Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 13-15, 2015 - Big Hill Lake, Cherryvale Site #24

Bentley has been calling our name for the past month or two wondering when we were going to take him out of hibernation and start the traveling year.  Finally we felt well enough (During the fall and winter Dean had knee surgery and is doing very well, I had sinusitis and then we both had the flu); and it seems now the weather was ready to cooperate - well, almost. 

Our original plan was to have Bentley ready to head to Wichita on Tuesday, March 10 so we could meet our new granddaughter, Emerson Rose; but she wasn't quite ready to make an appearance so that trip was put off until later this week.  Jarred (Daddy to be) called us last week to let us know that it now looks like it will be Thursday, March 19 before we can expect Emerson, so we had a few extra days to finish getting Bentley prepared for his first voyage of 2015.

This really ended up working out well as we like to take a trial run close to home the first trip out to be sure we haven't forgotten anything really important before hitting the road for an extended trip.  The weather prior to this was just too darn cold, so with this nice break in the weather it was a good time.  We decided Big Hill Lake located in Labette and Montgomery counties would be the perfect trip since it is so close to home.  On Friday we loaded up Bentley with a few clothes, our computers and just enough food for the weekend, and were on the road right after lunch at 12:54 p.m. 

We've wanted to weigh Bentley for sometime so before leaving town we swung by our local Bartlett Coop and while we were hooked up had them weigh the truck, both the truck and Bentley and then Bentley by himself.  These will be used to ensure that we are currently meeting the proper tow requirements and after seeing the numbers we believe they will turn out just fine.  We'll check this closer when we return home.

As I noted above the weather almost cooperated.  While the weather was calling for some light rain it ended up raining all the way to Big Hill and continued on as we found a site.  Fortunately it was a light rain and we were able to make it in to the selected spot on the first try, quickly got set up and in side before we were too wet.

And that is how we spent the evening, inside out of the rain.  Since grilling was really not something we wanted to mess with in this weather, I was really glad I had brought along some leftover white chicken chili.  It sure tasted good as the temperatures dropped later and it sure helped warm us up.  About 10:00 we headed to bed hoping we'd get a good night's sleep.

I guess the cooler temperatures and rain were good for sleeping because I didn't wake up until 7:30 Saturday morning and Dean didn't get up for another 30-45 minutes after that.  Wish we slept like that every night!

We decided we would make food simple this trip so I just brought frozen waffles for our breakfast.  Not really on our diet but it was quick.  We had plans for lunch in Coffeyville so was glad for the simple meal this morning anyway.  I had contacted a couple of the local Good Sam's Clubs in the area and the Big Brutus group was having their March meeting at the Sirloin Stockade in Coffeyville.  We needed to be there between 11:00-11:30.  We had a really great time at the meeting and met several nice folks.  Several knew friends of ours here in Oswego and one lady went to school with Dean's older brother.  The group plans to camp at Roaring River in April and while we hate to miss that trip we will be headed to Durant, OK for the spring Heartland Rally that weekend.  Most of you know we purchased a Heartland RV and then joined the Heartland Owners Club last spring.  We have really enjoyed the rallies we have attended so far and intend to continue our association with them and eventually we hope to attend other state Heartland rallies as well.  We do plan to join the Big Brutus Good Sam's Club for their May, June and July campouts.  It sounds like we will have a great time and we look forward to that. 

We needed to make a quick Wal-Mart stop after lunch before heading back to camp.  Seems you always forget something---right?  But we were soon on our way back to the campsite.

We changed clothes and decided we would hike to the overlook near the entrance to the Cherryvale camping site.  We're not sure of the distance but think it might be about a mile each way. We walked along the campsite roads and then over a large grassy area.  It was a nice walk and we really enjoyed it.  Here are a few pictures I took along the way.

 A close-up of the swimming beach across the lake from the overlook area.

One of the boat ramp and parking areas for fishermen, also across the lake from the overlook area.  Another close-up shot.

