grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Monday, December 31, 2007

30/31DEC07 - Navarre, FL (happy new year!)

The next stop on our itinerary was just down the beach highway, US 98, in Navarre, FL. There we were to join up with our old friends Anneke and Chuck Guldenschuh, who also recently became full time RV’ers.

We all first met way back in the late 70s early 80s when we were all in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, together (Chuck was Dan’s boss the first time he was stationed overseas). Our paths have continually crossed as both men pursued their Coast Guard careers. In fact, when the CG reopened the Rotterdam office in 1995, Chuck was the first Commanding Officer assigned, and Dan was his first Executive Officer!

As we proceeded from Panama City to Navarre, we could begin to see the remaining after effects of hurricane Ivan over four to five years ago. Since Navarre is very close to Pensacola, it was heavily impacted. Many small business, smaller condominiums, and some houses are still damaged and empty. In fact, we heard on the news that one of the major insurance companies will cancel all their Florida hurricane insurance 01 JAN 08 – Happy New Year?

We made it safely to the RV park and immediately met up with the Guldenschuhs. After a little time socializing, we all headed over to the nearby Army Base, Hurlburt Field, to do a little shopping. Then it was back to the RV park where Dan BBQ’d some lamb and a delicious meal was had by all. The rest of the evening was spent telling sea stories and playing cards. The next morning the Guldenschuhs took us to a local restaurant known for its baked goods (the cinnamon rolls are excellent!) and large omelets on Santa Rosa Island. A quick driving tour of the Island shows about 90% of the homes completely gone because of hurricane Ivan.

That evening being New Years Eve, we all planned on gathering at the Guldenschuh’s daughter, Heather, and her husband, Ryan Baxter, house to bring in the New Year. Ryan and Heather live down the beach in Mary Esther. It turns out that the “party” was evenly split between four “oldies” in their fifties; and four “young pups” in their twenties. First we had a traditional "dutch" New Year's Eve dinner of ertwensoep (dutch split pea soup w/ham & sausage), and ollie ballen (think donut holes on steroids); followed by more card games. Since we were able to watch the Time Square celebration real time (ie East Coast time), we were able to make our good-byes and get back to the RV before midnight local time (ie Central time). Remember every party needs a pooper. Anyway – GELUKKIG NIEUWJAAR!!! De beste wensen voor 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

27-29DEC07 - Panama City, FL

On Thursday, 27DEC, we arrived at the Family Camp run by Tyndall AFB in Panama City, FL. Upon arrival we immediately noted that everyone seemed to know everyone else and had been coming here for years. And full calendar of activities was already scheduled by the many “volunteers”. In fact we were informed that tonight was penny bingo and Friday was fish fry potluck dinner. We passed on the bingo but signed up for the fish fry. We also noted one of the largest wood piles we had ever seen. Turns out that there is a structure enclosed with vinyl sheeting that has a fire pit in the middle that pretty much burns all day and night. Apparently it takes the place of the office water cooler for spreading rumors. It is the only fire pit structure we have ever seen with window air conditioners?

The next morning we took the toad and back tracked on the route we had driven in on, to explore the town of Apalachicola. Apalachicola was one of the top five seaports within the USA prior to the Civil War. Although it never regained prominence as a seaport, Apalachicola was number one in natural sponges before that market went bust. Today the town is known for its fresh seafood, especially oysters. We wandered around the town to build up our appetites before tackling the famous Apalachicola Oysters. At noon time it was off to Boss Oysters for lunch. Of course we had to start with half dozen raw oysters. Corrie then went with the oyster po-boy that was definitely overloaded with fried oysters. Dan went with a dish supposedly “invented” in Charleston, cheese grits with shrimp; very good, but not heart healthy!

