Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Camping Trips

2013 Camping Trips

February 1-3rd: Brazos Bend SP, SETPUCC
February 15-17th: Huntsville SP
March 22-24th: Gladewater
March 28-31st (Easter): Magnolia Ridge Damn
April 19-21st: Gladewater
April 26-28th: La Grange, SETPUCC
May 3-5th (Cinco de Mayo): Two Tank Ranch, Huntsville, TX
May 10-12th (Mother's Day): KOA, Rusk, TX
August 24th: Huntsville SP
August 30- September 1st (Labor Day): Texas State RailRoad Campground, Rusk, TX
October 25-27th: Double Lake Rec Area
November 10-13th (Wedding!): Lake Brownwood SP

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Marriage of Rich and Sarah - 11♥12♥13

We are gathered here today to witness Rich and Sarah to be united in marriage.  We are here to celebrate and share in the glorious act that God is about to preform, the act by which He converts their love for one another into the holy and sacred act of marriage.

Being assured that your love and your choice of each other as lifelong companions are in God's will, let us now enter into a lifelong commitment to one another.

Marriage is a decision of two individuals to share the same type of pure love described in the Bible. These words are given to help us face challenges and differences in our relationship:

"Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

This kind of love enriches each part of life and marriage enriches love. Two lives, shared with this kind of love, can hold more fulfillment and happiness than either life alone.

Rich, do you take Sarah to be your wedded wife, to live together after God's ordinance in holy matrimony? Do you promise to love her, to honor and cherish her, in joy and sorrow, in sickness and in health, and to be to her in all things a good and faithful husband as long as you both shall live?

Sarah, do you take Rich to be your wedded husband, to live together after God's ordinance in holy matrimony? Do you promise to love him, to honor and cherish him, in joy and sorrow, in sickness and in health, and to be to him in all things a good and faithful wife as long as you both shall live?

For thousands of years lovers have exchanged rings as a token of their vows, let these rings be a sign that love has a past, a present, and a future through you and with you.

Rich, take Sarah's ring and place it on her finger, and repeat after me:

I Rich, take you, Sarah, as my friend and love, beside me and apart from me, in laughter and tears, in conflict and peace, asking that you be no other than yourself, loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not know yet, in all the ways that life may find us.  I give you this ring as a sign that I chose you, to be my lover, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days. Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you.

Sarah, take Rich's ring and place it on his finger, and repeat after me:

I Sarah, take you, Rich, as my friend and love, beside me and apart from me, in laughter and tears, in conflict and peace, asking that you be no other than yourself, loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not know yet, in all the ways that life may find us.  I give you this ring as a sign that I chose you, to be my lover, my partner and my best friend, to the end of my days. Wear it, think of me, and know that I love you.

Now, Rich and Sarah, continue to hold hands.

These are the hands of your best friend, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other all the days of your life. The love already shared by your hearts has been strengthened by the vows you have taken from now until the end of your days. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as you build your future together, these are the hands that will hold you whenever illness, fear or grief may find you. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. These are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours.

Let us pray: Our Father, as you have heard these words of promise just spoken, may the Holy Spirit deepen in the mind of this man and this woman the sense of the sacred and binding power of their vows. Give them your grace and guidance that they may fulfill the vows they have made to each other. May Your joy abide with them always, that they may be a blessing to each other, and to those about them. Amen.

In that, Rich and Sarah, you have now consented together in holy matrimony, and have made this commitment before God and have pledged your love and loyalty to each other, I pronounce that you are husband and wife.

Rich, you may kiss your very excited bride.

Now may the love that that's brought you together continue to grow and enrich your lives.

May you met with courage the problems that arise to challenge you.

May your relationship always be one of love and trust.

May the happiness you share today be with you always.

And may every word you have pledged here be a living truth in your lives.

May it be so.

A HUGE thanks to Brian Potter Photography who did an amazing job of capturing the love and fun that this day held for us - thank you, thank you, thank you!  All of the above photos can be credited to him.

To see more of Brian's awesome shots from our special day, go here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We could do it, ya know....

There’s a photo in our camper that reads: “We could do it, ya know. Run away and live in the woods.”  After this week’s trip to Lake Brownwood State Park, I think that we really could!  It was our last camping trip as a couple and our first as husband & wife~ yep, that's right:

We got hitched!

