Friday, May 29, 2015

Weekend in Palm Springs

Thursday, January 27, 2005 was a beautiful day in Twentynine palms, CA. So much different temperature than when we here in July and August of 2004. We had been at the 29 Palms Golf Resort and RV Park for two days now, awaiting our son, Christopher’s return from a Marine Corps artillery training class in New Jersey. He was ready to be out of the snow and we were anxious to see him. On Wednesday we drove into Palm Springs and saw a lot of beautiful landscaping around the city. Many brilliant flowers and well-manicured golf courses. We stopped at Olive Garden for lunch.

Our son called on Thursday morning and he was finally back at the Marine base, but would not be available to see us until Friday. On Friday we got to the base in time to see the Marines in formation and got to watch an awards and promotions ceremony. After the formation, we took Christopher to Burger King on base and had lunch, then we went back to his barracks to hang out with some of his friends.

On Saturday we picked up our son, Christopher and two of his fellow Marines, Lee Calles and Jason Keppner and drove to the Spa Casino in Palm Springs. The youngsters were fun to be with and made an effort to keep us entertained. The boys really enjoyed the buffet. Lee won $300 playing blackjack and was really excited during lunch. We stayed a few hours and had a great time. Lunch was delicious, but a tad expensive.

We stayed home and did some housework on Sunday, then on Monday we picked Christopher up at his baracks and he took us for a tour of the base. It is a city unto itself – the Marines could stay on base all the time and have everything they needed. There are some portions of the base we did not see, such as the artillery ranges. Christopher also knew very little about the Aviation Wing at the base. Christopher was on pre-deployment leave and he was relaxed, but anxious about going to Iraq. Although he was on leave, Christopher spent most of his leave time lazing on base. Kathi and I are not that much fun when we stay at home.

February 1st was a Tuesday and we did our laundry and read. A boring day for some, but good for us, since we had been moving so often. On Wednesday we picked Christopher up so he could spend a few days with us. We watched a whole season of episodes of “The West Wing.” That was a show Christopher really enjoyed and we had some fun discussion with him about the show.

On Saturday our oldest son, AJ flew into town and we picked him up at the airport. The four of us stayed at the Howard Johnson in Palm Springs and hung out together all weekend. We made a trip to a casino and AJ had some beginner’s luck playing Baccarat. Christopher won $1,500 by getting three of a kind and a straight flush playing three card poker. He shared his winnings with us and I assume we had a great time, since the money was gone before we returned to the hotel. We had a great time with the four of us together and Kathi and I were exhausted after returning AJ to the airport for a flight back to San Francisco and returning Christopher to the Marine base. Family is good.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What to Do In Twentynine Palms

We are not doing much travel this year due to family issues that require our attention in Texas. Since we are stationary and not moving much, I have been relating some of our previous travel adventures. I am sorry I did not start this blog sooner. It could have been a better travel record, but Kathi and I remember a lot of detail and Kathi keeps a journal to supplement our memories. Today I am continuing our 2005 travel year.

We returned to Twentynine Palms, CA on Tuesday, January 25, 2005 to be with our youngest son, Christopher when he and his friends departed for Iraq. We had been in 29 before and knew what to expect. The town is on California 62 in a high desert area in the southern portion of the Mojave Desert in southern California. Elevation is just shy of 2,000 feet above sea level. The two highlights of the area are the Joshua Tree National Park and the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center. I suspect the town would not exist if the Marines left town.

Most of the restaurants in town are fast food type. I remember several pizza parlors, a McDonalds and a Taco bell. Chester’s Chicken and Subway are very popular with the Marines, because they will deliver to the Marine base. One Saturday afternoon while we were there, Kathi and I treated our son and a few of his friends to a meal at The Rib Factory – those boys could put away some ribs. I think Texas ribs are better, but it may be because I am more used to them. Kathi also enjoyed take out Chinese food from the Bamboo Garden. We also drove to the Sizzler restaurant in Yucca Valley a few times. Yucca Valley is a small town about twenty miles east of 29 on Highway 62.

Marines are required to have a fresh haircut before reporting to duty each Monday morning. There are an amazing number of $5 barber shops in town. The barbers treat the Marines like part of the family. A high and tight haircut takes about two minutes to cut, if you do it every week.

