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Saturday December 23rd - home gas $2.19
Today is Marlene's birthday, happy birthday Mar.  We're patiently waiting for our Christmas celebrations to wind down so we can point the camper south.  At this point in time we're thinking of heading to the same area we've visited over the past few years.  As in the past I suspect we'll make the final decision on route I-75.

Our estimated date of departure is Saturday December 30th. Our weather today is overcast with a moderate temperature of 37º, San Benito TX, 72º.   I can wait.....


The sole purpose of this effort is to record our activities for personal reference and so the family can keep tabs on us should something arise. At this point in time in our lives is seems every conversations evolves around mis-quotes, confusion as to which city was visited first, which vacation we stayed where. Referring back to these efforts has proven to be rewarding...

Wednesday December 27th

Family Christmas party at cousin LuAnn & Chris' this day. Had a real nice time visiting with the 'out of town' family. I was hard pressed to learn that had I follow cousin Jim's example and bought American Tobacco (sold, different name now) I would of realized 600% gain this year. On top of that the Chinese want to buy the company now at 28% over market value.. Don't they know smoking is bad for them...

Thursday December 28th
This night Tom Katz Christmas dinner at Dimitri's Rendezvous. We occupied the private party room and that worked out very well for us. I really enjoyed the party this year cause my meal was terrific, Chicken Augustine. The was the best meal I had out in years. Of course I understand everyone wasn't so fortunate. Orlando's meal was hard to describe I was told. Most of the woman brought in desserts so we had lots to choose from. To top off the evening Tom called a few tips so we could work off some of those delicious desserts. I think everyone went home satisfied.

Tom Katz Christmas dinner pictures



Friday December 29th - home gas $2.19   to visitors center south of Covington KY

Finished packing and filled the propane for $30 (10.5 gal). On I-94 at 2:30 pm heading to Ohio.

Cloudy and mild leaving but sunshine in Toledo for the rest of the day.. Pulled into the familiar visitor's rest area around 8 pm, tired!

295miles  all day.


Saturday December 30th - visitors center south of Covington KY gas $2.26  to Natchez Trace TN
idn't sleep well last night, chilly should of turned the furnace on. Filled up this morning and heading toward Louisville KY. Overcast and 60º. Pleasant drive a little more traffic than yesterday. Passed Louisville and stopped for gas just before entering the Natchez Trace, southwest of Nashville. Carol took over for the final leg to the Meriwether Campground. Pulled in about 5pm It started raining and rained.

328 miles all day


Sunday December 31st     Natchez Trace TN  to  Tupelo MS   camp $9
A Whopping 151 miles today and Mom drove all the way (pic).  We're spending the night at a Corp. of Engineers park. Half off for us older folks, Golden Pass Port. It's the Jamie Whitten COE formally Fulton City Park.

Beautiful day today warm and sunny. This turned out to be our most stressful days for no reason at all. We spent a couple hours in the visitors center parking lot. Had a snack there and made some calls. Then in and out for consultation and directions (Nick). Since it was still early in the day I though I would seek free internet in town as we were driving through town anyway. In an out a couple parking lots until we settled on the Jameson Inn where they provided a 4 bar signal. Took care of business and a few more calls, another hour. It's getting on to 4pm and we still have twenty miles to go. Though I'd connect the GPS for ease of travel, another hour. Now evening is fast setting in and I find my GPS appears to have bitten the dust. Getting directions on the fly from Mom who has the map upside down. We pulled in at twilight, just enough light left to get connected.

Happy New year!

151 miles all day


Monday January 1st 2007  Fulton MS all day
Overcast and cold all day.  Took Dieter for a walk through the park, nice large sites here (pic), then a drive around the area. Not much to report, a small clean town and very very quite this New Year's day. (Is there suppose to be an apostrophe there? Mary?). Had to call Glenn to make arrangements to take our passports over to Nick's, seems we forgot to pack them. Nick is planning to depart Tuesday afternoon so I think we'll meet up before Texas.

Stopped at Wal  Marts, of course. Found a strong WiFi signal in their lot, got caught up on communications.     Lot of phone calls today.  


Tuesday January 2nd      Fulton MS gas $2.17  to Port Gibson MS  camp $13  
Sun Shine!  Filled up headed back to the Trace and headed south. Mom took the helm again while I  relaxed. (hmmm). Sun felt warm and I was really getting into the co-pilot stuff. Turning radio stations, playing CDs and the likes, when just as I turned my head from the radio there was a large deer not 15 foot in front me. Before I could shout and before Carol could lift her foot from the gas pedal the doe was passed. If there was 3 foot between the deer and the rig I'd be surprised. Fortunately it happened so fast the adrenalin didn't even get a chance to pump. We pause for a moment and calmly cleaned the seats before resuming...  It really bothered Dieter (pic)

Talked with Nick & Patti this afternoon, they're on the road.

 We did stop along the trace to stretch our legs (pic)


Wednesday January 3rd  Port Gibson MS 
Investigative day. First the park we're in, Grand Gulf Military Park.

The Park is civil war related and holds some interesting history. The 13" mortar (pic) I found interesting, but the abandon cemetery is your Mom's favorite (pic). I fancy the stone scripts (pic).

It's locate just outside of Port Gibson, "The Town too beautiful to burn" General Grant once said. Carol just said "He must of been blind!" 

Drawn here by brochures, we were kind of taken back as we drove through the streets. There are some once beautiful home I'm sure, but time has not been kind to Port Gibson. Most everything looks tired and in need of a lot of TLC.

Just outside of town stood the remains of what was a beautiful plantation home (pic). It took 21,000 acres of farming cotton to afford this home. This is what it once looked like (pic)


Thursday January 4th   Port Gibson MS   to  Natchez MS   camp visitor center free
Happy Birthday Glenn !

What a Day! Started raining shortly after we left and it's been raining on and off ever since, just like the weatherman said it would. He also said sunny and warm tomorrow. Fingers are crossed.

Been on the phone several times with Nick and Pat today. He said his water tank is leaking and he can't find out from where. Patti is in a tizzy. He has an appointment to take it in to Jackson MS tomorrow morning. He said it empties about 75%, the pump does not run continuous, so the leakage must be confined to the tank. I asked why so concerned? Most stays are at campgrounds with hosed water so it should not be a problem. He agreed but said he wants everyone happy.

