Getting a Quick Word in …

Hurry!  While the internet seems to be working slightly faster than a snail’s pace, here is an update on our recent travels.

Dawny and I lucked into a Camp Host spot a few weeks ago here in east Texas.  By the way, that opening picture on the TV show “Sheldon” is NOT east Texas.  They dropped a bit of Big Bend or the Grand Canyon or something mountainous into the background there.  Cowboy boots, yes.  Cows, yes.  Big brown mountains, no.  East Texas is actually pretty green and, at most, has some rolling hills here and there.  It’s very pretty.

We dropped by this sweet little state park just to camp for a couple of nights and to check the park out for future workamping opportunities.  It turned out there was an opening at that moment.  The job will carry us through the end of February, which fits in perfectly with our travel plans.

I am happy to finally get officially started with the Texas State Park volunteer system.  There’s plenty of competition for these workamping jobs during the winter months.  Here is a tip for others seeking these kinds of jobs:  If you can, visit the park you are interested in.  Talk to the person in charge of the workamping program.  Openings often occur when other volunteers have a change in plans and can’t show up, and if you are able to step in at short notice, that is a great way to get two feet through the door.

The only downside to this park is the whole internet and Verizon connectivity issue.  I can rarely get phone calls and the computer is touch-and-go.  Texting is the best bet for anyone who actually knows me if they want to make contact and, even then, I suspect some texts may have been lost in cyberspace.

Here is a tip for you travelers who find yourself in a similar situation with poor connectivity.  If you don’t want to lose a piece of your sanity and a chunk of your computer’s life and soul to cyberspace, do not–DO NOT!–say yes when your computer politely inquires if you would like to upgrade your operating system.  This should only be done when you have a strong internet connection. Feeling agreeable, I said yes when that little box popped up in the upper right corner of my screen.  I was rewarded with a black screen and a small folder containing a flashing question mark.  I spent my days off last week going back and forth to Geek Squad at Best Buy (yay Geek Squad!) where they repaired my operating system but were unable to retrieve much of my data, including all of my photos.  Yes, I know that is what cloud storage is for.  But I’ve never really understood this cloud thing.  I don’t trust it.  I have only used it when forced to.  Have I learned my lesson vis-a-vis the cloud?  No, I don’t think so.  I’ll accept my nice, clean new system and chalk the rest up to collateral damage.

One last note:  The picture at the top of this post shows the land surrounding us when the park had a prescribed burn early this month.  I was amazed how the fire control officers came in and set fire to hundreds of acres all around us (at one point, the flames were within 50 feet of our rig), and not have things get out of control.  Brush was burned, tree skins charred, yet the forest itself mostly came out unscathed.  How can someone toss a cigarette out the window and cause a multi-state conflagration yet these fellows can come in and use the flames like just another tool?  They’re like the Geek Squad of the Forest.  Pretty cool stuff.

Glad I was able to slip a word in while the internet was feeling zippy, but I don’t want to push my luck.  Talk to you again down the road!

Mother Nature & Brazos Bend

As soon as possible after setting up in a new campground, Dawny and I like to get out and explore our surroundings.  While walking through our latest park, Brazos Bend State Park, something odd struck me.  No matter which direction I looked, there was a consistent, straight, perfectly horizontal line on all the trees, bushes, and undergrowth.  Close, far, no matter, the line held true.  Mother Nature isn’t usually that consistent.  She doesn’t often paint in straight lines.  She excels in curves, subtleties, and the beauty of imperfection.

Hurricane Harvey pounded the Texas coast just a little more than four months ago.  Many state parks were closed because of record-breaking flooding and damage, including Brazos Bend State Park southwest of Houston.  The Brazos River crested at 52 feet over flood stage and most of the park (over 5,000 acres) was underwater.

The horizontal line I saw all around me was the high-water mark on the park’s forest and vegetation.  In many places that we walked, I was weighed down with the eerie realization that the line was over my head.

I have included a few photos in this post to try to give you an idea of what it looked like, although a picture can never do the reality justice.  Especially this sort of reality.  Note the pictures that have picnic tables in them and trees nearby to get some perspective on how high the water was.  Tree lines in the distance look like a mist is hovering a few feet above the ground.  That isn’t mist.  It is Harvey’s high water mark.  Park rangers had to get around in boats.

The Texas State Park system, its workers, and many volunteers did an outstanding job getting things back in order so that visitors could come enjoy this park just a few months after such devastation.  They have been busy in quite a number of parks in southeast Texas, and much work remains to be done.

I highly recommend this campground, by the way.  The campsites are paved, spacious, and level.  Large, beautiful trees provide shade to most of the sites.  The roads (two-way) are freshly paved and easy enough for even bigger RV’s to maneuver through.  The park is huge and there are lots of nice places to walk the dog, including a number of trails.

Be sure to keep your doggy on-leash and away from the water, though.  As noted in park instructions in the picture to the left, Brazos Bend’s most popular residents are some of Mother Nature’s most interesting children:  beautiful, subtle, and very dangerous.

(Direct link to Brazos Bend State Park’s website:  https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/brazos-bend.)

Happy 25th . . . Bye Bye!

Wowzer, Bowzer!  You may not believe this, except that it comes from my very own trustworthy lips.  Er… do doggies have lips?  Of course they do.  They are on the thin side, but they are there.  And, for the most part, they are extraordinarily trustworthy.  After all, what reason do we have to lie?  exaggerate?  embellish?  None whatsoever.  That’s more the two-legged style.

Okay, that’s settled.  Let’s get back on track here.  A week or so ago, guess who drove up to our little house…  My Daddy!  Ya!  Mom and I were in this crazy campground in west Texas that was full of sand dunes, heavy winds, and prickle burrs that were unavoidably attracted to my paws.  Despite those burrs, it was a pretty neat little campground.  Especially once Dad arrived.

He pulled up in a pretty red car.  I knew him right away, even though it has been over three years since Mom and I have seen him.  I am a good leaper to start with.  My greeting that day just about sent me to the moon.  I didn’t know how much I missed my Dad until I saw him again.  As for Mom, she was really happy to be with family again for the first Christmas since we hit the road.

The three of us have spent this past week together exploring west and south Texas.  Dad is trying out the RV lifestyle to see if it suits him and, if it does, he might buy his very own little house on wheels.  He is gaining an appreciation of the simplicity and flexibility inherent in RV traveling.  As for me, I appreciate the extra cheese and other treats I can beg off of him–he was always a much easier mark than Mom.  And I love showing off my prewash skills on all the extra pots, pans, bowls, and plates that result when the human presence is doubled.  After all, when you have three residents with eight feet and forty toes combined trying to coexist and function in a small space, every one needs to do their part.

Mom says that tomorrow would be her and Dad’s 25th wedding anniversary had they stayed married.  They both agree that, in their case, it is way better to just be old friends.  So tomorrow we part ways.  Happy 25th Anniversary ya’ll.  Bye bye Dad.  May the wind be at your back, the burrs stay off your feet, and your cheese never run out.

P.S. Happy New Year to all from Mom and Me!  — Dawny Virgil