Thursday, March 16, 2017

Texas - Waco and Longview


We headed to Waco, TX on February 9, 2016. Yes, the Waco of the Branch Davidians fame, and no we did not go to the spot where it all went down. It seems there is little there and most people here would like to just forget it ever happened. 
We stayed at the Quail's Crossing RV Park. It is a small no frills park with a number of permanent residents. It is kept up nicely, we were in Site 77 which was long and about average width. WiFi was good and our Verizon signal was strong. We paid $32.00 a night with our Good Sam discount. 

After the rain the pond was a bit swollen 

There is a small fishing pond and a large field behind it that was perfect for off lead dog walking. Every morning she found golf balls to play with. 

Dig shelter
The Mammoth National Monument was designated as such in 2015. It is the nation's only recorded discovery of a nursery herd of Columbian mammoths
Kids dig site
The site was discovered in 1978 when two men were clearing land and found an unusual bone. They took it to Baylor University's Strecker Museum and the staff there identified it as a part of a Columbian mammoth femur. This species lived during the Pleistocene Epoch or more commonly known as the Ice Age. 
For the next 20 years staff, students and volunteers spent hours excavating the site. They discovered the nursery herd which appears to have drowned together in a single natural event between 65,000 and 72,000 years ago. Most of the bones are housed at the Baylor's Mayborn Museum Complex, but many exposed bones remain in their original position within the bone bed. 

The site has a juvenile laying next to an adult male.
Bones of a camel were also found, it was not unusual for camels and mammoths to travel together. One thought is that the camels provided protection in that they had better eyesight and hearing. 
Just past the camel an adult female was found. Other unidentified bones have shown up as well. 

The Columbian mammoth is a distant relative of the woolly mammoth, which lived farther north in much colder climates. 

Tools of the trade

The Columbian mammoth was 14-feet in height at the shoulder and weighed up to 10 tons (20,000 pounds).

They probably spent up to 20 hours a day eating between 300 - 700 pounds of grass and plants, resulting in approximately 400 pounds of dung daily - glad we don't have to clean that up! They were 2-4 feet taller and weighed up to 8,000 pounds more than the woolly mammoths. 

While visiting the Dr. Pepper Museum in downtown Waco we couldn't help but think of our friend Mike Berry. He is a huge Dr. Pepper fan. It is housed in a beautiful old building and along with lots of memorabilia there is a soda fountain where you can enjoy a tasty treat. 

The Armstrong Browning Library is beautiful. Every library should be quiet and peaceful, but this one seems to command that you are quiet. The Browning Collection began in 1918 with the personal collection of Dr. A. Joseph Armstrong, head of Baylor's English Department from 1912-1952. He devoted himself to the study of poet Robert Browning. He was enamored with his optimism and commitment to spiritual values and worked to raise funds that resulted in the world's largest Browning collection and the impressive Italianate building. 

The collection includes research materials, personal items of both Robert and his poet wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and pieces of art.
The building has 62-stained glass windows, most of which depict scenes from the poetry of both Robert and Elizabeth. 

They are throughout the building. The two large research rooms are adorned with them and the entrance hall is bathed in color from the ones that line the front wall. 

On the third floor they have created a Victorian salon that reflects some of the Elizabeth's personal tastes. 
On the first floor there is a large, 40-foot cube room with a dome ceiling that is called the McLean Foyer of Meditation. It is lined with black walnut paneling and Italian marble columns. There is an open balcony
which is where we took the picture from. Concerts and lectures are sometimes held in this room. 

At the front entrance is a bronze statue of Browning's character Pippa

The front doors each weigh three-quarters of a ton and are modeled after the doors of St. John's Baptistery in Florence, Italy. They were sculpted by Robert Weinmann from New York and the 10 bas-relief panels represent themes in Browning's poetry.  
Everyone, and we mean everyone told us we had to visit Magnolia Market at the Silos while in town. It is the brain child of Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV's the "Fixer Upper". We had no idea what any of that meant as we have never seen the show, this is what happens when you don't have a TV for 3+ years. 

Sitting in the shadows of huge silos, is a store where you can purchase anything and everything doing with home decor.  We didn't explore much as we live in a small space and home decor is not on our shopping list. If you need to rest your feet from shopping there is a large grassy area, with stripped bean bag chairs for relaxing or watching others play ball, Frisbee or a game of lawn Jenga along with a number of other games. 
The Seed and Supply store sits among a number of raised bed gardens and a green house. Hungry? No worries, along the back of the property is a row of 10 food trucks where you can enjoy drinks, meals and desserts at picnic tables on a large covered patio. 

There is also the Silo Bakery which of course we checked out. Les enjoyed a delicious cookie and Nancy had an amazing chocolate cupcake with espresso buttercream frosting. We are glad we listened to everyone and visited this place. 