We stopped in the big city of Natchez MS in hopes of finding a 'hot spot' and to our chagrin we could not connect. We found a ton of sites but they were all locked. The ones we could connect to are dead slow.  So it's back to the camper and a cell phone connection. Main reason for looking is  high speed for email. I've been on with the cell several times but I can't get all the email downloaded because of the size of some mail. Then if I disconnect the next connection it tries to down load the same messages again only there are a few more now. This evening I got through almost half and then lost connection.. groan.  So I'll put the mail on hold I'm sure we'll find high speed.

While we were searching for the internet Mom steered the car right into an antebellum home. (pic) We spent a couple of hours touring... 

I guess we're here for the night.



Friday January 5th    Natchez MS to Woodworth LA   gas $2.03   :-)  camp $14
Did I say yesterday was "What a Day"?  Talked with Nick and Pat first thing this morning. Dealer said it may be a couple of days before they will be able to complete any repairs. Nick said no thanks and they would be seeing us in a couple of hours. So Mom and I decided, while we were waiting, we would search out the Main Street Market where last year we tried to buy some Beignets that we were told were as good as Cafe Du Monde only to find they closed at 2 pm.  it was 1:55 pm.

This time we were there at 9 am. The Market appears to have been an open air Market with both side walls lined with large garage doors, which they still open daily. We order a half dozen Beignets and a couple cups of dark chicory coffee. We also had healthy egg and sausage. (pic)  The Beignets are made fresh for each order and were very very good good but.....  not quite Cafe Du Monde.

After breakfast we returned to the visitors center to await the Riesers arrival. They arrived around 11 am and after all the hand shaking and hugs we motored again across the Dieter bridge into Louisiana. We're seeking an early stop so the Riesers can shake out their stressful days over a couple Margaritas and a hot meal..  

As we approached the campground it was necessary to make a turn-around. After completing my turn and proceeding down the road Carol said "Looks like the Riesers are stopping for a minute." Thinking a potty break. Then we heard STRESS a screech from the CB a loud "BOB WE'RE STUCK." Later Nick said "I don't know why she used the CB." There on the rain soaked lawn of vacant commercial property was a stuck in the mud rig. (pic)

After scratching our heads and a couple feeble attempts a young man in a hefty pickup offered some help and he was able to pull the stuck rig out. Thank goodness.

Needless to say the Margaritas went down easily. 

Tomorrow? we'll see....

90 miles all day


Saturday January 6th  Woodworth LA   to Crystal Beach TX   gas $1.99  :-))  Camp $11 PA
Big dive day but we finally made the Gulf of Mexico. We settled at Bolivar RV located a few miles east of Galveston TX. That four hour trip took just over seven hours. We are planning on staying here two nights, driving to the Space Center tomorrow and maybe a little of Galveston before continuing south. 

202 miles all day


Sunday January 7th  Crystal Beach TX
Spent the day at the Johnston Space Center. A very nice facility, a lot of hands on stuff like landing a shuttle. Your door charge of $17.95 includes most everything like the movies (I Max), a tramp tour of mission control (pic), and the full scale mock-up lab (pic).  A good day!


Monday January 8th  Crystal Beach TX
Tourist day. We all elected to spend another night so we could roam downtown Galveston. We're just a ferry ride away. This area of Texas has ferries instead bridges (I think) because of the large cargo that's unique to this area, mainly oil platforms that are routinely move in and out for repair and storage.  The ferries are FREE. 

There's is just a whole bunch of boats in this bay. It's nothing to see ten to fifteen freighters standing around (pic). We did a little shopping a little lunch and of course an old fashion ice cream parlor.

Nick & Pat took in the tour of the drilling platform while Mom and I walked the wharf. A cruise ship, in the process of loading, is docked near a square rigger. Quite a contrast (pic)(pic).

Vultures awaiting a meal (pic) lined the rail on the ferry ride home .  Back home we enjoyed a relaxing sunset (pic)

Spent the late evening posting email and dance pictures for the square dancers back home.


Tuesday January 9th  Crystal Beach TX to Port Aransas TX  Gas $2.05 camp $15.50
Drive day!  Leisure start and an uneventful drive along the coast. Beautiful sunny warm day. We pulled on to the beach around 5pm. www.nuecesbeachparks.com

As soon as camp was set up we all opted to dine out, Taqueria San Juan Restaurant. Our first Mexican dinning adventure at a previously enjoyed location. The food, service and price were as good as last year.

We plugged in for a weeks stay but Nick & Pati have reservations in the valley and will be leaving a little earlier.


226 miles all day 


Wednesday January 10th  Port Aransas TX
Perfect day.  Walked the beach during the day and an ice cream cone at night.


Thursday January 11th  Port Aransas TX
Walked the beach in the am, then an afternoon in Fulton to do lunch and Wal Mart. 

We ate at Charlotte Plummers, a good eatery on the waterfront (pic) and enjoyed Amberjack. In the evening the Marine Science  Institute, an extension of the University of Texas, puts on a weekly presentation usually on marine life, movies, slides, etc.  Well tonight is the season's first, a lecture slide presentation of ethnography, analysis of,  "The Log from the Sea of Cortez."

Well I guess I should have researched ethnography before the presentation because it was a very dry lecture on basically communication. Now to my benefit I could apply some techniques to my daily log so I found it some what interesting. Whereas Nick only benefited from an hours more sleep. 

Now isn't that the way it always is. We've sat in on numerous presentations over the past several years, and everyone was very interesting and worthwhile. They always fill the auditorium with a couple hundred visitors. As soon as you share your excitement they put on a presentation like none other. I guess the best thing about this presentation it was only and hour long.

We returned home to cap the evening with a game of Wizard which restored Nick's enthusiasm as he was victorious.

ethnography            Lecture series


Friday January 12th  Port Aransas TX
Big news day from back home! Got word from Ron Reuter that Tom Bankstahl announced he will end his Tom Katz calling career after the May dance. We talked today with Tom who said with dwindling membership and fewer and fewer  dancers it was time for him to retire. I'm sure the news sadden the hearts of all of his long time followers.

This morning the Riesers pulled up staked and headed down to the Valley. Caller Nasser has asked Story to join him in calling at the Fun 'N' Sun park this Saturday. With those two callers joining force it should be a great event. Since were not dancing yet we're foregoing the event. We'll catch-up again in a week or so.

