Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Story

Danny, my sister Ann’s husband is pastor of the church in which I grew up.  Today their choir presented a Christmas cantata in the morning church service.  It was good to visit with friends/family I haven’t seen in a long time plus we so enjoyed the Christmas music.  Our great-niece Elizabeth even had a solo—she did a fabulous job!  That’s Danny up front and center.

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IMG_0518Two of my favorite girls, great-niece Leah and her friend Harley.

Back at home after church Michael and I took Emmi for a long walk then Mom and I went to see her sister/my Aunt Mary.  Mom is one of six daughters—two of her sisters are gone and Aunt Mary is very ill—it was hard to see her so sick.  Tuesday we will go to see my Dad’s oldest sister, Margaret who lives in northern Arkansas.

IMG_0530Preparations began right after morning church for a very special happening in Danny and Ann’s barn this evening.  Strange critters started appearing everywhere.  As the light started to fade on this short day the children of Danny and Ann’s church preformed an enactment of the Biblical Christmas story.  It was without a doubt awesome!!!! 

IMG_0532IMG_0536Here comes Leah/Mary leading her “donkey”, aka, Cocoa!!  Mary wasn’t in costume just yet, either! Smile Darkness came so quickly my photos started to be hazy and the one I took of  Joseph/aka Leah’s father Eric, leading Cocoa with Mary on board didn’t turn out.  This was a first for the adult helpers and the children—having this outdoor performance--they did a great job!!

IMG_0541IMG_0549The shepherds

IMG_0558The “angels!”—Elizabeth is on the left. 

IMG_0566Wayne, the director and Niki, my niece the music maker.

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IMG_0584The evening ended with everyone enjoying the soups and snacks Danny and Ann had prepared—delicious as usual!!  Niki baked a salted caramel cheesecake—bad girl!!

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Another great day spent in the company of family and friends—a very special day.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Eating Well and Rick To The Rescue Again

With all this eating we are doing a walk seemed in order this morning:IMG_0505

Emmi was in heaven today, niece Leah spent almost the entire day throwing a ball for her!  The cowboy had a project—one I’ve been after him to do for a while!  We’ve owned this motorhome for four years and only once in those four years have we been able to make the third air conditioner/heater controls work—the main thermostat in the coach would not recognize a third unit existed.  While we were working in Texas, we had the cowboy, Rollie (mechanical engineer) and Paul, electrical lead on the oil rig; they caught a lot of grief from me when the air conditioner still wouldn’t work with all that expert knowledge banging around in the motorhome!! Smile

Well, the cowboy was finally successful today, we now have heat in the bathroom/bedroom!!!  I am a happy girl!!  Some little diode thingy that lived in the belly of the motorhome was bad and Michael figured it out!

I spent the day cooking—all the ladies in my family are great cooks, fabulous cooks and we enjoy eating and feeding.  While in Alaska a friend of Larry and Geri’s gave them a huge chunk of fresh off the boat salmon—they aren’t big fans of salmon so I ended up with the fish—the cowboy doesn’t do salmon either so I hadn’t cooked it yet.  This fall Sarah and Sarge brought us another big chunk of salmon Sarge had caught while fishing off the coast of Prince of Wales Island this summer. 

This family likes salmon—I used a blackened seasoning and made a mango/avocado salsa to accompany the fish—it was to die for, delicious!!!!!  For the non-fish eaters, I grilled a tri-tip roast which had marinated most of the day.  Michael pronounced the beef, “exceptional!”  Vicky, our SIL brought some great potatoes roasted with bell peppers.  Niki made a cesear salad and Ann had provided two different kinds of coleslaw.  Did I say we liked to eat???  We topped off this fabulous meal with a apple pie/cobbler dessert—it was OK but needed more sugar I think!

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About a week ago friend Angie called me—she had lost her “My Pictures” folder on her laptop.  If you remember this summer I got Angie started with her blog, Our Rolling Ranch House.  Well, she fell off the wagon or something and was having problems.  We tried talking through the issues with no success and knowing Rick was celebrating Christmas with family in anticipation of their leaving for the US, I sent him a quick email.  He promised to help Angie after the weekend but in the meantime, I got brave and downloaded the program TeamViewer and took over Angie’s computer—yep, that was brave of me!!!

