Friday, February 28, 2014

New Braunfels to Junction to Fort Stockton, Texas: February 25th to 28th . . .

It’s Wednesday (2/26/14) and We’re Still at Camping World in New Braunfels, Texas!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Google Maps instructions for getting to this, very visible Camping World just outside of San Antonio, are convoluted to say the least.  So, after I received my job for the evening and morning of trying out all my systems while here in the ‘free’ campsite, I decided to just stay here in the parking lot and not venture out for exploration of the area.  Maybe I’ll do a little today; or, maybe I’ll just head out towards Junction, TX or further.

Of course, the wind came up last evening and the temperature dropped down into the 30s again.  It’s been howling around the rig all night and doesn’t appear to be letting up.  This morning it’s currently 41F and very windy.  It’s supposed to be windy all day in the range of NNE 15-29mph with up to a 70% chance of rain, especially later this morning.  Wouldn’t you know?  My ‘issues’ with Floribunda seem to be resolved as far as I can tell now, but the dreaded wind and rain may make traveling a little less enjoyable. 

By the way, I’ve had a windshield washing fluid container with a big hole in it since December.  Yesterday, CW told me I’d have to try to find one at Chevrolet, as CW doesn’t carry replacements for chassis parts.
That’s great – I already checked with a Chevy dealer in Louisiana who told me he doesn’t have that part in his catalogue.  I’m assuming that either means his catalogue is wimpy or I’m not going to find it at any Chevy dealer.  The alternatives are:  to go without (not pleasant for driving when in rain and fog, then dust and wind, etc.), or, buy a generic container and try to get it to fit – somehow!
It just seems that things are not meant to be simple in the maintenance and repair of motorhomes!  Maybe the powers that be only hand out so many conveniences and easy solutions; so, when one’s used up his fair share of easy fixes, things get complicated!  For some reason, I kind of feel I’ve overdone my fair share of complicated solutions! Hmmm!

Yesterday, when I was ready to leave Seguin, TX, for the relatively short jaunt to New Braunfels, I decided to try to tow Petunia without the bungee cords holding the steering wheel in a neutral position.  [After all the problems I had last summer with towing, I’d decided I’d rather be safe than sorry.  In the Smart Car forum, there were lots of opinions about whether to use steering wheel bungees or not.  I’d decided to use them but haven’t really seen that they actually “do” anything; so this was the first time I was brave enough to give the non-bungee steering wheel a try].  Almost immediately after I left CW, I pulled into a gas station to fill Floribunda with gas; and, I had to make a rather sharp right turn to exit the station.  OMG!  The horrific Petunia clunk-clunk sound was back!  I could see on the monitor of my backup camera that the steering wheel was wildly going to the left and then to the right, over and over.  I could feel that panic brick falling to the bottom of my stomach.  Fortunately, I was able to turn off the main road in just about 200 feet onto a residential street and pulled to a stop as soon as I could; where I jumped out, ran back to Petunia, and went through the algorithm that I would normally do when I prepare her to be unhitched.  It went well so I then put her back into towing mode, with the steering wheel bungees back in place, and all seemed to be working okay.  However, when I did unhitch her in the afternoon, here at CW, I noticed that hot/burnt rubber smell; so I’m going to be very careful and watch for any signs of a problem with the clutch or transmission, or whatever else could be damaged from the spinning out of control steering wheel around that one corner.
A Smart Car in the sales room - check Petunia out, below
Thursday Evening (2/27/14), Fort Stockton, TX – Hilltop RV Park

After leaving CW at about noon yesterday, we drove about 150 miles to Junction, TX where we stayed at River Shade RV Park on the North Llano River.  The drive had been an easy one and we had no more heart-stopping moments with Petunia.
The RV Park was spotlessly clean and had manicured grounds.  The only issue was that my Verizon Jet Pak, my iPhone, my iPad, and my laptop were all unusable.  It was probably just as well because after a nice dinner, I turned the light out at 7:30 and didn’t check the time again until this morning at 6:30!  That tells me that, although I feel 99% better than even earlier this week, I’m still feeling some effects of this darn flu.  I’ve just never had anything like this before.

We drove out of River Shade RV Park at 11 and, taking our sweet time, traveled through some of the widest-opened spaces in the World.  Texas is one BIG PLACE.  At one of the rest stops I checked on an RV park in Fort Stockton (Hilltop RV Park); and, it’s a good thing I did because they only had one spot vacant for tonight.

