Waco

When our daughter told us in 2008 she was taking a job in Waco, Texas, we were a bit surprised. Waco? Texas? For a girl who has always loved big cities and had lived in Santa Clara, California for the previous 4 years, Texas had never (to our knowledge) been on her radar. But that’s where the job was, and she was ready to go. We were able to help her move in and since we had to be in Central TX every September for the next 5 years for SOWER business, it worked out well for us to spend a bit of extra time with her. There was the 7 week kitchen remodel in 2010 and the fire-pit that Gary built between SOWER projects in the fall of 2011. We built a fancy bed, made thousands of Christmas cookies, rebuilt great lengths of fence and watched hours of HGTV at that little house in Waco. We celebrated birthdays and Thanksgivings and Christmases there. The last year she was in Waco we even camped at Lake Waco for the month of December and Gary hung out a “Hire Lara’s Dad” shingle. He did all kinds of odd jobs for Lara’s friends – who had, over the years, become our friends too!
So when Lara decided that it was time to say good-bye to Waco and move her life up to Columbus, we were a bit conflicted.  Of course, we wanted what was best for her, and we’d support her in her move, but Leave Waco? What about that darling house? What about the Kitchen? What about the Fire-pit? What about The Ultimate Bed? WHAT ABOUT OUR WACO PEEPS!!!! (Get a grip, Steph, this really wasn’t about you!) I knew that if it was hard for us to process her leaving Waco and her life there, that it was all the more difficult for her – regardless of her excitement about a fresh start in Columbus.  We were too far away to help with this move. All we could do was pray her through it.
The point to this walk down memory lane (even if you don’t check out any of the links, it sure was fun for me to find them and see all the people we’ve come to love!), is to say that last weekend we did a quick run to Waco. Huntsville is as close to Waco as we were going to get this year, so it was now or never!
On our way to Waco! You know you're in Texas if the speed limit on the interstate is 75 and the speed limit on THIS road is 70. #crazy
About 150 miles of good Texas road. (To my non-Texan friends – the speed limit on this road is 70. Yes, 70. But I digress…..)
While we didn’t get to see all of our friends, we did a manage to see many of them. Friday evening we enjoyed dinner at Jenna and Steve’s with about a dozen other folks, helping to celebrate Henry’s 7th birthday.

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Henry
(I’m sorry, but when did that happen????)
Sadly, I failed to get pictures of the gang at the Swansons, but the next day I did better! We had breakfast at “the house” with previous housemates MaryBeth and Nate (who had gotten married since we saw them last) and were joined by Katie (who had moved into her own place a little more “downtown”). What a sweet visit we had!
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From there we went to better acquainted with this little guy –
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Last time we were in Waco, his mom had whispered to us that she was pregnant. :) So lovely to get to know Jonah and catch up with his Mom and Dad. (And let’s face it, I’m always happy to do some baby squeezing!).
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While we didn’t get to hug ALL of our Waco friends, it did our hearts good to love on the ones we could! Kristen, Heather, Marcus, Hugh, Caryn, Michael and the rest……sorry we missed you! Next time we’ll have to give it a bit more planning.
Hey – next time let’s make sure that Lara, Herbert and Alexandra come too! Then we can really party!

As a special bonus for the beautiful weekend, we were treated to this on the way home –
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God has been very kind to us, indeed!

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Huntsville, TX

Ready.
Set.
Go.
Shout out all the stuff you know about Huntsville, TX!
…….
…….
………………

