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Brazos Bend State Park, Texas

Truly amazing.  This park is gorgeous!

I’m going back in time a few weeks to catch up on some of the places we’ve been.  After leaving American Greenfuels to order our parts and plan for the veg. conversion on the RV, we took off in search of some cool places to bide our time.  State parks in the Houston area that had camping and could accomodate our 39 foot rig were limited.  We decided to first check out Brazos Bend- ranked in the top 10 best parks in the country.   The park is close to 5,000 acres with almost 300 different species of birds living there. 

It was absolutely breathtaking and shady which is wonderful and we’ve found to be novel here in TX.  We’ve found Texas state parks claims of available WiFi to be deceiving.  By WiFi access, they generally mean directly outside the headquarters building (in this case, miles from the campsites) on the northwest side when the moon is full and you stand on your head.  It was immediately clear there would not be internet access here.  By the time we got in to the campsites (quite a beautiful drive down a forested road), there was also no 3G access from which to tether.

We dumped on the way in after having boondocked on the way down and a raccoon sauntered by the RV.  As we chose our campsite, a grouping of about 17 deer watched us watching them as they grazed.  We saw this or another grouping several times as we went for bike rides and walks during our short stay.  In the end, we only stayed one night and 1 1/2 days at this lovely park because we are really held to having internet access and Chris didn’t have any of our boosters set up this early in our journeying (we’re much more wired now and getting more so by the minute).  It was also very hot (early August) and the kids wanted to swim.

Though there’s plenty of water, there is absolutely no swimming allowed here (AT ALL).  The water is reserved for the alligators- of which there are many.  The kids rode their bikes and we walked down one of the trails to the waters edge and, sure enough, saw a small gator hanging out in the vegetation.  There was plenty of movement farther out, as well, to indicate that there were plenty more.

We really enjoyed our short stay here.  The park staff was super friendly.  The sites were spacious.  We learned quickly what we needed to evaluate in seeking other parks in which to stay.  Chris’ fire was lit to create solutions to these technical blocks.  There is always a way….

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2010 in Parks, RV, Travel log

 

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We’re Still Here (WTF)

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had an awesome week.  But Texas seems to have swallowed us.  And we want out. 

We’ve reconnected with old friends and quickly created old friends out of new ones.  The kids have been playing, creating, learning, and adventuring.  We’ve had thoughtful discussions on every topic under the sun.  I’ll blog on all of that soon.  But we’re still in Texas.

After 3 false starts to our far-reaching adventures, I’m ready to crawl into a hole.  Optimism, frustration, sadness, hope, and anger have turned into a numb cloud.  When we arrived in DFW after the completion of the veg conversion last week, our tow car was covered in oil residue (nasty).  Chris began surveying under the RV and noticed a big oil mess.  That’s the technical way of saying he had no idea what he was looking at but knew it wasn’t good.  He called, researched, and looked around in there with friends who had equally little knowledge of engine workings.  He was determined to find the source of the leak.  Lo and behold some new friends of ours called to say they’d like to come visit.  Joseph Duchene – esteemed chiropractor and energy practitioner – arrived unwittingly on the scene of this oil-covered puzzle and revealed that he’d spent four years as an airplane mechanic.  He helped Chris locate the oil leak- a loose bolt on the oil pan- and we were set.  We were to pick up a new oil pan gasket (or some such) to hold on to just in case but would ride out the current pan as the leaking seemed to have stopped.

 

Or so we thought.

We’ve spent the last several days with the Cameron Family of British Columbia, Canada.  It felt so good.  Though we all attended the RE Conference, our paths didn’t cross for extended periods.  We were thrilled that they decided to come and join us in Lewisville.  We all jived and chatted and discussed and played and laughed and… and… !!!  It was so fun to hang out with them.  Sadie and their daughter, Iris, were fast friends- holding hands throughout the campground and thoroughly enjoying each other’s company while playing pretend, crafting, exploring, swimming, biking, board gaming, ETC.  Mark fixed my bike and Sheila and I went off on a little bike ride together!  I feel so liberated to have my bike back from stuck-brake land.  We shared stories, talked about our trials, and speculated on our separate journeys.  Simon shared his love of music with us, exposed us to some Canadian bands, and floored us with his musical knowledge and ear for each layer of musical composition.  Their stay in Lewisville spilled over a couple of extra days as we enjoyed each other’s company and the lovely park setting.  When they really did pack up their van to go this morning, we decided it just felt right to go on our way as well.  It didn’t feel right to be here if they were gone.