I could see what the issues were with her My Pictures folder and Picasa but could not for the life of me figure out how to fix the problem.  Rick to the rescue and Angie is back in business.  Today I again used TeamViewer to take over Angie’s computer and walk her through the steps of getting photos from camera to Picasa to blog, she is now back in business!  That TeamViewer thing is great—thanks Rick! 

In between cooking today I wrapped Christmas presents and added the red fabric cornerstones to my little Winter Solstice quilt.  Now to stitch down the wooly sheep and it will be ready to quilt when we are back in Montana.

  IMG_0119This is Ann’s poinsettia from last year—she stuck it in a dark corner at the end of last season, she thought it was dead but this fall it started to produce little green shoots—now look at it, it is almost tree sized!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Busy Day In Arkansas

As usual the days seem to fly by when I am home in Arkansas.  We spent a lazy morning before heading over to Hot Springs with all the rest of the Christmas shoppers to exchange some clothing for my Mom.  To Sandie and others who remember Mom’s accident this past summer—she is doing well.  Her shoulder is healed as is her forehead laceration.  She is having some issues with her back—probably the accident aggravated old injuries and her doctor is doing some tests.

Michael and Emmi held down the fort visiting with Danny (my BIL) and with Ross (my brother).  I’m not sure he accomplished much else and that is strictly OK! 

My niece Niki and her husband Eric have two daughters, Elizabeth and Leah.  Elizabeth is 12 years old and accompanied us to Hot Springs—oh, my—been awhile since I’ve been around a 12 year old!  They are both beautiful girls and fun (at times Smile).  Elizabeth is a good teacher—she taught me some things about my iPhone I didn’t know! 

Our family calls this farm Barnes-Hill.  Our family name is Barnes and my sister married into the Hill family, thus Barnes-Hill.  The land belonged to my paternal Grandfather and passed on to my brother Ross.  My entire immediate family lives within about a mile radius—around the corners and through the woods! 

I will try to remember to take some photos tomorrow, it’s to be a sunny, nice day!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quick Blog

Well, Rod, you were correct, we made it to my family home in Arkansas about 5pm this afternoon.  We traveled hard all day in a misty rain, making tracks!  Not only were we anxious to see family but we also had a goal—make it to the co-op fuel station my brother uses in Sheridan, AR before it closed.  We filled the coach with diesel at $2.80/gallon!!!  How long has it been since we’ve seen diesel that low priced???  The gentleman running the co-op told me he had sold 6000 gallons of diesel TODAY!! 

Emmi is glad to be running loose again and we have started seeing all the family—Mom had made some of Pioneer Woman’s corn/shrimp chowder—delicious, it sure hit the spot!  My great niece Elizabeth had a basketball game which they won—so all the attendees, my sister and her husband have straggled in tonight after the game.  I am sure that by tomorrow night the entire gang will have gathered and we will be doing what we do best—eating! 

Thanks for riding along with us on this trip.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

We Are On The Move

By the time we moved the trailer to the RV park storage lot and dumped our tanks we were rolling by 9:30.  I think the cowboy is ill—we only traveled 340 miles today!!!!  We ran into some nasty road construction just outside Artesia, NM—the road crews responsible for setting out the warning barrels forgot that something bigger than a Volkswagen might use those roads!!!  The left hand side of the road dropped off sharply and the barrels were way, way too close, Michael struggled to miss each one but we did clip two or three of the dang things—no damage to the coach thank goodness!! 

We traveled through cotton fields:

IMG_0108and multiple small Texas towns—some prosperous, many with empty store fronts.  A couple of the towns had brick streets, I remember my Dad always thought it was so cool when a little town still had its brick streets.

IMG_0111We passed by this anatomically correct critter Smilestanding watch over the highway—he was huge!!:

IMG_0501We are settled into a little city park in Throckmorton, TX—full hookups, $15—can’t beat that!!

