Tuesday, November 28, 2017

From Ft Worth to Tucson

Milestones:  I have now covered over 100,000 miles in the last 6 years of traveling.  I have had more than 200,000 views of my blog, I have traveled through 44 states, 4 Canadian Provinces, Washington D.C. and the Virgin Islands, (Hawaii and USVI by plane), and I've lost count of the number of museums, botanical gardens, monuments, parks and oddities I've seen. The most freedom I have enjoyed has been this summer when I  had to pay for only a dozen nights (out of 210 possible) due to my wonderful solar panel.   

One paid night was a campground in Oregon, a few more were in the National Parks in Utah, then there were two additional nights on the trip from Ft. Worth to Tucson.  It happened because I was determined to find something pleasurable, or at least interesting, in West Texas--and I did.  

Leaving the freeway at Abilene I headed south,  passed a delightful little town called Buffalo Gap, and found Abilene State Park.  This was also a busy weekend so the park was full but the Ranger suggested  an out-of-the-way parking area with no hookups that I could have for $10.  I took it.  

Daisy and I were completely alone except for this herd of feral pigs that surrounded us and drove Daisy crazy.

I couldn't let her out, and frankly, there were enough pigs that I did not feel I could safely walk her.  So she dashed from window to window for an hour with her nose twitching wildly.

Another milestone:  After open-heart surgery two years ago this month, a pig valve is now riding in my chest.  

Modern day science is absolutely amazing! And I somehow feel a strange kinship and gratitude towards these creatures.   

We had a nice sunset...

...and the next morning woke up to a herd of deer.  Not a bad night for only $10.

Southwest of Odessa, and further down the road,  we stopped at the Monaghan's Sandhills State Park and paid $20 for another  quiet, though a bit sandy, night.

Daisy was thrilled with the sand and dug dozens of holes to bury her balls. 

She didn't seem to notice me going behind her and digging them up again.

These sand dunes are remnants of the inner sea that once covered this area. The night sky  was velvety black and sparkled with stars. 

It is so surprising what vegetation can find footing and enough water to survive.
My next drive to Ft Worth will include these two parks; they are nice relief for the monotony of the trip through west Texas.

There was one night spent in Lordsburg, N.M. that was both sad and sadly common in much of our country.  The heart of this town is almost dead. the vast majority of the businesses are boarded up, and there is no sign of a rebirth.  

I found an open restaurant for dinner then went to this truck stop to park for the night.  I did not realize until the next morning that the man in that car nearby was homeless, he had two dogs that slept under or around his vehicle, and that crow (or raven) was not afraid of the dogs, Daisy, me or the man in the car.

I watched the crow harass the dogs, jumping on their heads then back on the car.

From time to time, the man inside the car would reach out and hand feed the bird. 

 Before getting back on the road I took Daisy for one last walk, and suddenly she displayed a lot of excitement including standing on her hind legs.

The crow was following us and trying to get Daisy to play.

The best part of this Odessey has been seeing so many friends and family, making new friends, and discovering what a huge and diverse country this is. 
I am back in Tucson for the winter,  seeing doctors and dentists, and preparing to move my stuff into my son and daughter-in-laws new house in San Diego (my new winter retreat).
I am making plans for next summer...any ideas?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Pythian's Castle

The week of Aunt Louise's birthday saw an abundance of birthday cakes, candles and very off-key singing.  I think the above was at the Olive Garden.

(Kathy, Chelsea and Jerry)
One day these cousins took us to Lucille's for a really good birthday lunch and more bad singing.  

Chelsea (the cutie in the middle in the above picture) raises chickens and she gifted me with a dozen of the most colorful eggs. What a treat and all the eggs are completely organic while laid with great care from contented, free-range hens. 

The festivities finally came to an end so Aunt Louise, Suzanne and I took a ride to Weatherford for the day.  The above 'castle' has been a landmark in the town for many years and when Suzanne learned that Aunt Louise had never been inside, she arranged for a tour of what is known as Pythian's Castle.

The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization and secret society, founded in Washington D.C. in 1864.

The order has over 2,000 lodges (or castles) in the U.S. and around the world, with a total membership of over 50,000.

A number of U.S. Presidents, vice presidents, financiers and even Louis Armstrong have all been members of the Pythian's. 

The Texas Grand Lodge of the Knights of Pythias considered building a home for dependent widows and children as early as 1886.  In 1897 the Grand Lodge Convention started a fund to establish such a  home.  

(Each chapter seems to find another way to show benevolence.  The one in Weatherford opened in 1909 and chose to house widows and children left dependent from the various wars.   For years it provided schooling for the children but now the resident children attend local schools.)

 The order provides for "worthy Pythians in distress" and has given aid to victims of national or sectional disasters. It runs camps for underprivileged youth and homes for aged members. It has sponsored scholarship funds, blood drives, highway safety programs, and the Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation.   

 The cornerstone for the massive main building was laid in Weatherford, Tx in 1907.

   The building exhibits Moorish influences and contains 52 rooms. 

  The first floor housed the girl's dormitory, a dining room, and the kitchen; while the second floor served as the boys dormitory and contained an auditorium.   

This antique fan was unusual.

Additional dormitory facilities were built later and are joined to the main building by arched walkways.   

 This was the library and I could have spent hours here.  The books were old and worn, many were the originals with a whole series of "Bobbsy Twins", "Nancy Drew Mysteries", dozens of the classics and even the first 'adult' book I ever read, "Lydia Bailey".

There are now 11 children in residence here with a large staff to care for them.  

The castle is no longer a 'mystery' for the three of us and we sure enjoyed the tour.
 For the many children who have grown up here I suspect it has been an adventure to grow up in a castle.  Many have stayed and continued on as staff, including the lovely young lady that gave us this tour.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Aunt Louise's 97th birthday party.

This blog has been sadly neglected the last few weeks soooo...time to catch up. 

I arrived back in Ft. Worth a few days before Aunt Louise's 97th birthday party and to rehearse for the celebration, we took in a few lunches that included cake and candles.

One waitress decided to take a selfie--yep, we were getting in the mood. 

When the big day arrived the chef at Hill Villa Apartments produced an amazing cake. 

  Yes, the last name is misspelled but the cake tasted so good nobody cared.

Family started arriving from miles away.  Cousins Andre and Glenda drove all the way from a camping trip in Oklahoma, just for the party.

Aunt Louise's friend and neighbor, (Louise #1), arrived with her daughter Connie and son-in-law, Scott. 

The turnout was great.  Even the Lawrence's (The couple on the right) who own and operate the Museum of the Americas in Weatherford closed up for the afternoon and drove to the party.

Buddy and Louise #1.

Dorothy and Suzanne

Music was provided by this handsome cowboy, Craig Murphy, who is a fan of Aunt Louise's--and vice-versa.

And if you think oldsters can't kick up their heels, you are missing some good parties. 

This guy is now over 100 years old! 

Buddy asked Aunt Louise to dance... 

The wheelchair was hardly an obstacle.

I hope you can tell by the pictures what a good time was had by all. 

Very talented Hannah supplied some Patsy Kline music. 


Happy Birthday, Aunt Louise.  I plan to be there for your 98th.