Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Canyon Lake - Potter's Creek Park

When we left the condo, we just went a few miles down the road to this little Corps of Engineers Park, Potter's Creek.  What a lovely little park!  Bummer that we somehow missed taking a pic here.  Great, spacious sites (pads large enough for both your rig and your getting around vehicle next to it in its own space), with awesome picnic table shelters, and one of the best bathhouses we've experienced on this journey (clean, heated, hot water, super spacious shower stalls), all right on the lake!  It was easy to see how desperate they are for rain, though!  The swimming area was completely on dry land!  I've never seen that before.  If you're in the area, be sure to check out this gem of a campground!

Monday, January 30, 2012

San Antonio

It seemed wrong to be so close to San Antonio & not go, even though Steve & I have both been several times.  Who can pass up the Alamo for history?  Plus, our seven month on-the-road anniversary was up, and Steve had seen a Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives episode with Bun'n'Barrel, a San Antonio barbecue restaurant featured, and he was game for celebrating there.  Off we went, despite the 20% chance of rain.  Besides, when does it rain when it's only a 20% chance??

Our first stop was Bun'n'Barrel.  Who can learn history on an empty stomach??  Our service was good, and the food was good, too!  Steve tried to talk Shanan out of ordering a fish sandwich, but I'm glad he wasn't successful because it was yummy (she let me taste it)!  All in all, a good way to commemorate seven months on-the-road!

Next stop was the Alamo.  It was a good day to visit because it wasn't crowded!  The Battle of the Alamo really exemplifies that fiercely independent and tenacious spirit that Texas stands for.  They really fought to the very end.  Lots of Texas history to process...and a good reminder that while we enjoyed our time in Gonzales, we really should have explored the history of the town while we there as it is the home of the first rumblings of the Texas Revolution.  Alyssa gave me a good chuckle when she saw the artifacts on display in the gift shop.  "So they fought with kitchen knives???" she asked!  She didn't grasp that the artifacts were there to give more insight into that time period in history and figured that they didn't have proper weapons, so they fought tenaciously with what they had!! 

While still at the Alamo, the first drops of rain began to fall, but it was really just a bit of drizzle, and we paid it no attention.  After leaving the Alamo and heading to the riverwalk, the drizzle turned to rain!  No pleasant sunny day to walk the riverwalk!  We got pretty wet, but we still walked!  The side benefit was that it wasn't crowded at all.  On a beautiful spring or summer day, it can be crazy busy!  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Canyon Lake Gorge

Caution: This is a Steve post! :)

Wow....they must have thought this would be torture!!

When researching things to do in the area, I came across an ad for the Canyon Lake Gorge.  Initially I thought this was a place that we all could go and spend an afternoon.   It turns out that the gorge was something that formed in 2002 during a period of intensely heavy rain.   The gorge is restricted to tours only, and you had to be at least 7 years old to go.   I thought that it would make a fun outing, so I bought 3 tickets for the Sunday afternoon tour for me and the big girls.    

We met at the base of the gorge and then rode a minibus to the top of the dam.  We would hike down the 1.25 miles through the gorge back to our cars.   The tour guide is a geologist who works in the oil and gas business.   We talked about the history of how the flood caused the water to have to use the spillway.  About twice the volume of the entire lake went over the spillway and created the gorge.   The gorge washed away soil and rocks and exposed layers that geologists didn't know were there.   

We talked about the different eras and such.  I don't think I believe in the whole million/trillion year old earth history, but I admit that I don't know how it all happened; I am certain, however, that God did it all.   It was interesting to learn about the different rock layers, and how aquifers work.   It was fascinating to see all the dinosaur tracks.

I asked the girls what they thought of it all, and they said that it was "better than they expected" which was good to hear.  
Science 'class' with dad
The gate restricting access except for tours
The group of us on the tour
Dino tracks uncovered during the 2002 flood
Geology lesson
The fossil is not actually the snail, but the sediment that hardened inside the shell
This gorge is less than ten years old
The water comes out of the ground, not from the lake
Sea urchin fossil that Alyssa found.  Of course we couldn't keep it. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Canyon Lake - Condo

When we left Gonzales, Texas, we made tracks to Canyon Lake in the Hill Country.  In our younger, less experienced years, we fell for a timeshare.  Definitely not one of our wisest financial decisions, but we've learned to make the best of it.  We hung out here for six nights, and I have to say, a two bedroom condo has never felt so large!  We had great times here.  The littles really enjoyed this awesome bathtub!

The big kids had a blast swimming in the heated indoor pool.  We all enjoyed the use of a dishwasher for a few days, a somewhat larger kitchen, and a larger table that we all fit at more comfortably, and just more space, in general.  Jake had a blast toddling about, exploring the place. He's more concerned about my whereabouts in the small space of the RV than he was here in the condo, oddly enough!

