Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 21

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #21

 

Saturday, February 28, 2009:

Underway early as this is a travel day…..don’t plan to stop much…..making tracks for Tucson for fun with family and friends.

We left Texas and headed into New Mexico by mid morning. By my count we spent 18 days getting through Texas…..wow, what a big state. Maybe that’s how it got its name…..because it texas us so long to drive through it!

Passed a unique highway warning sign outside Las Cruces…..”Warning! UAV Flight Test Facility”. Oh great…..now I have to keep my eyes on the road and in the air!

I just received an e-mail from my father who has been tracking our trek through these journals. I found his comments interesting and would like to share them with you:

“Bill, I am sure you don’t remember your first trip through Texas. You were just about one year old. We had just returned to the States from Hawaii and were heading to Birmingham and then to Philadelphia. We were driving our 1941 Buick club coupe in the summer time with no air conditioning. Of course that was before the freeway system and we were on a two lane highway that went through all of the small cities. I thought we would never get through Texas. I believe it took us about three days. I remember stopping in Waco for gas and they still gave full service then and when the old fella was cleaning the back window he noticed our Hawaii license plate so when he came to the window to get paid he asked if we had driven all the way. Considering your age and the traveling conditions you were a very good baby”.

See….”a very good baby”!  Now why does Kit call me a big baby? That’s not fair!!

Passed the Continental Divide at 4585 feet. From now on whenever we use the facilities it goes all the way to the Pacific…..or something like that.

Pulled into Deming, NM to look for an old memory. A few days after getting married in June of 1965, and just three days after getting my drivers license, Kit and I headed for our first road trip. We had loaded up all our worldly possessions into our newly acquired 1959 Rambler station wagon, replete with a Desert Bag of water hanging from the front bumper, and headed east for Key West. We traveled non stop from San Diego until we became very tired and couldn’t go any
farther which put us in downtown Deming. We checked into a Travelodge and spent the afternoon napping and swimming in the pool and stayed the night.
The Travelodge Motel is gone but the building is still there, overgrown with weeds and the pool is dry and full of tumbleweeds. A funny story about that trip was the US Atlas we used was small and the page with the state of Florida did show Key West but there was no little line connecting it with the mainland. I figured we would have to take a boat of some kind to make it all the way. Then I picked up a larger map at the Florida welcome station and noticed that there was indeed a road. Spent the first year of our married life in 1965 Key West…..life was good, even back then.

Stayed for the night at a KOA in Lordsburg, NM. Kinda run down but convenient and I scored another military discount.

Sunday, March 1, 2009:

 Underway early with great anticipation…..today we enter Tucson and a planned three week lay over, entered the state of Arizona around noon and
stopped for lunch.

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We had an invite to Dooryard Surf with my bruzin, Dewey, and my “almost” sister in law, Bea.

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Dooryard Surfin with my bruzin, Dewey, and my “almost” sister in law, Bea

OK, so that last sentence makes more sense, “Dooryard Surfing” is what we have been calling camping on the property of gracious family and friends instead of a commercial campground. We basically pull up, unhitch, level and stabilize the trailer, hookup water and electricity and turn a formally nice neighborhood into a hobo camp. Thanks to the kindness of others we have saved a considerable amount of money and have had a wonderful time visiting. We can Dooryard Surf up to 14 days before we have to find a facility to dump our tanks. Dewey and Bea graciously allowed us to Dooryard Surf on their property during our stay in Tucson. THANKS!!!!

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Dewey and Bea

Oh yea…..I bet your wondering what or who a bruzin is? Well Dewey was my cousin until my mother married my uncle (Dewey’s father) and he became my step-brother. Then mom and Dewey’s dad got divorced so he became my cousin again. We decided we liked the term “bruzin” to describe our unique relationship. That being said he is more like an older brother to me than a cousin anyway. Some say we even look a lot alike….especially in the hair department.

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Dewey and Bill

In addition another brother, Dan, from the same mother as I….but, an off spring of Dewey’s father as well lives in the area as well. I think he may be a bruncle…..though not sure about that one. More nice hair on that kid.

