A Texas Tale

While researching day trips, I stumble across a website listing all of the towns in Texas. As I started reading the list, I laughed and told Steve, “There has to be a story in here.” So, here it is! Everything underlined below is the name of a town in Texas, or at least it was at one time. If you don’t believe me, check out Texas Escapes.


A blog Post by Laura Mahoney

Uncertain of her Fate, Mary stood with her arms around Granny’s Neck, Salty tears streamed down her face. While Granny was Happy to Comfort her, she had Little Hope Mary would not end up in Exile. Mary released her grasp and sat down next to the Running Water of Devil’s River, a Big Stinking Creek. A Big Lump rose in her throat as she sat to Ponder the Odds of her Birthright as the Diddy Wa Diddy of Toadsuck would earn her any Goodwill. Granny was the only person in her family who understood what she had done was as natural as breathing Air or putting Gasoline in a Mercedes. To her dad, what she had done was worse than drinking Java from a Teacup.  Her bothers, Mutt And Jeff, were squarely in Dad’s Corner. There wasn’t much Time to set the Record straight. With Dad being the Admiral of Zipperlandville, he had Ample time to Call Ranger Squeezepenny Who’d Thought It would be Best if Mary lost her Liberty. Squeezepenny was on the Cheapside and wouldn’t be swayed with the Dime Box that Fairy Kickapoo had given her. He had no sense of Fair Play and was, just in general, a Fink.

“Stop Weeping Mary, I have a couple ideas how to get you out of this mess,” said Granny, “I want you to get pen and paper so you can Jot ‘Em Down.”

“Granny, that Round Rock you are sitting on looks terribly uncomfortable. Don’t you think we should Retreat to the Alligator School House and sit on the Couch with a Blanket?”

“We don’t have time to go to the Boys Ranch if you want to keep your freedom.”

Granny was Midway through her sentence when the Bishop from Martha’s Chapel galloped out of the Green Meadow. He rode atop a Grey Mule and his Silver hair shone like a Gem in the Rising Sun.

“Mary!” he hailed. “I’ve just come from The Woodlands. Fairy Kickapoo told me of your troubles. I wanted to be a Good Neighbor and offer a Blessing from Saint Hedwig. And, as a Bonus, I’ve asked Saint Jo to ring the Bells at Fort Godbehere.”

Welcome, Bishop Ysteta. Thank you for your concern for my Welfare. How are things in the Woods?”

“Ah, I’m afraid the woods have turned into a Shadowland. Commerce has slowed down and there is no pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow. Mercury, Pluto and Mars have fallen out of the Zodiac like a Comet and folks have lost their sense of Security.”

“Isn’t a Mercury a Sedan not a Star?” asked Mary.

“Actually, it’s a planet discovered by the Gent on Science Hill. You are thinking of Saturn, which used to be a Car made in Detroit.”

Granny cleared her throat and said Point Blank, “If I could have a Word, Bishop Ysteta, we can Circle Back to your troubles in a moment. Right now, Mary has a few things she needs to do before Sundown! After which, I will be Content to Converse with you over a bowl of Oatmeal, if you brought a Raisin.”

“You are quite right, it won’t be long until Sunset. As I see it, there are Four Points Mary needs to make to keep her Freer than Shacklefoot.”

Three points,” interrupted Mary.

Okay, it’s your Choice, but you can’t make a Circle if you Zigzag all over the place.”

Just then an Easterly breeze crossed the Trio as a Canadian Crow flew to a nearby Arbor. It was like something out of Dreamland, it had a Bigfoot and a Baby Head. It looked more like a Turkey. It didn’t even look like it could Fly. As it started to squawk, a Chickenfeather fell from its beak. Granny turned Lily White and cried “Eureka! Now I know the Link between Frog and Frognot.”

Mary and the Bishop wondered if the entire Universe had gone Plum Looneyville. “Why the White Face Granny,” they cried in unison.

“I know how to get you a New Deal and that Nimrod Squeezepenny won’t be able to get a Nickel from your Old Dime Box! Gather around and I’ll tell you the Ideal plan,” said Granny with a Wink. It only took her Nine minutes to lay out the details. If things didn’t work out, they would have to Cut and Shoot their way back to Utopia.