A little putt putt fun
Jake's learning early!
We also decided to do a little "recycling" while we were here.  Yeah, we don't recycle much these days.  Who has room for a recycle bin? Especially when over half the campgrounds don't even have recycling receptacles.  However...when Steve split the back of his nearly new jeans, I saw a "recycling opportunity." ;)

When Genna saw the big girls making one, she "needed" one, too.  She designed it, and I sewed it!
Amazing how big this table seemed to us!  Perfect for trying out Alyssa's new sewing machine!
The big girls definitely enjoyed their thick mattress!
Drying out the legos that doubled as bath toys
Here is Shanan's creation

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gonzales, Texas - Hillshade RV Park

We decided to hang out for a week at Hillshade RV Park in Gonzales, Texas.  We're taking it easy, doing less sightseeing and more formal "school."  Steve's been working on "re-tooling/continuing ed" in anticipation of re-entering the workforce when we're done, in addition to catching up on Battlestar Galactica, ever since he became a fan addict a few weeks ago.. I took advantage of full hook-ups & baked & cooked the days away.  I made a new family favorite recipe to add to my ever-growing soup repertoire---mulligatawny!

This was a great place to do all these things!. The rates are reasonable, the wifi is phenomenal, there are full hook-ups, and yet, the kids still have room to play (no playgrounds, though)!  Don't come here for the bathhouse, and know that you'll have to drive about 20 minutes to get to the store for groceries, but this is definitely a great place to let the kids be kids and catch up on "normal life," so to speak.  The owners are super nice and have five kids, all homeschooled, three of which are girls.  Our girls had a blast getting to know them, playing games, painting nails, and learning to hoop with their wide variety of hula hoops!  They had such great hoops, even I was able to hoop!

Another bonus was that the Lundy's, the family on-the-road we met in California, came here on our last full day here.  Since it was a Saturday, our kids, the Moer kids, and the Lundy's all played together all day!  Allen lent his expertise to help Steve out with a few RV issues that had him stumped.  A great ending to a great stop for us!

There was a lot of hooping going on
And a little jump rope too
Lizzy seemed to enjoy having an audience 
Genna was fond of Precious, and Precious asked a few times if she could keep her
The girls---the boys generally avoided our area

Friday, January 20, 2012

Palmetto State Park

Palmetto State Park is a peaceful, pretty state park not far from where we were staying at Hillshade RV Park.  Shanan got a chance to try out her her new fishing pole, and although she didn't land any fish, she did catch one, just lost it before she got it in because her knot came loose.  Jake and Genna played for hours on the playground right between the fishing area and the River Crossing Campground.  As we visited on a Friday with amazing weather (mid to upper 70s in January??!!), it was starting to fill up in the late afternoon.  There were great tent-camping sites, and great RV sites, too!

Genna played for hours here, she just loves playgrounds so much!
These are Palmettos, the namesake of the park.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

They grow up fast!

Steve has been very bothered that Genna sucks her finger and has for most of the last three years.  She would get better about it, and then something would shake her feeling of security, like having a new baby brother or moving out of a house into an RV, and she would ramp up again.  She's been begging for a bike, and Steve has insisted that she must completely kick her finger-sucking habit before getting one.  That has been deeply distressing for her!  I've spent the last several months mentally prepping her to give up the habit.  I told her that she would stop when she's four years old. Steve also told her to stop every time he saw her doing, accompanied by much wailing & tears.

Well, lo and behold, yesterday afternoon Genna announced, "I don't seem to be sucking my finger any more, so I don't think I'll need to sleep with my 'glanket' tonight."  I acknowledged her, but I didn't make a big deal about it, because I was pretty sure her resolve would weaken as bedtime approached.  Just before bed, she asked me where she should keep her 'glanket' since she wouldn't be sleeping with it, so she wouldn't be sucking her finger.  When she rejected my suggestions, I asked what she thought, and she decided to place it with her jammies.  She got ready for bed, and after her bedtime story, she got very distressed about how in the world she was going to be able to go to sleep without sucking her finger!  I stayed and snuggled her, and she fell promptly to sleep with both arms high over her head---no finger sucking!  I warned the big sisters, and went to bed expecting to wake to some night-time drama later.  Guess what???  None...she slept through till morning and woke with no finger in her mouth and no tell-tale signs of through-the-night-sucking!  Woww...I was astonished!  Now, whether this resolve sticks remains to be seen, but my nearly eleven years of parenting have taught me that things like this have much greater success when the child initiates it than when Steve or I decide for them!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shiner, Texas

We weren't that far from Shiner while staying in Gonzales, so even though we've been before, we decided it would make a nice day trip.  We went to a playground close-by on the way to the Shiner brewery that was primarily swings that go super-high, super tall slides, and a "spinny thing" or carousel, you know the things you can't even look at when you're over 30 without feeling dizzy!  The girls had a blast!