I-10W parking spot - Texas freeways have rest areas, picnic areas,
and parking spots.  They're few and far between
Not too many of us out here!
Texas seems to go on forever
Between Junction and Fort Stockton, TX
Between Junction and Fort Stockton, TX - such interesting
rock striations - I love the continual sameness and changing
of the landscape

We arrived at Hilltop RV Park outside of Fort Stockton at about 4 in the afternoon.  I left Petunia hitched to Floribunda.  They both needed a 'rest!'  These long stretches of 'clean-appearing' highways hide lots of dirt - see below!
Poor little Petunia, a little the worse for wear this morning
(Friday, 2/28/14).  She was quite clean two
days ago.
Oh my, oh my, it's dirty work being towed
It's dirty work towing, too!  Floribunda needs a bath SOON!

Our plan is to leave here later this morning, and drive to Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory.  Then, we'll make the hop to Marfa, Texas.  I’ve made a reservation at the Tumble In RV Park in Marfa for 2 nights.  We’ve heard lots of good things about this special place – in the middle of west Texas desert country.  Hopefully I’ll have some good photos and stories to tell.
Eleanor this morning,  "I've had breakfast and life is good!"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Braunfels, Texas - a Tad North-East of San Antonio

Slept like a log last night and woke up early this morning - feeling good.  Throat is still a little scratchy and there are those dreaded coughing spells.  But, all in all, I feel so much better.  So, in a leisurely fashion, I  got stuff organized and battened down, hitched Petunia up to Floribunda, and rambled out of River Shade RV Park in Seguin, TX at about 11AM.

I'd decided my "to do" list for Floribunda was long enough to warrant a stop at Camping World in New Braunfels - about a 35-minute drive; really only about 10 miles out of my way.  New Braunfels is a speck of Germany right in the middle of Texas.  It was settled by a large grow of German immigrants in 1844-45; and has continued to attract German Germans ever since .

The real deciding factor for heading to Camping World was that, although I've been having limited use of my back-up camera, for a multitude of reasons, this morning the camera would not turn on at all.  Then I noticed that my chassis radio was not turning on.  Geeze!

I got into Camping World before noon, after  'interesting' guidance from my Google maps on my iPhone).  As I drove North on I-35, I noticed Camping World's big blue sign on my right.  Long story short I had to pass it, turn off and cross over the freeway, drive South about 2 miles, then turn off on the most convoluted set of instructions I've ever followed; finally, I got back onto I-35N and turned off BEFORE I could see the sign for CW.  The turnoff took me onto a frontage road that somehow wound around and ended up at the back of Camping World.

I took my trusty Evernote RV Maintenance lists with me and gave the service man, Paul, my list of working, not working, working again issues for the water heater, the back-up camera, the 'new' series of 12-volt batteries that work sometimes.  Of course, as usual, they're busy and had the entire afternoon booked; but, they'd be happy to 'take a look' at my issues and would be happy to give me a secure place to stay for the night.

If you haven't heard of Evernote, take a moment to check it out.  It's a free application that syncs my notes from my laptop, my iPad and my iPhone.  So, I no longer have those pesky little alps of paper I can never find when I need them

Lacy and I left after I'd signed the permission to work on the rig; we tooled around, not going too far afield because I really wan't sure I had enough brain cells available to go through that Google Maps  navigation again in one day!  We shared a Subway sandwich and I drank some juice.  Then we headed for Petsmart to renew Lacy's favorite dry food supply.  I love to take her into the Petsmart stores around the country; she always causes a stir with her friendliness, gentleness and manners.  I always introduce her as a "Petsmart Dog" because she went through obedience and "Clicker Tricks" training in Roseville when she was a puppy.  She's really retained lots of her training and loves to perform for people . . . Sit!  Stay!  Down!  Take a Bow! . . . And, folks are impressed that she wears a short leash just to follow the rules; she doesn't need it to heel, come, wait, etc.
Lacy hasn't actually mastered this one - yet.  I expect
that answeringme in English will come before this talent!
I headed back to Camping World at about 3:30-ish and met several very interesting people and a few dogs, too.  At about 4:30 Paul called me to his service desk to say they think they've fixed all my complaints.  But he was happy I agreed to stay here overnight because they'd like me to really give things a workout this evening and tomorrow morning - to hopefully have the issues really solved.

