Saturday, September 8, 2018

Bardwell Texas and Vicinity

Once we settle in at a place, we like to take some time and visit the surrounding area. Bardwell is a very small town in Texas so we went north to Waxahachie and south to Corsicana. Both towns offered a glimpse into the past and also provided some shopping centers so we could re-stock our pantry. Here are a few photos of these areas.





Not everything is oversized in Texas! Bardwell, Texas is a small farming community of only 649 hearty souls. Mostly cotton farming with some grain mixed in. This is their City Hall. The town was founded in 1880 by John Bardwell who saw the potential for cotton growing and brought the first cotton gin to the area.


In the early 1900s, Bardwell prospered with three cotton gins and six grocery stores. It had it's own telephone and electricity system. However, the main road through town was abandoned with the construction of State Hwy 34 and many of the businesses closed. Today there is only a small convenience market and a gas station. The post office, formed in 1894 remains. This is the Police Station.



A short drive south of Bardwell Lake takes you to Corsicana Texas, population 25,000. This bustling community was founded in 1848 and is about an hour south of Dallas. The town gained notoriety when prospectors trying to find water, discovered oil instead. It was the first commercially significant oil field in Texas.




Old town Corsicana is home to Collin Street Bakery, making fruitcakes and shipping worldwide since 1896. Wolf Brand Chili is also made here. Major shopping includes The Home Depot, Harbor Freight Tools, WalMart and Kohls. In fact, Kohls main warehouse is located just outside town.




We love old churches. This one at 398 N 15th St. was built in 1896 and the steeple was the tallest structure in town until the mid 1960s. The middle steeple, which is actually a spire, was damaged beyond repair and had to be completely replaced in 2016. The church is the First United Methodist Church. 











Our third day at Bardwell Lake turned out to be overcast with a chance of rain showers. We thought we'd take advantage of that and head north for some shopping and sightseeing. Nice sunny days would be spent on the lake. I wanted to buy a couple spring floats for enjoying the lake and the local Target had some in stock. Waxahachie, Texas is just north of Bardwell Lake and about 35 minutes south of Dallas. The population is about 40,000. The town was founded in 1850 and incorporated in 1871. It is known as the Crepe Myrtle Capital of the world. 

After getting my spring floats, we headed into old town to check it out.






Since Waxahachie is the county seat of Ellis County, our first stop was the town square. As with most old towns, the county courthouse was centered in the middle of the town and many shops surrounded it to make the town square.  This is no longer done today. This is the Ellis County Courthouse. It is rated number 8 on the list of  outstanding architectural achievements in Texas. The original courthouse on this site was a log cabin, followed by a limestone 2 story structure. This building was built in 1897 and has been in use ever since.








Richard Ellis was a plantation owner, politician, and judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Alabama. He moved to Texas in 1934 and became involved in politics there. He was a leader of a group that declared Texas' independence from Mexico and he signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Later, Ellis served in the Texas legislature.  He died in 1846 at the age of 65. The statue which is located on the west side of the courthouse depicts his as if reading a speech. I rescued the American Flag that someone had carelessly tossed and placed it in his right hand to honor his dedication  and contributions to the Great State of Texas and to the United States.














Erected on the north side of the courthouse is a monument dedicated to the Confederate soldiers of the Civil War. Commissioned and paid for by the Daughters of the Confederacy, the monument stands as a reminder of those who sacrificed everything during our country's struggles in the mid 1800s. The inscription reads:
"IN HONOR OF THE DEAD AND LIVING OF ELLIS COUNTY, WHO WORE THE GRAY, BANNERS MAY BE FURLED, BUT HEROISM LIVES FOREVER. ERECTED BY THE DAUGHTERS OF THE CONFEDERACY, UNVEILED NOV. 2, 1912."










Surrounding the courthouse is the town square which consists of shops and restaurants. These town squares served as meeting places for the people living nearby. Much like the malls of today, people could take care of all their business in one place and catch up on all the latest news. Most of these buildings were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s.





