Better make sure that Les knows about the loose”.

Les will be driving a set of trucks.  Joe will be driving another set of trucks.  I will be taking a single, bobtail, and Pati will be riding with either Joe or I for a while so Les can concentrate on his driving.  This is not something you jump into with tons of distractions.  There is a truck behind you that rocks and rolls the opposite way you are rocking and rolling.  There is some of the “crack the whip” action going on behind you and you have to be able to make corrections in an instant.   Going around close corners is not easy in this get up.  It is not like having a normal trailer behind you.  There are fuel tanks and oil pans exposed.  If a trailer falls off in the ditch there is some damage.  If one of these back trucks fall off in a ditch there is Major damage and the Hazardous Chemicals people have to make a show.  Not a good thing to happen.

Joe will lead, and I will be at the tail end.  Les will be safely sandwiched between us so we can help him if he needs it.  We will not leave him to flounder around and find his own way around.  Joe and Les can do the guy talk stuff and Pati and I can spend the time getting to know each other.  This time on an adult and friend level instead of two warring sisters as children.

She will be able to hear what he has to say with some two way radios we have purchased that all four of us will be using.  She will have him when we stop to eat and she will have him all to herself when we stop at hotels for the night.

By the time their “vacation” is over with they will need to go home to rest up from it.  I’m hoping that while we are out together that Pati will be able to see and do things she has not had the chance to do before.  I’m hoping this time together will be a healing and bonding time for us.  We have a chance for a “do over” and I’m going to do my best to do this time right.

Should Les decide that he wants to do this job full time then he already has an in at Coldiron and he can come do this with Joe from October through late spring while I’m home.  Pati can choose to go with them or she can stay home and figure out what she wants to do.

I did tell you some time back that she wanted to be a Master Gardener.  The winter time here will not be the time to do that.  But she had a chance to be a judge at the Greeley County Fair.  She had the category of children’s ceramics and she had a great time doing that.  Les can make some pretty good money for them and she can choose whether she wants to go back to work again for something to do, do volunteer work in her area, or just be with Les.  I think she will choose to be with Les.  At some point she will want to explore other things.  This constant traveling is very wearing on a body.

So, now the “cat’s out of the bag” so to speak.


Joe Locked Himself Out

After our great time with Maureen and her family we got our trucks delivered in San Antonio. Four more trucks were waiting for us in Oklahoma City.

We got as far north as Waco, Texas before we had to stop for the night. Plans were to get nearly to the Texas/Oklahoma border but we were too tired.

Leaving Waco, Monday morning, it took us most of the day to get 350 miles. It was just after 5 pm when we arrived at the Coldiron yard in Oklahoma City. Time enough to make sure the trucks were, in fact, in the “bull pen”.

I whined a lot about just going home for the night and hooking up the next morning. Joe finally relented.

While I got the laundry started Joe piddled around with his stuff, he went to just sit for a minute in his recliner. Wasn’t long before he was sound asleep. I took advantage of the quiet time to get our visit with Maureen posted. It was close to 11:30 when I finished, woke Joe long enough to get him into bed.

Up at 4:30 to begin our day repacking and making sure we didn’t leave anything behind at home we were out the door by 6.

It was pretty muggy when we were hooking up. One of Joe’s trucks would not start. It had the night before when we checked them. It was nearly 10 before we drove out of the Coldiron yard and began our trip to Sauget, Illinois, which is near St. Louis.

We stopped at Dependable Transport in Joplin, Missouri to drop off papers for the trucks we had delivered for them…somewhere. I can’t remember. Oh, the Perrysburg trucks.

Joe came out of the Dependable office and went to the door of his truck. Locked. So was the passenger side. The only way in was through a tiny door on the outside of the truck that is for a storage area under the sleeper bunk.

Guess who got to shimmy through that small space!! It wasn’t Joe. I made it through that tiny hole and up into the cab. That was a bit terrifying for me. I got stuck a couple times and paniced a bit.

Once, successfully, in I made my way to the driver seat and unlocked his door. I was breathing so hard I had to calm myself down. Not from the exertion of hoisting this body off the ground but from the claustraphobic confines of a small dark space. Fearing with every move I made the sleeper bunk would shut down on my head and then I would be trapped.

It is funny now, wish either one of us had thought about having a camera handy.

Today, I’m bruised and sore in places. I sure will look at one of those storage doors differently from now on.

I’m really hoping for a few early nights. I’ve got lots of photos from the Perrysburg trip I need to get sorted and posted here. Okay, Joe is after me about getting this day started so I’ve got to stop here.

Everyone have a great week. Cooler temperatures is my wish for you all. A break in this horrid heat would sure be welcome.


Meeting Maureen – My Big Sis

Joe and I picked up trucks in Indianapolis, Indiana and they are being delivered in San Antonio, Texas.  Since in May  I had told Maureen when we come through there I’d let her know, I had to keep my promise to her.