I have an electrical outlet, but no water or sewer.  I'm not concerned about those two because I emptied just before I left Seguin, and had filled the fresh water tank just a few days ago and didn't use any at River Shade.
I see these signs all over the place - in Texas, that is!
I have seen lots of Texas longhorns - just think how careful
they need to be when there's a crowd
Here they are again!
So, tonight's view is a little commercial and we know everything's bigger in Texas.
Service side of Camping World
Happy Tuesday Evening!


 I can’t believe how easy it is to NOT know what day it is!

After yet another set back Saturday, I made the decision Sunday to stay here (Seguin, TX) two more nights, even though I was feeling pretty well – I guess it’s all relative because I sure get tired easily when I take Lacy for walks, etc.

When I finally left Lake Charles on Wednesday, the 10th day of this debacle, (2/19), I “just knew” I was well – NOT!  I dragged into River Shade RV Park in Seguin, Texas, a little northeast of San Antonio, I was back in the death-warmed-over spot again.  I paid for two days, then paid for an additional day, and today paid for two more additional days.  That gives me until the 25th to 'give-in' to this tyrant flu.  What’s the use of driving just to feel crappy when I arrive.  Yikes, I’ve ever had anything like this before; or, if I have, I've plowed through feeling terrible, hiding in my office with my head on my desk - or something equally as stupid as that.

Other than the cough and tiredness, I pretty much feel okay.  I’ve been doing some computer, movie, reading, and laundry projects - just with lots of breaks.  So, here we are at Tuesday morning and I'm feeling good about leaving today.  My first appointment in Sacramento is on the 31st of March.  I think I can make it there by then!!

River Shade RV Park, outside of Seguin, TX on Texas 123 is a really nice place.  It's not the fanciest, but it's immaculately clean (restrooms, showers, laundry) and looks like it'll have a lot of shade for all pull-through RV sites when the weather really starts to head upwards.  There's a community room with coffee making equipment and supplies with a couple of TVs and reading material.  There are only 3 washers and 3 dryers, so I did have to check a couple of times before dragging my laundry from the rig.  I used two machines and a lady (I think one of the owners) said she'd make sure nobody fooled with my machines so I could run out to pick up some cough drops.  When I returned about 30 minutes later all was ready to be put in the dryers.  Lots of people look to be either long-time renters or snow-birds here for the Winter.

The first couple of days I was here, the thermostat got up to the mid-70s during the day and all the way down to the low 60s at night.  The last couple of days, I've felt more comfortable with the air-conditioner on for a couple of hours in the late afternoon - as it's climbed up to the mid-80s in the rig - about 82F outside.  most of the trees are budding and there's lots of green grass popping up all over.  Birds, I hear so many birds; I really do need to get some kind of audio program to learn the different species' calls.

So, today I'm heading towards Junction, TX - about 150 miles westerly.  I may stop at a Camping World that would put me only about 10 miles out of my way.  I'm still experiencing the 'interesting-but-cumbersome' operation of the water heater; and, I have been unable to find the correct window-washng-fluid-container for Floribunda.  If Camping World has to order it I'll have it sent to my daughter's house.  It's not mandatory, but it would be nice to be able to wash the windshield while driving when necessary.  Oh, some good news:  On my last fuel up I got 13 mph in Floribunda!  That's very sweet - and I think it helps a lot that there are no mountains around here!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Where the Devil Are Those Pix?

Thursday Evening

I finally did it.  I actually left Galveston Island State Park this morning even though I’d given myself permission to stop where and whenever I though I needed.  To say I’m well is a gross overstatement.  The main difference between today and yesterday is that I don’t feel like death warmed over; I actually feel there’s life after the flu! 

I got up this morning after a very good night’s sleep – I’m sure that has lots to do with my feeling better.   And, there was NO FOG – a beautiful sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico.  I’d heard lots of wind last night and I guess that’s what cleared out the usual low, dense fog that normally doesn’t burn off until afternoon; then starts coming back at about 4; i.e. visibility is not great.  Most of this area on Galveston Island is barren, not supporting much flora, but there are oh so many species of birds.  And, the waves (combers) come in from every angle, suggesting undercurrents.  It was so enjoyable to watch this am.  I took it really slow battening down the house – did a few things, sat down for a couple of minutes, did a few things, sat down . . . You catch my drift?  Even with all the rests we were pulling out at 10 am, not bad.  I filled up the gas tank and was happy to find that I’d gotten almost 13mph on this last tank.  Pretty good I’d say – why?  I have no idea.