Nick brought over more sad news at his departure this morning, "Beeman's was closed." (pic)  Beeman's was the source of fresh made Cinnabuns.  Nick left us with doughnuts purchased elsewhere as a departing gift. Thank you Nick.

We put seven miles on our bikes today as the weather continued mild. Getting back on the bikes felt real good for the first four and half minutes. These bones need a lot of TLC any more.. We toured town and returned home to watch Oprah evaluate Pizza on her show. It took about three minutes to get in the car and drive over to a local pub that made fresh pizza. The bar was definitely red-neck back woods with raw plywood floors, extension cords running all over from overloaded receptacles, and several interesting characters sitting on bar stools with foam cushioning hanging out. No glasses or table wear, paper towel was ripped off as the barmaid said "If you need more holler." The more I looked around the more I wondered if I really needed pizza. It was served hot and went down easy so all turned out well..

Spent the evening on the phone with Mary Berg, who is looking forward to her knee replacement. Mary Ann Reuter who gave us all the details on the Katz board meeting. Errol Atkinson who was preparing for his BIG birthday..  

Saturday January 13th  Port Aransas TX
Dieter Dieter Dieter. He is a great dog... BUT.  

Gloomy is the day, started off with a nice beach walk, freighter observation, and area car ride. Upon returning from the car ride Dieter could see a Doberman roaming freely around the mostly empty campground. Naturally he's hard pressed against the car window slobbering it all up. The Doberman is some 100 yards away but Dieter loves big and black. I exited the car and was opening the camper when I noticed a black streak out of the corner of my eye. I turned towards Mom who was standing at the car with the back door open, "Dieter got out!"  Groan.  I could see down field he was all over the Doberman. The couple attending the free reigned dog seem un-concerned. Mom drove over and of course the wonderful pooch came right to her.

Now here is where I need the dog whisper. Example: The other day we are on the beach and turned the mute loose to roust the flocks of beach birds. Of course he goes nuts trying to jump into the air and bite the birds. As he runs the birds obligingly fly another twenty feet away. So in a matter of minutes he's chased them some 200 feet down the beach with extra long leash in tow. I nice lady who was so far away I could barely see was waving with dog leash in hand. He's in the middle of a car/people area and no birds, so as I close in and call his name he tugs the leash and comes to me. Now after taken the reward does he think the reward is for coming to me or for wildly barking and chasing birds?

Sunday January 14th  Port Aransas TX
Cold front didn't show today so we biked and had a Mexican lunch out. Met a nice couple from Minnesota while biking, talked for an hour. They've be coming down here for eight years and had insight to all the local color. We talked with some more friends but didn't get much reply (pic). Relaxed the rest of the day looking out the camper window (pic).

Monday January 15th  Port Aransas TX
Berrr.. cold windy and wet. This is BAD..  It was an in house day all.. day.  Shake rock and roll'n. Had to do Wal Mart just to keep up our moral. Gassed the car for $1.99  Weather forecast isn't encouraging.. Goodnight!

Tuesday January 16th  Port Aransas TX to Pharr TX    Texas Trails campground $480 one month.
Looking brighter this morning. Packed up and looked over the map to pick a destination.. Hmmm Fort Meyers Florida record highs 86º and sunny.  Boy that's a long drive from here. We were thinking Padre Island but to sit there for a week waiting for the weather at premium  rent didn't seem to make much since, so we'll head for Pharr were we'll in the center of the populated valley. 

We caught a nice tailwind all day, mileage should be good. Pulled into Texas Trails about 4:00 pm. Pulled up to the office and had park greeter welcome us. Hello Nick! 
A quick ride around we found this to be a very appealing RV Park. Nice size lots, very clean and well maintained. Free wifi in the main building and in your camper for an added cost.
185 miles all day.

Wednesday January 17th    Pharr TX 
Still cold, warming trend should reach 70º by the weekend. Went to our first dance this morning to test Mom's foot. Dance started at 10 am with more than 28 squares. It was like being home in Michigan with Nick & Pat Rieser, John Grozenski & Marilyn Yeikowski, Bob & Dot Strehlke , Bob & Nancy Crampton, Bruce & Vera Raven, Gabe & Martha Stahl, and a couple other couples from near by communities all wintering in the Valley.

We danced a couple of tips to Joe Saltel at Tropic Stare RV Resort. Very nice RV park with a nice hall, cost for dancing $8 couple, that appears to the standard down here. Joe ended the dance with a Hot Hash (we sat out) maybe not as fast as Tom Roper's but everyone was moving and really enjoyed it. I would sure like to see a caller in Michigan call a Hot Hash. 
Afterwards we all had lunch at a  nearby Taco Fiesta Restaurant. It was a two hour lunch we all enjoyed. Can you believe a large lunch for two $10.54, that's with large drinks and all the chips  & salsa you can eat! I felt cheep leaving a $3 tip.

Spent the evening at the Riesers playing a little Wizard and then enjoyed a good tape.

Thursday January 18th  Pharr TX
Joe Saltel was calling a review of advance, at the Tip of Texas RV Resort, this morning. Mom wasn't up for dancing so we watched nine squares review advance for a time.  This is another nice RV park. The dance hall and pool area were very nice.

This evening our park had Bernie and Red for entertainment, humor and song. (pic
We got there a half hour early and still had to sit in the last row. There were about 500 in attendance at five bucks a head. Sitting in the last row I was able to make an interesting observation. As I looked to the stage it appeared as if I was separated from the stage by a sea of snow as all the silver heads of hair bobbed about. This was brought to light as the opening joke was read from a sheet when the comic said  "I'm surprised to see we have a 16 year old birthday person in the audience," then he turned the sheet over "OH.. 91 years old!"
The humor and music were very enjoyable. Bernie & Red are RV'ers as well as entertainers and they were a big hit with a lot of RV humor. They did a funny bit about the "SKI Club" Spending the Kids Inheritance.

Afterwards, sweets at the Rieser's as we discussed the show and tomorrow's trip to Fun N Sun to dance some advance with Nasser Shukayr "The greatest caller in the valley" who reads our Blog..

