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Month: February 2012

Rio South Texas: Nature’s Wonders

February 29, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Rio South Texas: Nature’s Wonders

The Rio Grande Valley nature scene is filled with many wildlife hot spots. We’ll continue our tour of the top nature hot spots in the Rio Grande Valley with a visit to the World Birding Center. The World Birding Center (WBC) The World Birding Center (WBC) is a network of nine unique birding sites in the Lower Rio Grande Valley along a 120-mile corridor following the Rio Grande from Roma to South Padre Island. The mission of the World Birding Center is to protect native habitat, while increasing the understanding and appreciation of birds and wildlife. Drive through subtropical Texas to share the borderlands mix of Texan and Mexican heritage, and take time to look for any of the more than 500 bird species that have been documented in the region. Ted Eubanks, a well-known birder and nature tourism expert, was involved with the creation of the WBC starting in the late 1990s. His company, Fermata Inc., conducted the original feasibility study for the project, titled “Using a World Class... [Read more...]

Another Delicious Camping Meal–Lentil Soup!

February 29, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Another Delicious Camping Meal–Lentil Soup!

In a previous post, I wrote about using Bear Creek or some other commercially prepared soup mixes to create some hot and filling camping meals. Today, I want to tell you about another great soup, but one that’s made from scratch: Lentil Soup. I am a great fan of the Bear Creek soups; but still feel the need to make a good pot of lentil soup several times a year. It is every bit as tasty as the commercial soups and takes only a bit longer to prepare as the lentils cook up pretty quickly. Ingredients are as follows: Start with some fresh and dried vegetables... 1 lb. bag of lentils Olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 2 stalks celery, chopped 5-10 small carrots, chopped Add lentils and ham bone... dried mushrooms, if desired 1 can petite diced tomatoes 6 cups water (to start, I always add a cup or two more) 3-6 tsps chicken soup base (1 use 3-4 to maximize And some tomatoes and spices, and voila! taste and minimize sodium) ham bone 1 ham slice, cubed 1 tbsp parsley 1 tsp basil salt... [Read more...]

Just the Two of Us…

February 26, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

Just the Two of Us…

Since our youngest child, daughter Meghan, started college in Iowa this past fall, Terry and I have had the opportunity to do a bit of traveling without any children, something we have rarely enjoyed, given that I had a three year old daughter when we met and married. In all the years the kids were at home, we took only two trips without them: one, a road trip from Wisconsin to Boston when Terry ran the Boston Marathon in 1990; the other, a one week trip to Santa Fe, NM in 2000 when the kids were a bit older. Needless to say, most of our travels in our nearly 23 years of marriage have been with children in tow. We love to hike... I must say it is an entirely different experience traveling as a couple, rather than as a family. First of all, we both miss the kids terribly. Being so accustomed to traveling with them, there is a small hole in our lives when they are away. However, that being said, there is a reason Terry and I found each other in the first place: we enjoy many of the same... [Read more...]

37 diamonds found at the Crater in January

February 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

37 diamonds found at the Crater in January

January (2012) was a great start to the Crater of Diamonds 40th year as an Arkansas State Park, with more than 1,600 people visiting and 37 diamonds certified during the month. Visitation rose nearly 60% over totals from last January, and four additional diamonds were registered, according to news release. Arkansans residents registered 28 diamonds in January, while visitors from Michigan, Minnesota, California, Ontario, and Taiwan registered nine diamonds. The 22 white, eight brown, and seven yellow gems weighed a total of 3.14 carats. Mild winter temperatures in January may account for increased park visitation, while many days of heavy rain left the search area eroded to help increase the number of diamonds found, according to a state park spokesperson. Crater of Diamonds is currently experiencing their first real cold weather of the winter, with a possibility of freezing rain and snow. Hopefully temperatures will soon moderate so that more people may enjoy searching for diamonds... [Read more...]

WE FOUND A PHOTO OF PRESIDENT CLINTON NUDE!

February 24, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

WE FOUND A PHOTO OF PRESIDENT CLINTON NUDE!

Hanging out around a library wasn’t exactly one of the most exciting items on my list of things to do Monday.  But, it was President’s Day and we were not that far from the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.  Besides, admission is free on President’s Day and I have never been one to pass up free admission to anything. In case you may have forgotten, Bill Clinton was our 42nd President serving two terms between 1992 and 2000.  While he may be best remembered for his shenanigans with a young White House aide, it was during his presidency that we reversed a climbing federal budget deficit and created nearly twenty-three million new American jobs.  No prior administration had overseen the creation of so many new jobs, or at such a rapid pace. Entrance to the Clinton Library The Clinton Presidential Library is situated in a new 30-acre city park located right on the edge of the Arkansas River in the revitalized River Market area of Little Rock. ... [Read more...]

