Thursday, December 27, 2012

An evening with the Koesters

Allen and Sharon Koester, Christmas 2012 in Rockport, Texas

 Here is the back story on this event.  Back in the early 1970's we became friends with the Koester family.  Allen worked for the Soil Conservation District.  He, his wife Mary, and their two daughters, JoAnn and Julie, lived in Walden but spent many weekends with us at the ranch and the cabin. They pitched in and helped with the ranch work such as branding and moving cattle.  Al loved hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling and photographing wildflowers--still does for that matter.  We all camped out together and Bob hunted with Al and Mary.
Allen and his family helped with branding for several years.  Allen is on the right working the gate in the chute.
 Al taught our kids how to fish and we used to take long hikes with all the kids into some good beaver ponds up on the Forest.  We also had some very memorable backpacking trips together, which is another story for my blog.

The Koesters and Manvilles taking a break while back packing to Lake Roxyanne in the 1970's

Allen was transferred to Glenwood Springs after 3.5 years in North Park but, as he put it, they "commuted" to North Park on weekends and they stayed with us and we continued our friendship and adventures.  We also spent time with them at Glenwood.
Al was transferred again but this time it was to Palmer, Alaska.  We stayed in touch with them but only saw the whole family once when they came up for Danny's wedding.  They had moved back to Oregon by then and Mary was sick with breast cancer.  She died shortly after that and we mourned their loss.
Mary and I and our kids up at Aqua Fria Resevoir in the 1970's
Life moved on and Allen kept us posted with his Christmas letter and he visited us now and again as he was passing through on the way to or from Iowa where they were originally from.  He married a lovely lady, Sharon, and they came up to see us a couple times.  We hadn't seen the girls in 20 some years!
Allen, Sharon and JoAnn's husband, Larry, Christmastime Barbeque 2012 at the Drifter's Resort in Rockport, TX.
Coming back to the present, last winter we got our annual Christmas letter from Al and he talked about his fishing adventures in Southern Texas.  Bob and I were visiting Micah at the time in San Antonio.  I got out a map and discovered they were only a few hours away so we decided to visit them.  We really liked the area around there and the weather.  We decided we would spend our next winter (now) in Rockport so our friendship circle is complete.
Julie, JoAnn, Anya, and Larry at at our BBQ.
This Christmas season Julie and JoAnn and her family are visiting their Dad and Sharon.  It just so happens that they are staying in a cabin here at The Drifter's Resort right across the road from ours! We all got together for a barbecue one evening and it was great fun to reminisce and play a silly game.

Bob, Julie, Anya and Larry get caught up.
JoAnn and I enjoy a nice visit.

 Allen surprised us with a very special Christmas gift with his annual letter.  He had made a flash drive filled with over 400 pictures he had taken while spending time in North Park back in the 1970's!  I will be posting pictures here and on Facebook!  Stay tuned for more of our back packing adventures.

Julie, Anya (Jo and Larry's daughter), and Larry

Monday, December 24, 2012

Getting Ready For Christmas

We had a big John Deere tractor but Earl opted for his pick up to pull the float.

The decorating and decorated crew!
Last Friday this RV Park had their Christmas Parade.  I am pretty sure it was the first annual one.  Here's why.  It had been advertised for quite awhile and everyone in the park was invited to participate.
Our driver, Earl, gets decorated.
  We were to come and decorate the float, ourselves, our bikes, pets and anything else we wanted in the parade.  Those who couldn't walk the route were welcome to ride on the float.
Working on the float.
Bob and I went up and there were a handful of people taping garlands and such to the trailer.  One lady showed up with her bike.

Cool Bike decorations.

  We decided to decorate one of the golf carts the office ladies use to get around the park quickly.
Julie's golf cart gets decorated.
  Someone went down and got the flag off their RV and we were set to go.
The flag bearer.
  Still no pets and there were enough seats on the float for all of us to ride.  One of the men got a portable generator from somewhere and we even had Christmas music on the float!

Santa is ready to go.

Ready for the parade.
Our tech man, Tom.  That's our music and generator next to Santa.
We set out on the parade route, doing the parade wave and wishing a Merry Christmas to all.
Old Glory led the parade.
She brought up the end of our 3 vehicle parade!
  To our surprise, the route was lined with people in their lawn chairs with their pets in costume to cheer us on. 
Here is one of many dogs who watched the parade in their costumes.
 Many were taking pictures and one group even threw candy to us!  (that was our biggest mistake--we forgot to have candy with us!)  The candy they threw was even Ghiardelli chocolates!
I love these yard decorations!  They also threw us some candy!
  We wound our way through the park and ended up back at the office where the party was ready to begin.
Mr and Mrs Claus are ready for the party.
Party time!  Notice the hats.  I want Bob to have a cowboy one next year!  The lady's hat is like Pat's tree farm hat.
Everybody brought snacks, Santa and Mrs. Claus handed out presents and a good time was had by all.

Some more decorating pictures

Merry Christmas to All!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Our Winter Home 2012-13

Our winter homeSmall but cozy.
Here we are in South Texas at our new digs!  We are staying at The Drifter's Resort in Rockport, TX.  We arrived a week ago and the temperature was 85 degrees.  It felt wonderful with a slight breeze.  I have to admit that it was record breaking heat for here but we really enjoyed it.  All week it continued to be be warm and pleasant until yesterday when a front came through and brought some cold weather (in the 50's).  It is supposed to warm up again but still not bad for Winter.