Friday January 19th  Pharr TX
Slow warming, not so crazy today. Breakfast and long hot shower just to get ready to handle the day. Nick & Pat stopped by to finalize our days adventure. Sweet talked John into driving cause his is the only vehicle to hold six. First stop is the Fun N Sun to talk and dance with Nasser and Jeanna. Well it looks like marriage is agreeing with the young couple, they look good especially Jenna! 
John & Marilyn met Nasser (pic) and found him entertaining. It was good to see the class size has quadrupled since last year and I'm sure it's due to Nasser's exuberance. It was good to see Gordon and Marilyn from California who we danced advance with last year.
After an exhausting two hour work out we headed for the Lone Stare Restaurant. Restaurant was full and some waiting was required. John treated us to cocktails as we waited and waited and waited. Finally after an hour of waiting we dinned on the finest Maui Maui we ever tasted. It was a fabulous diner whether it was the food or company we had a great evening (pic). The management rewarded all of us with their signature coffee cup because of our having to wait so long. Our next visit we'll have to be sure and let them know they did that!

Saturday January 20th  Pharr TX
Looking at the brighter side, there is no wind...  Hitting 60ºs today.  Went to the activity building and played on the compute a bit then on the treadmill for an half hour.  Gave some thought to swimming  but did not. Note the pool has no roof (pic). Decided to do a little ride so we picked the Riesers and headed north a little to Edinburg. Stopped at a Wal Mart after which we discovered why this is the World Birding Center. These pictures tell the story. (pic) (pic) (pic) (pic).
We've seen this site several times, they appear to be some sort of black bird but they are not as big as a crow or raven. When they land the ground just turns black, they stay close together. When they take off it is unbelievable. We then stopped at Camping World just to browse before hitting Pizza Hut.. 
Texas Trails RV Resort

Sunday January 21st  Pharr TX
Thank God for Sunday prayer for it's oblivious everyone was praying for sunshine and low and behold 9am the sun shone and stayed with us all day. Temperature in the seventies wow! Washed the motorhome (pic) and just enjoyed the day. We went down to the ice cream social (pic) and like you would expect there was a line (pic).

Nick removed the cover to expose his water tank today and it became evident why water was leaking from the overflow. The overflow port is located a third of the way down the tank, can you believe. Good new is nothing is broke.

Good news from home, Emily has been accept at U of M. (like there was any doubt).

Monday January 22nd  Pharr TX
Overcast !  Dreary day all day, oh boy. Took a little drive about to do some touristy things and found them closed contrary to the guide book. We did find a jukebox museum open but for all it's value it should of been closed. Stopped Breadsmith "hand  made hearth baked" bread store. Lot of samples so with a $1.75 cup of coffee that was my lunch.
Riesers over this evening to play Rummy O, everyone won a round. Next three day don't look any more exciting....

Tuesday January 23rd  Pharr TX
Dreary day all day. Hot soup day in the activity building, social time for a $1.50.  Sat with the Michiganders. Came home and watched a DVD, Bruce Willis Tears of the Sun.

Wednesday January 24th  Pharr TX
Dreary day all day. To brighten the day we loaded the Riesers in the car and drove to last years resort, Fun N Sun, so the girls could get their hair cut by Gracie. Next the car drove automatically to San Benito. As we tried to figured out why we found our selves parked on a ghetto street in front of a dilapidated building that produces the best bakery products in the world, or at least in the local area. Here you can buy half dozen doughnuts, two apple turnovers, eight large cookies, and a loaf of fresh baked bread for less than five bucks. We need a picture here. Then on towards Brownsville stopping at a "Whataburger's" for a burger on a toasted wheat bun, Hmm good, what a burger!. Onward to the SAS factory "seconds" outlet. 30% off, wow let's buy more. Toping off the day with a leisurely ride home via the back-road  for a quiet evening at home of counting rain drops!

Thursday January 25th  Pharr  TX
Sun shine this morning giving way to a clouds late in the day. Western day at the activity building. Enjoyed a courtroom skit in the afternoon and skipped the evening entertainment opting for a short ride around and dinner out. We've limited our dancing activities for more healing time but may try Nasser's class Friday, we'll see.

Friday January 26th  Pharr TX
We are on a roll. Sun shine two days in a row. Biked around the park just to loosen up a little this morning. It looks like a go for advance class today. Risers picked us up in time to do lunch before the three o'clock class. We stopped at the Lone Star Restaurant again, and again it was superb. Mom had the Mahi Mahi again and I opt for the chicken fried chicken. I was thinking of the chicken fried steak but settled on the chicken fried chicken. And, let me say the chicken was fantastic! Needless to say this will be the last meal of the day as even the luncheon portions are large.
Nasser was in good form again, I regret we can't make his regular dance, because he so much fun, but we have to try to baby Mom's foot. And, of course Nasser not wanting to baby your Mom kept us moving at an exhausting pace. Of course your mother wants to keep going cause she thinks he's fun, not realizing she's being abused. :-) Thank goodness for the 87 second break between tips.
After an energetic workout there is only one thing left to do, "Nick how about stopping for ice cream, I'll buy." Driving and driving passing one DQ then passing another DQ,  I again mention "I'll buy." Nick responded "I know!" He finally pulled into the strip mall and went it to this place called Stone Cold. Each of us ordered a small dish of our favorite mix and when I ask how much I had to sit and have oxygen, $18....  

Susan, thanks for the family update. The Juno address is OK but I only check that once a month. Comcast is checked usually daily.

Saturday January 27th  Pharr TX
Sun!  Took the Riesers with us to see the Quinta Mazatlan, which is one of the largest adobe homes in Texas. It sits on eight acres and just opened to the public last year. We toured the inside (pic) and then the yard (pic). Plans are to have it as the McAllen branch of the World Birding Center. We sat a while and watched for birds and didn't see very many. One neat thing Nick caught were leaves moving down a tree. Close inspection revealed a caravan of ants moving the twigs down the tree trunk (pic). (should be able to count five ants in this picture). The tour wasn't much but for $1 it made for a pleasant outdoor experience.

