Sometimes we look at sights in nature but don't really see. While hiking in the woods the other day, it became a realization that we need to open our heart and eyes to see the beauty of the simple things in nature with each season. There is so much order and purpose in His creation. God has given us awesome beauty in this world to see and enjoy... if we would but stop to see and feel it. Join us as this blog is about stopping to see the real beauty around touch and feel it... "Through the Lens".

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Monday, September 28, 2009

A Drive through Denison

We took a Sunday drive through several of the areas we are responsible for while here at Hagerman. One of those areas is Haller’s Haven Nature Trail. This is a short 1 mile trail. This trail was recently renamed from its former name of Dead Woman’s Pond.
A farmer and his much younger wife were scraping out a living in Grayson County. The attractive young wife had not been seen for a while. The farmer was noticed By a neighbor driving his wagon down to the local pond with a large bundle in the Back. Said farmer returned home with the bundle missing. From that time on, the Locals began referring to the pond as Dead Woman’s Pond.

We then headed for Meadow Pond Trail. This is a 6 mile hike - 3 in and 3 out. It is a very flat walking area with nice shade trees in spots. At the two mile marker is the namesake Meadow Pond. Here you see raptors, wading birds and wild pigs. Today we only saw the wading birds but it was a bit hot. This area used to be the old rail bed for the railroad.

After lunch we went into Denison to explore the birthplace of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. We began at the visitor center where we viewed many memorabilia and exhibits highlighting his life and accomplishments. We viewed a short 12 minute video that was pretty informative. The birthplace is a modest two story home that shows the working class life of the Eisenhower family. President Eisenhower was the only child born in this house and lived here only until about 3 years of age. He, in fact, didn’t remember living in the house. There is a beautiful statue on the grounds of “Ike” presented to the Texas Historical Commission. I never knew President Eisenhower was an artist. He began his paintings at the urging of Winston Churchill in order to help with his stress and admitted it was very calming. He did most of his paintings at the Eisenhower home in Pennsylvania.

It has been a beautiful Sunday and we have enjoyed our drives, hikes and exploration of the Denison area.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

First work day at Hagerman

Today was our first day volunteering at Hagerman Wildlife Refuge. Our job mainly consists of maintaining the three day use areas and checking five of the hiking trails to make sure they are clean with no limbs blocking the trails. We drove the refuge truck around and really enjoyed this beautiful day. We picked up trash and Mike did a little weed eating. Even though there was a lot of trash along the roadway, I believe once we get it under control it will be pretty easy going. They supply us with those long litter pickers ( I guess you could actually pick up anything with them) so we never actually have to handle any trash. We worked a pretty long day today but we wanted to get to all three areas before the weekend. Of course, along the way we just had to stop for a few photo moments. We have seen the Great Blue Heron, Great Egret and the Snowy Egret. Yesterday, on our orientation drive through the refuge, we were able to see the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. This is a new bird for us but we did not have our camera and did not get the picture. This bird will be leaving the refuge any time and traveling to South America. It was a busy day and we worked hard but it is a beautiful workplace.
We went to Sherman this evening for a quick sandwich at Chick-Fil-A. We wanted to see about getting one of those green grass looking indoor/outdoor carpets that you find at Lowes or Home Depot. We finally did find one at Lowes. It is an 8x6. I think I mentioned out site is not the best. It is not long enough for a 39ft. RV so we had to park at an angle. In doing this we are not near the grass that would normally be right outside the door. The road is very close to the front of the motorhome and the road is the white powdery crush and run type gravel. Anytime a vehicle goes by dust is thrown in our direction. Messy! The biggest problem has been our dogs. When they go outside they have been getting their feet wet and then walking in the gravel stuff and then coming into the motorhome. Mama is not happy!!! This evening Mike cut some limbs from the cedar tree behind the rig so tomorrow we are going to back the motorhome up about 4 feet. That, along with the carpet, should help make things a bit better. We hope so because this is a nice place and a good workamper job but we have both decided that if we can’t make this work we might have to leave early. We just won’t mess up the motorhome for the sake of a job. We’ll see how things go tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We are at Hagerman Wildlife Refuge this evening. This refuge is located 75 miles north of Dallas, Texas on Lake Texoma. Hagerman is on the Texas side of the Red River near the town of Denison and not far from Sherman. The Red River is quite large and is the border between Oklahoma and Texas.
We left Texarkana this morning around 10:00 and probably took the longest route here but it was a good trip on good roads for once. This wildlife refuge is located in a remote area outside of Denison. Denison looks to be a mid-size town with most anything we might need including a Super Wal-Mart. We had to travel down some narrow two lane roads to get here. Our site is not anything to brag about. In fact, Mike had to park at an angle in order to get all of our 39 feet in the space. We are just off the main road that leads to the visitor’s center. The bad part of the main road is that it is small white crush and run gravel. I am sure the coach will be constantly dusty. The good part is that it is only a short walk to Lake Texoma. We will be working with one other workamping couple, Bill and Carol Powell. They are the experienced workampers here and we hope to learn from them. Mike and I love birds and this should prove to be a good place to be this fall as the birds begin their migration south. Mike is already getting his camera equipment ready.
We will be here until the first week in November. Kathy Whaley, the refuge manager was kind enough to allow us a week off from October 4th to October 11th in order to attend the RV Dreams rally in Kerrville, Texas. Tomorrow we should learn more about our duties here at Hagerman. Until then enjoy the first sunset over Lake Texoma

