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A day in Utopia at Garner Park

The waters of the Rio Frio are crystal clear and emerald green. 

The waters of the Rio Frio are crystal clear and emerald green. 

A beautiful river

A beautiful river

Another view

Another view

I tried my luck at fishing

I tried my luck at fishing

Someone else's rainbow trout

Someone else's rainbow trout

I should have used marshmallows! 

I should have used marshmallows! 

We biked all around the area (that's my fishing pole on the back). 

We biked all around the area (that's my fishing pole on the back). 

A rustic fence along the river road. 

A rustic fence along the river road. 

The cowboy hats are BIG in Texas! 

The cowboy hats are BIG in Texas! 

Lunch break: Shaklee meal bars, yum! 

Lunch break: Shaklee meal bars, yum! 

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The Texas Hill Country

Drivers in San Antionio speed along this maze at 70 to 80 mph! 

Drivers in San Antionio speed along this maze at 70 to 80 mph! 

We drove 50 miles in the country and never met another vehicle! 

We drove 50 miles in the country and never met another vehicle! 

Tonight we are camped at Garner Sate park on the Rio river near Concan, Texas.

Tonight we are camped at Garner Sate park on the Rio river near Concan, Texas.

The Rio river

The Rio river

Another view of the Rio

Another view of the Rio

The dance hall

The dance hall

In the 1930's the Civilian Conservation Corps provided employment for young men during the depression. They built the pavilion, park buildings, picnic tables, and worked on land conservation.  

Another view of the dance hall

Another view of the dance hall

A unique tradition of the park is the dance hall. In the 30's dance was an inexpensive form of entertainment and bands played here regularly. The native limestone and cypress dance pavilion continues to be used on summer evenings today. 

There are myriad hiking trails  

There are myriad hiking trails  

OK; this is a duplicate and I don't know how to delete it; yet. 

OK; this is a duplicate and I don't know how to delete it; yet. 

We are here for two nights

We are here for two nights

For all the "Breaking Bad" fans! 

For all the "Breaking Bad" fans! 

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Home away from home

A couple of people have asked us: "so do you have a bathroom and a shower?" Yes, we have both! I thought I would show everyone our living space. This is "camping" in luxury.

The captains chairs swivel and become part of the living area. 

The captains chairs swivel and become part of the living area. 

Gourmet kitchen

Gourmet kitchen

The bunk room

The bunk room

Our back yard is always changing (Austin)

Our back yard is always changing (Austin)

Houston back yard

Houston back yard

Edisto Island, South Carolina

Edisto Island, South Carolina

Stone Creek in San Antonio; this is a privately owned campground and now you can see why we prefer state parks. We are lucky to be on a corner lot! 

Stone Creek in San Antonio; this is a privately owned campground and now you can see why we prefer state parks. We are lucky to be on a corner lot! 

Comstock, TX Seminole Canyon State Park

Comstock, TX Seminole Canyon State Park

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Austin, Texas

We camped at McKinney Falls state park in Austin. 

We came to see the bats; 2 million Mexican Free Tail bats emerge from underneath the Congress Street bridge at dusk. This is the world's largest urban bat colony! I should have realized that it's winter and almost all have migrated to Mexico ... So I'm sharing someone else's video.

 

The Austin evening skyline  

The Austin evening skyline  

How we spent the evening: The Broken Spoke

How we spent the evening: The Broken Spoke

Music, beer, and dancing. This place has the feel of a real Texas "dive"! 

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Houston: we have landed...

Back on the road after 2 weeks in Portsmouth, we picked up the VW and Winnebago in New Orleans  and drove to the NASA space museum in Houston. 

 

Galveston Bay Bridge

Galveston Bay Bridge

Miles and miles of Interstate 10 over the bayou

Miles and miles of Interstate 10 over the bayou

Magnificent sunset that couldn't be justified with my iPhone camera. 

Magnificent sunset that couldn't be justified with my iPhone camera. 

Located on 1,600 acres, Johnson Space Center is still the home of mission control. They are presently monitoring the space station. 

Located on 1,600 acres, Johnson Space Center is still the home of mission control. They are presently monitoring the space station. 

We touched a moon rock! 

We touched a moon rock! 

50 years ago this was the actual "mission control "room. Today my cell phone has more computer power than they had collectively in this room. Still they managed to get the astronauts into space and back home again. 