 We got ourselves onto 45 North heading towards Houston; when we got within 15 miles we entered into one of the Texas turnarounds that come in all sizes and complexity.  We wanted to get ourselves heading west on I-10, thinking that we’d try to make it to Palmetto State Park, about 50 miles east of San Antonio.  Even though I had issues with my 12-volt system and my 5-in-1-battery charger, I did find Palmetto without a hitch – it’s a little over 200 miles from Galveston Island.  Well because I hadn’t called ahead we went there for naught; it was completely booked.  It does look like a very nice park; however, the RV sites appear to be quite limited in number; dear friends, call or email before you arrive there.

The ranger there wasn’t very accommodating either when I asked about other state Parks n the area – none.  Oh, there was a private RV park “about 5 or 6 or 7 miles down the road.  You have to turn left before you get to the park.  No I don’t know anything about it  - or the name of the park or the street on which it’s located.”  That just didn’t sound too promising to me sin iPhone, etc.  I’d noticed a town called Seguin on the map and knew there’s a Walmart there so I decided to check Safari and yup, an RV park too.  We drove about 30 miles and ended up in Seguin – with spoken directions I found it about 9 miles outside of town.  It’s called the River Shade RV Park and they had one pull through spot to rent for tonight – and tomorrow if I want it.  In all we drove close to 250 miles – mucho for me.  Now I’m sitting on my bed relaxing.  Full Hook up and pull through – really nice river about 30 feet away - $33/night.  I’ll take it!

As for the really good news of today . . . it's Alice's birthday.  Alice is one of God's gifts to the human race and is married to my son, Jeff, and is the Mom of Samantha and Malia.

Happy Birthday, Alice;  I Love You Oodles!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cough - Cough - Cough

Just a short post to tell you I'm alive and that's about all I can say.  Today was supposed to be the big turn-around day.  It did not happen.  I'm still completely wiped out.  I'm at Galveston Island State Park, which I'd never be able to prove; as I've seen nothing but the inside of this rig.

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I still have the aches and pains and a very productive cough that sets off the vice grip on my head and neck.  I'm wasted.  I paid until tomorrow but will ask to stay at least one more day before I try to get at headed in a westerly direction.

I hope all is well with my followers and will get caught up on your activities ASAP.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tamra's Correction: I'm a "wuss" . . . not a "woos."

A girlfriend I met in Antigua, Tamra, jotted off an email suggesting that I take it really slowly getting back into full speed ahead move.
and she corrected my spelling of wuss; I'l spelled it woos.  Anyway, you get the picture - this thing is really knocking me for a loop.

Here I am in the middle of the night of my eighth day with this crappy flu / cold.  I woke up this morning, sopping wet - I was elated.  It appeared that the fever and body aches were a thing of the past.  I don't know if I mentioned but I've always sported a different immune system.  I tend to come up with all the symptoms of whatever the disease is; but no fever.  But, the tried and trusted end of the worst part of an illness (head sitting on top of my body but held in place by a horrible vice.  And I don't know why whomever is in charge of my illnesses can get so many pieces of Brillo to roughen- up the top several layers of skiing all over my body.  Anyway, all that was gone so I rushed to brush my teeth, wash my face and get dressed for this glorious sunshine this morning and walk right across the road to Doug and Nancy's Euri to have coffee - they were leaving later today.

I felt coherent and only coughed about 20 times during our visit.  We did get a lot of catching up done.  The last I'd seen of them before this park was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.    Running Away With Doug and Nancy  about ten months ago .  Truly delightful  people who spend summers in British Colombia - Nanaimo.
Skyline of Nanaimo.

After an hour or so of great conversation, they needed to get ready to head out and I needed to get a shower and shampoo.  I went the shower room, literally about 50 steps from my rig, to take a good shower and wash my hair; then came back to Floribunda to be ready for photo taking by Doug.  If you check their blog you'll see Nancy and me.  I'll probably see them late this summer when I can get back on the road again and head north once more - hopefully this time I can actually get across the US to the East Coast and from there, who knows?