After some more exploring of Apalachicola, it was off to a state museum devoted to John Gorrie who is credited as the inventor of the ice machine. As with most inventors Gorrie built his machine for one purpose, at which it failed, and others saw the potential and made fortunes off it. Gorrie designed his machine to cool the rooms of TB patients in Apalachicola. He reasoned that since TB was more prevalent in warm climates, that if he lowered the temperature of their rooms, those afflicted with TB would get better. Obviously it didn’t work. But others took his patents and perfected the first ice machines. Anyway the entire museum was smaller than our RV and only cost one dollar.

After returning to the Family Camp spent the afternoon washing half of the RV. Then it was off to the fish fry potluck we had signed up for at the community center. Everyone, including us, brought one small dish to share. The fried fish was Grouper, which the local waters of the Gulf of Mexico are famous for. Very enjoyable evening.

The next morning we finished off the other half of washing the RV. Of course rain is forecasted for the afternoon. That evening we headed over to our friends, Brad and Debbie Black. Brad and Dan were classmates at the Coast Guard Academy, but ran in different circles. But the last three years of their CG careers (2001 to 2004) they worked and socialized together at the Eighth Coast Guard District in New Orleans. Anyway, after CG retirement Brad started a second career in Panama City. Turns out Brad has become an accomplished raiser of Koi in pond he has constructed in his backyard. For those that don’t know Koi are very large brightly colored fish that are members of the carp family (ie they are not large goldfish like many people think). Debbie prepared an excellent meal and we spent hours talking about the various CG couples we had known and where were they now? The evening was far too short and we promise to return.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

26DEC07 - Crawfordville, FL

As we drove from Kings Bay, GA, to the beach area of Fort Walton, FL, we decided to try something a lot of RV’ers do, but we haven’t to date. That is “dry camping” in the parking lot of your friendly super Wal-Mart. We don’t know if you have noticed, but every now and then you might see RVs parked on the outer fringes of Wal-Mart; usually over night or for a few days at most. Wal-Mart doesn’t encourage this, but they don’t discourage it either. The RV’er gets the security of a 24hr facility with security cameras, and Wal-Mart gets a few extra bucks if you decide to do a little shopping.

Spending the night in a traditional RV park has its benefits, but sometimes the services provided are not the worth the money spent for an overnight stay. In reality with the generator running, we have everything we need except cable no matter where we are. And the fuel cost for running the generator all night is much less than the average fee at a RV park. So south of Tallahassee we pulled into the parking lot of the super Wally Mart in Crawfordville, FL, to spend the night and minimizes our expenses.

Bottom line, it wasn’t so bad; except for when the young punk was showing off his new car stereo he got for xmas to his buddies at max volume. Thankfully it was over in fifteen minutes, and we were not disturbed the rest of the night.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

22-25DEC07 - Kings Bay, GA (merry xmas)

Saturday 22DEC, we arrived at the military RV park on board the US Navy’s east coast Trident Submarine Base at Kings Bay, GA. We have heard very good things about this facility from several military retirees, and we agree that this is one of the best military recreational facilities we have stayed at. But this being a nuclear submarine and missile facility the security is much higher than other military bases. Two examples – security cars continually come through the campground all night, and every now and then we hear a taped warning played over loud speakers warning that you have entered a restricted area and the use of deadly force is authorized (we think warning is set off when animals set off sensors). To learn more, check out:

On Sunday morning we headed into the small town of St Marys, Ga, across the river Mayport, FL. St Marys claims it is the second oldest city in the USA. But as in sports, being second gets you nothing and tourists go to St Augustine, FL, the oldest city in the USA. St Marys is also the National Parks access point to Cumberland Island, which was once a private get away for Thomas Carnegie and family. The last Carnegie family members donated their properties to the Park Service in 1971. We toured the visitor center and would have taken the ferry to the island, but they wanted thirty eight dollars for four hours on the island. Plus the best way to tour the island is by bicycle, but you can’t take your bikes because they don’t want competition for the bike concession on the island.