50 years ago this was the actual "mission control "room. Today my cell phone has more computer power than they had collectively in this room. Still they managed to get the astronauts into space and back home again. 

Commander Mark Kelley 3rd  from the right

Commander Mark Kelley 3rd  from the right

Two years ago we were fortunate to have Mark Kelley, commander of the last space shuttle flight, as a speaker at the national Shaklee conference in Long Beach, CA. NASA came to Shaklee in the 1980's and requested that they design a drink that would prevent returning astronauts from blanking out in re-entry as a result of electrolyte loss to the brain. We still provide NASA with  complimentary "Astro Aide"!  Performance our sport drink, is based from that project. Thank you Shaklee!

Space potty

Space potty

Landing craft

Landing craft

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The Saturn 5 rocket is one of only 3 surviving vehicles built to launch American astronauts to the moon in the 60's and 70's. The size of the craft is unbelievable! 

The Saturn 5 rocket is one of only 3 surviving vehicles built to launch American astronauts to the moon in the 60's and 70's. The size of the craft is unbelievable! 

Texas Longhorns grazing at the Houston Command center. 

Texas Longhorns grazing at the Houston Command center. 

We are camped for the night at Steve Austin State park in San Felipe, Texas. 

We are camped for the night at Steve Austin State park in San Felipe, Texas. 

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Home Again

We were welcomed home to a winter wonderland  

Snow on the car

Snow on the car

Banh Mi's at Darleen's

Banh Mi's at Darleen's

The crew at Darleen's

The crew at Darleen's

Two weeks of mail to sort

Two weeks of mail to sort

Best friends reunited! 

Best friends reunited! 

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A Day in the Big Easy

First we discovered the fish mongers along the roadside. This is a part the of the local flavor that we missed on earlier trips.

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Then we proceeded to get lost and found this lovely home with the most dramatic mosaics. The photos don't give them justice! 

They glitter in the sun! 

They glitter in the sun! 

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Next we met the "Ambassador of NOLA" who directed us to the Oceanic restaurant for a Louisana meal. 

Where to go and what to do. 

Where to go and what to do. 

We  listened to several street musicians - when I figure out how to post videos you will be able to listen to them! 

Street steel drumming

Street steel drumming

The Oceana restaurant 

The Oceana restaurant 

Red beans & rice, gumbo,etouffe, andouille sausage & rice: a taste of New Orleans. 

Red beans & rice, gumbo,etouffe, andouille sausage & rice: a taste of New Orleans. 

Great service! 

Great service! 

We poked around in the shops. 

Hot sauce! 

Hot sauce! 

Bake your own "King cake". 

Bake your own "King cake". 

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We did not stay here on this trip; however, this is one of our favorite hotels. We remember a special dinner with a personal mariachi band serenade. 

Hotel Monteleone

Hotel Monteleone

Artsy photographer

Artsy photographer

Cafe au lait and beignets!

Cafe au lait and beignets!

Then we were drawn to a "foot reflexology" sign

An herbal foot soak

An herbal foot soak

Oh my aching feet! 

Oh my aching feet! 

Russell snored through his foot massage! 

Russell snored through his foot massage! 

I will ALWAYS stop for a foot massage! 

I will ALWAYS stop for a foot massage! 

Then we discovered the "singing fudge shop"! I can't wait to share the audio! 

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Miss Sunshine throwing the fudge at the Fudgery

Miss Sunshine throwing the fudge at the Fudgery

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Biosphere 2

Biosphere 2 was built nearly 30 years ago to develop technologies for humans living in space and other worlds like Mars. Today it's mission is to help plan for Earth's (Bosphere 1), near future.  Four women and four men, known as biospherians lived from 1991 to 1993 sealed inside the ecosystem. We are very interested in this project because of Shaklee's participation in the project.

Today inside the amazing steel and glass structure, the size of three football fields, is an ocean, a desert, a Savannah,  and a rainforest. 

It is a giant enclosed scientific experiment. 

The site is owned and operated by the University of Arizona and is open daily for tours. 

Researchers and students are studying climate change and are focused on what is happening to Earth now not on a future in space. 

We were surprised to learn that the project was privately funded by Texas billionaire, Ed Bass. He invested almost $250 million to build and operate the structure and continues to annually cushion the $5 million annual operating expense with a $3 million annual contribution. 