Alright, I’ll go first.
Well, to start with, it is the Home of Sam Houston.
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I’d like to say this Sam Houston fellow was a pretty interesting guy. He was born in Virginia and moved with his family to Tennessee when he was 14. There are a lot of ins and outs to his story, but over his lifetime he: lived with the Cherokee Nation, was the 7th Governor of Tennessee (and built the first school there when he was 19 (quite a few years before he was Governor)), relocated to Texas, became a leader in the Texas Revolution and was elected as the the first and and then the third President of the Republic of Texas. Once Texas became a state, he served as one of its Senators for 15 years. In 1859 he became the 7th Governor of Texas. As governor, he refused to swear loyalty to the Confederacy when Texas seceded from the Union in 1861 with the outbreak of the Civil War, and was removed from office. He retired to Huntsville where he died before the end of the war. Needless to say, he’s a pretty big deal in Huntsville –
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A Really Big Deal (as in holding the world record for the tallest statue of an American Hero at 77 ft. tall).
A virtual giant of a man!
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Along with the statue (which overlooks Interstate 45) there are a couple other “Sam Houston” remembrances in Huntsville –
Sam Houston State University –
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which has a student population of almost 20,000!
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Sam Houston’s Home
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The Sam Houston Museum (we’re saving that for another day) and an adjoining park.
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And, since he died in Huntsville, it is also home to his grave –
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….which is surrounded by many lesser known folk.
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(I just love walking around old cemeteries!)
There is also the Sam Houston National Forest located just east of town. Matter of fact, our project (Forest Glen) is located in the SHNF and we can certainly attest to the fact that we are indeed, parked in the forest.
Parked in the forest.
But Huntsville is also the home of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Within the city limits are 5 different prison facilities and the TDCJ is the largest employer in the city. It should come as no surprise that with that kind of ‘atmosphere’ there is also a Texas Prison Museum.
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Now in the 10+ years that we’ve been driving around this country I figure we’ve been to 2543 museums (give or take). Everything from The Air and Space Museum (Washington, DC) to the Barbed Wire Museum (somewhere in Kansas). As subject matter, I confess a Prison Museum is pretty low on the list (bad people being treated (for the most part) badly). But this one surprised me. Oh, not enough to put it up in the top 10 or anything, but it was pretty interesting. It was very forthright about its not so humane past and did a good job finding something positive about the prison history.
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The Texas Prison Rodeo and prison ‘art’ were just some of the positives! I was surprised at how many kids were there with their folks (and apparently it’s pretty busy during the week with school trips), but I loved how this little one was dealing with the subject matter.
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Gotta love a girl and her doll, just trying to pass the time in the museum!

So there you have it – a couple of tidbits about Huntsville, TX. I’m pretty sure there will be more to explore, so stay tuned for developments!

OK – now it’s your turn……

(More Huntsville photos Here, just in case you wanted to see more!)

 

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Actually doing the homework!

I guess you can tell that I’ve been trying to do some of my Blogging 101 homework. If you’ve stopped by before you can see that I’ve not only changed my header picture, but I’ve also changed the whole template. It’s similar (I really like being able to easily change that header picture), but different. I’ve been learning about things called widgets and plug-ins and figuring out how to tweak the layout of things. Aside from main template change I’ve also –

  • Updated my “About Us” Page.  Not a big change, just tried to freshen it up a bit. :)
  • Added a Flickr widget in the sidebar that scrolls through my last 20 uploaded pictures. If you click on the “big” picture it will take you to all of my pictures over on Flickr, so that’s pretty cool.  And the widget itself is a pretty cool gizmo.  I can also have it just show pictures with a certain “tag” – like the cabin in the spring!
  • Added a page for my Instagram photos too! I don’t know how useful that will be, but it was fun to figure out how to make it work.
  • Re-installed the contact form on the “Contact Us” page. So if you’d like to contact us via email instead of leaving a contact that option is back.
  • Finally got the RV picked up after our unpacking and monthly mail delivery.  OK, so that’s not actually Blogging 101 homework, but it sure is Home Work! And it sure needed to be done!

If you have a moment I’d love to hear how you like the changes. Or how you don’t.  Is something missing that used to be on the page?  I was pretty happy with the previous blog-look and was in no hurry to change, but sometimes it’s fun to shake it up a bit! And I think this old dog even learned a new trick or two in the process!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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Ten Bonus Blessings from The Grand Tour

We were blessed beyond measure during our time with the kids and the grands. Those precious good-night hugs, reading a favorite story to a little one, having the tiniest one fall asleep in your arms, even snuggling under the blanket and watching a movie. Losing at Dutch Blitz. Losing at Dutch Blitz again. So many precious memories – and so many blessings. But with driving over 3000 miles in those two weeks, there were some Bonus Blessings that I’d like to share (in no particular order):