 This is a picnic area along the west shore of Big Hill Lake, taken from the overlook.

This is the overlook at the south end of the Cherryvale Park. 

It warmed up pretty good and we were quite glad to get back to our campsite.  It was a beautiful day for a walk though.  Since the Big Brutus Big Sam's will meet at this location in May we checked out the various camp sites and where we might want to try and reserve a spot near the group camping section.

Here are a few shots from our campsite.  I failed to get one of the fire ring where we built a nice little fire that we enjoyed for a couple of hours before and after dinner.  We roasted hot dogs over the fire and shared a small bag of Lay's potato chips, followed by the last of some homemade banana bread muffins with a bit of butter.  Yum Yum.

 This is the wooded area to the south of our campsite #24.
This shot is to the east; you can see the water through the trees.  Soon the leaves will hide the water view.
Our site was really nice.  It was fairly level with electric only.  We filled our water tank before leaving home and with only two nights camping we did not really need sewer.  With our Golden Pass we received a 50% discount so two nights was $17.  Not bad!
It really cooled down this evening but we enjoyed the fire as long as we could before fixing our dinner and for awhile afterwards; then headed inside for the evening.  We watched a good show "In An Instance" about a young lady and her father that were attacked by a grizzly bear during a hike in a national park in the northwest.  It was very interesting and very moving to watch.  They were very fortunate to have lived through the event, although both suffered very serious injuries.
Unfortunately I did not have such a good sleeping night as I did on Saturday.  Actually I slept great until 4:40 a.m. when my alarm clock went off.  Errrr!  I really need to remember to turn those off when I do not need to use them again.  I was unable to go back to sleep and 30 minutes later I got up and made coffee.  I love reading the numerous RV blogs I subscribe to in the morning with my cup of coffee.  So relaxing!! 
I did stick my head outside the door to take a quick shot of the sun coming up a little before 6:30.  The Weather Channel said it was 32degrees.  Brrrr!
We had a breakfast of waffles again this morning and then got around so we could hike the Ruth Nixon Walking Trail that follows the west shore of Big Hill Lake in the Cherryvale camping area.  The trail is approximately 1 mile long so with the trip back we got in 2 miles of good exercise.  It was a tranquil and fairly easy walk.  It was quite wooded so as the sun came up and the temperatures begin to rise we were quite happy for the canopy of trees and slight breeze from the water that kept us very comfortable.  We noticed quite a few deer had been out on the trail by the many tracks they left, however we were not lucky enough to see any.  There were many woodpeckers and I managed to get a close-up of one, although it is not quite as clear as I would have liked.
Here are a few other pictures I took along the way.
 A picture of the trail map.

At the bottom of the hill where the trail head began we found this very nice fishing berm.  A young man and his son were just headed out to fish when we reached the bottom.  When we returned another gentleman had just settled in at the far end to see what he could do.  Hope they both had good luck!

Dean as he turned around after checking out the berm.  He loves my surprise pictures of him!  :)

The two shots above are across the lake - the first is the east side, and the second is a shot of the dam to the south.  The lake was so calm (only seen one boat out during the first leg of the hike).  The water was so smooth it would have been great for kayaking.

As we made our return to the trail head, we passed our campsite about 3/4 of the way back and here is our Bentley patiently waiting for our return.
What a great hike this was and a great way to start our day.  After returning and resting just a bit we ate a sandwich for lunch and then started packing up to head home.  I will be taking our three grand-daughters Haleigh, Dacy and Kamron shopping tomorrow in Joplin.  We did this last year over Spring Break and had a great time.  The weather is calling for 70 degree temps so I'm sure it will be another great day.
We will be re-packing on Tuesday to head to Wichita on Wednesday for about a week!  Watch for the next post about our new granddaughter.  We are so excited to meet her!!

Saturday, November 15 - Lazy L&L Campground - New Braunfels, TX

A full day we had on Saturday!

We headed into town and what we thought was fairly early to eat breakfast at "The Buttermilk CafĂ©", highly rated on Trip Advisor.  Well, 9:00 a.m. is too late.  There was a 45 minute wait so rather than spend time looking for an alternate local breakfast location we headed to I-Hop.  It was typical I-Hop breakfast but it filled us up for a very busy day.

First item on the agenda was the LBJ National Historic Park, home of the Johnson's Texas White House.  It was really an amazing place with a lot of history.  First stop was the Visitor's Center to obtain a ticket to tour the grounds.  From the Visitor's Center you follow Ranch Road 1 along the south side of the Pedernales River for about a mile where it crosses the river and we begin the various stops as part of the ranch tour.  We first arrived at the Junction School.  This is where 4 year old Lyndon Johnson learned to read;


and where he returned 53 years later to sign the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 
You can see his former teacher from the Junction School sitting at the table on the right.  Unfortunately I missed getting President Johnson in the picture when I took this snapshot of the sign.  That must have been an exciting time for his former teacher.
The next stop on the driving tour was a reconstruction of the house where LBJ was born, which is located in Johnson City.  He had this house rebuilt to be used as a guest house.
Almost across the street was the Johnson Family Cemetery where both President and Lady Bird Johnson were laid to rest along with numerous other family members.

This house was the President's grandparents house, Sam Sr. and Eliza Johnson.  They moved here from their home in the Johnson Settlement (in Johnson City north of here).  They lived the remainder of their lives in this home on LBJ's Ranch.

These trees were so beautiful and elegant.  It made me think of the description of the lane leading to Tara in Gone with the Wind.  What a beautiful site!

These are pictures taken on the open ranch area north of the Texas White House and the other homes mentioned.  The cattle and deer roam freely in this area except for the area where an airstrip is located that brought President Johnson and many dignitaries to the ranch during the years he was in the Senate and the White House.

This picture is taken from the northernmost part of the property looking to the south.  What a beautiful view it is.

 This picture was taken from near the Johnson's home looking north.  It is no wonder they wanted to spend so much of their time at this location.

This Presidential Plane used during LBJ's years as President of the United States.

We concluded our drive of the area and entered a large hangar area that has been converted to hold much memorabilia of the Johnson's.  During his White House years he had over 70 phones installed in his Texas home and he was on the phone as much as 18 hours a day.  He recorded many private phone messages with various people.  There were phones set up and you could select various phone conversations to listen to.  I listed to one that gave an update on the fighting in Vietnam.  He requested an update every single day on the fighting and casualties during that time. 
I did not get a picture of the outside of the house, so here is a copy of our ticket to enter the home for a guided tour.  The home was elegant, but quite simple and comfortable.  The first room was Johnson's office.  There was room for two secretaries and a larger area for Johnson's desk, plus an area as you entered the office for a member of the Secret Service. The tour guide explained that if Johnson brought someone there he wanted something out of them and he would not let them leave until he got it and evidently could be quite convincing and very compromising.  He also told us it was not unusual for the secretaries to get a dressing down for not doing something the right way, etc. but then he might turn around and treat them in a special way.
The next room was the living room.  It had a large fireplace and hearth with thick cushions for additional seating along the west part of the house.  It had large picture windows looking to the east and three televisions lined up in a row on the south wall, so that he could see any news being played on the only three TV stations available at that time.  The room was very comfortable and inviting.  The guide said the TV's were going constantly to ensure Johnson did not miss any breaking news.
There was a quite large dining room that was used to entertain many guests to the Texas White House.  The kitchen was quite large to provide sufficient storage for food, including an oversize refrigerator and freezer, pantry area and another area for dishware.  There was a TV over the refrigerator and the guide pointed out Mrs. Johnson had stayed behind at the ranch that fateful day in November 1963 to bake a pie and make preparations for hosting then President & Mrs. John Kennedy.  She was in the kitchen preparing the pie when she heard the news of the shots fired in Dallas.  She called for all the staff to gather with her and it was here she learned of the death of President Kennedy and that she was now the wife of the 36th President of the United States.  That was a very moving moment for me, standing in her kitchen thinking about how it would have been to hear this incomprehensible news. 
After a year or two into the Presidency, Mrs. Johnson had a new bedroom area built for her in order to provide more privacy and to obtain a full night's sleep.  It was not unusual for Johnson to be on the phone at 3 a.m. or anytime throughout the night; and their were always constant interruptions from staff. 
The guide went on to tell us that after Mr. Johnson's tenure as President while working with his staff, he told them he needed to rest awhile.  He laid down and a short time later called that he needed them right away.  They found him along side bed where he had fallen on the floor (I happened to be standing quite close to the bed at the time he told us this) and most likely he was already gone.  However they quickly transferred him to San Antonio where he was later pronounced dead.  It was really amazing to think you were standing in the midst of such amazing history knowing this was the place where so much happened. 
We could not take pictures during the tour of the house but I have included a few I took outside.
 This was walking to the front side entrance to the house that lead to Johnson's office.
 This is as we were leaving through the backdoor. 