On Friday I text messaged our impending blast through her town and asked if she would be busy on Sunday.  A flurry of text messages ensued Friday evening and on through Saturday.  Maureen is such a sweetheart, she wanted to put us up in a hotel that would pamper us.  Sounded so good to me, but alas, we were still a long way away on Saturday and Sunday night we would be heading back up north to get to Oklahoma City for our next load.

Maureen and I

Maureen and Joe

When Joe and I knew we would be making a stop in San Marcos, Texas I looked through my truck stop guide to find a place to park our trucks for a few  hours close to where Maureen lives.  There is one just a few miles from her home and we agreed to meet there.

Not having met each other prior to this, I was not sure what she looked like.  A car pulled in with a lone woman and I waved at her as though I knew her.  She waved back, turned around in the lot and parked in front of us so this had to be my Big Sis.

This year I have been blessed by women that have reached out to me and enveloped me in their friendship – sight unseen.  Truly an awesome gift.

As we traveled to San Marcos Sunday morning I had the same worries about meeting Maureen that I did with Jann when I met her in Nashville.  Maureen and I have only written notes to each other.  Would she be disappointed in meeting me?  Would she regret her impulse to send me the Kraft Mat?  Would we be able to talk about general stuff?

When she got out of her car, and I got out of the truck I was driving, my fears were gone.  I was wrapped in a welcoming hug that made me feel as though we were long lost friends.  We began chatting comfortably and didn’t stop until it was time for us to leave.

Joe and I got in her car, me up front and Joe relegated to the back seat.  Both of us had our cameras and off we went.

Pub downtown

Restored Downtown

Downtown

Maureen took us for a trip downtown to show us the area she has come to love and call home.  Beautiful old buildings that have been restored in the business district with lots of patrons going in and out of these establishments.  Maureen told us there is quite a scandalous story with the first building pictured here.  Because of all the windows of the Pub building, light streaming in all through the day, some enterprising individual took advantage of this attribute and had quite a burgeoning marijuana greenhouse thing going on inside.  It was good while it lasted, until the police raid happened and shut the guy down.  Now it is an Irish Pub that does quite well for itself, possibly trading on the scandal to get curious tourists to come in hoist a pint and hear a good story.  The locals enjoy coming in to tip one back, too.

Old buildings, built in the 1800’s and through the 1920’s are my favorite ones to gawp at.  The intricate patterns carved out of stone or wood and  hoisted high in the air to be affixed to the tops of these buildings…leaves me awestruck to think all that was accomplished without COMPUTERS, and a lot of them without ELECTRICITY!!!  No power saws, no computer milled filigree, no air nailer.  Just pure raw talent and skill with the hands.

Legendary Hero

This statue is in the town square.  Long ago, when this part of Texas was wide open with very little in the way of settlements a war was brewing between the Indians that had claim to the lands and the white men that wanted them out.  This man gained quite a reputation as an Indian fighter during the settling of these lands.  I suppose he also lived through the time of the Mexican War as well.

Maureen told me his name, all I remember is “Jim”.  I was so busy gawping at all the beautiful buildings I was only half listening.  His name is Jack Hays, Maureen told me.

Texas, this part of central Texas, is rich in history and legendary men that put their lives on the line for the common folk to make a home for themselves.  It was a bloody time in our history, and to some an unjust time.  Nonetheless, it is our history and the people that created change in the way of life long ago has brought us to where we are today.

Chief Placido

A tribute to Chief Placido stands next to the river that runs down the middle of San Marcos.  A river fed from crystal springs that come from underground and nurtures the area with clear waters.

Chief Placido was of the Tonkawa tribe which inhabited Central Texas long before the settlers began coming in the 1840’s.  Through the auspices of Chief Placido the early settlers were befriended by his tribe thus making the lives of these early settlers considerably safer and less harsh.  Especially since most of the settlers came from the east where the land was filled with trees that bore fruit, crops that yielded vegetables, and lots of deer and other game for meat.  Out in Central Texas there were not many trees, less fertile grounds, and a lot of plants that the settlers weren’t sure they could eat to sustain their lives.

Chief Placido, and other brave tribe members fought alongside Jack C. Hays, Ben McCulloch, and General Burleson to defeat the Comanches in the Battle of Plum Creek near Lockhart, Texas.  This statue honors the man that was instrumental in helping settle Texas.  I have to confess….the above information was directly taken from the inscription on the bronze sculpture.  I don’t know who these men are 😦

Enough of the history lesson.  On with the fun stuff.

Pedestrian bridge over the San Marcos River

San Marcos River

San Marcos River

Maureen took us to a place the local people enjoy in the summer time.  She and her family have spent many days floating down this river on inner tubes and enjoying the cool water and warm sunshine.

This is a favorite place for the locals to spend a hot day relaxing.  While we stood on the bridge and looked out at the beautiful sight before us I had quite an over powering urge to jump off the bridge and into the cool waters below.  It was so  hot this afternoon.  Temperatures at 102 degrees, a cloudless sky and that cool water below.  Tempting, very tempting.