So we left.  We packed up, dumped our tanks, picked up our laundry, hooked up the car, and drove to the grocery store that yesterday agreed to give us their waste vegetable oil for fuel.  Chris noticed continued leaking.  We turned the RV around and went back to the campground (insert internal temper tantrum here). 

Yes, our Universe works for us.  A man we met yesterday used to work on diesel engines for a living.  He agreed to come over this afternoon and help Chris assess the situation.  Wow.  We are so floored by the kindness of others.  This is not a fun thing to do with a friend – never mind a stranger – on a hot, Texas afternoon.  Good news!  No oil leak.  Bad news?  We’re leaking engine coolant.  There are a number of conflicting guesses as to why this is occurring- from something as innocuous as it being overflow due to the excess that needed to be put in with the veg. conversion to a need for a new water pump.  We’re on the fence as to what to do about it from here.  Chris is erring on the side of calling a shop tomorrow to see if we can get a bonafide diagnosis. 

No offense, but we just want to get out of Texas and officially start this tour which I will now affectionately dub, “The Being Tour”.  There, it has a name.  So now it’s on, right?

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Parks, RV, Travel log

 

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Hoop Mama

A couple of weeks ago (I’m catching up post our trip to New Hampshire), we got together with the Wagner and Janssen families for some potluck, conversation, and… hooping!  I was re-introduced to the hoop after what may have amounted to a 25 year hiatus.  We definitely didn’t pick up where we left off.  The first night was spent becoming re-acquainted- some straight up, old school waist hooping and a little bit of the booty bump.  Having done a trick and feeling really smooth with the hoop, I was hooked.  We were a group to behold- several women, one man (who rocked the hoop), and a handful of children all hooping in the twilight.  Those of us without, wanted hoops of our own.  We made a plan to get together again the next night for hoop making and more spinning. 

These are not your ordinary, plastic toy aisle hoops.  They are made of irrigation tubing making them heavier, more comfortable, easier to spin, and tougher to kink/break.  They’re also gorgeous and personal!  I feel very bonded to my hoop after spending the time making it.

Rather than re-creating the hoop- er…wheel, here are instructions for making your own hoop a la Sara Janssen.  I warn you- it’s addictive. 

Here are the hoops that Sadie (blue on blue), Elijah (blue and purple on pink), and I (alternating red/yellow & purple/blue) made.  They are all different sizes according to what felt good when we were hooping with others’ and that’s great because different sized hoops work for different tricks so I can switch it up if the kids aren’t looking. 🙂

Learning recently that I can collapse my hoop for easier travel, I am thrilled that we won’t have to be separated.  With our recent vacation, I was itching to get back in the spin.  I’ve been working on the lift and am now ready to move on.  My plan is to start watching more videos and trying out new tricks.  My hoop needs a little more weight so I’ll be adding more gaffers tape and possibly making one slightly smaller as Elijah is not always willing to share. 🙂  Many have asked about making their own hoops so I’ll be purchasing materials and having a hoop making party soon!

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2010 in Parks, Playdate, RV, Uncategorized

 

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Eyesores and more!

We met our friends at Bear Creek Park in Keller for a scenic walk, bike ride, wiggle car, stroller ride along the 1-mile path to one of our favorite playgrounds.  It’s been a while since we’ve made it over there.  The view has changed along the way.

The kids were aghast. “It’s ugly, Mama,” Sadie said when she saw this just off the walking path:

This was once a longhorn pasture that provided a breathtaking view as we passed by on the wooded bike path.  It is now completely taken over by a walled-in natural gas rig.  They’re going up everywhere around here.  Just the other day we noticed that they’ve also put one up in the pasture that borders our subdivision.  They do more than scar the skyline.  My conservationist, solar and wind savvy children probed for an explanation of this marring of one of their sacred places. 

Here’s what I knew:

1. They’re ugly and anything that ugly can’t be good.

2. There are billboards up all over the place promoting natural gas propoganda- anyone that spends that much money to promote a product and dispell ‘myths’ is generally up to no good.

3. Homeowners are being paid varying prices and going to battle over their fair share of dividends for the gas under their property.  When Earth’s non-renewable resources become currency to be haggled over, we’ve lost sight of what’s really important.