That evening we headed up I-95 to a hole in the wall BBQ place Dan read it about called the GA. Pig (ie the Georgia Pig). The establishment is a nondescript wooden building set way back from the road. In fact if you are not looking for the sign with a pig playing a fiddle, you’ll never find it. One thing this restaurant does differently, is to keep spraying the wood fire with water is to produce lots of smoke. The water spray also tends to fill the whole building with smoke. Regardless, it was great BBQ.

Monday morning we drove south to Florida Beach Highway A1A to see the Atlantic Ocean. First we stopped in the town of Fernandina Beach. The historic section of Fernandina has been beautifully restored; unfortunately all the stores are geared toward “beach” tourists. However, the drive along the beach and then through the inland marshes is very beautiful, and it was a beautiful, sunny day.

Christmas eve we went to the RV park recreation room for hors devoirs that we had previously signed up for, to meet fellow RV’ers. While there we made the acquaintance of Lambert and Sandra Elboeck, and Jim and Ursula Wilson. We had an excellent evening of conversation, and it turns out that all three couples have an “European connection”. As most of you know Corrie was born in the Netherlands, not to mention the fact that we lived there for years as a couple. Well turns out that Lambert was born and raised in Austria before immigrating to USA when he was eleven, and when he joined the US military his first assignment was three years in Munich. Jim met and married Ursula while stationed in Germany. So our conversations were punctuated with bits and pieces of German and Dutch. Did we mention the fact that Ursula brought a bottle of champagne and we were the envy of everyone else drinking sodas or coffee?

Christmas Day was definitely a different one for us. There were no gifts to be unwrapped, or big meal to prepare. In fact we spent the day doing laundry and cleaning the RV. Then that afternoon we headed over to the base galley with our new friends, the Elboeck’s and Wilson’s, for Xmas dinner. A very nice and quiet Xmas as we fell asleep with full bellies, listening to the warnings about deadly force (look out Santa and Rudolph!).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

21DEC07 - Albany, GA (semper fi)

After some discussion and time spent looking at maps of southeastern USA, we decide that we would head to the military RV park at Kings Bay Naval Base outside of St Marys, GA, for Xmas. We also considered going to Savannah, but decided that we just wanted a quiet location and didn’t need a big city for Xmas. And Kings Bay would put right on the Florida border and thereby shorten our driving distance to meet with our friends the Guldenschuhs near Fort Walton Beach, FL, for New Years.

Not wanting to drive the entire distance in one day, we decided to stay overnight at the Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) in Albany, GA. After our disappointment at the Air Force facilities at Lake Martin, this campsite was four stars. In fact, someone even delivered a local paper to our RV door in the morning. It was such a pleasant relaxing location, that we didn’t even bother with our usual trip into town for a walkabout. We are not sure what the MCLB does, but you can check out their website at:

Monday, December 24, 2007

19/20DEC07 - Dadeville, AL (happy anniversary)

After leaving the Tiffin factory we weren’t sure which way to head or where we wanted to spend Xmas; knowing only that we had to be close to Fort Walton, FL, before New Years. So Dan picked a military recreational facility on Lake Martin run by Maxwell Air Force Base. By his figuring this would put with easy driving distance of Savannah, GA; the north Atlantic coast of Florida; or Pensacola, FL, on the Gulf of Mexico. And the day we left Red Bay was also our 26th Anniversary.

We’re not sure where, but somewhere we saw something that rated this recreational facility as one of the best in the military system. While the facility is beautiful located, it is showing its age and is pretty rundown. In addition the roads are quite narrow and not really made for today’s bigger RVs. Thankfully, we had disconnected our toad before driving to our campsite, otherwise we might not have made it. The nicest thing about the facility, was that we were the only ones in it and it was quiet and peaceful!

