Friday, December 31, 2010

Central Market

Today we headed into downtown San Antonio to a visit an old favourite of ours the Central Market, as well as all the usual vendors there are a couple of very good Mexican restaurants in that area and we thought we should have a little lunch today. But before that I had to pry Brenda away from all these flip-flops. Luckily she was not in a flip-flop mood or we would have been looking for a bigger rig.


We decided on La Margarita as the restaurant of choice and then went all out and had the family style Fajita’s for our meal. The food was excellent and the service was as well. These entertainers were working just off the patio selling their CD’s and some flutes as well, so we got to enjoy the sounds of Mexico as we dined.


After lunch and much to my surprise Brenda opted out of browsing through the rest of the market, guess I am not a good shopping companion or something, so we headed back to the truck and wandered our way down to a couple of the San Antonio Missions to have a look around.

The first one we visited was the Mission Concepcion which is still an active parish in the Catholic Archdiocese here in San Antonio, as are 4 of the original five missions. The fifth, and oldest of them, the Mission San Antonio de Valero serves another purpose and is cared for my the Daughters of the Republic of Texas. It is commonly called the Alamo and is probably the most visited.

Mission Concepcion which is pictured below is over 250 years old and still has it’s original roof and walls although some of the colourful frescoes are a little faded with time.


IMG_4204Mission Concepcion



The other Mission we visited was the Mission San Jose and although we stopped there and watched an excellent video about the Mission history we didn’t tour the facility as Brenda’s knee was getting a little sore.

Which brings me to the knee story. We sent the results of the MRI off to her doc in Calgary and got a call later in the day from her to interpret all the medical jargon into plain English. It appears that there is bone rubbing bone and the cartilage is GONE in that joint and in a nutshell there is not much that can be done to fix it. She is talking some physiotherapy and maybe some other things but the best thing for it is to rest it. THAT is probably not going to happen, Brenda is a little young to be spending the rest of her life sitting watching the world go by, besides she just isn’t built that way. She asked about knee replacement, and although that is the only real solution, there is a reluctance to put a replacement knee in a person so young. They like you to be a lot older and less active before they do that. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I am sure that between Brenda and the specialist they will come up with a solution that will be workable. My bet is a new knee.

This morning we are off to stock up for New Years Day dinner and I am sure at some point I will be revelling my readers with pictures and a description of that feast. Or maybe I should just take Brenda to Sam’s for a Hot Dog.

Happy New Year to all

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Arrivals

Tuesday evening the Hall’s arrived here from their daughters place near Fort Worth. They are just stopping for a  day or two to rest up for the rest of their winter migration down to the Rio Grande Valley. It is nice to be able to spend some time with them as you never know when our trails will cross again. Here they are sneaking in under the cover of darkness.


Brenda had some Taco Soup and a salad ready for our dinner and their arrival.

Earlier in the day the Meacham’s and the Kendall’s headed out into the Hill Country to the NW of us while we hung around in San Antonio. Anybody who knows Brenda know that sitting still is not one of her strong suits, even though her knee pain has been getting worse and worse as the winter progresses. She has an MRI scheduled back home in May, but seeing as how things are not getting better and the next steps are a mystery until after that procedure we decided that we should see what we could do to hasten the process a little. I found a clinic in downtown San Antonio that could see her right away so we popped down there and after a few minutes with the doc left with an order for an MRI here. A few minutes later I had her scheduled for that procedure within the hour.

Wednesday the results of the test were back and we will get them off to her doctor early this morning so they can proceed with whatever needs to be done back in Canada. The results were a hodge podge of big almost incomprehensible words that basically say, yep, you have a real sore knee. And with the internet and some of our friends input it seems that there may be some arthroscopic surgery in her future. Hmmmm, guess we had already guessed that but it is nice to be making some progress towards whatever resolution there might be. Here is a shot of Brenda engaging our medical consultants.


Wednesday afternoon and evening was Happy Hour time at the Meacham’s, followed up by some of that good grilling that Jim is known for.

Thursday we were up early to bid farewell to the Hall’s as they headed for their lot down Retama way in the RGV. Meg and I went for our walk at dawn and thought we would be back in time for that farewell. We walk around a hay field behind the campground and then a few miles down a local road and along the way today Meg spooked up a band of wild hogs. Not sure who was more excited, the dog or the hogs, or maybe me. After a quick melee we continued on our way without further incident and no injuries obvious at least on me and mine. Can’t say whether the hogs are a little lighter though. When we got back around 8:30 Dortha and Mark were gone over the hill but Brenda did catch a few photo’s of their departure.


Sad to see these good friends move on in a different direction but we know in this lifestyle it is only a matter of time and miles before we meet again. Maybe we can talk them into a pizza at Moose’s in Kalispell and then we will drag them north to see a little bit of our spectacular scenery in the Canadian Rockies. Mark, it really is almost on the way to Gillette.