The Waco Suspension Bridge which crosses the Brazos River is a legendary icon. In 1866 the Waco Bridge Company was granted a 25 year charter to build a toll bridge. It guaranteed that no other bridge or ferry could be built within five miles. After two years of construction the bridge was opened in 1870, the longest single span suspension bridge in the world at 475-feet. Wagons, pedestrians and cattle herds crossed it. Special rates were given to frequent users. The public fought for a free bridge but the company never relented. In 1889 it was sold to McLennan County which gave it to the city of Waco as a free bridge. 
Parks boarder the bridge on both sides of the river. The Martin Luther King Jr Park is on the east side. The painted pillar supports a deck. Nancy tried going up on it and got as far as the top of the stairs. Snapped a quick picture and turned to come down when she saw Les and Mielikki making a new friend. 

The Indian Spring Park on the west is where the "Branding the Brazos" sculptures roam.

We have seen Love Locks on just about every bridge we have visited, couples carve their initials into the lock and then attach it to the bridge and toss the key into the water. This is the first time we have seen bread bags tied to a bridge. We found out they are actually tortilla bags, people toss the tortillas trying to land them on the pylon and then they tie the empty bag to the bridge. We are not sure if the fishing lures have purposely been placed on the wires or if they are left there from wayward casts. There is a 7-mile paved river walk that takes you to a number of parks and where you can spot turtles enjoying a sunny day. 

Les's cousin Dale lives in Grand Prairie just outside of Dallas. We visited them last year while staying in Frisco.  
This year we met him and is wife Marianne at Fort Worth Stockyards. It is a hopping place. Blocks of shops and restaurants and some history thrown into the mix. There is a cattle drive that you can watch, or take a stagecoach or wagon ride through town. We wandered in and out of some shops. Then after lunch we watched the Wild West show. Some of it was a little hokey but all and all pretty entertaining. After years of not seeing Dale and Marianne or even much contact it is so nice to be able to spend time with them. 


From Waco we headed to Longview, TX on February 14, 2017 for a two night stay. We stayed at the North Point RV Park. It is right on Hwy 259 but the road noise was minimal. The sites are asphalt and long enough for the RV, tow-dolly and parking the car. They have a large rec-room with a big screen TV, pool table and games. The WiFi was good, Verizon signal was strong. We paid $21.o0 a night with our Passport America discount.  

The only picture of the site was after Les pulled out on our last morning. This seemed rather fitting as the majority of the time here the RV was at the repair shop. New brakes were in order so the shop did the front brakes on Wednesday and we went back to the park for sleeping and then took it back in on Thursday morning to have the back ones done before we headed out to Arkansas.

While our home was unavailable we went in search of some Roadside Oddities. Our drive took us through Jefferson, TX. We wandered the Jefferson General Store where Les tried to steal a cowboys gun and we found the perfect sign for our door.  

On our way to Karmack to find the Bicycle Barn, we saw a sign for Uncertain. Yes, that is the name of the town so we went to check it out. It is a small town on a lake with lots of cottages, we loved this one that looks like a houseboat. The Church of Uncertain was the best find of the day! Pretty sure we have been in a few of these over the years. 

Finding the "Carry Me Jesus" after this was actually pretty funny. It is a beautiful bronze statue. The artist, Bob Harness got the inspiration for it while reading the poem at a funeral he was attending. Years later when donations started coming in for the project one gentlemen made a large donation so the artist wanted to meet him and when he did he knew the project was in God's hands. The man looked just like the man in the original drawing the artist had done years before, never having met the man. That is the man in Jesus's arms. 

From Jesus to oil derricks. Kilgore is home to the world's richest acre. 2.5 million barrels of oil was pumped out of this 1.2 acre site over a 30 year period. You can't miss it while driving through town. 

Frosty morning
Thursday morning after dropping off the RV we made a visit to Urgent Care as Nancy was just not feeling right. Once there they thought it might be her heart but after an EKG, blood work and chest x-rays that was ruled out. They believe she had a virus of some sort. So no concrete answers but she did end up with a lovely bruised hand from the blood work. This is what happens when you have really small veins. 

$1,400 dollars later we were on the road to Mursfreeboro, AR. 

Till we meet again....

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Just hanging around.
As mentioned before we use a lot of 3M Command hooks as we cannot put holes in the walls of the RV (not much behind them to hold a nail). While the hooks have worked well for most everything a few things need a little more support.
That is where 3M Velcro strips for pictures come in handy. One strip attaches to the back of the frame and the other to the wall. Then you just
press them together and your picture is hung.
Make sure you put them on straight, or you will have a crooked picture. Nancy may or may not know this from experience. It is also important to follow the directions and clean the wall with rubbing alcohol before attaching the Velcro strip. Didn't do this and the picture over the bed fell off in the middle of the night right onto Les.

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