Lake Martin was the largest man made lake in the world in the 1920s. But because of the severe drought in the southeast USA, it is almost empty today. The lake level is down twenty feet and all the marinas are closed until the lake level raises. Although the RV facility was not the best we decided to stay two nights to just relax and rest. So on Thursday morning, 20DEC, we went into the adjacent town of Dadeville for a walkabout. We noted nothing remarkable or unremarkable about Dadeville. We did happen to catch the county museum during the one day a week that it is open. By checking the “guest book” at the museum we can see the average time to tour the museum is twenty minutes.

Friday, December 21, 2007

16-18DEC07 - Red Bay, AL

As we stated last time, the day after Rebecca and Raymond’s wedding we headed to Red Bay, AL, and the Tiffin factory (builder of our current RV). Why the RV factory you ask? Because unlike autos, most RV manufacturers have facilities on site for working on their RVs. In most cases they can fix anything on the RV (except transmissions, engines and chassis), including major accident repair. Imagine if you could take your car to the factory that built your vehicle with all their in house expertise, and ask them to look into a leaking window, strange noise from the suspension, non working CD player, etc, etc. And while you waited for service you could talk to the engineers and designers of your vehicle. In addition, you get to talk directly to the mechanic/technician who will work on your vehicle. In fact you can actually watch the entire repair as long as you don’t interfere. Well you can do that at Tiffin, and even tour the factory if you have time.

So on Sunday, 16DEC, we drove for seven hours to the little town of Red Bay. Tiffin prefers that you make an appointment, but getting an appointment is very hard because many Tiffin owners make a yearly appointment even if nothing needs fixing on their RV! But we were hoping that we could get one of the three hour service slots that don’t require appointment. Sometimes there is even a line of RVs waiting for one of the three hour slots. When you check into the Tiffin RV park you fill out work list of what you want fixed/looked at, which we did Sunday night. Monday morning Norris was knocking on our door to go over the list. Turns out Norris reviews all work lists with the owners to make sure it is clear what exactly is needed. Interestingly Norris will often tell you how to do the repair cheaper than they will, or to “live with it” because the repair cost will be very high for benefit gained.

Another nice thing about factory work, is that the hourly rates are less than at RV dealerships and they bill in 15 minute increments. Lastly, when one of the young mechanics (ie 30/40 years old) gets stumped, they will call over one of the older mechanics for help (or even consult one of the in house engineers), and you don’t get doubled billed for time. We were fortunate that after lunch on Monday they got us into a service bay (there are over fifty bays), and had 90% of the work done.

The next day we participated in the morning factory tour. Dan felt that the organization on the assembly line left a little to be desired. Although self drive RVs are very expensive items, all RV owners live with the fact that there will several problems (hopefully minor ones) in a brand new RV no matter the brand. Probably a good thing the Japanese haven’t gotten into the RV market. Turns out that the company was providing a free BBQ lunch to the employees. Our tour guide got us a free lunch. Upon our return to the Tiffin RV park, we discovered that everything was done on our work list. In fact, while the mechanic was working on our last item, the electric motor on our hydraulic levelers burned out and they replaced it. Even with the cost of the motor, our bill was probably half of what it would have been at a RV dealership.

All-in-all we are very happy with our trip to the Tiffin RV factory and will try for an appointment next year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

14NOV-15DEC - Houma, LA (turkey day & wedding bells)

Tomorrow, 16DEC, we get back on the road for a couple of weeks after more than a month back in Houma. We have been parked in our driveway for most of the time. Every now and then we have paid to park at the Civic Center so that we can dump our sewage tanks. It has been nice to be back and visit our Louisiana friends, but even being parked in your own driveway and not being able to use the house gets old after awhile. Although we will miss our friends and the kids, we will be glad when the house sells and we have one less thing to worry about.

