Maria and the kids swung by TX for a week-long visit before heading to AZ. It was wonderful to show them around and spend time with them!
Day 1: Houston Museum of Natural Science - embarking on our 1st day out and totaling 3-1/2 miles of walking, was this beautiful museum with a butterfly exhibit. It was a fun-filled day with LOTS of learning!
Day 2: Space Center Houston - Since Mark used to work here, he was thrilled to show everything to the kiddos. It was another fun-filled day with 3 miles of walking. The highlights were the Apollo 5 Rocket and seeing the astronaut training facility.
Day 3: Galveston Beach - Us 3-generations of ladies went to spend the day in Galveston.. Canal tour, beaching, and swimming. It was a hot but pretty awesome day! The highlight of this trip was seeing the dolphins in the canal!
Day 4: Houston Zoo - Another 3-generation lady trip, it was a very hot day, but we enjoyed seeing all the animals at this beautiful zoo! The highlights? Bree being in such a silly mood! :-)
Papa Mark was excited to show the kiddos his lab, and may as well get a home-school science lesson in while he's at it! The highlights, especially for the kids was the demonstration of lightning from the Tesla coil.
Day 5: Houston Downtown Aquarium - This was a very small but nice aquarium with a few rides for the young kids. Highlight of this trip with the Shark Tunnel!
Day 6: Kemah Boardwalk - halfway back toward Galveston, this boardwalk is a small amusement park on the water. Three of the larger rides were down that day, and I'm sure the highlight would have been the wooden roller coaster. However, since we didn't experience that, the highlight of our trip was the spiral ride to view the area. It was air conditioned on this 106 degree day! :-)
After 8 days of travel and 5 different locations for overnight stays, we arrived at our new location safe and tired. The record Texas heat (104 on arrival) was hard to take at first, and we were thrilled our new location has a pool for us to cool down in. It didn't take long to quickly set up the camper and get in that pool.
We stopped at Katie's house to visit their family and see all the kids. It was a short but wonderful visit.
From there, we headed west and made a 1-night stop at Canal Campground (site 116).
We were a bit worried about how Naomi would do on such a long trip south. As you can see in the pics below, we think she did really well. We tethered her to the back seat and let her have run of the back with water. Pica and Naomi often slept near each other.
Willow Beach Recreation Area is right outside Little Rock. Such a beautiful and small place for an overnight stay (Site 4). It was a peaceful spot for a quick recharge before getting to our normal busy schedule.
Martin Creek Lake State Park (TX) is another one of our favorite locations. It has beautiful and large sites, and again is right off the freeway (Site 39).
Finally, welcoming Houston meant we had 30 minutes to 'home'. We were elated to start this new adventure this year!
Arriving at Cullen RV Park was exciting and welcoming. Without giving details, I must say that we really love our new park. It didn't take us long to hit the pool and make friends with the ducks!
The animals were tired too, and they quickly rested, then Naomi was loving her new "TV" of watching the birds!
After 2 weeks of finding out if we absolutely loved the park, we made contact with the person who was watching our deck They offered to buy it, we so we got to work building a new upgraded deck, and had it built within a week! The park manager loves it, and I made a few hanging baskets with temporary fake fall flowers to decorate. The deck is built lighter, and will disassemble into 5 parts for easy moving.
This moment is bitter-sweet, as the summer has been WAY too short, and we will definitely miss our kids & grandkids. However, we are also excited about some new adventures this year and Mark is ready to get back to the school he loves.
Traveling always posts some challenges, so we prepare the best we can. Having all the vehicles in top mechanical order is always Marks' top priority. In the meantime, we do have a TPMS system for the tires, leak detecters, temperature alerts and propane & fridge monitors.
We also prepare the vehicle for comfortable travel for the pets, fill up with gas, and double-check any reservations.
Pica has always done well just laying wherever she wants in the truck, and knows her water and blanket are nearby.
Naomi is different. She's still new to us and travel life, so we're getting used to her needs and she's getting used to our schedule. She likes to roam around and softly talk to us, but she is always tethered (just in case of emergency). The night before our travel day, I make sure her littler box is cleaned before I go to bed. Since she likes using a clean litter box, this means she potties during the night and won't need to do anything during travel. So far that's held true. :-)
Rest areas are for all of us. We run the bedroom AC on a higher temp during travel so it's kind of cool when we stop.. Napping is something everyone likes to do on long days, and we all have a place on or near the bed.
Most days on our way to TX are 200-250 mile days, but there will be one long 350 mile day that's more stressful. On those days, we have a few more stops to walk & stretch. We also read a book or sing to pass the time, or play word games to keep us awake.