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And the matriarch of this menagerie is this lovely lady from Philadelphia, by way of Hawaii and California, photographed in the backyard of her estate. In the background you can see the skateboard half pipe she uses daily to practice her walker jumps for the upcoming Elder Olympics. Rage on Mom!!

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Stay tuned for more “Fun in the Tucson Sun”!

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

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Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 20

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #20

Friday, February 27, 2009:

Left the trailer at the site and drove Skyline Drive to the summit of Davis Mountain. Wanted to share the views I had seen on my hike the day before with Kit. Since there was cell connectivity at the summit we took advantage and made contact with the family…..all are doing well.

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Sat in the CCC built stone structure and spent some time enjoying the views and watching the high desserts of southwest Texas welcome the day. Bill took a short hike along the ridge to a neighboring summit.

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Coming off the mountain we side tripped to Indian Lodge, another CCC built facility in Davis Mountain State Park that features accommodations and a restaurant. The inn has 18 inch walls and was built with local materials (as most CCC building were) which makes it look like a pueblo village home. The structure remains much as it was originally built and the interior features original furnishings, hand carved panels and cane ceilings. We enjoyed a late breakfast in the Black Bear Restaurant which is a part of the lodge.

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Returning to the campsite we hooked up and headed out around noon. Taking US 17 north in order to make a drive by at another Texas State Park which contains the world’s largest spring fed swimming pool called Balmorhea. Yet another CCC built facility this one feature’s a 2 acre pool with a depth of up to 25 feet. The 3.5 million gallons of water contained in the pool are exchanged by the free flowing underground springs about 5 times a day and remains a constant 74 degrees.

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It appears that Texas took great advantage of the services offered by the CCC. However being in the south during the 30’s and considering that the CCC was integrated there were a few towns that requested CCC help if the group was all white, which the government turned down….their loss. Another interesting story came from the ranger talk about CCC history in Texas.  It seems there was a little Indian girl whose mother worked as a housekeeper at the lodge in the 50’s but wasn’t allowed to swim in the pool due to being non white. That little girl is now the managing ranger at Davis Mountains State Park. Times do change . . . sometimes for the good.

Continued heading west as we passed into Mountain Standard Time. Stayed the night at Ft. Bliss Army Campground in the overflow (dry) camping area for $5.00 per night. It was desolate and very windy, not very blissful at all. The main campground was full of Winter Texans and was very nice indeed. Tomorrow we finally leave Texas behind with fond memories.

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 19

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The
Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #19

Wednesday, February 25, 2009:

Broke camp and continued west on US-90. Stopped at Langtry, TX just beyond Dead Mans Gulch and visited the Judge Roy Bean historical homestead. Arriving in this no mans land in the late 1800’s, Roy Bean, a justice of the Peace, appointed himself “The Law West of the Pecos”. A very colorful character, he built a combination saloon, billiard hall, courthouse, jail and town hall. With a six shooter at his side and an old Texas law book, Judge Roy Bean dispensed his unconventional form of justice as he saw fit. Using drunks from his saloon as the jury and usually biasing his decision toward the litigant that paid him the most cash his western justice was dispensed. (Let’s see, that differs from today’s legal system, um….how?) Now old Roy was infatuated with an actress and singer from Jersey, England by the name of Lilly Langtry. In order to entice Miss Lilly to come to the western frontier he called his homestead “The Jersey Lilly Opera House”….however she never took the bait and came to America to visit her obsessed fan, Roy Bean.