For more serious entertainment – meaning casinos you had to get off the high desert and move down to one of the towns along I-10. We spent a fun evening at the Morongo Casino and Spa near Cabazon in the Morongo Valley. One of the younger Marines had too much to drink and we left the casino earlier than planned to keep him out of trouble. Another night we spent a few hours at the Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs. We did not have much luck in that casino, but the décor was nice. One weekend we booked a couple of rooms at the Red Roof Inn in Rancho Mirage. They had a shuttle bus to the Aqua Caliente Casino Resort Spa. We liked that accommodation, so the Marines could come and go as necessary. I wanted to go to the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, but we never made it to that one. Maybe we will get another chance someday.

We were staying at the 29 Palms Golf Resort and RV Park, so I guess I should mention that some of the Marines played golf on weekends. None of them had golf clubs, but somehow they managed. Kathi and I do not play golf – too bad, since we were living adjacent to the course. The only other activity I recall seeing was mudding. Some of the pickup trucks we saw were unrecognizable because of the mud. I think it was mostly local high school boys, but I am sure a few Marine participated. I am betting they had to wash their vehicles before returning to base.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Our 2010 Memorial Day in Sutherlin

We were in Sutherlin, Oregon on Memorial Day, May 31, 2010. We left Texas in February and made stops in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Utah on the way to the Oregon coast. When in Sutherlin we always stay at the Timber Valley RV Park. Timber Valley is an Escapees park and most of the spaces are owned by their occupants. When occupants go away on vacation they allow park management to sub-let their spaces. We always enjoy Timber Valley because of the abundance of deer, rabbits and turkeys in the area.

As you would expect, most of the Escapees are retired, so most of the park occupants are over sixty years old. This age group seems to be much more patriotic than the youth of today and you see many people displaying American flags on a daily basis. The flag displays always make Kathi and I feel good. I think we are patriots and certainly patriotic. Both our fathers were World War II vets. I will never forget my military service nor will we ever forget our son serving with the Marines in Iraq.

Labor Day was originally called Decoration Day and was established in 1868 to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. The South also had Decorations Days at some locations, usually at a cemetery and on various different days honoring Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Decoration Day was changed to Memorial Day somewhere near the end of the 19th century and became universal after WWII. Memorial Day is now held the last day of May each year to honor all Americans who died in the service of our country. At formal ceremonies, the flag is raised briskly to full staff and lowered slowly to half-staff where it stays until noon, then raised to the top of the staff again.

We woke to a rainy Monday morning on Memorial Day in Sutherlin in 2010. I noticed most of the golf carts in the park were flying American Flags. The rain cleared up in the afternoon so Kathi and I drove around town taking flag pictures. I know it sounds dorky, but it never feels that way to us. Below are some of the flag pictures we took in Sutherlin that day and a few days after.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Trip to Austin

On Sunday, May 17th Kathi and I drove to Austin to be with our oldest son, AJ while he had eye surgery on Monday morning. When we left our Alfa Motorhome at the Green Caye RV Park in Dickinson, it was dark, but not raining. We took I-45 into town and transferred to I-10. We got some rain on the way. Between I-10 and Loop 610 down came a gully-washer. I remembered the last time we had trouble crossing over five lanes from the Loop to US 290 and I was dreading that spot again, then the rain stopped. It was clear and little traffic allowing us to get on 290 easily.

We stopped at a Buckees somewhere in the Cypress-Fairbanks area and got some coffee and kolaches. I like the sausage and cheese kolaches and Kathi had a croissant and a blueberry muffin. We listened to some country music on the radio, but heard nothing memorable. We do not listen to music on the radio as much as we did in our previous life.

Our first stop in Austin was AJ’s apartment where we delivered barbecued pulled pork, baked chicken, roasted baby potatoes and his favorite – roast beef. The boys, including me, love to eat Kathi’s cooking. AJ had a broken chair that I wanted to look at. He could not see well enough to fix it himself with his limited vision. I found some bolts missing, so we went to Home Depot and picked up some bolts and an Allen wrench to install the bolts. We agreed on a pick up time for Monday morning and left AJ on his own while we went to check into the Best Western on I-35 on the south side of downtown. Then we drove a few miles further down the street and found a Luby’s Cafeteria. There were only a few patrons in the cafeteria. We were both given different vegetables than we ordered and had to get the orders corrected.