Sunday January 28th  Pharr TX
The great salt lakes of Texas. A half hour drive north to see shallow lakes that sit atop some of the purest salt deposits known. During the dry season much of the water disappears leaving a visible dome of salt. Needless to say after the monsoons we've experienced we were not likely to see any salt domes. After a mile walk in towards the lake (pic) our suspicions were confirmed no visible salt (pic). Moaning and groaning with disappointment we walk the mile out then the drive home. Fortunately for the driver we made it back in time for the ice cream social.. We can tour another day..
On the way home form ice cream fellow dancers Vera, Lenore, Jules, and Bruce stopped over to inspect Dieter. He some what behaved.. (pic) (pic)

Just picked up Nasser's kind response to Fri 26th entry:

Sure enjoyed your recent blog entries!  I suppose you learned your lesson about volunteering to buy ice cream whenever Nick's around. :-)  And I did not realize y'all were having to suffer through 87-second breaks between tips.  We'll try to reduce the break time, in hopes that if you keep moving you won't get so exhausted. :-)
     Nasser  Shukayr

Monday January 29th  Pharr TX
Progresso Mexico today (pic). Checking out good buys if any. Now I know if my friend bill see this he's going to  be stressed. Bill and I enjoy an occasional  good martini but at $30 something a fifth we have to pace ourselves. Now for the stressful picture. You say what's so stressful. That was the last bottle in Progresso. I hope to go back and do some more scouting but I don't have much hope.

Tuesday January 30th  Pharr TX
Caught this guy jumping around the campground this morning (pic) (pic) they're very numerous around here. They must breed like... 
Skipped Jerry Store's dance this morning but joined the group afterwards for a Texas hamburger at Granny's. Is everything really bigger in Texas? (pic). I couldn't finish this burger so seven others joined me (pic).
     Afterwards, Mom an I drove through several suburban areas of Pharr and McAllen. In and area with all brick ranches with no basements and about 1300 to 1400 sq.ft. we found they were priced around $95k. Then a little more up scale Ranch 2300 sq.ft. $190k (pic)  then some around $250k to $350k (pic). What I found neat is that all these new subdivisions have 'nice' alleys. 90% of the homes have high privacy fences along the alleys (pic). Over the past three years we have never found such a large area of nice homes bordered by malls and nice retail areas.

Wednesday January 31st  Pharr TX
Humdrum day! Puttered around the home front today. Put a new handle on the screen door and tackled some small stuff. Just that kind of day...

Thursday February 1st  Pharr TX
Thanks for the family news Gary. Sounds like Emma enjoys her time away.  It must feel real good to be so highly recognized by your peer's, a tremendous reward. We're proud of you.

Shopping day today, hello Wal Mart. After that I deposited a $50 check that Nick so graciously shared with us.  Upon arrival to the campgrounds, which Nick arrived two days earlier then us, they ask who recommended this campground?  I replied "The Riesers!"  They issued him a check for $50. Isn't that nice of him to share? 
In the afternoon we went to Edinburg to tour the Museum of South Texas History (pic).  They had some neat displays (pic) and some hands on stuff for the kids (pic). Of course I had to get in on it as well (pic). 
Pizza Hut for dinner then butter pecan at our place. A full day and a full tummy, groan!

Friday 2nd  Pharr TX
The day of the week we wait for, dancing to Nasser. Before class we caught up with the Riesers for Mexican lunch at MI Rancho, excellent. Then two fun filled two hours of torture. Na, it's not bad and definitely a whole lot of fun. Nasser, realizing the power of the printed word, insures our square never breaks down. :-)
After class we drove over to San Benito to get a picture (pic) of the bakery, and would you believe that at 5:30 pm they were still open. A stop at Mickey Dee for a cup of java, something to go with the dry pastry, for the long drive home.
For our NSDCA friends, I don't know if I mentioned that Lucky Shotwell has a park model here. I talked with Lucky for a bit. He's not called since he retired from calling some years ago. Sold most all his equipment and all his records. Here's a shot of his place (pic).

Saturday February 3rd  Pharr TX
Got a call early this morning, Nick looking to go to Donna (Flea market some 15 miles away). About 10 am they picked us up and we were off. Needing nothing we roamed the aisles trying to find something to buy. Finally as the appetite grew I zeroed in of the pig rind counter. There I found bags of flavored rinds. Sampling 6 or 7 varieties I fell obligated to spend $2 for a large bag. Munch munch, salty dill pig. Well it's a flea market.

We finished up and it was late into the lunch hour when I said "Let's head over to the Crazy Buffet."  Now you know what it means when someone suggests a restaurant, yep they'll be offering to pick up the tab. Well here's my chance to cheaply get ahead of the Nick, for I knew the cost before the 4pm dinner hour, the buffet would be only $6. So as the four of us entered the restaurant I rushed to the pay first counter with my credit card in hand. She asked in her Asian accent "How many peas". I said "four." And she repeated "foor," as she handed me the sale slip for $39.50.  "What this, it not dinner time?"  "Na on Sat-day, weguar pice awe day!"   Can you believe that. Nick surges ahead again....
Well at least we had some good eats. This picture is a little fuzzy but you'll see some of it here. (pic)

Sunday 4th  Pharr TX
Took a long drive this morning to get acquainted with the local farm community. Carrots, all varieties of cabbage, sugar cane, onions, and some stuff we can't identify. We were able to identify the large swarms of blackbirds we have sporadically seen. The birds are not as large as the Starlings and Crackles and although your Mom said she though they were Red-winged blackbirds, we brushed that off cause we didn't see any red. Well today we parked on a deserted farm road with binoculars in hand and studied the swarming birds. We were able to get close enough to get these photos. Here is the partial swarm (pic). We could see, as they would bath, the red on their shoulders' would show more and as they would perch you could see all did not show red (pic). I was able to see some showed bright red (pic) and others (most) had very little red showing (pic).  We researched our bird book to see the Red-winged Blackbird feed, fly, and roost in 'huge' flocks. Identification; they are "often" streaked with a tinge of red on their shoulder. Females and young are not so marked. So there you have it, so much for the birds on Super Bowl Sunday.

Monday February 5th  Pharr TX
Good to hear Emily's volleyball team remains undefeated. Especially after playing undefeated Marine City. And exciting to learn Tyler will be playing a solo in the up coming concert. Right on Ty!
Another lay back day. Worked with Nick to re-route his water tank over-flow piping. Actually most of the task was finding a store and buying plumbing parts. What we done (pic).