Onward tomorrow, depending on weather, roads and traffic we might or might not make it to my family home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas On The Pecos

IMG_0449Beautiful, stately homes line the Pecos River here in Carlsbad and one of the must sees in this area is Christmas On The Pecos.  IMG_0448Bundled up against the winter chill a group of us from the RV park boarded the boats and stared in fascination as we glided past millions of twinkling lights, animated displays synchronized to music, and simple displays with a message.  The wonderland of lights is created by more than 100 Pecos River homeowners and corporate sponsors who invest much time, effort and money into creating these spectacular displays! 

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We spent the day getting ready for our departure tomorrow, heading to Arkansas for Christmas with family.  Our big cargo trailer is remaining here at the Escapee’s park and we are just towing the jeep—much easier for this short a trip. 

Laundry was on the agenda—this park has a unique way of regulating the laundromat use—you have to sign up for a time on the hour.  Works like a charm!!  With that checked off my to do list I bathed Ms. Emmi and cleaned the coach—we are ready to roll. 

Lora and SantaAnd look at our happy little Ms. Lora!! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Carlsbad Caverns

We are all fresh out of adjectives!  The winding road leading to Carlsbad Caverns travels through what our imaginations led us to believe was the landscape of all New Mexico.  Our kind of country—rugged, craggy, hills, cactus and yucca.  It was a beautiful morning when we left the campground and headed down 750 feet into the earth.

IMG_0444-001We’ve never left Emmi any longer than six hours thus our time for getting there, seeing some of the caverns and getting back was limited—so we took the elevator!  You can walk into the caverns through the natural entrance and walk back out—up the equivalent of a 75 story building we were told. 

Stepping off the elevator is a bit of a shock—seeing a dining area and restrooms in the bottom of a cave!!

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In 1912 a sixteen year old New Mexico boy named Jim White discovered and begin exploring the caves using candles and kerosene lanterns, ropes and stick ladders.  As you can imagine he had a hard time convincing anyone what was below the surface of the ground.  He finally convinced a photographer to follow him into the cave—the photographer was so impressed he came back and brought assistants with materials (magnesium) to create enough “flashes” for photography.  The photographs were published and in 1923 President Calvin Coolidge declared Carlsbad Caverns a National Monument even if one of the photographs was published upside down.   In 1930 the Caverns became a National Park. 

Can you even imagine exploring something as vast and mystical as Carlsbad Caverns with candles and lanterns???  and on rope ladders hanging 90 feet above a huge hole??? 

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Entering the cave is entering another world—eerily quiet, mystically lighted, creature like formations, water dripping, green pools, bottomless pits—a whole other world, full of hang-y down and stick-y up things as Ranger Eric explained it! Smile

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We opted to take a self-guided tour of the Big Room and totally lucked out—there were very few people today allowing us to wander at our own pace, stop and take photographs (I took 198 photos) and enjoy the mystical atmosphere of Carlsbad Caverns. 

IMG_0249See the tiny person in the center of the photograph—the Big Room is that big—we were standing on the opposite side when I took this photograph.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the cave canteen then joined our ranger led tour of the Kings Palace.  Ranger Eric was passionate about Carlsbad Caverns presenting us with so much information about Jim White and the geology of the cave.  Our group was only 30 people (tours can have as many as 40 people) and it was a quiet, older group of people with only one child—a very pleasant youngster named Michael Smile who had the honor of pushing the button to turn off all lights so we could see how dark it was.  The man sitting on my left said, “oh my, it’s darker than when you have your eyes closed at night!!”  Ranger Eric had left little Michael beside “the button” and had wandered down past the row of people talking as he went—he blew out the candle lantern he carried, let us sit in the dark for a few seconds then said to Michael, “push the button and turn the lights back on.”  This little voice speaks from down the row in the dark, “I can’t find the button!”  We all died laughing, Ranger Eric quickly found his flashlight and helped the kid find the button!

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In our humble opinion, Carlsbad Caverns is not to be missed—we made it back to Ms. Emmi with 30 minutes to spare in our allotted six hour time frame!  (Bet you thought you were going to have to look at 198 photos didn’t you?? Winking smile)