Anyway, our days have been filled with lots, and lots, of little errands that seem important but really aren’t; catching up on medical appointments; etc. Since the RV can only comfortably entertain six people, our daughter Rebecca decided she would take care of the family Thanksgiving meal. This was ok by us but Corrie still did most of the work/cooking. This is because Rebecca’s oven was broken, only two burners on the stove worked, the microwave was only big enough for one bag of popcorn, and her selection of pots of pans was limited. So Corrie prepared most of the meal the day before in the RV and we hauled it to Rebecca’s and Raymond’s. Everything came together and the food was excellent. Our son Joe was there with his fiancĂ© Ashley and her daughter Allison; along with one of Raymond’s co-workers.

As we stated in our last blog entry Rebecca was engaged and discussing wedding plans with her fiancĂ© Raymond Pitre. Neither of them wanted a big wedding and would have been happy to go to City Hall with small number of friends and just do it. The end result was because of us RV’ing, Raymond’s upcoming National Guard commitments, and other factors, that they would get married on 15DEC!!! Once again most of the arranging fell to Corrie. We arranged for a Saturday afternoon ceremony at a Bed and Breakfast owned by Judge Ellender (guess who presided over the ceremony?). Turns out the Judge owns an antebellum home called Grand Bayou Noir on Bayou Black (get it?) and he also rents the property for parties and events.

Actually having only three weeks to plan and execute a wedding was for us a lot less stressful than what we have seen of people having months or a year to plan it. And since our expenses for the entire thing were less than average cost of an American wedding, we have agreed to pay for the honeymoon (ski trip to Utah in January) and contribute to down payment on their first house.

Since Dan has a business trip 21JAN and we have another round of medical appointments at the end of JAN, we decided to get on the road tomorrow. Our first stop will be the Tiffin RV factory in Red Bay, Alabama; eventually meeting our friends the Guldenschuhs in Florida for New Years. We have no idea where we will be for X-mas, but aren’t really concerned about it. In fact, we aren’t buying any gifts and we probably won’t even have any type of decorations at all in the RV.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

13NOV07 - Houma, LA (please buy this house!)

Today we woke up to dense fog and very poor visibility (welcome to Louisiana). But being in an RV meant we didn’t have to leave immediately, so we waited for the fog to lift. The drive east on I-10 was uneventful. But when we turned off on to old US 90 at Lafayette to head toward Houma things did not go as well. First, getting through Lafayette is always an adventure even in the best of times, in an RV it is even more fun! US 90 runs right through the heart of Lafayette and has three very narrow lanes with a speed limit of 35, and numerous traffic lights. Everyone tries to drive 45 or faster, and tries to get ahead of the next guy by passing on the left and right. Throw into this mix numerous semis carrying large oilfield machinery, and you see why we enjoy it so much. We have learned long ago to just get into the middle lane and be patient.

After clearing Lafayette we had another pleasant driving experience. Everything was going well when all of a sudden we slowed to 20 mph behind a two mile line of traffic. Turns out that someone was moving a house down the freeway with a LSP escort, and there was absolutely no way to get around the moving roadblock! After twenty minutes of this the entire procession came to a complete stop and we sat there for many minutes not moving. Turns out someone forgot to measure the airgap under the house and they were hung-up on a guard rail! Finally Dan got a Louisiana map out and went up to a trucker to ask where we were on the map and if there was an alternative route? First driver asked did not speak English (Espanola); second driver was from Louisiana but had no idea where we were on the map; third driver was the charm. Luckily the RV was right next to a paved cross over, so we made a U-turn, back tracked three miles, drove five miles north out of our way, got on LA highway 182, drove through New Iberia and reconnected to US 90 east and made it home.

