Monday, March 30, 2015

What's In the Window?

Back on the nineth of March, I was camping with my little trailer, the Colby T, at Lockhart State Park in Lockhart, Texas. You can read all about that trip in the previous post. While I was there, I took over 280 photos. One of them was very interesting.

It wasn't until I was back home in San Antonio uploading my photos to Facebook that I realized I had captured something odd in one of my photos. I had been standing about a half mile away from the trailer area, when I decided to take a photo the trailers. I kept zooming in a bit and snapping another shot until I was zoomed up really close to the Colby T. Thatt last shot is the one in question. As I uploaded it to Facebook and had the opportunity to see it on a bigger screen, I noticed what seemed to be a person looking out of the window.

I thought the figure in the window looked like a man wearing a sweat shirt, sunflasses, and a bseball cap. In fact, when I saw a photo of my father a few days later, I was convinced it looked like him. Now, I am not saying that it was my dad's ghost in the window. I'm only saying that whatever it is looks like my dad to me.

None of my Facebok friends saw a man in the window Instead, they all saw a little girl wearing some kind of pinafoore dress. They say she has shoulder-length hair and bangs. I now see that, when I look at it, which just goes to show you how powerful your imagination is, and how easily it is influenced.

I'm not sure what caused this strange apperance. I know it is not a reflection of someone near the trailer. I am positivie it is not someone being seen through the camper, but actually standing on the other side of it. If it is  ghost, I hope I am right. I can live with the thought of my daddy going camping with me from the beyond. However, the thought of being haunted by the unknown spirit of a little girl is quite unsettling.

What do you see in the window? Can you explain what is causing this "illusion"? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spring Break 2015, Lockhart SP

Monday, March 8th, 2015

11:16 AM

It is a cold wet rainy day here at Lockhart State Park. I am sitting in the Colby T wondering if there will be even a moment's break in the rain. The pouring started late last night, and has shown no signs of stopping any time soon. So much for a sunny spring break hiking trails and communing with nature. That's okay, though. I enjoy any chance I get to be away from home on a camping trip.

Saturday night was pretty miserable. No matter which of my long-learned tricks for falling asleep I employed, sleep would not come. I guess I did get about two hours of frequently interrupted sleep. I was just too excited about getting started on my trip to Lockhart. It had been a month since my last camping trip at McKinney Falls for the TCEA conference, and I was itching to go. To add to the misery of the night, the time change took place, merely emphasizing the fact that I was not going to be very rested the next morning.

I woke up at 5:38, a full seven minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off. It was set so early because I needed to be awake by 5:55 to check Rachel in for her flight to St. Louis. I managed to get her the 37th position in group A, which is none too shabby. She also got up, because the next morning, she would have to get up at around 3:30 since her flight was scheduled for a 5:55 departure. Her other challenge would be getting Jared up to drive her to the airport. I was more worried about his driving home after dropping her off, though. He doesn't like to drive on the highway, the weather was supposed to be rainy, and I knew he would be suffering from sleep deprivation. But I had my own agenda to ponder, so shaking those thoughts out of my head, I went downstairs for coffee.

It had rained during the night. Nicky was pretty wet when I let him back in. Fortunately, he appeared to have avoided his favorite muddy spots, and getting him dried and cleaned was not too much of a chore. He is really well behaved some times. Coming in the house is one of them. He sits on the big towel, calmly waits for me to wipe the mud and water off of his front paws, then stands up, turns around, and lets me get the back ones. Of course, he does nothing for free. He knows there is a treat involved. In fact, on rainy days, he asks to go out just so he can get cleaned up and earn a treat.

I showered and shaved quickly before finishing packing up the few odds and ends that had to wait to be packed: toothbrush, razor, deodorant, charging cables for electronics, etc. Then I took it all downstairs and grabbed my second cup of coffee. By this time, Rachel was downstairs, also, watching TV and trying to stay awake.

I decided to go gas up the truck, since it was still too dark to think about hitching up. I went to my favorite station, but it was open. I wasn't sure if I could pump gas or not, even though the lights were on at the pumps. Instead, I headed over to HEB, since there were a few items I wanted to pick up anyway. I was back home within thirty minutes.

