Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

More than just "a three day weekend."  More than the "Official Start of Summer."  I'm grateful this day for the men and women who have laid down their lives for the cause of freedom.  So that we can camp, visit places, travel with our dog - and even own a pup and a pop-up. 

To those who have gone before, and paid the ultimate price:

Thank you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

San Jacinto Monument

The San Jacinto Monument is 12 ft taller than the
Washington Monument in D.C. Why?
Because everything's bigger in Texas!

RDB, Diesel and I took a Saturday afternoon picnic to The San Jacinto Monument out near La Porte, TX.  No camping on this one (it's just a quick 1-hour drive from the house) but certainly worth it.  I've seen the monument several times in the distance as I've been driving into work out in the chemical plants (it's situated right smack dab in the midst of the Houston Ship Channel). Standing 567 ft tall, it's easy to see from the highways on a clear day.

Part of the San Jacinto Battleground State Park the Monument hosts an observation deck that gives stunning views of the battleship USS Texas and the surrounding grounds, as well as a museum in the base.  We didn't venture in (or up) this time, as we had Diesel along, but I'm sure we'll go again to check it out and tour the Battleship.

That's one well-traveled patriotic pup.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Leaves of Three? Misery.

Poison Ivy.

No, not her.  This:

Worst. Plant. Ever. 

And I've somehow managed to get it on my face.  Again.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

./` Over the River and Through the Woods ./`

OK, so not really Grandma's house ('cause, um, we have no kids yet) but it certainly felt like we were traveling out that far to get to M.o.M and Dad's property in East Texas this weekend.... I mean really, we missed the entrance gate to the property twice and Dad had to come escort us in on the tractor.

What? You thought I was joking?

It was a nice change from camping out in State Parks.  It was just RDB, Diesel, me and the 'Rents.  Dad has a travel trailer down there as a permentant home-away-from-home when he and M.o.M. (My Other Mother) go down to "The Country." 

"You see, the problem is..."
We weren't down there five minutes before Dad was 'fixing' stuff on our camper.  Since we got it, one of the back stabilizers has been half hanging off of it.  I figured it was a fix that ws going to require some welding (so RDB borrowed CJ's mini welder) but we just hadn't gotten around to it yet.  Dad crawled right underneathe as we were setting up and said, "Hey, it's just out of it's track - got a hammer?"  One hammer and two screwdrivers later (my srewdriver wasn't 'big enough') he and RDB had it back on track.  Lesson: Don't put stuff off - sometimes it's easier than you think.

I think one of the greatest things about being on private property is that you can get a bit of firearms practice in without having to pay range fees and the like.  I had bought RDB a .12 gauge shotgun for Christmas and he hadn't had the chance to fire it yet (living in H-town kinda limits where you can go shoot an empty oil can or watermelon, ya know).  Dad loved being able to show off one of his newest aquisitions - a .22 rifle.  I took 2 shots off the shotgun before I called it quits on that one - it has some kick! The .22 was much more my style.

Not a happy camper - Diesel hid under the camper
during most of our range practice. 

RDB lines up a shot while Dad looks on.
We were taking aim at an old oil container.


We were only down for Saturday night - it's about a 4 hour drive to get there - but it was worth it for the calm and quiet.  The stars at night, they were big and bright! (*clap*clap*clap*clap* Deeep in the he-aart of Texas!) Really though, with no ambient light or other campers and their tacky-lights on, it was beautiful and dark.  I think both RDB and I were wishing it wasn't so far away, we'd head out there every other weekend if it were closer.

Early morning is my favorite time.  Diesel's too.
For more camping photos, go here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

This Place is a Zoo!

Ducks? Check!

Deer? Check!

Various Flying bugs? Check!

A Doberman puppy? Oh Yeah!

Alligators? Um, yeah...

Raccoons? Ugh, yes.


Wait, Zebras?!

Yep, them, too. Camping this weekend was like an adventure to the local zoo - all the regular wildlife (like the squirrels, and birds, and bunnies) and the annoying camping critters (like the raccoons that invaded the camp around midnight and the kids with too-loud radios) but there were a few new surprises. Like the puppy. And the zebras.

Lots of time in the truck,  but still
not sure how to get out of the truck.

We left out early evening on Thursday and made it to the site around sundown. We had in tow the newest member of our family: may I introduce Diesel Tank. He's our Doberman puppy (about 11 weeks old at this point). Diesel does wonderfully well on road trips- he came from Abilene and we drove to Dallas to pick him up- so he's certainly had road time at this young age. Camping, we realized, was a perfect way to do socialization: he met a Girl Scout troupe, several other dogs, and lots and lots of various critters. I'll post more later about tricks and tips of camping with a young dog (hint: lots of treats).

I went off to work Friday morning in Lafayette with one of my favorite clients. I gotta say, getting dressed in business formal in the middle of a casual campsite gets you lots of curious stares.

RDB and I took several walks around camp- with a puppy, there's plenty of walking to do. We met up with one group of campers that were enamoured with our little tag-a-long. They asked where we were from, and we did the same. "Oh, we're from here in Lake Charles," one of the guys said. "We just like to come out here and pretend we actually went somewhere." Yeah, we liked thier point of view!


Since we got into camp early, we had the chance to watch a lot of the other camping families come into camp and set up. In the site beside us late Friday afternoon, we watched an awesome set up arrive: a beautiful newer model extended cab silver Ford F150 towing a set of kayaks and a clean, streamlined silver Airstream with wrap around windows in front and back. RDB and I just drooled over this get up- its the kind of rig we could see ourselves in somewhere in the *ahem* distant future. We were watching them back into camp... And back in... And back a little bit more... And stop...  *Crunch*

Well, they stopped, but the Airstream didn't. It rolled right into a tree. Busted up the bumper and smashed out the back window. We felt for them, and quickly reminded each other: "parking brake and chocks."

The rest of the weekend, thankfully, was uneventful. We were impressed with how well Diesel adapted to the new outdoor surroundings and sounds, and to his camping "tent" crate in the camper. He was a camping champ by Saturday afternoon: he stood at the door of the pop-up wanting to go inside to his crate (and the air conditioning) to escape the heat and commotion from other dogs and kids. Once inside, he happily chewed on his toys and took a nap while we sat out and enjoyed the fresh air. We are in love with this pup!

We did a bit of exploring around the Westlake/Lake Charles area- and that's when we saw the zebras. Truly random, but hey, it's the country; you will not see this kind of stuff in the city and that's why we love to go camping.

Being out on the marshes was pretty neat this go around.  I realized Thursday night that the croaking of the frogs sounds an awful lot like the beginning of my cell phone's alarmclock.  (Note to self: change that, pronto!)  Saturday night we went out on the docks to watch the super moon rise.  It was this month's full moon coinsiding with the perigee of the moon's orbit.  (Meaning: the moon is really close, and really bright, and really big.)  My pictures don't do it justice - it was like sleeping directly under a 1,000 watt street light all night.  Again, you only get this stuff camping! 

Moonrise over the Marsh.

We camped this weekend in Site 21 at Sam Houston Jones State Park just north of Lake Charles, LA.  This is certainly another one that would go on our 'places to revisit' list.  So far, they've had the best bathhouse of any of the State Parks we've been to: There were 4 shower rooms - each like it's own self contained bathroom.  You can lock yourself in and have lots of room to move around, potty, shower, dress, etc.  The handicap 'rooms' also had handheld shower heads - which could come in great handy if we decided to bathe Diesel while we're out.
Can't wait to go again....

... with the entire family!

For more camping photos, go here.