Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Well, That Wasn't Much of a Winter (Here in South Texas)

 At Ranchito Hondo, Texas...

I know, I know.  It has been more than two months since I've posted. I can only take so much fussin' now, so give me a little slack. We've already talked about this...if we're not traveling, we're just not going to bore you with mundane details about which no one is interested. With this in mind, I'll give you a few of the more unusual goings-on and then include my latest column that I write for my hometown advertising/local interest newspaper; I enjoy that quite a lot.

I've had fun here at our local old folks' RV park. Most of the time, we're in short sleeves except for about a week when it dipped below freezing a few times. Now, the trees are almost fully leafed out, and we're running the A/Cs. I've been doing some keyboard playing over the last few months which everyone seems to enjoy. You can catch that and other silliness on my YouTube channel. Just go to YouTube and input "Mike Mills P515" or "Mike Mills Battle of the Keyboards" and you can wander around in there. I've got to learn to dress a little better when I'm doing these videos. I'm still new at it. Some of the videos are OLD! If you see the quartet singing at the old sanctuary at First Baptist Dallas, the pianist is yours truly.

I'm really enjoying my new digital piano, which is a top-of-the-line Yamaha P-515. Its keyboard is the same as a grand piano's, and so is the sound, in my opinion.   

The piano playing has come to a screeching halt for a couple of months, however, as I have just had surgery on my left wrist/thumb to relieve some increasing arthritis pain. I put up with it for a long time, but it eventually restricted my left hand reach to an octave rather than its usual tenth, so I knew it was time to get help. I had the surgery a few days ago, and this is what my left hand looks like right now:

Six weeks, they say, to get the cast off and 2-3 months after that for back to normal.  This is a well-proven surgery that's been around a long time, so I'm hopeful to reach the tenth again.  Gonna take a lot of practice to get back to normal after being away from the piano so long.

We got some good news the other day: Mary, a wonderful blogger from Reflections Around the Campfire, whose postings I eagerly read and who is almost as OCD as I in the propriety of prose used, is headed to Texas in the fall with her family. We've never met, but we will this time, and meetups with virtual blogger friends is such a rush; we can't wait.

As we get older, we keep the medical and dental professions awash in cash, but one can't do much about the frequency of visits when things wear out as they do. That makes for a lot of trips into San Antonio, something we always enjoy.

So now, I'll leave you with the aforementioned column. I hope you find it interesting. I'll get back to y'all when I get around to it. Thank you for your patience!

Air Mail: The Early Days

And a Second Time Around--

 Right Here in East Texas


Some folks are vaguely aware through their studies in history of the beginnings of air mail flights in the United States during the earliest days of aviation. The experiment began in 1911 by the U. S. Army Signal Corps, which developed into the U. S. Army Air Corps in 1926 and, ultimately, into the U. S. Air Force in 1947. Because of the primitive nature of the earliest “production” aircraft—open-cockpit biplanes whose fabric-covered wings were held in position largely by wires—and the inexperience of the pilots, who largely had to learn to fly on their own, air crashes were numerous and deadly.

The Signal Corps decided that assisting in the longtime goal of the U. S. Post Office for faster mail delivery might be accomplished by flying mail via its airplanes—initially from New York to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The Corps had their own motive, however; they thought the straight routes between large cities with plenty of landmarks could help the pilots gain more experience, both in flying and navigating, thereby helping reduce the horrendous accident rate. It was not uncommon then for pilots frequently to find themselves lost, as there were few, if any, radio navigation aids at the time and no radios in the cockpits to receive signals. The pilots had only rather primitive maps that pointed out cities and significant objects on the ground, and the airplanes had compasses that were notoriously unstable and difficult to read.

This mail-flying experiment had some success, finally stretching coast-to-coast, but accidents, while lessened in number, were many, and the air mail was eventually tendered in 1926 to the nascent airlines that had begun to develop.

Few people know that the U. S. Postal Service tried flying the mail a second time nationwide some fifty years later. Even fewer know that east Texas—the same area reached by the very publication you’re reading right now—was involved. And you might be surprised to learn that the pilot who flew those nightly mail runs from Lufkin to Dallas was none other than yours truly, the humble author of this piece.