I brewed another cup of coffee in the Kuerig and joined Rachel in the den. She was watching some crazy movie about a guy looking for a guitar gig or something. I mentioned that I would wait until seven to leave. Rachel told me it was already seven. I had been fooled by the clocks on the microwave and in my truck, which hadn't been reset for Daylight Savings. I had even thought it was getting light a little too early.
I threw my stuff in the truck, kissed Rachel goodbye, and headed over to PackRats. It was already fairly light by the time I got there. Once again, the lock wasn't locked. I wish people would be more careful. I guess they don't realize that the Colby T is parked there. Surely they would be more careful, if they did. I always follow the rules there. Today was no different. I pulled my truck inside the gate, then locked it behind me.

Because of the rain, I wanted to change into my camping tennies, but they weren't in the Colby T. I carefully hitched up and towed the trailer to the house to get them. They were under my bed. I remember that I brought them home from the last trip in case it was muddy the next time I left. A lot of good that did! PackRats has a white gravel/dirt mix that gets muddy, but brushes off when it's dry. I still don't like to get it on my shoes.

I drove to San Marcos and got off the highway at the exit for Lockhart. I didn't follow my normal route though. Instead of turning on the road that goes to Lockhart, I went farther on the San Marcos Highway to Fentress, where I turned onto highway 20. The park entrance is actually on that road, and it never made much sense to me to have to drive through Lockhart only to head south for three miles.

The ranger told me to go ahead and go pick my site and then come back to register. I had a reservation in the full hookup circle this time. I was a tiny bit nervous about backing in, but when I looked at the satellite view of it on Google, the sites looked angled in a way that would make it fairly easy. I chose site #8, and did not have any issues backing in. By this time there was a little drizzle, so I hurriedly got the Colby T off the hitch and did a few inside setups until it stopped. Then I hiked back to headquarters and checked in. I stayed and chatted with the ranger for about twenty minutes. I know they just love that! I probably have a reputation statewide. I can't help that I am very social and extremely inquisitive.

Back at the camper, I finished getting set up and suddenly remembered that the Spurs were playing at noon. I couldn't get enough phone service to listen to the game that way. I got out my radio and finally got it tuned in about ten minutes into the game. It was all squeaky and crackly, but I was able to follow along. Then, I heard the announcer say something about the game being on CBS. I got the TV out of the closet, raised the antenna, and found the game in beautiful High Def on an Austin channel. I was glad, too. That was a great game. Even though Timmy never scored a field goal, he and all the other Spurs were amazing. Tony Parker looked like his old self for the first time in ages

After the game, I decided to hike up to the park lodge. It seemed like the rain was going to hold off for awhile, but the trails looked pretty muddy. Hiking up the hill by road made more sense. The lodge is all torn up for reconstruction, but I was able to get to the patio and take some photos and check for messages on my phone. That is the only place in the park where I get enough service to do anything more than text. I suddenly had to pee, so I stood behind a dumpster and did. Just as I started, a ranger truck came up the hill. I took a quick step to the left where he couldn't see me and finished my business. Then I started hiking back down the road.

When I reached the trail head for the Rattlesnake Run trail, I took a few steps down it to see if it was muddy. It didn't seem too bad, because it wasn't the kind of mud that accumulates on your shoes, so I made a decision to take the trail back to camp. After about a mile, I was regretting it. There were some steep hills that were really slippery. But, I managed to make it to the part were the trail edges the golf cart without falling and breaking my old ass. My feet were getting a bit cold and wet, so I opted for the paved golfcart path instead of the trail. I ended up following that until it looped back to the main road. By that time, the rain had picked up a bit. I had my camera inside my jacket trying to keep it fairly dry.

When I got back to the Colby T, I discovered that there was mud all over my jeans at the bottom of the legs. I must have slid my shoes against them. No other explanation. I carefully took them off and hung them in front of the heater to dry. I put my tennies in front of it, too. After about an hour they were all dry. I took a brush to the jeans, and got them pretty clean.

By that time, I was ready to eat. All I had eaten so far was a pack of microwave pork rinds during the game. I cooked up a batch of powdered eggs and sausage flavored TVP (textured vegetable protein- just in case you aren't familiar with it. That's the stuff that looks like ground beef in a lot of frozen foods.) I ate it on the stale tortillas that were accidentally left in the Colby T after the TCEA trip. Hey- if I don't see mold, I ain't wasting it!