Th Jersey Lilly Opera House

The Jersey Lilly Opera House

Back on the road, its noon and 87 degrees…..gonna be a hot one today…..but, you know, it’s a dry heat. Cranked up the trucks air conditioner and continued west. Beginning to see some of the mountains that western Texas is known for. There continues to be greener vegetation and a lot more variety and quantity. Passed through Alpine, Texas by late afternoon on US-118. Pulled into Davis Mountains State Park hoping there were camp sites available. Once again “Road Magic” was working for us as we entered the ranger’s office 5 minutes before closing and were told that there were 2 sites available. The ranger said to pick one and register in the morning…..so off we went.  The first site was small and on the main road, however the second site was perfect! At the end of a spur road, large and private. Notice the trees!  Davis Mountains State Park.  Later we went to a ranger talk on the “original stimulus plan” the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which built this fine park in the 1930’s. There were many facilities built by the CCC where young men worked for $25.00 a month which $5.00 was theirs to keep and $20.00 was sent to their families. My Uncle Dewey (more on him later) was a CCC member and I remember hearing stories of his adventures.

Thursday, February 26, 2009:

Registering this morning and chatting with the very friendly park staff I discovered a new term; “Winter Texans”…..that is what the folks in this region call “Snow Birds”. I kinda like that title; think I’ll go and buy boots, dinner plate sized belt buckle and a ten gallon hat.

I went for a hike to the summit of the Davis Mountain (named after Jeff Davis of civil war fame, not sure why?) and Kit stayed around our Little Plastic Box on the Prairie to watch for Indians, take a walk through the grounds and met some of the neighbor pioneers.

The hike was about 5 ½ miles with an elevation gain of about 1500 feet. The summit resides at 6002 feet and was windy, cool and offered some great sights.image0092image0112image0132image0152

On the far ridge I noticed what looked like Indian Smoke Signals.

Indian Smoke Signals?

Indian Smoke Signals?

Returning to camp I showed my pictures to one of the rangers, an American Indian. His smoke-signal-ese was a bit rusty but loosely translated it meant. “Dufus paleface on far ridge with trophy scalp”.

Dufus Paleface?

Dufus Paleface?

Leaving you for now, healthy, wealthy and wise (well….one out of three ain’t bad) we remain on our trek west to………….who knows where!

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 18

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #18

 

Monday February 23, 2009:

On the road again bright and early. Traveling US 90 through small towns and dusty wide spots. Beginning to see more vegetation and the grassland doesn’t seem so white and dried out looking.

Near the intersection of US-90 and US-83 (83 actually connects The Canadian border to the Mexican border…..that would be a fun back road to explore) there was a US immigration “security station”. As we slowly pulled up to the boarder patrol officer’s station I happened to notice he was Hispanic. So drawing from my 8th grade conversational Spanish course I greeted him in Spanish inquiring how he was this morning. After a pause and quizzical look he said “sir do you realize you just called me a jelly donut?” For some reason he asked me more questions than the last guy because a line was starting to grow behind us. In an attempt to redeem myself I offered the helpful advice that if they really wanted to catch some illegal aliens then they needed to move their “security station” farther west to Roswell, New Mexico.

As we gained elevation into the high desert of southwest Texas we noticed larger mountains, white grass giving way to yellow, parched white dirt turning to brown soil, larger vegetation and more greenery. Topped out at 5500 feet on the largest desert in North America, the Chihuahuan…..kinda funny that such a large tract of land would be named after such a small dog. We crossed the Pecos River about 2 miles north of the Mexican border and stopped for the night at Seminole Canyon State Park and Historical Site. We have been pretty lucky in acquiring beautiful places to stay overnight without making reservations and we scored this time as well. Positioned the trailer on a nice spot with east/west exposure and enjoyed this incredible sunset over a Shiner beer and a glass of wine, from our lawn chairs looking across the Chihuahuan Desert.

Life Is Good!

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With no moon and no artificial light and crystal clear skies the stars were incredible, in number and intensity. I could have stayed up all night watching the various constellations as they rotated through the night sky. Now I know what is meant by the song that goes: “The stars at night, are big and bright…..deep in the heart of Texas”.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009: This morning we were treated to this very nice sunrise. Nice thing about the high deserts of the southwest…..180 degrees of viewscape to enjoy.

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We actually pulled in just for the night but decided to stay two…..that’s the luxury of no set agenda. This place is pretty incredible…..the only downside (?) is no cell service so therefore no internet connectivity.