Pictures below, Naomi has found a nice cozy little spot in Pica's bike basket. She loves the sun on her. Later, Naomi found that her crate doubles as a hammock, and Pica is just as happy to have her basket back. :-)
On July 12th, Mark's mom passed into God's arms.. We were very honored to help care for her during her last months and days. Our family held a private service to celebrate her wonderful life. Were are of course very sad she is not with us, but are also thankful she is not in pain anymore. We love you so much mom!!
It was a quick but very fun 3 weeks with the kids. The 2nd weekend of fireworks was a hit, the kids staying in the tent with us was a big hit, and even a special visit from Stephen and Michelle was really awesome!
Near the end of our trip, we wanted to take the kids to the DOW Gardens Tree Walk. They have never been there before, and even though a bit hit, it was a beautiful day all together! If you haven't been to the Tree Walk, visit DOW Gardens in Midland.. You'll LOVE it!
This is the month we're making plans to head back to MI for the short summer. It's going to be a fast trip to and from, but we need to make sure we take enough of a break to rest our backs and minds. In the meantime, here are some of our May highlights.
New Congregation: We certainly love our love congregation. Most families are seen like this praying together and over each other. This I think, is very touching, and should be a focus in each family. For Mark and I, taking time to pray with and for each other (together), has strengthened our relationship and helps us know the other one 'has our back'..
Galveston: Just a quick trip to Galveston for a nice bike ride and swim.
Mom's Party: Mark took a quick trip to MI to enjoy some family fun at his mom's 85th birthday party. There was a LOT of family there, and it's always great to see the kids too!
Our daughter Katie has a friend that is a Ragdoll cat breeder that was going out of business.. So, through some connections, Katie is getting us a purebred Ragdoll kitty. It took some time figuring out which one we wanted, but we chose Naomi because we loved her name and personality. So, we've renovated the RV just a tad and getting ready to adopt our new addition in June. :-). The photo below is Naomi being held by Nora.
Just a few pics of Pica, one at the campground and the other on travel day. She loves sleeping in her bike basket during travel. Probably because it keeps her snug & cozy.
Our trip home consisted of 5 overnight stops. We chose campgrounds that were close to the freeway so it was a quick on/off.
Martin Creek Lake State Park (Texas): This was an absolutely gorgeous campground with very large sites. We will definitely return here.
Willow Beach Recreation Area: This was also a gorgeous campground but small and had NO beach. Odd, but we had a beautiful spacious site and we enjoyed 2 nights of rest.
Canal Campground: Settled on the north-west side of the Land Between the Lakes, this campground is gorgeous, hilly, and there were no bad sites. Every site had its own private area and view. We loved the many water-view sites, and the swimming beach was good.
Still on the way home, our other sites will be in the June Highlights blog. :-)
I didn't post a lot for April because it was a month we spent together without caring much about the outside world. We soaked ourselves into God's word, and the precious moments of the gift of each other. It was a low-key, GREAT month all together.
In the meantime, here are some highlights.
Deck: Some awesome friends sold us their deck, and we built it up a little to meet our own needs. We are at a park we really like, a site we absolutely love, and will be at this park for the duration of Mark working at the school. To make things a bit easier, a deck is a nice little addition. Other friends of ours will use it during our time away in MI each year. I must say, it's a nice change, especially when bringing home groceries. :-)
Seder: We were honored this month to be invited to a REAL Messianic Jewish Seder dinner. There were over 600 people in attendance, and it was pretty awesome to see the customs and how much they love the Lord. When Mark held Seders for our church years ago, it's great to see how close he was to the real thing. :-)
Passover: To celebrate our own Passover season, we had the candles lit each evening we did our devotions. This in itself was SO nice.. Having the candles around the Peace Lily just gave a special meaning do to the persecution going on around the world right now.
Grandbaby #15!: This was of course the biggest highlight of the month! Grandbaby #15 was born to complete a family of seven! She is healthy and everyone is happy and doing well. Welcome to the world Nadia!
Special Celebration: Mark was honored to be able to fly home to help celebrate his mom's 85th birthday! Much of the family were there, and it was awesome for him to catch up with family happenings. What an awesome time, Happy Birthday Mom!
MISC Favorites: This month has brought a Blessing of storms and beautiful scenery outside. Check out the sunsets and clouds! A few fun pics of Pica.. Waiting for papa to come home, waiting patiently for dinner time, and just chillin before bedtime. :-)
It is always nice to take a break from the 'norm', and we've been looking forward to visiting Corpus Christi for quite a while.
Our favorite area? Port Aransas, watching the wild dolphins playing in the bow wave of the ships. :-)
Places we visited:
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge: This refuge is known for the Whooping Cranes who migrate here in the winter. They were mostly gone when we visited, but we did end up seeing 7 of them from afar. Next year we hope to visit the Whooping Crane festival in February.