I was 21 years old, and it was my first real flying job. My first flight began on May 8, 1968, almost exactly fifty years after the first of those primitive mail flights began on May 15, 1918. While, like most young men, I felt indestructible at the time, so I had little hesitation about a checkout in an ancient Beech 18, a type derived from an old military C-45 and considerably more challenging than is normally allowed for a relatively novice pilot like me. It had Pratt and Whitney R-985 radial engines and was considered by most pilots as a bit squirrelly, especially upon landing, due to its tailwheel configuration, requiring the initial touchdown on the main landing gear then lowering the tail to the runway. This could be tricky with the then-reduced forward visibility, especially in a crosswind.

I loved flying the old airplane, and, after a while, it felt a part of me. I must admit, however, that the many flights I made in it were not without a few tense moments. Like the pioneer mail pilots of 1918, I learned more about flying during the five years of flying east Texas’ nightly mail than in most of the rest of my aviation career. I’m including a photo of one of the Beech 18s I flew at the time, taken at what was then called Del Rentzel field in Nacogdoches:


The postal carriers would gather mail in trucks from all over east Texas during the day and bring it to the Lufkin post office, where it would be sorted and sent out to the Angelina Country Airport, where it would be loaded onto my airplane for its flight to Dallas Love Field.  Takeoff time was about 9 p.m., and I made a stop in Palestine to pick up another load that had been gathered from that area. I arrived in Dallas at about 10:30 p.m., along with as many as a dozen other mail planes that had arrived from other cities around Texas. Postal workers would take the mail from the airplanes in trucks to a sorting facility and, at about 2:00 a.m., the armada of mail planes would depart for their return trips, loaded with the next day’s mail that would be flown out to their airports of origin and distributed among the dozens of small towns from which the previous day’s loads had originated. I would touch down in Lufkin at about 3:30 a.m., after which the mail was taken to the Lufkin post office and sorted again for delivery around east Texas.

During this era, first-class mail was carried along with the air mail in order to have a sufficient load; first-class was placed in green sacks, and air mail in gold ones. Eventually, air mail would cease to exist; it would become “Priority Mail.” This same scenario was carried out in a hub-and-spoke system across the U. S. five or six nights per week.

This second mail-by-airplane experiment lasted about as long as it did the first time in 1918. By 1976, it was largely over. I’m not sure why it ceased, for I had moved on to airline flying by then.

Flying the mail was a heady time for this east Texas-bred boy from Nacogdoches, and I have a few stories to tell about it, including how a mail pilot (me) got to visit with Ray Price under these unusual circumstances. 

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Sunday, January 1, 2023

So Whatever Happened to Pig Stands?

 At Forest Retreat RV Park, New Caney, Texas...

We are in the last few days of the Christmas/New Year's/Grandson Pryce's birthday celebrations before returning to Ranchito Hondo. We have had a grand time visiting family and friends, and we cherish each moment with them. So as not to overdo the photos of such festivities in this blog that's supposed to be about travels, we will skip the family/friends photos this time and perhaps bore you with them on another occasion, when the changes in all our appearances may be more evident--some for the better and some, unfortunately--well, age does take its toll, doesn't it?

Since a family visit doesn't really count as a new travel experience, I'm going to post another of my columns from Around the Town, my hometown advertising newspaper. These seem to have met with a good deal of interest in the paper so, sharing them with you seems like a good idea when we're not really on the road to new territories.

Here we go:

So Whatever Happened to Pig Stands?

If you have read a few of my columns, you know by now that I tend to harken back to the days of my youth, when things seemed, well, normal. I often think of my teen years in Nacogdoches and some now long-gone eating joints like the Top Burger where, in high school, I could get a burger, fries and a Coke for 50 cents…I kid you not!  There were also the late-night hangouts, like John’s Restaurant on South Street, a favorite chicken fried steak emporium and, also on South Street--how many iced mugs of root beer did I drink from the old A&W stand? Who knows? And let’s not forget the Caraban, way out north on U. S. 59; I think they had an especially good charburger.

But this story is not about the restaurant ghosts of Nacogdoches’ past; I’m writing about Pig Stands. Now you probably won’t remember Pig Stands unless you have quite a few decades under (over?) your belt, but there were more of them than you probably realize—more than 120, in fact, throughout the U. S. They started in Dallas in 1921, just when the automobile began to achieve some real popularity. Being quite a visionary, George Kirby took note of the increasing number of cars on the road and decided to offer them curb service food, complete with carhops, resulting in the first restaurant drive-in in the country. 

The Pig Stand’s signature sandwich, as you might expect, was the Pig Sandwich. This was a big hit before the world’s insatiable craving for beef burgers took off. The Pig Stand also has the distinction of inventing fried onion rings! As the legend goes, one of the cooks wondered what it would be like to put some breading on onions and toss them into the fryer; the rest is history.

