Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Camper Livin'

As is typical for us, we seem to do things differently than most people. The latest example of this is our housing situation. We went from a 2400 sq. ft. single family home in the suburbs, to a 1300 sq. ft. duplex, to a 300 sq. ft. travel trailer.

You read right. We've been living for the past three weeks in 300 sq. ft. 300 divided by 5, no make it 6 when you add in the Great Dane, and we each get 6o sq. feet.


Here's our home.

We have a door, an awning we can't use because of the constant winds, not one but two picnic tables, and ample outdoor parking for our three cars and 6 bicycles and 2 scooters.

(Look at that sky would ya? Almost makes this worth it.....)

Don't worry. The camper is bigger than it looks. You see that part sticking out on the right side? That's the slide-out. Yes, people. Be jealous of us. Our living room is on rollers!


When you first enter our palace you'll find Belly sleeping on her ever-shrinking dog bed. Once upon a time the dogs slept on a mattress on the floor, which was replaced by a padded dog bed, then a comforter, and now poor BB's is sleeping on a bath mat.

Turn right past the sleeping dog and you'll be in our bedroom. It has a short queen bed that runs in an "east/west" orientation versus the typical camper "north/south" orientation.

It's better that way, really, so I can sleep up against the wall and not have to worry about falling out of bed when Jerry rolls into me. Again and again, and oh, now that's an elbow!

Did I mention that Jerry is 6'5''?

It also makes it quite interesting to put on sheets. It has to be done with a hop-tuck technique that could win me money on Youtube.

Also in the bedroom is our closet and shoe organizer. How nice my shirts look hanging up on the curtain rod.

Turn left past the sleeping dog and you'll be in the living room, you know, the part on rollers. The couch folds out to a bed where Paige sleeps and across from the couch is a small cabinet with a jealousy-inducing 13" tube TV. But we do have cable!

We are SOO high-tech!

Here's the kitchen. There's a stove with three gas burners, a microwave/convection oven, a sink with running water (!), and a refrigerator/freezer.

We cook typical gourmet meals in this kitchen like Hamburger Helper, hot dogs with mac-n-cheese, and soup.

We have a bench style kitchen table that uncomfortably seats five people. The legs are removable and this too will turn into a bed for some short person or fool.

These messy things are actually bunk beds. Josh sleeps up top, and after shoving the bins to the foot of her bunk, Phoebe sleeps on the bottom. I Martha Stewart-ed the padded wooden baby-blockers that keep the children from rolling out in the middle of the night and smacking their heads on the vinyl flooring.

I tell ya, HIGH tech!

At the extreme end of the camper, and unfortunately directly next to the bunk beds is the bathroom.

There's a cassette toilet, a sink with a hint of counter space, a medicine cabinet, and...

...a shower with a little baby-sized bathtub!

How awesome are WE? Who needs square footage anyway?

I've always said that with little children all you really need is about 5 square feet for the kids to swarm around your ankles.

I didn't mean to ever have to take that literally!

Monday, August 30, 2010

San Felipe Springs

Just down the street from base, at the eastern edge of downtown Del Rio are the San Felipe Springs. It's a series of natural aquifer fed springs that supply the town and base with fresh water, and in the hot months a cool swimming hole for the locals.

Although we call it just The Springs, the real name for this section is Horseshoe park. I just learned that interesting fact after doing a quick search online for facts about the springs.

Apparently there is another swimming spot farther down with rapids and a jumping bridge. We shall have to go and explore!

You can click here to read more about it if you want.

On this bridge is Highway 90, the main east west road through town and past the base. The park is directly next to the highway but despite the proximity you'd never know it while playing in the cool waters.

Jerry likes to swim under the bridge and scare the kids. Of course I'm not scared of a dark and spooky cave-like deep area under a bridge with umpteen 18-wheelers going overhead.

That would be silly.

The water is chilly, around 72 degrees or some other nonsense, but the kids don't seem to mind. The bottom of the swimming area is full of little to medium sized rocks.

Can you guess what the kids liked to do with the rocks?

Thank goodness we went in the morning when it was empty. Come 3 or 4 o'clock and the locals keep this place packed. You should see it on weekend nights. Tents, cook-outs, slip-n-slides, you name it. This is a true community area. Kinda makes me want to learn Spanish.

Behind Paige is the train track going over the springs. There is one train track running parallel with Highway 90 and a train going a million miles an hour every 30 minutes or so. Of course they slow down, and like today even stop while going over the bridge and through town.

The longest train I've counted had five engines and 210 cars, mostly double-deckers. That's a lot of crap from China.

Phoebe loved the water but hated walking around in her new Crocs. I finally broke down and bought her a pair of real Crocs, not the knock-offs from Target, but they're too narrow for her chubby feet.

Oh, well. Target, here we come!

The water moves quite fast, fast enough that you need to be sure footed or holding a parents hand while walking around. There are a few little rapids at this park and of course Paige had to fall over them.

While she flailed and tried to drown, we yelled encouraging words at her like, "PUT YOUR FEET DOWN! YOU CAN TOUCH! AND YOU KNOW HOW TO SWIM!!"

When do young girls get any sense?

Here's me making a face because I really didn't want any face time this week. I'm having an issue with my hair, adult acne, wrinkles, and cellulite.

I'll let you read this historical marker if you want. From its aged appearance this sign must have been there forever but I've only noticed it on this last visit. Who knew?

But I promise you that if I see any wild camels wandering around the desert I will notice and take some pictures for you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gone with the Net

When you just can't handle another second in the pool, which hardly ever happens, you can run down the driveway for another type of adventure.

Turn right at the old tree stump, run down the grass hill, and there you are, at the tennis court.