The first part of the plan hinged on being able to get some Coldwater from the Artesia Wells and the Wizard Wells for a Bath. This would not be an easy task. The wells were at the back of a Cactus filled Canyon, just past the Burning Bush. The Stagecoach only ran as far as Electric City, so the three of them piled into a Van for the remainder of the journey, stopping once at the Oasis Gas Station. They were nearing Bug Tussle when Granny saw the Big Lake created by the Beaver Dam. Luckily, Hinkle’s Ferry was on the far side of the lake, so the Guy piloting it did not have a View of them.

“The canyon should be just around the next Bend,” Mary said. The only container they had to Draw the water was a Leaky bucket Granny had taken from Skellytown.

“We Needmore water or it’s going to look like we came from Mudville,” said the Bishop.

“Well, that’d be a Damsite better than Cementville, if you ask me!” replied Granny.

Thinking quickly, Mary grabbed some Clay and used a Sharp Stick to plug the hole in the bucket. Now I won’t lose another Drop she thought. After cleaning up, everyone put on a Crisp pair of Knickerbocker(s), anxious for the next part of the plan – the disguise!

Granny sat Mary in the Center of Ransom Canyon and wished she could have gone to Paul’s Store or Twin Groceries to get supplies, but keeping the Cost down is the number one Rule when you are on the Run. The Key is being able to Roundup whatever you need.

“We’ll just have to make do Mary. First, we are going to Dye your Golden hair Black, then we’ll use a little Carbon to add a Dimple to your chin. Bishop, hand me those Scissors, I need to Cutoff the Dull Swastika on her shirtsleeve. It’s nothing but Scrap anyhow.”

Granny beamed with Pride as she thought about her days in the Orphan’s Home. Who would have known all those Art classes would come in handy. Now, you couldn’t tell if Mary was a Pearl or a Pebble. Just a bit of Cologne and they would be ready for phase three. They Heard the Boom of the Cannon before they saw the Gunsight, but Mary had Grit and wasn’t about to let the Hunter find her.

“Run child, you know what to do now,” hollered the Bishop as the Impact of the cannonball sent Deadwood flying around them. It was looking like Gun Barrel City as Mary reached the Junction of Moonshine Hill and the Medicine Mound. As she turned West, she saw a Mustang standing on the Lawn of Chapman Ranch, almost as if it was waiting for her. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, she swung her leg over his back and began to gallop. She was beginning to have Hope.  As the Pony began to tire, she decided they should stop and rest awhile near Cat Spring. Perhaps she could catch some Catfish for dinner and she could really use some Coffee or a Coke. She dismounted when she found an area with some Seclusion. She didn’t want the Hunt to be over just yet. Exhausted, she had almost let the sound of the Dripping Springs Lull her to sleep. When she heard a Click in the distance she was instantly alert. Mary yelled Geronimo and threw herself into The Ditch. Keeping her head low, Mary was able to see through the Groves of Cedar trees. It turned out to be Joe Lee from Fort Spunky.

“Mary,” he whispered. “Mary, are you here? Bishop Ysleta send me! He said the password was Ding Dong. We have to hurry, Mary, Ranger Squeezepenny is Hot on your trail!”

Mary rose from her hiding spot and came face to face with Joe Lee. He was a handsome young man, but a bit of a Lone Wolf. Mary was leery of accepting his help, but sundown was only hours away. Without him, she’d never make it across Iron Bridge and would be captured before Dawn.

“Captain Crawford told me to assist you any way I can. I’m ready to be your Shield, Ma’am, your Humble servant. The Captain told me there were others indebted to you but they will remain Nameless.”

“I don’t think that will be necessary, but, you are right, we should ride.”

Joe Lee was not a Novice horseman and the miles flew by. Finally, they reached Newcastle, alit in all its Glory.

As Mary walked across the drawbridge, Prince Onalaska ran to meet her. “Be Careful my dear, the moat is full of Quicksand. How did your family take it when you told them I asked you to be my Valentine?”