Now, let’s fast forward 102 years. During the meantime, changes in ownership, bad business decisions and non-payment of taxes began a gradual winnowing of the restaurants over the years. Guess how many Pig Stands are left from the original 120 or so?  If you said “none,” you would have matched my guess. But imagine my surprise when Sandy and I, quite by accident, ran across the very last one in operation. It has been there since 1967, near downtown San Antonio, buried underneath an I-10 interchange. It is rather shopworn, and the drive-in part is shut down, home now to a few junky vehicles. As you can tell from the photo, the sign has faded, and the pink art-deco design was out-of-date when the place was built more than 50 years ago. Also gone are the Friday night hot rod gatherings that were all the rage back then.

We had to stop there, of course. Luckily, we hadn’t had lunch, and judging from the rundown look of the place, it had a potential for a death knell itself. We knew this could be our only opportunity ever to patronize a Pig Stand.

To our utter delight, the inside had the same corny d├ęcor of many restaurants of the ‘50s and ‘60s. We even gasped when we saw the juke box play selectors at the booths. Could this have gotten any better? And we hadn’t even been seated yet! We were led to a booth by an ancient server in a waitress’ uniform, of all things! I didn’t get her name, as I usually do; my senses were overloaded as it was. Looking over at the juke box selector (I can’t remember if there was a different term for them back when they were popular), I could see that the Beach Boys were still going strong, as were Elvis, Marvin Gaye and Buddy Holly. My nostalgic rush was so strong, I almost didn’t notice when the menus were dropped on our table.

 If you think I would leave there without eating one of their famous pig sandwiches, you would be wrong. That’s what I ordered, and Sandy ordered a hamburger. Having no idea what their classic pig sandwich was like, I was a bit surprised when it arrived. It consisted of thick slices of pork loin and dill pickles between two hamburger buns lathered with barbeque sauce. While it was a decent sandwich, the pork loin was sliced too thick to be tender and, if it had been smoked, it was not really evident. I’m thinking it was just roasted in an oven.


Sandy’s hamburger was declared to be “okay.”

Okay, so the meal wasn’t spectacular. It did not diminish, however, from the feeling I was young again and that Sandy and I were on a date, listening to Bobby Vinton crooning away from the jukebox. I was in heaven.

Looking around, we couldn’t help but notice a vast collection of ceramic pigs in every pose and caricature you could imagine. You can see part of the collection in the photo. I especially liked the pig in a chef’s uniform and the pig on a motorcycle. 


I’m pretty sure all the pigs were for sale because an older couple were standing at the cash register in front, peering into a glass case at a selection of ceramic pigs inside. Our server was there, pointing to the various pigs, most of which appeared to be piggy banks. I overheard her say to the couple while pointing to one of the larger piggy banks, “Now, this one is two hundred dollars.” I was a bit taken aback by this, but I didn’t know if it was a rare artifact or if that was the going price. That’s probably because I have not shopped for any ceramic piggy banks lately.

I guess I’ll recover before long from this blast from the past. I even told Sandy I might try to get a ducktail haircut next time. Always a bastion of support, she said, “Well, you better hurry; that’s about all you’ve got left.”

Oh, the places we go and the places we’ve been. I hope sharing our travels brings back some good memories for you, too.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Ardmore Millionaires and the "Mexicat Restaurant"

 At Ranchito Hondo, Hondo, Texas...

Our Branson trip was fun, as always. It happens to be one of our favorite places because it is one of the few towns left that remind us of our early years when life was simpler and entertainment was just clean fun. It's a place where "going woke" means nothing more than waking up in the morning. It's near beautiful Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks, and we have given serious thought on numerous occasions to actually moving there. But not for now.

Since we're back at Ranchito Hondo, and there hasn't been much to post about lately, I thought I would just post the latest monthly column that I write for a mostly-advertising newspaper in my home town of Nacogdoches, Texas. So here goes:

Growing up in Nacogdoches, I was never far from a source of fried catfish, either from family kitchens or catfish joints around east Texas. It is a favorite, of course, and a craving for this delicacy cannot be satisfied in many of the places we roam. It was when we were approaching Ardmore, Oklahoma, while traveling from Branson back to Texas, that a catfish craving hit me, so I asked Sandy to check on her phone for a catfish joint and, lo and behold, a highly-rated one was listed—Catfish Corner. I made a quick check on Google Earth to see if our huge car-towing bus could be parked nearby and, once again, the gods were smiling; there was a vacant lot next door! (If you ever acquire a large motorhome, this pre-visit visual check will become second nature to you.)