Something we don't see enough of in today's high paced atmosphere. Pride in their town shows with this huge mural on one of the building walls in the town square. Waxahachie, pronounced, Woks-a-hotchee, is "A Place in Your Heart"

Finally, back at Bardwell Lake, looking west from our campsite, over a field of flowers at dusk

Monday, August 27, 2018

On the Road Again Lake Bardwell, Texas

We left San Antonio with it's heat and humidity and headed north hoping to catch some cooler weather. Our destination was Bardwell Lake; A Corps of Engineers Park outside Ennis, Texas. We like the COE parks as they are usually along a body of water, have at least partial hookups and many have 50amp service. 




I promised Debi I'd take her to romantic places. Being the romantic I am, here we arrive in Italy. Sorry, no leaning towers or Eiffel Towers, but romantic in it's own way. I also took her to Paris but I'll be posting that journey later.


In 1879, settlers found the soil in this area perfect for growing corn, sweet potatoes, cotton and wheat and a town was born. In 1890 the railroad made it to Italy and made it an important trade center. The year 2000 marked an important milestone. That year Italy documented it's 2000th resident. Italy encompasses 1.8 square miles, all of it land. It is located at the junction of US 77 and Texas 34.



Most everyone knows we don't like freeways and prefer back roads. Getting to Bardwell Lake was no different. Here is a sample of US 77 which leads through the center of Italy. By the way, locals pronounce it, It-Lee as opposed to It Al Lee. I think this is done with a lot of towns to identify out of towners.




Texas Hwy 34 runs northeast out of the town of Italy and meanders through fields of cotton, hay and some corn fields. Cotton fields dominated the landscape when we passed through.



As we entered the town of Bardwell we almost missed it because I blinked. The town of Howard is just north of here but we never found it. We explored this area and look for a future write up in the near future. The largest nearby towns include Ennis, with the largest Waxahatchie. I had our mail sent to us here via General Delivery. After driving to the post office I found it's only open 8am-12pm M-T.



Leaving Texas 34 the roads kept getting smaller and narrower, but we trudged on. The sign said "County Road ends in two miles", but GPS said this was the way, so off we went. Actually, I don't rely on GPS directions. I use Google Maps, view the route, then put in the coordinates so I know exactly where I'm going. The COE gatehouse was just ahead.




Our 'home' for the next two weeks. The weatherman called for rain for the next two days then promised great weather for the remainder of our stay. 

P.S. Don't rely on the weatherman.



Puffy clouds and a large lake welcomed us to the facility. Unfortunately the site I had picked and reserved turned out to be too unlevel for our coach. I had to nearly drop the nose on the ground to get level. Back to the gatehouse and the nice lady moved us to a better spot although it was across the street from the lake instead of directly on the lake itself.



Our new site was spacious, fairly level and within spitting distance of the lake and the swim area. Only issue was the tree seen in this picture. A couple of nasty Mockingbirds had built a next in it and they did not like Jasmine. She incurred their wrath every day. I had to stand next to her while doing her business otherwise she got dive bombed. 







The weather finally gave in and we had many beautiful days. This was the swim beach across from our site. I used the tube for a couple days before we went into Waxahatchie and bought a couple spring floats. Floating mindlessly on spring floats on a beautiful sunny day is my idea of paradise. The water was very warm but refreshing.



The day before we left, Mother Nature treated us to a spectacular rainbow. We never received any droplets but this rainbow over the lake was beautiful. I tried to get the full arc in one picture using both my camera and my phone but neither could get it all in.

That's it for tonight. I'll post pictures of the surrounding area in my next post.....D

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lackland Air Force Base San Antonio, Texas

As I stated earlier, we arrived in San Antonio to watch our oldest grandson graduate from Navy "A" school. This is a tech school after boot camp where the sailors train for whatever position they think they would like in the military. Josh decided he'd like to become an MP, which the Navy calls Master at Arms. He would like to follow that with becoming a dog handler. This training is done at the Naval Facility in conjunction with the Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base. As you might have guessed, we are pretty proud of him and his accomplishments.





Lackland Air Force base covers over 7,000 acres in San Antonio. It's Joint Base Operations combined three adjoining but separate military facilities into one as a result of the Military Consolidation Act of 2005. In addition to the Air Force, it also is home to the Naval Security Forces 



Lackland AFB is home to many vintage aircraft which they have on display. Here, Joshua and I are in front of one of my favorites, the Blackbird. If you've never had the opportunity to see this plane in action, you missed a fabulous sight.


