Monday, February 25, 2013

Texas countryside

We're staying at Four Winds RV Park in Taylor, Texas which is about 35 miles north and east of Austin. Nice little place on a hilltop. Winds today are blowing from about 25 mph with gusts up to 39 mph. Our coach is rockin' !

We'll show you some small towns and some vistas but you have to read all the way through as the reason for our trip is posted at the bottom.

View looking NW at sunset from our RV Park.
On the way west towards Highway 35 we ran into some nasty looking clouds. Fortunately, we got under and past them before they started their thunder, lightning and rain.

February 21 was Kim's birthday...her 35th I we went out to PF Changs for dinner. Look at the size of that chocolate cake we had for desert!

...had to play a round of golf. This public course, like so many small 9-hole courses in Texas, is hard pan. I miss-hit a 7 iron and it rolled 150 yards onto the green anyway!

One of our favorite activities is to drive out in the country to see and feel what that part of where we're staying is really like so, the other day, we took off for a day of country-seeing. Here's a map of where we're going to take you.

You can see Taylor just above and to the right of Austin. Our drive took us even more up and right towards Cameron.

Town of Granger, Texas. Population 1,479. Used to be bustling town for cotton and the railroad. Now, the Main St. is pretty much empty except for the Post Office and the Feed Store. But so quaint.

This is the rip-roaring town of  Bartlett. Population 1,677.

Now we move on to the metropolis called Davilla. Population 1,382, but most of them are in the outskirts of town.

These four building are pretty much at the four corner intersection and that's about it for Davilla, Texas.

Kim and I are suckers for small, out-of-the-way cemeteries and this one called to us.

These that had such a short life always makes us tear up.

Kim just LOVED this tree so we had to take a photo...such great structure.

As you can see, this part of Texas is wide open.

What would a ride in the country be without some cow photos? And we found some Texas longhorns too.

"...and what do you think you're looking at !!?? " 

Now, we had a destination in mind when we took off. We look at to find out of the way, quirky places to visit as we travel. And one of those places is called "The World's Largest Purple Martin Apartment Complex" Purple Martin is a bird and this fellow has built, out of aircraft aluminum, these many, many birdhouses for the Purple Martins.

Here is an excerpt from the site:

"Mike McCormick is the owner and he designs and builds all of the houses out of aircraft aluminum. He tops them with a weather vane and a unique colored glass ball.

 We counted 55 houses, each with 12 compartments and a ‘billboard’ with 312 compartments on both sides which total a whopping 1,284 to compartments (approximately since we could have missed a house or two). There are hundreds of martins present on the houses and actively flying across this ranch environment."

This is the "Apartment Complex" that Mike (the owner) built. He said it took him a year in his spare time to make and it's about 20% occupancy. Maybe he needs to lower the rent!

The owner, Mike, saw us taking photos and drove out on his ATV so we ended up chatting a bit. I asked him about these webs on each pole. He said that's to prevent snakes from going up the pole and eating the bird's eggs. 

He also said he puts the poles about 32 inches into the ground and that the aluminum does not get as hot as you would think so the birds do fine. The summer of 2011, Texas had over 90 consecutive days of over 100 degrees and, as a consequence, many Purple Martin babies dies because the food supply also diminished. The Purple Martin eats flying bugs.
Purple Martin

Pretty huh?
The sound of all these birds made for a delightful melody way out in the country. If you want to hear their call, you can go here to listen to an mp3.

Well, this one was a bit lengthy but we hope you enjoyed it.

Kim and Steve

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Some Jigsaws

One of our favorite evening activities while travelling (ranked ahead of TV and surfing the web) is to put jigsaw puzzles together at our dining room table. We cut up a bunch of veggies and maybe some fruit, put on some tunes and settle down for a relaxing evening of brain twisting pieces of jigsaws. I know, it sounds corny and old-fashioned, but it's a great couple of hours (sometimes over a night or two) that we spend uninterrupted time together (except for feeding the cats periodically).

I know, I's not as exciting as museums, battleships, gardens, etc...but it will show you how life is on the road for us.

This is what our "workplace" looks like for a typical evening. Of course, we need to cover up the board at night if we're not done so the two furry creatures that live with us don't walk all over it and take it apart. (They love to mess with us like that).

Plate of veggies and fruit to munch on. Oh, and that is my HTC 8x Windows 8 phone attached to a Kinivo ZX100 Mini Portable Speaker that I bought from Amazon for around $ portable speaker.

Here are some example of our completed puzzles and some closeups to show the wonderful detail in them.

This boy REALLY wants that sled for Christmas. 

This one had gorgeous colors to work with...the trees at the top were left for can see why....all the pieces are very similar

We stayed at an RV Park on the outskirts of Houston for a few days and, inside their clubhouse, they had a combination library, computer spot and a puzzle room! You can see the tables with puzzle squares and some puzzles in progress. The people would come in from time to time to continue as some of them seemed, not only very challenging, but over 2,000 pieces! Yikes !!

...some examples of completed puzzled on the wall and ours in the foreground on the table.

No, this is not a's a jigsaw puzzle...and, from the looks of it...a tough one.

This is the kind we like. Only 500 pieces and easy-to-grip and interlocking !! 

Here is one we completed last night (Tuesday the 18th of February).

We'll post some of the other adventures in the Texas BBQ Trail, the fabulous Texas Aquarium in Corpus Christi and, if I ever get around to it, my four days of exploring the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania.

Hope you enjoy this one.