The rest of the evening was pretty rainy. I watched a little TV, played a game on the iPad, listened to music, and drank Merlot until about 10:00. The rain on the roof of the Colby T sounds like a bunch of leprechauns are tap dancing. It was very pleasant. I got the best sleep ever. I woke up in a panic at 6:30, when I realized I hadn't heard from either Rachel or Jared. Both were instructed to text me: Rachel when she was safe on the plane, and Jared when he was safely back home. I nervously laid back down and kept telling myself it was the service, or lack there of. Then at about 6:45, I got a text from Rachel saying she was on the plane and Jared was safely at home. I guess it waited to come until I had a break in the clouds long enough for a bit of phone service. I knew that Rachel was already in the air by the time I got the text, so I dozed off listening to the leprechauns, who had intensified their dancing on the roof.

The rain has not stopped at all since last night. I ate breakfast and messed around a bit in the camper before driving over to the headquarters to use their WiFi. I wanted to send Josh some money for SXSW, but the signal wasn't good enough to use the bank app. (By the way, I am telling you this, dear readers, because I consider you my friends. DO NOT breath a word to Rachel about my gifting money to Josh. She doesn't like it. She says I pamper him too much. She is absolutely right. However, as long as I can afford to do nice things for my boys, I will do them at my discretion- not hers. That is the only thing we don't see eye to eye on.) Anyway, I decided to drive up the hill and use data instead of WiFi. Unfortunately, the cell service sucked up there today. Probably due to the weather. I was able to transfer the money, but everything took so long that I was frustrated and decided to come back to the Colby T and enjoy being off the grid.

So here I am sitting at the computer for over an hour. Still no sign of the rain letting up. There is a small threat of the park road flooding and becoming impassible. I am not concerned. I am perfectly content here, and already canceled today's BBQ venture anyway. If the road floods, I don't want to be caught outside of the park.

Well, I messed around in the camper for a while. There's always something to do. I got curious about the road, so I went over to see how the creek looks. Wow! They already have signs out warning about high water. I would say it would have to rise about three more feet before it compromises the actual bridge. The dam is totally overflowing with a wild torrent of rushing water that is making an awe-inspiring roar as it crashes over and hits the water below with such force it is making suds. I drove around to all the high water areas and took some photos and a few videos. If the rain doesn't stop sometime soon, the bridge may be closed soon. As I said earlier, I am not concerned. If I have to stay a day later, I won't complain. Jared is house sitting, and Rachel's flight doesn't get in until midnight on Thursday.

Monday, 2:04 PM
I am trying to decide whether to read, watch TV, play a game on the iPad, or take a nap and luxuriate in the pleasant sound of those wonderful leprechauns, since they are putting so much effort into their awesome performance on the roof. I'm leaning towards the nap. They other things can be done at home. Why waste a perfectly good rain?

Well, I opted for the nap. It turned out to be one of those special ones where you doze in and out having unusually vivid short dreams. I like when that happens, so whenever I did wake up, I allowed myself to drift back off. Altogether, it was a two-hour nap.

About five minutes after I got out of bed, the rain suddenly stopped. It was instantaneous, as if someone had simply flipped a switch. Everything in the park seemed different. Other people started milling about, some cleaning up from the rain, others just walking around celebrating the end of it. I cooked a quick early dinner then went off for a nice long hike.

I didn't even think about the trails this time. I stuck to the roads. First I went to check on the bridge and watched the roaring water crashing over the dam for a few minutes before heading up to the lodge. Everything had a surreal feel to it, more likely a psychological effect of being locked inside listening to those leprechauns for so long. The sounds of birds and water dripping of the trees would have given any symphony a run for its money. I could even hear far off sounds from the highway, a good five miles away. I even heard the lonesome wail of a train passing through town.

At the lodge, I took some more photos. There was a ranger up there checking on things. He left for a few minutes, but drove back up. I guess he was worried I might be going in the construction site. We chatted about the job. He said it should be finished by mid July, although the rain was going to cause a few days of delay. I started off on the road, and he drove past me and didn't come back. Just then, the sun came out for a few glorious minutes. I even posted a “sunshine selfie” on Facebook, since I had service up there. I also checked my mail and tried to log in my meals, but the app wouldn't load with only two bars of service.

On the way down, I picked some Mexican buckeye pods. They aren't like the ones from Ohio that I used to carry around in my pocket when I was a kid. They are much smaller. I'm going to try and get one to grow at the house. I may get lucky. Who knows?