I enjoyed my meal more than Kathi. The bacon cheese steak was normal good and the macaroni and cheese and green beans were the same as all other Luby’s Cafeterias. Kathi had a chicken fried steak with cream gravy and mashed potatoes. I ended up eating most of her steak. She did not care for it, but how can a southern boy pass up anything with gravy? What I thought was pecan pie turned out to be something like a bread pudding disguised as pie. One bite for each of us and it was left behind. I refused the to-go container they offered.

Monday morning came early, but we were all prepared for the day. Kathi and I read while AJ was in operating area. AJ’s friend John Morris drove in from Houston and sat with us for a while, when we were waiting for the surgeon to let us know how the surgery went. It was good to see John again, since it had been several years since we last saw him. We finally talked to the surgeon and he told us there was no surprises. He did a Lens replacement and repaired a small retina tear. AJ’s doctor is James Dooner with Austin Retina. Dr. Dooner has been great and our dealing with him have been a pleasure.

About an hour later they told us AJ was waking up and let me go back to help him get dressed to go home. We drove AJ to his apartment and John met us there. Kathi and I left them to spend a few hours together. AJ had a patch over his eye and needed to get more sleep to get the anesthetic out of his system.

Tuesday we picked AJ up and ran a couple of errands, including a trip to the grocery store. While we were storing groceries I found the gasket on refrigerator door loose again and repositioned it. I may need to consider some glue if it continues to be a problem. In the afternoon we went to the doctor’s office to get the patch removed and assure there were no post-surgical complications. AJ was amazed as how bright it was and most impressed by the vivid colors he could see, that he could not see before. His vision is much improved. He is hoping for even better vision using glasses in a few months after the eye heals.

Wednesday morning we ran a few more errands and then had lunch at Rosa’s Café and Tortilla Factory on the south side of Austin. At Rosa’s you go through a line to order and pick up your food at the end of the counter. Rosa’s is more like a fast food restaurant than a sit-down café. The food must have been okay as everyone emptied their plates. After lunch we dropped AJ off at his apartment and Kathi and I headed back to Dickinson.

Hotels are not our favorite abodes, but the Best Western was comfortable and clean. Even though Kathi and I are both still tired, the trip was well worth our time and we were glad to be with AJ to provide help where we can. It is good to be home.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Family Gathering

Since my blog is read by many people who are not familiar with our family, I will do a lot more explanation and description than I would if this was only going to be read by the family. Hopefully it will still be interesting to everyone.

My brother-in-law, Larry Clark is going to have a bone marrow transplant soon and will not be able to have visitors for a few months afterward, because of his propensity to get an infection while his immune system is weak. Since it was going to be so long before Larry could have visitors again, his wife Andrea and my wife, Kathi decided we should have a family gathering before the transplant. So on Saturday, May 16th we had a family gathering of all who were available to attend. Doug the pug attended. Larry was dog sitting with Doug while Doug’s owner and Larry’s friend Robert was out of town.

Jim Hathaway enjoyed the gathering with us. Jim is Carl, Larry and Kathi’s step-father. His daughter Becky Boyd attended and furnished some of the appetizers. They only live a few blocks down the street.

Larry’s older brother Carl and his wife Cheryn drove in from their new home in Wimberley, Texas. Carl still looked tired from moving all their furniture. I love moving in our motorhome -- the furniture moves itself. Carl has five sons. His two oldest sons had to work and could not attend.

Rick flew in from New Orleans and all others in attendance were within driving distance. His mother, Sheila Rauch picked him up at the airport and delivered him to the party. Ricks two children were also in attendance, Channa is Rick’s oldest. She joined the group and served a dip made from cream cheese and picante sauce. Channa’s husband Josh had to work and could not be with us. Zach attended with his wife Alyssa. They are both smiling all the time and are so pleasant to be around.  

Jeff was there and seemed a little subdued -- he usually tells a lot of funny stories -- I hope he is not growing up. We should have taken the opportunity to talk about the older brothers while they were not there to defend themselves. Carl's youngest son Carl W. Clark was between college semesters and was available to attend. He is trying to find part time work for the summer.