Having only been on two brewery tours, I can't exactly say I'm an expert, but let's just say that the Budweiser tour we took in California can't even come close to holding a candle to the Shiner tour!  Every drop of Shiner beer sold anywhere is brewed right here in this brewery!  Pretty cool!  They offer two tours daily, Monday through Friday, 11:00 & 1:30. Our tour guide (totally don't remember her name) was great for the brewery tour, and made our girls feel welcome.  Needless to say, our four kiddos were the only kids on the tour.  She let Genna operate the elevator, which made her feel super special! We were able to stand and watch production for awhile and witness how things really work (like when a bottle goes down on the line and holds up the process until it's spotted & removed, or when the conveyor for the crowns get jammed).

You can't take photos on the inside, but here is the outside
This pretty much explains it
After the tour, we went to the gift shop where you can watch a video on the history of Shiner, and you can also sample four different varieties of Shiner.  They offer lemonade and water for the kids and anyone who wants them.  Of course the girls were drinking lemonade.  When Genna finished her first lemonade, she walked up to the counter with me, and politely asked, "I'd like to try the blue one next, please!"  Hilarious...of course, the blue one was beer, Shiner Blonde, but the pretty blue color on the dispenser looked appealing to her!

We finished our day in Shiner by driving to the Municipal Park and playing at two different playgrounds.  We also saw that they have several RV sites with full hook-ups.  It would be a great place to overnight if you're going to tour the Shiner Brewery and have kids as the campsites are so close to two playgrounds.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Austin, TX Capitol Tour

We had an unfortunate, surprise puke from the one year-old on our bed that resulted in the demise of my childhood pillow as well as yet another trip to a laundromat.  Yeah, this has made me miss the ease of just throwing stuff into the washer when it happens.  Nothing quite like hauling day-old, puke-covered laundry into the laundromat & washing it out in the big laundry sink...and then watching a little old lady use the restroom & wipe her hands on the towel that was hanging over the side of the laundry sink that you just used to wash the chunks off....Ewwwwwwwwwwww!!!

Nonetheless, we got the nasty laundry done yet again...and decided we had enough time left in the day and healthy enough people to daytrip to Austin for a capitol tour.  Off we went!  We enjoyed ourselves, too!  We took advantage of the information on the Capitol Visitors Center website prior to our visit, so the kids were a bit more familiar with Texas history and what we were going to see.  The Capitol Visitors Center is nicely set up, with plenty of hands-on stuff for the kids to do to learn more about Texas history.
Jake is walking all over the place now

It's nice that the Capitol tours are often and free, and that the public has so much access to the Capitol building.  We were able to go into the rooms where the Senate and House of Representatives meet when in session.  At Genna's insistence, we also went into the library and somehow managed to avoid any little ones having any outbursts before we made our exit!  Wow...that is one serious library!  Genna was bummed that we left the library without anything.  We do miss checking out books from the library, for sure!

It was good to get out and do something again!
Looking up into the dome, the star in the center is 8 feet wide
This was in Gov. Rick Perry's waiting room
Native Texans
Future house speaker?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Granger Lake -- Taylor Park

Even though we weren't feeling 100% yet from our lovely stomach bug, we decided it was past time to leave North Texas and begin heading south.  We pulled out on a lovely, sunny day and drove to a beautiful COE park, Taylor Park on Granger Lake in Taylor, TX.  Nigel, our GPS, took us on a rather circuitous journey through some pretty farm roads, but we still managed to arrive safe and sound.

This is definitely a gem of a campground!     The sites were level and spacious!  Each site had a great shelter for its picnic table.  We stayed in site 35, right across from the playground, and close to the bathhouse.  I will admit that I missed the lovely, heated bathhouse from Lewisville Lake Park, but the view here was way better!  Steve took the big girls on a little hike here.  We would definitely stay here again!

Jake even let Dave hold him in church
This park was also conveniently located about ten miles from an old friend of ours whom I went to college with and Steve roomed with just before we got married.  It was great to see Dave again and meet his lovely wife Carrie and girls!  Our girls and their girls had a lot of fun playing together on Saturday, and then we were able to visit their church Sunday before pulling out and heading to Gonzales!

It was great catching up with Dave and meeting his wife and girls!

Monday, January 9, 2012

It Was Bound to Happen...

The dreaded stomach bug, ya know?  Seriously, we can sometimes go a couple years without getting it, but I'm pretty sure that getting it while full-timing in an RV was probably a rite of passage or something.  I have no right to complain; it really could have been so much worse.  With that said, it's never fun...and with four kids there's bound to be some disgusting laundry as a result.  There was, of course.  We stowed it underneath the RV so as not to add to the indoor stench, and fortunately we didn't attract any wildlife.  I didn't particularly enjoy toting that to the laundromat but had no choice as our bedding was too large to fit in onsite washers.  Of course it all happened at the end of a 9 day stay in one spot without sewer.  Niiice...I was praying we didn't overfill our tanks.  But hey, we survived, and surely we've paid our sick dues for awhile...right, God??  :)

Thought we needed a picture to document the misery