Peyto Lake Panorama

The shot above is just a small sample of what is a country with the most “awesomeness” per capita of any in the world. Come on up and enjoy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in San Antonio

Christmas day was bright and sunny here in San Antonio. Reminded me of home a little though, that sun didn’t have a whole lot of heat in it, although it did get up into the high 50’s but the temps dropped down into the high 20’s overnight.

We went over to Jim and Ellie’s for Christmas dinner tonight and they had a great turkey, with cornbread dressing and gravy and we brought along some sides, as well as some of Brenda’s great rolls, and of course that great Pecan pie that Jim made.


Brenda made a batch of bread and rolls that you saw in yesterdays blog and we managed to save a few of them for dinner on Christmas. Brenda brings her Robin Hood flour along from home and says she has trouble getting flour that makes good bread down here. I did a little research on that and found the following link that makes a stab at showing the difference between Canadian and American flours. In a nutshell apparently Canadian all-purpose flour is 100% hard Canadian wheat and the flour from south of the Medicine Line is only 75% hard wheat and the rest softer grades of wheat. Guess if we run out we will have to look for some of that special bread flour.

Today is Boxing Day back at home and Ellie did a good job explaining what that is all about on her blog today so I will just give you a link to that rather than tell my version.

Later in the day we met Netters sister Lavonne and her husband Carlton as well as their friends Larry and Nora. They popped by for Happy Hour tonight so we had a good visit with them.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Preparations are ongoing for dinner on Christmas day. We are sharing Christmas dinner with Jim and Ellie, and our, code for Brenda’s, contributions are some side dishes. This morning she was busy sorting cranberries and making cranberry sauce from scratch. I’d like to say we gathered the cranberries from the marshes of south Texas but alas they were gathered in the produce section at Wal-Mart. Probably a good thing as I am not sure there are either marshes or cranberries in those fabled marshes of south Texas. But maybe those snow geese that winter down here have brought along a few seeds from their summer homes near the Mackenzie Delta. I know in the spring up there they all sport purple breasts from feasting on those berries.


Once Brenda got the cranberries out of the way it was time to move on to the bread. She hauls her own flour down here south of the Medicine Line. Made from that good hard Canadian wheat it seems to suit our taste better than the kinds we can lay our hands on down here. Nothing better than the smell of fresh baking bread to get your taste buds working.

That done it was time to get a little laundry done, and lo and behold, Texas decided that was the time to turn a few cacti and some burnt looking grass into a tropical paradise. Well we will see whether the transformation sticks but we sure got a downpour for a few minutes.

Happy Hour tonight was at Jim and Ellie’s and the spread of appetizers they had set out did the trick for supper tonight, so other than sampling a few of Brenda’s treats, just to ensure they are staying good you know, I have eaten more than my share today. And tomorrow will be another day of feasting here in San Antonio.

Till next time Merry Christmas!

Christmas Card 2008-1

The above photo was taken just west of Quartzsite back in December 08.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Baking and the Lights

Since last time I wrote we have been busy here in San Antonio, Brenda with her Christmas baking, and me with the high stress position of being the official taster. After all we wouldn’t want to serve company things that were not perfect and up to Brenda’s usual high standards. We started with what we are realizing is a Canadian treat called Butter Tarts, most of our American friends look at us strangely when we mention them, but after a couple of minutes of puzzled looks they quickly realize if they don’t get busy I will have eaten them all before they get a sample.


Then it is on to a more common treat down here, Pecan Tarts, and it doesn’t take most folks anytime at all to get on that bandwagon.


Finally a candy that Gina calls Millionaires but that we know as Turtles. The best part about making your own turtles is the fact that you can make them in man-sized portions instead of those nibble sized ones that you buy in the store.



That brings me to the final baking activity that I am involved in, which consists of Meg and I walking about 4-5 miles a day just to work up the appetite to maintain my position as chief taster for this operation.

Tonight we are heading off to the Riverwalk with Rod, Deb, Jim and Ellie to find a spot for some Mexican food and peruse the Christmas Lights down there as well.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dodging Ducks

Today we headed north to Boerne, Texas to meet up with another group of RV’ing folks, who came down from Kerrville to rendezvous with us. The Dodging Duck Brewhaus was the restaurant of choice and a good choice it was.


Here is the group starting with my empty chair and heading clockwise around the table, John, Sandy, Steve, Cathy, Paul, Mary, Rod, Deb, Ellie, Jim and of course Brenda.

Not sure what everyone else had but I know my burger was great and Rod said his antelope burger was the best he had ever eaten. Wonder if that is good or bad, as I am not sure he has ever had antelope before.