Larry and Andrea’s two sons and their families were there. Wesley is the oldest son. He and his wife Amy have three children. William was there with his son Gage. Wes and Amy’s daughters, Jennifer and Megan were with us. Larry and Andrea’s daughter Amy lives in Kansas and could not get away from her home for this gathering, but she plans to be in town to help during Larry’s recovery. Matt is Larry and Andrea’s youngest son. Matt was there with his girlfriend Kristine and their daughters Lindsey and Austin. Kathi and Andrea were planning lasagna and I heard Matt was instrumental in getting pizza added to the menu. Josue Pena and Matt have been friends since elementary school. Josue seems like another son and is always welcome in the Clark household.

Rick Clark cannot believe what he is hearing,

Austin looking cool

Austin practicing a dance routine

Gage had a good time

Larry, Andrea, Carl and Cheryn

Zach, Alyssa, Sheila and Channa
We ordered lasagna, pizza, salad and bread sticks from Mama Mia’s on Spencer Highway. For desert we had chocolate chip cookies, Italian cream cake, cherry cake, chocolate cake and a Bundt cake. We had a great afternoon catching up and sharing stories. Kathi and I left early so we could get up early on Sunday morning to be with our son AJ in Austin while he has eye surgery on Monday. I am sure the others adjourned soon after, because some of the group were going to the Strawberry Festival in Pasadena.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Broken Yolk

Today I am writing an update of current events in our family and will continue on with our 2005 travel adventures in my next post.

First let me say a few words about the Broken Yolk Grill located at 5824 Spenser Highway in Pasadena, TX. It is located just east of Beltway 8. Kathi and I were taking her brother Larry for a late appointment at Methodist Hospital yesterday. We took the opportunity to stop for breakfast at the Broken Yolk, where Larry and his wife, Andrea had eaten breakfast before. I am glad Larry recommended the place to us. Breakfast was great.

We were given a simple one page, two-sided menu that showed breakfast and lunch offerings. I had eggs, sausage, hash browns, biscuits and gravy. Kathi and Larry had bacon eggs, hash browns and pancakes. We were all stuffed for our drive to the hospital. The pancakes filled up a plate and the sausage gravy was excellent.

The parking lot was full and most every table in the restaurant was occupied, so I guess others in the area have discovered this new restaurant. The management and wait staff were friendly and welcomed us at the door and thanked us as we left. Good food and good people – always a winning combination.

One wall inside The Broken Yolk Grill

License plates are a quaint, homey display inside the restaurant.

view from my seat in the restaurant.

 We got to Methodist hospital and Larry checked in and saw his doctor. He will be admitted to the hospital on May 28th for another round of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant in an attempt to control his acute myeloid leukemia.  It will be a difficult couple of months for their family, but will be worth the temporary hardship. After Larry saw the doctor Kathi and I went with him to a presentation on what to expect during the transplant. Two other couples were in the class when we arrived. The nurse made the presentation and answered everyone's questions. Methodist Hospital service has been excellent. Methodist and MD Anderson are the only two hospitals in the city that do bone marrow transplants.

Larry and Andrea are hosting a family get-together on Saturday. The menu is lasagna and pizza. Kathi is making an Italian cream cake to take over. It should be a fun afternoon.

On Sunday, Kathi and I will drive to Austin to be with our oldest son, AJ who is having eye surgery on Monday. He had a lens replacement in his right eye a few months ago and now they are going to replace the lens in the other eye. He is anxious because he still has limited vision in his right eye and will have to wear a patch on the left eye for a few weeks. He uses public transportation and has to walk about a mile to get to the bus stop for the bus he needs to take routinely. Kathi and I will be in Austin for  most of next week.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Westward to Twentynine Palms

Sunday, January 23, 2005 we left the Benson I-10 RV Park in Benson, AZ and drove west on I-10 going through Vail, Tucson, Marana and Eloy. After a drive of about 120 miles we stopped at the Sunscape RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ, which we would call home for the next two days. Sunscape is an Escapees co-op park so we got an Escapees discount which made our nightly cost $18. The park had over 500 back in spaces. We were used to parks with 50 RV sites and had seen a few with over 100 sites, but this is the first park we saw with 500 RV sites. Kathi commented on how large the park was and they told her many of the RV Parks in Arizona had over 1,000 sites. Wow. I think they cater to the snow-birds who come south for the winter.