Another interesting discovery, at least to me, is that there's laundry room with three washers and three dyers that we can use for FREE!  How's that for hospitality.  The camp was packed over the weekend but today by noon, there were only about 3 campers in the whole place.

Well, as the day progressed and became even more lovely, I started getting all the old symptoms again; so I just don't know when this marathon will hit the finish line.  Hope all  of you are doing better than me.  All I have to say is theses Wet Ones, etc. a a long sight better than not washing your hands at all; but good old soap and water and scrubbing action are MUCH more effective.  These viruses are relatively was to avoid - mainly by diligent hand washing.  The hand sanitizes are making our population resistant to antibiotics when we real need them.  A simple scrub does the trick - better that just about anything.

My girlfriend I met in Antigua, Tamra, jotted off an email suggesting that I take it really slowly getting back into full speed ahead; I guess that's what I'm being reminded of with this little relpse late today.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Wimpy Nurse Reports . . .

OMG!  I'm such a wimp.  I use to go to work sick or well.  If I was sick I just secluded myself and worked on reports, etc. behind closed doors.  This cold/ flu that hit me on Sunday is a really making a woos out of me.  So, without further ado, I'll copy some thoughts I've come up with in the last three hellish days . . .

Tuesday morning.

My last full day at Betty’s; this morning a large group of campers went shopping in Abbeville and New Iberia.  Since I succumbed to my first cold in about 4 years yesterday I didn’t make it to Happy Hour yesterday and didn’t know about the outing today.  I wouldn’t have gone anyway, as I still feel yucky.  I also want to get some Valentine and Mardi Gras packages mailed to grandkids today and am beginning to prepare for take off tomorrow.

It’s always interesting to me that I think about 'all that needs to be done' for days and days; but, actual preparation is really no big deal.  Guess I’ll have to go through cupboards and refrigerator to make sure items are securely stowed.  The outside compartments are all in good shape – neat and locked for travel.

Yesterday, even though I was starting to feel pretty lousy, I spent most of the day getting stuff done on my computer:  I wanted to download OS X Mavericks from the Apple Store, and, as often happens, one thing leads to another and another and . . . 

First, I had to be close to Betty’s cable and router; that was accomplished with my recent move, doing the Betty’s shuffle, which put my rig right next to her building.  I’d tried several weeks ago to download Mavericks but found that it’s not possible using my Verizon Jet Pack.    I’ve known for quite a while I’d have to move and it’d be closer to the connection so I waited.

Well, I jumped through the hoops to download Mavericks; then, when I clicked to install it I got a message that it wouldn’t support my version of Microsoft Office (2004).  I spent over an hour with the tech support at Apple generally cleaning up my HD – and will need to rewrite the notes I jotted down for future use.  One issue the tech support told me is that I do not need Norton Antivirus since I’m no longer dealing with medical record numbers and private patient information (which was the reason I bought it in the first place).  He assured me that most antivirus protection is specifically designed for PCs.  Norton automatically ran a scan once a month since 2010 when I bought the computer – there’s never been a compromise found so far.  Anyway, I turned it off and need to contact Norton to not renew my subscription when it expires late in 2014.

The next project was to talk with Microsoft about a newer version of Office; I bought that and the tech support (in the Philippines) stayed with me to download it, assuring me that all my hundreds of Word and Excel documents would be available on the new version (2011).  I’m sure one of the reasons I’ve never become truly comfortable with my home computer is that, until recently, I’ve never had the incredible amount of time necessary to go through all the processes, one thing leading to another.  Finally, last evening at about 7 I was ready to see how things were working.

NOT!  I can’t get on the Internet, either using Betty’s (four lines showing on my computer) or my Verizon Jet Pack.  I can’t even get the Jet Pack to show up on the drop-down menu.  I had had a similar problem with Verizon last month and the tech walked me trough an entire process to bring it back up.  I kept notes and tried the process several times – no luck.
I cannot open ANY Excel or Word documents; so I’m out in the cold with spreadsheets and documents I access daily.  I did open the new version of Word and was able to write this post; but I can’t post it – no Internet.  Back to the telephone!!!  I’m sure I’ll have more news later.