We asked Siri for directions and maneuvered our rig to the restaurant at the corner of Commerce and McCullough in Ardmore:

We couldn’t help but notice that beneath the “Catfish Corner” sign was another one that read “El Palacio of Fine Mexican Food.”  I figured there were two separate restaurants in the building, but no—upon entering, it was clear that it was a catfish/Mexican restaurant—a first in all our travels over seven decades of living.

We were met at the door by the owner, John Burkhart, dressed in jeans and a green-checkered shirt, tail out, that appeared to be freshly acquired from Goodwill. He greeted us warmly, as though we were long-lost cousins. I was immediately reminded of the late Sam Shepherd, who was similarly accommodating at his legendary restaurant that was once a Nacogdoches icon. As John showed us to our table, I took note of the food adorning the tables at the packed restaurant and, to my surprise, noticed that most of the patrons were eating Mexican food, which was advertised underneath the catfish signage outside. This piqued my curiosity, of course, but we were all set for catfish, which was every bit as good as it appeared on the platter.

 It wasn’t long until John began making his rounds of every table to ask the customers if everything was okay. (Again, I thought of Sam Shepherd.) When he stopped at our table, I had to engage him about the strange two-restaurants-in-one concept. He said the place opened in 1967 as a Mexican restaurant, but he felt there was a need for a good catfish place in Ardmore, so he just made it “twofer.” He said it is now one of the ten best catfish places in Oklahoma, and “there are a lot of ‘em.” Based on the delicious fresh filets we had, I’m pretty sure he was correct.

Then I asked about my observation that most of the diners appeared to be having Mexican food. He said, “Oh, we’re famous for that, too, especially the chile rellenos; I think they’re the best anywhere.” I was tempted to order one for dessert, but there was just no way after gorging on the catfish.

John and I talked again at the front of the restaurant when I was paying the tab. I noticed a photo of a trailer laden with more chile peppers than I had ever seen and asked him about it:

“We go to Hatch, New Mexico every season and load up on these chiles for our rellenos,” said John. “That’s me on the left; this trailer load won’t last us a full year nowadays; looks like we’re going to need a bigger trailer.”

Suitably impressed at the enormity of the haul, I wished even more that I had tried one, but there was just no room. I vowed to come back, however.

As we were about to leave, I asked him a little about Ardmore’s history. He rubbed his chin for a moment and then said, “Did you know that Ardmore once had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country?” I blinked, wishing to know more, but John was swept away, glad-handing another couple who had just walked in the door.

I looked up John’s millionaire claim, by the way, and he was right. After a nearby oil discovery in 1912, a boom quickly developed and, for a while way back then, Ardmore indeed sported more millionaires per capita than anywhere else.

We never know what interesting things we will find on our journeys, but a “Mexicat” restaurant and an Ardmore full of millionaires are a couple of surprises we never expected.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Sunday, October 30, 2022

On the Road Again

 At America's Best Campground, Branson, Missouri...

After spending a few weeks at Ranchito Hondo, it was time for yet another adventure. Unfortunately, the nature of this trip was sufficiently time-consuming that I haven't had much opportunity for writing a post. Well, maybe I have, but time with family and friends has just been more important, as you can imagine.

One of the main reasons for this fall trip was to celebrate daughter Mindy's birthday and to spend a week with her and Tyler and the grandsons. Mindy seemed to enjoy her birthday dinner out at El Palenque, our favorite Houston-area Mexican restaurant:

Of course, it is not unlike her dad to do some monkeyshines at such an event, and I'm sure I embarrassed her adequately.

Son-In-Law Tyler did me a great favor in doing a temporary repair to Phannie's instrument panel (the right side where the rearview camera screen, radio and a/c controls are). It appears the lightweight plastic panel was all that was holding these items in place and, after 16 years, an ill-placed screw at the factory finally caused the plastic panel to break in a critical spot, causing these items to fall inward with no support. We had just arrived in the Houston area, and we were in a mess. Tyler, whose business is construction (he builds things like airport terminals and football stadiums), dropped everything and perfectly designed a metal backing for the plastic panel, into which he repositioned the abovementioned displaced components. We are so proud of Tyler; we think of him as our very own son.  