But clearly we all needed more information about this.  TX Sharon provides more than her fair share.  I can’t thank Sharon enough for her thorough and current resource-FULL site.  Yes, we all know more but, for once, I wish this information had come from an antiquated textbook and not real world experience.

From TX Sharon’s website:

MYTH: Natural gas is the clean fuel

FACT: Measuring pollution from the beginning of exploration and production to consumption—Cradle to Gravenatural gas causes devastation to our environment.

MYTH: Barnett Shale gas will make us safer.

This is a lie perpetuated by fear.

FACT: We do not import any natural gas from any of the so-called “axis of evil” countries.

Natural Gas Imports by Country

Canada is the largest importer of natural gas to the United States.

MYTH: Barnett Shale gas will make us energy independent.

This is an emotional appeal based on fear not fact. Only 11 percent of our oil in 2005 came from the Persian Gulf and NONE of our natural gas came from there.

FACT: There is almost no chance that we will ever be energy independent as long as we use hydrocarbons.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2010 in Parks

 

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DFW Whole-Life Unschooling Meet-Up Group!

A few months ago 5 DFW unschooling mothers convened to discuss the waning support network for unschoolers coinciding with a tremendous growth in the number of families interested or partaking in unschooling in the metroplex area. I was pleased to be one of those women. We met and created a new Meet-Up group for social networking, play, and focused discussion surrounding peaceful family living and unschooling called Whole-Life Unschooling. We were so busy talking and the kids were so busy creating and playing that I didn’t even think to pick up the camera for most of the day.

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Elijah stops for a snack break at the blanket.

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Pears were spotted on the trees adjacent to the park so we decided to go see if they were edible. We picked a bunch and they were delicious!

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Sadie and friends decorate the path.

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It was a hot one! Many of the kids cooled each other off in the water fountain using various methods. They seemed to have been very effective.

There was a great turn-out of families and a lively discussion on the day’s topic- consensual living. Interest in the group is high and the desire for growth and support is alive!

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2009 in Parks, Playdate

 

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Dogs and Kids

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We brought the dogs to the dog park and the kids to the kid park all in one day! All had a great time.

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The dogs got lots of attention from the children who don’t have dogs at home. They were walked and patted to their hearts’ content.

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Elijah and Declan meander to the car.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2009 in Parks, Playdate

 

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Caddo Lake

April 23  2009 064Sadie still constantly has her hand in something going on in the kitchen. Here she helps to prepare the pizza dough for our impending trip to Caddo Lake State Park  in East Texas. It is the only natural lake in Texas (imagine that!) and is located on the Louisiana border. We couldn’t believe how similar the landscape and weather are to our native land of New Hampshire- lush, green, hilly, humid, and buggy!

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After setting up our campsites, we joined the Quinns on (what turned out to be) a really long hike! We soon discovered that tick repellant was in order as I pulled 3 off of Sadie- clearly tired, she spent quite a bit of time tripping into pine needles…

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This is the view from our campsite. The tent was set up about 5 feet from the water’s edge. There was initially some concern about the proximity of the alligators but we were assured by the park attendants that they hang out on the other side of the lake! After gorging on hot dogs and s’mores and reading a book by the fire, we adjourned to our tents for a really noisy night on the lake. All the wilderness came out to play that Friday night and the decibel level was incredible. Frogs, owls, and any number of other wild and noisy animals could be heard until the early morning hours. For Chris and I- who sleep very little and not very well when we camp- it was wildly entertaining!

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Grand slam breakfast! Eat your heart out, IHOP.

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There was frisbee…

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and walks…

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plant identification (yes, poison ivy blanketed the campsite)….

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Jiffy Pop….

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Uno playing….

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wrestling…

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sorting of treasures…

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… and fishing (with a rubber fish on the end of the line instead of a hook)! The kids have decided they’d like their own rods (here Sadie borrows Liam’s) to cast with endlessly- expressing their disinterest in eating fish or hurting them for sport only to throw them back. They’ve decided the real fun is in casting.

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We canoed around the lake and saw many turtles, jumping fish, brightly colored birds, amazing bayou trees, and a giant snake curled up by water’s edge (no gators…). Chris and I became quite adept and navigating the old, metal canoe around and through the trees draped with moss and vines. It was a fabulous adventure!

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And apparently exhausting.

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Dusk on the dock.

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We four girls had an early breakfast of rice cakes and peanut butter on the dock before packing up the site and heading home! A grand adventure it was and comes highly recommended. Bring tick repellant.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2009 in Parks

 

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