After our engagement, we started to talk through wedding plans and locations and realized that the logistics of having a big shindig were going to be a nightmare: we have family and friends in Houston, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Raleigh and Tucson - Where do we have the wedding? Who's grandparents won't be attending? Are we going to make our groomsmen and bridesmaids travel?  Who gets to be the flower girl?  It all seemed like one big stress-filled issue after another. Isn't a wedding supposed to be about two people making a life long commitment to each other? When did it turn into some commercialized event with questions like: seated dinner or buffet, and should we do bubbles or fireworks for the send off? 

So the thought of a small, intimate wedding became our focus.  RDB had mentioned earlier in the summer that he liked the sequential dates of 11-12-13 and 12-13-14 (and I didn't want to wait another year to get married) so it all just seemed to fall into place - we'd elope in less than 2 months, invite our parents, and start the first few days of our married life together focusing on the most important things: each other. 

We found a Bed and Breakfast - The Star of Texas B&B - that not only had beautifully appointed cottages for our parents to stay in, but also offered elopement packages at a ridiculously reasonable price. (Reason #267 as to why we eloped - weddings are expensive!)  Getting married like this - with just our parents in attendance - was the most amazing and sweet and loving thing RDB and I could have done. 

The pathway leads to Mom's cottage.

We're in a Tipi - you can 'rent' from the B&B!

RDB’s parents, A&R, flew into town Saturday afternoon and we left out for Brownwood Sunday morning.  The drive across from Houston is long and uneventful (and in case you’re wondering – there’s not a single gas station that offers diesel and has a Subway in it. Huh.)  We got to the State Park right at 5 and I started dinner (love my Greenling pre-fix dinners!)  Mom had already checked into the bed and breakfast where she and A&R were staying for the week.  Our camper is big, but it’s not *that* big! 

Lots of hanging around at the campsite - we had an amazing spot: Site 88 in the full hook-ups loop.  When we pulled in Sunday night the park rangers had suggested it and we only had two neighbors.  Monday morning they both raised anchor and we ended up with the entire campground to ourselves.  It was magical!

I had planned for us to do a few meals at the campsite, but also left room open to explore some of the local joints - RDB likes the idea of adding in a few restaurant reviews to the blog - and hey, it means I don't have to do clean-up! We went into town Monday and ate lunch at Underwood's Cafeteria and BBQ.  It's been a long time since I've had cafeteria food - and my goodness, this stuff was awesome! I could have drunk the BBQ sauce like water it was so delicious.  RDB was in love with the hot rolls that kept coming around on trays fresh out of the oven, and the apple and cherry cobblers didn't disappoint either!

We had a photography session with Brian on Monday afternoon - so that we could get comfortable in front of his lens before the wedding, and so we could get a few family photos with Diesel in them.  He did such an awesome job - and even provided a few of the campsite shots with our rush order - we were incredibly impressed both with his professionalism and the way he made us feel so at ease.

The rest of the evening was spent grilling out steaks and enjoying (just a few) bottles of wine.  It was such a treat to have RDB's parents and my Mom with us that evening - so that they could get to know each other better and we really could start to blend our families together.  I am so happy that all of my parents (Mom, Dad and Bunny, and now A&R) get along so well.  Dinner after the wedding at The Turtle Restaurant the next evening was such a sweet time, too. 

Tuesday morning (wedding day!) Dad and Bunny came over to the campsite for breakfast and we sat and talked for a while about tree farms and raising catfish.  RDB and I have been thinking about purchasing some acreage somewhere in the future to be our permanent camping spot and when you tell Dad that you've got an idea for something, he goes all out about it (remember buying the Pop-Up?) Yep, he found 49 acres just north of Houston in less than 2 hrs after I told him what we were looking for.

RDB and I parted ways for the rest of the afternoon - I had errands to run (picking up the flowers, getting my hair done) and he had the chance to spend a little more time just him and his parents at the campsite.  We didn't see or talk to each other again until just before our vows.  I had been getting ready in Mom's cottage at the B&B and he had been getting dressed in his parent's cottage.  When the time came, he was waiting for me and at his first look, all he could say was: "You look great." over and over again.  This man melts my heart.