About halfway down the hill, a beautiful little white dog came running up to me. He was one of three little American Eskimo dogs. His owners and I chatted for a few minutes. They are retired school teachers who live in Lockhart. He had worked in San Antonio for Northeast ISD. She said she interviewed once at Rachel's school several years ago. Small world. I am terrible with names, but I know she is Susan Red. I believe her husband's name is David. They have a busines called Kids Wings, which is somehow related to Bluebonnet books. She told me to have Rachel contact her and she will hook her up. As I left them, I quickly loaded their website and bookmarked it. I'm not one to say I'll tell Rachel about something and then not follow through. They were good people.

I took a loop around the golf course again. It was amazing to see a full-blown stream cutting across it. I had to wade through it every time it crossed the path. There were other people out walking with dogs or kids, also. Totally different from yesterday and earlier today. Before the rain stopped, it felt like I was the last man alive, even though nine of the ten sites in the circle are full.

Monday, 7:14 PM
Well, I am already nearly fifteen minutes late for my first dose of Merlot. We can't have that. I also want to clean up the dinner dishes before settling in for a quiet (practically silent) night in the Colby T. Maybe tomorrow, I will run into town and pick up some BBQ at Chisholm Trail. You can read my blog from two years ago that details my trying all four of the BBQ joints in town and telling which one I like best. Chisholm is just as good as any of the others, but half the price. Now that Rachel and I are living on a fixed income in preparation for retirement in a few years, I am more than happy to settle for the less expensive place. Besides, there isn't a BBQ place in Lockhart that can hold a candle to Billy's in Bastrop or Coopers in Llano.

Tuesday, March 9, 2015
11:47 AM

Woke up this morning at 7:30 happy to see that it was still not raining. It is cloudy and overcast, but the sun is there trying to break through. Not really expecting anymore rain this trip. I had a quick breakfast of powdered eggs and Sausage flavored TVP on tortillas. Then I played a game on the iPad for a while until I was ready to get out and about.

I took a nice hike. I started up the road to the lodge, but decided to try the old deserted road that I found last time I was here. It was unblocked this time, so I thought it would be usable. The ranger at headquarters told me the road was not off limits, so I started up. About a hundred yards up the road, they have built some kind of water processing plant right in the middle. It is fenced off, but you can walk around it and rejoin the road on the other side. The road ends at the old CCC-built water tower right next to the lodge. It is a steeper climb on that road, but takes about a third of the time to get up there.

There was a lot of activity at the lodge. There were three park trucks, a park supply trailer, and an independent contractor's truck. They must have been making up for lost time, because they were all pretty busy working on things.

I came back down on the main road, turning off at the golf cart path to make a loop around the golf course. There were some golfers out today. Most of the floods have disappeared. The golfers were all bundled up for winter weather, although it was in the mid fifties. I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts, which I overheard one of the golfer's commenting on. Evidently, I am crazy. Who knew? I will admit that it was a little breezy when I first started out, and I did consider going back for my jacket. Glad I didn't, as the walking warmed me up, and a jacket would have been too much. Let's just admit it- I have a nice coat of blubber. It keeps me pretty warm.

I checked out the dam on the way back. It is still flowing pretty strongly, but nothing like yesterday. It was still pretty loud though.

I bypassed the turn off for my camping loop and walked down past the pull-throughs to the loop by the trail heads. The water flowing across the creek trail was still making it impassible, but I don't like to cross there anyway. I remember thinking the map must have been wrong the first time I came here. It said that was a crossing, but to do so, you have to walk precariously across a damn made of boulders and actually wade through two sections. Not my style, although I did cross it that time. I swore I would never do it again.

As I passed by the bathhouse, I saw a park ranger and what must be a prisoner. The prisoner was wearing black and white striped pants and was doing all the cleaning work. The ranger shouted a hello, and I ended up chatting with him for at least thirty minutes. He is a third generation game warden and had lots of stories to tell me about previous floods. He used to live in Grey Forest, so we also talked about the growth spurts in Helotes. Super nice guy. I haven't come across a ranger who isn't super nice, yet.

I came back to the Colby T and made some coffee. Then I started this little update. The plan now is to clean up, get dressed, and drive into town to get some BBQ at Chisholm Trail. Not sure if I'll dine in or bring it back here. Depends on how crowded it is. I feel guilty taking up a table by myself when it is busy. I also need to run to WalMart and pick up a can of squirt cheese. And, before any of you try to tell me that I mean Cheese Whiz, you are wrong. Cheese Whiz comes in a jar. Squirt cheese comes in a can with a nozzle. It is actually called EZ Cheese, I believe. When I get it, I will come back and say the right name for you.