The MA rating provides Navy Ships and commands with force protection/antiterrorism specialists who assist in maintaining good order and discipline, law enforcement, and physical security duties. MA's enforce appropriate orders and regulations, make apprehensions, conduct investigations/interrogations and prepare required records and reports. 


Graduating class consisted of 34 sailors who excelled in their training. Here they just received their diplomas and their badges. After graduation, the sailors get a two week hiatus before reporting to their duty stations. Orders sent some of these sailors to Japan, Guam, Hawaii and Korea. Others were sent to various facilities within the USA.










Josh and his very proud Grandma.




After graduation, we headed downtown for some sightseeing. First stop was the Alamo. For those needing a history refresher, the Alamo was a former Franciscan Mission and was used as a military outpost during Texas' fight for freedom from Mexico. In 1836, roughly 200 soldiers, including Jim Bowie, William Travis and Davy Crockett held off the invading Mexican army numbering over 5000 for 13 days before being overcome and slaughtered.






For Texans, the Battle of the Alamo became an enduring symbol of their heroic resistance to oppression and their struggle for independence, which they won late in 1836.  Those that died during those 13 days of glory, will be remembered forever.





The San Antonio Riverwalk is a 15 mile strip of concrete that follows the San Antonio River through San Antonio, Texas. It is a bikeway and hiking trail that follows the river through the City. The most famous section is the Downtown Reach. Almost 2.5 miles long and one story beneath the streets of San Antonio, this area of the river is lined on both sides by bars, shops, restaurants, nature and public artwork. The remaining two sections of the riverwalk provide access to five historic missions.




Originally planned in 1926, the San Antonio RiverWalk was not accepted favorably in the community. However, with the construction of the nearby Olmos Dam gradually the people felt it was a benefit to the City. Construction began as a WPA (Works Projects Administration) project in 1938. The WPA was part of the American New Deal agency that employed millions of unemployed to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. Under the WPA, 17,000 feet of walkways and 20 bridges were constructed. The first restaurant, the Casa Rio which you see in the background, opened for business in 1946, The San Antonio Riverwalk is a work in progress and it continues to be improved to this day. It's achieved world acclaim and has inspired other walks in Charlotte, NC, Denver, Colorado and the Santa Lucia Riverwalk in  Monterrey, Mexico,

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Leaving San Clemente, California

We finished  Camp Hosting at the California State Park  and sadly had to say good-bye to our newest "family". We look forward to meeting up again next year. After pulling stakes we headed east. Our destination was San Antonio, Texas. A little back story. Some may know our oldest grandchild graduated last year. This year he decided he would like to give back to this wonderful country so he joined the U.S. Navy. He graduated from boot camp in May and we were not able to attend his graduation due to our Camp Host commitment. After boot camp he was assigned 'A' school in San Antonio and is due to graduate so we want to be present for that. We are very proud of him and his choices. Since I'm a retired LEO, as is his great grandfather, he decided to follow in our footsteps and carry on the tradition through the Navy. I'll post more after graduation from A school. Meanwhile, enjoy some of these pictures of our journey east. Unfortunately we were pressed for time so we did over-nighters for four nights to get to San Antonio in time for graduation.




Our first stop, Yuma, Arizona. We had fueled before leaving Arizona. With diesel hovering around $4.15/gal. in California, we decided to wait until we left that State before refueling. Diesel in Yuma? $2.99/gal.




Once over the Colorado River, we entered Arizona. It was really HOT. 117 degrees HOT. Did I mention it was really HOT? Whew! Like the Mel Tillis song, "Send me down to Tucson" I know why "no one wants to go, down to Tucson in the summer", no one wants to go to Yuma in the summer either!



Araby Acres RV Resort. Beautiful resort with a POOL. Remember I said it was HOT? Even the pool was warm but at least it was cooler that it was outside. This is an Encore Park so we used our RPI membership to stay here. 50 amp service so we used all three air conditioners.