Wednesday afternoon – Sam Houston Jones State Park, Lake Charles, LA:

I had a good night’s sleep last night but still woke up feeling lousy.  So, because I couldn’t get back to sleep I went ahead and started ready-to-roll-out preparations.  Even though I’ve driven out a couple of times for gas, etc., I’ve been at Betty’s for just under two months; so I used my algorhythms for Petunia and Floribunda checks.  I’d told folks I’d be leaving at between ten and 10:30 – I was rolling out about 9:30; pretty good for me.  Lots of folks in Betty's Web braved the cold miserable weather to send me off with good wishes and luck.  Wow, what an experience this has been.

We drove west on I-10 towards Lake Charles and exited to go back to Sam Houston Jones State Park as I’d liked it here last time.  The ladies in the office remembered Lacy and were happy to see her.  My British Colombian friends, Doug and Nancy (blog:  Running Away with Doug and Nancy) have been here since Monday.  They were anxious to get a calendar that their daughter had made with their grandson, Gus, as the star.  It had been mailed to Betty’s even though they knew they couldn’t stay there ‘cause they’re traveling in a Eurovan and need shower and restroom facilities.

By the time I got here about 11:30, I was on borrowed steam; so we greeted one another and I left to go to bed.  I’ve been sleeping most of the afternoon, and still feel wiped out.  They’d invited me to share dinner with them but I had to refuse.  This is about all the concentration I can muster – for now.  I’ll add more later.


Yikes - Day almost 5!  I still feel like I've been hit by a Mack Truck, my head's in a vice and somebody keeps getting in here to rub my skin with Brillo pads!  I slept another 12+ hours last night and thought I was on the mend; but, about five minutes after I got up I was wiped out again.  I gave Nancy and Doug the keys to Petunia and told them to enjoy themselves for the afternoon.  When they got back I told them they can probably use Petunia again tomorrow.  I did take a shower and wash my hair - quite an undertaking requiring about a two hour nap afterwards!  I also ruptured a capillary in my left eye - probably from coughing so I look really great too.

Enough - I'm publishing this and hope you can't catch anything reading this trash!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Betty's Web . . . And Feb-RU-ary, Or Is It Feb-U-ary?

I'm beginning my nest-to-the-last full day at Betty's RV Park.  What a great time it's been - and is.  Last evening I attended my last Sunday Night Pot Luck; the tradition is that each Sunday after Happy Hour, which occurs daily, rain or shine, we have a potluck  dinner.

Pot Lucks and Green Shit Sauce . . .

There's usually one, or more, Cajun specialities - usually done by Betty, Marvin or another Acadian who may be in residence.  Last night we enjoyed Marvin's fabulous Chicken Jambalaya with rice and about five varieties of Louisiana Hot Sauce.  Many of these RV-ers (who yearly fall into "Betty's
Web" . . . staying here for the whole Winter until after Mardi Gras) have become more than a little enamored of Louisiana pepper sauces; some have even created their own versions to share.  Last evening we "delighted" ourselves with Dan and Merlene's (full-timers from San Diego) Green Shit Sauce.  I overheard Merlene and Betty talking about a Green Shit Sauce-making party for this coming Friday out on the patio.

Besides the Sunday Cajun food attraction, there's always a plethora of delicious offerings from one and all; that makes just about 18 - 20 choices!  Need I mention that hors d'oeuvres are presented every single evening, along with some very interesting (i.e. dangerous) concoctions of libations!  Since I don't partake of the alcoholic beverages, I'll have to take friends' word for it - they're mighty powerful!
Here are Marvin and Betty "arguing" about whether the recipe for tonight's jambalaya originally
came from Betty or Marvin!  Theirs is an ongoing debate when it comes to anything Cajun!

Difficult to take photos of a large group in a small room.  Betty's just changed the Christmas
holiday decorations for Mardi Gras 

Just a few of the dessert choices - on the left a famous Cajun recipe for Bread Pudding (topped with meringue and that delectably rich sauce with the spoon resting in it).  Then there's the spice cake with cream cheese frosting, brownies (can't see in photo) and my Mexican Wedding cookies and Oatmeal/Chocolate chip/walnut cookies in the left rear.
Marvin and Betty watching over the group as we lined up with our bowls for Chicken Jambalaya

On Another Subject . . . Grammar . . .
And Pronunciation . . .