  1. Fuel Prices 
    This of course was a blessing to just about everyone this holiday season, but when you rack up over 3000 miles being able to purchase gasoline at record low prices was HUGE.  The lowest price we paid for gas – $1.68/gal in Marysville, OH.  Highest – 2.33 in Lancaster, PA.  Average price – $2.00 These are some of the lowest prices we have paid for gas since we hit the road in August 2004.  Total dollars spent on fuel for the Grand Tour – $313.00.  Sa-weet.  (Now if those Diesel prices would just come down a bit …..)
  2. Clear roads
    Except for some expected traffic around the cities, we were blessed with light traffic for all of our travels.  Does this girl’s heart good!
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  3. Clear weather
    We came in behind (and totally missed) a drenching rain that hit the East just before Christmas and as the journey progressed we never drove in a bit of snow. Phew. And it snowed enough to close the schools the day after we left Columbus. Dodged a bullet on that one. Phew again.
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    Heading home, ready to be in our own bed, but holding back the tears as we leave our precious kids and grands. What a Grand Tour this has been. #theGrandTour
  4. Bonus Family visit
    Whoohoo! – we made a quick stop to see my sister and some of her family before we got to our kids in Lancaster.  We were so delighted to see these folks – including some little ones that Gary had never even met!  It was a great prelude to The Grand Tour – we got in lots of practice hugs!
    Family hugs have begun. 😍 #theGrandTour
  5. Local restaurants
    Thanks to Yelp.com we were able to enjoy some funky local restaurants.  We especially enjoyed The Little Grill Collective in Harrisonburg, VA. Yum!
    Breakfast is on its way! Last leg of the first leg is about to begin! We'll be hugging family before we know it!  #theGrandTour
  6. Staying in Motels
    Since we usually travel with our own accommodations, we don’t actually have a lot of motel smarts. So traveling over Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day I was a little apprehensive about accommodations.  Oh, I was pretty sure there would be availability, just not too sure what would be open.  Turns out the Hospitality Industry does not take Christmas off. Not only that,  but the Days Inn in Gadsden, AL (our first night – Christmas Eve) was having a “this night only” special for $28.00.  Yep, that’s $28.00. Crazy.  A nice clean room, all the standard amenities including a nice continental breakfast with those make-your -own Belgium waffles.  $28.00.  I’m still amazed at that.  The next night we were at a Motel 6 ($52.00 with no standard amenities (not even a box of tissues) and no breakfast.  But it was clean and we slept well.) Our return trip had us in a Super 8 – same price as the Motel 6 but with tissues and breakfast )  Anyway – we were blessed to be in clean safe motels each night of our journey, something we should never take for granted.  (Especially having driven through the night on several occasions in the past!)
  7. Bringing Food
    We had packed the standard (for us) road food – Cheez-its, pretzels, Fritos,  granola bars, and  baby carrots (for when you start feeling guilty about all the junk you are consuming) for munching along the way, but at the last minute I threw in some lunch meat and rolls in case we wanted to stop for a little picnic. (Guess I forgot that we were driving NORTH).  Any who – after we got settled in at the Motel 6 after a long Christmas day of driving, we decided to grab a bite at the Waffle House across the street.  Now I have to confess, the Waffle House is pretty low on my “places I want to eat” list, but on Christmas Day it’s about the only game in town.  Particularly within walking distance of the Motel 6.  Imagine our dismay (or was it relief?) when we were told that there would be a 45 minute wait for a table. Actually, imagine our surprise when we saw someone taking names at the door of a Waffle House.  Thankfully we had not eaten all that sandwich stuff so we were spared a night of growling stomachs (which might have happened if we had waited our turn at the Waffle House or not.) The next morning we found that sweet Cooperative Grill, so that more than made up for our sketchy Christmas dinner.
  8. Beautiful scenery
    Oy – we do live in a beautiful country.  Even the interstates take you through amazing beauty.
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  9. The John Bonus
    Heading south we were able to hook-up with our SOWER buddy John Stoner for one of our overnights.  His sweet wife Rosie was off taking care of her mom, but it was so lovely to spend time with this dear friend. It was quick – just dinner and an overnight, but oh so worth it!
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  10. The Bill Bonus
    We set up our stop with John before we left Ohio, but imagine our delight when we “just happened” to connect with another friend as we were driving through Louisiana! At Gary’s suggestion I contacted him to see if he had made it to TX yet and he said that he had just gotten on I12.  Wait a minute, WE just got on I12.  We were able to connect for a late breakfast at the next exit.  God is so good!
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Thanks for coming along for the Blessing Bonus! Hope you can find some unexpected blessing in your day too!