We lost Grandpa a few years ago, and a few years before that he lost the strength to play tennis. The court has been lonely.

It wasn't lonely this afternoon!

We found ball after ball after old half-dissolved tennis ball. Kids don't find things gross like grown-ups do.

The weeds were out of place but sure were fun to collect into fuzzy, beautiful bouquets.

Grandma's are great because they let the children put those allergy inducing weeds in a vase in the kitchen. Moms throw them to the side when the kids aren't looking.

Maybe one day the tennis court will see fast-paced action again. Love-40!!

But until then, it makes for a great running track!

This is summer in Connecticut.

Not Just for Kids

The pool isn't just enjoyable for children. Over the eight foot deep end is a new-ish diving board.

Diving board + Jerry = a one man splashing show-off show

He may be tall but he sure can whip his big body around in circles!

Not sure what's going on here.

Looks kind of fetal to me.

If you follow this super jump a few more seconds, you would next see the world's largest private pool wave EVER!!!

Hold on kids!! INCOMING!!!

Jerry's not the only one with mad backflipping skills!

(I can't believe I'm putting a video of me in a bathing suit online. Please be kind and realize this was made on the last day of our stay, after four days of heavy dinners and double deserts.)(That's my excuse anyway.)

This is summer in Connecticut.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Days at the Pool

One thing Grandma's house always has are really, really dark rooms for sleeping.

Ahhhh. Sleep.

When you do finally manage to wake up from your mini-coma, the sun is usually bright and waiting for you to come and enjoy its warm rays.

From the stool at Grandpa's chair, you can look down the hill and see the pool.

It's rippling blue waters beckon even the littlest of swimmers.

Come to me. Swim in me. I am waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiting!!

After breakfast and an impatient scramble into swimsuits, it's a mad dash down to the pool.

Let the pruned toes begin!!!

It's a gorgeous pool, shallow enough for youngsters and deep enough for oldsters. Warm enough for quick submersion, cool enough to stay refreshing.

In a word: Perfect.

The corner set of stairs with the fun railing to spin around and around is a favorite of the pee-wee set.

While the rafts, diving rings, and Dads are a favorite of the school-agers.

After a long day of swimming, after your feet are sore from pushing off of the bottom, your eyes are stinging from umpteen hours of opening your eyes underwater, and after you have developed sea legs, it's time to drudge back up to the house.

And the short hill that you so quickly ran down in the morning seems like a mountain on your heavy, water-logged legs.

But with a hearty dinner, another night of coma-like sleeping, you're ready to do it all again tomorrow!

This is summer in Connecticut.

Summer in Connecticut

This is where my sister and I spent a greater part of each summer during our childhood. We grew up under the deep blue sky, deep green trees, and deep love of grandparents.

This is Connecticut in the summer.

From the house you can look down the hill and see the pool.

Ahh, the pool. The memories made in that pool, the shear amounts of pee I peed in that pool.

This is Connecticut in the summer.

Keep going past the pool and you can see the tennis court at the bottom of the hill. I loved playing tennis when I was a kid. No one would play with me because I sucked and if Paige is any indication of how I was as a child I must have been a real bear to try and coach.

So mostly I ran around in circles on the tennis court. But that's fun, too!

This is summer in Connecticut.

If you're bored from the pool or the tennis court, you can always play under the shade of these enourmous maple trees.

It's not hot, not buggy, and not boring.

This is Connecticut in the summer.

Now it's my kids turn to experience the wonder and pleasures of Connecticut in the summer.

Join us, won't you?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Boat Trip Part 2

So there we were, cruising around the beautiful Lake Amistad enjoying the warm sun, cool breeze, and salty peanut butter sandwiches.

Minding our own business.

Do you know what happens when a small child is walking on the deck of a moving boat and the boat comes to sudden and startled stop?

Phoebe, the Super-baby missile!!!

(Luckily I have the reflexes of a much younger woman. NOT. Luckily Phoebe was wearing a very soft and bouncy life jacket!)

So there we were, floating aimlessly in the middle of a lake, under a hot, hot sun, breeze gone, and sandwiches now fish food after flying through the air.

What to do?

Hey Jerry. Whatchoo doing sitting up front?

I see our wake but who is driving?

Oh, I see! The salty old lake-bird from the marina is tugging us back to the marina behind a really old and sad looking ski boat!

There can be good that comes from a broken boat. Now there is plenty of time for playing with Dad, the kids favorite person.

And Josh can steer the boat to his hearts content.

I didn't get any photos of the exchange, but a different boat dude from the marina met us about halfway back with a replacement pontoon boat. As we were planning on calling it a day anyway before the first boat broke we decided to just cruise on back to the marina.

It didn't take us long before we realized there was something wrong with this new boat. When we first boarded it, we noticed how wet everything was, like someone had just sprayed it with a hose. That's what I assumed the marina-man had done to warsh away the spiders and other various creepy crawly stow-aways so pervasive on the marina's boats.

But after a few more miles per hour, the mystery of the water was solved.

It was like our own personal spray ground right there on pontoon boat #2!

The water just splashed and splashed up onto the decking, coming from the front left corner. The kids had a blast standing in the oncoming deluge! See, they even had their own swimming pool on the front left bench!

I had the only dry seat on board in the front right corner. Poor Jerry who was once again acting Skipper was wetter than them all!

His cheeks hurt from laughing by the time we made it back to the marina.

So despite our first broken boat, then second breaking boat, we had a really fun time on the lake. We got to see some goats, "check the pH" of the water, get splashed violently over and over, and eat lots of snacks. Over all a great day!

And we were reminded yet again why we will never, ever, never ever ever ever ever buy a boat again.

We'll just keep breaking the ones at the marina instead!