We were surprised to learn that the project was privately funded by Texas billionaire, Ed Bass. He invested almost $250 million to build and operate the structure and continues to annually cushion the $5 million annual operating expense with a $3 million annual contribution. 

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We attended a lecture by Joost vanHaren, chief rainforest scientist. He is tracking "Where the Carbon goes." 

We attended a lecture by Joost vanHaren, chief rainforest scientist. He is tracking "Where the Carbon goes." 

The beginning of the tour

The beginning of the tour

Rainforest inside the Biosphere 2

Rainforest inside the Biosphere 2

The ocean

The ocean

The desert

The desert

We walked through an underground tunnell and a hatch "air lock" door into the lungs of the Biosphere. 

We walked through an underground tunnell and a hatch "air lock" door into the lungs of the Biosphere. 

The elevated "bladder" is not attached to anything. It raises and lowers according to the changes in air pressure inside the structure.  The basement is called the "technosphere". The weather is produced by technology.

The elevated "bladder" is not attached to anything. It raises and lowers according to the changes in air pressure inside the structure.  The basement is called the "technosphere". The weather is produced by technology.

"Model City" is the name of the sustainability study of how we use electricity and water. 

A living quarter for one of the biospherians

A living quarter for one of the biospherians

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Travel Day

After leaving Gulf Shores " a small town with a big beach", we stopped in Mobile at the Memorial Park, where the Battleship Alabama, The Mighty A" rests. The ship was commissioned in 1942 and was decommissioned in 1947 after many battles in the Pacific. The park opened in 1965 and depends on admissions for daily operation. The park is the perfect place to experience history and pay tribute to veterans.

The Mighty A

The Mighty A

The Mighty R

The Mighty R

Lots of steps! 

Lots of steps! 

We crossed a southern slice of Mississippi, and have settled in for the evening at Elks Lodge #30 in Metaire, Louisanna.  

We are next to their Mardi Gras float! 

We are next to their Mardi Gras float! 

The weather report for tonight is not the best; maybe it will be better tomorrow. 

We are in tornado territory! 

We are in tornado territory! 

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Christmas Dinner at the Camp Rec Center

Remember the ham that your grandma made? That is what the Gulf Area Resort Ministries served the snow birds; and it was fabulous. Everyone contributed to the potluck. We are so fortunate to celebrate with a great group of people. 

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The "crew" 

The "crew" 

Donna & Dick Chapman from Michigan

Donna & Dick Chapman from Michigan

Dr. Linda, retired Chiropractor from Tennessee  

Dr. Linda, retired Chiropractor from Tennessee  

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The Pier at Gulf Shores

The rain stopped and the sun came out; we spent some time on the pier on Christmas Eve  

Everyone was out fishing

Everyone was out fishing

Pelican

Pelican

Blue Heron

Blue Heron

The sea

The sea

Modern day fisherman on his phone

Modern day fisherman on his phone

Great waves! 

Great waves! 

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Exploring the Alabama Coast

Today we took Dr. Jill Buschmann's advice and drove the scenic highway to the Grande Hotel at Point Clear, Alabama. We had a delightful lunch in the dining room overlooking Mobile Bay. Then we poked around Fair Hope, AL, a quaint town with lots of small shops. 

The beautiful tree at the Grande
The beautiful tree at the Grande
Deck the Halls

Deck the Halls

The hotel complex in gingerbread

The hotel complex in gingerbread

Notice the poinsettias in the garden

Notice the poinsettias in the garden

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Rain, Rain,& more Rain

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Since the weather is not cooperating we spent the day indoors. 

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First we toured the National Naval Aviation museum in Pensacola, FL. The Blue Angels were not flying; however, we really enjoyed viewing over 150 restored aircraft, an I-Max movie (The History of Flight), and several great exhibits from WW1 to space travel.  

Blue Angels

Blue Angels

Main floor exhibit

Main floor exhibit

WW1 exhibit; note the carrier pigeons

WW1 exhibit; note the carrier pigeons

"The Brothers" BBQ caught our eye while driving. We always brake for good BBQ! 

The smoker caught our attention

The smoker caught our attention

Lots of choices

Lots of choices

The food was delicious, authentic BBQ, and the crew was very friendly! 