We are now parked in our driveway of our vacant house which has not sold in four months on the market. So if you know anyone in the market for a nice house in the bayou, send them our way. Anyway, we will be here at least for the holidays with the kids. And Rebecca is engaged to Raymond Pitre, and we are discussing wedding plans. So there probably will not be much in the way of new entries on the blog, but keep checking because we will be making small trips and will be back on the road by the spring at the latest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

12NOV07 - Lake Charles, LA

Today we continued east toward Louisiana and after an hour on the road we began our transit through the metropolis of Houston! Houston is probably second to Los Angeles in the nation for the number of freeways going through and around the city! You’ve got I-10, I-45, beltway I-610, beltway 8, US 59, US 90, and others. On top of this there seems to be never ending construction at the major intersection of these highways. Thankfully we made it through at least three major construction areas with small delays and no scrapes. The only problem was northeast of Houston when we stopped to refuel both vehicles. One driver successfully negotiated the standard Texas u-turn to get back on the highway, only to see the other driver stuck in the wrong lane with no hope of getting on the freeway. Thanks to cell phones the convoy was back together within ten minutes.

Back in Louisiana we decided to stay in a RV spot at the Isle of Capri Casino in Lake Charles. You only get electricity but the cost is only $10, which gets you access to the health club, showers, pool and daily paper. Before we tried the casino it was off to our favorite Lake Charles restaurant Steamboat Bills. Turns out they were named one of the top ten restaurants to exit the highway for by USA Today in May of 2006. (In fact two of the ten establishments noted were in Louisiana. The second was Prejeans outside Lafayette. We highly recommend their eggplant pirogue!) Bills boiled crawfish were voted best in Lake Charles ten years in a row. Unfortunately it is still too early for crawfish, so we settled for oyster poboy and red beans and rice.

11NOV07 - Columbus, TX

Today we departed Sharon and Tim’s to begin the drive back to our empty house in Houma, LA. We have decided to be in close proximity to the kids at least for the holidays. Normally when we make this trip we head due east on 290, through Austin, and then try to skirt north of Houston, doing the drive in two days. This makes for two extremely long driving days and kinda defeats the purpose of relaxed RV’ing. So we decided to take three days to make the trip, with no portion longer than four hours, or about 240 miles. We also decided to change our route to take us southeast until we connect with I-10 east leading to Houston, a city we dread driving through with an RV. Another factor in our decision was that Corrie had to drive the Benz back from Kerrville to Houma. We had hoped to sell it before the RV adventure began, but it didn't happen. So now are taking it back to Louisiana to clean it once again, and hopefully sell it.

Anyway our first overnight was in the town of Columbus, TX, about one hour west of Houston right on I-10. Columbus is a pretty typical small Texas town that had a brief spell of prominence based on cattle and the arrival of the railroad. And as was also somewhat typical the new cattle barons decided to show their “class” by building a very large and ornate Opera House. What is unusual about the Stafford Opera House funded by Robert Stafford, was that Mr Stafford had the entertainment portion of the building located entirely on the second floor so that the first floor could be devoted to businesses like his bank, thereby guaranteeing a positive cash flow. He also had his house build next door with a special window in his bedroom that allowed him to watch the show in the Opera House from the comfort of his own bedroom.

Trivia – The first district court in 1837 was presided over by Robert McAlpin Williamson, why was he called Three-Legged Willie? (remember this is a family show)

Monday, November 12, 2007

06-10NOV07 - Kerrville, TX

For the last four nights we have been staying at Sharon and Tim Tompkins (Dan’s sister and husband) because we took the RV into Freightliner of San Antonio for a check-up and routine maintenance. After the major repairs done last August in Minot, ND, we felt that after four thousand miles it would bring some peace of mind if the repairs were checked by another service facility. Since we are living in the RV, having a place to stay while the RV sits at the service facility is needed.

Getting your RV service while you live in it is probably the biggest headache of full time RV’ing. RV dealerships that sell RVs are not really equipped or staffed to service the complicated engine, transmissions or chassis. Unlike cars or trucks, most RV manufacturers do not make their own chassis with engines and transmissions, they buy them from third parties. That means that a seller of RVs could be faced with having mechanics certified for Ford and GMC gas engines; not to mention Cummins, Caterpillar or Detroit diesel engines; and the list grows when you throw in transmissions or chassis. So for other than routine maintenance, you need to find a truck facility that is certified to service your chassis, engine and transmission.