Kit stayed at camp and read while Bill took his bike down a trail to the Rio Grande River. The trail was multi use (bike, hike, horse) and fairly smooth with a little elevation loss and gain and I had the trail to myself this morning.

Bill took his bike down a trail to the Rio Grande River

Bill took his bike down a trail to the Rio Grande River

The only trail hazards were rattlesnakes…..and thankfully I didn’t encounter any…..and these tire eaters which I came perilously close to on a few occasions.

Tire eaters

Tire eaters

Made the Rio Grande River and stopped to enjoy the view of Mexico. Now, while growing up in San Diego we used to go down to Tijuana quite often. Back then the view of Mexico looked far different than from Texas; I didn’t even see any signs for the “Blue Fox” tavern this far up the river.

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I did spot your Border Patrol at work however….nice job driving that nifty boat all day, huh?

Border Patrol

Border Patrol

There were covered rest areas along the trail every few miles to allow folks to get out of the sun. They were usually by a particularly scenic overview or historical area. Many places the trail paralleled the old Santa Fe Railroad bed and there were signs of labor camps here and there.

Covered Rest Area

Covered Rest Area

Early the next morning, before we got back on the road I hiked down in the canyon with a few other folks and a park ranger.

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We were able to enjoy many pictographs made be ancient people from 4000 years ago.

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There were also interesting rock formations in the canyon made when flash floods eroded the softer shell deposits from the harder sedimentary rock. Some looked like abstract art.

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Just so you don’t get the mistaken impression that everything is gray and brown in the canyon here is a picture of Desert Laurel that was blooming all over the place.

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Desert Laurel

All and all another great day in retiree-ville,

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 17

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #17

 

Friday, February 20, 2009:

After a very enjoyable visit to the Austin, Texas area we are off once again. Heading south for San Antonio for a few days stay at the Lackland Air Force Base campground. Need to do laundry, visit the commissary and Post Exchange and prepare for our westward advance.

The campground is on the edge of the main base, reasonable and very convenient. We set up for the night, took a walk and turned in early. In February of 1976 while being transferred across country we stayed at Kelly AFB (now a part of Lackland AFB) for only $2.00 per night…..this go around the fee is $22.00.

Saturday, February 21, 2009: Now Lackland is a very large Air Force training base. It is made up of three interconnected bases…..Lackland Basic Military Training Facility (boot camp), Lackland Main Base and Kelly Field (flight training).

The Post Exchange is very large and was laid out like a shopping mall, their electronics department would rival most Best Buy stores and the commissary looks like any Hannaford or Shaws complete with a full service deli.

The base is named after a very effective Air Force method of acquiring funds from congress for a base. The way Air Force base development works is that they build all the golf courses, clubs, recreational fields, swimming pools and barracks. Then when the congressional folks come to tour their new base they ask “Where are the runways, hangers and control towers?” At which time the Air Force facilities guys say “couldn’t build them…..we lack land”. So another round of funding is procured to complete the base.

Kit was able to catch up on our e-mail and read our hometown papers online. As I mentioned previously we are traveling with a Verizon Air Card to receive broadband internet access wherever there is Verizon connectivity, which has been everywhere we have traveled so far. This set up has served us very well and even allows us to research information on our intended destination while moving along down the road. I guess this all came to mind because our 5.0 GB monthly allotment of service was reset this morning…..and we only used 1.55 GB of capacity over the past month. That is pretty good considering that Kit has the thing running for hours every day.

Being close to the runway we were treated to day long flights of C-5 Galaxy aircraft with what we guess are piloted by trainees. They circle the area for hour after hour practicing take offs and landings. Usually there are 3 or 4 in the air at any given time.

These heavy lifters fly very slow and at times appear to be suspended in mid air.

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C-5 Galaxy

 

See…..you can’t even see that one move, can you?

Due to the miracle of modern computers and the aforementioned Verizon Air Card we were able to watch our grandson Joe and his Brunswick High School Varsity Hockey team play Mesalonski High School over the Renegade Network. Other than the fact that we were in shorts and t-shirts and it was 76 degrees…..it was like sitting at the new hockey arena on the campus of Bowdoin College.

