Along the Natchez Trace

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rain Down, Rain Down....

That's a song we sing at church...  I think it really means something spiritual...  but then,  maybe all the rain we've been getting is a blessing.  I only know that it's rained over 6" here (Glen Rose, Texas) in the past 4 days and every farm pond, every ditch... Lake Granbury and the local rivers...  all are full to over-flowing.

Most of the time the creeks and rivers are all but dry...  county roads often don't need a bridge over the water...  just some culverts covered with fill and concrete.  Now  those roads are closed due to high water.
There's a gate closing the road here...  and the river is raging over the road.

Another view...  same place, just a few feet closer.
Here's looking on down the road...  you can see the other side of the road in the distance.
Probably a good thing the county shuts the gate when this road floods as there's always some fool who is sure they can make it across in their truck.

Closer to home...  look again at the header of this blog...  nice waterfall, huh?  And I thought the creek was flowing then!
I'm standing up on the bank looking down at the creek...
And when I took this, the water level had already gone down about 6', so when it was at it's highest, you'd have just seen a bump as the water passed over the rocks.

Another view...  just a little further downstream.  There's lots of debris which was left when the water was at it's highest.

And yet another view...
It's amazing the power that water has...  huge rocks that would take a bulldozer to move will roll along like kid's marbles with the force.

The rain has slacked off to the occasional sprinkle...  Bill & I had to head out for a walk to see what this part of Texas looks like with so much rain.  We just hope the rain soaks into the ground and replenishes the much needed water levels.

  The End!

That's All For Today!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Call of the Wild...

I'd never even seen a Sandhill Crane until 2001...  We saw a few in Alaska, but later that year we were volunteers at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, south of Albuquerque in New Mexico.  There were thousands of cranes there...  arriving in time for The Festival of the Cranes in November.  

We became familiar with their sounds....  as they "talk" to each other on the ground, but it is the sounds they make as they fly overhead that stay with a person forever.  

A few minutes ago I was sitting in the rig knitting and looked out and saw Bill running out of the shed where he's working.  He was looking overhead as he headed to the rig...  it didn't take me long to grab my camera and head outside...

I could hear them but it took me a moment to locate where they were...
Way off in the distance...  

Looks like they are kind of "regrouping"...

They were quite far away.  
It was hard to see them at all without the camera lens.

Looks like they might have changed leaders and now got back in formation to wing onward...

And away...  out of sight...
And then out of hearing....
On to south Texas or Mexico
Somewhere warm for the winter.

Sights and sounds I never tire of....

Yes, a Call of the Wild!

That's All For Today!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Texas... for a while....

We're back in Texas for a month or so....  time to get our annual physicals and such.

It's been pretty quiet...  nothing much going on.
I guess the chickens find us interesting...  
They are free-range and can go where they like.  Sometimes they hop up on our motorhome and look at us through the windshield....  they never stay long, so maybe we're not so interesting after all.

The guinea hens hang out underneath the juniper tree across the driveway from our rig.
They can get rather noisy at times, but usually just scratch around hunting for bugs.

The view out our window is pretty neat...
Those bird feeders are hanging from a crossbeam mounted on poles.  It's about 20' from our motorhome.  The deer are a hundred feet or more from us.  We've counted as many as 14 at a time, and have seen a nice buck with a beautiful rack.  It's about time for rut, so he'll be busy.

As I was typing this I heard sandhill cranes flying over.  I didn't get outside quick enough to see them.  They're heading south for the winter...  maybe south Texas or Mexico.  I love hearing their call as they wing their way south.

Here's Bill...  reading the manual for my new camera...
I wanted a pocket size "point and shoot" to use at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta and to take on that Panama Cruise...  bought a Canon Powershot SX280.  It had a smudge on the lens...  inside where it couldn't be cleaned...  so I sent it back to Canon.  That was in October.  Good thing I had it insured because it got lost in the mail.  It got complicated before it got resolved, but Canon ended up sending me this Powershot SX700, which I received last week (too late for my intent)....  

