We Are Back On The Road For More Adventures in the Summer of 2012

Well, it has been a really long time since I posted anything on my blog.  You can say I got burned out.  You can say I got lazy.  Or you can say it got to be too much like a job.  I think all these reasons/excuses apply to some degree or another.
So, what is the plan going forward?  I am going to try something a little different that should still allow me to connect with all of you have been following our adventure while requiring a little less from me.  My new plan will require a little more from my readers, as I do not intend to send a “new post” e-mail after each posting. 
 There will also be some changes in content and if I can figure out how to do it there will be an appearance change to the blog.  My basic plan is to write less in each post but much more often and use more photos to tell the story without sending you off to a web album.   
Your part in this plan is to save the link to my blog and visit it often without prompting from me to see what is new since my last post.  I promise to warn you before I take any planned layoffs.  More on that later.
This post will be a good bit longer than my intended future posts only to bring everyone up to date with a pretty broad brush.  Then you should see a new post every few days as our adventure moves along.  So, let’s see how this goes.
Our summer and early fall at Yellowstone National Park last year was just fantastic.  We loved it so much so that we are headed back for another season.  This chapter is about what we did after leaving the Park
We were concerned about our voting status in Florida because our address there didn’t qualify us for voter registration.  So, we decided to relocate our home of record to Livingston, Texas.  Specifically, we established an address with the Escapees RV Club.  While in Livingston we also registered to vote, got new driver’s licenses and of course registered our vehicles.  The only sticking point was the requirement for me to get a Class B non-commercial driver’s license.  This requirement is tied to the weight and towing capacity of our motorhome.  I was required to take a written test and a driving test.  I studied for the written test which was entirely on trucks.  I figured that my driving was good enough, as I have nearly six years experience behind the wheel of the motorhome that was to be driven for the exam.  On driving test day I was pretty nervous.  It was almost as bad as my first driving test except I was mature enough to recognize the consequences of failing.  The test was non-eventful and I came away with a new license.
We then moved over to New Braunfels (between San Antonio and San Marcos) where we spent the winter.  Most of the winter was spent in the gym recovering from the summer in Yellowstone.  Connie and I both got back in shape while enjoying the area.  We celebrated Thanksgiving with our great friends Cathy and Ron Allen who now live in their fabulous new home in Canyon Lake, TX just west of New Braunfels.  Christmas was a road trip to Pittsburgh where we also celebrated Connie’s sister’s birthday.  I would say which birthday, but that isn’t polite.  It did end in a zero and there was an eight in it.  The drive pretty well wore us out, but we survived.
 Barbara’s Birthday Cake

 Cinda Isler (Barbara”s Daughter, Barbara, Tim Slager  (Barbara’s Son)
 Most of Barbara’s extended family.  There were a few missing, but many made it.
Soon after returning from Pittsburgh we made a huge decision that will have long lasting effects.  We put money down on a new construction home in the Plum Creek Development of Kyle, Texas.  We spent many days watching the progress of our new home from vacant lot to concrete forms to foundation and slab pour to framing to roof to walls to paint prior to leaving for the summer.  We will close via mail during the summer, possibly in July.  This landmark decision will not take us off the road, just give us a permanent fixed winter home.  We already have neighbors who will watch the house for us when we are on the road.  This decision was made easy for us by the incredibly low interest rates, low cost of construction (even with all the upgrades we ordered), and the energy efficiency that is built into these homes.
The beginnings of a new home.
The slab.

The early street view.
From living room looking into the kitchen.
From the kitchen looking to see who is coming in the front door.
Our last visit before leaving for the summer.  Note the new house going up next door.  The owners will also be our summer “caretakers”.  At this stage the interior was painted and finish work was started.
On March 4th I participated in Moe’s Better Half-Marathon, sort of.  Somehow I got the start time wrong by half an hour.  When we arrived there were no runners, but a lot of cars.  I went to the restroom and when I came out it occurred to us that maybe the race had already started.  I saw Moe and he confirmed I was late, but encouraged me to give it a go.   I started almost exactly a half hour late and before getting to the finish line I had passed 35 fellow competitors.  My clock time was horrible, but my watch time was an improvement over the last time I ran this race in 2010.  Even though I started late and had to run two miles before seeing another runner, I still had a pretty good time.  I may have done better starting with the pack.
Two days later we moved up to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge for another tour of leading bird walks and participating in the Environmental Education program for grade school children.  We had a successful season at the refuge, but our frequent trips to Kyle kept us in a pretty steady state of exhaustion. 
Our stay at Balcones was broken up with a trip to Sarasota, Florida to attend our great-nephew Mat’s wedding to the beautiful, intelligent and fun loving Crystal.  The wedding was just wonderful and the chance to get together with a majority of the family was way too much fun.  The morning of the wedding I had breakfast with seven or eight women.  I know every man in the restaurant was wondering how I managed such a treat.

The wild flowers of the Eastern Hill Country of Central Texas were just amazing this spring due to all the late winter and early spring rains.

We are now on the road again on a slow roll to Yellowstone National Park.  We stopped at Palo Duro Canyon State Park outside Canyon, TX for a day of sightseeing.  We have vowed to go back when can spend more time exploring this exceptional place.  The canyon is referred to as the Grand Canyon of Texas.  It just seems to open out of nowhere and is really quite stunning, but not nearly as deep, wide or long as the Grand Canyon.  We had a great day.

The Grand Canyon of Texas, Palo Duro Canyon.

Yellow Bellied Woodpecker at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
As I write this we are camped at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado (Denver).  We will be here for a week so we can attend a retirement party for my sister-in-law, Sandi Madia.  Then we will continue to the north with a few more stops before turning to the west and Yellowstone.


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