Tuesday 6th  Pharr TX
Went to the Ropa Usada terminal to shop but decided it was not our thing. Here at the Ropa Usada store you buy clothing by the pound, 25¢ to 50¢. (Translation of ropa usada is 'clothing used.') There are numerous warehouses clustered in this area. The largest (pic) is similar to the produce terminal in Detroit where you have building after building lined up with truck docks. My observation is that each of these loading docks are rented out for various commodities, a lot of which are used clothes some are new 'Ropa Nueva.' (pic) (pic)  Inside bails of clothes are stacked all over. Some of the new clothing still have tags and are brand names. You have to climb on stacks of clothing to find what you think you want. hmmm.  We left empty handed. On the way home we stopped at a flea market again  no purchases. Back home, it was such a great afternoon that we jumped in our suits and went for a swim. Pool temperature, 90º, air 76º. 

Wednesday 7th  Pharr TX
Nick took his rig in for repair (wiring) today. He was to drop it off and we would spend the day at the Brownsville Zoo. One thing lead to another and he never got out of the repair shop so Mom and I took a little drive around before returning to the pool. (pic). That's me in the sunshine.
Repairs to Nick's rig were inconclusive. Sometimes it acts up other times it works perfect. Of course when they test drove his rig it worked perfectly. On his way back to the campground it acted up. He did go back but no resolve. Basic problem is some components on the dash (tack & odometer) occasionally stop working for no apparent reason. 

We've just learned our grand niece was named Mrs. Atlanta Georgia and is being considered for Mrs. Georgia. (pic). Isn't that great!

Thursday 8th  Pharr TX
Quiet day today. Mom went down to the activity building for a Ropa Fashion Show Luncheon. The woman who bought at the Ropa Usada were modeling their purchases. (pic) (pic) (pic). There must of been over two hundred woman in attendance.
I went over Nick's to investigate some motorhome wiring, we came to no conclusions, except that there was no power going to the tow vehicle's running lights. That's under warranty so it sits for now.
In the evening Mom and I went shopping at the H.E.B grocery story. They are a very large chain down here. We can't say enough good things about the Mexican help down here. All our experiences have been good. In fact with a full grocery cart Mom was ahead of me looking for a short check-out line when a young Mexican employee asked Mom if she were going to check out? As your Mom was nodding he grabbed the front of the cart and ran across the store, with slow walking Mom trying to keep up with her cart, to and empty check-out line. Then as I tried to fill the bags to expedite things and young man came up saying excuse me sir I'll get that for you.. Hard to accept this treatment coming from the north.

Friday 9th  Pharr TX
Dance day today. Nasser is out of town so we'll be dancing to Darin Keith who hails from Idaho. The class got off to a clumsy start but after a couple tips everything mellowed out and we found Darin to have a very good voice and to be a smooth caller. 
We were happy to see and dance with John & Anita McDonald who we dance with last year. After class John & Anita join us for dinner. I had a $25 discount coupon at Platillo's Mexican restaurant which we shared. Our bill for six ended up being $9.80 plus a $7 tip not bad huh. Ice cream at the local DQ then home.
Mom took Dieter out upon returning home (dark) and met his friend Abbey (Schnauzer) out back. The played for ten minutes then Dieter bounded up our stairs into the house. In short order Dieter could not stand. We thought he picked up some burrs which he always does, we found nothing . His right side seemed paralyzed. I petted him seemingly relaxing him and put him to bed.

Saturday February 10th  Pharr TX
Heart break day. Mom slept with Dieter last night, on the couch. Dieter was not navigating any better this morning. His whole right side seemed not to be functioning. We found a local vet and were there by 8:15am. We met Dr. Justin Cerelli, a young man well spoken and very concern doctor. We told him of what happened and as we weighed Dieter in he immediately picked up on how Dieter could not stand on his own and the condition of his right leg. He told the technician to get x-rays.
Dr. Cerelli explained the x-rays, showing us slipped disk in his lower spine and another just below the neck. He said Dieter is in no pain. He has no feeling in his paws on the right side and slight feeling on the left side. He explained the various tests he preformed in determining Dieter's sensitivity.
The heartbreaking news, "We could send him to the university for spinal operation with no guarantee of a positive out come."  "This examination and operation would cost five to six thousand dollars."  I asked for his opinion of the operation. He replied  "If money were not the question, and in Dieter's best interest, I don't think the out come would be satisfactory for Dieter."  We talked for a long time about all possibilities and direction, there appeared to be no easy solution. I talked to him about consulting with our vet back home. He responded "please do," as he escorted us to his office and he dialed Dr. Banksthal for me. I spoke with the technician who conferred with the doctor and after a long consultation, everything confirmed euthanasia. 
Tears tears and more tears as we held Dieter for over an hour. It's a heart wrenching good bye.

Sunday 11th  Pharr TX
Yesterday was a very long day. We want to thank everyone for the sympathy and condolences. It was heart warming to hear from you, we really appreciated it. Here's a couple of our last photos of Dieter. Here his waiting for friends on the dog trail (pic) and here playing with Abbey a nine month old chick who Dieter was very submissive to. (pic).
We've previously purchased tickets to see a Mariachi troop at the university in Edinburg for the afternoon performance today. With long faces we were seated in the large auditorium. The troop of dancers splashed onto the stage in gorgeous colorful costumes tapping to the lively sounds the Mariachi players.  We took some low quality pictures in the dark to show some of the color and excitement (pic) (pic). The dancing was great their energy radiated throughout  the theater (pic). Our spirits have been lifted.
Afterwards we attended our ice cream social before retiring for the evening..

Monday 12th  Pharr TX
Nick and patti's rent is up this day and they're on their way to Fun N Sun. We still have a few more days here. In and effort to brighten your mothers spirits I decided to take her shopping. I took her to the largest selection of name brand clothes. At this location you can really get on top of your shopping experience (pic). It didn't take long for your Mom to get into it (pic) (pic).  Her find, Pendelton slacks and a Columbia jacket. Total cost at 20¢ a pound equaled 48¢. 
Bird watching at the sanctuary (pic) then lunch at Pepe's on the River. A couple of Margaritas some BBQ chicken wings and corn chips covered with cheese, lettuce, jalapeno and tomatoes. In addition live entertainment.

