Monday, December 29, 2008

Dennis K. Miller

December 25 was not Christmas for us. It was the day after we buried Terry's brother. We got the phone call on Sunday morning, December 21, that Terry's brother Dennis was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Aurora, IL with a heart attack. Since he wasn't expected to live, we tried to find the best way to get to IL. The planes were grounded at O Hara airport so we put the RV in storage and drove the four- wheel- drive car.

Dennis K. Miller died on Sunday evening, December 21, 2008. He was born October 23, 1946 to William Charles and Flossie R. Miller and lived near Sugar Grove, IL with his parents and brothers, Terry and Bill until he joined the Navy. Darla Jo Miller and Dennis Keith Miller, Jr. were born while their father was in Vietnam.

Dennis worked as a deputy sheriff in Fallon, NV before returning to IL. His daughter, Stacy Miller was born in IL.

Twenty-two years ago, Dennis met Dorothy Benson and became a part of her family, which included her grown children, Greg (Tammy) Benson, Larry (Cathy) Benson and Tanda (Eric) Gevleve. Survivors also include his daughter, Stacy (Benjamin) Maffit and grandchildren, Dezirae and Reese Mafitt.

In October of 1996, Dennis had a cerebral hemorrhage, which resulted in paralysis to his right side. In spite of his handicaps, Dennis loved to travel in his scooter as he went out to dinner or shopping. He went to the County Fair, “walks” around the park, and several lakes, the zoo, and to the Covered Bridge festival with us. He delighted in moving faster in his scooter than his brothers Bill and Terry could while walking. Bill, (William Charles), who lives in the Dominican Republic, joined us for two summers and for several holiday celebrations when we visited Dennis and Dorothy. Dennis loved to hear his granddaughter, Dezirae, age 15, sing and watch her play volleyball. When we visited Dennis, Reese, age 6, came to show grandpa his Halloween costume.

Dennis held the Vietnam Service Medal (with three bronze stars) and the Vietnam Campaign medal. He was buried on December 24, 2008 in the Abraham Lincoln National cemetery with military honors.

Pictured are my husband, Terry, myself, Dennis and Dorothy. I will miss Dennis. He had a special name for me. He called me “sis”.

We arrived safely home to our RV on December 28th safely in spite of ice, snow, fog, hail, sleet, wind, and a tornado.

We plan to stay in this campground for two weeks and then go to Quartzsite, AZ.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Visit with Jerry and Suzy

Jerry and Suzy write a blog that I always read. One blog intrigued me so much that I asked for permission to include it in my 2008 book called More RV Chuckles and Chuckholes – More Confessions of Happy Campers. They graciously gave their permission. We met again at the Gypsy Journal Rally last February.

Since we were in Benson, AZ last week, we notified Jerry and Suzy that we were coming to the area and were invited to visit them. They have made a charming “casita” or family room out of their storage area at the Escapees Campground. It has space that we envy for their two tower computers, desk, three file cabinets, a new TV and four comfortable chairs. The casita is decorated with a four-foot Christmas tree and banner of the Three Wiseman. I asked Jerry and Suzy for a picture of them but they sent a picture of us.

Later we went out to dinner with them at the Apple Farm. RV friends have so much in common that four hours passed before we knew it. Hope to see Jerry and Suzy as our paths cross again on the road and at Escapee functions. Meantime, we will read each other’s blogs. Thanks for a great visit!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Western Christmas

On our way to Arizona and the border of California, we traveled 230 to 519 miles a day, camped before dark, disconnected our towed car and drove into towns to see the lights. These pictures of lights are from Fredericksburg and Fort Stockton in Texas.

In Arizona, we drove our car into Tombstone for a Cowboy Christmas. Stagecoaches offered rides through town past the O.K. Corral, the Birdcage Theatre and the 1882 Courthouse. Terry and I ate onion rings in Big nose Kate’s Saloon while listening to live cowboy music. The Boot Hill graves, covered with stones, are behind a fence made of cacti.

Christmas in Houston

Our children, Robert and Raymond, flew with their families to Houston to meet with us for an early Christmas celebration. Shirlee, Christine and Sharon graciously allowed us to spend two nights at their home so we could avoid the three hours of travel time per day to and from our campground.

Seven-month-old Sara has changed since we saw her at one month of age. Laura, who turned four this week, became reacquainted with all of us. When she forgot our names she described us. She called Teresita “the aunt with the black hair.”

We also visited with Jamie and Juan and their baby Jay Jay. He had his first birthday last week and is doing especially well since he was only three pounds and eleven ounces at birth.