Since the Pickens were slim around here, Mary knew she had to get her Hooks in him before the last Sunray crossed the Earth. “Father was beside himself! He sent Ranger Squeezepenny to Pflugerville to find me. They want to exile me! But, my Loving Granny has a plan. She said if I make you my Groom and we decorate a Nursery, they will have to let us live happily ever after.”

Since Prince Onalaska liked living on the Edge, Mary was just his Type. “We will be Trueloves forever,” he proclaimed.

“I will Telephone the Temple and Tell them the good news,” Mary promised.

“And I will send a Telegraph to your father, at once.”

It was a lovely spring wedding up on Flower Hill. Everyone was in attendance and as the happy couple rode off into the sunset, the last thing anyone heard was Goodnight.

 

THE END


Have you ever visited any of these places? What is the strangest town name you know of?

Day Tripping

Striking a balance between work and play is something everyone strives for. And when it’s time to play, lots of things factor into how that time should be spent. I know I’ve repeatedly said how much I like free things to do. We’ve found, if you plan it right, you can get LOTS of fun for free. Our last 3 day trips are great examples of frugal fun!

DAY TRIP #1 – The Salt Palace – Grand Saline, Texas

Grand Saline, Texas is home to one of the largest salt mines in the US. The underground salt dome is 1 1/2 miles wide and over 4 miles deep, yes, I said MILES. In the late 1890’s, there were several salt producing companies. Around 1920 The Grand Saline Salt Company acquired them all and later became known as Morton Salt. By 1930, they were mining over 500 tons of salt daily. The building which houses the salt museum has the distinction of being the only building in the world built entirely of salt blocks…

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Inside is a neat collection of Morton Salt memorabilia…

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Morton stopped doing mine tours in the 1960’s. but there was a 20 minute movie showing some of the history and the mining operation. The cost to visit – nada! But donations are accepted.

DAY TRIP #2 – Grapefest, Grapevine, Texas

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We chose to head over to Grapevine on Thursday because…wait for it…it was free admission day!  Score!! There was free parking and a free shuttle. Every year Grapefest highlights different regions. This year it was wines from the Finger Lakes Region of New York and Canadian ice wines. Several years ago, Steve and I did the Seneca Lake wine tour, so we were already familiar with a few of the wineries. Of course that didn’t prevent me from sampling their goods.

Historic downtown Grapevine would have been worth the visit even without Grapefest, from the train depot…

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To the arts…

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But, it really was about the wine…

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DAY TRIP #3 – The Eiffel Tower – Paris, Texas

You don’t have to travel to France to see the Eiffel Tower. You do, however, have to go to Paris. In our case, Paris, Texas. This was another cool Atlas Obscura find.

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Right next to the tower is the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial…

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The memorial is only partially completed, but it is really well done.

So, what are we gong to do with all the money we saved by finding free day trips? Well, you’ll find out next week!

How do you find free things to do?

Critter Control

When we lived in New Hampshire, we had lots of wildlife on our property. It was always neat to look out the window and see the deer, turkeys and the occasional bear. I never had the urge to trap and relocate them. (Well, there was that time I trapped a chipmunk inside the bird feeder)

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Here in Texas, I take a different view. And, believe it or not, but it all started with kittens. Yep, kittens. Steve came home one evening and found 3 kittens eating out of Diesel’s food dish. While they were cute, they were wild. It seemed simple enough to discourage them – stop leaving dog food out at night. But there was one kitten who just wouldn’t give up. I started catching glimpses of it during the day and would hear muted meows from under Waldo. Driven by hunger and the thought of a free meal, the kitten started becoming bolder…

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And bolder…

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As you can see, Diesel didn’t seem to have any problem sharing his meal. But then, the kitten thought it would just move in… Um….NO!

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I don’t mind cats, but I have no interest in having any more pets. Nor do I have the ambition to tame a feral kitten. It had to go! There was an animal trap in the maintenance garage. Since dog food was obviously kitty’s favorite free lunch, I baited the trap. I stepped into Waldo, for all of about 3 minutes, and heard the trap spring. Resulting in one very unhappy kitty…

Since Steve had said he saw 3 kittens, I decided to reset the trap overnight. With my morning coffee in hand, I checked the trap. What I wasn’t expecting was this…

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An equally unhappy possum! With both kitty and Mr. Possum relocated (still within the park, just away from us) I thought we were critter free, and returned the trap. But alas…

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“Where’s lunch, meow” Really?!?!?! Back the the maintenance garage! This time kitty went for a long ride! Now it resides on a farm about 5 miles down the road.

