Sunday, October 14, 2018

Bandera Texas --- The Cowboy Capital of the World

No Dianne!  You cannot take him home.

Roger here...  Off we go on a 10 day mini-trip to one of our favorite places --- the Hill Country of Texas.  

The sunset on the evening before our departure from Mission, Texas was full of intense color --- an omen for a good start?  Not really.  After days of preparation (oil check, tire pressure check, battery water check, food prep, packing the motor home, etc.), I put the key in the motor home ignition... nothing.  Dead battery.

After a few arguments with Good Sam Road Service about bringing us a new battery in a timely manner, I gave up.  Thanks to the help of two neighbors, Don and Marvin, the bad battery was removed.  I picked up a new battery at a local Interstate Battery store.  After installation everything was peachy, except that the steps to the motor home would not fully retract.  They still don't, but we have been able to enlist the help of friends and strangers to push them up after we close the door.  A great way to meet strangers at gas stations!

I love my mommy
Other than the slow start and the steps, the rest of the trip to our first stop at Bandera Texas was flawless.  Poquita loves sleeping in Dianne's lap.

Both the dogs travel well in the motor home.  After our delayed departure due to the battery and steps, we arrived at our destination, Skyline Ranch and RV Park, just as the office was closing at 5:00 p.m.   It was time for an adult beverage, an early supper and a good night's sleep. 

HOWDY ALL Y'ALL!  Welcome to the Skyline Ranch RV Park!  Destined to be one of our very favorite RV parks!

Campground Office
Everything was much better the next morning.  We REALLY like this RV park.  It is rural, quiet, dog-friendly and authentically Texan.

Dianne here:   This unique tiny trailer was parked in the RV park.   On the local news last night there was a segment about a group of solo women who travel together in these vintage trailers.   What fun!

For us, the best feature of our temporary home is the half-mile walk through the ranch to the Medina River.  There are so many cool things to see along the way.

This deer feeding station attracts lots of deer.  I counted 26 during our first evening here.  

The man-made features blend well in the natural setting.  The gazebo above and pond below create a relaxing mood.  Do you see the duck in the pond below?  He and two others bob around in the water.  Or do they?

I thought these ducks were majestic, until I approached them for a close-up picture and realized they were fake.  Quack. Quack.

The gigantic live oak trees were not fake :-).  I love the twisting black branches --- so interesting and so very Texan.

The emerald clear waters of the Medina River are visible from a bluff at the end of the trail.

A few days before our arrival, the nearby Llano River experienced a tragic flash flood.  Rumor has it that four people are still missing.  The campground hosts assured us that the Medina River, though elevated, is not flooding.  We are also parked at an elevation much higher than the river.

The trail parallels acres of land that are full of interesting creatures.  We saw two of these miniature donkeys.

These two longhorns are definitely a highlight of our twice-daily walks with the dogs.

Our site was nice, as well.  We have a shade tree and lots of grass.  The sites are definitely not crammed together.  Poquita and Dianne seem to have adjusted well.  We need to enjoy our outdoor area while we can.  The upcoming weather forecasts are not promising.


First a little history.  Bandera was the staging area for the northern cattle drives in the late 1800s.  It boasts an amazing number of national rodeo champions.  Its title of Cowboy Capital of the World is well-deserved.

Texas is known for its county courthouses.  Every one we have seen has been unique and interesting. The Bandera County Courthouse is no exception.

There are lots of interesting shops, mostly cowboy-related, which line both sides of the main street.  Too bad that we don't need cowboy boots.  The Bandera General Store has an old-fashioned soda fountain.

I did manage to find a wonderful work of art in one of the stores. Don't you think this would look great on the gate to our patio?

Dianne here:  Actually, I saw it first and thought it was hilarious.   It might well end up on our metal gate....

You never know what you might see on the streets of Bandera.  This covered wagon was parked next to the courthouse, right next to  the longhorn below.  Dianne hugged this big guy in the opening picture.

No visit to Bandera would be complete without a visit to the 11th Street Cowboy Bar.  We briefly stopped here a few years ago with our friends, Chuck and Cindy.

A return visit was mandatory. The front entrance doesn't look like much --- pretty small.

A peek through the front door reveals a small bar in a small room with a ceiling covered with ahem bras.

However, after stepping through a side door, we landed in an expansive entertainment area with  performance stages for country-western bands, multiple bars, seating and a gift shop.

Quite the fun place!  There will be a big concert tonight, that we will not be attending.  It would involve being out after dark   :-).

We both enjoyed a Shiner Bock in a great atmosphere before heading back to the motor home.

During the summer Bandera has weekly rodeos.  That might be fun another time.  I know we will be back.

More to come....  We will be in Bandera for two more nights before a short drive to Fredericksburg.