We got settled in and found plenty to do.  There is something going on every day from pool tournaments to line dancing classes and everything in between!  many of the RV's in the park are decorated for Christmas and the park maintenance men have even decorated all our bungalows with ribbon to look like candy canes.  All the other cottages have a big velvet looking bow on their door--we have a tiny 1 inch ribbon bow next to our door.  I wonder if they are trying to tell us something or if they ran out of bows and we were the last house to be decorated.
Our pathetic bow

The neighbors nice bow
They did the decorating on Saturday while Micah's family was visiting so that might have had something to do with it.  They might have been waiting until we left for our adventures before they worked on our house.  Anyway it looks very festive around here.  One of the RV's even looks much like a Griswold's house (National Lampoon Christmas Movie).  We can see it out our bedroom window!

The weekend with Micah's family was lots of fun.  They got here after dark on Friday night.  Our bungalow is small but very nice.  It has a sofa bed in the living area.  But when folded out there is not much room for anything else so Micah pitched a tent for the girls right outside the window and they slept there.

The next day we had a full schedule planned.  The girls watched Home Alone during breakfast and while we got organized for our big excursion to the beach.  We packed lunch and headed in to Rockport where I had seen signs to the beach.  We drove along Fulton Beach Boulevard and finally saw the Paws and Taws Convention Center complete with picnic tables and a big playground.  We pulled into the parking area and ran down to the water.  OOOOPs it was a seawall with surf beating into it about 10 feet below us!

The fishing pier at Fulton Beach.  No sand here!
Looking out toward little Bay
Where was the sand?  We finally asked a man who was sitting at a picnic table with his parakeet in its cage where the sandy beach was.  We found out there is no sandy beach in Rockport.
A really cool looking building on Little Bay.  I need to find out what it is.
  It is in Port Aransas about 14 miles and a free ferry ride away (Much closer to Drifter's Resort which is midway between Port Aransas and Rockport).

  We headed down to that beach and the girls were thrilled that we were going to get to ride a ferry.  When we got to the ferry we had to laugh.  We could see the city of Port Aransas across a stretch of water about as big as a small river.  We didn't have to wait for a ferry we just drove on and it was full and pulled out.  There was no time to get out of the car to take pictures or anything.  We were there in less than 5 minutes and were driving off!  Micah had a GPS so we found the beach with no problem and we totally blown away!

Playing in the waves
 It is a beautiful public beach that goes on for miles! You are allowed to drive on it right down to the water and there is 3 day camping and you can have campfires (not in swimming areas)!  The sand is packed and it is very clean.  Bob (a beach hater from way back) even was impressed because the sand didn't get in his shoes and you don't sink down in it.
A jelly fish that had washed in.  Alyssa wrote "Jelly Fish" in the sand next to it.
  The girls had great fun in the surf.  We had our picnic and watched people fishing and surfing.  It is a wonderful beach and I hope we can return often.   It is less than 30 minutes from where we live.
More fun in the waves.  See how packed the sand is.  You can even see a tire track in it.

Warming up in the sun after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
We returned home, got changed and headed out back to Rockport for the Christmas lighted boat parade.  It was supposed to start at 6:15.  We left a little early because we weren't sure where we were going.  We needed to find out where to park.  As we got to Little Bay(where the parade was supposed to be) we saw cars parked and pulled into a space and Micah went over to a car to see if we were in the right place.  They didn't know any more than we did.  We sat there for awhile watching cars go past our parking place and further out on the key.  Finally Micah decided to follow them and we came to a large parking area and lots and lots of cars as well as the first decorated boat sliding by.  We jumped out of the car, gathered our camp chairs and coats (a sharp wind) and got settled for the parade.  The girls were shouting Merry Christmas as the boats went by and Kim was trying to get pictures of some of the more elaborately decorated boats.  Some even had Christmas music.  Micah had just barely got seated from getting everyone settled when the 6th AND last decorated boat went by!  That was it!  Everyone pulled out and left.  We thought maybe the parade would go all the way around the bay but as we were driving by where we first parked we could look across the bay and see that the boats had turned around and were headed back out of the bay going home!

We were kind of glad it was short since we planned to barbeque back at the cottage for dinner.  We had brats and hot dogs and, of course, baked beans. For dessert we had what has come to be a kind of a tradition at Christmas time--Somemores!

Just before we went to the beach in the afternoon the lady from the office came to our cottage and informed us there was no tent camping allowed in the park!  We had to take down the tent.  She was very apologetic and came back as we were pulling out to say they had an available cabin if we wanted to use it, but we had figured out an alternative plan by then.

Micah had fixed the van up with an air mattress and the kids watched movies and settled down to sleep.  The next day was cloudy and breezy but still warm.  We had pancakes and then  went up to the swimming pool for some fun.
Micah and the girls have fun in the pool.
Samara's turn

Natalie's private pool.
The girls and Micah swam while Kim and I visited.  We got back to the cottage and I had some embroidery to finish.  Of course that didn't happen.  My embroidery machine broke a needle and threw it out of time.  That was it so they packed up and left for home.

We went to the Sunday afternoon ice cream social and called it a day.  That was our first week in Southern Texas!
Tree climbing in our yard.  I think these are called live oaks.

Samara was a little scared

Alyssa has no fear and is an accomplished tree climber

The tree in our front yard

One of two trees in the side yard that is perfect to climb.