With all of the critters re-homed, I think we are in the clear. But, you never know! There are lots of interesting things living in the park. I walked out of the office one day and found this…

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Another day, I found a wolf spider, carrying all her babies…

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I almost missed the katydid…

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Sometimes I just ride around the park looking for critters…

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I definitely think the snapping turtle was “barking up the wrong tree”. You truly never know what you are going to come across. Yesterday, I was out kayaking with a friend and spotted this…

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This billy goat watched us until we rounded the point, as if daring us to try and dock on HIS ground. And he was waiting for us when we came back…

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No critters were harmed in the writing of this post, with one exception. My final critter encounter ended in the untimely demise of a black widow spider…

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I just can’t have her living in the wood pile. Since she seemed very protective of her egg sac, I felt it was unlike she would move on of her own accord.

What kinds of critters have you encountered?

Out and about

As I mentioned in my last post, we are always looking for cheap (or, even better – free) things to do. One of my co-workcampers suggested we check out a website, www.Atlasobscura.com. According to their site, “Atlas Obscura catalogues the most unusual, surprising, and amazing places around the world, thanks to the discoveries shared by our intrepid community of travelers and explorers. There are now more than 11,000 incredible hidden wonders listed in the Atlas, …” We checked out the interactive map and found lots of places nearby. We plan to visit all of them, but we started in Royse City where we found this…

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Arriving at the vacant field, my first thought was the aliens had landed, then I thought maybe it was a piece of  abandoned playground equipment But having read the description, I knew it was a Futuro House. You can read all about it here. Walking through the field, I happened to notice some rather prickly looking plants…

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I don’t know what it is, but I wouldn’t want to brush against it! Having seen what we came to see, we decided to just drive around. You never know what you might come across.

If you followed my Touring NH blog, you know I love barns and farms. Most of the “farms” here are called ranches and they all seem to have one thing in common, huge front gates, announcing the name of the ranch…

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And the barns are different. Back in NH, they are usually wooden structures. Here they are mostly made of corrugated tin…

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But one thing is universal, an abandoned barn will fall eventually. I think the only thing holding up this barn is the tree in front of it…

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Fields go along with barns & farms/ranches and Texas has some lovely fields, full of beautiful flowers. The flowers seem to dominate the land, filling it with color…

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We stopped at another field and what I thought was a sea of white flowers turned out to be a tall-ish plant with bi-colored top leaves and tiny white flowers…

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I think it is called Snow-on-the-mountain.

Roadside flowers are sometimes planted to “beautify” or “naturalize” an area and Texas boasts of 19 different types of sunflowers. Regardless of the reason, stands of sunflowers have to make you smile…

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Last week, a storm moved through the area, dumping several inches of rain on us. A few days later, the newly drenched ground pushed up a surprise for me – rain lilies

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Another byproduct of the rain was mushrooms galore…

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The final gift from the storm was a sunset worth waiting for…

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Thank you for coming by!

A Day in Sulphur Springs

Steve spent the morning glued to his tablet. He’d been researching free or cheap things to do in the area and had found a couple possibilities. We packed a cooler with waters and a few snacks and headed out. I didn’t ask where we were going, I was just happy to “go along for the ride”. We took the now familiar route to Sulphur Springs and it didn’t take long to find our first stop, Coleman Park . The 186 acre city park has an 18 hole disc golf course. It wasn’t too surprising no one was playing, considering the fact it was nearly 100 degrees. Despite the heat, we set out on the 2 1/2 mile paved loop around the lake.

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There were plenty of wildflowers to keep my camera busy…

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And lots of winged wonders…

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This tree was loaded with seed/nut clusters. I don’t know what kind of tree it is, but I’ll bet the squirrels with be happy when the sees/nuts ripen.

