Sunday, April 15, 2012

We are now back in the US – that means I have more time to do the things that I fervently wish I could have been doing, right? But just what are those things? Traveling, touring, planning tours, sewing, needlework, quilting, reading, playing Sudoku, Mahjong … all of the above but in a manner that allows me to do it all. Yeah right! A glutton? Yes, but it sure would give me a lot of pleasure. Of course, in between all of these things, I should do my equal share of driving – except in the RV. Hmmmm, do I need to re-allign my priorities or what …

Anyways, after we got the RV roadworthy, we took it out for a test(a 4 hour drive, up and down and country roads) by going to a close-by RV rally in a place called Rayne, Louisiana – the Frog Capital of the World or so they claim. 

 There is much to see and do in this area, as verified through our very limited touring during our 6 days in the area.
-        The city of Rayne itself and its many murals and statues, all of frogs – an economy that once was based on the harvesting of frogs for export, now replaced by rice. The spraying of the rice fields have all but eliminated the frogs.
 ...murals are all over the city with all different themes but still of frogs.
(even the post office got into the act)
We had a Scavanger Hunt with a list of various murals to find and I, surprisingly, won a price – t-shirt from Rayne and a ball cap!
-       The city of Crowley, a mere 7 miles from Rayne, where we learned all about rice and how it is produced. Got a great Cajun rice cookbook there.
-       The city of Eunice where we learned all about the area at the NPS interpretive center and the local Cajun/Xylico music at it’s own museum. Here  we were also part of the audience of a live radio show that featured Cajun music. Now that is different.  
-       At Avery Island we learned everything and more that you ever wanted to know about Tobasco Sauce. We also discovered that it really wasn’t an island in the true sense, but rather a huge salt dome that appeared as an island from afar. Tobasco flavoured ice cream and coca cola anyone? They also brought out miniature samples of Tabasco as a gift for each person and of course, ended the tour in their uniquely Tobasco gift shop where we actually bought some planting seeds for the special peppers. I understand that the plant is very ornamental as well, especially if it blooms around Christmas. 


-       It is a wonderful bike riding area – the roads are wide with shoulders and few potholes and so very little traffic, and ost importantly, lots of close stores, restaurants and towns, even on the country roads.
     -   Visited the site of Longfellow’’s Evangeline, St Martinville. 
     -       Oh yes, our reason for being in the area, we attended a RV rally where people 
         came from all over the USA and Canada for 4 days of fun and making contacts. 
         We sat in on various lectures/seminars and learned how to volunteer in our rig 
         (we had already decided to become a Red Cross Disaster volunteer) as well as
         how to go to work if the need should ever arrive. 

Being back on the road, but not in the Motorhome, we drove from Texas to Yuma, AZ to spend some quality time with friends there. Took 2 ½ days of driving with a stopover to visit a couple of Painted Churches that are found in Fayette County, in the southern tier of Texas. They are beautiful and rival anything that we have seen during our many travels. Because of the wealth or lack thereof in the community, wood is painted to look like marble and sculptured decorations. You had to look closely to see that it was painted, not carved. They were painted by itinerant painters, many of whom were from San Antonio, according to printed material that we read.

The two that we visited were found on the outer limits of Schulenberg and in Praha. The one in Schulenberg was more German while the one in Praha, a mere 7 miles away, was more Czeck in their nomenclature. Design and culture. The stained glass windows in the each church were sponsored by members of the congregation and had their names worked into the window pane itself. The names testify to the diversity and origins of the population.

St Mary’s on High Hill, Schulenberg: 
From the outside it looks like any other lovely country church, but on the inside … 

This area is an area worth exploring, in fact it would be fun on a bike as all the little towns are close by and the roads with little traffic and in good condition. So we will no doubt, put together a small daily bike tour and see all the churches in this genre at a later date.

Throughout all our recent travels, we have returned to the fun of collecting stamps at National Parks, finding and visiting areas that are new to us, and looking for roads that we have not driven to date. Sometimes that can be a difficult job, but find them we did and added more pink to our atlas. This then takes us into all different areas and secondary roads, rather the interstate and major highways. Today we are heading to see if we can do some cemetery slinking in the Hill Country, looking for some of Danny’s ancestors. Alas, we couldn’t find the cemetery and ran out of the allotted time for this activity but we did find fields and fields of blue bonnets, Indian paint and some black eyed suzies 
as well as some we couldn’t identify. How often do you actually find the desert in bloom? Not often but when it is, WOW! 

Returning to Phoenix from Yuma, we flew out to Edmonton to visit the folks for a few days. It was fun visiting with them and other members of my family. Spring had sprung – but the green that I like hadn’t sprung at all. In fact, on Friday we awoke to find the area covered in something that was white. What could this be? Snow????? The only way to find out was to go out into it – Yikes! It’s COLD! And yes, it is snow. Dad says, “won’t last!” Wrong! The snow kept coming down; the next day it was still coming down; the next day it was still snowing and we were scheduled to fly out! It was much prettier driving out to the airport than it was coming in: White versus brown. 

Coming back to Phoenix, and the heat and sunshine, we headed across back towards Texas. In typical Danny and Shirley manner, we are bumping down the road and decided to camp over at a Hot Springs in New Mexico. We had a little food, nothing for a regular breakfast, no sleeping bags just sacs and a fleece blanket for each of us. Heck, that is enough. The hot springs first thing in the morning made up for the desert COLD that we encountered overnight. Did you know that a bath towel works really well as a small blanket?

Pulling out the map, we looked for the “road [least] traveled” that would get us across to Texas via the most picturesque route. But wait a minute, how about heading south and visiting Seminole Canyon State Park? We can be there by 10pm if we get on the road immediately. Phoning the park we find that we can get on the archeological tour in the morning. So off we go!

Setting up the tent in the dark, pestered by flying mosquitos and bugs that looked as big as quarters with bites that left HUGE marks, we set the alarm. The next morning it was a rush to get to the park office where the tour started. Looking out over the canyon, the landscape was desolate, yellow and brown with scrub bushes and cacti. We lucked out as to the tour guide as we were the only ones on the tour along with her evaluating boss. The information we received was phenomenal and it took far longer than the scheduled 1.5 hours as the questions were answered with lecture-type responses. The shelter was filled with interesting petroglyphs with the relayed information spiking the desire to continue with the learning process started before PC. (BPC) 
A nice interlude and then a fast trip back to Nacogdoches and the RV. Is it finished??? ... hmmmmm
And so ends the first of many new adventures as we find our way back into life in the US. We continue to ponder the possibilities offered by another PC experience but have postponed making any decisions until the fall.