After Mindy's birthday celebration and spoiling the grandsons, we headed to Branson to meet up with friends and attend a three-day gospel concert. Here are some of them:

Beyond Sandy and me in the photo above are LouAnn and Bubba, Mary Lou and Harvey. Missing are Carolyn and Larry, who had family obligations and couldn't make this get together. They are all wonderful people who are more like family than friends.

We had a great time at the concerts, seeing shows, shopping and dining out as old friends do. Much laughter was had by all--definitely good for the soul.

One of our meals was out at the Big Cedar Lodge complex south of Branson, and the autumn foliage was so beautiful that we just had to get some photos. These don't quite equal fall color in New England, but for the Ozarks, they aren't too shabby:

We are at the end of this fall trip, and how blessed we are to have the ability to travel and enjoy our relationships as we do. We hear so many stories about people who are unable to enjoy their golden years for one reason or another. Perhaps the most heartbreaking are those who didn't retire when they could and had little or no enjoyment of times like these.  

We are headed back to Texas, and we'll catch you up again, well, when I feel like it!  (Ha!)

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Monday, September 12, 2022

Goodbye, Colorado...For a While

 At Lone Star Corral Escapees Co-Op, Hondo, Texas...

Our last few days in the Gunnison area were a blast. Besides our usual roadies Jackie and Steve, we were joined by Bubba and LouAnn as well as Hank and Shirleen. 

After my playing a couple of hours' dinner music for the end-of-season party at Palisades RV Park, we had the idea that we would go off-roading in Bubba's new Jeep. But more about that later. 

The first requirement was a rousing game of 42 (an old domino game that actually takes some skill, for you youngsters who don't know about it). Hank and I beat Sandy and Shirleen, but they hurried to declare that it was just by a hair. Nevertheless, a victory is a victory, and we'll take it.

Our next adventure before Hank and Shirleen arrived was a trip to Tin Cup, Colorado--a tiny place with a single restaurant, Frenchy's, where there is a jumping-off point for an off-road trek that was my first serious one. Here are photos of the restaurant and our group. Jackie and Steve were with us this time; Hank and Shirleen had not yet arrived.

The object for the guys after lunch was to reach Tin Cup Pass, which was the continental divide in the area. The girls said, "No way; we're headed back to Crested Butte to do some shopping." And poof! They were gone. The guys settled into the Jeep for the 13-mile rocky, wandering drive that required three hours to navigate another four thousand feet up the mountain! The road, while not necessarily cliff-hanging in nature, was so rough that I was sure we would lose some essential part off the Jeep and be stranded until our bodies were discovered in the spring. I'm also pretty sure that our incredible bounce house inside the Jeep rearranged some of my internal body parts. I wouldn't be at all surprised if an x-ray showed that my spleen and appendix have exchanged locations.  Here are photos of the trail and proof of our arrival at Tin Cup Pass, elevation 12,154 feet:

Much to my amazement, the Jeep seemed to operate normally when it returned to a paved road, so I have a good deal more respect for the vehicle now. Perhaps my concerns were overblown, but I still checked afterward to see if all the fillings were still in my teeth. Here is a photo of the Jeep when new as LouAnn and Bubba were taking delivery at the dealership. Little did it know the torture that was awaiting it in Colorado:

Our adventures were not over with the torture of off-roading at Tin Cup. A guest lecturer at our park--a professor from the local university--revealed a number of interesting details about the mining industry in northern Gunnison county, especially about the marble quarry located at Marble, Colorado--not far from Crested Butte. He told us that the Yule Quarry at Marble was a stunningly large deposit of marble and that all the marble inside the Colorado state capitol building had come from there, as had the tomb of the unknown soldier, a vastly complex and difficult undertaking that required an entire year, beginning in 1930, to lift it from the mine and transport it to Washington, DC. With such history in mind, I declared we would be going there, even though it would require another off-road bounce fest afterward; fortunately, that one was not nearly as challenging as Tin Cup. 

Before we got to that part, however, we stopped in the town of Marble (population 162) to have lunch at the only restaurant in town, Slow Groovin' BBQ. Now, listen here: It is worth the trip to eat the fare at this place. The cook had to be a Texan, as it was easily the best BBQ we had eaten in Colorado:

We also walked around some outdoor inventory of a shop that deals in artist-finished marble pieces that had originated in the Yule quarry. Take a gander at this gorgeous group of marble horses that can be yours for $125,000. Yes, you read that right:

Then it came time for the guys to begin their off-road trek to see one of the most photographed places in Colorado: The Crystal Hill Mine.  As before, the girls, showing far better sense than their husbands, begged off and headed back to Crested Butte to see if they had inadvertently left something on the stores' shelves from the day before.