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Sumacs lined part of the trail. I love the flower heads…

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We walked past an unused fishing pier…

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Another pier…

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Crossed bridges…

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We were nearing the end of the loop when we came around the bend to find this…

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As we walked through the tunnel, I stopped to check out the mud dauber’s handiwork…

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Emerging from the tunnel, I could hear the unmistakable sounds of a waterfall…

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The next section of the loop was definitely designed with little explorers in mind…

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I know when my boys were little, they would have loved climbing through the mountain!

It was early afternoon by the time we got back to the jeep, but Steve had one more place in mind to visit. We had a hard time finding the address, but, then again, the little blurb he had read online could have told us what we were looking for was in the city library!

The library showcases the St. Clair music box collection, reportedly, the world’s largest collection…

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Apparently, you can make anything a music box…

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It was time to head back to Waldo and have some dinner, but what a great day of “free fun”!

 

Getting to Work

Friday and Saturday nights, you will find Steve “patrolling” Wind Point Park in his golf cart. He escorts new arrivals to their site, sprays around their rig for ants (more about them later), picks up trash, cleans the public restrooms and enforces the rules. Overall, it is a pretty easy gig. One night, he came across a couple guys with an axe. They were trying to chop down a tree for firewood. Um, NO! Other than that, it’s pretty quiet here. Peaceful.

Spraying for ants could be a full time job by itself. Argentine ants are a huge problem here. Just look at Diesel’s food container…

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It was in the storage compartment under Waldo (with the lid on!) The ants are everywhere. I took this short video clip along the water’s edge…

The only up side about these ants is they have displaced the fire ants. Other than that, they are a real pest!

I’ve been getting my training in the office, learning campground management software and all the specifics of this park. The park is in the middle of a management shift. The current manager has been here 2 years and will be leaving in November. I love the fact several of the workampers have been here long term. I think it really speaks to the overall happiness of the work environment. Here I am, hard at work manning the desk…

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The second week we were here, the owner (Ryan), threw a hello/goodbye barbecue for all the park employees. Most of us had already met, but it was a fun way of formally being introduced.  One of the lawn maintenance guys brought his smoker and all I can say is mmmmmmmmm…

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There was enough food to feed a small army…

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Nobody went hungry, that’s for sure…

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After the meal, we all went out and played corn hole…

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We are enjoying our new lifestyle! Meeting great people, learning new skills and getting to explore our new “home for now”.

Thanks for coming by. My next post will be about our recent return visit to Sulphur Springs.

Settling In – Part 2

We were given a couple days to settle in before we had to report to work. We spent most of the first day getting Waldo rearranged. I’m sure we’ll be rearranging again and again until we find “just the place” for everything. What seems like the perfect place for something frequently becomes “Why the hell did I put that there!” We’ll figure it out…

The weather has been mostly sunny and hot – just the way I like it, so naturally we stripped Trouble of all those unnecessary things like doors and the soft top. We did put the bikini top on to keep a little shade over the seats. I wouldn’t want Steve’s head to get sunburned! We needed a few things at the store and I was anxious to get out and explore the area. The GPS told us the nearest Walmart was about 30 minutes away. Off we go.  With the shopping out of the way, we headed to Sulphur Springs. There was something I had read about and had to see for myself. In the old town square, there is a lovely park with public restrooms and it was the restrooms I wanted to see. Yes, you read that right…I wanted to see restrooms. These aren’t your run of the mill relief stations…they are made with one way mirrors – no, I’m not kidding…

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From the outside, it looks like a mirrored box
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This is the view from the inside
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You feel a little conspicuous while you are relieving yourself. Note the guy in the background taking a picture…

Once I was done giggling about the restroom (Steve wouldn’t use it), we walked around the park taking in the sights…

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We decided to stop for lunch at the Corner Grub House

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We both had burgers and they were pretty good. With full bellies, we decided it was time to head back “home”.

The next day, we grabbed our cameras and set out to explore. We stopped at a farm stand and I was so excited to see fresh figs…

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We splurged on some figs, plums, tomatoes and summer squash. A little expensive but oh so tasty! I got to see my first Texas longhorns…

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And an oil pump…

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I couldn’t resist getting a picture with my MOV bottle to send back to the store with a tag line about “Big Oil”.

We made one more stop before heading back…

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How’s that for a hay field?!?

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Diesel says “Life is good here!”

Thanks for coming by!