The weather for the drive over was great – sunny and cool. We got to see another spectacular sunset. I am not sure what is different about the sky in Arizona. We had seen nice sunsets before, but it felt like they had one every day in Arizona.

On Monday we took a drive around town and ended up doing a little Walmart shopping. It was great weather again where we were, but our youngest, Christopher called from New Jersey complaining about the frigid temperature there. Fortunately the school was going to be over the following Thursday and he would head back to Twentynine Palms where we would be ready to greet the Marines.

Our plan was to spend one night in Blythe, CA and move on to Twentynine Palms on Thursday. We left I-10 in Phoenix and took US 95 west through Litchfield and Topopah. We stopped at the Hidden Beaches RV Resort in Blythe and checked in at the office. As we drove through the park to our assigned RV space, we noticed the place looked like an unkempt fish camp. Resort in the park name was obviously a joke. When we got to our site and parked, I went out to hook up the utilities. The whole area smelled like a sewer. I turned around and went back inside and told Kathi what I smelled and I thought we need to move along. She was joyous, as she had already decided she did not want to be there. We hooked our tow vehicle back up and Kathi went inside the office and told them we decided to keep moving. They returned her check.

It was late afternoon when we finally got to Twentynine Palms – about 340 miles total for the day. Kathi is always pleasant company and being my navigator she was happy to get us to 29 a day early -- and still thrilled about not being stuck in Hidden Beaches RV Resort for the evening. We got set up in the 29 Palms Golf Resort RV Park about 4:30 pm. We paid $350 for a month’s rent. Christopher called again in the evening and told us the snow was over a foot deep in New Jersey. Our oldest, AJ called and said he was going to enjoy the classes he was taking for that semester.

Twentynine is mostly desert with sand and small rocks. No town to speak of as you can drive through it in five minutes. Although we found little appealing at Twentynine Palms, we were glad to be in one place for a while. Driving every other day does not give much time for relaxation. We were also anxious for Christopher to return and start his leave before being deployed to Iraq.  

Friday, May 8, 2015


January 22, 2005 was a Saturday. Kathi and I were staying at the Benson I-10 RV Park in Benson, AZ. I found a brochure in the RV park office that told us about Tombstone, AZ which was about thirty miles south on Arizona Route 80. We looked at the map and realized we would never naturally pass through Tombstone, since it was away from everything, so we decided to drive over. It was a beautiful Saturday for driving and after all seeing the sights is why we decided to become RV travelers. I suspect I wanted to see Tombstone more than Kathi wanted to see it, but it was a nice day for a drive so she acquiesced

I have always been a movie and TV fan. I remember seeing western movies on Saturdays at the “Main” and “Texan” theaters in Nacogdoches when I was growing up. Wyatt Earp is a well-known name, primarily because of the OK Corral gunfight. I even saw a life size mannequin of Wyatt Earp in a restaurant in Livingston, TX. Actors that I know who have played Wyatt Earp include: Errol Flynn, Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Burt Lancaster, Henry Fonda, James Stewart, Guy Madison, James Garner, Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner. I am sure there are others but I probably have not seen those movies. There was even a western series on TV in the late ‘50s called "Tombstone Territory."

Tombstone was erected on a mesa above the Tough Nut Mine. Most people remember that Tombstone had a “Boot Hill” cemetery. The reason western towns called their cemeteries “Boot Hill” was because most people died with their boots on via violence. The violence came as a result of Tombstone being a “Boom Town” primarily due to the discovery of silver. Silver miners flooding the area caused the plethora of saloons, gambling halls and brothels in town. There were over 100 saloons during the silver mining era. Mining was slowed considerably when the Contention Mine hit the water table. The Contention and Grand Central mine owners bought a Cornish Engine to pump out the water. It lasted a few years and when the engine melted down, it was deemed too expensive to repair. This resulted in Tombstone becoming a ghost town in just a few years.

When we visited Tombstone on that beautiful Saturday in 2005 we found a small desert town with only one business – tourism. Obviously I am one among many western movie buffs. They have old west saloons, an OK Corral, simulated gunfights and various shops designed to gather dollars from purchased tourist mementos. We drove up and down every street and even pulled off to the side on a couple of streets to look around, but really saw nothing that interested us, so we never got out of our car.