South Texas Botanical Garden & Nature Center: With a $9 entry fee, this cute botanical garden was more of a unique walk than a garden. They do accept dogs, so we did this on a day we took Pica with us. They have a greenhouse of Orchids which was fabulous, but otherwise just a good excuse for a walk. They had 1 bird out, but the other 20 birds were put away for the day.
OSO Bay Wetlands Preserve: Also dog friendly. We didn't see many birds here, but it was a beautiful walk with nicely groomed trails. About 3 miles here.
Hans & Pat Suter Wildlife Refuge: A smaller refuge near the bay, Pica walked the boardwalk with us to see the bridge and bar area. About a mile walk, but the boardwalk is in need of repair and it was a bit scary to be on. Most of the time, we carried Pica in fear of her paws stepping on nails.
Port Aransas (Dolphins & Pelicans): Oh my, this place is a MUST GO spot if you visit the area! I read that this was a hot-spot for dolphins, and it wasn't long until we found them swimming in the channel! It was pretty common to see them playing around boats, but the most amazing was to see them just play in the bow-wave of the large ships. After this ship arrived in the gulf, the dolphins would disappear for a while, then show up when another ship went by. Just like a bunch of teenagers 'catching their wave' all day.. :-)
Texas Aquarium: Reviews on this place were not that great, but we went anyway. We had a good time, but it was way too busy to really enjoy the exhibits. At $35 each, I don't think we'll be back.
U.S.S. Lexington: A retired air craft carrier that was involved in Pearl Harbor and World War II. It was commissioned for 40 years before it was finally retired and placed at Corpus Christi.
I must say, this was absolutely BY FAR, the best ship tour we've ever had! After 3 hours, we still hadn't seen everything, and we were allowed to tour 6 different decks, the flight deck, the bridge, and LOTS more.. We would also recommend this ship visit if you're in the area, and is well worth the $17/$19 entrance fee.
Sea Life Education Center: A small little building and a $9 entrance fee, this place is active in saving the sea turtles and releasing the babies in the summer. Their knowledge is amazing, and it was wonderful to see all the animals in their care.
Padre Island: this island is a home to MANY birds, and has over 60 miles of drivable beach, most of which can be camped on. It was beautiful for a day trip, but we quickly learned that the beautiful photos we've seen online are not what the beach is like. We'll be keeping our RV off of this beach. We ended up grabbing a special trash bag from the visitor center and spent our time walking the beach and picking up garbage. Nope. we didn't even make a dent. We don't have to go back. Ever!
Well, we have halted traveling for a while and many people as why. Honestly, I'm not really sure, but with the inflation and the price of gas, we just felt like we'd like to settle for a bit and start looking for some property. Actually, once we knew we'd be leaving Brazos Bend, the Lord put a job in Mark's lap that was more than perfect for him, so he wants to see what happens with it. He is loving the AP Science position by the way, loves the students, and is challenged to stay on top of all the calculus.
We have found a nice little RV park that will keep us in a safe community close to his school. It's actually one of the newest and cheapest in the area! That's a big plus, but wasn't a concern, as we just wanted something close to school.
Since Mark has been busy, I am not only taking on the roll as a house wife, but also still working on my sign language classes, and also taking some culinary classes. I am staying busy, monitoring home, and keeping Mark pleasantly fed. :-)
Our plans are to stay put through May, which means we'll be back home to MI in June. It will be a short summer, as we're planning to return in August for Marks' next years class. We have a beautiful lake-front site right now, so we will likely be in the same park when we return. Why not, it's beautiful, the people are great, and we know half the people here! :-)
Anyway, with all that said, we will probably not be updating the website very much, as there's nothing special going on. Whenever we do or experience something fun, I'll post it here. Otherwise, life is going to be pretty boring for a while.
As with everyone else that gets old, we are battling daily aches and pains, and trying to figure out how to get through it all. Marks' back is still in excruciating pain in the evening.. This extends from his 'splits episode' at the school. We don't think that will ever completely recover, it's just the massages and exercises to get him through it.
For me, the pains from my recent accidents are still taking a toll as well. Difficulty walking is getting worse, and my hips and shoulders always cause a challenge when sleeping. It gets very frustrating for both of us, young-minds with wishful hearts.. We want to do a LOT more, and just don't have the energy or ability.
In the meantime, we do what we can, exercise as much as possible, and help each other as much as we can. Welcome to old age, right?
Mark is really enjoying his new position at Dawson. It's a beautiful school, excellent staff, and super students! He is challenged with refreshing his mind on all the AP Calculus and Physics, but also enjoys that part and is always eager to get to school and work in his lab.
Here is a quick tour of his new school: