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Welcome to the travels of Doug and Nada. We love the Lord and are traveling full-time in our motorhome with our German Shepherd, Homer. Homer is the star attraction wherever we stop and he gets us talking and sharing with many people. DON'T FORGET: YOU CAN ENLARGE EACH PHOTO BY CLICKING ON THE PHOTO! The newest blog post is at the top and they go back in time as you scroll down. If you want to see each photo larger, you can just click on the photo and it will enlarge. If you decide to leave a comment, don't forget to sign it so we know who left it. ;-) Folks: This site is under continual construction as we travel and see this beautiful country. Check back for more updates and photos. Thanks for visiting with us! May God bless your day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

10.22.09 - Butterflies, sugar cane, & oranges

On Sunday we drove the 5 hours south to the Rio Grande Valley. We are about an hour inland from the Gulf of Mexico just south of Mission, Texas. We got a two week reservation at the Americana RV Resort - not being experienced in this area at this time of year. We thought the campgrounds would already be filling with snowbirds but that is not the case. We could have gotten a reservation at Bentsen Palm Village for these extra two weeks but we knew they were filled for the winter and we assumed most folks were coming south about this time of year. Not so. The campgrounds are all empty here but for a few early birds like us. So we will stay the two weeks here at Americana and then move two miles down the road to Bentsen Palm Village - http://bentsenpalmvillage.com - where we will spend 4 months. We've already done some scouting of the area.

Above are some butterflies at the entrance to the National Birding Center - http://www.worldbirdingcenter.org - It is right next to the Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort.

The photo above and below are of sugar cane fields. They periodically flood the fields with water from the Rio Grande.

Above and below are orange trees growing here in our campground. This area is full of citrus growing: oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes. Just like in Arizona, they let the trees grow to the ground (so they look more like 10 foot tall bushes than trees) so the tree helps to conserve the irrigation water that they flood under them periodically.

We have taken a ride each day in a different direction to get to know our local. The only direction we haven't gone is south (in to Mexico)! We will go to Progresso one of these days that the weather is cool!

Check back soon for our updates on learning spanish! adiĆ³s para ahora

Saturday, October 17, 2009

National Park Mission Trail - Espada Mission

We had a delicious lunch at Bill Miller BBQ (thanks, Josh and Gavino, for recommending this place. Josh, our son had told us to eat here and Gavino recommended it because he eats here most work days). Gavino and Ruth left us to explore Espada Mission on our own since our sightseeing was Gavino's first walking and outing after some medical problems. Mission Espada is much smaller and less restored than San Jose. We thought its church facade was a unique design with the three bells.
Above: The church facade.
Below: A diagram of the mission.

Above: The inside of the church
Below: Doug was intrigued by the use of these "bricks" in the arches.

As we left Mission Espada, we crossed the San Antonio River and came upon two Ibis and a Heron searching for some lunch.

Below: The one ibis flew away.....

We are staying one more day in San Antonio so we can enjoy the Penn State vs. Minnesota game on TV. Doug is also working on a project on the motorhome while he is waiting for the game to begin. We will drive the 5 hours south to Mission, Texas tomorrow at a more leisurely pace than we would have done today if trying to make it before the Penn State game. Doug will spend the first week or two looking for a part-time job of some sort in order to boost our sagging investments.

Since we are leaving San Antonio tomorrow, we will have to visit the other two missions on the Mission Trail in March when we spend some spring time in San Antonio when it is too warm to stay in the Rio Grande Valley but too cold to go further north. If we have time after the Penn State game, I'd like to go back and see the dam and aquaduct system that is preserved at Mission Espada. We did not see that yesterday. The life-blood of all the missions was the need for a water supply for the people, crops, and cattle. The San Antonio River supplied that need. Mission Espada has some of the aquaducts preserved a little upstream of the mission.

We are excited that our friends, Ruth and Gavino, have promised to come visit us down in the Valley this winter. We can't wait. The RV Resort where we are staying November 1 to March 1 also has beautiful casitas for rent for folks who don't have a motorhome. As soon as we get to the resort on November 1, we will check for possible dates and make their reservation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

San Antonio Mission Trail = Mission San Jose

Yesterday, we met our San Antonio friends, Ruth and Gavino, and toured the San Jose Mission in San Antonio. The National Park Mission Trail is a park that includes 4 missions which sit along the San Antonio river going a few miles south of San Antonio. The Alamo Mission was the northern most one. The mission's purpose was to covert the natives to be Spanish citizens, which meant they needed to Catholic, so Spanish citizens would fill the land and substantiate the Spanish claim to the land. Each mission became a self-supporting town. The nomadic natives of the area were willing to change their way of life in order to have the protection of the walled town and the supply of food because of raiding Apaches coming from the north. Hope you enjoy our views of the mission town.

Above: Our friend Ruth. We are waiting for the park ranger so the tour will begin.

Below: Doug, Gavino, and Ruth listening to the ranger give the introduction just inside the gate to the mission.

Above: The view of the church from just inside the missions walled gate.

Below: A "Miriam photo" - Mims takes lots of beautiful, non-people photos wherever she goes. I'm just the opposite - I'm always taking people photos. She has convinced me that I need to expand my horizons and take more photos without people!

Above: The photo of the arches shows the later influence of the pointed byzantine arches which was imported from Pennsylvania and the friars who came from PA.

Below: The church facades were originally painted with bright colorful designs similar to many of the Mexican tiles you see today. You can see the little bit of remaining design on the flat area right to the left of the doorway in this photo. All the stone was quarried locally to build the buildings and walls. To make the mortar and the plaster that covered the walls, they would bake some of the stone for 7 to 9 days in hot ovens until it would grumble. The coarse crumble was made into the mortar which was used to hold the stones together. The fine crumble was made into the plaster which they applied to the walls both inside and, in some places, on the outside.

Above: The front facade. It had multiple uses as it depicts the salvation message and also represents the life and history of Christ so the friars could use it as a teaching tool.

Below: Doug took my camera and stepped back and took this overall view of the church front and facade with our tour group.

Above: Doug and Gavino looking at the detail of the the church facade and many of the signature carvings dated in the 1700 and 1800's.

The beautiful carved door of the church.

Above: The inside of the church.

Below: Ruth standing beside a gate she loved.

Above: The Grainery, where they stored the harvest. The mission was a communal form of living where they all worked together for the good of the whole settlement and were portioned food.

Below: An interesting door within a door of one of the walled entrances.

Above: A view down the inside of the wall. Their residences were within the wall where each family had one or two small rooms. All cooking was done outside on communal ovens and fires.

Below: The view across the central area toward the church.

Above: Prickly Pear cactus growing on the roof top.

Below: Doug and Gavino looking out through one of the walled gates.

Snowman - October 16th

This is so funny and touching! Our friends, Don and Darlene, from northern PA sent us this photo this morning of their snowman (made from an overnight snowfall last night). We laughed and cried at the same time. I printed the photo and posted it in our motorhome to remind us of what we are missing - snow and friends, both!

Riverwalk loop in San Antonio

Since the weather was predicted to be hot again yesterday, we decided to head to the Riverwalk in the morning before it got really hot. For those of you who haven't experienced the Riverwalk in San Antonio, you need to see its beauty. I'll see if I can explain it....

The Riverwalk, the Paseo del Rio, is one story below the bustling street level. It is a walkway right along a loop of the San Antonio River which is lined with restaurants, galleries, and shops. Around every bend there are lush landscapes with beautiful flowers, tinkling waterfalls, quiet pools, and relaxing outdoor patios where you can relax or eat.

In the photo above one of the tour boats is coming. In the photo below is a wall where a tree is growing through the wall.

The picture of the coleus above is for Oma who loves coleus.

The next two photos are the Arneson River Theater. It is an outdoor performance theater located along the Riverwalk. The stage is on the north side of the river and the audience sits on the grass-covered steps on the south side.

Ahhhh, that is Doug heading down the steps to go to Casa Rio for lunch! We made it the whole way around the loop and back to our starting point. It was so warm by this time - 94 degrees - so we elected to sit inside in the air conditioning. It was a beautiful morning walk.... The Riverwalk was quiet and peaceful in the morning.... So different from what it is like in the afternoon and evening.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Soggy San Antonio

We arrived in San Antonio on Friday and we have spent 4 soggy days. We spent two of the days doing necessary projects for CHAP, cleaning and reorganizing in the motorhome, and just relaxing. Yesterday the rain stopped for awhile and we seized the opportunity to go to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Mi Tierra, in downtown San Antonio. Mi Tierra is very Mexican looking and also has a bakery full of very sinful delicacies!

In the photo above, Doug is eyeing all the delicacies. Below is a photo looking into one of the dining rooms.

Then we went to SAS (San Antonio Shoes) hoping to get a tour of the shoe factory but we were too late in the day. We will go back today or tomorrow and take the tour. It is fixed up like an old western town and lots of old cars and carriages on display.

I just had to take this photo with the old Mobil sign for my brother Sam, the former Mobil exec.

Yesterday was a happy and a sad day as one of our friends and a man who was a national figure in homeschooling rights and in the US Congress went home to be with the Lord after a 15 year struggle with MS. Chris Klicka had spent his adult life working for parental rights and responsibilities both on the national scene and also working with many state leaders. He took a turn for the worse while in Colorado Springs for the national conferences two weeks ago and that is where he died yesterday. At the closing banquet on Saturday night, each state took a turn going up on stage and recording words of encouragement to Chris. Little did we know at the time, that those words would be an eulogy to Chris' life and work. In the photo of the Pennsylvania group below, Doug is giving the words. We count it an honor to have worked alongside him for parental issues in Pennsylvania and also in our lobby efforts in DC. It is a sad time because we will miss Chris' untired work on behalf of families but it is a happy time, too, because we know he is with our Lord and free of the body which held him captive here on earth.

Now below are my boys on our bed in the motorhome. Just had to take a picture and show you what I saw looking back the hallway to the bedroom.

We also called our friends, Ruth and Gavino, who live here in San Antonio. We are going to take some food to them since Gavino is having some heart issues undergoing some tests since returning from the national conference in Colorado Springs. We'll also go for a walk down on the Riverwalk and we want to visit the four missions on the Mission Trail here in San Antonio as soon as the weather clears some. Ruth had taken me sightseeing to one of the missions when we were here for Doug to facilitate a Penn State Nursing Conference back in 2006. So as soon as the weather clears, we will be doing some sightseeing again. ;-) Yahoo!