Tombstone is thought to have the biggest rose bush in the world. In 1885 cuttings of the Lady Banksia Rose were sent to a Tombstone resident from Scotland. The bush is still growing and expanding in size. The drive back to Benson gave us our highlight of the day. Near sunset the entire sky seemed pink, purple and blue. Another amazing sight to add to our memories.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Las Cruces and Beyond

On Monday, January 17, 2005, we left the El Campo RV Park in Van Horn, TX and moved west out of Texas to the Sunny Acres RV Park in Las Cruces, NM. See my blog entry, “Around Las Cruces” posted on March 4, 2015 for additional information about the Las Cruces area. As I mentioned before, Las Cruces is a natural stopping point for RV travelers moving either direction on I-10.

This January day the weather seemed perfect, sunny and cool. There were mountains all around Las Cruces and we love to see the mountains. Riding on the interstate in this area, you have long slow climbs, so driving does not feel mountainous, but the view really tells the story.  My sister, Carol and her husband Lloyd were staying at the same RV park. Lloyd was working on his truck. Kathi and I ate Mexican food at Escondito’s. We both thought the food was good, but not great. You do not have to get far out of Texas, before Tex-Mex food changes drastically.

View from I-10 east of Las Cruces

Beautiful motorhome at Sunny Acres RV Park

A view of Las Cruces

Tuesday it was still cool. Kathi needed a jacket in the morning, but we had shirt-sleeve weather in the afternoon. We did have lunch with Carol and Lloyd on our second day in Las Cruces. We mostly talked about our travel itinerary at lunch and took a walk in the afternoon. After wintering in Texas, both families were ready to be down the road. It is really fun just seeing what is over the next hill – we prefer mountains, but hills are good too.

The next day, Kathi and I moved 60 miles further west to Deming, NM. We stayed in the Dream Catcher RV Park, which is an Escapees sponsored park and nightly rates were $9 – one of the least expensive parks where we have stayed. We enjoyed the mountains during the short drive and enjoyed the long pull through RV spaces in the park. Again Carol and Lloyd were in the same park with us and we visited in the afternoon.

The sky at sunset in Deming

White horse statue beside a Deming street
Friday it was raining when we awakened. We were ready to move, but stalled for a while waiting for the rain to stop. I do not mind driving in the rain, but the RV gets so dirty and our tow vehicle gets filthy. When the rain stopped we continued west to the Benson I-10 RV Park in Benson, AZ. This is an easy in and out RV park and nice people working in the office.

We took an hour drive into Tucson, AZ to buy a small air compressor at the Camping World store. I had a tire that looked low and I figured carrying a small air compressor was a good idea. It did not turn out that way. Our RV tires are inflated to 100 PSI and the air compressor got overheated and shut down before it actually added air to the tires. Oh well, this was a lesson I should have learned at an earlier age, but I did not. The tire was not dangerously low, so I decided to wait and air it up at our next diesel stop.

Our oldest son, AJ who was in San Francisco got registered to return to college and bought his books. The Marines sent our youngest, Christopher to a training school in New Jersey. It was cold in New Jersey and the boy hates cold weather. Fortunately for him the school only lasts a week.

Next post: Tombstone

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

May 5th

On May 5th we find ourselves enjoying an overcast day in Dickinson, TX. I am taking a break from describing our 2005 travels today and I am writing about current events in our family. If you are interested in Cinco de Mayo. See my entry in my “Thoughts and Ideas” blog at

We have a lot of chores planned for today. Kathi and I are both going to get haircuts. When my sideburns get bushy and my hair curls up in the back, Kathi always suggests a haircut so she can travel with a neat looking man wearing short pants. While we are out we will get the oil changed in our Jeep. We also plan to get the Jeep washed, but it is sprinkling rain. I thought the rule was it is supposed to rain right after you wash your car, not before. I suspect we will still wash our Jeep today, rain or no rain.

My brother-in-law, Larry Clark has a date for his bone marrow transplant the end of May. He was diagnosed with acute myleoid leukemia around Thanksgiving in 2014. Before he was diagnosed he had lost about thirty pounds. After the chemotherapy to kill the leukemia cells he was down to about 170 pounds. He was so weak the transplant doctor would not do the transplant until he got stronger. His wife Andrea went to work trying to fatten him up. Then Kathi got in the act and started pushing Larry to eat more of her home cooked meals. Kathi has cooked more this year than she has since we started traveling. It worked. Larry weighed 204.7 when we took him in for his routine blood test on Monday. His walking and exercise routine has given him the physical strength he needed to be given a transplant date. His treatment is taking place at Methodist hospital and they have been great service providers.