In Houston, we enjoyed the decorations, food, and gifts, but most of all spending time with family.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Our Christmas Tree

Although we will be saying hello to our parents in Mesa, AZ and our friends in Emerald Cove Campground on the CA side of the Colorado River, and will stay with our Boomer friends in Quartzsite, AZ.; it is hard to say good-bye to friends we have known for nine years here in Texas. My plans include singing in the choir at the Emerald Cove Campground at Christmas and selling my book at the Readers Oasis Book Store in Quartzsite during the last two weeks of January.

We found our little two-foot Christmas tree in the basement storage of our RV but couldn’t find the little ornaments. I got these pewter Longaberger baskets this summer from my friend, Michele who lives near Eagle River, Alaska and felt that the little Longaberger basket that holds my books on my bed-stand, belonged under the tree. My granddaughter, Amanda, gave the Precious Moments snowman and girl to me after our trip to their headquarters in Carthage, Missouri. I bought a string of lights, a package of teardrop ornaments, and a star. The star reminds us of the star of Bethlehem and the reason for the Christmas season-the birth of the Christ child. May you have a blessed holiday season with friends and family.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Crescent Moon, Jupiter and Venus

I saw an amazing sight when I walked to the clubhouse on Monday evening, December 1. Just below the crescent moon were two bright stars. I later learned that they were the planets Jupiter and Venus. I called to Terry to look at the sky and take pictures. Then I called friends and relatives to suggest they look in the western sky. Some things in nature can’t be captured well in photos. As my friend Joan wrote, “The moon and stars were awesome! “ Hope you saw it too.

We have been very busy with friends at Castaways RV Park. Lil, our activity director, keeps us very busy. Not only do I go to the American Legion to play Bingo but play Sticks, Garbage Bingo, or Crazy Rook in the evening at the clubhouse. Irene and Dick drove us to “Yo Mama’s” for barbeque and then to the Texas Opry Jamboree. I joined a group of ladies who wore red hats and went to lunch at Sam’s Boat. We went to Vernon’s Catfish for dinner and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal in the clubhouse. Teta prepared the two turkeys and ham that were furnished by the owners of our campground. We had “all the fixins” since everyone prepared a dish to bring.

Our Thanksgiving service was also held in the clubhouse with our resident pastor, Oliver. I led the singing and sang a solo on a song written thousands of years ago by David in the 103rd Psalm.

Hope your Thanksgiving was just as happy as ours was.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Clear Lake and Galveston Area of Texas

Our daughter, Joy, showed us the area around Clear Lake and Galveston that received massive damage during Hurricane Ike in September. RV’s are parked in Sea Brook as temporary homes for many of the residents who were flooded from the thirteen-foot high waves during the storm surge. The house that Joy lives in only had windows broken, fence damage and pool equipment broken when a neighbor’s tree fell on the property. Homes on the beach weren’t so fortunate. The Dairy Queen even had a sail boat float to the front of the building.

Although the historical buildings along the Strand are still standing, they are without electric power two months after the disaster. We saw generators and huge temporary sewers used by workers who are cleaning up the flooded area. The traffic lights are not working but there wasn’t traffic since the shops are closed. Further inland, you see windows that are boarded up and tarps on some roofs but most people are living life much as before the hurricane.

We boarded the free ferryboat to Crystal Beach, where there wasn’t much left. We saw boats in trees, piles of debris, and areas where houses used to be. These pictures show some of the devastation.

On a happier note, the fifteen-minute ferry ride was delightful. Terry, Joy and I loved watching the porpoises dance in syncopation and convort in the waves. Unfortunately they moved so fast that it was difficult to photograph them. The gray pelican was more accommodating. I was amazed at their wingspan.

In Kemah, some of the restaurants are beginning to open. We had a delicious meal at the Salt Grass restaurant before returning to the campground on Lake Conroe.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Terry's Birthday

Terry was so surprised when he saw the desert for the Brunch in the Castaway’s RV Clubhouse – a chocolate Birthday cake topped with a yellow ducky wearing a Texas cowboy hat. He made a comment years ago that he never had a yellow ducky so I bought him one. Since storage in an RV is at a premium, it was placed in a closet and then given to a grandchild.

Terry asked about it again this year so I bought him a new rubber ducky when we were at Wall Drug Store in South Dakota and waited to give it to him as a topping for his cake. I said that it is a reminder for Terry to have fun this year. Hope you have fun too.

To see a photo more clearly, double click on the photo.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Grandson Jake

Our grandson, Jake, spent two delightful week-ends with us.

We took a half-day trip to Davy Crockett National Forest where Jake is standing in the tall pines.

Back home in the RV, we showed Jake pictures of the places and animals that we have seen this year.