A few more camping photos are here, and we'd be honored for you to attend our wedding here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

./` It's like Thunder! Lightening! ./`

./`./` The way you love me is frightenin'!  I betta knock .... on wood! ./`./`
I sure wasn't singing this morning at quarter to five when the power went out in our campground (then came back on, then off, then on, then off - every time the microwave beeping to tell you the clock needed to be reset.)  There was a pretty massive storm cell that come thru the area - thankfully,  it was in the wee early morning hours - but wow! It was intense!
After traveling nearly 2600 miles in less than 6 days with my Mom to lay Grandma Ford to rest in Arizona week before last, I needed to go camping.  It recharges my emotions, it brings me back to center, it draws RDB and I closer together.  It's what calms me.  Again, I can't help but wonder why more people don't unplug from the rush and chaos of everyday life and go camping.
Playing with my Great Aunt LaCene's "Texas-Sized" cards.
We left out for Double Lake Recreation Area Friday afternoon, and the weather this week, and into the weekend, was beckoning us on.  We'd been to Double Lake once before - for our very first camping trip with the Pop-Up, and it was nice to be back at this campground again.  We've started to realize that we really enjoy going to campgrounds where we can reserve site-specific.  We've gotten spoiled by Honey and her full hook-ups, it's hard to pass on that convenience now.
RV there yet?
We spent most of the weekend outside enjoying the amazing weather - it was beautifully cool and comfortable.  I have a new point-and-shoot camera (another Cannon, I can't seem to get away from them) and so I spent a good portion of the time playing with it.  RDB, of course, was playing with Diesel.

 Of course, the thing I love about my digital camera, is that I can take as many shots as I need in order to get the one that works.  Like the one directly above - it took about 9 shots to get that... but not all of the miss-fires are trash, check out this one:

"Mom and Dad cuddling? Yuck!"
I did a little interior decorating on the camper this weekend, too - you know me, I'm always looking for ways to make our second home a little more 'home-y."  I had a coupon for JoAnn Crafts (dangerous store!) and found these little vinyl wall quotes.  It was incredibly easy to apply, and I loved the saying: "Life is a happy adventure"  Diesel loves it, too - though I think it may be more that he loves our bed.

Needless to say, we're loving camping more than we love our Steelers right now (we're home watching the game against the Raiders - and it ain't pretty).  Maybe we should get our team to go camping?  I know it sure helped me this weekend...
For more camping photos, go here.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Treasured Moments

Alice Ford, 1924-2013

She was strength, unchanging, and gave me great "treasured moments" as a kid.
We laid my Grandma Ford to rest in Tucson, Arizona this day.
"Laugh more than you cry."
"Yes is better than no."


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Love is in the Air!

What a whirlwind of a weekend!

We went home to Raleigh, NC for RDB's big sister's wedding - and it was such a sweet and lovely event - hosted in a vineyard, lots of beautiful surroundings and sweet memories.  I was honored to be asked to read from 1 Corinthians 13 at the ceremony:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Little did I know, RDB had a surprise up his sleeve for the weekend.  He had mentioned on Saturday (the day of the wedding) that he wanted to go for a walk around the lake near our old apartment, but with everything we already had planned - and the wedding itself - we didn't get a chance to.  So, when he mentioned it again on Sunday morning we decided to make it happen. 
The weather in Raleigh this time of year is really beautiful, so a two mile walk, under big evergreen trees beside a sparkling clear lake really is really such a treat.  About three-quarters of the way around the trail, we noticed a little wooden gazebo set back off the path, under the tall pines with miniature rose bushes planted all around.  Rich looked back and said, Why don't we stop for a few?  (I thought: oh, good - he needs a break, too,  I'm not the only one out of shape!)
We sat there and enjoyed the breeze, noticing all the little critters and insects, and enjoyed the view of Lake Lynn.  we had original made dinner plans for that evening with just us and RDB's parents - as a way to celebrate and relax now that J&B's wedding was over.  At the reception the night before, RDB had invited his little sister and her hubby to join us, and then when we found out that the newlyweds didn't have plans, he invited them along as well.  Our party of four quickly had turned into a party of 8!
As I sat there snuggled up with my back to RDB, I mentioned that I was a little sad we wouldn't be able to spend the 1:1 time with his parents, and he said, "Yeah, but it'll be a great time to tell everyone about this..."  He moved his hand in front of my face, and on his little finger was an amazingly sparkly ring.  I turned to face him.
"Will you marry me?"
"Yes!"  (Of course!!)
It was such a sweet and simple moment, just the two of us.  So perfect and loving and kind.  Little did I know as I was planning a dinner to celebrate that night, RDB was secretly having me plan our engagement party!