I don't know if I have ever explained my shaving process in the Colby T. Sometimes, I use a small battery operated razor that came in a gift box of cologne back in the 80's. I prefer to use my dollar shave club razor. To do that, I saturate a washcloth and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then I hold the scalding hot thing over my face until the whiskers are nice and soft. When camping, I give myself what I call a “Saturday shave”. That's one that looks like your shaved, but isn't to the point of being smooth like a baby's behind. It only takes about a minute to do. And, since I never use any shaving cream, it is a non-messy method for the Colby T. Wow... don't you just feel like you are here with me? More later.

2:17 PM
Well I took a trip into town to get some BBQ. First, I stopped in at WalMart and bought some squirt cheese. Just for the record, it is called Easy Cheese. I bought the WalMart brand called WOW, which is a dollar cheaper and just as good. I also got some bread, tortillas, and a small bottle of Sriracha. I don't really need the bread or tortillas, but I didn't want to have to run to the store when I get home tomorrow. I went ahead and topped off my gas tank. I used eight gallons getting here. I would have had plenty to get home, but with a trailer, a headwind can really eat up the gas, and I don't know what the drive home will be like. Always better to fill up before towing. Besides, it's not like I won't use the gas eventually anyway.

I got the BBQ at Chisholm trail. I bought a sausage ring, beef rib, ¼ pound of brisket, and some potato salad all for under $11.00. I decided to bring it back to the Colby T instead of dining in. It wasn't all that crowded, but I felt that “I'm an alien being stared at by the locals” feeling you sometimes get in a small town.. It was fantastic! I'm going to have to take a couple of nice hikes to pay for it later this afternoon and skip dinner for sure! Now, I think I'll take advantage of the peace and quiet and take a nap.

By the way, I just saw the Reds out on the golf course walking their dogs. It must be nice to have this park in your back yard. I like the Greenway near me, but this seems a little more exotic.

6:38 PM
Just got back from a really nice hike. I followed the Creekside Trail to the Fence Line trail, and got all the way to the top before deciding to fire up the Geocaching app and see if there were any caches nearby. There was one about three tenths of a mile away, but it was back down the trail. I decided to go for it, even though it meant re-climbing to the top of the hill. I figured the exercise couldn't hurt after the BBQ pig out. I found it with no problems and headed back up the hill. There was another one up ahead after the Fence Line Trail turned into the Chisholm Trail, so I just kept going until I came to an old deserted barn. The cache was fairly close to it. I noticed that I was following another geocacher named Vandermastmusic.

I had to take Comanche Loop Trail to find a third cache. There was a scenic overlook with a nice bench and good phone service, so I sat there for a while catching up on email and Facebook. I also had a text chat with Rachel. We had sad news today. Her brother's wife, Goose, lost her mother today. It wasn't unexpected. Her health had been falling recently. She fell and broke a hip a few weeks ago, which for people in her condition is most often a harbinger of the end to come. Rachel got to see her brother and our niece today. They had driven up for lunch. Goose didn't make the trip, as she is obviously getting ready to head home to North Carolina to be there for her father.

I got back on the loop. I saw a small evergreen tree that seemed to have beautiful orange flowers like mums on it. I think it is some kind of strange creature nest or something. I took several pictures and wanted to ask the rangers, but I got off the hike too late. Anyway, finished the loop, and got back on the Chisholm Trail. I followed it all the way back down to the golf course. At that point, I took a left onto the Rattlesnake Run Trail and followed it all the way to the top of the hill where it ends at the road to the lodge. They changed the trail since the last time I was here. There used to be really steep part that went way down to the creek bed and then came all the way back. It was so steep, it was scary to go down for me. Now they have a new section that does pigtail turns down to a wooden bridge that crosses the creek. Then you go straight back up the hill on a less steep incline. I took that trail in reverse on Sunday and the mud coming down made me slip and slide a lot. It was pretty scary. Today, even with a full day of rain yesterday, the mud was a lot less wet and slippery. I can't explain that.

The walk down the road was nice. I kept hearing what must have been deer crashing through the woods, but never saw them. At the bottom of the road, near the bridge, I saw a beautiful hawk. It kept flying from tree to tree screeching at another hawk or eagle that was flying overhead. I tried getting some shots of it, but once I zoom in to the digital level, all bets are off. I simply can not hold the camera steady enough for that.