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Brunswick won 4 to 3…..go Dragons!

Sunday, February 22, 2009: I decided to take a bike ride around the various bases to see what there was to see. I had noticed some aircraft on display when we arrived and headed in that general direction. As it turned out the planes were arranged around the graduation parade grounds creating a fitting backdrop to the recruit graduations held there weekly. The vintage aircraft basically created an outdoor air museum.

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Bill Tucker - Lackland Air Force Base

Here are a few of the planes surrounding the very large parade field:

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I particularly liked the “nose art”…..couldn’t get away with most of that today. The first picture is a modern graphic on an A-10 to honor the hero’s of 9-11.

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Honoring the hero’s of 9-11

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Had a blast in the warm Texas sunshine, riding my bike and exploring each of the vintage warbirds up close and in detail.

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 16

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #16

 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009:

Woke to sunny skies and temp already in the 70’s. Took a nice long walk around the neighborhood and enjoyed lunch at the Granny Char Breakfast Bar.

Decided to drive down and see the Natural Bridge Caverns just southwest of New Braunfels. This National Natural Landmark is a network of living caves full of interesting formations.

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The 75 minute tour takes you down 180 feet into a unique world of cave formations that are still being created by surface water percolating down through limestone rock. The 70 degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity offer an unusual contrast to the warm (83 degree) and dry surface conditions.

Thursday, February 19, 2009: Another local area exploration opportunity. We wanted to see the town of Dripping Springs and verify if the legend about the roads being so rough that your automobile shock absorbers can rupture and create the condition that the town was named after.

In addition Pat’s son Joey creates Ornamental Iron in town and we wanted to check that out as well. Yep the same Joey that entertained us on Saturday night with his great musical ability is also an iron artist as seen below.

Pat's Son Joey

Pat's Son Joey

After a nice visit with Joey and a tour of his workshop we headed to Fredericksburg…..why?…..because it seemed the thing to do and because Kit wanted to. On the way we passed the LBJ Ranch National Park and Historic Site and ducked in for a quick drive through. The grounds are quite extensive with many buildings and animals to view. We will have to add this park to our life “bucket” list for another day.

In the town of Fredericksburg Kit browsed the shops and Bill toured the National Museum of the Pacific War. What the heck, you ask, is such a museum doing in landlocked Texas? Well part of the exhibit is housed in the former Nimitz Hotel owned by the family of Fleet Admiral Nimitz. There were displays of artifacts and military equipment from the Pacific Theater during World War II including a TBM Avenger airplane and the PT-309 Torpedo Patrol Boat. Below are some selected photos from the
museum.

 

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All in all, another interesting and educational day.

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/ Kit

Bill and Kit’s Excellent Adventure Chapter 15

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The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #15

 Sunday, February 15, 2009:

Woke late after a short night thanks to Party Girl Pat! On the bright side Donald cooked an incredible breakfast for all the gathered clan. Finally, on Sunday morning, we got to meet Calista! What a cutie she is! At 5 months, she already has quite a personality. Most of the family members were eager to hold her during the day and fuss over her, she was quite a trooper and seemed to enjoy the entire afternoon. She’s laughing and giggling, rolling over, about to sit up on her own and she’s a very good eater. She loves sweet potatoes!

It was great to see Josh, Cindy and Chris. Last time I saw them was at Chris’ college graduation in San Luis Obispo a few years back. It was good to catch up with them on all their activities.

As the day progressed, the rest of the family arrived and of course, in Crowe fashion, there was lots of socializing and picture taking. What a wonderful day for all of us, especially Don & Pauline, Donald’s parents. They had 2 of their 3 kids there with all of their families. Their youngest son Darren and his family have lived in Austin for many years.

Bill took the following picture of them.

 

Front row: Cindy, Josh, Calista, Charlotte and Chris.  Back row: Darren, Kym, Alison, Donald, Haley, Christina, Pauline and Don.