Bandido and Poquita have recently started to play.  They love to chase each other.  Poquita seems to have no idea that she is so much smaller, especially when she stands on a chair.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Catch up post #4 --- end of summer

Bandido and Poquita Standing Guard at the Front Window

Roger here... Since our return from Austin, our lives have rolled on.  We are all (Bandido included) adjusting well to our adoption of Poquita.  There will be several pictures of her at the end of this post.

This post will highlight a few of the random events that have taken place in our lives over the past few weeks.


My friend, Jay, asked me to fly to Southwest Florida for a few days to join him and his son-in-law, Chad.  Jay was checking out his Florida home and enjoying some time away from his business.  Since our wives, Dianne and Nancy, were  not there, it was a guys-only vacation.  One evening we participated in a champagne-flight meal at a local restaurant --- something new for me.  We had a lot of great meals at various restaurants during the visit.

This is a rather disturbing picture of dead fish in one of the South Florida canals.  The red tide that had infested the area mixed with blue-green algae from Lake Okeechobee and created quite a mess.  Hopefully, it has ended.

Happy Birthday to Kaia
Our daughter, Amanda, lives nearby with her boyfriend, Dave, and our granddaughter, Kaia.  One evening they came over to Jay's house.  We ordered pizza and celebrated Kaia's 20th birthday.  It was so good to see them, even though our time together was short.

Dave, Amanda, Kaia


Another first for Dianne and me.  We attended a political rally in an old movie theater in downtown McAllen.  We have both been following (and supporting) Beto O'Rourke in his bid to unseat Ted Cruz for a seat in the U.S. Senate.  We wanted to see him in person and hear what he had to say.  We arrived 30 minutes early and were among the very last people admitted before the theatre was at capacity.  The picture below was taken from the very back of the balcony where we stood.  It was packed.

We continue to support Beto and his views.

While walking our dogs in the neighborhood one morning, we were approached by Frank McCaffrey, a local TV reporter  (ABC Channel 5) who wanted to interview us regarding the possible closure of Bentsen State Park if the "wall" was built.  I agreed.  The slant of the interview had to do with home values and tourism if the park were to be closed.  I gladly expressed my views.  The mayor of Mission, TX also presented statistics indicating the loss of dollars to the city from tourism that the state park attracts.


Uh Oh!  Despite my efforts to shield my skin from the intense southern sun, my dermatologist identified another skin cancer (my third).  This one on my hand was a squamous cell.  All of the cancer was eliminated.  I have been so lucky in finding these problems and having them removed before they metastasized.  This one required a skin graft since it was near my knuckles.... several weeks of recovery.  I was not able to lift heavy objects or do any real exercise that would put pressure on the wound.  I could not walk dogs.  I could not swim laps.  I could not lift weights.  I was very bored!

Aqua Man
The good news is that all of the healing is complete and I have now resumed swimming a mile 3-4 times per week during early morning hours --- covered by sun-protective clothing.  I slather sunscreen on the portions of my face and legs that are not covered, and never swim when the sun climbs in the sky.  Dianne walks in the pool while I swim to make sure that people don't make fun of me


This outdoor enclosure surrounds all of the service connections to our house --- air conditioner, water softening, electrical box, lawn watering, etc. 

I have finally spent some time installing shelving and organizing my tools.  Life is so much easier.
Dianne here -- Roger was in his element, having the time of his life organizing tools - what he loves best!


A woodpecker frequents our hummingbird feeder

Hummingbirds Everywhere as they fly south

This large, beautiful moth lit on the side of our house and did not move the entire day.  Dianne, the family researcher, identified it as a vine sphinx moth.  Its location in South Texas puts it in its far northern range.  I love the twig mimicry in its wings.   (Southern range is in Argentina -- D.)

I painted a couple of ugly large pots and filled them with succulents and cacti that do not require frequent watering.

We had geraniums in these pots.  They did well over the winter, but did not survive the summer heat, even with frequent watering.  These Ixoras should do much better.

This was the last catch-up post.  Chronologically, the next post was the one from South Padre Island that has already been posted.  I am planning to post again in October when we take the motor home to the hill country of Texas for two weeks.

PET PICTURES OF THE DAY...  POQUITA (Spanish translation --- little bit)

Dianne seems to think that she has a baby that requires new pajamas.

I have witnessed this behavior from Dianne in the past :-).

(I'm already looking forward to buying her a winter coat for the 50 degree days this winter -- D.)

Chillin' on Mom's Chair

Poquita is the first dog we've had since our whippet, Jasper (the "original traveling  whippet") that watches TV.  She reacts to the images and sounds as if they were in the room.

Dianne again:  her favorite shows are Lucky Dog (a show about shelter dogs that are trained and adopted) and The Incredible Dr. Pol, especially when the screen shows cats!