Anyway, after four days we finally got the RV back hopefully with a clean bill of health. While we waited, we had a very enjoyable time as house guests at Sharon and Tim’s. It was a nice extended family visit that included Dan Sr. Sharon and Corrie prepared delicious meals, and Dan even contributed by BBQ’ing a brisket.

While there Sharon showed us Xerox letters and newspaper articles dealing with Dan’s great aunts Helen Ryan, Marie Ryan and Marie’s husband Olda. Turns out Olda, who was Czech was conscripted into the Czar’s army during WWI and was in Russia for the Revolution. Once Olda realized what was happening, he removed his Russian uniform and ended up being an interpreter for the French embassy (Olda spoke six languages fluently). After surviving WWI and the Russian Revolution, Olda ended up back in Czechoslovakia selling a light weight machine gun that the British turned into the BREN. From then until WWII Olda traveled the world as an arms dealer, spending most of the time in the Orient. Meanwhile, the Ryan sisters Marie and Helen did something very rare for their time, they took extended trips from Seattle to Asia as single women. We won’t bore you with all the details, but Maria traveled much more than Helen and eventually met Olda and married him. It was fascinating to read everyday letters detailing the worsening world situation in Asia leading up to WWII. In fact the tone of the letters is that its just an inconvenience that shipping schedules mean nothing since the Japanese have invaded China and they wait in Hong Kong to get out. Truly amazing reading.

The end result was because of the delay waiting for servicing we were in town for Dave and Shelley’s wedding at “Backdoor Pottery and Botanical Gardens”. (see blog entry before this one if you are not familiar with Dave’s establishment). The four of us attended the event. The two story green house was decorated for the ceremony, and it was lovely ceremony. But Dave being a good businessman, did not have an open bar.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

01-05NOV07 - Kerrville, TX

The last week has been very relaxing, not doing much other than a little relaxed sightseeing. Plus the weather has been fantastic, low 80s during the day and high 50s at night.

One day we traveled to Medina, TX, with Dan’s sister, Sharon. Medina is very proud of their local apple orchards; they claim that their unique micro climate produces the best apples in USA! We had lunch at Love Creek Orchards, where they cook a pretty good hamburger. We also sampled their cider, soft apple ice cream and of course their apple pie. The ice cream was a definite hit, but the pie was so-so being made with sweet red apples rather that tart green apples.

On the return from Medina we stopped at combination general store and post office called Camp Verde. Turns out this was the site where the US Army experimented with camels as pack animals for about a dozen years. Although the building is over a hundred years old, it is not the original business that developed to support the Army workers and soldiers involved in the experiment. People still drive in from the farms and ranches to pick up their mail (and socialize).

On another day we met Sharon and Tim in Kerrville to take in the annual Texas Furniture Maker Exhibition. This annual event is a juried show (ie invitations only). The furniture entered was truly beautiful, often bordering on art. Of course the price tags reflected the beauty of the pieces. It was interesting to note that all the craftsmen stressed the use of natural Texas woods; and if exotic woods were used, they were from sustainable forests.

From there we traveled to Dave’s in Center Point. Sharon and Tim know our interest in unique/eccentric establishments, and feel Dave’s fits the bill. The official name of Dave’s is “Backdoor Pottery and Botanical Gardens.” Thirty years or so ago Dave started throwing pottery and has since become well known for his pottery. Meanwhile he has kept adding on to his business so that it now includes: two story green house with a mid level balcony; hundreds of exotic birds (parrots, parakeets, macaws, etc); bar-b-que; game rooms; several decks overlooking the Guadalupe River; and a bar. In our opinion Dave’s is unique and eccentric. And if you happen to be in town on the 10th of November at 7PM, then drop on by Dave’s for his wedding to Shelley. That’s right, Dave is getting married in his establishment and has extended an open invitation to everyone!