I cleaned up the camper a bit. The floor was kind of gritty. I'll vacuum tomorrow, but today, I just gave it a good sweep. Ever since then, I've been sitting here typing. It just turned 7:00, so it is Merlot time. The Spurs play tonight. Austin started a new TV channel yesterday. I saw it on the news. They said it would be showing Spurs games, but they might mean the Austin Spurs. Hold on, I'll turn it on. Well, right now it is showing some show about a bar mitzvah. The game is supposed to come on at 7:30, so that doesn't look good. I'll try other channels, but it looks like a radio game. Not looking forward to that, as the reception was pretty poor on Sunday afternoon. Oh, that's Law and Order on the new channel. No Spurs there.

Just stepped outside for a minute. I was getting a strange red glow through the windows. The sky was amazing. There was a horizontal cloud line just above and following the contour of the hill. The bottom of the clouds were bright red. My pictures won't do it justice, but I took a bunch anyway.

Anyway, I guess I need to get some Merlot and start trying to tune in the game. Oh,goodie! I got my hawk shots. Decided to check them on the computer before I shut it down.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
4:29 PM

This morning was interesting. I woke up during the night and decided it was a little bit too cold in the Colby T. I didn't bother to put on the lights to turn the heater up. I must have over done it, because when I woke up, the thermometer was reading 90 degrees. I think the air near the ceiling (which is about an inch above my head) was more than that. It made me feel so woozy that I had to put the AC on just to make it bearable. Ridiculous! Anyway, the damage was done, so there was no going back to sleep. I went ahead and fixed breakfast and started leisurely during my departure prep.

I've mentioned before that I use checklists to make sure I do everything that needs doing. Nowadays, I just get it all done and then confirm it with the checklist. Since I de-winterized this trip, I was extra careful to follow the list. Handling all the water related processes is pretty easy, but forgetting a step or two can be disastrous.

I finally pulled out of my site at 10:45. By the time I dumped my trash and stopped at headquarters to let them know I was leaving, it was already 11:00. I went through Fentress again today. I must like that road, which is less traveled, a lot better. Then I took the San Marcos Highway through Martindale to San Marcos. Then it was 35 all the way to San Antonio. That was my least favorite part of the trip. There are just too many truckers on the highway during the week. I did one fifteen mile stretch with semis on three sides of me. The had me all blocked in. I couldn't see anything but trucks. I was too nervous to look off to right and see the countryside.

When I got to Bandera Road, it suddenly seemed like rush hour. I guess it was the lunch rush since it was right about 12:30. People kept whipping into my lane taking up my braking space. I guess they don't understand that trailers can't stop on a dime. On top of that, there was a hefty cross breeze on Bandera Road, which always makes me even more skittish. The wind was so bad when I got to PackRats, that I had to use a bungy cord to keep the gate from slamming back into me.

I got the Colby T backed into its space fairly easily today. The last few times were a little harder than usual because the big trailer beside me that never ever moved for three years is suddenly gone. Now I don't have anything to visually line with. My space is the second one from the gate. The first one is at an odd angle to the rest. When I look in my rear-view, I get a distorted idea of how straight I am backing in because of it. When the big trailer was there, I just backed in right next to it.

I was at the house by 12:30. My loft is trashed, but other than that, Jared seemed to have taken care of everything. Once he gets all his stuff back into his room and gets rid of the cups, silverware, plates, and pizza boxes, all will be fine. I won't mention it to him until tomorrow. Hopefully, he will spontaneously do it himself.

I transferred my pictures to the computer, re-sized them, and posted them on Facebook. I was shocked to see that I had posted 281 of them. I was even more shocked by how some of my Facebook friends are liking each individual picture instead of the album. My phone was sounding like a slot machine. I had to turn off notifications.

Jared and I ran off to the Chinese buffet. We sat there forever waiting for our check. I got back and wanted to finish this blog post. Jared took off to hook up with his roommate from last year. I might even get to take a nice quiet nap. Yippee.

Here is the link to the photos on Facebook. They claim that anyone can see it with the link, even if they don't have a Facebook account.

Monday, January 05, 2015


Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year. When I was growing up, it started on Thanksgiving Day. Mom simply refused to acknowledge that it existed until Santa made his entrance at the end of the Macy’s Day Parade. There were only two exceptions to that rule. One was buying presents. She did that all year long, only buying things that she knew were special to the recipientswhen she happened upon them on her travels. The other was the “Wishbook”. As soon as the Sears Roebuck Christmas catalogue got to the house, we were commanded to look through it, dog ear the pages of items we liked, and scribble our initials indicating which of us wanted it. Mom always claimed that Santa liked to get a head start with his gifts, and could magically see every child’s wishes. 