Monday, September 21, 2009

What a difference a Day Makes

We got up early this morning so I could take some of our more important documents back to the motorhome. When I got there all was just as we left it Sunday. I got all things put up around 7;15 this morning and now we wait for a call from coach-net. Around 8:30 I received the call and they had arranged for us to be towed about 17 miles…ouch to the cost. I talked with 2 truck mechanics and described our problem and they each suggested I drive it to the shop instead of towing. Uncertain, but trusting their advice, I drove our coach to Shaffer’s Auto & Diesel repair. Whew, I made it safely while Gerri was the lead car. After explaining to the mechanic what happened, he agreed that it sounded like a loose connection or worn out hose. The search began, and he found 2 loose connections where the diesel was leaking. In fact, 1 was hardly connected. Whenever the fuel was pumped into the engine, it would just spew on the crankcase. The mechanic, Robert, tightened all the connections and then checked all the belts, hoses and oils for us. He really did a great job. His attention to detail and going the extra mile of service helped Gerri & me to drive out with confidence in our rig. We took it down the road to a place they suggested to have the engine and back of coach cleaned as it was covered with diesel, and it stank.
We were ready…. Time to go forward, our initiation to full timing hopefully over and we passed !
Since it was almost noon, we decided we did not want to go far since we were exhausted from the events of our beginning trip. Also, we did not sleep well in the hotel knowing our home and possessions were 2 miles down the road in an unfamiliar city. With our dogs, we could not stay in the coach as it was too hot. We headed to Texarkana where we stayed at Shady Pines Rv Park…. Wow how nice it is! We will probably stay here a couple of nights to rest and explore. It really is a nice RV park.
And now to rest!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Stranded in Shreveport

There must be some sort of initiation that fulltimers must pass through that nobody told us about. Our first trip out has certainly made me want to go back to start over. The initiation began in Pine Mountain when Mike went to put up the day/night shade and it broke. Yep, it broke. I never put those shades down but for some dumb reason I put that small end shade down. Ok, that does happen because they are so easy to break. We got some velcro and pulled it back up, smiled and drove out of the campground. Somewhere along the interstate during this first trip out a rock was thrown back up to our windshield and we have what looks like a bullet shot on the passenger side. Ok, that is what insurance is for. We smiled and continued out journey. Saturday we left Vicksburg a little later than we should have so we crossed the Mississippi into Louisiana where we stopped for fuel at the Love's Truck Stop. While we were there we decided to go ahead and eat a bite of lunch. Mike got us a can coke from the refrigerator and accidentally closed the door but did not latch it. You know where this is going don't you?? The first turn we made the door flung open and of all things the cranberry juice fell out and poured all over the floor. I saw it running toward the living area carpet all nice and red. Mike pulled over and we both started trying to soak up as much as we could with the only two large towels we brought. It was awful. We both decided to return to Vicksburg as quickly as we could so we could park and try to salvage the rug. We went back to the campground where we had stayed the night before and took another site. We then spent the entire evening working on the carpet. By morning it did look better. We know it is there but I hardly doubt anybody else would. We also put a nice carpet runner down the center of our living area so the worse part is always covered. We didn't smile this time and we didn't continue on. We decided to stay the night and regroup. We both decided these sort of things happen to most fulltimers some time or other. We gave each other a pep talk and went to sleep. That brings us up to Sunday. We got up and both decided that this was another day. We were going to put all things behind us and move forward. We were doing so well, having such a nice trip until in Bossier City, Louisiana a kind gentleman and his wife honked at us and motioned for us to pull over. Panic!!!! We pulled over to the emergency lane where the gentleman got out of his car and informed us that our diesel was leaking. Yep, it was leaking alright. The Jeep was covered. We pulled off the interstate and parked the motorhome behind a 24 hour Exxon/truck station. We are in the gravel area. We worked to get the Jeep unhooked and cleaned up a little. We called Coach Net and because it is Sunday we couldn't do anything but wait until Monday. So here we sit in the Days Inn and our motorhome in the gravel truck lot behind the Exxon station. Now we wait to see what has happened. I went on the forum and most of the comments have been that we have a broken fuel line. Don't know what that means by way of time and money but we shall see tomorrow. In the meantime we are stranded in Shreveport. If this is our initiation I certainly hope we have passed and when we get back on the road things begin to get a little smoother. What a beginning!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

