Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The adventure continues

This is proving to be a learning opportunity.  The camper has had some new vehicle issues and struggles to figure out how things work and where to put stuff.  Bonnie hates the furnace and every time it kicks in she tries to hide.  During the night she comes to the side of the bed to say "Mom, MOM its making noise again" and lays down so close to the bed I can't even get out.

She dislikes, but is surviving, being on a leash.  A couple of days we have been able to drive around with the windows open and her nose is going crazy.  There are so many new smells and critters to investigate that she quickly forgets she is on a leash.

We left Alpine, Texas, last Monday to head into Big Bend National Park for 4 days.  As a national park they have no electricity or water at the campsites.  We were right down on the Rio Grande River with cold nights (low 30's) and comfy days (60's & 70's).  With no heater at night we were very happy that we had thrown the down sleeping bags in the camper.  (We bought those bags 43 years ago from REI when we were heading off to South America.  That speaks to the value of good equipment.)  When we got up in the morning the camper was at 39-40F - just a bit nippy.

The photo does not do justice to the view
Driving the park was mesmerizing.  Almost 50 miles north to south and about 40 miles east to west.  Each road was a passage through geological time.  The mountains go up over 7800 feet (almost 6500 above the river level) and feel very much like the Rockies.  The desert was starting to bloom while we were there.  Carpets of little plants with white/lavender flowers popped up around the prickly pear and other cactus.  The hiking was impressive with great views.  Steve made one hike up the Lost Mine trail with amazing vista (dogs are not allowed on ANY trails and it was too hot that day to leave a dog in the car so I stayed behind with Bonnie).  At the Santa Elena Canyon trail we were able to get photos of the iconic Rio Grande river - interesting that accessing the most associated image of the area was so easily available.

Santa Elena Canyon

After Big Bend we went on to Seminole State Park.  Although we had water and electricity this place felt more isolated that when we were in Big Bend.  There was no cell phone service within 30 miles of the park.  We camped on a ridge that ran out in the desert with great views of unrelenting scrub brush, sand and rock.  We had great night skies.  I was finally able to get a day at the visitor's center to work online while Steve went on 2 treks to see cave paintings.  He was very jazzed by his hikes and I finally felt like I put a dent into some of my computer work.

Knowing that we had snow/sleet weather coming in we headed to Del Rio for 3-4 days.  No road travel when the weather is this rough and I can have a number of really good days on the computer.  Steve is doing the putsing around activities of tinkering with the camper, laundry and scouting out this town.  I am trying to catch up on the computer and at least feel like I am not 6 months behind.

The place we are at right now is sort of a nice  camper parking lot.  We are lined up and every one stays pretty low keyed.  On the other hand it is rather chilly out there and a good couple of days to just hunker down.

It is still well below zero in Minnesota and Steve is threatening a northerly trek by the weekend.  I know that I do not want to live in Texas but heading home sounds chilly right now but probably appropriate by this time next week.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

So what an irony!  I knew that the weather for the area was high winds, colder temps and snow at higher elevations.  In fact we have nothing planned today because it is supposed to be cold, cloudy - even rainy, and generally not nice.  So this is my work on the computer all day sort of day.

During the night the wind was blowing and I heard the rain start.  First it was individual rain drops more like the cloud was thinking about t than like it was really raining.  Finally the rain became more organized and a continuous sound that is nice to sleep to.

And this is what the world looks like this morning

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Blogging Revisited

Well, I have had several people ask me to re-start the blog.  Now that I am more or less semi retired I have decided to share a little more about my quilting journey.

Let me start by saying that I am really tired of the long winters in Minnesota.  Steve doesn't mind the snow and the cold but last year was just so unpleasant that I really did not want to repeat the whole thing.  I started looking for a way to get us out of town for a significant block of time to break up the winter.  Cancun looked interesting, so did Costa Rica but both were just more of a stretch than what we wanted to do. 

We had talked with some acquaintances who recommended a month in Texas in the camper.  My problem was how to get from an appealing idea to out of the house and on the way to Texas!  Well a quilt retreat solved the problem for me. 

I have wanted to take a class from Karen Buckley for a long time.  She did a cruise in the Sea of Cortez in December that I thought about but decided that it would be more of a leap than what Steve would agree to.  So I kept looking and found 2 in Texas in February.  I preferred the idea of Galveston at the end of the month but really liked the classes in Dallas better the first week of February.  So I asked for the retreat as my birthday present back last June.  Since it was far enough out Steve agreed to the Dallas trip.  Now I had a reason for us to leave town for the month of February.

In October, 2014, we were the campground hosts at Tetteguchie State Park up on the shore of Lake Superior.  It was a great experience and one we will repeat for the month of July in 2015.  As part of our responsibilities we would walk the campground everyday and make sure that things were reasonably tidy in each site for the next campers coming in.  Steve would get chatty with folks and ask about their travels and equipment etc. 

One guy had a truck like ours and he was pulling a small fifth wheel.  We did find that our trailer was really tight when we were both in the camper at the same time.  And when you added Bonnie to the space there wasn't room to turn around.  Steve was so intrigued by the prospect of a larger camper and the stability of a fifth wheel that we just had to go look.  I asked him to leave the checkbook behind, which of course he did not.

Our new camper in Alpine Texas - what a beautiful place!

So now we have a fifth wheel (my business partner, Kristi, calls it our pull-a-home), I have a 4 day class in Dallas the first week of February and we have suggestions from several people on things to do and see in Texas.  Steve was ready with plans for places to go and ideas for our trial run with the new camper.

With a few starts and stops we left Minnesota a day later than planned, but between snow storms.  The drive to Dallas is really long when you do it in 2 days, but we made it.  Steve dropped me off at the hotel and he went off to a nearby campground with Bonnie for 4 days.  He had some first trip problems that he was able to address without my questioning why he was doing this or that.

I had 4 days of classes with Karen Buckley at The Kathy Dunigan Academy of Applique and it was really good.  I had a 1 day class on hand applique and 3 days on machine applique.  The hand work was a good reminder and I picked up a couple of tips that will be good going forward.  Here is a photo of her class sample for the hand work:

My block is in progress and I have a ways to go.  I have a great green zigzag fabric for the frame that looks kind of like a tile roof.  At the pace that I am working on it at night I might have it done before I get back to  Minnesota in March.

The second block  is the machine applique.  This was a very interesting 3 day class that I completely enjoyed.  I have a couple of projects in mind for this technique.  I don't have a picture of my block at this point but I am very pleased with the way it is coming out.  It will be some time in March before I can touch this again since I did not bring my sewing machine on this trip

I will add some more comments over the next couple of weeks about this adventure in Texas.  So far I am really liking it.   We are currently in Alpine Texas at a great campground (the best we have seen on our 3 days of driving around) with good wifi so I can work 4-5 hours a day on the computer.  That leaves us the rest of the day to do different activities.  Last night we went to McDonald Observatory and had a great time - this was one of those lifetime memories because it was so different from what we have done in the past.

The view from our camper includes very few campers and a great view of the mountains!  The deer wandering around drive Bonnie a little bonkers but she is keeping us safe. Yup I like it.