Monday, September 2, 2013


Birthday weekend, best campground ever, wild beasts - we felt really blessed this weekend!  RDB got off work a little early Friday (happens whenever the shop's closed on Monday for a holiday) and I already had just about everything we needed packed into Honey for the upcoming trip - so, we took off mid-afternoon for the Texas State Rail Road Campground in Rusk, TX.  
We realized there was a campground here when we road the TSRR train back on our Mother's Day weekend trip earlier this year.  This place is a hidden gem - they have 32 full-hook-up sites, and only 8 were reserved when I called Friday morning (When our plans changed last-minute Thursday night, we thought for sure we'd be stuck somewhere crowded and not able to really enjoy the weekend.)  But this was such a treat - it far exceeded all of our expectations!
We pulled in Friday afternoon and met Ken, the park host.  He nearly scared us to death when he started off with: "I've got some bad news for ya..."  (RDB and I were only halfway thru setting up and thought for sure he was about to tell us we had to move) "...we're still under a fire ban..." Phew! Big sigh of relief there! Ken and his wife have been camping in this park since the early '80s - and we could surely see why: it was shady and wooded, quiet and spacious, and you had an antique steam-powered train come thru twice a day.  We were in Heaven.

We went out to dinner on Saturday night - a little hole-in-the-wall place in Palestine called Giovanni's.  Oh, my, goodness - this was the BEST Italian I think I've ever had. The tortellini alfredo was amazing - as was the bread and dipping oils, and the cannoli for dessert.  This place is a BYOB restaurant which was a nice change of pace, and the pricing on the entrees is incredibly fair - we had two entrees and dessert for under $30 (plus our brought-from-the-camper bottle of wine).  If you're in the area you should make it a point to drop by - you won't be disappointed!
It was still a bit hot out during the day; it was the first weekend in September, in Texas, after all.  But that simply meant that most of the day Saturday we spent enjoying the inside (and A/C) of our new camper.  One thing I love most about camping, especially this weekend, is the chance to un-plug from all things Facebook and Pinterest and Internet and just spend time snuggling and talking and reconnecting with each other.  By far, that was my favorite part of this weekend.
The mornings outside under the awning drinking coffee and having breakfast were quiet enjoyable, too.  Sunday was RDB's *ahem*-ity birthday, so we did a little adventuring around town - after he Face-Timed with his mom, of course (ok, so I *do* love technology!)
Rusk happens to be home to several different points of interest.  We'd already ridden the steam powered train, but as I explored the city's website, I found a few other fun things to do:
The city lays claim to having the longest footbridge in the nation, located just off the downtown area.  Originally built in 1861, it was a 546 feet from one side to the other.  Just a quick little trip, but a neat piece of added charm to this little town we're really starting to fall in love with.
Further up the road, you'll find... well, I'll let you guess:
Hump Daa-ey!
Yep, a camel. And ostrich, water buffalo, Cebu, wild boar, deer, and all other kinds of critters at the Cherokee Trace Drive-thru Safari (which happens to give you free admission on your birthday - score!).  That's Holly, the camel.  She was surprisingly gentle, taking food pellets straight from my finger tips.  We saw her twice on our 2 hour adventure - I think she figured out where you were coming in and going out, so as to stalk you for more food.  We actually had to fold in the mirrors on the truck to get past her the second time: she did *not* want us to go!  I'll be honest, though, the llamas were just as bad!
Give us the food, and no one gets hurt.
Polly wants a cracker.
I know I say it a lot at the end of these posts: that we'll be back to this one.  But really - we will.  RDB said he'd gladly spend his birthday next year right back here again - and though I hope everyone of you Campers who are reading this blog put the TSRR Campground on your calendar as a must-go-see place, I kinda hope you don't, as well.  Part of the charm of this place was how quiet and empty the campground was - and on a holiday weekend at that.  But on the same token - I hope you do go visit it.  And I hope you leave feeling as welcomed and wonder-full and blessed as we did.

The view from our camper, looking out back.

Ok, just one more, cause I can't resist:

Guess what day it is? Guess what. Day. It. Is?!

For more camping photos, go here.