Psst – there are a few more “down the road” shots HERE if you’re interested!

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Homework or……

Homework – Shomwork. Let’s get to those cute babies, right?  (I’m pretty sure the homework police can’t find me here, anyway!)

Ah, yes – the Grand Tour!  Louisiana to Lancaster (PA), to Gahanna (OH) to Marysville (OH) and then back to Louisiana (Eunice, to be exact!). 3045 Miles.  So many miles. And so many smiles!
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First up was this beautiful family! We hadn’t seen these guys since last summer – and that is way too long! Our time together was too short (and the big camera never even got out of the car) so there just aren’t a lot of pictures. But trust me – this was a precious visit indeed!
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Before we get to see them again a baby brother will be added to the family! We’re so excited for them – and so happy that they were the first stop on The Grand Tour!
From there it was west to Gahanna, OH – and these dear ones-
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Ack – that little Alexandra has grown so much (she’s a whopping three months old now!) and is such a delight!
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Lara and I were able to steal away for some girl time – oh, so precious!
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(The fact that it involved some great post-Christmas bargains and a quick stop at Shake ‘N Shake only added to the joy!)
New Years Day was our official “Ohio Christmas” and Toby and Tammy and family joined us in Gahanna for a day of wonderful family chaos!
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This is as close as I came to getting all the kids into one picture! If you include all of the legs/feet in view I think they are all accounted for.
The “big” camera did make it in from the car for this celebration and it was available for anyone to use. You just never know what you’ll find when the pictures are downloaded!

 

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While most of the gift giving was centered around the kiddos, Lara did find a pretty special item for Gary –
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Love it!
We missed our Lancaster family, but the day was filled with love and laughter, games and giggles, and too much food. A wonderful, wonderful day!
After our celebration we packed our bags for our final destination – Marysville and the very busy Conrad Seven!
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We broke out the dress up clothes that I’d been collecting for them and had some quality fantasy time.
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OK, so Reis wasn’t so interested in the dress up clothes, but he sure had some fun with his dad a little later on!

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Wheeeeee!!!!!
We got the whole family together one more time for a joint Birthday Bash and enjoyed some black light miniature golf.

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Who knew there was even such a thing as black light miniature golf?  A good time was had by all (and Eleana even won a free game by getting a hole in one on the last hole.)

And just a couple more favorites –
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Man, I love these folks! We were so blessed to be able to spend time with each of these families and found that each mile driven was totally worth it! You know there are more pictures, so if you’d to see more of these beautiful people you can check out the whole album HERE!  You know you want to!

Now about that Homework. Just so you don’t think I’m totally derelict in following through on my Blogging 101 assignments, I thought I’d list them out so you can see just how I’m doing.
Monday’s assignment: write and publish a “who I am and why I’m here” post. Check.
Tuesday’s assignment: edit your title and tagline. Since this class is geared towards new bloggers, I wasn’t sure that I needed to actually do this. I mean, it’s been over 10 years that I’ve written as RV There Yet. I think changing it at this point would be confusing (to me if no one else!). I’m also pretty happy with my tagline – Seeing the country, Serving the Lord. I’ll give it some additional thought, but I think I’m OK.
Wednesday’s assignment: follow five new topics in the Reader and five new blogs. Man. One thing I haven’t had a lot of this week is spare time to do much blog surfing, but I did look at a few. Maybe I can check out a couple more next week.
Thursday’s Assignment: publish a post for your dream reader, and include a new-to-you element in it. OK, I really fell short on this one. First, deciding who my dream reader is (isn’t it you?) and second trying to figure out the “new-to-you” element aspect. Again, it’s that time thing.
Friday’s assignment: try out at least three other themes — even if you’re happy with the one you first chose. Try one you’re drawn to, and one you would never use. Again – I’m pretty happy with the way the blog looks, but I’m not adverse to checking out some new ideas. See above excuse.

Thankfully we have the weekend “off”, so if nothing else I’ve had a chance to organize how much I haven’t gotten done.  But I’ve appreciated all of the ideas of this class AND the fact that no one is collecting these homework assignments.  To those who have commented – thank you for your input!  I think I’ll keep pressing on with these assignments – couldn’t hurt, right?

Have a great week, everyone! We start our project work tomorrow so it will be an interesting and full day for us.

So much for the spare time, right?

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