On the Road

Well, we finally got to leave Pine Mountain!! Amazing isn’t it? We started the day getting things ready for departure. Since we have never traveled in this motorhome with all of our worldly goods aboard, it took some time to get things packed and secured for travel. We went to LaGrange around 10:30 to visit with our son and have lunch. We decided to do a little shopping at Wal-Mart and then we just had to go over and say good-by to his little dog, Josh. Josh is a special little Shih Tzu, about 5 pounds worth of attitude, that used to travel with us before he became Stephen’s special companion. We finally got back to Pine Mountain RV Resort around 3:30. As we were getting the final things checked off our departure list we broke one of those awful day/night shades in the living area. We have owned three other motorhomes and have never had one to break until today. We had to stop and try to figure how to get the stupid thing up and secure so it didn’t look awful just hanging there. We decided to velcro it up until we can figure out what to do with it. We had to go into Pine Mountain to get the velcro and then Mike managed to get it up and under the valance so it doesn’t even show. I never put those things down in the living area, only the bedroom. I have heard from so many others how easy they are to break and today I got to experience it first hand. Needless to say we were late getting started but made it to Montgomery by 8:00. We decided to stay with Uncle Wally for the night. We didn’t get far but it’s a start.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Indian Springs State park

Yesterday we took a short drive to an area called Indian Springs and visited Indian Springs State Park. This park is located off I-75 in middle Georgia just north of Macon.We have been curious about this state park for some time but have never had time to explore it. We packed a picnic lunch
and left Pine Mountain RV Resort around 11:00 a.m. and found ourselves at Indian Springs around 1:00. There is tremendous history in this area surrounding the Creek Indians. The state park boasts of a spring that was used for centuries by the Creek Indians to heal the sick. The spring is still there today. It is actually a flowing artesian well giving off the most awful sulfur water smell. The park is thought to be one of the oldest in the United States. The facilities include rental cottages, 90 campsites, a nature trail, picnic shelters, group shelter, group camp, 105 acre lake, pedal boats, beach and an 18 hole miniature golf course. We were there on a beautiful Saturday and really enjoyed exploring this historic area.
Since we have been able to take a look at Indian Springs State Park, we now feel comfortable accepting a host position there for the months of February and March. The only state park we have ever hosted at was FDR State Park here in Pine Mountain, so we wanted to be sure of what we were getting ourselves into. We feel very good about spending two months in this location. Our jobs will consist of assisting the campers, cleaning campsites, pulling cards when campers leave and possibly selling wood. Pretty much what we did when hosting at FDR. Getting satellite might be tricky but Mike wants to get a portable dish to use for times when trees might interfere with the roof satellite.
Why host? Everyone finds their own special style of fulltiming. We have been told this by many ,many seasoned fulltimers. Some do the snowbird style where they travel back and forth pretty much from one place to another each year. Some just travel and never workamp or volunteer. Some travel and sit, travel and sit. You get the picture. Mike and I have just started this lifestyle so we really don’t know what style we will fit into but we both agree that we want to volunteer some as we travel. It enables us to stay in one place for a month to perhaps three months free. We are able to learn about the area, get to meet the local folks and /or campers and stay active. Volunteering usually affords you a lot of exploring time. Usually volunteering jobs can be done for shorter time spans such as one month to three months. There might be a time when we might need to workamp where services are exchanged for money, but for now we want to explore the volunteering aspect. So we are hosting at Indian Springs for the months of February and March. We feel good about this.
We returned to the campground around 6:00 and sat outside under the awning and just enjoyed the evening. There is a touch of fall that makes you feel so alive this time of the year. We took our two mile walk and called it a night.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 11th

September 11, 2001 - May we never, never forget!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Getting Ready to Roll

Labor Day is over! The campground was almost completely full including the new area. I know the owners enjoyed seeing the fruits of their labor being enjoyed. The best part of a big vacation such as Labor Day, is watching the families and kids have so much fun. It is nice to see movement and hear the laughter and fun and then its also nice to have the peace and quiet once again. Other than when we hosted this is the first time we got to sit and watch rather than pack up and go home. I remember so well how I always dreaded leaving. The weather was great and all in all, it was a wonderful holiday weekend.