 This is the large picture window I mentioned from the living room area.

This small building was used to house Secret Service members.

 Thought these old gas pumps were very interesting.

Here are a couple of President Johnson's cars.  The guide said he liked to get guests in them and then drive them fast toward the river like he was going to go right in, and then swerve at the last moment. 
I definitely plan to do further reading on Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson.  They were very interesting people and the tour only made me want to know more about them.
By the time the tour was over we were starving.  It was almost 2:30.  We stopped up the road at Stonewall for lunch at  Lindigs Restaurant & Bar.  We both ordered the chicken fried steak which was huge.  It was served with real mashed potatoes, yummy green beans, a roll and a nice dinner salad.  We almost waddled out but it was very good.
Along side the deer head it said "Welcome Hunters".  There were deer everywhere!!!
From here we continued on toward Fredericksburg.  Just a mile or two outside of town we visited the Fredericksburg Trade Days.  Wow -- there were what looked like large old chicken barns and numerous smaller buildings with all kinds of items to purchase - antiques, clothes, wood products, candles, etc.  There were several acres of items for sale.  We enjoyed walking through and visiting with a few of the vendors.  I happened to notice a picture at one of the booths and the artist was Christina Blackledge.  I stepped around to ask the lady there if she was Christina and she was.  Blackledge was her married name and she was now divorced but she did tell me that a friend of hers had actually done some research for them of the Blackledge name and they did have some relatives in the Kansas area.  Unfortunately she did not know what those names were.  Interesting, huh?
Some of the shops at Fredericksburg Trade Days
It misted off and on while we were there but since we were inside a good part of the time it didn't really bother us much. 
From the Trade Days we headed into Fredericksburg that is filled with NUMEROUS shops, winerys and restaurants.  The sidewalks were full of folks visting all of these various stops in Historic Main Street.  It was wonderful to see so much activity.  Many of the buildings were already lit up for the coming holidays.  We were both tired and did not take the time to visit any of the shops.  I'm thinking this would be a great sister or sister/daughter trip some weekend. 

Some of the shops in Fredericksburg, TX.
On the way home we had to drive to Lukenbach, Texas.  I could not be this close and miss out on the town, the namesake of one of my favorite songs by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.  Yes, "We're going to Lukenback, TX with Waylon and Willie and the boys."  I sung this song until Dean was sick of it!  HAHA  It was pretty dark when we made it but the dance hall (about all that is left) was lit up for a weekend event.  We did not stay, took a picture and then headed on back toward the campground. 
Best picture I could get of Lukenback TX dance hall as we drove by.
We made one last stop down the road at Dairy Queen.  It was pretty good but not as good as the one we had a couple of weeks ago.
It's late and I'm tired and ready for bed.  See you later!