But I'll have plenty of use for it soon.  In mid-December we'll be heading down to Mexico for the winter.  It's already getting cold here...  yeah, anything below 80 degrees is cold to me.  I know I've written about our plans before, but we will leave our rig here in Texas and fly to Puerto Vallarta.  We rented a bungalow in Lo De Marcos until March.  

Guess I'm about caught up on our happenings....  like I wrote, it's a quiet time right now.

That's All For Today!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Genealogy Conference....

In 2005, Wholly Genes, the software company that Bill used for his genealogy program offered a package deal...  a cruise to ports in the Caribbean with genealogy workshops held during days at sea.  That began our "cruise life", and each year thereafter, the company continued to offer the same kind of deal...  only the itinerary would vary as well as the speakers for the workshops.  We went each year and Bill (I wasn't really into genealogy at that time) would hear guest speakers like Tony Burroughs, Judy Russell, Elizabeth Shown Mills, and the such.  We went on several cruises in the Caribbean, some to the Mexican Riviera, once to New England, once to Alaska and once to Puerto Rico.  

The Wholly Genes company went out of business and Craig Scott, of Heritage Books, took over the conference and cruise arrangements last year.  One of the changes he made was to hold the conference on a 10 day cruise, allowing for 4 days at sea.  Another change he made was to have a main focus for the workshops.

 This year the focus was on DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid)
 and how it is used in genealogical research.

All participants (somewhere between 40 and 50 people) were given a syllabus of the speaker's presentation.  I just counted the pages...  66 individual... with both sides being used...   The speakers were Angie Bush, CeCe Moore and Blaine Bettinger...  all experts at understanding and interpreting DNA testing.

 A very blurry photo of Cece Moore and Blaine Bettinger
Cece does research for the TV show "Finding Your Roots", which tracks the ancestry of famous people.

There were 4 days at sea, with 5 hours of workshops on each of those days.....  20 hours in all.
I'm not too concerned that this page isn't very clear...  believe me, these lectures were well above my head.  

There are 3 major companies now testing for DNA, and some share a data bank where you can further your research.  Bill submitted a DNA sample in 2005 hoping that he'd find other folks doing research on his families.  Now there are over 2 million people who have been tested and are on record.  But so far Bill hasn't had any close matches.

Nearly all the chairs were filled with eager listeners...

There are 3 types of testing types...  Y-DNA, which is the male chromosome; mtDNA, which is passed from a mother to all her children; and atDNA (or autosomal), which can be taken by both males and females.

My brother was gracious enough to provide his DNA for a Y-DNA test - he is the only direct male descendant on my father's side of the family.  He got a very close match, but so far I've not got answers from my attempts at corresponding with this match.  (to test you only have to swab saliva from your mouth)

An example of a comparison of the results of a test.
These are actually in color...  one color will show what you got from your mother's side and another color for your father's side.  Interesting enough, (and not surprising) is that your DNA is made up of many generations back.  Some of it gets thinned down or lost after 5 or 6 generations.

We were given several examples of research where adoptees found their biological parents, one really sad case where two babies were given to the wrong mothers in the hospital when they were born in 1923; and a rather interesting case where a sperm donor has been found to be the father of 24 children (so far).

So ethics and legalities were also discussed as well as some of the "how to"s on reading and interpreting results.

All 3 speakers are experts in their field, yet though the material they covered was way too complicated for me to understand, I hung onto their words and tried to get as much as I could.  

If nothing else, just learning that DNA reveals things like if your ancestors were Native American, some types of Jewish, or came from western Europe, can be beneficial in locating your heritage.  This is a fairly young field, but I've no doubt this is just the beginning.

A group photo of those attending the conference.
That's Craig Scott (third from left), with Brian Bettinger next to him, CeCe Moore (next... with the long blond hair) and Angie Bush on the end at the right.