Did I tell you I have hummingbirds?? Yes, I have hummingbirds. I have been so excited. When we lived in our house (in the city) I did everything but stand on my head to get one or two hummers each season. I planted every flower they liked and had five to six feeders going. Since we have been at Pine Mountain RV Resort I have had up to six or seven at one time dive bombing each other to get to the feeder. It is sooooo much fun to watch them. I have had to fill the feeders at least three times since we have been here.

We spent Tuesday going to Columbus (Georgia) for my doctor’s appointment and then back to LaGrange for a repeat test. We are in the process of getting things in order to “roll.” Yeah!!!! We are working on another plan for internet and Mike plans to make an entry on that very soon. We had been trying the Verizon MiFi 2200 but have not been getting a strong signal. He made a call to the 3G Store and we think we have come up with a plan. More on that later.

With a little luck we should be on our way to Texas in the next few days!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Most Incredible Day

Wednesday night our son came down to spend the evening with us and to celebrate my birthday. We went to San Marcos, our favorite restaurant in Pine Mountain. We came back and had cake & ice cream. Stephen decided to spend the night since he was off the next day, so when we got up the next day, we decided to go to Callaway Gardens Resort. The temps were mid 70’s and the sky was clear blue with a gentle breeze. When we got there, it was like we had the gardens to ourselves. We first went to the Discovery Center which is the jumping off place for your visit to the gardens. From there we went to Champions restaurant, the eatery at the golf course. We had a wonderful lunch and a great time visiting while we ate. Years ago I was the recreational food and beverage manager at the gardens so it was nice to see some friends there again. After leaving the restaurant, we walked through Callaway’s Victory Garden. They had all sorts of plant varieties as well as a great vegetable and herb garden. The resort restaurants utilize the herbs from the garden in their foods. After a beautiful walk through the vegetable garden, we took a casual drive to the Butterfly Center. This is a climate controlled indoor sanctuary for butterflies of all varieties. We walked through the center and had butterflies light on our hair and we just enjoyed our time there. After leaving the butterfly center, we went to the Ida Cason Callaway Memorial Chapel. Its beauty is in its simplicity and in its setting that intrigues you to spend a few moments in quiet reflection. It is such an incredible ambience there; we did not want to leave. Gerri’s brother, Larry was married there years ago. From there, our day moved us to visit the Sibley Center. This is a garden/greenhouse that covers five acres of native and exotic plants. There is always something colorful and beautiful there as the displays change 7 to 8 times a year. By the time we finished touring the Sibley Center we were mellowed out so much we decided to return to our motor home and chillax in our recliners under our awning. Stephen had to leave since he had to go to work the next day, so with such a fullness of joy in our hearts for such an incredible day, we parted ways and said goodnight to our son. Wow, what a day.
Just as we thought our day could not get any better, as we were sitting under our awning, some newly acquired friends, Dave & Norma Barker came down and visited with us for the evening. We met them a few days ago when they came to the campground on their way back to Florida. We enjoyed our time together and they are indeed a wonderful couple. It is true; you meet some of the nicest people in the campground. Needless to say, we slept great last night.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ducks in a Row

We have spent the last few days getting our “ducks in a row.” On Monday we went to town and worked on getting our personal business changed so we can work on line. We are trying to get as much of the things we still pay out each month fixed so we can have them automatically deducted or paid on line. It is so nice to be out of debt except for the necessary things such as insurance, satellite, cell phone etc. I am working on changing my prescriptions to Wal-Mart so that they are more accessible when traveling. I take but two prescriptions, Synthroid and Vytorin and I am hoping that when we really get into this lifestyle the Vytorin will not be needed any longer. We’ll see on that. The Synthroid is with me for life.

On Tuesday we took the Jeep back to the dealer to make sure the front end was in alignment. Mike has noticed that it pulls to the right a bit when we are coming to a stop and that can cause wear on the tires. They discovered that it was in line but the tires needed to be rotated in order to help the “pull” to the right situation. It was so funny, the young guys rotating the tires were so intrigued by the tire pressure pro stem caps. They just couldn’t believe that it would let us know if there was a blow out or low pressure. They certainly learned something new yesterday. Anyway, they got the job done and the Jeep now drives and stops so much better.

Today is Mike’s birthday and we plan to take him out for dinner to celebrate. We will have a little cake and ice cream when we get back to the rig. We are both trying to loose a few pounds and it is sooooo hard. Stephen is going to bring his little dog, Josh and spend the night with us. We have started walking the campground each evening and that is helping but we probably need to up the number of miles to get really good results.We’ll work on that. You gotta start somewhere!
That about does it for now. We are just tying up loose ends and getting things in travel order. We are ready to roll.