Ellie picked the restaurant and I am sure the fact that it was next door to a wine shop was just a lucky coincidence.


It is the first day of winter today and I think from the look of Brenda and Ellie’s dress we have found a good place to celebrate the winter solstice.


Here is the view across the street from our restaurant.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Next Stop San Antonio

This morning dawned bright and sunny so Meg and I headed out to have a look around this Wildlife Refuge. I am not sure why they call it that as there appeared to be a lot of shotguns booming from all points of the compass and there were a lot of geese circling high above, probably looking for a place to light where they could enjoy their winter vacation without becoming the proverbial Christmas Goose. But ironically I am sure that all the largest contributors to the conservation movement are those same hunters. Here is a shot of Judy and Emma as they were getting ready to head off to work this morning before we left.


Now this was a great place to stop and Judy did offer to give us a tour of the Refuge if we had of stayed but we thought, no, we should move on, that would get us through the Houston megopolis and any traffic issues fairly early on a Sunday when the it was unlikely that the traffic would be snarled up. The plan worked.


Traffic wasn’t to bad…….for the first little while….and then the other shoe dropped. I-10 West was closed for some planned maintenance or something so we diverted to I-610, that would cause us to have a little jog to the north but no big deal. At least it wasn’t till the tank truck run over the tow truck and very quickly everything came to a grinding halt.


Not to terrible though, what with the help of some friendly truckers and our CB radio we figured out what was going on and which was the best lane to be in to transit this smoozle with the least delay possible. Half an hour or so later we were on our way again. The rest of the way out of Houston the roads were clear sailing, at least till we cleared the city.


I-10 was pretty busy all the way over to San Antonio. It is hard to tell whether our traffic strategy worked or not. Like most things in life it was a little of both.

But no fear, we did manage to get to Braunig Lake RV Resort in time for Happy Hour Sunday with the Kendall's and Meacham's.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Go West Young Man!

Today was a move day for us. We got ourselves packed up, said our see ya laters to the Thurstons, and headed down the road to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge where Judy and Emma had found a spot for us for the night. Back home in Alberta we talk about having two seasons winter and construction, well I think Louisiana, maybe because of the warmer climate, only has one, construction.


Nevertheless I am sure when it is done it will be great but sounds like it has been ongoing since the Interstate went through in 1972 or something.

It really is an amazing road system though, at one point there is a bridge 18 miles long above the Atchafalaya Basin and of course other bridges that leap into the sky to pass over navigable waters here and there throughout Louisiana.IMG_4023


Traffic was flowing nicely all the way along so we were barely more than four hours getting here and made a pretty nice 8.6 mpg along the way.


Above is a look at our situation here on the NWR and below is Judy and Emma’s home. We had a nice visit with them over dinner and although we are only here overnight we know that somewhere down the road Judy and Emma will cross our trail again. The interesting thing is guessing whether that will be in the desert or maybe we can even talk them into visiting Canada and seeing some of our amazing sights. After all our American friends are so graciously sharing their country with us in the cooler months it is only fair that we share ours with them when it gets to warm down here.



Here the sun is setting into Galveston Bay through a layer of smoke caused by burning rice fields. Tomorrow we hit I-10 and Houston, rumour has it I-10 is closed this weekend, so we will be hitting a new trail through town on route to San Antonio. We’ll let you know how that works out next time we write. Feels good to be back on the west side of the Mississippi and heading west. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eating and Partying!

Wednesday was Parker, Rollie and Gina’s SIL’s, birthday and we got ourselves invited along to the party.


From the left, Parker, Ashley, Nicole, some LSU fan in a purple shirt, Brenda, Gina, and Wanda and Phil, Parker’s parents. It was a fun evening with wonderful people at a place called Chimes. Parker and Ashley had flown in from Grenada, where they are attending medical school, just a couple of days before we arrived. And here they are playing doctor with one of Parker’s Birthday presents from his parents.


Earlier in the day Brenda and I had run down to Gonzales to the local Cabela’s to look for a couple of chairs we want, never did find the right chairs but we did buy up their entire supply of Cinnamon Apple jelly.

Today was a hanging around the Thurstons kind of day for Rollie and I, but Brenda and Gina did get in a little retail therapy as they headed out for the afternoon shopping all over town. Rollie and I did get out and buy some shrimp for us to freeze and take with us as we head towards the desert. But just to make sure that the shrimp was good we asked/forced/coerced Rollie to do a shrimp boil for us. As it was last time in April 2009 this one was excellent also and we feasted till we almost burst. Here Rollie is doing the cooking with Meg peering through the fence behind him trying to figure out what smelled so good.


Below is Rollie spreading the feast out before we fell ravenously on it. Oh yah, and there in the foreground are a few miniature frozen peanut butter pies, still under construction but certainly ready for eating soon.