Tuesday February 13th  Pharr TX
Beautiful day today. We decided to take a run to Progresso Mexico to see if could locate a gift for our friend Willie. The supply of Bombay has been replenished so it was a successful run.
At home we soaked up some sun in back of our rig on the doggy path. It's comforting to receive the sympathy of all the people who pass. Abbey stopped by again to love on us a minute, then it was off to the pool for us.

Wednesday 14th  Pharr TX
Happy Valentines day! Mother Nature is still bouncing our temperatures weekly. Today is the cloudy cool day barely getting to 60° and again tomorrow before returning to the normal mid 70s to 80° with sun on Friday. 
Mom did some laundry and some shopping this morning. We've been invited to Gabe & Martha's for dinner this evening with other Michigan dancers. We arrived at the Stahl's home at dusk. Last year they bought a beautiful home in a very nice Spanish styled gated community. The homes are unique in that they are clustered tightly around a communal central court yard. Out their backdoor is an enclosed patio area which is gated to the common area that has a beautiful pool and Jacuzzi with palm tree landscape.
Dinner was a delicious casserole with a lot of fun conversation. Thanks Martha!

Thursday February 15th  Pharr TX
Took a ride this morning to explore some of the local back roads. At home went for a swim then worked a little around the motorhome doing some odd jobs and did some preparation for departure.

Friday 16th  Pharr TX to San Benito TX    Fun N Sun  40 miles  $51 for 3 nights
Boy can you believe it's almost time to head home. This is way too early to do that.. Daily morning tears heighten this morning as we returned to the vets to bring Dieter's ashes home.
This is our departure date from Texas Trails. Today we head to Fun N Sun in San Benito. The same campground we've spent time at the past three years. We arrived around 1:00pm, time enough to get updated from Nick and rest up for class with Nasser.
Dance started at 3 pm sharp and I think continued non-stop until 5 pm. There may have been a break or two in there some where cause I recall talking with Nasser about dinner which would not workout this day so arrangements were made for a dinner date Monday.  Nasser suggested a good restaurant for us and the Riesers  this evening. It's Pepe's (not to be confused with Pepe's on the River). Now listen to these instruction, coming no less from an international instructor, "Take 77 north past Whataburger and Tyler, it's right there."  
So off we go north on 77, which is just out side the park, past Whataburger  past Tyler and on and on. All four of us looking for Pepe's. No Pepe's. Back along the other side heading south, as we near Whataburger  we head east into the populated area where we must of missed Pepe's. All eyes are now intently searching the busy downtown area. Around the block, double back, closing in on Whataburger. As co-pilot I suggest a left turn. Nick merges one lane left, there's one more lane to go. A couple clicks of the turn signal and a tug on the wheel to the left.. SMASH drag bang skid. The one more lane on the left was not a lane for on-coming traffic, no it was a third lane for all cars going west as we are on a one way street where you do not make left turns from the center lane. Especially when a large pickup truck is passing you at a high rate of speed on the left. Broken bumper, snapped tie-rod, fender trim gone, fender liner gone... wife rattled. Fortunately no one was hurt. Three squad cars arrive on scene. Pick-up driver, a nice mannerly young man, asked "Why are you turning from the center lane."  "We're looking for Pepe's!"  All the information was exchanged, police report made, and a couple of squad cars left. Things loosen up a little and I over heard Nick asking the police officers "Do you know where Pepe's is?" The very mannerly officer said "Oh sure take the other one way street back about 3 miles to Bus 77 head north a couple blocks past the Whataburger and it'll be on the right."
The Jeep has to be towed so the officer called us a cab. The tow truck took the Jeep and the cab brought us back to Fun N Sun. We took our Neon and off we went to Pepe's.
Some  Margaritas and then a long long conversation on what should be done with Nasser. Shipped to a deserted island or left in downtown Detroit to walk the streets after dark. Some of the things Nick presented cannot be printed.., One critical word 'Business,' ah yes business 77 we would have skirted the heavy traffic area right past the  correct Whataburger, Pepe's! ..

Saturday February 17th  San Benito TX  
Weather has been perfect and it looks like it's here to stay for a while. We did some bike riding through our park just to see if the bikes still worked.
This day residents and guest put a whole lot of effort into a Mardi Gras parade with floats, candy tossing and all. No pictures taken and don't ask why.
Mom was up for an official club dance so we attended Nasser's resort dance this night. We had a great time! Nasser, as other valley callers, makes dancing so much fun. Nasser is always coming up with lots of humor and inventive additions that make for endless enjoyment. Tonight we did some microwave stuff. What's that you ask. It some steps that do for square dancing what a micro wave did for cooking. Nasser said "this way you can get a whole lot more dancing in in the same amount of time."  
(For my reference, here's how it works:) As an example to get form a static square you have to go through several patterns to get to a wave. He ran us through these patterns and has everyone in a wave. Stopping the calling he asks everyone to remember exactly where they are now standing and who they are standing with. Now he says "when I say go to a wave, from where ever you are, just scramble to this exact spot." Well needless to say during the dance this causes instant chaos and tons of laughter as everyone is bumping and scrambling. Nasser did this with a "wave" and a "column" during the tip. Great time.

Sunday 18th  San Benito TX  
Big news this morning, Lisa Marie (pic) gave birth to an eight pound girl (pic) and both are doing fine. We are now step-great-grandparents. This is in addition to her mother's recent addition (pic).
Washed the car this morning then off to Estero Llano Grande State Park. A nice birding area with a couple miles of trails to walk (pic). We seen some neat boirds (pic). There were some other exciting creatures there as indicated by this sign (pic). There were two gators and this guy must of been about twelve foot long (pic). And, there were other interesting guys as well. (pic).
Fun N Sun, what a great park, every Sunday an ice cream social follow by  live entertainment. Tonight, Wil Yancy good country singer, very enjoyable. Last Sunday they served 650 servings from 82 gallons of ice cream. Tonight I think there were even more in attendance, the rec hall was packed.
Evening wind down at our place with Jose Cuervo (Tequila).

Monday 19th  San Benito TX  First Colony $13 per   Pass port America
Moved across the street today to First Colony. We belong to Pass Port America which offers discounts at numerous RV parks. At Fun N Sun the discount is half off for three nights. First Colony it is half off for as long as there are spaces available. We'll stay here a week before heading north.
Nick went over yesterday to check on his car in the storage.  Much to his dismay someone smashed his front windshield. He enquired about it and management said "Oh, looks like someone tried to break into your car." Oh boy!
This evening we picked up the Riesers and met with caller Nasser and his wife Jeanna for dinner at Lone Star. Nasser was also accompanied by his friend Lloyd Alexander. We all had a great time discussing square dancing and Texas. We must of had a good time for we were there for over two and half hours.