Front row: Cindy, Josh, Calista, Charlotte and Chris. Back row: Darren, Kym, Alison, Donald, Haley, Christina, Pauline and Don.

 

Other family members living in the area are Andrew, Liz and their 2 sons Little Andrew and Benny. Andrew is the son of David, Donald’s brother who lives in Reno, NV. The family has relocated to Hometown Crowe and lives 3 doors from Donald and Charlotte. They were unable to attend the reunion, Andrew was working and Liz was still in Hawaii with her family. She and the kids came home during the next week.

Later in the afternoon we had an old fashioned Texas style backyard barbeque. All the members of the family contributed to the meal and at the end, we celebrated the February birthdays. Chris turned 30 on the 17th, Cindy’s was on the 11th and Benny’s first birthday was on the 20th.

Monday, February 16, 2009: Kind of hung around the Crowe Estate and took a couple of walks in the area. On one of these walks we went in search of Rey and Darlene Berquist who have relocated to Hometown Kyle from Topsham. They are friends of our friends Don and Jane who live in Lisbon. Over the last several years, we’ve seen them maybe 4 times at different functions. The interesting thing with them is that about 3 years ago, I ran into Darlene at the CVS store in Brunswick one morning. She shared with me that they had decided to buy a house in Texas and settle down for awhile after full timing in their motor home for several years. As we talked, she told me they found a real nice place in a development south of Austin called Hometown Kyle. Imagine my surprise, as my sister and husband had just signed papers to buy in the same development! As it turns out, they live about a 5 minute walk from each other. Small world!

 

Rey and Darlene Berquist

Rey and Darlene Berquist

We spent the afternoon with Rey and Darlene Berquist catching up on camping experiences, their new home in Texas, their previous home in Maine and of course each of our families. They gave us lots of ideas for our camping journey and suggested many interesting places to visit. One of their 2 daughters, Michelle and her family live just a couple houses away from Donald and Charlotte. Their other daughter Missy and her family still live in Maine at the Bergquist family home in Topsham with Rey’s dad. All in all, we had a wonderful time visiting with them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009: We are off exploring again. Drove out to Canyon Lake, a large recreation area west of Austin. Even though the lake was 26 feet low due to the extended drought that has plagued this area the scenery was very nice. Did an investigative drive through the Lackland AFB recreation facility and found it to be very nice with camping, boating, hiking trails and very clean. Unfortunately they were booked solid…..those darn snow birds!

Attempted to visit the Fort Sam Houston facility about a mile down the lake but it was closed for reconstruction. In talking to one of the park employees it sounds like it will be very nice and have all the required stuff.

Drove the Texas Hill Country through some beautiful scenery to the little town of Wimberley. Parked and walked the town stumbling into a small curiosity shop. As it turned out the place was owned by the wife of renowned collector, Jack Glover “The Barbed Wire King” who just happened to be in the place doing some repair work. Not sure that barbed wire will actually hold that chair together but it ought to make for some entertaining moments. Since I personally know Vince the Duct Tape King, I took an instant liking to old Jack.

Jack Glover “The Barbed Wire King”

Jack Glover “The Barbed Wire King”

Today was his 85th birthday and he is a spry and down home old fella as you would ever want to meet. He actually has made his living collecting, writing about and selling rare pieces (called “cuts”) of good old American barbed wire or as the pro’s call it “bobbed” wire or “the devil wire”. His scholarly work on the subject is now in the 11th printing.

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Jack was telling me that some of the rarest bobbed wire is located in New England as it tended to deteriorate quicker in that environment. He claims that he has been able to sell some wire for $250.00 a cut (18 inches) and that he has sold over a quarter million dollars of the stuff in the past 30 years. In this era of financial meltdown that might not be a bad hedge, investing in bobbed wire futures can’t be any more painful than watching my 401K. Unless you keep your investments under your mattress.

Returned to the Crowe Ranch and treated the family to an authentic hometown Maine meal which they all enjoyed. Since Warming’s Market won’t deliver this far we went with Domino’s Pizza which it turns out actually has universal appeal.

Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit