|Since it has been a month since I last posted, have a lot of catching up to do! After spending time in Hot Springs, Arkansas we traveled to Fort Smith, AR for a Good Sam Rally but didn't have time to see the things around the Fort Smith area so besides visiting with and meeting lots of nice people at the rally, don't have much to report. After the rally we headed for Claremore, Oklahoma for another rally and again met some great folks. We have been so amazed and surprised by all the beautiful scenery and how green it has been everywhere with the few little fall rains they have had in this part of the country. As soon as the OK rally was over, we headed for the Texas State Rally in Abilene but got just 2 miles out of town when we lost power in the motor home and limped off the freeway back in to Claremore where we ended up having to call a wrecker and having the MH towed in to Tulsa to the Cummin's dealer. Talk about STRESS...and of course it was on a Sunday. Seeing our home hooked up to a great big wrecker was stressful to say the least when that is the only home you have and everything you own is in it! The Cummin's dealer told us it would be Tuesday afternoon before they could get us in but thankfully they would let us stay in the MH in their parking lot until they could work us in. About 4 p.m. on Monday one of the technicians came out to take a look at it as he thought he knew what was wrong. The Good Lord was looking out for us as it was only a broken clamp on the hose that went from the exhaust to the turbo. By 5 p.m. Monday, he had us back on the road and we were over 400 miles from Abilene where we were suppose to be and set-up on Tuesday for the rally! Driving after dark is not something we like to do, especially with the MH and in unfamiliar territory but off we went. Driving until about 9:30 p.m. we stopped in a Walmart parking lot in Lawton, OK for a few hours of shut eye. Up early on Tuesday morning we headed out again and arrived in Abilene about 2 p.m. and had time to get set up for the Rally...WHEW! Spent the rest of the week and had an amazing time with such friendly Texans where we made many new friends and got to see some that we had met at previous rallies. Vowing to keep in touch when the rally was over, everyone headed home and we headed to our new home for the next few days in Canyon Lake, Texas in the Texas Hill Country and between Austin and San Antonio where we have family and friends. Arriving there on a Thursday evening, we learned that white tail deer hunting season opened that weekend and everyone was going to be hunting. That gave us a few days to rest, enjoy the deer right outside the motor home every day, catch up on paperwork, house cleaning and laundry and still do some sight seeing. We toured the Jardine Foods factory in Buda where they make the best Salsas and Quesos we have ever had (I don't even like either one but loved this stuff). They no longer allow you inside the factory due to insurance restrictions but we were able to watch them though big windows where they were just finishing up for the day and were putting the Queso in jars which had been cooked in big vats then sent though a machine that fills the jars, then vacuum seals them and onto a conveyor belt that sends them through the labeling and on to the packing area. Of course we left there with several bags of goodies! Then it was on to Texas Hatters in Lockhart where felt hats have been made by hand by three generations of the same family. The son who now runs the business was giving us the tour as it was lunchtime and all the employees were out to lunch. Halfway through the tour he had 2 customers come in so we didn't get to see the process from start to finish. Texas Hatters has made hats for LOTS of famous people from Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Lyndon Johnson,Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, Howard Cosell and many, many movie stars as well as hats for lots of movies. Because the hats are made from beaver and rabbit they last forever and the pelts are dyed with natural dyes, they hold their color and shape for many years. They are even passed down from generation to generation and can be a prized possession in a will. The most expensive hat they sell is a plantation which is so finely woven by people in South America, it feels like linen and is almost weightless. They run anywhere from $1000 to $1500. Sadly the art is being taken over by machine since it takes a couple of hours to do instead of being hand woven like the older generation does which can take up to 4 months to make one hat. They have rows and rows of brims and crowns made from wooden blocks to make any shape you want as well as styles and colors. Each hat takes about 2 weeks to complete. They also clean and reshape them anytime a customer wants that done. Of course being in Lockhart we had to try some BBQ as Lockhart is the BBQ Capital of Texas. There are four famous BBQ joints in the small town and a couple of years ago when we were passing though the area we had eaten at Blacks which was very good. This time we were told that Smitty's was the best so off we went and took home brisket, pork ribs and sausage. WOW what a feast and so yummy. Our next trip through we will try the other two...only problem being we will forget whether we liked the two we have already been to! One night one of our friends had a huge Mexican feast and invited my nephew and his family and several friends who used to come hunting at the ranch. A great evening of visiting and lots of fun. The next day we took off for Brenham to visit my sister-in-law and while here we have done lots of fun things plus lots of great visiting at her beautiful place just outside of Brenham. And Mike has gotten to ride the tractor mower which he hasn't done for over 25 years. Friday we toured the Blue Bell Creamery which was the best creamery tour we have ever taken and got to see the entire process. The creamery was started in 1907 which at that time only made butter. It wasn't until 1911 that the company started making ice cream which is now sold in 20 states nationwide. It is the third best selling ice cream in the US. 20 flavors are their mainstay and are offered year around but each year they make dozens of new flavors which are sold seasonally and some flavors are only sold in certain states. They also make many varieties of frozen treats on a stick as well as flavored yogurt and sherbet. And of course at the end of the tour you get a few scoop of any of their flavors, some of which are only offered in their parlor. Yesterday we spent the afternoon at "Washington on the Brazos." Washington-on-the-Brazos is known as "the birthplace of Texas", a distinction it earned when on March 1, 1836 it became the meeting place of the Texas delegates who formally announced Texas' intention to separate from Mexico and who drafted the constitution of the new Republic of Texas, organizing an interim government to serve until an officially elected government could be put in place. The grounds have been purchased by the State of Texas and are beautiful with a museum which is shaped like "The Lone Star," about the area during that time period and a replica of "Independence Hall" where the delegates met and signed the new Constitution. Texas was the 28th state admitted to the Union and even though it's rich history dates back many years before that, the "powers that be" in the other Washington didn't want to admit it to the Union because it was too big, too hot and had slaves! According to John Steinbeck, "Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all Texas is a nation in every sense of the word." And Texans are the friendliest people you will ever meet...boy do we love Texas!