How do you pronounce FEB-RU-ARY?   Check it out; as often as not, the word will be pronounced FEB-U-ARY.  I decided to do a little research to find out why so many English-speakers pronounce it as in the second example.

Here's the scoop:  English and American dictionaries still consider the correct pronunciation, FEBRUARY; however, Merriam Webster in an addendum states that the pronunciation, for many, has morphed to FEB-U-ARY by a process called dissimulation.  Dissimulation is where one of two similar sounds in a word is changed or dropped to avoid the repetition of that sound.  More simply, as Kate Burridge points out in Weeds in the Garden of Words (2005), the standard pronunciation (February) "takes considerable effort, and in normal rapid speech we're likely to drop the first 'r.'"  She also says that the pronunciation of JANUARY probably contributed to the simplified pronunciation of February.

I happen to love the study of English grammar; maybe it's because of all those fascinating college subjects I had to forego to fit in all those medical science classes and labs!   Now I keep an ongoing list of interesting facts and tidbits peculiar to our American English.

Some other often-mispronounced words:  

*archipelago - AR-KI-PEL-A-GO - not ARCH_PEL_A_GO
*arctic - ARK-TIK - not AR-TIK
*barbed wire - BARBD - not BOBD
*cache - KASH - not CAS-SHAY
*candidate - KAN-DI-DATE - not KAN-I-DATE
*clothes - KLOTHZ - not KLOZ
*et cetera - ET-CET-ER-A - not EX-CET-ER-A
*forte - FORT - not FOR-TAY
*Do you have some favorites to add to the list?

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of words in our American language that have come down through the ages from many mother tongues, that, for a variety of reasons, lose (or have lost) their original pronunciation, definition or intent.  I'm a grammar nerd; a lot of which came about when I began studying foreign languages!  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Finishing Out My Cajun Adventure, Cajun Style

Sadly, I'm winding down my stay at Betty's RV Park in Abbeville.  I'll be heading out next Wednesday to begin the westward journey back to California.  I'm going to take my time and enjoy the trip.  First, I think I'm going to head down the gulf coast of Texas to take in some new to me scenery before I hitch back on to I-10 and environs for most of the trip.  There are certainly lots of things I didn't catch on my westward jaunt when I returned to the US from Mexico last April and May.

This sojourn in Louisiana has been a wonderful introduction to Cajun Country, culture, language, food, and music.  Last night we had a L-O-N-G Happy Hour with a visit from two good ole' boys and some really good Cajun music.

Friday evening, Toogie Bergeron and his friend, Lane, serenaded and played for us for about two hours in our not-so-large Happy Hour room.  They played lots of Cajun specialties and also some great Country and Western.  Several couples danced, sharing about 10 square feet of space.  Toogie said, "The more you dance, the better we play!"

Saturday . . .
It's still cold, just a little warmer today - about 41 degrees now at 11am.  I'm lounging around in my flannel pajamas, enjoying another good book, some computer tonic and a nice slow entry into the day.  The RV park is loaded to the gunnels - 17 sites occupied.  Serious Mardi Gras celebrators are making their way here for the yearly festivities that go on from January 6th until the beginning of Lent.
This year the actual Mardi Gras will be on March 6th but the decorations are going up all over and even Wal-mart has all their bling for sale.  I bought lots of hats, necklaces, masks, etc. and am making "care packages" for my grandchildren - lots of them!

Sunday Morning . . .
Yesterday afternoon, Louisiana Marvin and I took Petunia and headed to Eunice, LA to meet our "Betty's Friends," Jay and Vicki, Jim, and Wayne and Sharon for dinner at Ruby's Restaurant. 

A lovely and large restaurant / night club with patio dining when it's warm enough
Lots of decorations up for Mardi Gras
Jim (Louisiana), Wayne and Sharon (Iowa)
Vicki and Jay (Washington)
After a great American / Cajun steak dinner we walked a short half block to a really old-style theater / auditorium for more Cajun music . . .
The message says, "Sorry, there was an error processing your video."
Well, friends, I'm working on it!  I've taken some great videos the last few days and just can't figure out why I can't get them into my blog . . . any suggestions would be appreciated.  I've some from my Sony Cyber Shot and some from my iPhone and they appear to be uploading but will not play.
I'll keep at it so maybe some Cajun music will come your way shortly!