our first rv christmas
For Ken, it was the opportunity to hear Max Lucado, Christian author and speaker, deliver the Christmas message. His book, Traveling Light, is one of those that “connected” with Ken. Max’s tidings were of hope and Promise. After the service, Ken had a chance to meet and talk briefly with him in the lobby. He said that it was the very best part of his Christmas. It surely was a gift.
At noon, the RV Park hosted a Christmas dinner for all of the campers with deliciously prepared turkey and all the fixings. The campers filled in the rest with salads, veggies, and desserts. Deb had prepared her famous pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. They weren’t very popular so we had plenty to bring home (...no problem there...). We dined with other RV'ers and listened to stories mostly about fishing which we know nothing about. It was fun to fellowship, though.
After a nap and an opportunity to FaceTime with family, we went on a short run. It was Deb’s first time out after foot surgery. She did just fine. Ken displayed his new colorful running shirt. It was good exercise after an abundant meal. The hot tub visit afterwards soothed our tired muscles.
In the evening we joined two other couples in the park to watch the International Space Station pass overhead -- we were awestruck by it. The night ended as we shared life stories with these RV neighbors for about an hour and a half (they were from Maine and headed to Tucson for the winter). It was affirming to hear of other’s travel adventures -- we seem to share many things in common. All-in-all it was a very good first Christmas celebration for us as full-time RV'ers.
We are truly blessed.
traveling the road
Texas is a land of many geographies. We have seen canyon and desert with cacti and sagebrush. We have seen beautiful rolling, green hills filled with stately and mature tree-lined lanes. We have seen the hill country with its Cypress, Bur Oak, Acacia, and Honey Locust. We now know what a Mexican Buckeye Tree is. We hiked through the lushness of a bamboo forest yesterday (what a surprise that was!). There are a lot more grand lakes and broad rivers than I remember from earlier visits to the state (and they are all VERY full of water!). And we are learning about a whole new kind of bird population. There are lots of birds.
The weather has been very good, though we have had a couple rain storms (one was 24 hours long -- ugh). With temps in the upper fifties to upper seventies, however, it feels like it is summer that is right around the corner, not Christmas!
Considering that we are two-week Texans, here are some early observations about this amazing state:
- It is BIG!
- There appears to be only one grocey store chain in the whole state (H-E-B).
- The ice cream shops are open even in the winter months!
- There is a lot of interesting history here – more than you realize.
- The humidity is hard to ignore (but boy does our skin feel good!)
- Diesel and gas are really cheap (maybe it is where you are, too?)
- People are warm and very friendly; everybody here says “Merry Christmas” (we have yet to hear “Happy Holidays” or “Season Greetings”)
- Though there are some trees that are bare, there are still a lot of trees that are quite green. As is most of the grass.
- Similarly, there are lots of flowers and flowering trees/bushes that are appear to be in bloom all year long.
- Our experience at the Texas' Motor Vehicle Department was quite pleasurable. We were able to get our vehicles weighed, inspected, and license plates issued on one day, and our Texas' drivers licenses the next. Ken got his Class A CDL license to drive the motorhome.
- People drive very fast here (but also very courteously).
- Bicycling is not very common (we have not seen any bike lanes yet in any city!). We have seen some fun places to kayak, however. ON EDIT: When we got to San Antonio we found lots of great bike trails.
- We have never seen so many Baptist churches in the same town!
We are camped southwest of Austin and very near San Antonio now. We will be in the area until after Christmas. Faith is decorated for Christmas, just like we would have decorated in a S&B. We are looking forward to exploring here and finding ourselves in the Christmas Spirit, even if we are wearing T-Shirts and flip flops down in the land of inflatable reindeer and plastic snow!
another front yard
Deb continues to impress me with her forward research on camp spots. Here, we were on the canyon's valley floor about 800 feet below the rim. Way cool. And that meant we would have no cell phone or Internet access for three days. That solitude was accompanied by magnificent sunrises and sunsets reflecting on the canyon walls all around. Twice a day, at just the right times, the rock formations would glow a deep and dramatic red-brown.
For one day we had only two neighbors in the campground. One morning we awoke to chatter from a local artist club who were setting up their easels and oils in the campsite across from us. It is a beautiful place for all kinds of adventure.
The weather was amazing (it's hard to believe that Christmas is right around the corner). We were able to squeeze in one long day-hike and explore several bike trails while there. Road construction kept us out of one section of the park (they were replacing several bridges that had been damaged by all of the rain-water that had roared through the canyon earlier this year). The best part of the park, however, was the enticing aroma of pumpkin pie that Deb was baking in Faith on our last evening -- the whole campsite smelled fantastic!
we made it!
Our first stop will be a recreational visit to Palo Duro. Then we will head east on I40 for the long trek to Oklahoma City followed by the turn south towards Dallas. That one will be a 400+ mile day -- our longest driving day until the end of March when we skeedaddle to New Orleans to see a good Lewan friend get married.
On December 9th, we will aim for Gainesville, Texas (just about on the Texas-Oklahoma border) to spend the night in an RV campground that is located on the property of the local Factory Outlet Mall. Why would we want a campsite at a Factory Outlet Mall? Because we can ... that's why!!!
Thursday we will drive about 150 miles southeast so we can check in with the SOWERs ministry group just west of Lindale. It will be exciting to see the operation and to meet some of the people face-to-face with whom we have been talking for so long. Then it is onward, south to Livingston (our Texas home base) to get our new drivers' licenses. WooHoo!
a baby has arrived!
After heroic attempts to address some health concerns, Mallory was transferred from the midwifery center to the hospital.
I was privileged to able to see Mallory and Devin in her hospital room as others waited in the lobby for any word of what was happening. It was hard for me to see my own “baby” struggling so. I had hoped I could provide some emotional support and a sense of relief that Mom-to-be’s Mom was there. I was asked for my thoughts several times and was able to be an instrument of what I hope was God’s wisdom.
The midwife that Mallory had been with before the hospital transfer was also consulted for her advice. The question was presented if they should continue to labor or opt for a cesarean birth. Many good questions were answered by both the doctor and midwife. After a prayer circle with parents, doula (birth coach), and me, we left Mallory and Devin to process, pray and decide the next step.
I headed to the waiting area to update the group waiting. Both sets of parents, Devin’s brother and his wife were eager for any information.
Anxious grandparents prayed together in the waiting room. And we waited and waited and waited. The surgery was actually short, but the recovery room time was several hours. Mom, Dad and Baby were able to be together to rejoice by themselves. Finally the wait to meet "Little Miss" was over.
So Ellie finally met the family that had prayed for her before she was conceived. A miracle was born on November 28, 2015 at 10:42pm and Ken and I saw her just a couple of hours after her birth. To God be the Glory! He is good all the time even though things don’t always go the way we have planned or imagined. He knows the best ALL the time.