River tubing

Joe could not help himself.  This pretty young lady had a camera and was taking pictures of her trip down the river.  Joe thought she had a cell phone in her hands and he called out to her to hold her cell phone up again.  She and the young man she is with tried to tell this old geezer that it was a camera and not a cell phone.  By the time they went under the bridge, Maureen and I had to raise our voices to him telling him it is a camera.

When they came through the other side he did see it was a camera and made fun of himself not understanding what was going on.  I got a picture of her taking a picture of us crazy people.  What fun that was.

Pleasant people on a leisurely trip down the river and an old man flirting safely above.  Joe makes me laugh often.  I sure do love him.

Wild Texas Rice

Maureen told us the “sea weed” growing in the waters below is actually a type of wild Texas rice.  The people that care for the plant life in these waters take extra pains to make sure this wild rice continues to grow and thrive.

Maureen said that it feels really strange when the currents cause the rice to scrape against you as you go over it.  It is rough and scratchy instead of velvety as other “sea weeds” are in waters.

As I stood and watched the rice move below me in the water’s current it made me think of an old Arthurian tale of the Lady In The Lake with long hair that trailed behind her as she moved about in her domain.

Kind of eerie and hypnotic at the same time.

Web Worm

As we have traveled around this country there are things I see that cause me to ask many questions.

When we moved to Oklahoma I saw a lot of these webs in trees.  Thinking there was some gigantic spider that I needed to be aware of I had a bit of a fright each time I saw one of these bag like webs.

I asked Joe about them one time, telling him of my fear that a huge spider resides in the middle.  It turns out this is the home of a worm, or caterpillar.  It builds a nest within the web it weaves and nurtures itself on the tree.  If there are several of these web worms in one single tree they can actually kill the tree.

They seem to like only one type of tree, what the type of tree it is they like I haven’t a clue.  It is this one, though.

Geese

Geese near the flume

The flume

Maureen took us to a restaurant that sits near the waters of another place the local people enjoy coming to in the summer and playing in the cool waters.

In the larger picture you will see to the left of the left most goose water bubbling.

There is an area in the dam that allows the water to release itself into the river below and this raging water flume is what is just beyond the geese.  Imagine one them them getting sucked through that hole.  Won’t be a very pretty sight when it is all over with.

More of the San Marcos River

Crystal waters

A fish

This is such a beautiful place that Maureen shared with us.  Standing under the shade of many trees, listening to the waters flow past, was a balm to my wrangled nerves having been in some really rough riding International trucks.

Maureen said she was sure there were fish in these waters but no one did any fishing here.  I had to go search for the illusive fish.  Found one, it is to the left in the photo, just to the right of the yellow colored weed thing in the water.  What can be seen is the tail of the fish as it saw me looking for him.

Old restored house

Restored grand house

Restored home

Columns

After lunch, at a restaurant overlooking the waters pictured above, Maureen took us on a trip around her town where the old homes stand that have been in San Marcos since the town was settled.

Beautiful old homes with such character and grace.  Most people call them “stately” which I guess is an apt term to use.

These are the older homes that had house servants daily to keep the house and gardens neat and tidy.  Children ran the halls and stairs, boys climbed the trees while the girls played safely on the grounds.

I see these old homes and wonder, rather crazily, if the houses miss the people that first built them and lived within.  Do any of the homes rebel at the new people that have taken up residence?  Are these old homes only glad to keep a new family warm and dry from the rains, winds, and heat that yearly come to this town?

Such odd notions I get in my head at times.  Makes me wonder if I’m not far from the men in white coats catching up with me.

Maureen took us to her lovely home where we met her three children and her husband.  The oldest daughter is preparing to go off to college.  Near enough to home that traveling at school breaks is not long, but far enough away from home for a bit of freedom and spreading of wings.  Why do our children have to grow up and go away?  I guess the same reason that we did the same when our time came.

Joe spent the time talking with Maureen’s husband.  The two of them huddled together in the living room solving all the worlds ills while Maureen gave me a tour of her crafting space.  She has an enormous cabinet that holds much of her crafting items.  Proudly she told me she put it together all by herself.  You Go Girl!!!  Quite an accomplishment since it is one gigantic cupboard.

Maureen shared with me a couple of her scrapbooks.  Flipping through the pages of her life when the children were small and progressing in ages to just a few years ago.  Thank you Maureen for gifting me with that special time and being welcomed into your life for a peek.  I am honored by that.

All too soon, 4 p.m. came along and Joe and I had to get back on the road to make our delivery to San Antonio.  Maureen took us back to our trucks and we continued on our journey.  The relaxing time we had on this  afternoon was, indeed, a special time for me.

I have been blessed to meet two strong women through this crazy thing I began last year.  I started out trying to sell products to anyone that would buy from me.  What I have received has been worth more to me than money.  I have received friendship and acceptance by many and my “Day Job” has allowed me the opportunity to meet these new Girlfriends.  How can I be more blessed?