Willcox, Arizona was our next stop. This historic railroad town is east of Tucson and was founded in 1880. Rex Allen, singer, songwriter, actor, was born here. Many westerns, including the Texas Rangers TV show was filmed on location. If you're a train enthusiast, this is the town for you. 22 freights rumble through here every day. 










As members of the The Elks, we are able to visit any of their lodges. Many have RV spots. This particular one has a large RV campground featuring a playground, grassy sites with water and electric. They also have a dump station on site if needed.




There was only one other RV in the park when we were there. It's off the Interstate far enough, yet close enough. No freeway noise. However, remember those 22 freights? They rumble through regularly. No horns though, unless it's an emergency. The park only provides 30amp electrical service, but for a one night stay, it's adequate.



Leaving Willcox brings you to the desert plains of the Sonoran Desert. This was Apache country. Towns like Bowie and San Simon pay tribute to Cochise, leader of the  Chiricahua Apache Indians. Willcox is about 75 miles west of the New Mexico border. Lordsburg, New Mexico is the next town east of here. When crossing the Sonoran Desert, be very aware of dust storms which can appear suddenly and bring visibility to virtually zero.




After traversing New Mexico, the road drops down into the town of Las Cruces, which is known mostly for the White Sands Missile Range. Established in 1849, it is New Mexico's second largest city after Albuquerque. That is a view of the Organ Mountains in the distance. The Rio Grande river runs through the Mesilla District at the southern end of town.


We had originally planned to stay in Sonora, Texas for the night, but the campground we had chosen was not in an area we felt comfortable in. So, we continued east to Junction, Texas and stayed at a former KOA campground, now North LLano RV Park on the LLano River. Spacious accommodations and a pleasant campground. 50amp service and a very nice pool with cool water.




Finally arrived in San Antonio and put some temporary roots down in the Traveler's World RV Resort. We chose this particular park for it's closeness to Lackland Air Force base where our grandson is stationed, completing training and awaiting further orders.






The San Antonio river runs adjacent to the campground. Adventurous campers can take the river walk from the campground to downtown San Antonio. It's a fabulous paved pathway that runs alongside the river. We are a mere 5 miles south of the famous 'RiverWalk" in downtown. We did not have our bicycles, so we drove downtown. We thought about renting the electric scooters they have there but never explored it completely. We did walk 2-3 miles along the trail for our daily exercise though. Very peaceful.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

More Camp Hosting

As many of you know, we have been camp hosts at the San Clemente State Beach in Southern California. What an opportunity and rewarding experience it has been. If you're interested in hosting in this exciting location, let me know and I'll tell you how to apply. The program is expanding and it will be much more rewarding than ever! They are looking for energetic couples who love to interact with campers and are not afraid to try new things. (There is no bathroom cleaning :))






I know, y'all saw this picture already in the previous post, but I thought I'd include it here as well. As you can see, Debi and I are very happy doing what we do. Working with all the fabulous people in the kiosk is one of many "perks" we enjoy while helping meet and greet all the visitors to our park.


















One of the great opportunities is hosting the Junior Rangers. This program is open to all campers aged 7-12 although we welcome parents and siblings of any age. Part of the program is awareness of our environment and wildlife within the park system. We also do hikes and group activities.









Improving the park is also something we are allowed to do as part of our volunteering. This was a simple path leading to one of the bath houses. I widened it, cleaned it of weeds and debris, laid a bed of gravel and outlined it with river rock. Added some lighting to enhance safety.


















Another improvement by adding a path to the bath house in the tent section.  Simple improvements, such as these, add a lot to the enjoyment  provided to our visitors by making it easier for them to access our facilities.




Now that this year's commitment has ended, it's time to say good-bye to all the friends we've met and dealt with during the year. What better way to do so than to have a BBQ and party!  Enjoy the pictures!






The weather was beautiful until the sun went down, then it was time to build the fire and put on our jackets.
















A special thanks to two very special ladies, Senior Park Aides. Without their help and support, our stay would have been less enjoyable. Camp hosting is supposed to be fun and exciting. These two ladies made it both every day! Yes, we've been invited to return in the future and are really looking forward to meeting up again.