So while at sea a lot of cruise folks were lounging by the pool, playing bingo or gambling, there were 40 or so of us in a classroom - listening to great speakers talk about a great subject.

That's All For Today!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Grand Cayman

Okay folks...  we're finally at our last port.  And...  wouldn't you know...  it's one of those you have to tender in.  Not my favorite as you have to kind of plan when you want to leave the ship so you don't get caught up in the mad rush.  

We've been at Grand Cayman a time or two in the past.  I'll readily admit that these cruise ship day trips aren't our favorite.  In fact, the next blog will tell you exactly why we're on this cruise and that sort of thing.  Not that I didn't want to go through the Panama Canal....  it's just that these 6 hour "shore leaves" on a ship approved excursion just aren't us.

Okay...  our last day trip...
The day started out pretty nice... 
A big shower...  followed by a lovely rainbow.
Can't ask for anything better.
We had to tender into shore.
That means getting into one of the ship's lifeboats while it was moored out in the harbor and chugging along into a dock.  Really....  no problem.  But Bill & I both cracked up...  a young woman sitting across from us while seated in the lifeboat...  waiting for it to take off...  quickly downed a Dramamine....  Now... it's really just a few hundred yards to where we're going to dock and get off...  AND...  how long does it take for a Dramamine to take effect?  I get horribly motion sick...  but even I know meds just aren't going to help at this point.  Oh well....

 Walking into town we see our first (and only) iguana.
Hey...  this guy is in technicolor!... Must have been 10' long....  
Indianapolis has race cars...  Lake Charles, LA has alligators...  why not iguanas here?

Not only iguanas....  but looky here!
Chickens....  roaming around the city streets!
I loved it...  but did wonder where those chickys laid their eggs every day.  Hmmm....???

Well, we've been in Grand Cayman a few times in the past...  no excursion tours for us...
We wandered around the city streets...  hit up all the touristy bazaars...  

And...  Yep...  you got it...
Found this geocache...
Hidden in a coconut shell under a palm tree....
Not a new country for us, but still a find.

Not much else to do until it's time to get back on the ship...  so....
Try one of the beers...
Actually, this is Red Stripe...  a really good beer from Jamaica.
I was trying to take a "selfie" when someone happened along the sidewalk and offered to take this photo.  Not too bad for a point and shoot camera that is totally screwed up, huh?  (that's another blog for another time)

We didn't stay on shore a long time...  both of us were ready to head back to the ship for a late lunch.

This pirate ship is actually a tourist attraction...  takes folks for a trip out in the harbor somewhere.
Like I wrote...  this is a nice place, but we've been here before...  been on this cruise for well over a week and were ready to head back to Ft Lauderdale.  So much for traveling big-time....

And so....  later in the day we left Grand Cayman and headed back to the States.

Now...  those 5 ports were fun...  we saw things we'd never seen before and especially the Panama Canal was a wonder.

But...  soon I'll write about the real purpose of this cruise...  yes..  all these sights were great, but there was a reason we went...  and it wasn't about geocaching ;-)

The story continues....

That's All For Today!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Limon, Costa Rica

The 4th stop on the cruise was on the east coast of Costa Rica...  at Limon.  Bill and I spent one winter outside of San Jose, kind of in the middle of the country, and another winter near Playa Coco, close to the beaches on the Pacific Ocean.  So we were looking forward to seeing what the east coast would be like.  I know the few hours the ship gives you to play tourist really isn't very long, but first impressions seem to stay with a person.

The docking area was only a short walk to downtown...  just walk along the pier, through the security area and the bazaars (typical tourist souvenirs - but a huge building full of booths), and out into the town.  We wanted to use our shore time to find an internet cafe...  and for the price of a couple of soft drinks, we got caught up on e-mail...  mostly deleting the hundred or so unimportant messages.

I don't know if these are meant to keep the shore from washing away in a storm or just what, but this area wasn't meant for lounging around under umbrellas on sandy beaches.