Our son, AJ is still in Austin and is going to have eye surgery in the near future. He had a lens implant on his right eye a few months ago and now he is ready to have the other eye repaired. When he gets a firm date set for the surgery, Kathi and I will go to Austin and be with him for the surgery and a few days after as he recuperates. Kathi has already began cooking food items that AJ enjoys eating, so our first stop in Austin will be a food delivery. Both our boys still appreciate a home cooked meal from Mom.

That was then, this is now. We left to run our errands after my last paragraph and now we are back in our RV with our appetites satisfied at Jimmy Changa’s on the Gulf Freeway. We shared the Vera Cruz as usual. Fajitas and grilled shrimp are always good and always filling. I was stuffed when we left the restaurant, but I could not get past the ice cream machine without a small sample. The ice cream was good, also but now my stomach is tight, so it is time to relax.

View of Jimmy Changa's dining area

Closer view of chandelier

Cantinflas picture

Another Cantflas ad

We got some laundry done, got the oil changed in our Jeep and drove by the hand car wash on 518 in League City. The car wash was closed, so our Jeep is still in need of attention. We drove by Great Clips for haircuts and the shop was full of school children, so I backed out on the haircut deal. Life is good.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Donkey Lady

One time when we were at the El Campo RV Park in Van Horn, TX, we saw a lady with a donkey standing outside the fence of the property. She appeared to be talking to the donkey. We thought it was interesting and did not think much more about it at the time. A few days later we mentioned the lady and donkey to my brother-in-law, Lloyd Jackson. He and my sister Carol had seen her before at the same location. Lloyd inquired and found out the lady came by occasionally and took a shower in the shower room available for RV park guests. She always left a few coins as payment for the service. Lloyd told me she was well known in the area.

Every time I have thought about Van Horn since that time, I think about the Donkey Lady, so I did a little research. She ranged all over the Big Bend area of Texas and stayed beside the road or under underpasses to sleep. Her name was Judy Ann Magers. Other than Van Horn she was known in Presidio, Alpine, Marfa, Valentine, Marathon and Sierra Blanca. Some people called her The Burro Lady and some called her La Riena, which means the queen. She was a legend and she was real.

You may hear scary stories about the legend of the Donkey Lady in and around San Antonio. This is not the same legend. In fact, I suspect the Donkey Lady of San Antonio is a myth.

The Donkey Lady of Big Bend was shy and did not talk to anyone very much, but she did have a few friends she saw occasionally. She was apparently independent and would not take any handouts. Becky Walker was a Hudspeth County Judge who knew The Donkey Lady. She put a 55 gallon drum of water on the edge of her property for the Lady and donkey to drink. She left a few coins and sometimes a piece of gum behind for payment and if the money was not taken, she would not drink the water her next time through the area. She was a proud person.

Bill Ivey was her guardian. He ran the Lajitas Trading post in Terlingua. When he first met her she did not have a donkey. She camped by the river near the trading post. Ivey said it took her three days to get the courage to talk to him and tell him what supplies she needed. Over the years she had several different donkeys. She was seen once in a sixties Cadillac with the back end cut out and she drove around with the donkey standing up in the trunk.

Judy Ann Magers was 65 years old when she died under an underpass near Sierra Blanca on January 26, 2007. A passerby saw her in a heap and stopped his vehicle to check on her and found her dying. He and the donkey were with her when she passed. A detective found out she had a daughter in North Dakota. From that daughter they found she had two more daughters, two sons and 11 grandchildren. Her children carried her in her casket into the church for her funeral. About 150 people attended, many not even knowing her real name. She is buried on boot Hill in Terlingua, TX with her boots, hat and spurs.

Her last donkey was named Merle. Becky Walker, the Hudspeth judge gave the donkey a home. She said the donkey cried for three days after his owner’s death. Judy Ann Magers lived the end of her life on her own terms. I only saw her one time, but I still think about her occasionally.