The food was delicious, authentic BBQ, and the crew was very friendly! 

Holiday Hog

Holiday Hog

We ended the evening at the "famous" Florabama bar. 1/2 is located in Florida and 1/2 is in Alabama. 

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Cowboy Johnson entertained the crowd

Cowboy Johnson entertained the crowd

The Florabama

The Florabama

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Day trip to Navarre Beach

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White sand, blue water, no wonder they call it the emerald coast! 

White sand, blue water, no wonder they call it the emerald coast! 

Miles of sand dunes

Miles of sand dunes

The best "dive" on the coast! 

The best "dive" on the coast! 

The "crew" at the Shark Bite

The "crew" at the Shark Bite

Breakfast menu

Breakfast menu

4 arm photo bomb

4 arm photo bomb

5 stars for the food! 

5 stars for the food! 

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Airborne Reunion

In 1963 Russell served with Platoon Sergeant Cleve Kendall, nicknamed "the Field Marshall" in Frankfurt, Germany. Russell respected and appreciated him as a great leader. I met him for the first time yesterday and was amazed by his energy at 86 years young! I also got to spend an afternoon with his lovely wife, Gisela. They met in Frankfurt and have been married for 50 years. Today they are retired and have moved from Michigan to their dream home on the water in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. We had a wonderful afternoon catching up on the last 50 years!

The Field Marshall and Russell

The Field Marshall and Russell

The view from their balcony

The view from their balcony

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Emerald Coast

For the next four days we are in a natural masterpiece in the middle of Destin, Florida. I've never seen anything like the sugar white sand beach of the Gulf of Mexico. In 1983 the land for the state park was purchased from the Henderson family estate for 13.1 million dollars. It opened to the public in 1991. Each campsite is protected by Mother Nature. This is by far the most beautiful campground that we have found on "The Journey ." We give it a five star rating! We are back to nature. Enjoy the photos! 

Henderson State Park beach

Henderson State Park beach

Sugar white sand beaches

Sugar white sand beaches

Sand pines, scrub oak, southern magnolia, Rosemary, and saw palmetto dot the dunes

Sand pines, scrub oak, southern magnolia, Rosemary, and saw palmetto dot the dunes

One of the campsites surrounded by mother nature

One of the campsites surrounded by mother nature

Home for a few days

Home for a few days

Our "back yard" 

Our "back yard" 

Enjoy the day! 

Enjoy the day! 

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The Elks in Florida

We have been rescued once again by our fellow Elks! Our reservation was for a day later and we were stranded for the night. Never fear; the Fort Walton Beach Elks lodge not only had a space for us in their parking lot overnight, but served tacos and drinks for our dinner. There was karaoke, and Birthday cake to boot! Just one of the many reasons to love the organization and their motto is so true "Elks care, Elks share."

Loved Patty, the bartender from Maine, at the Destin lodge! She introduced me to "pass the pigs", a new game for us. 

Loved Patty, the bartender from Maine, at the Destin lodge! She introduced me to "pass the pigs", a new game for us. 

Karaoke night at Fort Walton beach.

Karaoke night at Fort Walton beach.

Fort Walton Beach Lodge 1795

Fort Walton Beach Lodge 1795

Outdoor patio at the Lodge overlooking the water. 

Outdoor patio at the Lodge overlooking the water. 

Elks lodge pier. 

Elks lodge pier. 

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STRESS!

Fog, rain, darkness, and rush hour traffic combined with a very, very long two lane bridge results in a white knuckle ride for Barbara and a "relax" from Russell. Our daily commute to work is about 15 steps downstairs. Therefore, no stress: we work from home. Traveling in the Winebago has unleashed my "alter ego", a highly stressed passenger: Barb. Russell's says"don't worry, I drove a truck in the army" or "you've got to go with the flow of the traffic!" Translated by Barb: "that was 55 years ago" or "oooh!!!" It's not easy sitting up high over the wheel with a huge window speeding down the highway, towing a car. However; on this adventure I have discovered why my Shaklee customers love Stress Relief! I am a model passenger after just one capsule. My Boston commuters can't drive or live without it and I understand. I can now enjoy the ride except at night in the fog and on the bridge. 

Crossing the bridge to Destin

Crossing the bridge to Destin

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