Here we are eating, and eating, and eating, but for the most part this meal is good for you and certainly a much more low fat diet than what I have been eating for the most part since we arrived in the Great State of Louisiana. Go Tigers.


Here Gina is portioning out the last couple of pieces of that great Key Lime Pie that daughter Nicole had made the other day, I could have eaten it all it is so good, and with the spices in the shrimp boil it was the perfect complimentary taste for desert.


I met Rollie’s dad this morning when he came over for some of Gina’s biscuits and he brought us a couple of handmade gifts, one a hamburger press and the other a biscuit cutter.


Our visit here is coming to an end as tomorrow we are heading for the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge to meet up with Judy and Emma for a short visit. Our time with the Thurston family and their friends has been wonderful, they are so warm and loving and go to such great efforts to make us feel included in everything they do.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Out and About

Today was another great day spent with the Thurstons. Brenda and Gina headed out to do a little “retail therapy”, followed by a visit to the doctor for Brenda. Gina’s doctor was able to help with the pain from Brenda’s knee although he did tell her to stay off it, and if she was going to do any touristy stuff that required a lot of walking she should rent a cart and not over exert the knee. We’ll see how well she listens.

Meg and I managed to successfully get our walk in although the local folks were amazed that we came back alive after walking some of the neighbourhood highways and byways, so tomorrow we will try some other routes to see if there is any less traffic. Let you know how that goes next time.

Rollie and I had a couple of errands to run and a trip to Camping World to pick up some supplies, a water filter and a bladder for hauling fresh water in the desert. While we were there we wandered in and out of a lot of new motorhomes. Some nicer than others but it was nice to find that the one I was in that I liked the best was the same as the one I was going home to. Means that the choices we made a couple of years ago when we ordered this outfit are still the choices we would make today. Below is a shot of the new rig Rollie is thinking of, room for his quad and all the necessities of life. Sure won’t be a problem for that big truck of his to pull.


Then on the way home we stopped at the Bass Pro here in Denham Springs to have a look around and check out the local habitat decorations. They have done a wonderful job with the swamp type of deco here and really do a good job of representing the local environment. Although after looking around at all the stuffed raccoons in this store it is a wonder that there are any left at all in the wild here in Louisiana.

Once we got home Rollie started preparing some chickens and smoked turkey for our dinner.


After Gina and Brenda returned and Gina set to preparing her Gumbo for dinner. We set down to another great meal with great company including Ricky and Dana, Rollie’s sister and BIL, and Brandi, a close family friend, as well as Nicole, Gina and Rollie’s daughter. To much good food and of course a couple of choices for dessert. And that is not counting the Key Lime pie Nicole made that needs to set overnight. Rest assured I will be keeping a close eye on that to make sure I get to taste it tomorrow.


Monday, December 13, 2010

No Pictures and Only a Few Words

I didn’t get any photo’s of our trip today as my usual camera operator was enjoying her opportunity to drive herself from Breaux Bridge over here to Denham Springs where we are now parked on Rollie and Gina’s driveway. Brenda enjoyed her time alone today although I am sure she would rather have driven with me, yah right, although with me she might have actually seen the 18 mile long bridge that crosses the Atchafayala Basin. A much better view from the high seat in the motorhome than down close to the road in the little pickup. We got here just before noon and Rollie ushered us into a great spot and made sure we had all the power and water that we needed to be comfortable. We spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on what we all have been up to since they left our place down the road from Dogpound way back in September.

Meg is loving it here, she is allowed to wander at will in Gina’s garden and as anyone who knows her knows she is enjoying the pool and waterfall, but I am not sure the feeling is mutual with the fish in that pond. Having Meg staring at them probably raises their pulse`s a little. They should know she only wants to play….lol. Angel and Zoey have been very good about sharing their toys with Meg and although Zoey has made a few overtures trying to get Meg to play with her, I think Meg thinks she is reclaiming her toys and is less dutiful about returning the hospitality. Nevertheless I am sure in a few days Meg will have taught Angel and Zoey to teach people to throw sticks and then it will be time to move on down the road.

We also had the pleasure of meeting Rollie and Gina`s daughters, Nicole and Ashley as well as Ashley`s husband Parker. Gina whipped up a great meal of Spaghetti and Meat Sauce along with salad and a bread stuffed in cheese and soaked in butter that insures the cholesterol medication I take will not go unappreciated tonight. And if that wasn't enough to absolutely blow my diet, hmmm that may have already happened, Ashley whipped up some chocolate chip cookies that I am sure were low calorie, fat free and diet friendly for dessert Winking smile.

I capped off the evening with a phone call to our granddaughter Annika, whose birthday is today, and a Skype call with my brother and his family back in Calgary.