Tailgater–RV TV made Easy

February 21, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Tailgater–RV TV made Easy

So I like to go RV-ing. Don’t we all? Even more, when I’m trying to get cozy after a long day out on the open road in my RV, one of my favorite things to do is watch a good movie with the family.  There is nothing quite better than kicking your feet up, turning on the TV in your RV’s living area and enjoying a great flick before hitting the hay. Perhaps the greatest drawback to enjoying such an experience–it’s not exactly inexpensive to set up a quality entertainment center in your RV.  And if you’re like me, one of the things which driven me nuts when it comes to the RV lifestyle is how expensive RV satellites are. With that said, if you’re like me then you like to do everything you can to save a buck or two. Even more, I would have never guessed I would actually be able to cut costs when it comes to RV satellites. I recently had the opportunity to attend the National RV Show in Louisville. As I was walking through the vendors’ area, I happened to stumble upon a booth... [Read more...]

Magic along the Rio Grande

February 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Magic along the Rio Grande

Few can dispute the importance of nature tourism in Texas, especially within the Rio Grande Valley. Visitors to Santa Ana are often greeted with the raucous cry of the drab brown, scrawny-looking, turkey-like bird called a plain chachalaca, a bird that reaches its northern limits in the Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved According to a study conducted by Mathis and Matisoff (2004), Texas is the number one birdwatching state/province in North America, and The Valley is considered the number two birding destination in North America. Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre, South Padre Island acts as the easternmost gateway to the Rio Grande Valley. This four-county area of extreme deep South Texas is, in all actuality, more of a delta than a valley, and its southern border forms the present-day wide, sweeping flatlands of the once mighty Rio Grande River. The unique climate in South Texas attracts nature aficionados from all over the nation and the world, especially... [Read more...]

Celebrating Easter At Sunrise!

February 19, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Celebrating Easter At Sunrise!

We developed a family tradition, back when our children first started school, of traveling when they were out of school for their Easter break. We are members of the Roman Catholic faith, and attend St. Francis of Assisi Parish when we are home in Manitowoc, WI. In fact, our children  attended the Catholic schools associated with our parish. However, we often had difficulty locating a Catholic church in many of the cities and towns to which we traveled. Feeling it was more important to celebrate, then to be a stickler for one form of religion or church, we developed the habit of locating a nearby church and attending its services on Easter morning. One Easter Sunday morning while searching for a service in a small, rustic rocky mountain town, we happened upon a sunrise service taking place on the banks of a small creek. Complete with a large bonfire to warm us and donuts to nourish us, this was, hands-down, our children’s favorite Easter service. It was quite a momentous occasion, watching... [Read more...]

BIG WHEELS KEEP ON ROLLING -Friends, Family and Funerals

February 18, 2012 by · 2 Comments 

BIG WHEELS KEEP ON ROLLING -Friends, Family and Funerals

After a long and difficult illness, Nancy’s Mom died peacefully Sunday night.  While it is always sad to lose a loved one, especially a parent, it is also a relief to know her human suffering was over.  Born in 1920, she would have been 92 next week. We had been planning on joining a group of our friends in Florida on the Gulf Coast beginning March 1st for a couple of weeks – then suddenly, plans changed.  The funeral was to take place in Bryant, Arkansas, some 1,200 miles away, on Saturday.  We could fly, drive a four-wheeler or take the RV.  We decided to take the RV to Arkansas and then to slowly work our way down to Florida after the Funeral. We found ourselves in a real frenzy preparing for a memorial service in our hometown on Wednesday and de-winterizing the RV for the trip.  Somehow, we got it all together and pulled out Thursday morning a little before 5 a.m.  It was raining.  As most of you know, it is no fun driving in the rain – especially with a big RV.  It rained... [Read more...]

Stuffington Bear Factory tour, right here in Phoenix!

February 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Stuffington Bear Factory tour, right here in Phoenix!

Our family loves factory tours.   And a FREE factory tour is even better! LOL!   Last week found us at the Stuffington Bear Factory, right here in snowbird paradise, Phoenix (AZ)! I was interested in the Stuffington Bear Factory for several reasons.  One is the fact that it would be a great field trip for our roadschool, another was the fact that I knew that the kids (the little girls especially) would enjoy it, and third, I simply wanted to check the factory out for myself.  I had visited their website, and had noted that their products are Made in the USA, including the materials to construct the stuffed animals, and I also liked their commitment to helping out in their local communities. Our tribe showed up at the SBF last Thursday, with Vaughn’s uncle, aunt, and cousin in tow.  We met in the lobby, and spent a few minutes checking out the factory store that is located in the front of the building.  We found that Stuffington manufactures much more than teddy bears! ... [Read more...]

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