Jake tried on the reenactment outfit that Terry wore in Indiana at the Missessinewa reenactment of the War of 1812 trip. (Terry took the trip while us women were at the Texas wedding.)

The football pictures are of the Livingston Junior High Football game. Jake is # 92. This picture shows how the Livingston Jr. High Football team has it all- players, extra players, cheerleaders, and the hospital in the background. They won the game 13-6!

Darlene's Costumes

We arrived in Livingston just in time to learn that the Escapees were having A Halloween costume party. With little time to create a costume, I dressed in black pants and sweater and wore my black cape and Terry’s tricorn hat. My sign said “ Icky Body Crane.” I wanted Terry to wear two shirts with one covering his head and go as the “Headless Horseman” but he refused to dress up. A couple wore regular shirts and jeans but each wore a sign that read, “ I’m a Keet.” Yes, they were a pair-of-keets. A witch rode her broom. A bosomy woman wore eyes that had slits like a cats and said that a vampire had gotten her. Other costumes were of pumpkins and cowboys and cowgirls. Yes, this is Texas.

I find it so much fun to wear costumes that I joined the Red Bonnets of Texas. I not only wore a red hat but also red shoes. We were whistled at when we crossed the road to eat lunch at “Out to Lunch”. What fun!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dinosaur Park

The next day, we toured the historical buildings in Glen Rose and ate at a small restaurant. We saw footprints in Dinosaur Park. It was weird to think of southern Texas as being under water and dinosaurs wandering around in the same space that we were now walking.

Second Trip to Texas

Can you believe that I went from Iowa to Texas to Iowa and returned to Texas and attended two weddings in thirteen days? We did not bring a camera to the elegant wedding of my niece Megan so I don’t have photos of it. . The wedding was held in the Botanical Center in Des Moines with the reception in the Marriott hotel. The attendants were chic in their black dresses. The sports minded couple joked about his allegiance to the Chicago Cubs and hers to the St. Louis Cardinals.

We met our Escapee friends, Jerry and Joanne Pomeroy at a Corps of Engineers park near Benbrook, Texas. From our hilltop campsite we could see the skyline of Fort Worth. On Wednesday, we wandered among the brass longhorns in a park in Dallas and visited the grassy knoll where President Kennedy was shot. The somber presentation of that awful day was vividly portrayed in the museum on the sixth floor of the Book Exchange Building where Oswald stood. As Joan and I stood looking out the window, we heard the eerie sounds of sirens below us.
We met Terry’s cousins, Bill and Joanne Miller at the Red Lobster restaurant. We told stories and laughed so much that some octogenarians seated near us wanted to join the fun. Don asked if we were part of a comedy club. Joan said that we didn’t have a home but lived in our RV’s and met on the road while the other couple was Terry’s cousins who were still working. His astonished expression made Joanne laugh while the rest of us joined in. Don said we could remember them by thinking of Don Juan. He was Don while his wife is Wanda. I’m not sure if Don believed us when I introduced the others as Billy, Terry, Jerry and Joan and Joanne. He asked if we knew who the sixth President of the US was. We answered Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison and John Quincy Adams but were not sure what order they were in. Don gave Joan and me a gold John Q. Adams one-dollar coin. We might be homeless but now we had money.

We were having so much fun telling stories that we didn’t want the evening to end. When we returned to Jerry’s truck after stopping for ice cream, Joan said, “ We‘re in trouble. The curfew at the Corps of Engineer Park is ten o clock .” Sure enough, we were locked out! The guys jumped the fence and walked the mile or so uphill to our campsite and returned with our car to pick up us women and load up the camera s and laptop and jackets and stuff. When the guys returned the next morning to retrieve the truck, Terry told the attendant that he felt like a teenager who had missed his curfew. The attendant asked, “ Did you bring a note from your mother?”

The Trip to Texas

Sorry that I ‘m late with getting these blogs on the Internet. When we went to Texas and set up the satellite, Terry found that the modem was no longer working. It took weeks to get a new modem. I’m fortunate that I have a husband who can diagnose computer problems, explain what we need to fix the problem, order the part, and then fixes it. Thank you, Terry!

I had a delightful trip to Texas and back to Iowa with my lovely daughter and two beautiful granddaughters to Ann’s wedding. (See previous blog.) You would think that there were problems with four women and one bathroom but no one complained. We had fun swimming in the pool, relaxing in hot tub, climbing on the rocks that overlook the Fourche River, and shopping at Cracker Barrel and at the Precious Moments place in Carthage, Missouri. Amanda caught the bouquet from the bride and was thinking about her wedding in 2009. I learned that Kari loved her teddy bear named George which her boyfriend Brad gave her. The weather was perfect. The only bad thing that happened was that I gave my cold to my daughter Karol.