There was a very nice city park...  lots of statues and such.  Typical of many places we've seen in Costa Rica, the trees are white-washed up about 3' or so.  

There was an event going on in the downtown streets..
October is breast cancer month and Limon had an event to make folks aware....  a walk (mostly women, but a few males as well), informational booths, a stage set up for either speakers or entertainment....  it was most definitely a Pink day that Saturday morning!

Of course I had to find a geocache...
This was a "virtual"...  take a photo of yourself holding your GPS in front of the statue of Christopher Columbus (and you thought his only fame was discovering America).  

We spent a couple of hours wandering about the town.  I know shore excursions were available, but we were happy just to get off the ship and walk a while.  I wanted to have an Imperial beer (one brewed in Costa Rica), but we never got around to it.  Oh well...  next time.

On the way back to the ship we saw iguana hanging out on the rocks  along the edge of the water...
The colors and various textures of his/her skin  is amazing!

Look how long his tail is!
There was a huge pile of lettuce leaves nearby.  I don't know if the townspeople or the ship kitchen feeds these guys, but they sure had plenty to eat that day.

I did manage to get a pretty good shot of our cruise ship...
The Coral Princess
When we go ashore we often look around wondering if this is a place we'd like to come back to for an extended stay.  Maybe a few hours isn't long enough, and there really wasn't anything negative...  but it's not likely we'll return to Limon.

That's All For Today!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cartenaga, Columbia

Cartenaga, Columbia was our second stop on the cruise.  We'd never been to Columbia before and both of us were surprised as we neared the port.
I was expecting either a "manufactured" cruise ship port (one of those tourist towns built solely for the entertainment of cruise passengers) or a Third World Country setting.  Not so...  huge skyscrapers and a very modern city awaited us.

I love lighthouses, and this one  perched on a beautiful spit of land jutting out into the bay.

I'd been trying to get a decent photo of the Magnificent Frigatebird...  the adult male has a gorgeous orange-red throat.....  I did see one red throat, but had to settle for this picture of a female.  

We had to be back on the ship by 3:00 pm, As this was our first time here, we decided to take a city tour.  
That's our ship on the left...  another cruise ship is docked on the right.  Look at all the buses lined up to take folks on tours!  And all the folks getting off the ship to take those tours.  I'm sitting on the top deck of a double-decker bus and we're about to head off on our tour.  Sometimes Bill and I stay on the bus for a complete tour, then make a second round getting off at places that look especially interesting.  No problem doing this with those "hop on - hop off" kind of tours.

I love cemeteries...  it's always interesting seeing the different customs of how we bury our dead.  

The old fort is of particular interest.  A person could spend their whole shore leave just stopping here.

This man and his burro and cart makes me think there's still a bit of third world country left here.

Gardens...  landscaping....  architecture....  all meticulous.

More of the city using space for flowers and green space.

The major stop for tourists is here.  The photo above shows a part of the bay....  looks like a city park along the water.  On the other side of the street began a walking tour of the old part of the city.  The churches, the businesses and the shops.  Often these tours are designed to allow tourists to shop.  We aren't big shoppers so stayed on the bus here.

Again...  another local....  looks like she's been grocery shopping (or selling) and is done for the day.

Here our bus is heading back to the ship.
Lots of pleasure boats in the harbor.  

The temperature was 99 degrees and I'll bet the humidity was darned near that...  and after our (about) 2 hour bus tour, we decided not to make a second round but to return to the ship.

Of course I had an ulterior motive...
I knew there was a geocache hidden within walking distance of the docking area.  We hunted without success until we were just too hot to stay out any longer.  We headed back to the ship and had lunch...  after which I left Bill at the ship and walked back to the GPS coordinates to hunt the cache.  I was about to give up and was about 50' away from where the cache should have been...  just kind of ran my hand under that sign at lower left....  WoooHooo!  Found that little rascal in a magnetic keybox behind the sign.  Another country added to our geocaching statistics....  I did a happy dance all the way back to the ship...  even in that heat!

That's All For Today!