Once the parade was over, things would change. Mom put a stack of about ten Christmas albums (one would have to be Elvis’ Christmas Album, her favorite) on her stereo, and played them from the minute she woke up until she went to bed. I remember how disappointed she was with her eight-track player because she had to change cartridges at the end of each “album”. 

There were very few decorations in the house when I was a small child. It was Mom’s tradition that the tree, and all the trimmings, magically appeared on Christmas morning, brought by Santa himself. In later years, she went a little “Auntie Mame” on us, and decorated every nook and cranny with some kind of Christmas dust catcher. You were totally immersed in it all, whether you wanted to be or not.

Mom baked hundreds of different Christmas goodies every year. They were plated and covered with Saran wrap on her dining room table during the whole season. She covered it all with a Christmas table cloth, which she would whip off the minute the doorbell rang, since the entire holiday season was open house for her. If a treat ran out (She couldn’t keep her famous rum balls on the table!), she went back in the kitchen, and slaved over another batch. I still feel shame about the Christmas I broke her heart. My weight was out of control, so I told her I couldn’t stay at her house for the holidays, if she had goodies out. My coming was more important to her than the pleasure she got from baking. She held back on the goodies, but I think it broke her spirit. She didn’t do as much baking after that. In fact, she even bought some stuff, which to her, had always been about as close to sin as you could get.

When Mom died in 2008, I learned something I had been too stupid to notice. My mother was Christmas for our family. Without her, it lost all of its charm. Now, it seems like we are all just going through the motions, and my only true joy at Christmas, is on a religious and deeply personal level. We still have a tree. We still do gifts. We hit some parties. But, I would be lying, if I said any of that mattered to me. However, in that magic moment during the Christmas Eve service, when we sing Gloria In Excelsis DeoI get a rush of Christmas warmth. Mom’s name was Gloria, and, as a child, I thought we were singing about her. Now, I stand there in the church all teary-eyed, high on hidden memories, and feeling my Mom standing next to me. In that brief moment, everything is right with the world, and I can breathe again.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Kerrville Schreiner Park 9/14

I decided it was time to come back to this park because there was a Volksmarch taking place in the park. I haven't participated in one for a while, but since it was in my favorite park, I figured it was time to. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my record book after weeks of searching everywhere in the house. I guess it will be one of those things I just happen upon some time in the future. No worries though, because there are insert cards with the credit stamps on them, which I can add to the record book when I find it.

Before I go any further, I want to say that this is the first post to this blog using my cell phone. I have a $12 bluetooth keyboard now, which makes typing longer things on the phone bearable. It actually works really well, even though I bought it for note taking on my iPad. It connects easily, and is actually a full sized keyboard.

So I got to the park yesterday, after rushing straight to hitch up from school. I unhitched, plugged in and turned the AC on. Then I hiked over to Brew Dawgs for a couple of beers and a great burger. When I got back, I finished the set up process and then just relaxed the night away with my friend Merlot. I set my alarm for 6:00 am and called it a night at about 11:00.

When the alarm went off, I wasn't sure why I had planned to be up so early. The Volksmarch was starting at 8:00, and you can start anytime you want to up to something like 11:00 am. I decided to go back to sleep until seven.

When I did finally wake up, I dressed and had my morning coffee. I looked outside, and it was obvious that we got some rain during the night. It was so muggy you breathed in air and breathed out water. I knew that was going to be a negative for the hike.

I hiked a little over a mile to get to the registration in the park dining hall. I was surprised to see that the fee was still only three dollars. I was also surprised that there weren't many people there other than the event hosts. I didn't see very many people on the trails either. 

I ended up hiking a little over 7 miles. The humidity was really bugging me. When I got back to the camper I did one of my sink baths and sat naked in the air conditioning until I felt dry. Haven't done much since, except read and eat a can of sardines. I think I'm going to nap a bit and then spend some more time reading. I'm not sure if I can add to this post with the app. If not, I will finish when I get home.

Well, there really isn't anything to add. I spent the rest of Saturday reading and watching Netflix movies. I also took a really long nap. Went to bed fairly early, slept through the night, and woke up at 8 o'clock. Packed up, hitched up, and hit the road. It was a nice getaway. Very quiet and laid-back.