Tuesday February 20th  San Benito TX  First Colony
Finally recognize this as Texas. Winds started yesterday and blew all day today 15 to 30 mph. 86° and sunny. I think we finally turned the corner.
What to thank Mary Berg for sharing the family's emotions with us, it means a lot to us. The Reuters also shed a some tears. Thank you.  Carol almost made it through the day without a tear, it's harder now cause here at First Colony we move in next to a pair Schnauzer pups. One is two the other 6 months. (pic)
Nick pick us up this morning and we spent most of the day in Progresso Mexico. Here is some street scenes: Crowded sidewalks (pic). beggar (pic).  Piñatas (pic). Food stands on the street (pic). Customs to the USA (pic). Winds out of the SW so strong for so long today must of blown every bit of pollen in Mexico into my camper. My nose went ballistic requiring an emergency run for antihistamine. Took the rest of the day to stabilize. 

Wednesday 21st  San Benito TX  First Colony
Winds quieted down today. Nursed my allergy this morning.  Late in the afternoon we toured the Harlingen Arts & Heritage Museum were they have the home of the founder of Harlingen Lon C. Hill. (pic). A tour and a movie all for a donation.

Thursday 22nd  San Benito TX  First Colony
Coffee and doughnut dance this morning from 10 am till noon. Here is something I've never seen in Michigan, caller Nasser invited Jerry Story to call with him at the dance. They did a couple of duet tips. Real great sound as they both have great voices and know how to have a good time. I think Nasser gave Story a little too much mike time but than again he didn't ask me.
After the dance the Riesers joined us for lunch at Mi Rancho, good Mexican eatery. Upon returning home our neighbor greeted us with her two pups. (pic) (pic). I think this is the first day for Carol without a tear. Oops I wrote this a little too early, tears.

Friday 23rd  San Benito TX  First Colony
Can you believe it's just about time for us to leave and head north. Carol has doctor appointments scheduled so we'd like be home near the first of March.
We took an early morning drive to South Padre Island. Temperatures were in the 80's and as we neared the gulf we could see fog hanging over the beach. We laid our towel out and soaked up some sun, almost (pic). The fog didn't appear to affect the enjoyment (pic) and there were some pleasant sights (pic).
In the afternoon we attended our last advance class and I think someone told Nasser. He cut the time of our 87 second breaks and to make things more difficult he increased the tip time from 6 minutes to 18 minutes AND, to really add to the mix his 45 records must of been spinning at 78 rpm. we were really moving. Nasser it 's been a great time and we are looking  forward to dancing with you in the future.
Wizard at the Rieser's to finish the day.

Saturday February 24th  San Benito TX  First Colony
Hot! 92° today, loving it... Best part is it goes down to 60° at night.
Busy day. Started the day with pancake breakfast at Fun N Sun where they were also having the annual garage sale (pic). The place was packed, I bought a 50 to 30 amp connector for a couple bucks.
Next, a local club of radio control plane enthusiast held a meet today at a local airfield. I really enjoyed seeing the large variety of models (pic) some weighing as much as 50 pounds with twin engines (pic). We spent over an hour watching the planes fly around (pic) sometime as many a five planes flying at the same time. I was really amazed how well they flew in the gusty 20 mph winds.
On the way home we stopped at the Donna Flea Market. Needed nothing just wanted to see the activity, the place was packed. After an hour of browsing we decided to have early dinner at the Lone Star. Chicken fried chicken is spectacular. The large portion of white is so moist and just melts in your mouth. Nick treated!
At home we relaxed for a couple hours before heading over to the dance hall for our last dance of the Texas season. Lot of confusion as to the dance location due to the Platters taking the dance hall . We finally settled in and danced in the ping pong room, after moving the tables aside. Nasser was in his usual good form with such calls as flutter to a line. (ref. from a two faced line centers trade picking up end and bring them back and rolling to a facing line.) We all had a real good time as usual. Have to say good bye to our favorite dancers John and Anita (pic). Nasser suggested lunch/dinner tomorrow if it works out, we'll see. After the dance we headed to the DQ then home for a real good nights sleep...

Sunday 25th  San Benito TX  First Colony
Excellent ending for a slow starting winter recess. Dinner at Rudy's of Brownsville with Nasser and Jeanna (pic). We had a whole lot of conversation along with some very good baby backs, hmmm. We'd like to see Nasser call in our area, we talked about some available time in mid to late September. We'll have to see if we can work some thing out.
We finished up with just enough time to make Fun N Sun's ice cream social (pic) and enjoy country entertainer Terry Smith. The music along with a little singing along was enjoyable . We walked back to the Riesers for an evening drink then the short drive home.. 
Tomorrow we head north. It's especially hard to leave this nice weather when we hear of the snow and sleet back home.

Monday February 26th  San Benito TX  to Crystal Beach TX  395 miles  gas $2.19 $2.21
Goodbye to some new friends (pic) (pic) and we were on our way. Perfect driving day with a 15 mph tailwind all day. We landed just east of Galveston.

Tuesday 27th  Crystal Beach TX  to Natchez  MS   Rocky Springs park, Trace     Gas $2.34   385 miles
Departed 8:30 am, another perfect driving day. Pulled into Rocky Springs park around 5 pm. to a warm evening. Did a little walk about and retired to a quiet evening of  the tube. 

Wednesday 28th  Natchez  MS  to Meriwether campground on the north end of the Trace. Gas $2.34 
 I had a day off, Carol drove all day...

Thursday March 1st  Meriwether TN to N of Cincinnati OH       Gas $2.47   390 miles
Day started nice but started raining when we hit Ohio 4pm. Decided to drive a couple more hours so we'll have a shorter day tomorrow..

Al & Agnes have their page up and running https://home.comcast.net/~ajb650/ 
Once on their page just click on the cities...

Friday 2ndt  N of Cincinnati OH to Home  MI    about 200 miles       Gas $2.47   
Welcome to Michigan (pic).

That's all folks !











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