Of course, I would like to have seen the quarry itself, but this was not allowed. The Yule Quarry is owned by Carrera Marble of Italy; I highly recommend that you look it up on the web and in Google Images. There is vastly too much information and photos available there than I could possibly include here.

Since we had no place to carry the horse sculpture in the Jeep, we opted to head up to Crystal City, the off-road part I mentioned earlier. The goal here was to take our own photos of the Crystal Hill Mine, a professional photographer's dream shot. I'll show you my photo below. On the way, however, we enjoyed some gorgeous scenery and some of the clearest mountain streams we had ever seen--many like this one that was nearby:

Okay, drum roll! Here is the payoff for our bouncy ride to the Crystal Hill Mine. Perhaps you have seen a photo of this in Colorado visitors' guides. It will definitely be made into a print for our wall.

We only wished it had been a bit later in September, so the Aspens would have turned yellow in the background. That would be stunning, for sure.

There was no shortage of things to see on our way back, such as this unusual red rock formation:

We really must include something whimsical here, as any group of guys--no matter how old--never really grow up. Seeing the sign below hanging from a porch on someone's house, we pulled in their driveway and shot a photo. I can't imagine what the homeowners thought about our bold trespassing, but I have even less idea what the sign means:

As we bade goodbye to our last touring day in Colorado, we couldn't help but take one more photo of the grandeur of the mountain scenery:

The final photo shows three of the four couples together at a dinner at Mike's Garlic Restaurant located by the Gunnison River. From left to right are Sandy, Mike, Shirleen, Hank, LouAnn and Bubba. A great time was had by all, and we hated to leave our incredible surroundings.

Our trip back to Hondo was uneventful, but Texas was calling, and we felt very blessed to have made our escape during the summer when our glorious state is not so hospitable.

Our next adventure?  To see the kids, of course, then off to Branson, where we will spend about a month, then back to Hondo.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Friday, September 2, 2022

Sharing the Cool Mountains With Friends

 At Palisades RV Park, Gunnison, Colorado...

It has seemed like another world here as we occasionally check the temperature back in Texas and find it sometimes 40 degrees warmer than at our 8,000-ft. elevation. Now that we're into late August/early September, it is getting even cooler, and we run the heater almost every night. 

I have been fulfilling my very enjoyable "gig" playing the piano for park events, including Sunday Bible study and popular old standard tunes as well. I had been wanting a portable keyboard so, in anticipation of this summer's music activity, I purchased a Yamaha P-515, an amazing instrument that has the same keyboard as a Yamaha grand piano. (If you're a pianist, you know the importance of a weighted keyboard complete with wooden keys.) I'll include a short sample video:  

(Sorry for the gross-looking arm boo-boo. Getting clumsy in my old age.)

We occasionally have the honor of meeting some of our blog readers--on this occasion, a couple who, by chance, were staying here in Palisades for a few days. Fellow Texans, we have determined to meet up when we get back home and become better acquainted.  Meet Mike and Lynn. Great folks, these are:

Along with friends Jackie and Steve, who have joined us here--but at another park--we have enjoyed a number of side trips with beautiful scenery. I'm afraid there are many photos included here, but I have many more for which I didn't have room. If only everyone could spend summer in a place like this! 

Looking eastward toward Salida from the summit of Monarch Pass.

Waterfall into a crystal clear pool near Crested Butte. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Thornton)

Yellow flowers abound in a field. (Photo courtesy of Jackie Thornton)

Valley north of Crested Butte (photo courtesy of Jackie Thornton)

Beautiful flowers everywhere. These blue ones are larkspur, I think.

Loved this photo of a bee on one of the larkspur flowers.

A beautiful drive to Lake City, not far from Gunnison.

A view southwest toward Lake City

Cool, crystal clear Cebolla Creek near Lake City.

Downtown Lake City, Colorado

California Poppy planting at Lake City

Dining on the bank of the Gunnison River in Gunnison at Mike's Italian Restaurant.

Flowers in Crested Butte

More flowers in Crested Butte

Downtown Crested Butte with Crested Butte Mountain in the background.

Even more flowers in Crested Butte.

For those who requested, my latest monthly column for my hometown advertiser newspaper is available on page 28 in the following link: .  I also have articles on page 26 in the August and July issues.

We're being joined by friends Bubba and LouAnn and possibly Hank and Shirleen very soon. There will be more adventures in the offing!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood